Jas and Vance McPhee are cooking up new projects to add to their successful facebook recipe page and cookbook.
With over 70,000 likes on How to Feed a Family of 6 for under $20 and the cookbook sales escalating Jas and Vance are focusing on how they can best help their community.
“Food and cooking have always been an important part of my life. My grandfather Basil used to watch me while my parents were at work and most days we’d cook together, me sitting up on the bench watching while he prepared food for our household. I remember his home-made smoker, his vegetable garden and his love for making things from scratch. So my love affair with food and cooking began,” says Jas.
Husband Vance is also passionate about food appearing on NZ’s Hottest Home Baker in 2013 and features on the Goodman Feilder advertisement Kiwi Faves.
“Being on the show was a great experience even though I only made it through one episode. As for the Kiwi Faves advertisement, that was a lot of fun as they just rolled the cameras and away we went.”
The couple share cheap, original recipes daily via their Facebook page. After only five months they are a well-known household name.
“It wasn’t our intention to ever write a book when we created our page. After Jas appeared on TV1 Good Sorts we were contacted by Debra Millar from Penguin Books and the rest is history.”
They have compiled the Facebook recipes into a recently released cookbook Feed A Family of Six for Under $20 with Vance taking all the photos.
“It’s been out for a month now and it debuted at #2 on the Adult Fiction top 20. The biggest challenge of all was taking the photos. It’s harder than it looks. I learnt a lot and know for next time.”
Growing up Jas fondly remembers freshly caught fish turned into fish and chips by her father and ginger nut log or rice pudding for dessert made by her mother.
“I come from a background where family and friends get together around delicious meals to enjoy time together.”
The family from South Auckland struck some hard times and found themselves living ‘hand to mouth’ eating instant noodles and toast.
“Thankfully that time in our life didn’t last long, but it taught me to prepare meals using what was already in the pantry, to ‘shop smart’, look for the bargains, buy in season and just made do with what we had,” recalls Jas.
“One night I made lamb curry with roti that all my children ate till their plates were clean. It cost me $16 to make, less than the price of one takeaway meal. I jumped on my computer right away and excitedly created a Facebook page (February 2013), calling it How to Feed a Family of 6 for Under $20.”
“Since then thousands of people have started following my Facebook page. It’s really gratifying to see people comment about how my recipes have inspired them to start cooking more.”
Vance and Jas source, pack and distribute ‘food packs’ each week to struggling families from goods and money kindly donated from their online Facebook community.
“We have people from all walks of life on our Facebook page that love what we do and want to help. They will either send us food, gift cards or money to contribute. We are able to feed 12 families each week by gifting them a food pack. A large portion of the proceeds from the online cookbook sales have helped pay for the packs. Our next short-term goal is to feed 20 families as we hear many stories of families struggling.”
“We have a vision to see that every child in NZ does not go hungry. It’s a big vision and one we will work towards fulfilling. Anyone that knows about having a dream or vision knows that to make things happen you’re going to have to put your own money into it and so we do.”
The next venture for the food passionate couple is becoming a reality as they have been granted a $10,000 AMP Scholarship.
“The ‘Do your thing Scholarship’ has enabled us to get the ball rolling on our ‘Feed a Family Budget Food Box’ initiative. The boxes will have recipes and ingredients to feed six people healthy meals for a week at a cost of about $140. Our main objective is to give people the cheapest groceries possible and that’s taking a lot of hard work but we’ll get there.”
“For now we are just doing our thing on a scale that we can manage. If companies or organisations what to lend a hand they are more than welcome to get down into the trenches with us and do so.”