Home cook and (renowned) food blogger, Caitríona Redmond‘s recipes are aimed at feeding a family well for less. The beauty of her recipes is that they can be attempted by even those with little confidence or cookery skill. As well as running one of Ireland’s top food blogs, Wholesome Ireland, Caitriona published her first book this year, and is a regular contributer to national radio shows. We LOVE her, and not only think that her recipes are great, but that she shines a much needed light on the issue of food poverty in Ireland.
Hello! How did you come to start your blog Wholesome Ireland?
Howaya! I started Wholesome Ireland about 3 years after I originally started blogging. I knew that my friends were reading my old blog “wholesomecook” but that I wanted to buy a domain and make it more discoverable as I felt it could help more than just my friends. I figured in those early days that if just one person saved money then it was worth it.
What advice would you give to people who are sticking to a limited food budget?
Don’t let your food budget get in the way of great food. If you eat fresh fruit and vegetables in season you’ll eat extremely well. There’s no need to complicate your food. We are blessed with great food producers here in Ireland and we can eat like Kings particularly in the Summer.
What is achievable on a €70 a week food budget?
It depends on the size of your family. We live on about €70 per week for food for a family of 5. Loads of fresh, home-cooked meals; plenty of homemade treats if we want them. My point is though that you don’t need to spend a fortune to eat well as a family. If you have a higher food budget then there’s no reason why you can’t apply my tips and tricks to manage your household better and live better either.
You have spoken out about food poverty in Ireland. What do you think needs to happen for families and people on lower food budgets to have access to quality food?
In order to meet the retailer demand for fruit and vegetables with certain shapes and appearance, the level of food waste at farm level seems to be staggering. I really think that these fruit and veg that would normally get ploughed back into the land or sent to landfill need to be made available to all.
Having access to quality food is only part of the issue though. You need to know what to do with it. Basic cooking, budgeting and household management skills are something that everybody needs, not just those on a lower food budget. What can happen when you have more money to spend on food but few skills or time, is that you buy higher end convenience food – but it’s still convenience food!
I believe that as a society we need to share our skills more. Traditionally cookery skills were passed on in the family home. That doesn’t happen so much anymore. There needs to be a way to pass on cookery and home management skills to the new generation, such as having open kitchens where people can observe how to cook without being charged. Peer-to-peer led cooking will pass on much more knowledge than in an instructed classroom environment.
What are you three top tips for those of us living on a budget?
Stocktake, Meal Plan & have a Shopping List. They are the 3 bedrocks of how I manage my household. It makes life so much easier.
What’s in your fridge right now, and what are you cooking for dinner tonight?
Dinner tonight was cooked yesterday evening actually! I made a chicken casserole with sweet peppers. I picked up all the ingredients in Aldi the other day and I’m using chicken thighs. The total cost for the meal is about €4 and it’s very filling. This evening before we eat I’ll heat up the saucepan and add in some couscous, stir, simmer for 4 minutes and then we’re done.
In the fridge right now is a selection of fruit and vegetables, yoghurt, milk, butter (only because the weather is so hot), hummus, some pork mince and salami. That’s pretty much it. Nothing too fancy.
If you could only cook one of your recipes for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?
It’s no secret that my death-row meal would be tea & hot buttered toast.
Recipe for the rest of my life? I’m a huge fan of a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings, then there’s a bit of the awuld “yum, yum” with cabbage and potatoes. Okay, okay, I suppose it would be some fresh cod with a salad and some crusty bread on the side.
Ehm, can I change my mind on this again another time?
What’s next for Caitriona Redmond?
Goodness what a question! I never thought when I started “Wholesome Ireland” two & half years ago now that I’d have a book published that I wrote and photographed myself (pinch me now), and the opportunities that have come my way are amazing.
I guess you’ll just have to watch this space. I don’t sit still for long!
We have two copies of Caitriona’s Book Wholesome: Feed Your Family Well For Less to give away!
To enter, simply answer the question below and email your name and contact details to email@example.com with WHOLESOME in the subject line.
What is the name of Caitriona Redmond’s blog?
a) Wholesome England
b) Wholesome Scotland
c) Wholesome Ireland