Tom meets his eight volunteer families for the first time and introduces them to the six-step plan he wants them to follow for the next 12 weeks. They all want to make a fresh start with food because time pressure, fussiness or lack of confidence in cooking have contributed to an overreliance on convenience food. Tom believes there is a better way to live and as a husband, dad and chef who loves good food, he is the perfect mentor for his gang of fresh starters. The first step of his plan is to simply get the families cooking more. Tom wants them to dust off their neglected pots and pans and start cook meals from scratch. To spur them on, he presents all the families with a goody box containing a starter pack of easy recipes and the ingredients for sausage and mash - a Tom Kerridge favourite. Instead of traditional mash, Tom's recipe uses sweet potato and swede. Chris and Kerry, arguably the least experienced cooks in the group, struggle a bit with the instructions, but eventually sit down to the first meal they have cooked together in 15 years. Tom loves nothing more than a family get-together around a table of tasty, home-cooked food. He believes this brings families closer together and can make us healthier and happier families. This week Tom, his wife Beth and their son Acey have invited Tom's mum Jackie and her friend Gwyn over for a Sunday lunch of Greek-style roast lamb with roast potatoes and salad. Talk soon turns to how Tom fell in love with cooking and the first meals he ever cooked for the two most important women in his life. Tom visits Emma and Abii, a couple who rely on pre-prepared meals and takeaways, not only to feed themselves but also their baby daughter Elsie. They want to set a better example to Elsie but don't know where to start. Tom teaches them how to cook a simple red pepper pasta sauce - a quicker, cheaper and healthier alternative to the convenience food they were eating before. It is a hit with the whole family and fun to make. Tom drops in on another of his gang to help kick-start her home-cooking revolution. Nicola was never taught to cook when she was growing up and family food these days is made of ready meals. Nicola's daughters, Ashleigh-Jade and Sophia, are fussy eaters and Nicola feels her family is struck in a rut of the same unhealthy diet of chicken nuggets and pizzas. As a gentle introduction to fresh ingredients and new flavours, Tom shows Nicola how to make his turkey schnitzel and coleslaw, like a giant chicken nugget with a side salad. When Nicola makes it for the whole family, the schnitzel is a winner but the coleslaw proves something of a struggle for the girls. Tom cooks up two more amazing dishes to inspire his gang - a tomato salad packed with the Mediterranean flavours of artichokes, capers and chorizo, and Emma, Abbi and Elsie come over for a chicken and peanut stir-fry which the whole family adores. At the end of step one, the families send in their food diaries and Tom adds up how many meals they've all cooked from scratch compared with before the experiment began. It's a big improvement on what went before, but Tom knows there's a long way to go before everyone is cooking with confidence on a regular basis.
Tom's six-step plan for transforming family eating habits is nearing the half way stage. So far, the eight families are eating many more homecooked meals and have learnt how to plan ahead to save time and money. Now, for the third step of his plan, Tom wants to get everyone in the family helping out in the kitchen, not just one designated cook. Tom believes that whatever our age or experience, we will have a healthier relationship with food if we do some cooking. To prove you are never too young to start, he makes a family-favourite recipe with his three-year-old son Acey. Together they make filo pastry triangles with feta cheese and greens, a dish inspired by memories of holidays in Greece. Tom hears from Payal, one of the mums in his gang. She cooks for her family when she gets home from work and would love a night off once in a while. So Tom drops round to teach Payal's daughter Niharika, ten, and son Krish, seven, how to cook one of his easy and delicious recipes - Asian-style glazed chicken thighs. Payal hopes that sharing cooking duties will catch on for the family and take their food transformation to the next level. There is a request for help from another of the mums in Tom's group too. Becky and her husband Mark both work but Becky does most of the cooking. She now wants Mark to do his share. Tom comes round and he and Mark cook a butternut squash pasta bake. It goes down well with the young family and Mark is clearly proud of what he has made. Becky thinks that seeing both mum and dad cooking sets a good example for their five-year-old twin boys Charlie and Jack. Inspired by Tom's recipes, one young member of Tom's gang decides to spend a week of her holidays at a cookery school for kids. Eight-year-old Sophia joins her classmates making fresh pasta with basil and lemon sauce, a grown-up dish they love making and eating. Before Tom's experiment began, Sophia didn't cook and was scared of trying new foods and flavours. Not any more.
Tom shifts the focus onto their health - using his recipes as inspiration to get his gang eating more fruit and veg. Tom's brother Sam and his family come for lunch. Sam's not a big veg fan so is an ideal candidate for road-testing one of Tom's tasty veg-packed recipes - spicy beef lettuce cups. Tom stages a family cook-off with his brother, with niece Peyton as the judge. Tom explains the key to a delicious stir fry is to prep all the ingredients in advance, as the cooking part only takes a couple of minutes. Chris and Kerry are sporty types, yet despite looking healthy, they're worried that their reliance on eating out and convenience food isn't doing them much good. Kerry has breast cancer and is hoping that eating Tom's recipes rather than processed food will give her the vitamins her immune system needs to keep her healthy. Chris wants to help by cooking fresh meals but he finds the process of learning to cook frustrating. Tom invites them to his kitchen to cook gremolata fish with posh tartare sauce, a healthy version of fish and chips. Tom's banana choc ices are a healthy and easy-to-make alternative to bought ice creams. Tom visits the Loveday family at home. They struggle to eat healthy meals as a family because meat-loving dad Tim doesn't like fruit and veg - but they are concerned that Tim's fussy eating could encourage bad habits among their children. Tom helps Tim and wife Claire cook his Russian salad, and shows them how to roast root veg before combining them with peas, lettuce and a punchy dressing. Tom then challenges Tim to eat vegetarian food for a week. Tom asks the whole gang to keep track of their fruit and veg intake across a week. To help the families eat their five (or more) a day, Tom provides plenty of recipes. His Italian-style tuna and fennel wraps are a tasty and nutritious alternative to a classic tuna mayo sandwich.
