A Dundee community centre has launched a new cookbook it will give away with foodbank referrals in a bid to get more people cooking.
Cooking With Maxwell features 30 tasty and varied recipes for food that can be made using ingredients commonly given out in food parcels along with freshly grown herbs and vegetables.
It is the product of efforts by staff and helpers at the Maxwell Centre in Coldside who hope to help those being referred to eat better and spend more time in the kitchen.
About 500 copies have been run off by an online printing company to be distributed with food parcels.
Jenni Christieson, project worker, believes the book can inspire confidence among those finding life hard at a time of bitter welfare reforms that have been hard to swallow.
“We do a lot of referrals for foodbanks – about 120 adults – and people don’t always know what they can do with what they get in their parcels,” Jenni said.
“There are loads of cookbooks out there, but they don’t tend to feature ingredients you keep in your kitchen cupboard.
“So we looked up what you tend to get in a typical food parcel, and what you can get if you go to somewhere like Home Bargains with £1 in your pocket, and we used that to come up with these recipes.”
Cooking With Maxwell is split into two parts to slowly ease even the most novice of cooks into the kitchen and “help make a little go a long way”.
The first part features wholesome and filling recipes that can be made using the dried and tinned convenience products that typically come in parcels.
So whether it’s fishcakes made with instant mash and a tin of tuna, banana pancakes or a tomato soup pasta bake, each one requires a handful of ingredients and a minimum of fuss.
For part two, the team went further, concocting a range of salads, stews and even cakes that can be made using fresh produce grown in the Maxwell Centre’s own community garden.
Those recipes have been written by members of the Tend and Share group, which meets on Mondays and Tuesdays to cook fresh meals from scratch.
And because the community garden is free to those who need its produce, portions can be made for below £1 a head.
Jenni added: “We’re always keen to have people join the group. When people come in for referrals we tell them about the book and the group and the allotment and we’re getting a lot of people coming in. People have been trying fresh vegetables they’ve never had before or were convinced they didn’t like.”
Those who take part in the Tend and Share group believe the cookbook is a brilliant idea.
George Nicoll, who has been attending weekly cooking sessions for six months, said: “I was involved in the gardening group at Maxwell before I started here. I’ve always liked cooking but I have learnt so much since I joined Tend and Share and I think the book will do well.”
Moya Scott, another regular who helped to test the recipes in the book, added: “It gives people ideas of what they can use for a meal and it opens doors.
“It also helps people realise they can make something more exciting and quite tasty with what they’ve already got.”