A week in the life of Tiger Eats

A week in the life of Tiger Eats

Tiger Eats has been going for a few months now, over that time we have refined our processes from pandemonium into a finely tuned havoc and we thought it would be nice to let you know how we’re getting along.  Read on for our story:

Tiger Eats is a bit like “Ready Steady Cook” but on an industrial scale. We don’t know what we are going to cook until we get the email from Fare Share on Tuesday morning telling us what will be in our pick-up at midday.  Jack then spends some time wrangling the ingredients into 3 or 4 meal options that roughly fit into our “Something Soupy, Something  Spicy and Something Mild” scope whilst taking into account our members’ preferences and allergies so we have an option for everybody. Even then what we think we are getting is not exactly what we get so the suspense continues till we get the food back to base and can have a rummage; last week 2 crates of enigmatically titled “mixed veg” turned out to be 2 crates of somewhat option limiting pak choi.

When the menu is roughly finalised we send it out to our members to get their orders in.  Whilst that is happening we are trying to get a step ahead by preparing as many vegetables as possible in advance. Trying to gauge how much veg is required for a saucepan of 40 portions can be tricky, especially as the ingredients we are working with change on a weekly basis.  We scrupulously weigh everything we prepare and count how many portions we end up with to determine a rough vegetables to spice to liquid ratio for each type of meal, runny soups, chunky soups, stews (when dopes a chunky soup become a stew is a regular topic of debate), wet curry, dry curry etc. In spite of this, the way that different vegetables break down or liquids evaporate during cooking can make a big difference to the final number of portions.  As one of our aims is to reduce food waste, getting the number of portions right can be quite a headache.

Wednesday is the most frantic. First thing in the morning we buy in anything we need to complete the recipes and then fire up the hobs and get cooking.  We wore out a few stick blenders over the years at Tiger whilst making soup so we now have a 4ft commercial blender that looks more like a jack hammer.  It can blend 40 portions of soup in a few seconds but Jane does have to stand on a step ladder to reach the controls!  Whilst this is going on we are trying to collate the members orders into a single order sheet from Whatsapp, email, phone calls, messages to individuals and orders barked out as people walk through the community centre.

Once the meals are cooked we do some quality control (we have lunch) and then portion the rest up into tubs. Sustainability is at the forefront of the Tiger Eats ethos so we reuse tubs where we can. This is why we ask for a deposit for the tubs.  It has taken a bit of trial and error to find the right tubs, the first ones we tried were supposedly tough, freezer proof and reusable however they were hard to open, the tabs snapped off before the tubs open and they became brittle and cracked in the freezer.  Luckily, we are part of a Terracycle project to recycle broken food containers so the broken ones get collected up and sent off to bring in a little more income for Tiger. The tubs are sent out with the clients’ names on and reused for their next orders. So the next task is to compare the list of orders with piles of tubs to match names to orders and apportion any leftovers for freezing or for anyone who got in late with an order.  Measuring standard, equal portions can be a very aggravating task; soup is easy, 2 level ladles but if the vegetables in a curry or stew  are quite chunky and irregularly shaped a level ladle is easier said than done. Cauliflower is especially tricky and we’ve been getting a lot of those recently, the swear box is now overflowing.

The tubs are then chilled down and put into the fridge whilst the cuffs are finalised and printed off. The kitchen is packed down and everybody collapses exhausted.

Thursday morning is a lot less frantic, first the cuffs are attached to the tubs, if anyone can find the sticky tape dispenser.  Orders are batched up taken to drop off points in Nottingham and at the same time returned tubs are picked up for the next cook up. Through the day we get some members turning up at All Souls to pick up their, hopefully with their dogs so we can have a play.  If we have any portions left over we try and rearrange the freezers and squeeze them in for volunteer lunches next week.

If you would like to join in the chaos and comradery at Tiger Eats (or know somebody who is a sucker for punishment and has a few spare hours) reply directly to this email to find out how you (or your victim) can volunteer.

Happy Eating


Tiger Eats Team


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