Thrifty mum claims she 'dines like royalty' by eating dandelions

Thrifty mum claims she ‘dines like royalty’ while saving a fortune by eating dandelions and tree leaves and making birthday cake out of NETTLES

  • Kaye Wilkinson from Colne, Lancashire, saves money by foraging food in fields
  • READ MORE: Thrifty mother says she makes family dinners for just £10-a-week

A thrifty mum has claimed she ‘dines like royalty’ while saving a fortune by eating dandelions, tree leaves and nettles – although she though admits she has to watch out gathering them where dogs have done their business!

Kaye Wilkinson, 48, from Colne, Lancashire, first started learning about foraging around five years ago, after chronic arthritis and ulcerative colitis left her unable to work.

The mum-of-two soon started scouring nearby open fields for plants and vegetation that she could use in her cooking, avoiding expensive supermarket veg and limiting money spent on petrol to drive to the shops.

A few of her chosen ingredients include nettles, dandelions, beech tree leaves, wild mushrooms and rose petals.

Kaye recently shared photos of some of her recipes on Facebook this week, stating she had substituted spinach for nettles in her beans and fish pie.

Kaye Wilkinson, from Colne, Lancashire, first began foraging around five years ago after chronic arthritis and ulcerative colitis left her unable to work. She says her family dine like ‘royalty’ because she finds unusual and rare mushrooms 

Kaye adds nettles to other foods including birthday cake but she says anyone thinking about doing the same has to be careful where they find their treasures as they might be coated in pesticides or dog wee

A typical offering if you’re going round to Kaye’s for dinner! The thrifty mum saves money not only on food but also on the petrol she would have used driving to the supermarket

The green-fingered stay-at-home mum has also made spaghetti using foraged fungi, stir-fried rice using dandelions and dock leaves and even added nettles to a birthday cake.

Kaye also uses young beech leaves as a substitute for lettuce, and even makes her own herbal tea using rose petals and nettles rather than buying it from the shops.

The nature enthusiast claims that hand-picking food is a ‘cost-effective’ way to live, and would recommend foraging to any purse-string-savvy shoppers.

However she urges anyone hoping to take up the cost-cutting hobby to not pick them in areas where dogs may have urinated or weedkiller may have been used.

Kaye said: ‘It’s a cost-effective thing to do, going out into the wild and picking things rather than buying expensive vegetables from the supermarket all the time, 100%.

‘At this time of year, there is so much salad stuff. When it comes to leafy things, you can almost bypass lettuce from the shops altogether.

‘Especially [since] young beech tree leaves at this time of year taste very much like lettuce.

‘You get vitamins that aren’t readily available in shop bought stuff. You don’t get nettles in a supermarket, so that set of nutrients I get from the fields behind.

Kaye is always looking for things to forage, even while walking a dog but she advises other people to be careful when picking things as they may be covered in dog urine

Not your average stirfry! Kaye gathers all her ingredients together for dinner including wild garlic, dock leaves, dandelions, nettles and bluebells

Kaye manages to find many typically expensive ingredients including wild garlic (left), which has a milder taste than its common cousin and is often priced from around £3 for 75g. She also uses rose petals (right) to make her own herbal tea

‘Instead of buying herbal tea, I can make my own with rose petals and nettles. It just helps that little bit.

‘It’s something I’ve done for a long time. If I run out of spinach, I just use nettles.

‘It’s a case of look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves, as the old saying goes. It [also] saves trips out to the shops.

‘I often feel like people just walk past free food. They’re struggling along and it’s like, “you can actually eat this”.

‘It drives me mad that people are struggling to make ends meet when an awful lot can be found on a walk if you’re looking in the right places.’

Kaye claims that she receives positive reactions from hungry family members and friends who regularly get to enjoy her innovative meals.

The mum claims that her family ‘dine like royalty’, as she is even able to find unique fungi such as oyster mushrooms and amethyst deceivers, that she claims would usually cost a fortune.

However, Kaye has taken care to warn fellow forages to only eat safe ingredients – and to watch out for areas that could be rife with dog urine.

Kaye said: ‘I regularly feed it to family and friends. It gets a positive reaction – people are just like, ‘oh, I didn’t know it tasted like that, that’s interesting, where do you find it?’

‘Some of the more unique fungi cost a bomb if you buy them or order them in restaurants.

‘We dine like royalty during some seasons.

Kaye’s talent for making food and drink from scratch also stretches to elderflower cordial, perfect for mixing with other beverages 

Ms Wilkinson shows off her haul of fruit she foraged and about to stew to make jam that can then be put away ready for the winter months when food is harder to come by in the wild

Pineapple weed (pictured here) has a fruity flavour and can be used raw in salads, infused for teas, syrup, salad dressings or made into a jam

Elderflower frittas made from foraged elderflowers Kaye discovered while out and about. The mum-of-two scours nearby open fields for plants and vegetation that she can use in her cooking

Kaye’s says she’s managed to find unique fungi such as oyster mushrooms and amethyst deceivers (left), that she claims would usually cost a fortune. The thrifty foodie adds nettles to dishes that need a little padding out (right)

Kaye says she wants people to realise that making this sort of food isn’t weird – it’s something they can chuck in everyday meals

 ‘There is a skill to it, and you do have to be very careful and know exactly what you’re doing. But with nettles and dandelions, you can’t go wrong.

‘You need to be careful to avoid dog wee. Nettles are quite often on waste ground, and places where people dump things. You have to be careful.

‘I want people to realise that making this sort of food isn’t a weird thing – it’s something you just chuck in your everyday meals.

‘I’d definitely recommend it. It’s something that I’m really passionate about.’

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