Friday, 28 February 2014

Comparison Photos - 4



January

 
February
 

Day  59
Money Spent Today - £0  Vouchers/Points Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £28.59 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £25
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £30.41
 
The weekend is nearly here and tonight is special as once he arrives home Lovely Hubby is off work for a whole week.  So I really do feel a little shopping expedition is called for today and as I have still have lots of M&S vouchers to use up that is where I am going to shop.
 
I'll be back tomorrow to show you what I decide to buy, I feel a treat coming on, I just don't know what it will be until I see it  :-)
 
Sue xx

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Comparison Photos - 3



February
 

  
 January

Day  58
Money Spent Today - £0  Vouchers/Points Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £28.59 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £25
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £29.41
 
This 'not shopping' lark is actually getting easier and easier.  I can go into the supermarket and buy the pet food or whatever else it is I need and not feel a desire to pop into my trolley any of the normal things I might usually have been tempted by.  There is most definitely still 'a pull' towards the special offers, well I mean they are designed to make us want to pick them up aren't they.
 
Buy One Get One Free
Two for the Price of One
Buy Two Get One Free
20% Extra
50% Extra
Take Me Away I'm Virtually Free
Buy Me I Need to Live in Your House
 
Well I obviously made the last two up, but the supermarkets and more particularly the advertising and marketing guys really know how to pull us in, make us feel that we would be a mug not to take them up on this or that fantastic offer.  Well I used to be sucked in ... I even had a jar of Marmite in the cupboard .... we neither of us like or have ever liked Marmite for goodness sake!! (It's gone to the Foodbank now, someone somewhere will love it.)
 
Obviously the easiest way to avoid temptation is to stay away from the big supermarkets completely but these days this is getting harder and harder.  Although I think I really will start to support the smaller shops, the independent retailers and the markets whenever I possibly can again.
 
After all I managed to stay away for a long time in my year of 'Saying No to the Supermarkets' in 2012 and I enjoyed the challenge.
 
Sue xx


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Comparison Photos - 2


 
February
 
 
January
 
Day  57
Money Spent Today - £0  Vouchers/Points Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £28.59 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £25
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £28.41
 
Some of the missing foods in this cupboard have been eaten but a few of them were donated to our local Foodbank, things I would never have eaten like the Salad Cream which came in a 'Lucky Dip box from Approved Foods and was for once well in date.
 
I actually find it really nice to see space where once there was clutter and chaos, and it doesn't worry me in the slightest that little by little the supplies are going down.
 
Sue xx

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Comparison Photos

 


February 2014
 
January 2014
 
Day  56
Money Spent Today - £0  Vouchers/Points Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £28.59 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £25
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £27.41
 
Before you try and play 'spot the difference' too much I must point out that things have been added from the boxes that used to lurk in the conservatory after our move and the cupboards have been tidied.  I will try and keep the cupboards as they are for future photo comparisons, but I do seem to move things around a lot, and I am also trying to minimise the amount of cupboards we have that are actually used for food storage.  So as soon as a space becomes available in this one I seem to fill it from somewhere else ... does anyone else do this or am I alone in this sad habit of 'food Tetris'?
 
I've noticed the food in the cupboards seems to be going down so slowly, not that this is something I should worry about but it does highlight that -
 
1.  I have huge stocks of some things
2.  I eat quite simply most days
3.  I really don't need to replace some things as some of them to have been bought 'on a whim' and then never used up or indeed used at all.
 
I'm really moving towards a simple and more natural way of eating with just having large stocks of dried goods,. rice, pasta, cous cous etc that can be eaten with sauces and homegrown veggies and fruits. 
 
I am finding that I watch television food adverts with amazement these days as they try to push us towards eating cakes for breakfast (muffins), eating biscuits for breakfast (biscuit bars), instant foods for lunch (just pour on hot water and it's ready)  and I am quite sorrowful, yes really sorrowful, that we seem unable to want to spend more than twenty minutes in the kitchen to make a meal for ourselves or our families.
 
I think what it is, is that I am falling out with 'fast food', I've decided I like my food slow sometimes and as the world gets faster and faster I am calling time and jumping off the bandwagon..
 
Sue xx

Monday, 24 February 2014

One For Me, One for the Freezer

 
Day  55
 
Money Spent Today - £0  Vouchers/Points Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £28.59 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £25
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £26.41
 
I'm not very good at cooking for one, there is virtually always too much food left over, so rather than eating too much or scraping the plate into a tub and popping it into the fridge I am trying to simply go with the flow and when I make too much just plate it up as two portions.  Putting one in a suitable freezer proof container to cool and then stashing it away for a day when I really can't be bothered cooking.
 
 
In this case it was Macaroni Cheese, and I did actually use macaroni rather than the pasta twists or penne that I usually use in this dish.  A quick sprinkle of some of the breadcrumbs from the freezer and a little bit of grated Parmesan style cheese and it made for a very tasty and quick tea. 
 
