Golden rules for hand-to-mouth living

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1. Go shopping at the end of every day, to find as much discounted or free food (eg squashy tomatoes or overripe bananas) as possible from shops and market stalls. Talk to stallholders and shopkeepers about what their best bargains are that day, and how to refine your bargain hunting strategies. Supermarket employees are some of the canniest shoppers around, incidentally.

2. Drink a pint of full fat milk a day, preferably as fresh as possible. This applies to adults and children alike. You can also have half a pint of milk plus 5 oz full fat natural yoghurt, or 2 oz cheese, to get the right calcium levels.

3. If you have any spare money, ever, spend it on fruit and vegetables. Eat them raw and whole wherever possible.

4. If you have a choice between high fibre foods and low fibre foods, choose the former. This means brown bread rather than white, wholemeal pasta rather than refined white pasta, bran flakes instead of cornflakes and so on.

5. If you have a choice between saturated fat (eg butter) and unsaturated fat (eg sunflower margarine), choose the latter.

6. If you rinse off pulses before using them, there are fewer – ahem – side effects.

7. Avoid additional salt like the plague.

8. If at all possible, try to achieve a quantity of scale by collaborating with other people to shop for and prepare meals, as cooking for a dozen people is cheaper per head than cooking for four, for example.

9. Aim to have meat or fish every other day, if you are not vegetarian. Good minimal cost options include defrosted chicken portions, frozen white fish fillets, turkey or pork mince, frozen beef mince, corned beef, fish fingers, etc.

10. Sign children up for free school meals, milk, fruit or anything else going.


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