Scrumping and foraging are good ways to save money. I love to make nettle soup in spring (see recipe on website) and always make extra to freeze down for winter. I also love to pick blackberries, but the hedgerows are full of other edible delights – just make sure you know what you are picking. When you look at the price of blueberries it makes sense to pick blackberries which have similar health giving properties but are free and organic. If you freeze them in a colander you can then tip them into a plastic bag where with a little encouragement they will become free-flow.
We don’t have room for fruit trees so I always keep my eyes open for people putting out windfall apples on their doorsteps. I stew these and put them in the freezer and use them on porridge along with the blackberries in winter. If you can cook a mixture of eating and cooking apples you won’t need to use anything to sweeten them.
I rarely throw any food away and thinking of ways to use leftovers and scraps is a major money saving exercise. If you go to the supermarket when stocks are running low you will be tempted to use the fresh food rather than using up the leftover vegetables, slightly over ripe fruit or one portion of casserole. However with a little ingenuity you can often eat well and last a few more days without spending money.
Leftover savoury dishes such as casseroles, meat or cooked vegetables can be processed along with a tin of tomatoes to make a substantial soup. All those vegetables lurking in the bottom of the fridge can similarly be made into a vegetable soup or stew. Leftover fruits can be used in smoothies or frozen down in individual pieces to make sorbets and ice creams. There are lots of recipes for these on the website and in my books.
I like to freeze down lemon juice and lemon parings so I always have these available and my lemons don’t go mouldy sitting in the fridge. I just throw the parings into a plastic bag, then slice them finely when needed in recipes, for a taste sensation. The juice I freeze in ice cube trays. I also freeze down fresh ginger which can be grated straight from frozen and chilie peppers which I halve and de-seed.
When it comes to meat you can save a lot of money by buying and shopping carefully. For our health’s sake and the planets it’s good to have some meat free days. Using cheaper cuts of meat that take longer to cook will also save lots. If you bulk out casseroles with beans, pulses and vegetables, a little meat can go a long way. I also like to cook in bulk. If you are putting the oven on for a casserole you may as well cook double and freeze some for another day thus saving on fuel. Slow cookers are ideal for cooking cheaper cuts and cost little to run.
When buying chicken it’s a good idea to buy a whole chicken and joint it yourself. (find a u-tube video to show you) This works out much cheaper than buying individual pieces. If you then roast the carcass you will be able to pick off sufficient meat to use in a curry, on a salad or for lunches. The carcass can then be boiled to make fresh chicken stock which as well as being healthier than stock cubes also saves you money.
Thinking ahead is the key to thrifty healthy eating as is making food from scratch rather than buying ready meals. Plan your week’s meals so you buy just what you need and are not left with unused products. Make good use of special offers – perhaps putting reduced items in your freezer for future meals and enjoy the sense of satisfaction of eating well and within your budget.