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How to make the most of your food supplies

Bristol Food Network volunteer Isobel Cox provides some helpful ideas about how to make good food go further.

During these unsettling and unprecedented times, one thing that is helping me and many others feel calm and grounded is cooking. But even this simple, daily task now has its own unique challenges. With the advice being to stay home as much as we possibly can, it makes sense to go out to buy food as little as possible.

My housemates and I are trying to only go out to get food supplies once every ten days or so. The days of deciding you fancy cooking a curry for dinner at 7pm and popping to the shops for ingredients are gone, for now.

However, that doesn’t mean that we – or anyone else – should be stockpiling. So I’ve compiled some top tips and sources on how to make your food supplies last as long as possible, without any waste:

  • Make friends with your store cupboard and freezer – store cupboard ingredients like pulses, rice, pasta, flour, grains, spices, potatoes, onions, and garlic; and freezer ingredients like frozen fruits and vegetables will mean that you’re never far away from a quick and easy meal. Many supermarkets may have sold out of these staples (although stock levels are beginning to stabilise) but plenty of local food stores like Flip Food, Bakers Provisions and Zero Green still have plenty in stock – check their websites for details of how to shop. If you can, buying through local, independent food producers and retailers now will help secure the future of Bristol’s food community. The Bristol Food Network website gives more ways of local, independent retailers in Bristol.
  • Check out local food writers for recipe inspiration – many of Bristol’s local food writers and bloggers are focussing their energy on writing recipes utilising store cupboard ingredients that everyone can cook in the current climate. Check out Claire Thomson’s seven day lockdown meal plan, or the Bristol-based BBC Food’s super easy recipes. Or find some inspiration in the store cupboard recipes on the Bristol food blogs Lazy Cat Kitchen and Legume Mag (yes that’s just some shameless self-promotion from me there!). 
  • Plan what you’re going to eat and make a list – even if it’s rough, this will help you work out how much you need and avoid spur of the moment purchases. 
  • Order ingredients or ready-made items from local businesses – this is such a crucial time to support Bristol’s amazing independent food scene, and they’re here to help us too. You can collect boxes of fresh produce from Little French, or get them delivered to your door from Degusta, to top up your store cupboard supplies. Other local companies such as Little Hollows and Ah Ma’s Dumplings are delivering freshly made pasta and dumplings. Also restaurants like The Cauldron and Caribbean Croft are now delivering provision packs and ready meals for you to cook at home. Bristol Food Union and this useful map of Bristol’s independent food businesses that are still delivering provide even more information on the subject.

Isobel Cox is a volunteer for Bristol Food Network. She lives in Bristol and is studying towards a Food Studies MA at the University of Exeter. Her academic and personal interest is about how to develop food systems that are sustainable for all.