Enjoying a spot of foraging, nurturing your own vegetable patch and even having your own flock of chickens are all worthy ways of saving money on your food bill.
Bargain loving blogger and mum-of-two Kayleigh Hughes, who writes for PromotionalCodes.org.uk, has put together her top tips on how to traditionally save money on your weekly supermarket sweep.
The 29-year-old, from Grantham in Lincolnshire, has enjoyed the perks of her blooming blackberry bush in her back garden this summer and is urging others to get out there and start foraging for their own fruit and veg.
As well as collecting sweet treats to make your own cakes and desserts, you can also cut down your food bill by growing your own vegetables and even raising livestock.
Kayleigh said: “Growing your own fruit and veg and partaking in a spot of foraging can, in the long run, save you a fortune. It’s not an easy and quick process but if you put in the work it won’t be long before you’re reaping the benefits.
“After moving into my house a few years ago, I noticed a blackberry bush in the garden. Since then I’ve always had a nice amount of fruit from it, however this year was different – I discovered it had spread its way up one entire side of the garden. Everywhere I looked there were blackberries.
“My son Joshua had so much fun with his little bowl going out into the garden and picking the fruit. Even after making ten blackberry upside-down cakes for my youngest son Jaxon’s christening last month, it didn’t make a dent in the bumper crop.
“I now have quite a few bags of blackberries in my freezer ready to use up until the next crop is ready.”
Here is Kayleigh’s top advice on growing and foraging:
Forage for fruit
Blackberries are brilliant growers and do well after being frozen and then being used. I even came across some in my local Tesco Express car park, which were growing over the fence. They are tasty, versatile and completely free when foraged. There are also websites that you can use that will tell you any known fruit bushes and trees near you so it’s worth taking a look, as you may be surprised how close you are to a brilliant source.
Be careful what you pick
Of course it’s not only berries you can forage – there’s also mushrooms. However, I strongly recommend that unless you know what you are looking for then don’t do it. I am by no means an expert in mushroom foraging and I couldn’t tell the difference between a poisonous one from a safe one, but there are people out there that you can learn from if you want to. It can be very rewarding to go out and hunt for mushrooms but please make sure you know what you are looking for first, as it can be rather dangerous.
Get in line for an allotment
One of the best ways to grow your own fruit and veg is to have an allotment. My dad had one for many years when I was younger and I loved going down at the weekends to help plant, build and pick what was ready. Allotments aren’t always cheap and there are often long waiting lists for spaces so make sure you do your research before picking a plot and find out about all the costs involved.
Nothing can compare though to the satisfaction of seeing your first successful crop that you have grown all by yourself. The immense sense of pride you feel is priceless. My dad used to grow potatoes, sweetcorn, onions, carrots, runner beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes and marrows to name a few. Some were successful and some not so, but you learn after each time and you try again the next season.
Check for chickens
It’s also worth checking the rules at your allotments on whether you can keep animals. I used to keep chickens on my dad’s allotment.
I loved my chickens – for my birthday one year I asked for a fancy chicken house for my girls rather than a pair of designer boots. They weren’t hens for eating, they were layers and they were fabulous. I’m a big fan of the Twilight movies, so I named them Bella, Alice, Rosalie, Esme, Leah and Renesme.
They were sensitive when it came to laying but once I got it right and knew what I was doing, there was no stopping them. I would get at least six eggs every day, and the fact I knew where they had come from and how happy the hens were made the eggs taste so much better.
Fellow allotment holders had animals as well – on the plot next to my dad’s were chickens and geese, and on the run-up to Christmas I would spot a few turkeys.
Grow your own from home
Don’t think you have to have an allotment to grow your own veg, you don’t even necessarily need a garden – you can just grow veg in pots and you can even grow potatoes in a big black bin filled with compost.
One of the best people to have mastered this and who has turned his garden into a brilliant vegetable patch is TV presenter and food writer Nigel Slater. You can learn a lot from him if you do some research.
I say get out there and see what you can forage, but please be careful and only pick fruit and veg that you know. See what you can grow yourself too and even think about getting a group of chickens – they can really change your life for the better.