Success of free cooking classes for £1 healthy meals in Canonbury

“Everything we do is aimed at making people change their lifestyle”

Free cooking classes for healthy meals that cost less than £1 per portion are being hosted by a community centre in Canonbury.

The classes will run for two more weeks until the 19 October at Walter Sickert Community Centre, where participants learn how to cook two international recipes, how to shop for the cheapest ingredients and how to store food.

Justine, a volunteer with Bags of Taste, the organisation running the classes, says she never ate vegetables – except potatoes – before attending one of these classes last year. “I was blown away by every recipe… and it saved me a lot of money,” she says.

According to a 2016 survey by the Food Standards Agency, one in four low-income families struggles to eat regularly.

“Everything we do is aimed at making people change their lifestyle,” says Justin Roebuck, the head of the Islington branch of Bags of Taste. “On average we save people £1,500 a year.”

Angela Franco, 65, has taken part in the Canonbury course and says it has not just helped her save money but also given her a chance to socialise and make friends.

The classes are funded by the council and have been run in partnership with Canonbury Connect, which is part of Help on Your Doorstep – an initiative to improve lives and communities in London.

Upon attending a class, participants can join a group where they have access to recipes, cooking videos and a community of hundreds of Bags of Taste alumni.