Book Review – Wholesome: Feed Your Family Well for Less


Wholesome: Feed Your Family Well for Less

Wholesome: Feed Your Family Well for Less is the debut cookbook by author and food blogger Caitríona Redmond. What sets it aside from your average recipe book is the holistic and practical response to the challenges that face the modern family surviving on a limited budget.

Instead of window-shopping through the expensive recipes, it is possible to apply the tips on lifestyle changes, food economy and basic budgeting to the varied menus that are featured, making them attainable.

The motivation for this, and the blog, which is where the book stemmed from, arose from a real-life experience, when Redmond found herself out of a job in 2009 and needing to manage on a food budget of €70 per week to feed her family of five.

The acknowledgements section of the book reads in part, “To my last employer, thank you for making me redundant. For a time I thought it was a huge disaster, but I know now that it set me on the right path.”

NewsFour spoke to Redmond on the subject. “It’s the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. I loved my old job but I enjoy doing this so much that it doesn’t even feel like work,” she said. “The feedback from the blog is amazing. I update it two or three times a week. Last night I posted a recipe for meatballs and onion gravy that worked out at 90 cent a portion and the comments I got back on that were very positive. It really validates what I am doing.”

In the book, Redmond talks about, “The days when I filled my shopping trolley without a care for what it would cost when I got to the checkout.” The irony of it is that it was those days that, “took their toll on my body and my purse. Nowadays I run my kitchen like I ran the offices I used to work in.”

The tips at the beginning of the book are invaluable. She acknowledges issues of limited means, equipment and space to work in and advises to, “Change your attitude on how you run the kitchen. Do a stocktake and list incoming and outgoing items, as this makes it easier to plan meals, knowing exactly what you have in.”

She considers a shopping list to be, “essential on a restricted budget. I write down the list in categories, it will make it harder to be sucked in by flashy stickers and red-marked aisle ends that may not be as good value as you think.” She also researches before going shopping and stocks up on non-perishable items when they are on special offer.

It is an empowering book in many ways. Redmond’s openness about her own challenges resonates with many who would find themselves in similar circumstances but unable to talk about it. Dealing with redundancy and unemployment leaves a psychological scar and taking back control of any aspect of your life helps with the healing process.

Protection and provision for the family are qualities that can feel threatened with restricted means but this book shows how that can still be achieved. Redmond’s view is that, “If you talk to people and are open about yourself, people talk back.”

Packed with templates and tips as well as recipes, the book is a story of optimism that was born out of darkness, an uplifting look at what positive thinking can achieve. Redmond says she started the blog as a way of expressing herself and that if it helps one person it has been worthwhile.

She recommends checking out the blog,, first. The book is available from all good bookstores, retailing at around €15.
Reviewed by
Maria Shields O’Kelly