London: Italian chef saves money on dinner by scouting for ingredients

Vittoria Veltri foraging for food

Vittoria Veltri, 38, has lived in London for 10 years and recently started foraging again (Image: BPM Media)

An Italian chef has revealed how she is saving money at her grocery store by shopping for ingredients amid the UK’s deepening cost-of-living crisis.

Vittoria Veltri, who lives in Putney, south-west London, cooks with edible flowers, wild garlic and nettles that she finds near her home.

Raised in southern Italy, the mother-of-two used to regularly forage for food but was too nervous to try it in the busy capital, especially as she didn’t know what would be okay.

Her grandmother was an “amazing” cook and her father is very interested in growing food and foraging, so Vittoria always ate fresh produce growing up.

Inspired to continue the family tradition — and save some money on groceries — she took a class to learn about natural, locally sourced ingredients.

“It definitely saves money because you don’t have to buy anything. You just have to be patient and go for a walk,” she told MyLondon.

Vittoria Veltri foraging in Richmond Park, west London.

Vittoria foraging in Richmond Park, west London (Image: BPM Media)

Vittoria Veltri picks hawthorn leaves during a foraging trip in Richmond Park, west London

She picks hawthorn leaves, which are often used to make jelly or ketchup (Image: BPM Media)

Vittoria now enjoys foraging with her five-year-old son before they come home and prepare dishes like nettle pasta and salads with fresh wild garlic pesto.

“When we pick him up from school he’ll be full of things to look for,” she said.

“When we were at home we cook it, my son loves to cook with me so we cook it together.”

As she searches for ingredients, Vittoria makes sure to take her book to make sure they are safe.

She said, “Of course [there’s dangerous plants that you have to watch for].

Italian chef Vittoria Veltri picks hawthorn leaves during a foraging trip in Richmond Park, west London.

She always takes her food book with her (Image: BPM Media)

“I always have the book with me because some plants are quite similar to other plants, so you have to search for that too. I’m still learning so I’m pretty careful.’

Foraging has regained far greater popularity in recent years amid increases in food costs, gasoline and bills.

It’s among the more creative ways – like car sharing and clothes swapping – that people save on their expenses.

Luckily for Vittoria, her story has inspired many to try foraging for themselves, either for fun or to get a handle on the cost of living as well.

She now teaches cooking courses in London under the name Pasta and Play.

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Justin Scacco

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