Marcus Rashford's budget cookery serves up fish finger sandwich

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News family and education correspondent

  • Published
Media caption,

Marcus Rashford talks BBC Breakfast's Sally Nugent through his kitchen adventures

Marcus Rashford might be a world-class athlete, but he can still see the value in a fish finger sandwich.

That's one of the cheap and simple recipe ideas in a project the footballer is launching to help families cook "pocket friendly" meals.

With chef Tom Kerridge, the England and Manchester United footballer and food poverty campaigner is going to share the basics of making meals.

Mr Rashford said he wanted to make sure no-one "goes to bed hungry".

No kitchen gadgets

The free recipes and online video lessons from this Full Time project will be available each week on Instagram and on recipe cards in supermarkets, schools and food banks.

They are aimed at families on a tight budget, but also who might have limited time and no expensive kitchen gadgets or little knowledge of cooking.

"This is like learning to ride a bike. This is right at the beginning with stabilisers, this is peeling carrots, peeling potatoes, dicing onions," said Mr Kerridge.

The celebrity chef, who runs a Michelin-starred restaurant, is ready to raise his game with a recipe for the "ultimate fish finger sandwich".

"It is one of the first things I learned to cook as a 14-year-old. My mum was at a second job and I would cook tea for my brother, who was 11 years old," said Mr Kerridge.

There will be a recipe for spaghetti bolognese - which Mr Rashford said was one of his favourite meals.

Image caption,
Tom Kerridge wants to give people the confidence to learn to cook

The other contender for top food experience, the footballer said, was his grandmother's cooking. "It was the best Caribbean food ever - I've just never tasted it again. I've been to Caribbean shops, but it's just not the same."

There will be 52 budget recipes, with online tutorials, including chicken satay stir fry, chicken pie and broccoli and cauliflower cheese, with Mr Kerridge showing the Manchester United player how to cook.

It's about healthy eating, but in a non-preachy and unpretentious way.

Learning from scratch

"A lot of young people are afraid of mistakes," said Mr Rashford - who is volunteering his own lack of culinary skills to show it's fine to learn something completely from scratch.

While the footballing world has been convulsed this week by accusations of greed, Mr Rashford is still pursuing his campaign against food poverty.

"Is it fair if people go hungry? No, it's not fair. Whether it's a child or an adult, it doesn't change the fact that it's unfair if somebody goes to sleep without eating a meal," he said, in a Zoom call.

Image caption,
An "ultimate fish finger sandwich" is promised from the weekly recipes

If people are sceptical about whether families are really going hungry, he says they should "go and do some research and even meet people that are struggling".

Mr Rashford has been on his own journey with his food campaigns, which he says has shown him the pressures on families.

"There was a mother and two boys - and the mother was ill with Covid," he said of a family he had come across in London.

"And so the 12-year-old was going around his community and washing windows and washing cars for a few pounds, until he had enough to go to the shops and get a meal to put in the microwave, so that his mother and little brother could eat."

Too hungry to learn

Mr Rashford said as a child he liked to spend time with his mother when she was cooking, sitting on a stool in the kitchen.

"Anything I learned in the house it was from my mum… I'd always watch her cooking. I'd sit there and just have a nosy basically."

Image caption,
On a Zoom call, Marcus Rashford talked of spending time with his mum when she was cooking

But not being able to afford food was part of the hardship in his own family growing up.

"I remember sometimes at school I'd fall asleep. I just hadn't eaten food and I wasn't awake, so sometimes I'd literally just fall asleep. So I can see how it has an effect on the ability to learn and their ability to concentrate in class."

Free school meals should be extended through the next summer holidays, he said - and he wanted to encourage the take-up of "healthy start" vouchers available to low-income families with young children.

When he was young, Mr Rashford's own family used food banks and he was on free school meals - and he wanted to challenge any embarrassment.

"I wanted to get rid of that stigma, because it's the most silly thing I've ever heard," he said. "If you're in need of something - the help is there is there to be used."

Budget recipes from BBC Food