Friends of Families (FOF), based in Wigan, ran a healthy eating project to encourage people in their local community to reduce their salt and sugar intake, particularly aimed at students with families and a limited disposable income.

The project, free for attendees ran for 8 weeks and, although just one member of each family attended, the beneficiaries of this project were the whole family as each week a full meal was produced for their evening meal during the lessons on how to produce a healthy meal on a budget. Participants were also learning a variety of recipes to cook for their families on a budget.

The course covered Healthy & Safety; Food Hygiene and budgeting. Each week the group also conducted a food comparison for attendees to test three different brands of the same product to dispel the myths of “budget buys”. As well as lessons and courses, the project also produced a recipe book created by the students to take away at the end of the course.

Each student cooked with a ‘GO CHEF’ multi-cooker, producing healthy meals economically in terms of produce and efficiency. Two tutors worked with the group as did a designer, who helped and encouraged the students to produce the recipe booklet for use after the project had been completed.

The first week of the project gave each member of the group a sample menu. The group were then encouraged to seek out new healthy recipes for the rest of the project to be put into their recipe book.

At the end of the 8 week course all students who attended and participated well were given their own ‘GO CHEF’ to take home and continue to produce healthy cost effective meals for the family.

A list of the meals cooked over the 8 weeks were:

  1. Corn beef hash
  2. Spaghetti Bolognese
  3. Liver & onions
  4. Chicken, mushrooms & cream
  5. Oxtail broth
  6. Beef bourguignon
  7. Chilli con carne
  8. Irish Stew

Each participant learnt a great deal throughout the 8-week course and really benefited from the hints and tips given to them by the course leaders and their fellow participants.

The group had different skill levels and benefited from the exchange of ideas with each other; some could not cook at all and lived on fast food and frozen meals, others could cook but learned a great deal about alternatives and budgeting. The great news about this project is that people in the group enjoyed it so much that they have carried on meeting following the end of the course.

As well as helping individuals with budgeting and having a healthy meal at home, this project helped people to meet new friends over a mutual curiosity for making healthy food on a lower budget.