For today’s interview our thoughts turn to all things cooking related as we welcome Elaine Colliar from Mortgage Free in Three and author of the new book on Kindle ‘A Turkey Is Not Just for Christmas‘ (Available on Amazon UK/Amazon USA).
Q1. Elaine, welcome and thank you for taking the time for this interview. You have just published on Kindle for the first time but you have a very inspiring story that leads up to this and a big reason for writing the book – please could you share a little bit about that. At the beginning of the Credit Crunch we got completely flattened by the Banks – it’s only just coming to light how many businesses were forced to the wall by banks during that time. In the period of about 30 days I lost my business (with over £400K in it) and then the bank came for my house.
I fought them off through the courts – and although I had to sign on for benefits, managed to pay the last £10,000 I was due them and saved my house. The thing is ………….. now I don’t trust banks at all.
The most sensible thing I could do for my sanity was to create a way of being able to pay back my mortgage so that the bank could never force me to the edge of bankruptcy ever again …….. and I decided to do this one step at a time – one year at a time.
The first year I focused on building a small emergency fund, clearing my debts and of course getting out of the benefit trap.
The second year was about driving our cost of living as low as we could possible bear it – I knew that the power of money was the power in the gap between our income and expenditure.
Year Three came into being just as my youngest boy went to school (saving me a fortune in childcare) – the focus for year three is on increasing my income whilst holding our expenditure steady. The gap between the two gets applied to the mortgage capital.
My first project was to write and publish an e-book ……………. to actually hold myself accountable and deliver a project in a short time frame. I had a small sales target of 50 in my sights ….. and within three days have nearly trebled that. So we are off to a great start.
Q2. Your book ‘A Turkey Is Not Just for Christmas’ is fab and one that I am definitely going to be trying out post-Christmas, but also in the year ahead. Tell us more about the background to the recipes and maybe which of them is your family’s favourite? The background to the book is that I wanted to create a book about making the very best of the leftovers from Christmas – without resorting to a sandwich.
The lovely ladies on the forum at www.mortgagefreeinthree.com let me know often enough that the challenge was not in the cooking … but in looking at a pile of ingredients and being inspired to create something gorgeous out of them. So I thought a short cookery book using one main ingredient as the launch pad would be a great idea.
Now of course – the emails are pouring in requesting the same kind of book but on different main ingredients. So I am busy pulling all my tested recipes together – well it would be rude not to wouldn’t it?
The Thai inspired recipes – salads, soups, curries are our family favourites. Using some fresh herbs and punchy flavours can turn the most ordinary of leftovers into a Frugal Feast.
Q3. Your recipes are great for everyone, but particularly for those on a tight budget – do you have any tips for people when it comes to sourcing ingredients and getting the best ‘bang for their buck’? I pulled my shopping habits apart in year two – nothing was sacred. I got rid of the idea of the “automatic shop” where you shop at the same time, in the same shops, buying the same things and end up cooking the same meals and throwing out the same stuff every week.
I built a store cupboard (called the Armageddon Cupboard on the site) where I made sure I bought in all the staples my family needed at deep discounts.
I buy most of my staples from www.approvedfood.co.uk where I can buy close dated food (food close to its best-before date) at a deep discount …. usually at about 70% of RRP.
With some fresh stuff from my local LIDL our food bills for the last eighteen months have hovered around the £8 per week mark for a family of one adult, one teen and one five year old.
Q4. What does the future hold in terms of your website and writing – should we be looking out for the next Kindle book? I don’t intend to use the kindle books as my only revenue stream in 2014 – in fact I only had three in my whole plan ………….. but …………………. it seems that there is an appetite for some niche books that I am actually excited to write.
I have a book on Soup – due out early in the New Year ………….. a great way to save money after the excesses of the holidays is to introduce some Frugal soups into your menu plan.
I also use a pressure cooker frequently – a great way to cook cheap ingredients with the minimum of fuel. So a book on how to begin to use your pressure cooker to create Frugal Family Meals is definitely on the cards.
I guess what I will say – is that if people buy them then I am more than delighted to write them.
Q5. Finally, if people want to learn more about your story and go along for this fabulous ride with you, where can they find out more? Come and join us over on the daily blog at www.mortgagefreeinthree.com ….. make sure you sign up for the forum where there are loads of helpful and friendly people ready and willing to help you in creating a cheaper life without losing the quality of life you love.
Periodic posts throughout the day appear on our facebook page at www.facebook.com/Mortgagefreeinthree
or you can follow me on twitter at @MFinthree
Also – from the New Year you can catch me as a staff writer on http://blog.approvedfood.co.uk/
or – every Sunday in my Scottish Sunday Mail column
Thanks to Elaine for a great interview and do pop over and check out her book for a wealth of delicious recipes.
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