It’s the beginning of another year at Queen Mary, and the majority of us are celebrating the luxury of our first student loan instalment. However, this exaltation is generally short lived. Along with rent, bills and, for many of us, frivolous food and alcohol, the money tends not to stretch as far as christmas. Sometimes it is difficult to say no to a warm panini from Costa; there is something unappealing about a slapdash cheese sandwich. However, perhaps there are some innovative solutions to saving a little cash, non-cheese-sandwich-orientated, and inviting us to experience some new tastes along the way.
Firstly, why not pick and eat your own fruit?
It would be dangerous to suggest that you go picking and eating all the berries you come across, because this is a sure-fire vomit inducer; stick with well-known hedgerow gems like blackberries and blackcurrants. Black and red berries are undeniably pricey in supermarkets, especially for students who have to factor Monday’s Calling at Drapers into their budget. But, contrary to what you may think, such fruits are readily available in the hedgerows that you may pass daily on your way to a lecture, on a run along the canal or Victoria Park. With these berries, you could make a blackberry crumble, throw them on cereal, or even challenge Absolut and concoct some flavoured vodka.
Another incredibly common fruit you can find are apples, but do try not to upset the locals by scrumping home-grown apples from the trees in their gardens. Crab Apple trees are ample in parks. Why wouldn’t you eat these apples? They’re far more nutritious than your supermarket apples, which are pumped with chemicals. Ultimately apples all grow on trees, these ones are for free! If you find the apples to be a little sour, cook them with sugar and cinnamon to make an autumnal desert.
And guess what? There’s also the chance to brew your own sloe gin! I can imagine the face and stomach of anyone who attends Queen Mary Sports Socials reeling at the mention of the word gin, but I assure you it can be appreciated over dinner, rather than recoiled from at weekly Sports Sessions.
Next on the list are herbs. Herbs like rosemary and lemongrass grow wild all over the place. Should you find a wild supply of it, then an unappealing dry chicken breast you’ve rushed to cook between lectures and evenings out will taste more like comforting home-cooking.
Now for an off-the-wall suggestion: nettle tea. This sounds a little strange, nettles after all hurt! But Twining’s do it and it’s very healthy, so if you fancy making it yourself then it can be done! Simply boil the leaves down, strain and drink. However, a word of caution: wash well first as there are dogs in the park too…
These are mainly season specific scrumping suggestions, so remember that there will also be raspberries, strawberries, plums, quinces, pears, and many other British soil grown fruits on the hedgerows and trees that line the city. As well as this, self-picked produce will have minimal transport miles from bush to door. The choice to scrump is cost free, pesticide free and the produce tastes just as good as Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s own. What can the downside be?