In the current economic climate, the girls are deciding which luxuries they can give up.
Samantha Upward: There was a funny piece in one of the papers with a couple arguing about which snacks they would give up.
Caroline Stow-Crat: Good grief, we never had “snacks”!
Sam: Bang would go sixpence.
Sam: And besides, they were common.
Caro: And vulgar.
Sam: I think we were allowed peanuts in their shells – you had to do a bit of work to get them out, and no nasty salt or chemical flavourings.
Caro: Do you ever eat unshelled peanuts now?
Sam: No. I eat prawn cocktail crisps wherever I can get them. We used to wash and dry pumpkin seeds, too, and shell and eat them. When we didn’t dye them with food dye and string them as necklaces.
Caro: So very not plarstic!
Sam: And people think the middle classes are privileged! Anyway, here's a list of money-saving tips:
Re-use printer paper (print on the back), or give old print-outs to your children to draw on.
Search online for printer ink deals.
Buy something half-price on Black Friday.
Buy pyjama tops and wear them as T shirts.
Visit charity shops in richer areas like Hampstead and Notting Hill.
Mix and match colours and patterns from your local charity shop.
When writer Arthur Marshall was asked by a charity collector what he did with his old clothes, he replied: "I fold them neatly, put them on a chair, and put them on again in the morning." (But I think he lifted the joke from Punch.)
Cook at night when electricity is cheaper.
Reheat cold coffee in the microwave.
Batch cook and freeze.
Use the microwave or a slow cooker. Even a stove-top pressure cooker saves fuel. Likewise a George Foreman grill or air fryer.
Haybox cookery. (Did anyone really do this?)
Take your lunch to work.
Go vegan or vegetarian.
In the supermarket, buy a few things from the “reduced” trolley. Go just before closing time.
Buy the loss leaders – the “tuppence off baked beans this week”.
Religion hop – there’s usually a coffee-and-biscuits moment, or even a free meal.
Roam expensive food shops like Selfridges and browse the free samples.
Pick up dropped fruit and veg at the market. Again, just before it closes. Dressing like a bag lady optional.
Grow your own veg. If you don't have a garden, bag a council flowerbed or a bit of grass verge.
Combine pulses: rice, peas, beans. Use tinned or packet soup as a sauce.
Try savoury bread pudding with brown bread and courgettes (fry first).
Pasta/rice, cream cheese, sweet corn and finely chopped onion.
Dip leftover sandwiches in beaten egg and fry.
If growing your own veg, remember beet and turnip tops are edible.
Grow cress on a bit of old flannel. (Update with kitchen paper.)
Collect seeds from your own plants and sow them. (Gather seeds from your friends’ gardens or wherever you go.)
Throw apple cores onto motorway verges and return in 50 years to gather the fruit.
Collect firewood from skips, woods or commons.
Batch buy food such as jam or crackers from Amazon. Co-ordinate with a neighbour and swap half.
Use up stale bread – Mrs Beeton has recipes involving cream, sugar and eggs. Italian bread, tomato and basil soup is delicious.
Keep bread in the fridge or freezer, not a bread crock or bin. These look charmingly traditional, but the bread will go stale and mouldy.
Save Saturday supplements and use the colourful pages as gift-wrap.
Put ends of soap in the small net bags some products come in. Or crochet your own bag out of string. Use the whole thing as soap. Some say you can grate and boil ends of soap to make new soap bars or shower gel.
What happened to the “freegans” who were going to live on others’ leftovers? Not advisable during a pandemic, and what would happen if everybody did it? But if you do eat out, take home leftovers. Even ends of bread can go in the soup, and the rest can go in a pita or tortilla.
Once again the middle-classes must resign themselves to being "the new poor" and live the "shabby-genteel" life.