It’s 2011. Food prices are rising every week, and I’m standing in Sainsbury’s realising that their own brand tinned tomatoes were 40p then 42p and now 44p. That means I can’t buy two. I want to make a great big Bolognese to last us three meals when tomorrow I will cook for the week ahead.
I’m a youngish mum to two little girls; my husband and I have very modest salaries, two children and London childcare bills. The building we live in is mis-managed, our windows shake from our neighbour’s music and there’s been a double murder two floors down. My kids knicked the pathologist’s biscuits. I’m not quite sure how I ended up like this.
In my memory it’s raining. I haven’t driven the mile to the supermarket because it’s a mile, and I can walk.
The pollution haze I can sometimes see from my south London office over St Pauls and sits in my peripheral vision. If I can walk, I walk. If I can borrow, or re-use or re-fill I do, because then at least I’m not making anything worse.
The supermarket trolley catches on the tattered cuff of my old olive green maternity coat. I pull at the threads and wish myself invisible. My youngest child is 3, this is my only coat. Turning the cans in my hands, I remember that I have some tomato puree in the fridge, and that, with some water and the one tin, will do for the Bolognese. I can add more carrots, celery and onions to make the meat go further. I feel like a failure as I put the second tin back on the shelf, but at least I can feed my kids some nourishing food.
And that’s the thing: I cannot stop December from being tee shirt weather or make our flat building a safe place to live. I can’t work out how to earn more money if it means I’ll need to find a job with longer hours or less supportive of my children. I cannot see where I can start to make life better. But I can get my veg box, I can scrub mud from potatoes and pull the ribs from kale and grate carrots and bake bread that doesn’t rise properly and pizza dough that doesn’t stretch and I cry over.
I can turn pack a bolognese full of veg or turn one abandoned sausage and three florets of broccoli and its stem into supper for my two little girls.
On Sundays I often start preparing some bread dough in the morning and by the time I have dried the last saucepan, it’s 6pm, and I’m surrounded by cakes, soups, sauces and bread and muffins and stews. All the hot water will be gone and my brain will be frazzled from my strange kitchen that has no windows and is dark all year round. But somehow, 6 hours will have gone in a blink. This, I learn, is my flow. I start hearing my friends when they say “This is amazing – you should do something with this!”.
I start working for the veg box company. I learn that my chattiness and food obsession are an asset. My confidence soars. People smile at me and love how I can look at a veg box and give them dozens of quick, easy and tasty meal suggestions. I start, and abandon, two blogs. My fear of other people’s opinions overwhelms every creative impulse.
One Monday morning, I sit and I sketch – ‘surely one leftover plus one new thing equals one lovely meal’ – surely this IS me, this is me my niche?
It took me over a decade of professional life to see where my skills could add value. It took respecting my flow to see that these are valuable and special skills that other people need to make their lives better.
This is why I started StorrCupboard. I needed to get this knowledge out into the world and to help people to save money and lessen their environmental impact. As my ambition has grown, I have seen there is huge capacity for my skills in writing, communicating, teaching and consulting.
I’m currently seeking funding to enable StorrCupboard to grow to its next level. Being able to commission a smoking hot, SEO & UX enabled site would make a food waste resource for consumers. Time for me to concentrate on building creative will enable me to create more DTC content. If you fund sustainability projects, waste reduction or female entrepreneurs, please take a look at the StorrCupboard.com, and if you see potential to work together, drop me a line and let’s have a chat.