|Clearer cupboard at the end of February|
My latest article for Mirror Online led to a rather unexpected appearance on the radio.
I was asked to write an article about our family’s month-long attempt to spend less while eating more healthily, which appeared here:
I actually made the attempt to cut our food bills during February, which is why there are references to Christmas leftovers like mincemeat and panettone.
Back in January, our food bills were running at £60 a week for our family of four, and during a month I slashed nearly a third off our shopping.
Our bills came down to just under £43 a week, of which we actually ate just under £40 a week in addition to the food already in the house, saving a third.
In the article, I run through my 10 top tips on cutting food bills:
1. Cut down, but keep cooking
2. Use up what you have at home
3. Read up on recipes and make a meal plan
4. Combine odds and ends
5. Buy what you need, not what’s run out
6. Switch to cheaper options
7. Stop shopping!
8. Plan ahead
9. Clear space, get rid of guilt
10. Find a balance
If you are interested in reading anything more about our cost cutting attempts, here are links to the posts I wrote at the time:
10 tips for cutting February’s food bills
Stock take and storecupboards starting February
First meals in February
How (not) to shop for a frugal food challenge
Frugal food and cooking ahead
Baking frenzy: biscuits, muffins and cookies
Update on cutting food bills in February
Shopping update for February’s frugal food
Meal planning from the contents of my cupboards
Cutting food bills during February – week 3 update
Cutting food bills in February – final week
Results of cutting food bills in February: saved 30%
Entertainingly, the article then led to my first appearance on the radio.
The producer of the Paul Ross breakfast show on talkRADIO got in touch. He said he’d seen my article on the Mirror website, and asked if they could chat to me on the phone about how I cut my bills.
What the hell, I thought. It might be fun. Why not?
We arranged that he’d call the next morning after I was back from the school run.
I duly got up the next day feeling rather nervous, reread my article, and tried to think of some suitable sound bites in response to questions about cutting family food bills. I wrote a quick list of the kind of meals I cooked, so I could refer to a couple of examples if needed. I even downloaded an app onto my phone so I could listen to Paul Ross, rather than the normal background murmur of Radio 4.
Finally, the phone rang, there was a quick question about if I was ready to talk to Paul, and suddenly I was listening to his programme from the phone handset rather than my mobile. Then he started doing an introduction all about saving money on food – for five days – really cheaply – and all for UNICEF and Live Below the Line…
…and suddenly I’m responding to questions on live radio not about family food bills and my Mirror article, but the charity challenge I did more than a year ago.
So that was a bit odd.
I managed to mention how value ranges can make a real difference when feeding yourself on £1 a day, which shops offer them, and how incredibly lucky I am not to have so little to spend on food permanently compared to so many billions of people elsewhere. I didn’t handle the poverty tourism question as well as I would have liked (I’ve written more coherently about it in the past here), but hey we both survived.
And suddenly he’s saying goodbye, and the producer’s back on the phone saying it might be good to talk to me another time, and I say fine, and then it’s all over.
So if anyone else wants any soundbites on cutting family food bills, and suggestions for child-friendly cheap and cheerful meals – I’m primed and ready to go!