Bernadine Lawrence joined us for a webchat in September 2012. Her book - How to Feed Your Family For £5 a Day - was first published over 20 years ago and became an instant hit. Now it's been fully updated to prove you can still feed a family for a fiver if you shop with care and make nutritious ingredients the foundation of every meal.
A gran herself, Bernadine raised her own four children on her hearty meal plan - and is delighted that they now enjoy cooking her recipes for their own children.
Q: I love the idea of that sort of budget. But can you give us advice on where to shop to achieve that? I don't live near a market so it's the big supermarkets or corner shops for me. Actually maybe it should be as much HOW to shop as where? JaneM
A: If you don't have a local market you can get bargains from supermarkets like Waitrose if you know what you are looking for. They have a good range of wholefoods and basics.
It's good to be aware of prices and shop around and not just use one supermarket. Also,to know when to get the bargains of the day. There's a whole section in my book on Top Shopping Tips.
Q: I quite often get sweet potatoes in my weekly veg box but I have no idea what to do with them. Do you have any tips? hopefulgran
A: Sweet potatoes are versatile as well as very nutritious. You can bake them in their skins - they don't take as long as ordinary potatoes. You can boil them (I always like to keep the skins on for more fibre and nutrition). You can saute them in a stir fry. Or use them in soup or casserole.
There's a lovely recipe in my book - 'Mammas Sweet Potato Pie' which is truly delicious.
Q: I have a job and I don't have time to go shopping every day after work. Have you got any tips about how to manage the weekly supermarket shop so I don't overspend or buy things that will go off? I feel I could make meals for £5 if I had more time, but it's quite labour-intensive. skydiver
A: It's best to think in terms of a weekly shop so you have an idea of what your menus are for the week. This saves you having to shop every day - also that way you tend to use up ingredients rather than buy new ingredients on a daily basis.
Also, try to make more meals out of one dish so that a roast can do sandwiches, stew, pies, soups etc and try to see how your meals are connected. Most of my recipes are quick and easy.
Q: I live on my own, and would like some interesting food menu ideas, I live in the country in Scotland, so one has to take account that the food available down south is not the same in the Highlands. BarbaraT
A: You will find many original recipes in my book because they have been devised by me. Also, they are easily made for one.
You have some great dishes in Scotland which are economical - Forfar Bridies, a plain pastry filled with mince beef, suet and chopped onion, rolled into an oval shape and baked till golden. But you already know that! You have a great choice of seasonal fare in Scotland.
Q: I'm very bored of the things I seem to cook all the time (staples such as shepherd's pie, spag bol, fish pie) and would like to know how to make my menus more exciting without upping the calories or the price too much. rosiemus
A: I know what it's like, sometimes we get in a rut when it comes to menus. A good way to liven up your meals is to eat seasonal produce so that in the summer, for example you have more salads and fresh fruit like strawberries.
Fish and meat is also seasonal - buying in season means eating fresher, cheaper food. Sometimes it's good to experiment and make new dishes - the other day I made pork mince balls and put them in a dumpling - delicious in soup.
Q: My husband is gluten intolerant so that rules out wheat and oats - the stuff that is cheap to buy and bulk out dishes. Any suggestions for what I can do instead? chunky
A: You can use brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, corn, and flour substitutes - nut flours, soy flour and bean flour which also give a boost of protein and iron. Gram flour is made from chickpeas and is versatile.
You can make your own gluten free bread with nut flours and polenta (cornbread). Don't be afraid to experiment.
Q: Are there any things that it's really not worth saving on? I know my daughter will just not buy anything other than Coca Cola, as for her, the taste is just not the same. Any ideas how to get around this sort of "false economy"? bakergran
A: There are certain things not worth saving on - like a certain brand of baked beans or tomato ketchup even. I find it's best to take advantage of supermarket offers and stock up on them to cut down on costs. Non perishable goods are good buys in bulk.
Q: Any cheap alternatives to pine nuts? I'd love to use them more - in salads, stir fries, tagines - but they are on the pricey side. Or perhaps you know a cheap source? damealice
A: Pine nuts are expensive - try roasted sunflower seeds, or walnuts or pumpkin seeds.
Q: I feel I would like to cook more with beans as they're cheap - even from a tin, cheaper if you do them properly - and supposedly nutritious and so on but apart from chilli con carne, I know no recipes. Could you suggest something? hopefulgran
A: I love beans as well, they're so nutritious. I love to make burgers with them Blackeye Beanburgers are yummy - you can mash them and season them and mix them with bread stuffing or cooked brown rice.
Q: I would be interested to see some vegetarian meals included as I have a son, daughter-in-law and a good friend who are veggie. flowerfriend
A: I love vegetarian meals as well, and they are so tasty and satisfying! Also, a good way of keeping within budget.
Q: There was a story a couple of weeks ago that Save The Children is going to work with families in the UK, such are the levels of poverty here now. Do you think people would be better off if they thought more carefully about food and ate less junk food? sofasogood
A: Good question! I think we can pass on our skills and recipes to our children and grandchildren. Domestic Science/Home Economics should be taught to all children in school so they know how to shop well and eat well on a limited budget and avoid junk food.
Q: There are only two of us at home now and I can't get away from the "buying for an army" mentality. Small quantities seem relatively more expensive and I love having a full freezer and fridge!. Also I like to shop once a week and veg goes limp so quickly even in the fridge that I finish up throwing half of it away. My husband has a funny appetite - often very little and he doesn't like the same thing two days running so left overs are often given to the dog - lucky but expensive dog! gracesmum
A: Another good question! When the kids have grown up we have to shop and cook differently. It's still good to think of a weekly shop, but just don't buy too many perishables at once. Perishables can be bought on a daily basis.
As we grow older we cannot handle large meals and smaller, regular meals are easier for us to digest. Leftovers can be easily disguised, just the way clever Mrs Beeton did.
Q: I love granola for breakfast but it costs a fair bit. Is it possible to make your own? Do you have to just toast nuts and grains, basically? typo
A: Yes, it's all about toasting and roasting with a little oil and honey. The good thing about granola is that it makes a good snack and in the summer we can add wild berries. Lots of free food in Autumn!
Q: I read somewhere that you are a anti-ageing guru. I would love to know. And more importantly I would love some tips. minette
A: Yes we 'baby boomers' can never grow old, having invented youth culture! The important thing to remember is to keep your body mobile and flexible. Mobility and flexibility exercises should be done on a daily basis to prevent stiffness and injury.
I'm interested in using the body's own regeneration process to maintain and repair itself. Fascinating stuff!
These days we're all having to work to an older age so we need to keep fit to enjoy our retirement, when it finally comes.
Q: Any tips for fussy children? Healthy eating on a budget is all well and good til you try to factor in one set of grandchildren who only want nuggets or chips. marina
A: Home made oven chips are yummy and you can make your own nuggets too. Try serving them beanburgers, chips and salad.
Q: Is it possible to eat meat on your cheap-eating regime? I worry that cheap meat is factory farmed and pumped up with hormones, which I definitely don't want. timefor
A: Find a good local, family butcher using local farmers. They often have specials and seasonal offers and different cuts of meat.
Also, supermarkets often knock down their prices near to closing time or just before a Bank Holiday. Shop around for offers.