At The End Of The Day: Jack Monroe

The cook talks home schooling, batch cooking and the joys of tinned fruit.

Jack Monroe

by Guy Pewsey |
Updated on

I’m renting a beautiful dormer bungalow in Southend, where I live with my son Jonny. When I looked around it, I walked in and, as soon as I saw the kitchen, I told the agent I’d take it. I’ve moved house more than 20 times in my short lifetime, and most places I’ve lived haven’t had gardens. In a lot of rentals you’re not allowed to even put a nail in the wall, but my landlady is lovely. It’s the first home I’ve been allowed to wallpaper and put up shelves. It’s been a long time coming.

I tend to work from very early in the morning till lunchtime, then from 7pm till silly hours. I’m lucky to be working on things that are flexible, but it’s tough for parents and carers right now. I don’t think the Government is doing much, if anything, to acknowledge the strain we’re all under. Imagine, pre-pandemic, saying to your boss you have to bring your child into the office and home-school them at your desk while also trying to do your job.

I try to batch cook on the weekend, because it saves time and every 15 minutes counts at the moment. My freezer is full of home-made ready meals – a drawer for Jonny, full of meaty pasta bakes and stews, and a drawer for me, which is mostly vegan and vegetarian, although I do eat a little chicken and fish. Over dinner, my son and I chat. He’s a pre-teen and was starting to withdraw a

bit, a combination of hormones and pandemic anxiety; it’s hard on kids being so uncertain of what’s going on. One thing that’s helped is a deck of cards I got for Christmas called Empowering Questions. We each pick a card to discuss over dinner, with questions like ‘What would you do if you had no fear?’ It’s fun getting to know each other on a deeper level and also encourages us to think positively about ourselves. It’s good for both of us!

After dinner we watch TV or a movie together. My son is a big fan of the Disney live action remakes. I have a pale blue couch so, at first, I had a strict ‘no eating on the couch’ rule, but that only lasted about two weeks. I like to snack on canned fruit and boiled sweets. I don’t drink any more and it’s common for people who’ve had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol to develop a sweet tooth. I’m a huge fan of Del Monte canned peaches and I have a big jar full of humbugs, sherbet lemons and chocolate limes that follow me around the house.

I put Jonny to bed around 7.30pm. He’s not too old for stories and bed snuggles. Then I head to my desk to pick up the last few hours of work. If, by some miracle, I’ve got nothing that can’t wait till 5am the next morning, I’ll curl up with a gritty escapist Netflix series and my knitting. I’m working my way through Prison Break, but have Sons Of Anarchy, Killing Eve and Line Of Duty in my sights.

I used to track my sleep on an app, but it became a self-fulfilling prophecy where I’d wake up and think, ‘Oh, I only had four hours’ sleep, today will be awful,’ and then it puts you in that mindset before anything’s even happened. Now I just try my best to get six to seven hours a night and catch up at the weekend. I also keep Classic FM on really quietly in the background. Margherita Taylor has such a soothing voice.

Jack is working with Del Monte to highlight the varied benefits of canned fruit

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