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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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TV cook shocked as Cumbrian parents survive on one meal a day

A television chef has said he is “humbled” by a couple who survive on just one meal a day.

Peter Sidwell photo
Peter Sidwell

Peter Sidwell, a judge on popular ITV daytime show Britain’s Best Bakery, spoke out after the News & Star revealed the harsh realities being faced by families across Cumbria.

Rebecca and Paul Stirling, who live on Carlisle’s Raffles estate, admitted that they only eat one meal Monday to Fridays, to ensure daughter Bethany, five, and 10-month-old son Joshua have three healthy meals a day.

The couple admitted they have on average about £65 per week to spend on food for their family of four, but refuse to rely on frozen meals or junk food.

Peter, from Brigham near Cockermouth, was shocked to hear their story.

“It worries me that this couple are surviving all day on just one meal in the evening,” he said. “They need energy to look after their little ones.”

Peter, who runs a cafe at Rheged, was encouraged by the family’s love of home-baking and the dedication of Rebecca, 23, and Paul, 27, to ensuring a solid family ethos. He admitted that a lot of the problems faced not only by the Stirling family, but by households across the UK, is a lack of knowledge in shopping well and making the most of leftovers.

“Historically we are really bad at shopping,” Peter, a dad-of-two, said. “We are creatures of habit and go every week and buy the same set things.

“In my family we sit down on a Sunday night and work out who is doing what during the week, and then we plan our menu.

“Roast chicken for me is great, but the next day we can mix it with fresh pasta or make pasties out of it or even the Sidwell chicken crumble. In turn, the carcass will make a broth, which costs nothing and could help the couple have dinner one day.”

Peter said that while tight finances often mean people are forced to eat less meat, he recommended families buy cheap cuts off meat.

“They are often the most tasty,” he said. “You just have to cook it very slowly and for a long time.”

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