Merely running cooking lessons will not result in the exceptional outcomes resulting from Bags of Taste courses. To understand why this is, please click here.
Bags of Taste is a carefully designed behavioural change intervention, and draws on research, both proprietary and academic, to produce long term change. We tackle the wider issues that form barriers to dietary change.
Bags of Taste is committed to an evidence-based approach. Evaluation methods have been developed in conjunction with experts from the NHS and professional health statisticians.
Our evaluations have been consistent across multiple locations and tutors. Crucially, in a long term follow up, 97% of participants stated that the impacts of Bags of Taste were greater one year after completing the course, than they had reported at the end of the course.
To see more details of who we are reaching, please click here
These are the reported outcomes from students completing our physical courses:
1. Improved diet.
- The average participant increases their vegetable consumption by 38%.
- Of those participants who reported eating junk food (takeaways & ready meals) before the course, consumption drops by 85% by the end of the course
- One year on: 95% of survey respondents said they were eating less takeaways and ready meals
2. Longer term dietary behaviour change:
- 70% of participants have cooked one or more of the course recipes at least twice at home, (they’ve gone & bought all the ingredients themselves), within 21 days of starting the course. This means they’re forming habits.
- One year on: 83% of participants say they are cooking more
3. Improved Health.
- By the end of the 4 week course, 56% of participants state that their health has improved since starting the course. Some of these participants may only have joined in the last 2 weeks.
- One year on, 78% of participants report improved health
4. Financial savings. Debt is closely linked to mental health (Mind: 80% of their service users have debt issues)
- 79% of participants report saving money on food bills. Typical savings are 30% on food bills and 85% on takeaways. For a typical household, this equates to £1,400 per annum, roughly evenly divided between the two.
- One year on: 98% of participants say they’re saving money on food
5. Improved Food Access
- Knowledge of how and where to buy cheap ingredients increases by 40%
- One year on: 98% of participants report that the way they shop has changed since coming on the course
5. Improved life satisfaction
- Participants report a 29% improvement in life satisfaction, from merely attending up to 4 weeks of our cooking course.
6. Improved confidence in the kitchen. We believe that increased participant confidence, in any area, boosts overall confidence. Participants believe they are great cooks after the course.
- Participants report a 38% increase in their cooking skills.
- 86% of participants report learning basic cooking skills.
7. Lower food waste. An important component of cost. We are separately interested in this for environmental/ sustainability reasons
- 71% of participants report wasting less after the course
8. Lower social isolation. This is evidenced both by actual participation in the course, but also by asking them if they enjoyed meeting other participants.
- 85% of participants reported enjoying meeting other people
the following outcomes can be measured by numbers of people involved:
9. Increased volunteering. There is much evidence that this increases wellbeing.
- Around 10% of participants are inspired to go on to volunteer with us; our volunteer community is over 350 strong.
10. Creation of communities.
- We have an active ex participants group on facebook where students can ask questions, download recipes, watch our own cooking videos, watch videos of basic kitchen techniques, receive encouragement and post pictures of what they cooked themselves. The facebook group has over 500 members.
- Every location has its own community of volunteers. They have their own groups on facebook where they can interact, watch training videos, and arrange outings. Each area head hosts regular volunteers’ dinners and events. We have over 350 volunteers, primarily ex participants
11. Improved diet of family members.
- 90% of participants bought at least one take home ingredients bag on our course. These bags are taken home to be cooked, and often cooked for other people. All our recipes are Public Health nutritionist approved, are calorie counted and contain a high proportion of veg.
For further detail on our evaluation outcomes, please contact us
Some of our students testimonials below.
It has made me more aware that cooking is not a difficult thing! Savings are about £75/week on the undesirable stuff, offset by about £25/30 due to buying the approved stuff. (Very rough figures I know but I have never kept records...) Also, 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. It helps to have some idea what can be done with the stuff one is looking at on the shelf. Which in turn is also informed by knowing what the one already has in stock."
Phil January 12, 2017
When I first heard about "Bags Of Taste" I was nervous joining as a student and not sure if it was really for me as I suffer from "Bipolar Disorder" and was at a bad point in my life with healthy issues and depression. I joined as a student at Gascoyne 2 Community Hall and was pleasantly surprised. I was made to fill welcome and Alicia Weston, Linda Green and the volunteers are absolutely amazing, I felt at ease and they didn't mind me sitting down when I needed to as I walk with a crutch from a knee replacement. I loved the whole idea of making amazing meals at such a low budget, socially to sit together after cooking and eat what we have made, and the option of buying the ingredients all made out and measured for the students was amazing.
Bags Of Taste changed my lifestyle big time. I am a Member of "SlimmingWorld" and the recipes are ideal for healthy eating and low on calories and I'm two stone lighter as I write. I was sad when as a student the course ended after four weeks so I decided I wanted to become a volunteer myself. In the beginning I wasn't very reliable as I couldn't keep to my committed times, but Alicia was so patient and understanding and I have never looked back. I engage with all the students, giving them space to do what they have seen during the demonstration of the recipes they are going to cook. It's great that vegetarians are also included to.
People from all walks of life join Bags Of Taste, disabled, elderly, young/old, couples even it's so rewarding to see everyone be so friendly and happy during their learning time with Bags Of Taste.
I have more money since buying better, the course taught me that as well as amazing recipes to cook from nothing, so cheaply. I am on low income myself and my food shopping seems cheaper now and my fridge and cupboards are never empty. I can look in my kitchen and know I can make meals from what I have it great to be adventurous with my cooking. I do admit occasionally I buy SlimmingWorld ready meals now and again but not like I once did and costing so much money at £3 a time from Iceland.
Alicia taught me to go for the cheapest rather the dearest places to shop. Buy in bulk instead of small packages, share with family and friends. I've met some wonderful people and made some great friends. The last two years in my life have been amazing. I became a Christian in 2014, got baptised and confirmed, became a qualified gardener, now having cooking skills too and being a Grandmother in 2015 and again in 2017 May.
Life is lovely thank you Bags Of Taste for being joy in to my life. My friends I cook for ask me where did you learn to cook like you do. I just smile and dish up and eat and feel great.
Lorraine, age 51 January 12, 2017
I absolutely loved attending Alicia's classes. The volunteers are so kind, helpful and patient. They made me feel like at home within a big family. I learned so much: how to cook healthily on a budget and I hope Alicia will continue to get this fantastic idea funded! I would love to bring more people.
January 12, 2017
The video below is an interview with an ex-participant, Ken, who now volunteers with us. He is a recovering alcoholic, and talks about the impact Bags of Taste has had on his life.