Jack Monroe reveals simple way to keep weekly food shop under £20

Anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe has shared a technique she uses to help keep her weekly food shop as low cost as possible.

Monroe, a writer who began her career sharing cheap recipes she had created as a single parent with a young son, has been raising awareness of the rising cost of living and its impact on the most financially vulnerable.

In a thread posted to her Twitter on Tuesday 15 February, Monroe said she had managed to keep her weekly food shop to under £20 by doing frequent stocktakes of everything in her fridge, freezer and cupboards.

Explaining her method, Monroe said she begins by dividing a piece of paper into four sections – proteins, carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables, and flavours and snacks.

“Then I go through the fridge, freezer and cupboard and note down every single thing I have in. When I’m feeling extra meticulous, I weigh it all, but usually I do an estimate of number of units or portions,” she said.

Once the stocktake is complete, she highlights all food items that are closest to their use-by dates, such as fruit and fresh produce.

Using this inventory, Monroe then plans all upcoming meals around a source of protein and items that are close to expiring,

She said this method has helped her stay organised and cook balanced meals.

“It also means that my shopping list for the week is made up of ‘gap filling’ – so if I’m running low on fruit and veg, I’ll prioritise that. If I’m short on wholegrains, I’ll pick up some brown rice,” she said.

“It’s genuinely revolutionised the way I cook and shop and reduces a lot of my anxiety around food, impulse purchasing things I don’t need, reduces food waste, and keeps the food bill low. It also helps me plan balanced meals and sparks off all kinds of avenues of creativity.”

Last week Asda announced that it will make its value Smart Price range available across all 581 of its supermarkets after Monroe highlighted how the cost of inflation was affecting food prices.

In January Monroe posted a now-viral Twitter thread giving examples of price increases she had noted at her local supermarket in the past year.

Her comments came after the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the consumer price index measure for inflation has increased from 5.1 per cent in November, to the highest level in nearly 30 years.

The current figure is the highest rate since March 1992, when inflation reached 7.1 per cent.

Monroe said the index measure “grossly underestimates the real cost of inflation” and what it means for people in poverty.

She went on to list some examples of how the increase in the cost of living has affected prices of everyday food items in supermarkets, such as pasta, baked beans and bread.

“This time last year, the cheapest pasta in my local supermarket was 29p for 500g. Today it’s 70p. That’s a 141 per cent price increase as it hits the poorest and most vulnerable households,” she said.

In response to the campaign, Asda said it will make all 200 Smart Price lines available across the UK from 1 March.


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