A survey by The What’s for Dinner Club (www.thewhatsfordinnerclub.co.uk) questioned 1440 respondents on their weekly shopping and eating habits. The results reveal that as a nation we tend to stick to the same old foods, therefore creating and eating just a handful of dishes.
The overwhelming majority, 78%, buy largely the same ingredients on every supermarket shopping trip. It follows then that we follow a small selection of recipes, as when queried about most frequently cooked meals just six dishes were identified.
The most common meal, prepared most frequently by 30% of the panel, is a traditional roast chicken dinner. The next choices of spaghetti bolognaise, curry and a stir fry, bring European and eastern flavours to the table. Then British favourites sausage and mash and pork chops mop up the remaining votes. Just 2% deviated away from these staple favourites and nominated another dish.
Which of the following meals do you cook most often?
Roast chicken 30%
Spag bol: 27%
Stir Fry 12%
Sausage & Mash 12%
Pork chops 7%
Other choice 2%
When asked about their desire to try new foods and recipes, 37% expressed concern that their family wouldn’t enjoy them, 32% said that they cannot remember the recipes (and therefore ingredients) when shopping and 31% admitted that they couldn’t be bothered to plough through cook books to find new ideas.
The What’s for Dinner Club is a brand new online service that can alleviate tedium at the dinner table by providing selected recipes and, crucially, the corresponding shopping lists. Membership costs from £1 a week and buys meal plans for 5, 6 or 7 days a week for 2, 4 or 6 adults delivered by email on a chosen day. Armed with the shopping list supplied members are then able to buy everything they need to create the meals and reinvigorate their family’s taste buds.
The What’s for Dinner Club meal planning service costs £1 a week for 16 weeks or £1.50 a week for 8 weeks. Each week, depending on the number of meal plans a week you choose, you will receive selected recipes as follows:
· 3 or more Quick Cook recipes (ready in less than 45 mins but often less than 20)for example Chorizo risotto or chicken and bacon pasties
· 1 or more Slow Cook recipes, for example a warming lamb and apricot hotpot.
· 1 or more fish or vegetarian recipes (could be Quick or Slow cook) eg mushroom stroganoff or a speedy fish stew
· Snack recipe eg Super quick farmhouse soup
· Quick dessert recipe eg spicy fruit compote
· Complete shopping list divided into food sections eg fruit & veg, store cupboard, and dairy.
The What’s for Dinner Club predicts that their service will help busy households reduce waste and save time. Shopping will be easier to complete, working to a list, and every ingredient will have an end use.
The What’s for Dinner Club was founded by Cathy Grainger who found her inspiration for the service when her family moved to rural, Southern France in 2003. Cathy explains that, “One unexpected impact, when we moved from the Cotswolds to France, was the change in food. Ingredients that I had considered a staple in our UK diets were not available to me here where regional and seasonal eating takes precedent and lots of foods, for example coconut milk or lemongrass, are difficult to track down.”
“On the one hand I was enjoying cooking with fresh local produce, but felt limited by lack of more worldly ingredients. It made me realise that I didn’t appreciate the huge variety of foods available in the UK - going into a UK supermarket after living here for a while is a bit like being a child in a sweet shop!”
Meanwhile Cathy had friends back in the UK who were too busy to take advantage of the country’s well stocked larder. Cathy continues, “My friend and her partner are both teachers and have three children so they lead very busy lives. Although the family enjoys trying different foods neither parent has the time to plough through recipes books and magazines seeking inspiration.”
We were talking about this and we decided she needed someone in her kitchen telling her what to cook, how to cook it and to make sure that all the necessary ingredients were to hand! The What’s for Dinner Club is that exact service, your weekly meal plans on a plate.
More about Cathy’s move to France
Cathy and Kevin Grainger with their two daughters (now aged 10 and 8), moved from the Cotswolds to the Vallespir in South West France in 2003.
Both self employed the couple reasoned that they could live anywhere and so picked a spot in France that satisfied their needs; culturally and geographically interesting with easy links to the sea, mountains and Spain and a connection hub well served by airports roads, and railway.
The Grainger’s house is nearly 300 years old and when first purchased it was a traditional restaurant with no upstairs structure. For the first few years we were living in the old restaurant rooms, which even meant bathing (as best we could) in the kitchen sinks for the first few months!
It took two years to put bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs and then in 2006 they renovated the kitchen and were finally able to build a stone patio the following year, so that for the first time they have some mud-free, flat space next to the house, which Cathy explains, “is a must with children and three dogs!” Future plans include renovating a gite to the left of the house. Meanwhile the list of jobs for the main house and land continues to grow.
An interview with Cathy Grainger, founder of The What’s for Dinner Club, about the differences between French and British eating habits.
Q. What do you think is the main difference between how the French and English eat?
A. The French eat their main meal at lunchtime; shops and offices completely close between 12 and 2 or later to allow everyone to eat properly at this time of day. It’s not uncommon to find employees eating round a table at the back of the office, with wine of course, enjoying a proper sit down meal which is a stark contrast to the UK habit of eating a sandwich hunched over the desk.
Eating well at lunchtime also means that the French eat less in the evening, just some soup, quiche, salad or charcuterie.
Q. How does food shopping in France differ from in the UK?
A. Generally there is a more limited variety of food available in France particularly in the local shops and supermarkets. However the local food available is excellent quality, plenty of fresh fruit and veg and charcuterie and cheese, all locally sourced and made.
The UK though is very open to culinary influences from around the world and this is reflected in the restaurants and ingredients available.
Q. Do you think the French are healthier than the Brits?
A. One thing that is really noticeable is the lack of snack foods in France. Here you can generally only buy snacks in food shops whereas in the UK it is possible to buy a packet of crisps or a chocolate bar in most shops, chemists, petrol stations and even the Post Office.!
This is not generally the case over here and you very rarely see anyone eating chocolate bars or crisps in the street. Eating only at meal time is a great French discipline to adopt.
Q. What’s funny about the French and their food?
A. Well they take their food very seriously. For example, our youngest daughter has a food allergy which means that, although she can eat in the school canteen, I have to provide her midday meal. The school arranged a meeting with me to discuss which foods I should provide for her and was advised by the school doctor “…that a sandwich does not count as lunch, Madame Grainger.”
For further information contact:
CJ Brough at Blunt Communications
Tel: 020 8123 4193
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