For step five of his plan, Tom motivates his gang to up their exercise and eat the right food to fuel their bodies. He starts with his homemade energy bars - fruit and nut-filled flapjacks, the perfect snack for a workout. He takes a tin of them to his local tennis club where he meets up with the Roy Choudhury family. They have a history of heart problems in their family and want to make lifestyle changes to stay healthy but they don't know what sort of exercise they can all do together. Tom thinks that a tennis lesson from Chris, another member of the Fresh Start gang, will inspire the family to play the sport on a regular basis. Later Tom invites the Roy Choudhurys to his kitchen to show them how to cook his warm crispy salmon salad. While many of Tom's gang are new converts to exercise, the Clarke family have built their lives around fitness. Kerry's passion is rowing but she is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer and exercise has been put on the backburner. Tom suggests to Kerry that, as a gentle return to the water, she could coach a couple of the women in the gang. Another nutritious recipe Tom sends his gang to try is his new potato, goats cheese and spinach frittata. He shares his top tip for keeping herbs fresh in the fridge. The day of the first rowing session has arrived and Kerry welcomes Claire and Abii to her rowing club and they agree to return to take up Tom's challenge; a thousand metres up river and back. Tom explains that a dessert once or twice a week is an acceptable indulgence as long as it is worked off by the appropriate amount of exercise. He makes a classic British fruit fool with plums and ginger. Tom asked his Fresh Start families to keep track of the amount of time they spent doing exercise, so he could compare it to how much they did before the experiment began. They up their activity levels by 150%, doing a whopping 5,000 minutes more exercise in the previous week alone. And all this fuelled by delicious home-cooked food..
The eight families who are following Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start plan have risen to every challenge he has set them, transforming mealtimes at home. Now, as the experiment draws to a close, they’re coming together to celebrate their achievements – and to take on Tom’s final challenge: cooking generous dishes for groups of friends and family. Tom kicks things off by cooking beef biryani for his own extended family. With a one-pot wonder like this, the most important thing is to pack in tons of flavour. Tom roasts the mince for the biryani in the oven to maximise the flavour before adding it to the pot. He doesn’t hold back on the ginger, garlic and spices either. The finished dish contains around half the calories of a standard takeaway curry and has loads of veg thrown in so there’s no need for extra side dishes. The Johnson family love hosting parties but are unhappy about the food they usually offer their guests; frozen pizzas and tinned hot dogs were the norm. Now they are throwing their first party since starting Tom’s experiment. It’s mum Becky’s 40th birthday and they want to serve real, homemade party food. Tom and the Johnsons – including three sons – work as a team to prepare chicken ranch burgers for 20 hungry guests. The recipe can be prepped ahead so the Johnsons have more time to relax and celebrate when friends and family arrive. Over the last two and a half months, the gang have learnt loads of new cooking techniques. Now Tom wants them to use what they’ve learnt to be even more ambitious. He is challenging them to make bigger dishes for more people than ever before - to show how delicious food has the power to bring people together. Back in his kitchen, Tom makes a sumptuous chicken, ham and leek pie – perfect for a large group to share, hot or cold. This is exactly the sort of dish that can transform how Tom’s gang cook for their friends and family. To mark the end of the experiment and celebrate their achievements, all the families are getting together for a picnic in a few days’ time. Tom has asked them all to cook a dish they can bring along and share with the group. And Tom’s not going to arrive empty handed either; he’s doing his own version of Eton mess, a summer pudding that both kids and adults love. Meringues from scratch and a simple strawberry coulis are things all of us can make – other than that there’s not much ‘cooking’. This is a dish with lots of separate elements that taste incredible when combined and it’s ideal for a summer party. Meanwhile Tom asks each family to come up with a resolution to take forward now that the experiment is coming to an end; a pledge that’s personal to their own experience and will help keep their cooking and eating on track in the months and years ahead. He also asks the gang to take the same set of health and fitness tests as they did at the start, to find out how much progress they’ve made. The final day of the experiment comes around and all the Fresh Start gang gather together for a picnic and cricket match. Twelve weeks on they’ve come a long way – they’re all cooking from scratch, eating healthier meals and, importantly, eating together as a family more often. Tom reveals the results of the recent health tests and there’s plenty to celebrate; from weight loss and improved fitness to greater happiness. And the families reveal their new resolutions and share the incredible food they’ve all made. Cooking and eating together has brought so many positive changes to the lives of these eight families. But the thing Tom’s most delighted by is how much happier they all are as a result.