IT’S the dilemma for the busy modern family – you want to put the healthiest food on the table but time often means choosing pre-prepared meals.
Anneliese Giggins decided she wanted to set herself a challenge – make all her family of four’s meals from scratch for a month.
Right down to churning her own butter, baking her own bread and even skinning 100 tomatoes in one sitting.
The mother-of two needed a new culinary challenge after suffering with post-natal depression following the birth of her second child Oliver in October 2012.
The 31-year-old said: “Before I had Oliver I did lots of food from scratch with my first child Isaac, now three.
“After Oliver I had quite bad post-natal depression and was on anti-depressants for eight months.”
She added: “It was hard enough to cook anything, I was too low to think about preparing food.”
Her month-long experiment pushed her to the limit and was far from cheap.
But she said the changes she and her family have undergone have been priceless.
Mrs Giggins, who is a full-time mum, said: “The first week was exhausting and our weekly shop cost £160, double what it usually does.
“The next three weeks were a lot easier and it has been more than worth it. My skin has become clearer and my energy levels lifted towards the end of the month.”
The change from ready meals and frozen food to healthy homemade meals produced an equally drastic change in her young son Isaac.
She said: “Isaac was a bit boisterous but during the 30 days there was a noticeable change, he was much calmer and the tantrums disappeared.”
The whole family has bought into the change in lifestyle. Her web developer husband Neil, 37, has changed his hours at work so he returns to the family home in King’s Sutton, near Banbury, earlier, and even Oliver, 17 months, has stopped throwing his food on the floor.
The challenge has brought the Giggins family closer together. Mrs Giggins said: “We made eating more of an event. Breakfast and lunch used to be eaten in the living room but we ate every single meal at the kitchen table.”
Two weeks on from completing her 30-day challenge, the cost of the family’s food shop has returned to normal and they have kept up their new lifestyle.
She added: “Even though I have completed the 30 days I am still making a lot of our food from scratch.
“It has become second nature to me.
“When we all sit down around our kitchen table tucking into our dinner I love knowing that I have made my family a good-quality meal, full of fresh, healthy ingredients.”