There has been much debate, argument and opinion of late on the subject of cheap food. People are expressing shock that their value burgers or factory made lasagne-in-a-box costing less than the price of a half pint of watery lager doesn’t contain prime cuts of quality beef, but the sweepings of a knackers yard floor. That’s because unless some horrible food scandal is hitting the front page of a tabloid, people will generally choose to be blissfully ignorant of what’s pinging out of their microwave as long as it’s tasty and cheap. The art of buying fresh ingredients and cooking a meal from scratch is what most people watch someone else do on the TV, while they tuck into yet another factory made meal of animal and vegetable product bulked out with sawdust, wallpaper paste and the contents of a chemistry set. Passively watching shit on a box while passively eating shit from a box, all the time believing the lie that they’re getting convenience and value for money. Be aware that the companies who manufacture this stuff are doing it to make a profit, not to feed you; they're not interested in whether or not you eat all your dinner and grow up big and strong; they just want your cash.
Okay, maybe I’m being a bit harsh here. I was lucky enough to be brought up on good home cooked food and as a result I’d learned to cook by the time I left school. As a student, my first digs were in a hovel in Carlise with a dysfunctional family with absent father, chain smoking mum and noisy teenagers. The food was as terrible as the digs so after a couple of terms, my room-mate and I did a moonlight to a better place with our own kitchen and I’ve made my own dinners ever since.
There is still a foolish notion among some men that cooking is women’s work; that is bollocks. That’s just an excuse for laziness; that means you never really leave your mum - you just find a new mum replacement to continue feeding you. I can’t see there being anything macho about being utterly dependent on a woman for that most basic of requirements as a decent dinner.
However, the thing that surprises me most is people don’t realise just how easy (and cheap) it is to rustle up a good meal. Yesterday ham hocks (gammon shank if you’re English) were on special offer; two quid for a good one with plenty meat. Straight into the pressure cooker when I got home, with a couple of pints of water and boil for a good 45 minutes. A pan of potatoes on and some carrots steaming on top and there, with slices of boiled ham, a great meal. With the remaining ham and stock left in the pot, I made enough risotto for a couple of helpings and then a huge pot of lentil and ham soup. Apart from the ham, other ingredients were lentils, rice, basic vegetables and a dod of parmesan - three day’s food for a few quid and with the money I saved, a bottle of wine to go with the risotto. You can keep your beaks & cheeks burgers and your scabby horse lasagne.
Cook your own dinner. It’s a statement of independence.