GETTING back to basics, a popular bulk foods shop in Ballarat has found shoppers are increasingly seeking ways to cook more from scratch.
The cultural shift also shows in a large early uptake on ticket sales for a session with The Kitchen Coach in October. Hosted by The Source Bulk Foods, the Ballarat organised kitchen event has had one of the biggest responses to coach Ashley Jubinville's tour of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
Less like storage superhero Marie Kondo, The Kitchen Coach's organisation workshop is focused on healthier and more time efficient ways to get cooking.
The Source Bulk Foods franchise owner Janet Smith said her store had was well-known in the community as part of the zero-waste and sustainability movement. A side-effect of this was people becoming more interested in wholefoods and learning to cook from scratch, knowledge that had become a little lost in convenience meals and fast foods.
Everyone wants to know about menu-planning and easy meals but at the same time wanting to cook better.Janet Smith, The Source Bulk Foods Ballarat
"Everyone wants to know about menu-planning and easy meals but at the same time wanting to cook better," Ms Smith said.
"Once you start planning, it gets easier. A lot of our regulars come in for their weekly shop and it's become part of their routine."
Ms Smith said plenty of customers came into the store armed with recipes where they could measure out exact ingredients and go home to throw it all together. This also went for spices to make sauces and in sourcing specialist ingredients for dietary restrictions, like wanting to try a little bit of a wheat flour alternative.
Dietary options were also part of the initial interest in The Source when it opened almost one year ago.
Nutritionist Jenny Mitchell said she has found bulk foods an easy way to get back to making curries from scratch. Ms Mitchell even made her own version of KFC's herbs and spices.
"I encourage people to eat real food, to get back in the kitchen and cook from scratch," Ms Mitchell said.
"If people are trying to remove gluten from their diet or make other changes, this can be a great way to try different things. It is a great way to keep track of pantry staples, Get what's on your list, go home and make your dish then try and replenish with fresh ingredients."
This comes as new research this week shows Australians consume almost half their daily kilojoules from ultra-processed food.
Researchers from the Brazilian and Australian study, including The University of Melbourne and Deakin University, are calling for actions to target highly processed foods in a bid to increase healthier food environments and choice.
The study of children and adults found those who are more ultra-processed foods consumed more free sugars, fats and salt per gram of food.
Ballarat dietitian Kerri Gordon this month also backed a push from national and state health ministers to review nutritional food labelling, particularly for added sugars, to help people more easily discern healthier options.
The Source customer Belinda Forsyth said she loved perusing the raw ingredients and knowing exactly what went into her meals.
"Food tastes better when you make it yourself," Ms Forsyth said.
"I don't buy big sauces, I just fill my jars with raw stuff. I love fresh nuts and we use the dried figs in making Turkish delight chocolate. Good quality food always tastes better."
The Source's Janet Smith said the bulk foods chain did not market itself as a health food store, the focus was on zero waste, but in Ballarat customers were tending to use this as a chance to source ingredients for more home cooking.
When The Courier visited The Source, customer Paul Doughton said the no plastic approach originally drew him to the store but it helped him to eat healthier.
"We make nutrient balls at home," Mr Doughton said. "There are lots of good dry, raw foods to make your own."
The Kitchen Coach Ashley Jubinville will present at Ballaarat Mechanics' Institute on October 8. Ms Smith said The Kitchen Coach's focus on helping people, particularly busy mums, find faster ways to cook healthier should resonate with customers, based on the feedback they were giving.
The Kitchen Coach - The Organised Kitchen event is part of The Source's one-year birthday celebrations.
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