The headlines advise that the rate of inflation is declining: all that means is that prices are still rising, but at a slightly lower rate than previously. It seems food prices and just about everything else are out of control, but Heather has adapted, and developed a few systems that give her some control over the management of food costs.
Heather is a Wellingtonian born and bred, living in Porirua. She admits that she knew little about cooking and nothing about home economics when she was younger, to the extent that she had to consult her sister about recipes. She adapted very quickly and started compiling her own recipes and cooking techniques. More recently she has recognised the need to economise and take control of her food costs, not only for herself and family members but for anyone else who needs some advice.
She retired over ten years ago and now needs to economise. But failing eyesight and limited mobility means that she does not drive and finds supermarket shopping is physically challenging – she cannot easily read the labels or find the products she seeks. But that does not hold her back – she has adapted to her circumstances.
Heather turned to online shopping. Not one to do things by halves, she began comparing prices at different supermarkets, even their different outlets, as well as the specials. She is now an enthusiast who goes online to shop for the basics, but also to look for new products that can provide a low-cost tasty meal if used imaginatively.
Online shopping during the COVID pandemic was a breeze when delivery was offered as part of the deal. But she quickly lost interest when she found that the range of goods available from the delivery service did not match those stocked on the supermarket shelves.
Heather is a great advocate for buying items that can be split into smaller portions, or cooking several meals at once, and saving the balance in the freezer. She is keen to pass on her knowledge to anyone who needs it.
“I want to get through to some of the seniors as to the cheaper options that they’ve got in the supermarket. It’s the little things that you can buy: stuff in tins and useful things in the freezer department… and all that sort of stuff,” she advises. She is a great advocate for frozen products which she considers are just as good as, or sometimes better than fresh, particularly when portion sizes are an issue.
“It is so good to find these little things that people can do to cut down on their expenses. Like, an older person is not going to buy a whole pumpkin because they have to peel and chop it. Well, you can already buy it like that, peeled and chopped. They can put them in the freezer and can take out what they want for one meal, and they’ve still got the rest which is not going to go off.”
It can be just pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower florets, carrots and a whole lot more on their own, or you can get mixed bags. She also has some great ideas for economising on soups and desserts.
Heather embraces the idea of quick and easy meals using few ingredients, and her internet searches led to four-ingredient recipes. Jamie Oliver has promoted his five-ingredient recipes, but Heather also found the four ingredients version developed by Australian Kim McCosker.
Heather became a real fan when she discovered that there were also four-ingredient recipe books which covered specific food requirements like vegan, gluten free, coeliac and diabetes. They even use different styles of cookers including using a slow cooker, air-fryer or even a pie maker.
However, her main interest is in economising on food bills and in passing these hints on to anyone who is interested. She is ready and willing to pass on her tips and tricks to anyone who is interested. You can send us your questions for Heather and we’ll pass them on to her.