1. Eat more pulses
As a child I used to hate butter beans etc. that were unimaginatively served in school dinners. But now I really enjoy trying different pulses and they’re good for your health. Using pulses also means I can pay more for meat that has bean reared in an acceptable way, because adding pulses to stews and other dishes makes a little meat go a long way.
If you’re not sure about cooking pulses, there’s some help here and more recipes here. It’s easier to use tinned beans, but cheaper to buy dried ones. A pressure cooker saves a lot of time.
2. Eat more fruit and vegetables
I’m sure my doctor will approve of this one! These days I much prefer a vegetable curry to a meat curry and it’s more authentic. It’s time to rediscover fennel, red cabbage, and turnips.
3. Eat more seasonally
Why do we buy tasteless strawberries in December? Eating according to the seasons is cheaper and better for the environment.
There’s plenty of advice on the web about how to do this, like the BBC’s Food Seasons and Eat Seasonably.
4. Eat more sustainable fish
It’s alarmed me how many species of fish seem to have gone (or become very scarce). Why are we catching fish like mackerel and then feeding it to salmon in horrible fish farms? I’d rather eat mackerel than salmon, and it takes about three pounds of wild fish to grow one pound of farmed fish
Find a good fishmonger and use the Good Fish Guide for guidance.
5. Drink less alcohol
My recent course at Cheshire Wine School reminded me that spending a bit more on a bottle gets a lot better quality wine so if I drink less I can improve the quality of what I drink!
I can’t stand low alcohol wines, but drinking a nice English cider or perry (like those made by Once Upon A Tree or Oliver’s Cider and Perry) rather than a glass of wine will also help cut down my alcohol consumption.
6. Buy more real bread
Real bread may cost a little more than the mass produced cotton wool sort that many of us eat, but I think it’s well worth paying a bit more for proper bread. Watching Britain’s Best Bakery reminded me how passionate bakers can be, and I look forward to visiting as many as possible this year.
It’s easy to find a good baker:
It’s always nice to visit a proper bakery, bakers are some of the nicest people I know!
7. Buy more local foods
I’m delighted that local foods seem to be making a comeback. According to the Food Ethics Council food accounts for 25% of the distance travelled by lorries in the UK, and 12 billion miles driven a year by consumers.
I’m pleased that small artisan producers are starting to use some of the tactics used by supermarkets and are now doing loyalty cards etc.
8. Exercise more
The easiest exercise you can do is to not do a one stop shop at your supermarket! Instead walk around your town or village and do more shopping at the small independents. You can build up a relationship with them. If you ask, they’ll often get thing in if they don’t already stock it, and they will advice you on what’s good at the moment and if you’re on a budget they’ll find you a bargain!
Going on a nice walk means you can eat more, and not put on the calories. The endorphins produced by exercise beats taking drugs! The Ramblers and the National Trust make it easy to find some nice walks (and here are some I’ve done).
9. Discover old recipes
There’s lots of new recipes on the internet, many of highly dubious providence. This morning I saw a recipe for Champagne and Curry Soup with Oysters! What a waste of good ingredients.
Instead why not have a look at some of the recipes our grandparents used? For inspiration there’s fantastic sites like Great British Kitchen and The Foods of England.
I feel, having made a list of 9 things, that it should be 10! What have I missed out?