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Food Wise
A Christian based charity delivering food provision, training and education to local communities
By Steph Cogbill on 10/07/19 | Category - FoodWise Tips

Here at Foodwise, we have a real passion for helping children and teenagers develop the skills for cooking healthy balanced meals. Giving children the opportunity to cook, explore and enjoy different foods can have an array of benefits. This can include a more positive relationship with food, developing healthy eating habits, enjoyment of good food and cooking as well as developing the skills when they are living away from home.

In 2013, a survey found that less than 40% of British children could cook 5 savoury dishes by the time they left school. This can have a huge effect on the health and wellbeing of this generation, leaving them without much choice but to purchase ready made meals and fast foods. Something we all know can be costly both in our purses and for our health. In some cases, children can lack the basic culinary skills of whisking an egg or peeling vegetables. This can also prevent the children from understanding what a variety of foods are, influencing their ability to lead a healthy balanced diet.

FoodWise tries to make a difference to these statistics by teaming up with the Eikon Charity. Starting at Kings College Guildford with the view to broaden our horizons to other schools in the community. Our sessions are around 6 weeks long, depending on the term and within these sessions we cover a variety of bases. From ‘what is a healthy balanced diet?’, to dietary practices to support mental wellbeing and aid exam stress.

But, teaching children and teenagers to cook is not something that can only be done at school. So here are some tips for getting our youngsters cooking at home with as little stress as possible!

-         Choose simple recipes. The recipes on our website are created to be quite basic with easily obtainable and budget friendly ingredients. Similarly, typing ‘simple snack ideas’ into Google will be a great place to start!

-         Encourage basic skills such as mixing, spreading, peeling, grating, chopping (ensure supervision with sharp objects)

-         If the children are younger, using colourful and fun utensils on a low unit can be useful

-         Start a notepad recipe book and encourage your young one to write down the foods that they have created

-         When possible, involve the children when shopping for the foods – this will give them the ability to see the array of different foods in the supermarket

-         Think of the key skills for cooking: boiling, baking, grilling, and roasting

Remember, developing new skills in the kitchen can get pretty messy! So be prepared and maybe you can even teach them how to clean up along the way!

By Steph Cogbill on 02/07/19 | Category - FoodWise Tips

Making a healthy balanced meal go a long way can seem a little daunting, especially if cooking from scratch perhaps is not something that you are used to! So below are our top 10 FoodWise tips for stretching your pennies, bulking out your meals and keeping them full of nutrients.

1-     Half veggie, half meat: This works perfectly for foods such as cottage pie, spag bol, curries, or a chilli. Simply half the amount of meat that you have in your recipe and either bulk it out with vegetables of your choice (maybe carrots, peas, sweetcorn, sweet potato), or with a tin of lentils/mixed beans/chickpeas – or both! Check out this BBC recipe that bulks out a cottage pie with some baked beans.

2-     Buy own brands: Did you know that most of the time, supermarket own brands often have a similar nutritional value and taste to the branded alternatives. In fact, Good Housekeeping found that some own-brand foods are BETTER than branded foods! Why not trial and error with some supermarket brands with foods such as cereals, tinned foods, frozen foods, fruit and vegetables. Then you can ditch the fancy label and save yourself a couple of pounds.

3-     Write a grocery list – and stick to it!: It can be tough sometimes, you go into the supermarket with a list but get lured in by lots of different offers. Try and make yourself a list of the foods that you and your family specifically need and go straight to these items in the supermarket rather than walking the aisles. The bright colours are there to catch us out and although the offers may look good – ask yourself if you really planned to buy that food in the first place?

4-     Use your leftovers: Cooking large batches of food and keeping the leftovers for another meal can really help stretch your pennies. This can be anything from cous cous to a roast dinner – just keep it in a microwave safe tuppaware and either keep in the fridge or freezer and reheat! Do be careful though to ensure that the food is piping hot throughout when reheating. When you are planning on saving foods, you should ensure that they are cooled down on the side before being placed into the fridge and if you are keeping it in the fridge then it should be used within 3-5 days.

