The Cook Smart Eat Well course provides a combination of healthy eating advice and practical food preparation skills for clients using the Matthew Tree Project Support Centres or those booked directly via our network of referral agencies.

It is run for TMTP by professional staff including Beverley Campbell, Sandy experienced Food Technology Teacher, Sue Baic, a Registered Dietitian and Sandyjohnson. a Public Health Nutritionist.

The course is open to anyone who would like to improve their knowledge of healthy eating, brush up on or learn new cookery skills and reduce food waste. It can also help clients to use ingredients from the Matthew Tree Project Support Centre.

Research suggests what we eat affects not only physical health but mental health and behaviour including mood, concentration and even how we react to stress. Research has shown that people often choose poor diets which could adversely affect behaviour despite the availability of healthy choices. Unsurprisingly poor dietary intakes are often associated with a lack of knowledge, skills and motivation around healthy eating, shopping and cooking.

The overall aim of the course is to deliver interesting and interactive sessions which provide clients with the knowledge and skills to follow a healthier diet The course is delivered by a friendly team and provides tasty, practical and inexpensive ideas for healthy meals and snacks. All recipes are easy to cook and provide a good alternative to expensive fatty and salty ready meals or takeaways. The sessions are interactive, informative and clients have plenty of chance to ask questions or share ideas.

Course content is based on the Eat Well Plate model to explore the principles of a healthy diet and how this can be put into practice on a budget with limited facilities. Clients are encouraged to consider how their own diet compares with healthy eating guidelines and explore ways they could improve it by setting personal goals.

Clients have chance to put the information into practice with a range of easy, affordable and healthy recipes which use minimal amounts of low cost equipment. The food cooked at the course is either eaten together at the end of the session or taken home to share with the family.

In addition, the course covers the principles and practice of shopping for healthy foods on a budget and encourages clients to examine their own shopping habits and use front of pack nutrition labels to identify healthy foods they might buy next time they are shopping.

The course also covers ways to reduce household food waste for both money saving and environmental reasons. This helps clients on low income to get more out of the food they buy by altering their shopping habits and budgeting skills and influencing behaviour change.

We focus on the Love Food Hate Waste Save More programme five key food waste prevention behaviours:

  • Planning meals & shopping including use of less perishable foods (frozen and tinned)
  • Understanding date labels
  • Correct food storage
  • Portioning
  • Use of leftovers/forgotten foods

At the end of the cookery course each student is given a good quality piece of kitchen equipment of their choice from a hand blender, frying pan or wok.