We believe everyone should be able to afford good food, that doesn’t make them sick.

People in poverty have the poorest diets, often characterised by high consumption of highly processed, “fast” and fatty foods, low in vegetables and nutrients.  This leads them to get sicker and die younger than the rest of the population.  This is food poverty, and its effects on health, mental health and finances can keep people trapped in poverty.

The reasons for this poor diet are not as simple as people generally believe.  People often believe that either people in poverty either need to learn to cook, or are “too lazy to cook”. In reality, research shows that people in poverty are no worse, or better, than the rest of the population at cooking.  So this does not explain their significantly worse diet.  The explanation lies elsewhere.

Bags of Taste works with highly vulnerable people in food poverty to address the economic, structural and practical barriers that prevent them from improving their diets.  Outcomes include an 85% drop in takeaway consumption; £1,300 per annum savings on food bills and takeaways, and 54% of participants report improved health.

Barrier: Tasty and cheap alternatives there is a higher concentration of takeaways in poor areas

  • I’ve never cooked for myself and have always relied on takeaways and ready meals, my doctor told me I had to change. After coming to Bags of Taste, I have cooked everyday for myself and realised its not so hard. I feel better, have more energy and trying things I never thought I would!  I really enjoyed the classes.

 Barrier: Scarcity mindset only dealing with immediate issues & not planning ahead

  • Before Bags of Taste, I ate a lot of processed food and takeaways. Nowadays it’s all fresh fruit and veg and I enjoy cooking every day, unless I have cooked enough for 3 days.
  • I have 3 illnesses which affect my dexterity & mobility. I wanted to improve my dexterity. I find as I suffer from these chronic illnesses, when I fall ill I live on takeaways.  This course has encouraged me to make double portions & freeze half for when I am ill.  Also I can never know what to make as I am recovering from bouts of illness and I can now defrost one of my meals, without buying ready meals
  • I have had a great time. I had met lovely people from Hackney, it is very nice to meet people that live in my area.  I feel confident in trying new recipes, and think ahead before cooking a new dish, planning the ingredients to be used.  It is a great way to save money and waste less.

Barrier: Up front cost of ingredients/bulk buying not having a well stocked larder means that trying a new recipe involves buying more ingredients e.g. sauces, than you need; typical cost £15 per recipe

  • … some of the new expenditure has been for overstock (large bags of rice, frozen spinach, bags of spuds etc.). It has transformed the way I look at food and feeding. I can now look at a greengrocers display and see meals rather than just a pile of pretty coloured decorations. I am a lot less chaotic in the shops now, most of what I buy is more relevant now.
  • To take the bag home and just have everything there, ready, simplifies things and gives you the opportunity to cook the things you already cooked on the course cheaply and conveniently
  • Given me a chance to think about how I might buy & cook things more cheaply.
  • I never considered before the simple trick of multiplying up quantities… because I cooked in such bulk, I now have 4 ready meals.

Barrier: Information deficit  hard to know where to buy cheapest products & what recipes to try

  • I now enjoy cooking much more than before. I know more products and have discovered some recipes that I know I will cook often and recommend.  This course is such a great project…
  • This has really been an eye opening course. I never thought I would be able to cook such interesting meals so easily.  The recipes are really great and I feel so much better and more confident cooking. It’s helped me experiment without spending too much money.
  • Bags of Taste was such a fantastic course. I learnt so much about where to budget shop locally and got some absolutely great tips, especially how to properly chop an onion and the super saving ginger peeling tip!  I had so much fun replicating the dishes we learnt at home and was so proud of my certificate of completion that I framed it J  Thank you to Savannah and all the fab volunteers and new friends I made.  Forever grateful.
  • It’s good to know where to get cheap ingredients for making low-cost meals. It’s also good to see them being used in the course.

Barrier: Energy participants are often concerned about oven usage and other energy costs

  • Refocused mind away from expensive Ready Meals as recipes are easy to follow. Quantities used are enough for 2-4 portions so can be frozen & used again later, saving energy (both electricity and personal) Met with some lovely people. Easily accessible motivated me to come to the class. An afternoon out of the house with friendly people (so not isolated)

Barrier: Risk of waste  recipe wasn’t nice/didn’t work; kids won’t eat it; buying more than you need

  • The course definitely had an impact on me because, I am able to try new dishes on a very low cost. It help me to think about what I am going to eat rather than just eating anything
  • Its opened my eyes to healthy, nutritious food from scratch. I was always intimidated by cooking before but have become much more adventurous. The portion sizes were a revelation as well as they were much smaller than I would cook before so there is much, much less food waste in my house now.  Thank you!!

Barrier: Equipment & Storage  do they have the equipment needed to cook what is taught? 

  • Overall I’ve really enjoyed the course, I’ve learnt new skills and using my new knife [bought for £1 from us] has been fab and very helpful. I’ve even lost weight!  I’ve made all the recipes and cooked fish curry twice.  Staff and volunteers have been great and I’ve told all my friends about the course too.  I hope they will get a lot out of it like I have.  Thank you very much.
  • I love the recipes and the simplicity in cooking them – on one hob. Very well organised course.
  • I now enjoy cooking and spicing up my vegetables. I have less wasted food because I now freeze more.  My cooking is more organised and even my food cupboard is organised

Barrier: Food preferences  children in poverty often have even more restrictive food preferences than others

  • My children enjoyed a few of the meals we have done at the classes and now buy more veg and have showed my partner some of recipes and she now trys them.

Barrier: Food Access/Transport  do you have affordable shops nearby? Can you carry your groceries home?

  • …how to know what to look for when buying vegetables, local shops to get cheap ingredients…
  • Made me think more how to buy & what to buy & where… I like the preprepared bags …
  • The local tips re: best and cheapest shops particularly useful.
  • It’s helped to know where to save money, waste less food and make really lovely meals.
  • Alicia’s tips on how to freeze food and where to buy were very useful (as I can’t stand wasting it)
  • The instructor and volunteers are excellent at explaining how to cook – aside from the recipes info about purchasing cheap food.

Barrier: Perception of cost, time  people believe healthy food costs more

  • I’ve learnt that I can economise and eat well on a budget. The recipes are really healthy and very reasonable.
  • …discovered how simple it was preparing a healthy hot meal at reasonable cost…

This course has taught me delicious food isn’t hard or expensive to make.