Caroline MentzerHello, welcome to Feed a Family Oxford. My name is Caroline Mentzer, and I’m a Nutritionist, Herbalist and mum. Starting in January 2015, I will be trying to feed my family for a total of £100 for an entire month. I will be aiming to use as much organic and local produce as possible, whilst meeting all the government RDAs (recommended daily allowances) of essential vitamins and minerals. I’ll be blogging about my experiences here and will write up my recipes online for everyone to see.

The aim is to find out whether it is actually feasible to eat a healthy diet on a budget, whilst supporting the local community. It is a common misconception that farmers’ markets are expensive and for snobs. Whilst this can sometimes be the case, Oxfordshire has some of the best local produce in the country and there are many deals to be found that are often cheaper than supermarket chains. For example, Rectory Farm sells 25 kilos of organic potatoes of just £7. That’s enough for 50 family meals!

I believe that healthy eating should be an integral part of family life. However, many parents do not have the time or resources to create healthy meals on a tight budget. Sadly, it is all too easy to buy low cost ready meals or go to fast food restaurants for a cheap and filling alternative. These foods contain high levels of salt, bad fats and sugar that contribute to high cholesterol, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Relieve the burden on the NHS

In the UK we are currently experiencing an obesity epidemic. One in five people are classified as obese, a proportion which has tripled in the last 20 years. Furthermore, 1 in 3 primary school children is now considered overweight. The economic burden of which is estimated to cost the NHS billions in the future. In the recent Autumn Statement, George Osborne awarded £2 billion to save the NHS from crisis and modernise the health care system. However, unless we do something radical to improve the health of the nation, this money will simply not be enough. If we want to relieve the ever growing burden on the NHS, we need to get back to basics.

Education is the only way

The only way to do this is to educate children how to cook healthy meals. I was fortunate enough to learn by observing my parents. However, if this doesn’t happen at home, many children grow up without knowing how to cook. This is a shame as children love cooking, creating and learning!

I believe that teaching all children at school how to prepare simple healthy family meals on a budget should be as important as learning to read and write. We need to instil a love and passion for healthy food from an early age to break the vicious cycle of bad eating, poor health and obesity.

I’d love to hear from any local suppliers that would like to share info on their produce on this site. Equally, if you’re someone who keeps an eye on local deals or you have a favourite family recipe you’d like to share, then please get in touch. Email me at carolinementzer@gmail.com. Thank you!

A quick note about calculations
The average household in the UK contains 2.4 people, and the average family has 1.7 children (2013 statistics). We’re a family of three (my husband, myself and my daughter Melissa). However, it is generally considered that and average family has two children (whether they live with one parent or two). Therefore, all my calculations for this project are based on a family of four with two small children. If you have older or teenage children, portion size and budget will undoubtedly be larger. If you have a baby, it should be smaller. I hope that makes sense.

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