We need to get back to basics

The Cook & Grow Project has developed out of the need to replace our lost generations of home cooks and gardeners. Our eating habits have changed drastically to meet the needs of an increasingly "instant" lifestyle, which in turn is often creating adverse consequences to our health and wellbeing. It is not enough to simply hand out a recipe or watch a "how to" video - we need to stand side by side with new cooks and gently guide them through the basics of home cooking.

The programme is designed to teach an array of basic meals, with an emphasis on asking the participants "what do YOU want to learn to cook?" It is my belief that teaching people to cook a meal that they enjoy, is the first step to enticing people back into the kitchen.

With rising food costs, it makes sense to consider growing your own fruit and vegetables. The Cook & Grow Project offer simple starter kit garden ideas for gardeners young and old to take home and share with their families and whanau. We also offer an in-home gardening service to kick start your own vegetable garden, supported with advice on organic practices, setting up your own compost production and worm farms.

Programme Director - Helen McNamara

I am a passionate home cook, who learned to cook and garden at my Grannie's knee. My love of imparting the ability to cook easy, affordable dishes to friends and colleagues over the past 20 years has led to the development of this project.

I hold great concerns for the loss of basic home cooking skills in the busy world in which we live. Learning to cook for family and whanau is not only so much cheaper, but allows us to understand and control the ingredients we use. By taking this process one step further into our gardens, we can be sure that the food we bring to the table is free of chemicals, additives and preservatives - which is the way real food should be.

Allowing for people's own choices, keeping things simple, tasty and cost effective while using everyday ingredients gives great results.

To quote the late Anthony Bourdain:

“Basic cooking skills are a virtue… the ability to feed yourself and a few others with proficiency should be taught to every young man and woman as a fundamental skill. [It’s] as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one’s own bum, cross the street by oneself, or be trusted with money.”

Says it all really.