Jamie Oliver Is Under Fire For Deceptive £1 Meals Series

Jamie Oliver has returned to TV with a new series featuring recipes he claims are budget-friendly and easy called "Jamie's £1 Wonders," playing on his prior success with "Jamie's One-Pan Wonders." According to his website, the show focuses on crafting recipes that don't sacrifice taste for a small budget, costing less than "£1 a portion." However, the first episode was met with mixed reactions and concerns about whether Oliver's price claims are realistic for most people.

The recipes are, in part, inspired by the rising costs of food and energy. After all, UK food prices increased by 17.1% between January 2022 and January 2023, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS). Energy prices also increased during this period, with electricity rising by 66.7% and gas prices by 129.4%, according to a separate ONS report.

That all sounds great, but critics say Oliver's recipes aimed at being less than £1 per serving (roughly equivalent to $1.18, per Forbes) don't properly account for having the ingredients readily available or current energy costs to produce such a meal.

Is fractional pricing realistic?

For Jamie Oliver's latest show, his team used the average prices between September 2022 to January 2023 from four U.K. supermarkets: Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's, and Morrisons (per Jamie Oliver's website). His per-portion pricing excludes the cost of certain staples like olive oil, salt, and pepper, as well as the cost of energy required to cook meals.

We took a look at the "No Oven Pizza" recipe using the least expensive ingredients and Morrison's online prices on March 7, 2023. If you buy all the listed ingredients, including the olive oil, the cost at Morrison's is just under £10. Based on Oliver's intended portion sizes, the pizza does cost just under £1 a portion — but only if we exclude the olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Debate around the show surrounds not just the pricing, but some also challenged Oliver's portion sizes. "One pizza between 2 people – not in this household," one person wrote on Twitter. Another person pointed out the irony of the show being sponsored by a premium grocery store chain: "Just flicked over to #JamiesOnePoundWonders sponsored by everyone's favorite budget supermarket *checks notes* Waitrose." However, some viewers enjoyed the recipes. As one fan commented, "I'm definitely trying this one Saturday night."

If you want to give a no-oven pizza a try at home, you can always give it a shot with this no-bake pizza from chef Alex Guarnaschelli.