For most of us food has been an everyday pleasure, a constant, something to look forward to. Then at some point in our lives, and I don’t know when it was, it became more of a chore, something we needed help with, to simplify to speed up. We got lulled into buying ready sauces and accompaniments then a few times a week most of our meal was being bought at the supermarket. Taste became a victim as did healthy eating, my wife and I had busy lives, so it was alright, wasn’t it? Our food bills soared, and we never really questioned Iit. I am not sure we really took much notice because we had convenience.
Looking around it felt okay, it was the norm as it wasn’t just us, it couldn’t have been because the supermarkets shelves and freezer sections were full of all those processed treats. Television advertising perpetuated the myth that somehow it was how life should be – give yourself more time, its tastier, more interesting and you deserve to treat yourself. All you had to do was put it into the microwave or bung it in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes and hey presto. Best of all somebody else, actually a machine on a production line, but banish that thought, had prepared it all for us, all we needed to do was add a bit of meat or some vegetables, if that.
For many of us the lockdown has been an awakening and if there has been one positive thing that has come out of this sorry state of affairs it is that people have got back in touch with food, real food. Not only that they have realised that it can be fast, convenient, tastier, healthier and fun but cheaper and not by a small margin.
Hands up who amongst us have become bread makers, there must have been lots of Boldies kneading away as I struggled to buy bread flour during the first lockdown.
For those that have yet to return to those days where we prepared our own food and are still holding onto the convenience of ready meals and sauces, fear not here are 10 simple ideas which may help break the habit and help you fall back in love with food.
– Make as much as you can from scratch, not only is it pleasurable and more often better for you, but it can save you money. Processed food is rarely the best option.
– Cook in bulk, where appropriate, and freeze for later. It can save you time to do other things
– Make things which, with some simple changes you can change the whole taste of the meal. For instance, cooking a great tomato-based stew then freezing it in small batches, can once de-frosted be changed by adding say chillies, or olives and anchovies, or herbs, vegetables, and/or meat
– Eat plenty of fruit and veg – the rule of 5 a day I still believe holds out
– Reduce wherever you can the amount of saturated fat you eat (butter, lard, ghee, palm and coconut oil and the fat around red meat and underneath poultry skin), in cooking I tend wherever possible to use unsaturated fats such as olive, rapeseed, sunflower and sesame oils.
– Store staple foodstuffs such as nuts (especially almonds), wholegrains, wholemeal pasta, brown/wild rice, beans and pulses. These are all found in my kitchen cupboard and mean I have the basics for a meal if friends pop round.
– Make sure the food is colourful, so many of us eat with our eyes
– Something I fervently believe, buy quality, sometimes it can be a false economy to buy cheap.
– Enjoy treats, we all deserve them once in a while
– Remember supplements and functional foods such as protein bars can be complementary, but they don’t replace a healthy diet
I have one postscript to add, hopefully soon we will be able to, rules permitting and obviously outdoors, invite people round. Entertaining is one of life’s joys and the love and fun of food, I always think, is best shared with family and friends.
Thanks to Michelle Henderson for her photograph featured on Unsplash