To Cook or Not To Cook?

* by Mark

Our food system is pony.

We all know it, we have all known it for quite some time now, yet what do we do about it?

We all eat roughly 3 times a day or 21 meals a week, knocking one meal off for that missed lunch last week because we were just too busy to stop leaves us with a nice round 20. A family of 4 and we are up to 80 meals a week, that’s a lot of food to be found, bought, prepared and finally eaten. Set in the context that in the 21st century it takes two incomes to survive and have any reasonable hope of having nice stuff to play with on those brief moments off. These two facts come together in, currently a most unfortunate way, let me explain why…..

To Cook or Not To CookI will speak in generalisations and I am happy with that as I am very confident we have all fallen foul of the traps that cause the behaviour our food industry takes advantage of.

Let’s agree we are all busy people and when everyone finally arrives home after another stress filled day at work, college, school or other, we are tired and long to crash on the sofa to rest legs or preferred unwinding activity. Then the issue is raised, everyone is hungry and what is for dinner. Arguments, strops and evil glares my abound at this point as no one wants to do the preparing and cooking and for the love of everything wonderful in this world it must surely be someone else’s turn tonight! Everyone remembering a moment when this has happened yet? So what traditionally happens at this point is the fridge and freezer receive a fully expected visit. Stuff is shuffled and poked and expiration dates checked. A million different homes and a million versions of the fridge / freezer visit but all heading for the same result, what will make the quickest yet still tasty meal. This is the point at which you incorrectly decide that the ready meal you’re holding that only requires 3 minutes in the microwave oven is the best answer. After you have eaten it, you may start to realise the error of your ways and if not in time your body will tell you by changing shape.

Our food supply is managed and controlled by a surprisingly small group of companies. Just because the label says it’s from a company called Happy Foods Inc they in turn may be (probably are) wholly owned by larger company who in turn are owned by a large multinational conglomerate who is owned by its shareholders. Now anyone who has even the vaguest idea of what any individual stockholder looks like (i.e. anyone who has invested in the stock market) then they will know that all stockholders value only one thing in their investment, profit! Profit is king, free money for taking a punt on a company what could possibly go wrong. So for our conglomerate to deliver profits to the ever howling crowd of shareholders it must be profitable. This is obvious I know but it’s also the law, all public companies are required by law to maximise their profits over all other considerations. Now, where does our conglomerate get the money to keep this obligation? That’s right: you and me.

The supermarket is king in this day and age, the high street has transformed into a social area with a few conglomerates with house hold names interspersed with a few novelty shops. Now the vast majority of us when we want food we go to the local supermarket. How many supermarkets can you think of as a pop quiz, naming 3 is easy even 5 is straight forward but try 10 and I bet you will really start to struggle. As we established our food is controlled by very few. Now they watch us and they watch us very closely, how closely I hear you ask. How about this, this is in use in certain areas out there at this very moment…. As you enter the supermarket it locks onto your GPS (oh, mobile phones… don’t you just love them) and they record where you walk and how long you stay looking at a product section. This data is merged together and the supermarket can adapt its layout and what stock sections should be expanded and which can be reduced or even abandoned. So next time you’re looking around your local supermarket ask yourself why are there 4 alleyways of ready-made meals but only one of fresh produce.

We are busy, tired, hassled and with very little quality time to spend with loved ones. They are profit driven relentless observers of our behaviours, just remember that next time you go shopping, what you buy influences the world!

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for a Foodie

Let’s forget for a moment all about those standard heart shaped boxes of chocolates which are inevitably gone within minutes and let’s consider buying something a little more exiting, something different, something which will last longer than a day and provide our loved ones with long lasting pleasures and a reminder of the love given with the present.

Let’s forget for a moment all about those standard heart shaped boxes of chocolates which are inevitably gone within minutes and let's consider buying something a little more exiting, something different, something which will last longer than a day and provide our loved ones with long lasting pleasures and a reminder of the love given with the present.Coffee Subscription Box from £3.50/month

I adore the idea of having new coffee delivered to my door each month. I think every coffee lover would enjoy a long lasting gift like this. There seems to be a lot of companies offering a service like this, they offer different ranges, frequency and of course price. As I am not able to recommend one company over any others, I am providing you with a link to the most recommended UK coffee subscriptions so it’s easier for you to pick if you decided to order some.