5-     Don’t put up with food waste! Did you know, the average family with children wastes almost £60 of good food every month. Like above, try only buying the foods that you will use and be strict about what you will actually eat, cooking the correct portion for the amount of people eating.

6-     More veg please! Why not have a couple of meat free days? Meat, fish and poultry usually cost the most in a meal, so swapping these out for beans, lentils or pulses such as chickpeas and mixed beans can cut the cost significantly. They are also a good source of protein and fibre and they contribute to your 5-a-day. You could make it fun and join the other thousands of people taking part in ‘meat-free-Monday’.

7-     Freeze your bread: Bread is one of the most wasted food items. If you find that your bread is mouldy before you have finished the loaf, then you could try freezing your bread to store it. You can put it straight in the toaster if you are after toast, or if you are packing a sandwich for lunch, then the added bonus is that it will stay fresh until lunchtime! Storing bread at it’s freshest will help preserve the taste.

8-     Toddlers eat the same: If you have a toddler, get them into eating the same meals as you. Ensuring that you do not use any salt and be careful with spicy food. Simply blend or chop up their portion to a size to best suit them, you can even freeze leftovers for convenience. This is also a great way to bond, share a meal with your child, increase their likeness for different foods and ensure they are eating healthfully too!

9-     Buy frozen: Did you know that frozen fruit and vegetables have a similar nutritional value as fresh? This is because they are frozen when picked retaining the nutrients, flavour and colour. The added bonus is that they also come already chopped and prepared! Be careful not to choose those with added salt, sugar or fat.

10-  Buy in bulk: Buying rice, pasta and pulses in bulk can keep the cost down and add to your store cupboard essentials. Try to avoid single use/microwave packets of rice and pulses which increases both the cost of the shopping and plastic going into the environment. You can even buy bigger packets of meat which will be cheaper per kilogram and freeze in portions for convenience. Lastly, you could cook a whole chicken ready to add to curries, sandwiches, salads. A whole chicken will give you two thighs, 2 breasts, drumsticks, wings and a carcass for making stock! 



Do you have any tips and tricks for saving the pennies on your food? Whether it’s ways to eliminate waste or ways to make your meals stretch further, we would lov

By Josceline Walden on 01/02/19 | Category - FoodWise Tips


When you think of "malnutrition" what comes to mind?

Usually we think of families in 3rdworld countries, or maybe those with clinical eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia.
You probably don’t associate malnourishment with eating food, but the truth is you can be malnourished whilst still eating regularly.

According to the BDA (British Association of Dieticians) in the UK alone around 3million people suffer from malnourishment costing the NHS an excess of £13 billion per year!

 This post is designed to help you understand what impacts our nutritional status: signs of malnutrition, high-risk groups, links with poverty, and simple ways to eat yourself healthy whilst cutting costs.

What is malnutrition?

Malnutrition occurs when your body is not getting the correct amount of nutrients it needs from your diet.

Whilst usually associated with poorer countries where their diet is restricted and there is less food security, it is increasingly becoming a problem in Westernised societies due to:

-      Highly accessible and cheaper convenience foods with little to no nutritional benefit (think ready meals, sugary snacks, cereals, takeaways).

-      Increased food prices making cheaper alternatives more attractive

-      Growing economic stress

-      Miss-communication; healthy eating messages usually focused on weight not tackling the larger picture of malnutrition

More people opt for as a quick fix.  Due to the rise in food prices and other personal or environmental, stress factors, these food choices can seem like an easier option than preparing meals themselves.

Malnourishment is the leading cause of morbidity (disease) and the consequences harsh. From the direct impact on daily functioning, lowering immunity, energy levels, disrupting sleep and cognitive abilities(thinking, problem solving, mood, IQ, reasoning abilities).
To the more indirect, or long-term impacts, on heart and bone health, fertility, social, and economic growth.

