Jermaine’s story – how what I learnt on the Bags of Taste programme is still making a difference one year on

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Jermaine is a mum of two from Hackney and did the Bags of Taste course in summer 2022. She has always cooked for her family, but mostly stuck to the Caribbean dishes she knew and found it difficult to introduce new foods because of her sons being fussy eaters. She would also get freezer meals and fast food takeaways more often.

The Bags of Taste programme inspired Jermaine to cook new, quick dishes, switch up expensive ingredients like meat to cheaper alternatives like lentils or tins of tuna, and swap some takeaways for healthier homemade meals. She said: “Instead of getting takeaway, it encouraged me to make my own: I even made my own McDonald’s for my son instead of buying it.” 

Her boys enjoyed joining in with the cooking, and making dinner themselves encouraged them to try new things and eat more. They especially loved the pilaf with fish – they even asked for seconds! One of her sons who has autism particularly struggles with trying new food, but helping out with the cooking encouraged him to eat more. The programme also gave her useful tips to save on energy bills and food waste, for example, turning off the hob and leaving the lid on to let the rice continue to steam.

 

When we followed up with Jermaine a year later, she was still cooking with her children, trying new recipes, and inventing dishes of her own.

Her confidence has grown so she’s taken on new challenges, like baking her own bread.

“We cook together and enjoy doing it as a family, instead of just getting a takeaway and watching TV. I try to make the recipes from the programme my own and add different ingredients.”

Jermaine found she is getting more healthy food into her sons’ diets:

“I like to find different ways to get extra vegetables in the children’s food, like making banana and carrot pancakes or blackberry waffles. I took some lentils and spaghetti and made a bolognese. Veg and fruit don’t last long in my house as the children always eat it!”

She also noticed that since doing the programme, her shopping habits have changed.

“I buy more longer-life food, and get non-perishable food like rice and pasta in bulk. And we use what we buy now: instead of buying new food, and then finding things hiding at the back of the fridge have gone off, now I rotate it and we use it all up.”

“I just wish more people knew about Bags of Taste.”

To support more people to take part in the programme, can you give the gift of cooking today and support the Bags of Taste crowdfunding campaign at:

https://localgiving.org/appeal/givethegiftofcooking/

You’ll be supporting to eat healthier for good.