A savvy family is swerving 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, 32, discovered foraging at a young age after watching his grandmother, Anne, 84, pick mushrooms and fell in love with the wonderful world of fungi.
Now Jim has also taught his wife, Kat Parums, 35, and his two little girls, three and one, the art of survival with the power of 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 the season. In January 2020, Jim trialled giving up weekly food shops after becoming sick of processed, frozen and expensive meals.
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 off their land and only need to go to the Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons boost petrol and diesel profit">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 grandma, Anne, Jim discovered his talent for foraging after easily identifying mushrooms with just a glance as a young adult. Dad-of-two, Jim continued his passion during his degree in Electronic Engineering at Ashton University in Birmingham in 2011.
During this time, Jim would forage berries and make wine for his friends. Jim said: ‘’We were young and we just wanted something to drink, so I thought why not, I’ll create it myself.
‘’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. But he quickly became unfulfilled with ‘’the daily grind’’ and decided to do something he loved instead.
Jim said: ‘’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. After just five years, Kat is an incredible forager. Even our eldest daughter can distinguish mushrooms by their spots, age 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. Weekly food shops can be such a burden on people’s finances, while we save hundreds each year by throwing away the idea of a weekly food shop.
"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 Ink Cap 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