A group of Leicestershire residents have been given the confidence to cook a Christmas dinner for the first time, thanks to a local food waste prevention scheme.
Funded by Leicestershire County Council, in partnership with Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, the community kitchen project at Earl Shilton is designed to get people thinking about the food they throw away at home.
Led by local volunteers, the sessions teach residents – many of whom are on low incomes – new cookery skills as well as practical help in cutting food waste.
In addition to cutting waste and saving money, the project aims to improve understanding of nutritional awareness, healthy eating and confidence to cook from scratch.
Over a period of ten weeks, participants have learned how to cook a festive meal from scratch, focusing on a different element each week, from fluffy roast potatoes to moreish mince pies, as well as ideas to use up any leftovers.
The classes also provide a safe space for people to socialise with others, reducing loneliness and isolation and offering an experience that improves lives in different ways.
Resident Kevin Turner has taken part in the 10-week course. He said: “You start looking at things seasonally, you start looking at food miles, and you become more rounded in how you use food and how you think about food.
“My top tip would be to think of the resources left over from your Christmas meal as a treat, rather than a problem. This is wonderful food that you’ve paid a lot of money for – don’t throw it away.”
Food plays a huge part in making the perfect Christmas, but for many of us, due to a lack of kitchen confidence, the leftovers can go to waste.Person:Blake Pain, cabinet member for environment and transport
The community kitchens are a great way to bring local communities together while helping people save money, by cooking healthy meals from scratch using food that would have gone to waste.
Christmas creates extra waste in most households, with food waste increasing by a staggering 80 per cent over the festive period.
To help Leicestershire residents plan their Christmas and make the most of their food, there are a number of useful hints and tips online at www.lovefoodhatewaste.com, including storage ideas to prolong leftovers as well as a variety of festive recipes.
A short film highlighting what's been cooking in the community kitchen is available here.