20 pledges for 2020: How to make your own eco-friendly snacks during lockdown

If you’re not a fan of cold, hard data, the news glut must be hard as well as depressing work right now. (Don’t get me started on the recession predictions, it’s keeping me awake at night.)

But in among the latest slew of apocalyptic reading raining down on my inbox was a lovely little snippet that suggested we’re slowly but surely becoming a nation that cooks again. And not just stabbing-a-ready-meal cooking either.

More than one in five households now cooks every single meal from scratch as time and the need to be inventive with the cupboard rummage starts to change habits. Before the lockdown, it was just one in eight.

With more people reporting enjoying cooking and that mealtimes are becoming more of an occasion (not that there’s much else to punctuate life right now) the vast majority say they plan to keep the ‘proper’ cooking going after the lockdown is lifted according to the research, conducted for Tesco.

It’s all good news – financially (the leftovers are being snapped up) and health-wise (putting the salt, sugar and fat in the pan or bowl yourself gives you nowhere to hide). But what caught my eye about this little chunk of data was that our mealtime repertoires are growing too.

We fell into the habit of always cooking from scratch as soon as my now husband and I got together, often because an ‘out out’ date night budget was out of reach. The kids can even knock-up a (messy but basically there) loaf aged five and three (alright the three year old mostly throws flour around, but he definitely believes he’s making bread).

And when we decided to go zero waste, cooking from scratch took on a whole new meaning. Our culinary horizons exploded with it.

We follow a vegan-leaning diet now. But when we first decided to remove all the single-use (and almost all reusable) plastic from our lives we were still attempting to maintain a fairly standard western diet. So we suddenly found ourselves making yoghurt in a slow cooker (easy) rather than buying it in a plastic pot, and churning butter (even easier) after discovering there was an actual real-life dairy near us.

Then there’s the two step recipe building (which sometimes really hurts my head). So to make hummus (we have small children, they mainline the stuff) we make the tahini first rather than buy yet another jar that may be glass but has demanded a great deal of energy to produce.

When my daughter turned five we took a bunch of her friends for a day charging about in the woods, ending with a campfire. We knew we’d need to make the marshmallows because you can’t buy them without plastic, but it dawned on us (inevitably at about midnight the night before) that we’d have to make several of the ingredients first too.

The vegan recipe books are another two step challenge because though veggies are available sans manmade wrapping the vegan versions of ‘chease’ or milk, are so often wrapped in plastic or come in plastic coated cartons. All of a sudden my once heavily carnivorous farming-stock husband became the king of homemade cashew chease. Trust me, nobody saw that one coming.

It’s fair to say churning butter was fairly short lived and we’ve only made marshmallows once in a year, but the things I’ve started learning about food, ingredients and, above all, what not to shell out to get a middleman to make for us, in the last few years has been brilliant.

This all might sound painful and sometimes it can be a bit to be honest – mostly on a wet dark Tuesday when you just need to get some food into the kids before they break you.

But my god, does it taste better. My naïve child-of-the-90s-convenience-food-explosion self wasn’t really prepared for how much better.

If you’ve never made peanut butter, it’ll take you all of about 30 seconds. Pile your nuts of choice into a food processor and whizz them up, adding oil and salt to taste. That’s it. Try it. I guarantee you’ll never go back to the palm oil packed stuff.

Unless you’ve got somewhere to be that is?

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