A Girl Called Jack: 100 Delicious Budget Recipes – Book Review

I can’t believe I have never written a review of Girl Called Jack, as I really thought I had. This is a book I use a lot, as you will notice if you following any of my weekly meal planning posts.  Still, better late than never!

A Girl Called Jack: 100 delicious budget recipes was Jack Monroe’s first book, which grew from the original blog (now called Cooking on a Bootstrap). The recipes came from Jack trying to eat healthily on a suddenly massively reduced budget when, as parent to a 4 year old, the reality of a year being unemployed hit. Jack experimented with cheaper ingredients from the supermarket budget ranges and found it was possible, after all, to stretch the budget and eat well.

“There’s no tarting about, no fancy ingredients, but still, when I call my friends and invite them over for dinner, I manage to fill a table and they manage to clear their plates with compliments and smiles and disbelief that I do it so cheaply.” 

I love that you don’t need a dried porcini mushroom, a sun-dried tomato or even actual risotto rice to make some of the recipes in A Girl Called Jack. As soon as you get all ‘cheffy’ your budget tends to go out of the window!

A girl called jack

From home made breads, through soups made with store cupboard ingredients thick enough for dinner, to spicy pulse dishes and meaty casseroles, there is a breadth of variety here. A Girl Called Jack has recipes for the vegan, vegetarian and confirmed carnivore. There are some very nice puddings too.


The recipes that we have eaten regularly include pork kokkinistou, chicken chasseur, creamy mustard chicken with winter veg, and sausage and lentil one pot dinner. Now that I am vegetarian I enjoy her earthy red wine and mustard risotto, mushroom chasseur and vegetable masala curry. The carrot, cumin and kidney bean burgers are legendary.

I tend to ignore the tinned vegetables in recipes as I prefer fresh or frozen. However, tinned are often cheaper if your budget is tiny.

Not all of the recipes are successful. We really didn’t enjoy creamy salmon pasta with a chilli lemon kick, made with a jar of salmon paste. The hummus is too thick and dry for me.

I am also not a fan of fruit in savoury dishes, such as Jack’s roman pasta with mandarins and a creamy basil sauce or peach and chick pea curry.  They might be nice but we have avoided them!

All in all though, A Girl Called Jack is one of my favourite go to recipe books. I have the subsequent two – A Year in 120 Recipes and Cooking on a Bootstrap, but this will forever be my favourite I think.

Anybody else got this book? What do you think?

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One thought on “A Girl Called Jack: 100 Delicious Budget Recipes – Book Review

  1. I agree with the creamy salmon pasta. I found it ok, but DH didn’t like it/ I think with a bit of tweaking (or “making it posh” as Jack often calls it!) it would be better – maybe using real salmon for instance, or adding some steamed broccoli florets etc.

    I have found this with several of Jack’s recipes – that they can be rather bland, but they were designed for those on an extremely tight budget and it is nothing that can’t be fixed by adding more of the spices etc as your budget allows.

    Jack’s website has changed again – it’s now just called “Bootstrap Cooking”!

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