REAL LIFE

Savvy mum – I save $100 a week by eating weeds!

This is different.
Ingrid cutting weeds
I love cutting and collecting weeds
Diana Domonkos

Ingrid found an unusual way to feed her family.

Here, Ingrid Button, 31, tells the story in her own words.

Tucking into the tasty salad for dinner, I asked my partner Michael, 35, what he thought.

‘It’s great,’ he said. That’s when I told him my secret. ‘I picked it,’ I told him. ‘From the woods!’

At first, Michael wasn’t exactly thrilled about eating weeds for dinner. But once I explained my new-found hobby – foraging
– he came around.

A new mum to Oscar, I was keen to get out of the house. We’d moved to the country from Melbourne while I was pregnant, so I didn’t know many people.

Ingrid photo
Oscar, Michael and me

Instead of sitting at home, I’d decided to explore.

Spotting a plant with white flowers one day, I wondered what it was.

Soon, I was curious about all the plants around me.

Using books at the library, and looking online, I found out more. It’s chickweed, I realised, seeing a picture of the plant I’d spotted. And, it was edible! In fact, it had so much vitamin C that European settlers grew it on ships to ward off scurvy. Why don’t we eat this nowadays? I wondered. It’s a waste to just call it a weed.

Amazed, I saw that stinging nettles lost their sting when they were cooked and they’re packed with nutrients. And a weed called miner’s lettuce, which has tasty leaves, had been a favourite for miners in the gold rush.

Heading out with Oscar, I took a checklist to be sure I knew what I was picking. Back home, I washed the plants and put them in a pumpkin salad.‘It’s such a shame,’ I said to Michael. ‘All this usually goes to waste.’

Excited, I explained how nettles reduce inflammation, elderberries are good for cold and flu, and purslane, known as pigweed, is full of omega-3. ‘Stop going on about weeds!’ Michael joked one day. ‘I won’t!’ I laughed. ‘In fact, I bet people would pay to hear me talk about them.’

So I decided to spread the word. Setting up a website, I began to host workshops to share my knowledge.

I explained how many of our weeds are actually on the menu in other countries, and showed people how to safely identify edible plants. I saved money too.

Instead of buying expensive salads, I foraged for tasty leaves. I made herbal teas and baked plants into muffins and pies.

Ingrid cutting weeds
I love cutting and collecting weeds (Credit: Diana Domonkos)

By eating weeds, and swapping what I find with other people for home-grown veg or homemade yoghurt, I’ve cut our grocery bills in half – to $100 a week. But as well as the budget boost, foraging is also fun!

Oscar, now five, gets to run outdoors every day and has a whale of time. Like a sponge, he’s absorbed it all.

‘Mummy, look at this!’ he grins, spotting something for dinner. He even knows the Latin names!

And I never have trouble getting him to eat his greens. Give it a try, you never know what may be right under your feet!

Visit Free Food Foragers on Facebook to find out more.

Read more in this week’s issue of that’s life, on sale now.

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