For many, the winter ahead is sadly full of worries about food, heating and bills.
We’ve put together four ways you can support others and ease the burden by coming together and sharing food over the next few months.
Cook and Share month begins on 30 October and encourages everyone to come together in a feast of cooking, connection and conversation. They’ve got lots of resources and four themed weeks to help you cook for people, pleasure, the planet and your pocket.
The Coronation Food Project
His Majesty King Charles III has officially launched the Coronation Food Project, which coincides with his birthday on 14 November. The project aims to increase capacity of existing networks to provide 200 million meals a year.
The project will work by helping to rescue surplus food from growers, manufacturers and retailers and redistribute it organisations and charities across the country who can get it to those who need it most.
Share any excess or leftovers
There are a few different apps for listing excess food you may have – try Olio, Facebook Marketplace or a neighbourhood WhatsApp group as a starter. Whether it’s tins of soup you know you won’t eat or a bumper crop from your veg patch, it reduces food waste and supports others in your area.
There are also various platforms which redirect food that would otherwise be thrown away from cafes, bakeries and wholesalers at huge discounts – Too Good to Go, Oddbox and Karma to name just three. They’re a great way to reduce the cost of a weekly shop, although you may have to get a bit creative with your recipes depending on what you receive!
If you have an allotment or productive veg patch and have found yourself with mountains of marrows or oodles of onions, why not organise an allotment swap or leave some out on your doorstep for free? If you have time on your hands, you could turn excess fruit and veg into prepared portions of apple crumble, vegetable curry or similar and donate to a local homeless charity. Or simply think about sharing your cooking, by giving a plate of food to a busy neighbour or parent that might appreciate not having to think about dinner for themselves or their children that evening!
Host a bring-and-share
Invite your neighbours, friends or community group over for a meal where everybody brings a dish to share. You could have it as a big buffet, or organise it by starter / main / dessert. Or have everyone contribute towards a takeaway! Check out our recipes for groups for some easy crowd-pleasers that won’t cost too much!
Consider inviting someone new to a communal meal – that could be a new colleague at work who’s just moved to the area or an elderly neighbour. They may not accept your invitation but feeling thought about can mean a lot to someone who’s isolated, and if they do, it might be the start of a budding new friendship. Jumping the hurdle of actually inviting someone without feeling awkward is often the hardest step, but the benefits can be huge. Very few negative things tend to come from people intentionally coming together to share food and talk to each other.
Spread the love with cake
It may seem obvious, but baking a delicious cake, brownies or pastries to share can bring a huge amount of joy to others. Think about switching up the people you bake for too – wrapping baked goods in greaseproof paper with a hand-written note might make someone’s day!
We’ve got a great range of sweet treats to try – just remember to list the ingredients if you’re giving them away! There are handy little food flags as part of our Big Lunch pack that you can pop in to list gluten, egg, milk, nuts and other allergens.
Support your local food bank
Food banks are in more demand than ever, so one of the most direct ways you can support others this autumn is to donate to your local food bank or pantry. Make sure to check what they need most first – it’s not always the items you’d expect!
You can encourage your kids to help you choose something for a food bank as part of your weekly shop too – it’s a great way to involve them and choosing the item can help to redirect any ‘can I have this?!’ questions.
Some supermarkets have baskets to pop your items in before you leave or offer ready-made bags you can add to your shop and donate directly, too.
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