For me, it was tasting ‘real’ food that did it. I kept watching TV chefs and reading their books about how ‘real’ veg from ‘real’ vegetable patches are far tastier than most supermarket produce. As well as tasting better, they are more nutritious, less reliant on questionable chemicals and better for the planet.

Well, it’s all true. 

I started by getting a few veg boxes and using my local butcher. The quality and taste were great, but to be honest it started getting a bit expensive. I wanted to continue eating ‘real food’ but I also needed to cut down on costs. Here’s how I went about it:

1. Eating seasonally for free!

My neighbour bought a load of plums over to share. Our after-lunch fruit were sorted for a couple of days and puddings too. I blended some cheap flour, butter and sugar to make a crumble with the plums that were a bit too hard to eat raw. I saved loads of cash by using these instead of buying weirdly-coloured yoghurts and flown-from-round-the-world kiwis. I’m not always going to have a knock on the door from someone with a big batch of fruit, but there’s lots of free stuff going if you get chatting to people. I suggest having a wander down to your local allotment – mine has loads of goodies going cheap, with the proceeds going to a local hospice.

2. Cutting down on meat.

I started mainly because meat is super-expensive. I swapped beef mince for lentils which made an even-better cottage pie. I blended up black beans with coriander, paprika, red onion and brown bread crusts and made burgers that were half the price and super-delicious. I found veggie sausages were often interchangeable with meat versions. I honestly haven’t missed meat, although we do still enjoy a small amount from time to time.

3. Growing my own veg.

I started with compost bags and a few potato tubers thrown in. I have slowly built up to growing more root veg at the side of my lawn such as plus chard, spinach and salads. Just for the record, I’m a ‘normal’ mum of two, with an average income and a busy work/children/play (a bit) life. 

I’m no expert, but making a bit of an effort to look where food is coming from, and making the most of local suppliers has made a huge difference to the quality of what we’re eating, without spending loads of money.

– written by Helen Bartosinski

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