Cheese Making Kit from £18.99

Most foodies love cheese but instead of buying a funky looking block of cheese why not buy them a cheese making kit? I bet most of us would enjoy making our own cheese. The kits from Burnley Home Brew are designed to be used in any kitchen and with no previous cheese making experience. In my opinion they are a wonderful gift idea for any cheese loving foodie and who knows, it could be the start of an empire.

50 Greatest Chefs from £19.50

Make your chef feel special as you think they are by creating a personalised book just for them.
50 Greatest Chefs sees your loved one featured alongside 49 famous cooks. They are included on the cover of this coffee table book and are the stars of their own biography page. You can choose from three cover styles in nine colours to produce a bespoke book that is printed on demand
Don’t you just love the idea of this book? First of all it will provide your Valentine’s with a heap of new knowledge about many famous chefs out there but most of all they will be featured amongst them! Small money, fab idea and potentially a lot of pleasure and a huge ego stroke for the recipient.

Cookery Courses from £30

Cookery courses are always inspiring and allow you to explore the passion further. Most people think that they are super expensive when in reality a group workshop can start from as little as £30. Single courses, group ones or even ones for couples, BBQ, sushi, candy, chocolates… whatever you fancy, I am sure you will find a course to suit your needs and requirements.

Chilli and Bubble Valentine’s Day Slate Cheeseboard  £34.99

Heartfelt and practical in equal measure, this chopping board has plenty of room for chopping and features loving Chilli and Bubble characters having a cuddle in the corner of the board plus you are free to add any personal message you wish (well sort of , as long as you can squeeze it in within 50 characters).
I actually own one of these boards and it is beautiful! And once the hype of Valentine’s Day is gone, your loved one is left with a wonderful board to enjoy daily. I really like gifts which are different, can be made personal yet are still practical.

These are my picks and I hope you enjoyed my list.

Have you come across something unusual which will make a wonderful gift for a foodie?

Online Bargain Hunt + #Win £150 Tesco Gift Card

I am sure everyone loves a good bargain. Why wouldn’t we? We get what we want and there is still money left over in our wallets and purses. A trip to a shopping mall can be fun but let’s face it, most of the time there are 100s of other shoppers, queues and the deals aren’t as good as the ones online. I totally understand the fact that shops having to pay their rent and their overheads are facing much higher costs, but how much higher? Come on, the difference in prices for some items is simply off putting.

Online Bargain Hunt + Win £150 Tesco Gift CardI am a huge fan of online shopping. It’s convenient, hassle free and much cheaper! Not only might you get a better price from the get go but you also save on petrol (as you don’t have to drive to the town), parking (as you don’t have to park your car) and most likely some lunch or snack as in the comfort of your home you aren’t going to smell those Belgian waffles cooking in the corner shop or that freshly brewed coffee in the café next door. To add to this, you can enjoy a selection of unique online discount codes which just aren’t available in any store.

There are quite a few different companies’ offering online deals and discounts, BargainFox is one of them. They offer discounts and special offers for all the best online shops that deliver to the UK; their coupon code selection is updated as soon as new deals are made available and if you wish you can set yourself up an alert for your favourite brand.

Let’s take Tesco as an example. Currently BargainFox has 6 deals for them. They vary from 50p off (for a Cadbury Fingers), to £3 off if you spend £12 on dairy items (which isn’t very hard if you are doing your weekly shop), to a staggering 50% off if you fancy a leg of lamb 🙂 Yes, these deals might not be to everyone’s liking but as they change all the time it is worth popping back and checking what’s new out there… after all this is what a bargain hunt is all about, isn’t it?

And if you fancy yourself £150 Tesco gift card, simply fill out the Gleam app below.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Win £ 150 TESCO Gift Card

Thanks to the discount vouchers that TESCO offers, saving money is as easy as counting to three since the bargains are already unbeatable.
1. Open to UK readers only.
2. This giveaway is sponsored by BargainFox.
3. There will be 1 winner chosen at random from all valid entries.
4. The winner will receive £150 Tesco Gift Card. The prize will only be fulfilled by BargainFox.
5. Closing date for the giveaway is Wednesday 20/01/2016 at 23:59pm.