Thursday, 18 July 2013

Food Poverty – making the reality a memory, starting at home

When the phrase ‘Food Poverty’ is used, we immediately think of third world countries and disturbing images shown by Oxfam and World Aid adverts on the TV. However, sadly, the reality is that it is a lot closer to home. An estimated 18% of the UK were forced to skip meals, ask friends or family for food, rely on a food bank or simply go without so there kids could eat, and with millions of tonnes of food being thrown away and wasted in the UK a year this really shouldn’t be happening.

A recent TV programme showed celebrity chefs showing how to cook meals for less. One question I had whilst watching, was why are they cooking the food for fellow celebrities? Why not in a Food Bank or in areas where Food Poverty is rife? Use the opportunity to teach! The people were also very quick to point fingers at big supermarket chains and the government, which seems to have become second nature to us now, to blame someone else. But the fact of the matter is, cooking and money skills are learnt in the home. My mother taught me how to cook and stretch one meal into three, and her mother taught her. With the loss of the family meal time, and learning about food, this is where our money is being wasted.

So here are some tips and recipes for saving money, and cooking delicious meals without anyone being the wiser.

Money saving tips:

1.       Meat and fish substitutes– meat and fish are among the most expensive items to buy in the weekly shop. They are fantastic sources of protein and omega 3 oils, but they can be a luxury in some households. Firstly, these are not the only options for good sources of protein. Try pulses, beans and legumes as part of your meals. They are options that can be bought dried or tinned, so not only are they far less expensive, they last a lot longer as well. Have a look at the recipe section for ideas

2.       Buy frozen – To keep the costs of living alone down, I often buy my meat and fish from the frozen section in supermarkets, you’ll find it is a lot cheaper, and is frozen in portions, so just defrost as and when you need. Frozen chicken or turkey breasts and frozen fish portions and raw prawns are a particularly good money saver! Also try buying from the discount aisle; you can great deals on individual portions of meat and joints. Just because you won’t eat it today or tomorrow, it doesn’t mean you can buy for a huge discount, separate into portions when you get home, and freeze for use at your convenience. Just jot down the date frozen on top, and defrost thoroughly.

3.       Cook in bulk – If you’re a single person living alone, or even if you’re not, cook a large meal, adding in lots of cheaper vegetables or pulses to bulk up the flavour and volume, then after everyone has had their fill, separate into portion appropriate containers and freeze for use at your own convenience.

4.       Soups – ‘Left over salad soup’ was one of the many surprisingly delicious tasting recipes where my mother has made something out of nothing. Soups are incredibly versatile, and a great way to use up leftover vegetables or salad after a meal. To save waste at the end of the week, roughly chop up all your left over veg, and roast in the oven. Once cooled add to a tin of chopped tomatoes (only about 17p per tin!), pop on the stove for a while, and then blitz in a blender until smooth. You can season with stock cubes and herbs for your particular taste, and once split into pots, it will make a delicious soup for lunches the following week. Preventing waste and saving you money.

5.       Try your local – If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that has a market, by all means, use it. The deals you can get at the end of the day, for example a carrier bag of veg or fruit for a pound is fantastic. Don’t be afraid to barter, the people who run these stalls are experts and will expect a bit of negotiating. You will also be helping out local farmers.

6.       Stretch your meals – This is one of my favourite tips, it’s one my mother and aunties are pros at. Before everyday supermarket convenience came about, it was common practice in a family household to have a big roast dinner on a Sunday night, then have cold cuts the following night, and then soups or stews the next day. Turning one meal, into three.

Alternative protein source recipes – balanced meals that won’t leave you missing meat/fish

Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew

1tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 sticks of celery, diced

1 red pepper, diced

I large sweet potato, cut into small cubes

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tbsp. of Cumin

1 tbsp. of Salt

1 tbsp. of Pepper

1 tsp. Oregano

1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

1 cup of Lentils

½ cup of Quinoa

6 Cups of vegetable stock

1.       Add all of the ingredients together in a large pot and cook on a low heat until potatoes and lentils are soft.

2.       Serves about 4-6 people

A Meal stretching recipe – one meal stretched out into three

Meal one: Roast Beef – take a large joint and either roast it or slow cook it, and serve it with plenty of veg

Meal two: Meatballs – take your left over beef and grind it up, add some breadcrumbs and seasoning and make into meatballs. Serve with a marinara sauce and some pasta.

Meal three: Meatball subs – Cut the leftover meatballs in half and lay flat side down onto some bread. Next, pour over a little of the tomato sauce made the night before and top with cheese. Now pop under the grill to melt the cheese, and serve with salad.

And there you have it, three meals out of one!

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