Healthy, low-cost family meals? It’s alright for that Jammy devil

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver
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Oh to be Jammy Oliver. The chef who turned himself into a global celebrity by squidging lemons with his bare hands and sloshing enough olive oil onto earthy peasant food to relax the bowels of a small Scottish town. The man who has earned £150 million AND maintain an altruistic heart.

The nation loves him. I love him. He doesn’t eff and blind on screen, he doesn’t cook fancy and he’s a hero for trying to twizzle the turkey of a state school dinner into something nutritious.

But I’m sick of him constantly banging on at us to stop spending so much on ready meals and make our own. He’s at it again in this week’s Radio Times, ahead of his new Channel 4 show, Jamie’s Money Saving Meals. He criticises struggling families and says he finds it ‘hard to talk about modern-day poverty’ when cash-strapped UK households who say they don’t have the money to cook their kids healthy, fresh food have got huge TVs taking up an entire wall in their living rooms.

He’s right. He’s always ruddy right. Just like your self-righteous “I lost five stones and eat zero-points banana curry every day to ensure I stay that way” WeightWatchers leader. A social worker I know visits families who can’t afford to buy their kids a bed, but the kids are watching a telly far bigger than the one she owns.

But the likes of you and I, and the millions of other ordinary folk who he scalds with criticism - are spoon-fed a daily diet of envy over folk like Jammy. We see them on our big screen TVs (the thinnest things in the room), we hunger for what they’ve got and we know we’ll never have their lives and their money. So we reach for the easiest, tastiest thing and comfort-eat.

Jammy says our unhealthy eating is down to ignorance. I say a lot of it is about ignoring the healthy eating message because people have got enough on their plates. And by the way Jammy, a Sicilian street cleaner may be able to buy 25 mussels, 10 cherry tomatoes and a packet of spaghetti for 60p. But it costs a sight more than that in Sheffield.