Self-care starts with good food says Jack Monroe
The author of A Girl Called Jack is struggling to take care of her eight-year old son on a packed commuter train. It’s just another daily task in the life of Jack Monroe, best-selling author and activist against hunger and poverty, who’s helping the masses to eat well – and eat cheaply.
Jack has just completed a UK book tour promoting a fourth cookbook, and runs a website which crashed under the weight of 35 million users logging on to see its relaunch. It’s safe to say Jack, 30, has been busy.
Crammed with 118 delicious new recipes, this latest offering, Cooking on A Bootstrap, focuses on food as a way to clear your head and furnish your body with self-love, as well as delivering on exactly what made Jack so popular in the first place – feeding your family healthily on a budget.
WELLNESS THROUGH GOOD FOOD
“Cooking is one of the most important things I can do to keep myself mentally well and balanced,” Jack tells us. “Taking care of yourself with food is key for good mental health. Stirring risotto for half an hour, or kneading dough are physical things that are meditative.”
Jack says as well as cooking, walking and meditating, a daily routine also helps achieve a good balance. “I make no secret of the fact I’m in therapy. I developed a routine with my therapist about finding the components of my perfect day, stuff like doing my hair or eating three square meals. Once we’ve established the list, I try to make sure I do some of those things every day.”
“It’s about making sure you are full at all times. Then if I get trolled, or things happen that send me off kilter, I’m responding to them from a place where I’m well-fed and have had a good night’s sleep, rather than running on empty. This way, it only derails me slightly, rather than flooring me completely.”
Other than online trolls, what has been Jack’s biggest challenge? Like everyone else, it’s been balancing childcare, work and life. “It’s a case of keeping all the balls in the air. On one hand, I’m really lucky to have flexibility. I put in 15-hour days, work Saturdays and Sundays, but I don’t have to answer to anyone.”
So, is there a mission for the world Jack has in mind? “Just teaching as many people to cook as well and as cheaply as I can. I’m not just a food writer, I am a campaigner. My work was born out of a need, teaching people to cook from food bank boxes. It’s an issue that’s not going away.”
And finally, a tip for cheap, tasty and great looking dishes? “Tinned fi sh is a great source of protein, and baked beans are really good. Salt, pepper and lemon juice are my ‘go to’: they have rescued hundreds of slightly c*cked up meals!”