A man holding a sign saying 'Words cannot express my joy at cooking for less'

The London charity helping to people’s eating habits

People struggling to cook cheaply in the cost of living crisis may find a saviour in a health charity who are transforming people’s lives.

Providing free ingredients, equipment, a mentor, and recipes on a short course, Bags of Taste gives people the opportunity to learn cooking in a way that both improves their eating habits and helps their budgets.

After signing up for free, and passing an eligibility test, residents across London, and the UK, can take a huge step in helping their lives.

Founder and CEO Alicia Weston, said: “We are there to transform people’s self image from someone who thinks they can’t cook into someone who can.”

The scheme is available to those who can display financial difficulties and, typically, that includes most people currently on benefits or who are pensioners.

After signing up, Bags of Taste delivers a package of ingredients, equipment, and recipes to your door for you to make.

You’ll also be assigned a mentor to help guide you through the process over the phone or on WhatsApp.

The recipes are to be completed in your own time but most participants take a couple of weeks to get through the three meal course, according to Weston.

After completing the course, graduates have access to many social groups where more recipes are shared, as well as a gift from the charity themselves.

Eloise Kelly, 42, a special needs teaching assistant and full time mum, described the course as well put together and easy to use.

Kelly’s family continue to eat some of these meals even after graduating, and have recommended the course to other parents already who face similar struggles.

Eating habits have evolved over time, and a 2022 Government report stated nearly two-thirds of adults in England are overweight or obese, with that figure being 38% for children aged 10-11, with rates higher in the most deprived areas.

At present, those living in these most deprived regions can expect to live around 19 years less than those in the least deprived on average, and Weston believes a healthy diet is one of the leading reasons behind this chasm.

She mentioned how people have suffered from bombardment with fast and unhealthy food options which, combined with the stresses of modern day working life, lead people to make poor eating decisions that negatively affect their health, as well as their children’s.

Critically, she highlighted that traditional reasoning behind poor eating habits were highly fallible, and ultimately fixable.

Weston mentioned how the average person attending their courses spends £1,260 on unhealthy takeaways each year which, if saved, could help fund a healthier diet.

She went on to describe how the main barriers to people cooking are down to physical and mental constraints.

Primarily, people struggle to access cheap food outlets, don’t know what to cook, don’t have the correct equipment or utensils to complete recipes, fear their children won’t eat their food, the list goes on.

But this is everything Bags of Taste is there to change.

By providing people with the opportunity to learn countless recipes and skills, these small changes can make a huge difference to people’s lives.

Since 2014, the charity has assisted more than 12,000 people and funded more than 80,000 meals to those most vulnerable and suffering nationwide, relying on grants and funds as well as individual donations.

Weston closed by saying: “For less than £100 a person, we can change people’s lives.”

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Featured Image Credit: Helena Smith

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