Diet shapes your brain, impacts your body and influences your quality of life.

Signs & Symptoms

There are few things you can look out for when identifying malnourishment in yourself or others:

·     Weight loss/weight gain

·     Tiredness/Fatigue

·     Loss of muscle strength

·     Loss of appetite and mood changes

·     Reduced quality of life

·     Inability to carry out daily activities & loss of independence

·     Slower healing and easily picking up illnesses like colds and flu

·     Increased infection

·     Poor sleep

·     Thinning of hair and nails


You may notice how many of those link in with symptoms of mental health illnesses like depression. It is important to note how our body and mind are not separate entities and work together to help us thrive.

 Who’s At Risk?

Malnutrition can impact anyone, but there are certain groups who are deemed as being more "high risk”:

·     Elderly

·     Those suffering from mental health or disability

·     Those with income-poverty

·      Those with lower education or lack of education around healthy eating and simplistic nutrition

·     Children who may be carers for parents and/or siblings

·     Those suffering with clinical eating disorders and other conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, that can influence the body's ability to absorb nutrients 

·     Minority groups & those at risk of social isolation

 Malnutrition has serious consequences on child development and, for pregnant mothers, foetal development. Therefore it is important that when we look at tackling food poverty, and supporting those most at risk of nutritional deficiencies, in order to reduce the immediate, and future, impact on health and wellbeing. 

The Poverty Cycle

Low income is a massive factor that puts families under pressure and at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition.

Low-income families are also at a higher risk of illness and disability meaning their costs of healthcare may be higher, leaving even less to budget healthy eating, and with the additional stressors experienced, making diet and lifestyle bottom of the priorities. Having to take days of work, or school due to poor health as a result of malnutrition can perpetuate the problem, interrupting education, or economic advances. And so the poverty cycle deepens.


The Good News!

Nutrition doesn’t have to be rocket science and a balanced diet doesn’t have to be bland.
You needn’t be Jamie Oliver in the kitchen, and you can definitely push your trolley straight past the Chia Seeds and bottled Kombucha.


Here are some simple steps to kick-start yours and your family's health today:

  1.   Back to basics: the Eat well plate is a great place to start. It provides national guidelines for healthy eating, portion sizes and food group examples. Download a copy here and use it to guide your day so you can check in with yourself that you’ve included each food group in its recommended daily requirement.

  2. Start your day right: Having a good breakfast sets you up for the day. Skipping breakfast, or having sugary cereals, create fluctuations in blood glucose levels that impact mood and concentration. You maybe more likely fall into traps of grab and go energy drinks, sugary pastries, or relying on caffeine to power you through your day. 

    Try having a hot bowl of oats, add in fruit like raisins or frozen berries; both cheaper alternatives. Or if you have time scramble eggs and serve with two slices of whole meal toast, add some spinach or cherry tomatoes on the side for a portion of veggies, and serve with a small glass of orange juice or milk.

  3. Bulk Up: Buy veggies and fruits frozen, you get more for your money and freezing them retains their nutrition. Go for variety, eat the rainbow, and although fresh is best any vegetables are better than none.

  4. So No To "Cheap” Cheats: Whilst ready meals and fast-food may look cheaper in the short-term, long term they can be a real penny pincher, and laden with salts, preservatives and sugar you will find when you make your favourite meals yourself they will a) taste a lot better, b)be healthier, c) you’ll make more for your money, so instead of one meal you’ll make a few for the week.

  5. Get "Souper Smooth”: It is always best to get your nutrition from sold foods, but sometimes our mood, time constraints and energy levels, call for a quick fix and this is when home made smoothies or soups serve a fantastic purpose, and a real nutrient hit. BUT make your own, shop bought smoothies are expensive and both can have a lot of hidden sugars, preservatives and salts. 

