Cheap as Chips Cooking Classes

10 October 2011

Eating tasty, healthy meals that are inexpensive - without fancy cooking - is a daily challenge we all face.

Student Falaknaz Rana shows how to make her Haleem dish

Student Falaknaz Rana shows how to make her Haleem dish

Thanks to a culinary revolution that has been underway for about a year, residents of our rental complexes are not only cutting back on their food bills but are also turning out some great meals.

'Cheap as Chips' cooking classes have been running for the past year at local community centres involving tenants from the Council's Arlington, Pukehinau, Berkeley Dallard, Central Park, Kotuku and Duncan Terrace flats.

The programme, run by the SuperGrans voluntary organisation, in partnership with us, teaches interested tenants how to cook delicious and nutritious meals that are easy and don't blow the household budget.

The City Council's Social Portfolio Leader, Councillor Stephanie Cook, says about 20 residents have enthusiastically embraced the concept of good cooking and eating.

"It's been brilliant watching residents really get into new types of food and new styles of cooking - and it's been great sitting down and eating with them.

"I think we all know that many different pressures are these days putting a lot of people off cooking at home - everything from time constraints and cost, to the fact that a lot of us have never really learned to cook and bake in the way that Gran did.

"But the Cheap as Chips courses have shown a lot of people that cooking doesn't have to be difficult - and it most certainly doesn't have to be all pretentious, expensive and ridiculous."

Cr Cook says she's seen residents knocking out all sorts of tasty meals - ranging from Asian noodle-based meals to BBQ smoked mussels.

Participants have also been encouraged to go and buy from the burgeoning number of weekend vegetable markets springing up around the city.

Rosie Gallen, the Community Action and Engagement Manager with the Council's City Housing Unit, says the five-week Cheap as Chips courses have been held at local community centres - where there's enough kitchen space for everyone to "have a go".

Participants have also gone on field trips aimed at making the most of the rich environment Wellington has to offer. And the term ?rich' refers more to the great diversity of foods available if you know where to look, rather than how much it costs. A focus of the course is foods you can grow yourself or source from the Town Belt, other reserves, the sea and coastline.

Rosie says Supergrans organiser Cheryl McKane is passionate about helping tenants to help themselves, and ensures they have fun doing it.

The curriculum of the course is flexible enough to allow the students to contribute their own skills and learn from each other.

When Cheryl discovered student Falaknaz Rana was a passionate cook of Indian cuisine, she encouraged her to teach the rest of the class her favourite dishes. Originally from India, Falaknaz moved to Wellington seven years ago and lives with her husband and two children in one of our apartments.