Poor are wasting cash on ready meals, says Jamie Oliver: Chef criticises families who don’t eat cheaply by cooking from scratch
Jamie Oliver has criticised struggling families for spending their money on expensive ready meals instead of eating more cheaply by cooking from scratch.
The TV chef, who is worth an estimated £150m, said he finds it ‘hard to talk about modern-day poverty’ because the cash-strapped households do not budget effectively.
He cited a family he met while making one of his previous TV shows who ate unhealthy, fast food but had splashed out on a huge TV.
Oliver said that poor communities in other countries had a better grasp of good food.
He told the Radio Times: ‘Some of the most inspirational food in the world comes from areas where people are financially challenged.
‘The flavour comes from a cheap cut of meat, or something that’s slow-cooked, or an amazing texture’s been made out of leftover stale bread.’
The campaigning chef added: ‘I’m not judgmental, but I’ve spent a lot of time in poor communities, and I find it quite hard to talk about modern-day poverty.
‘You might remember that scene in Ministry Of Food, with the mum and the kid eating chips and cheese out of Styrofoam containers, and behind them is a massive TV. It just didn’t weigh up.’
Oliver added: ‘The fascinating thing for me is that seven times out of 10, the poorest families in this country choose the most expensive way to hydrate and feed their families. The ready meals, the convenience foods.
The Naked Chef said: ‘I meet people who say, ‘You don’t understand what it’s like.” I just want to hug them and teleport them to the Sicilian street cleaner who has 25 mussels, 10 cherry tomatoes, and a packet of spaghetti for 60 pence, and knocks out the most amazing pasta. You go to Italy or Spain and they eat well on not much money. We’ve missed out on that in Britain, somehow.’
Oliver, 38, was speaking to the magazine ahead of his new Channel 4 show, Jamie’s Money Saving Meals, which starts next week.
He added: ‘One of the other things we look at in the (TV) series is going to your local market, which is cheaper, anyway, but also they don’t dictate size.
‘From a supermarket you’re going to buy a 200g bag of this or a 400g pack of that. If you’re going past a market, you can just grab 10 mangetout for dinner that night, and you don’t waste anything.’