I grew up in rural Ireland around strong men and women who taught me some key skills for life – even though I didn’t realise that at the time. I had a Nan called Kate and a neighbour, Hannah, who were both thrifty home cooks. They knew how to lay on a wholesome spread from scratch. Be it jam and soda bread or sausages and mash, the flavours were sensational made from simple seasonal produce largely from the garden or nearby fields. I’ve always loved to eat fresh. What’s wrong with fresh warm soda bread and homemade wild raspberry jam for lunch anyway?
I cook in batches, I freeze, pickle, make jam, bake bread. I cook for friends and help them to save money. I love to eat well, make things last longer, to boost flavour and to spend less money. I have been encouraged to put my recipes and thrifty ways out there and share some of my secrets and ideas. I can’t understand it when people say “it’s not worth cooking for just one”. I am the master of the scraps and the “oh there’s nothing left in the cupboard” challenges – give me an egg and an onion or just an onion and some stale bread and I will make a tasty meal.
I like the best for less in everything but I know that it takes some effort and time – that’s just life. I do the research, explore options and alternatives, I make a list and I spread my shopping across different places, it’s just part of my daily routine. Once you get into the swing of it you’ll be a convert. Saving money is addictive. Having money left at the end of the month is a reward worth some effort. From an early age I’ve always blurted out how cheap something was when complimented, maybe because I can’t take a compliment but more likely as I am proud of my thrifty ways.
I have noted a change in attitude over the last four years in London where people are more likely to boast about a bargain than hide it. Friends are more prone to recycle, ask for tips on thrifting, use leftovers, boil the bones of a chook for stock or leave something good out on the pavement with a note (not just because they can’t be bothered to go to the tip). Even more shocking they will boast about an item they have rescued and upcycled from a skip.
Like all lifestyle change spending more carefully may not be easy initially, it requires a mind shift and a little discussion and review with yourself to get what you need as opposed to what you want. You may need to be more open-minded initially, venturing into places you have never been or trying new products. This will all add up to getting the bigger ‘needs & wants’ later with the savings. You may find that you enjoy the differences and be awakened! You may wonder why it took you so long, especially when you are able to afford that long-awaited trip or new luxury item you only previously dreamed of. You may also become a more mindful shopper as a result and continue to evolve.
I am passionate about paying a fair price for things in every part of life and I don’t like it when people are taken advantage of. I think it’s about time we all made the money in our pockets that we have worked hard for work for us in a smarter more mindful way. I am going to start you on the road to mindful shopping with a food shopping challenge. I will share a month’s eating plans with simple easy and tasty recipes, spending £10 a week on food per person (drinks not included) plus an initial outlay of £10 for essential store items. That will bring your total first month spend to £50 pp (or less if you already have some of the basics ). I’ll post it up on Wednesday next week (in time for payday for most). Try it and let me know how you get on, I’d love to hear your comments and feedback or any improvements you might suggest or how much you’ve saved.