    My advice with smoothies is to base them around veggies (celery, spinach, kale, lettuce) then sweeten with fruit: ½ apple, ½ banana, some kiwi or frozen berries, skip on the honey or syrup and use a milky base to add a portion of dairy.

    Soups are so versatile; bulk them up with some red lentils that are £1 a bag, and that’s another one of your five a day and great source of dietary fibre. 

  6. Get Food Label Savvy: Understanding your food labels can help you make wise choices. Whilst we are bombarded with calorie information it we actually want to look more for nutritional quality, which sometimes means higher calories, as a lot of good foods (avocados, nuts, seeds, oily fish) are high calorie but packed full of goodies. It’s the high sugars, salts and saturated fats that contribute to high cholesterol and we need to moderate in our diet. 

    For more information download the BDA’s guide to food labels here.

  7. Can-do attitude: Canned foods can be a good option when looking at budget buys. Things like canned tuna, chickpeas, mackerel & sardines, baked beans, are all cheap and easy store cupboard essentials that are great for days when you need something quick but will still fuel your body appropriately.

  8. Stress Less: Easier said than done, but environment really does impact your appetite, food choices and digestion. Choose meals you like, plan ahead if you can, cook with your kids and make it fun for them to learn new skills.

    There are so many free online resources and recipe databases where you can find healthy alternatives, have a look at the FoodWise recipes for some simple satisfying meals. 

  9. Move More: If suffering from low appetite and loss of energy actually moving more and getting outside, can increase your appetite, boost your mood, and help regain any strength lost due to malnourishment. 

  10. SPEAK UP: If you are really struggling then seeking help from your GP is the best option. You may be given help by and NHS dietician who can give you and your family individualised assessment and support. 

Final Words

Be gentle on yourself.
It’s all about the small steps, forget the bigger picture, and work each day at the little changes you can implement into yours and your family's lives that down the line will make for a long, happy, healthy future.

If you’re stuck we want to support you through your journey. Our freeFoodWise courses run around Guildford and Woking. 
On them you are fully catered for,supported, you’ll build community as well as learning important life-skills that enable you to support yours and your family's health whilst still cutting the costs.



NHS Malnutrition
BDA Malnutrition Information
Unite For Site; Social Determinants of Malnutrition


By Grace Luke on 26/07/16 | Category - FoodWise Tips

In order to eat well you have to shop well. Grace Luke shares her top tips for developing good shopping habits.

Food Shopping 










It's easy to get tempted into buying on impulse. Shops are highly skilled at attracting you to things you can manage without. I suggest six things to reduce the temptation factor.

1. Plan Ahead

Take some time to think about the week ahead – what are you doing each day? Which days will be too busy to cook? Choose a less busy day to bulk cook – make a bolognaise sauce, eat some that day and make a lasagne with the rest to put in the fridge or freezer for your busier day.

2. Make a List

When you’ve decided on your weekly menu write a shopping list – this will help you to buy only what you need. You will be surprised how much money you will save if you stick to your list!

3. Shop on a Full Stomach

Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry – you will buy more than you need. (If you know you’re going to struggle eat a healthy snack before you go).

4. Timing for Price Reductions

If you are able to shop in the evening you will probably find more bargains!!!! Shops often reduce the price of meat in evening before the sell by date runs out! A great time to buy meat to put in your freezer. (BUT only buy what you know you will use!!)

5. Visit your Local Market

The market is a great place to buy your fruit and veg, and they often reduce the prices towards the end of the day!

6. Stock your Store Cupboard

Each week try to buy one staple ingredient to add to your store cupboard so you can russell up something tasty when money is even tighter than normal.

At the end of the week congratulate yourself on how well you’ve done – focus on the positives. If you’ve ‘slipped up’ a bit be kind to yourself – REMEMBER the days that were successful and try again next week.

Don’t forget to freeze your leftovers to use another day.


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