I had a 'pinch me, I must be dreaming' moment when Andy Bond rang the warning bell for the ready meal.

The Asda boss says sales of some ready meals have fallen 40%. That's a staggering decline, coming from a nation that seemed utterly addicted to them. Before the recession,  Britain ate more ready meals than the rest of Europe put together and despite the best efforts of celeb chefs, it was looking as though the idea of getting Britain cooking properly again was a lost cause. 

Mr Bond also served up a further tasty titbit to gladden the hearts of food campaigners. He predicts that we will be eating out less and cooking more from scratch at home. Perhaps he has been watching what's happened to Starbucks. It is looking rather sickly at the moment, presumably because consumers have decided that they'd rather make their own coffee for a few pence than stump up £3 for a decaff, tall, low-fat, extra-whip, crème de menthe mocha. All those fancy, overpackaged ready meals that knock you back £4 could very easily suffer the same fate.

Might it be that we are witnessing a significant shift in supermarket thinking? When the recession was still just the relatively benign-sounding 'credit crunch', supermarkets  seemed focused on churning out cheaper - and presumably nastier - discount and 'value' versions of popular convenience lines. All the niceties that went with times of plenty - quality, ethics, organic - were set to get flushed down the pan. As for a return to scratch cooking, this was way too revisionist to even get on the agenda.

That depressing template seems to have gone out of the window now, as retailers witness a radical adjustment of shopping and cooking habits. Butchers report a sales surge in cheaper cuts of meat and offal that were previously almost unsaleable.

On the lucrative gondola ends, the presence of soup packs of seasonal British veg suggests that even the supermarkets think Britain might actually get cooking again. Over-packaged, over-priced hand-trimmed, air-freighted kindergarten leeks are, in fashion-speak 'going down'. Vigorous, affordable adult British leeks are 'going up'. 

This is all enormously encouraging. The doomsayers told us that hard times were bad for the cause of good food. A hard-up nation with more time than money may yet prove them wrong.

Joanna Blythman is a food journalist and author of Bad Food Britain.