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27th Nov 2022

Family swerve cost-of-living crisis by foraging for all their meals – only spending £5 a month at supermarket

Steve Hopkins

‘Our eldest daughter can distinguish mushrooms by their spots at age three’

A family has swerved the cost-of-living crisis by foraging for all their meals – only spending £5 a month in the supermarket on pasta and olive oil.

Jim Parums discovered foraging at a young age after watching his grandmother, Anne, 84, pick mushrooms and fell in love with fungi.

The 32-year-old has now taught his wife, Kat Parums, 35, and his two little girls, three and one, the art of survival through foraging.

Every meal in their home, in Altrincham, Manchester, is cooked with ingredients grown in their garden and foraged from their local woods. Their meals even include birds left behind from pheasant shoots during that season.

In January 2020, Jim trialled giving up weekly food shops after becoming sick of processed, frozen and expensive meals.

And the family loved their new way of life so much they stuck with it and continued to source fresh produce from the environment around them. The family now save over £100-a-week by living from their land and only need to go to the supermarket for a few basics- spending just £5 a month.

Jim, who has worked as a professional forager since October 2019, said: “Some of the tastiest ingredients are waiting outside your doorstep.

”With a little bit of guidance, foraging can be used in every meal, and that expensive weekly shop can be reduced drastically.

”My family and I rarely visit our local Tesco because we have everything we need in our garden or outside. ”We only buy pasta and olive oil which barely breaks our £5 spending limit in the local shop.”

After a childhood of adventures with his grandma, Jim discovered his talent for foraging and by the time he was a young adult could easily identify mushrooms at a quick glance.

He developed the passion while during a degree in Electronic Engineering at Ashton University, Birmingham, in 2011.

During this time, Jim would forage berries and make wine for his friends: ”We were young and we just wanted to something to drink, so I thought why not, I’ll create it myself,” Jim explained.

”It was awful, but it definitely did the job.

”My wine-making has improved quite dramatically in recent years.”

In 2015, April, Jim met his wife Kat on a job when they both worked in hospitality, and they moved to Manchester in 2019.

He soon became unfulfilled with ”the daily grind” and decided to do something he loved instead.

”At first Kat was confused by my obsession with fungi, but after cooking her a full three course meal that was fully foraged she was blown away,” Jim said.

”After just five years, Kat is an incredible forager.

”Even our eldest daughter can distinguish mushrooms by their spots at just aged three.”

The family of foragers will spend their morning harvesting various fungi, berries and plants to use to create their breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast, they will have homemade jam from foraged berries, black, red and wild with freshly baked bread.

Jim’s typical lunch for the family will include a variety of fruits harvested from their garden and their dinners will change with each season.

Jim said: “We grow a number of fruits and vegetables in our garden, but it all depends on the seasons.

“Our friends and family love the foraging lifestyle with some of them even learning a few helpful tips and tricks.

“Some of our meals are drastically amplified by the tastiness of the earthly flavours only nature can provide.

”While people spend £10 on their fruit and veg every week, we are growing and foraging for nothing.”

Jim said foraging had saved the family thousands of pounds a year.

“Weekly food shops can be such a burden on people’s finances, while we save hundreds each year for throwing away the idea of a weekly food shop,” he said.

“The average weekly food shop for a family of four is around £90 if not much more, and we barely hit that in a month.

”Our whole family is foodies and have discovered some of the tastiest combinations found outside. ‘

‘Our daughters have never been fussy eaters and enjoy every meal we make for them.

”No food is wasted, we use what we need and recycle and compost our leftovers.”

Jim now helps other families to reduce their cost-of-living through foraging though his business Forage Box.

Typical foraged meals Jim and his family eat:

Laver Seaweed Risotto Chicken Of The Woods Mushroom Nuggets

Dandelion Bhajis with Watermint Raita

Woodland Pesto Pasta

Poached Eggs on Toast with Shaggy Inkcap Ketchup

Wild Ramen with Foraged Mushrooms and Horseradish

Nettle and Dock Leaf Saag Aloo

Sourdough Pizza with Wild Ingredients

Roast Pheasant with Fermented Blackberry Jam

Crumpets with Dulse Seaweed Marmalade

Wild Mushroom and Muntjac Sausage Roll

Stir Fried Marsh Samphire with Seaweed Glaze

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