4 Apr 2019

Cooking tasty meals on a budget in Brinkworth

Brinkworth resident Louise and Wendy who is teaching the cooking course
  • One-pot cooking on board the big blue bus
  • Teresa and Lilly enjoying cooking
  • Louise cooks up stir-fried pork noodles

Brinkworth residents have been learning how to cook quick family meals as part of a one-pot cooking course organised by GreenSquare. 

The housing group has part-funded the free, five-week course for its residents at Brooklands in the village of Brinkworth. The course, which began in March, also received additional funding from the Malmesbury League of Friends. 

The sessions have been taking place on board a converted, blue double-decker bus owned by the Open Blue Trust, who use it as a mobile community centre visiting neighbourhoods across north Wiltshire. 

Wendy Halls, a retired teacher, volunteers for the Open Blue Trust and has been leading the cooking course. She said: “I have a background in teaching and cooking, so enjoy these sessions. The group choose which of the recipes they want to make and we work through them. Soups are good because they are so cheap to make and there’s plenty to go round, whereas most tubs of fresh soups in the supermarket, for example, are very expensive.”  

On the menu at the latest session (Thursday 4 April) were two types of fresh soup: carrot and coriander and leek and potato, as well as stir-fried pork noodles. Participants learnt to cook all the recipes from scratch. 

Louise Rayne, 28, has been attending the cooking course with her sister Tasha. “It’s really nice to learn more about how to cook fresh food, much better than frozen rubbish”, she said. “We made a chicken risotto the other week and I enjoyed that. I think one-pot meals help with budgeting and time-saving, they’re easy really, you just chuck it all in and it’s done. I’m looking forward to making paella as my Nan always makes that so it will be nice to learn myself.” 

Teresa Thomasson has been attending the sessions with children Lilly, 7, and Layton, 8, who are home schooled. “We already do a lot about cooking healthy meals, but this is great because it gives them another way of learning about how to cook and helps them become more independent,” she said. “It’s fun too. I think children should be learning more really about the basics of how to prepare and cook food.”

In previous years GreenSquare has organised cooking courses for other Wiltshire communities including in Chippenham, Malmesbury and Calne. 

Sue Matthews, community involvement officer at GreenSquare, said: “This course is a fun and valuable opportunity for our residents to learn how to prepare and cook healthy meals on a budget.  

“Using the Big Blue Bus has meant that we’ve been able to bring the course to them. They have enjoyed learning useful skills, and sharing their ideas and tips with others from the neighbourhood.”

Try making this recipe for stir-fried pork noodles, a great alternative to a takeaway!  

Stir-fried pork noodles 


1 tbsp vegetable oil (*1 tablespoon = 2 dessert spoons)

150g egg noodles

200g lean pork cut into slices

½ red or green pepper thinly sliced

2/3 spring onions

Clove of garlic, 1cm fresh ginger, red chilli

Small amount mangetout/mushrooms/broccoli

For the sauce 

3 tbsp soy sauce, 1 ½ tbsp clear honey, 1tbsp dry sherry, 1tsp sesame oil

1 level tsp cornflour 


1. Cook the noodles to pack directions 

2. Mix the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil and sherry (optional). Stir in cornflour

3. Cut carrots, red pepper, spring onions and any other veg into thin strips or slices

4. Crush or finely chop garlic, finely chop chilli and ginger (choose those you like)

5. Heat oil in the wok or pan until hot 

6. Add pork, fry for 5-6 mins until almost cooked 

7. Add garlic, ginger, chilli and all other vegetables apart from mangetout and cook for 2-3 minutes

8. Return the pork to the pan and add the sauce and mange tout. Cook for 2-3 minutes

9. Stir in the noodles, heat through and serve.