It really is good doing it this way because next time I fancy this there will be virtually no washing up :-)
 
Sue xx

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Fruity Puddings


Day  54
 
Money Spent Today - £0  Vouchers/Points Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £28.59 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £25
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £25.41
 
I went a bit mad the other day, deciding to see how many desserts I could get from the frozen apple slices and blackberries in the freezer.  I decided to stop after I got to this many!!
 
The freezer is looking pretty healthy again too with these all stacked ready to use.
 


 
So now there are four 3 person portions and eight 2 person portions already to be topped with either a pastry lid or some of the crumble mix that also lurks in the freezer just waiting to be used.
 
So I think in the next few days I will splurge some of my vouchers or points or even some cash on some nice icecream to go with them.
 
Sue xx

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Individual Freezing


 
Day  53
 
Money Spent Today - £0  Vouchers/Points Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £28.59 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £25
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £24.41
 
To get full possible benefit from most of my shopping I tend to freeze most things individually, then if I want one thing out of the freezer I only have to take one and not a full packet or risk fingers trying to separate frozen things with a knife!!
 
I like my big boxes too, they are easy to stack in the freezer and I can usually see what's in them at a glance, although after a while if I've forgotten to label them they can be a bit opaque and then things are a bit more hit and miss.
 
The bread rolls were easy to do they were already separate, so I fitted eight of the rolls still in their cellophane wrapper in my large box and left the others in their original wrapping they will have to be used up first as I have no more big boxes left.
 
 
The salmon fillets and breaded fish were all unpacked and wrapped in Easy-Leave to keep them separate as they freeze, and then they too were put into boxes that were already in the freezer with some of the same already in them.

 
The seeded sliced loaf was simple to do, I simply open the bag move all the slices apart a little bit and then reseal the bag excluding as much air as I can.  After a few hours in the freezer the individual slices have frozen enough for me to open the bag again and push them back together.  Once I have done this the bread in it's wrapper is put into another bag so it is double wrapped in the freezer.  Now whenever I want a single slice of bread I can get one out nice and easily.
 
Making every penny count and making full use of everything you buy is so very important with the food prices going up and up the way they are and I really don't see prices falling in the near future with so much of our lovely farmland under water.
 
Sue xx

Friday, 21 February 2014

Using Some of the Points

 
 
Day  52
 
Money Spent Today - 18p  Vouchers/Points Spent - £20   
Money Spent in Total - £28.59 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £25
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £23.41
 
There was something so very satisfying about getting this little lot for the grand sum of 18p.  Even the cashier had a grin on his face and said 'nice shopping'.  I made good use of £20 worth of my Nectar points.
 

I got the bread rolls I was talking about to put in the freezer, not the ones I usually like but these were on offer so I chose them instead, worth a try.  I also got a couple of yellow stickered fishy things to portion up and individually freeze for lots of meals to come.
 
 
And I bought some milk powder because although I don't have it in my coffee I do need some to have in for baking, rather than using Lovely Hubby's fresh milk it's so much easier and more cost effective to add some dried milk to the flour when making bread or cakes than to buy extra ordinary milk.
 
I'm a happy shopper :-)
 
Sue xx
 
 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Stocktake Time?


 

Day  51
 
Money Spent Today - £0  Vouchers Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £28.41 Vouchers Spent in Total - £5
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £22.59

 
The salad and fruit drawers in the fridge are looking particularly healthy at the moment after last weeks fresh food shopping spree. But I'm not in any rush to use everything up now that I now how well things are keeping in this new fridge freezer of ours.
 
 
The pre-Christmas purchases lasted until right at the end of January and so hopefully I won't have to rush to eat these up either, but I will keep an eye on things as nothing is allowed to go to waste.
 
I think it's about time I photographed the cupboards again for posterity, but after putting all the things that were lurking on the worktops and in plastic boxes around the place into the cupboards I guess there won't be too much of a difference at first glance.  But still worth doing I think as it's now over seven weeks into the Challenge and I do need to see just what I have left.
 
Sue xx



Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Buns

 
 
Day  50
 
Money Spent Today - £0  Vouchers Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £28.41 Vouchers Spent in Total - £5
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £21.59
 
Sometimes I crave a sandwich filled to the max and full of flavour, when this urge comes over me it's time to have a rummage and see what bits and bobs there are in the fridge.
 
 
With all the salad bought last week this time it was easy to find something to make a sandwich filler out of and as there was some already defrosted grated cheese in the fridge a cheese salad filler was perfect, and although I usually cut everything up really small, this time I left things quite chunky.

 
Absolutely gorgeous and very filling.

 
Washed down with a black coffee this kept me full until way past teatime. 
 
As this used up the last of the brown rolls in the freezer I now have the dilemma of do I buy some more or stick with the homemade bread.  To be honest I have never been able to make rolls soft enough to compare with shop bought ones so I think I'll keep my eyes peeled for some bready bargains or splash out with the surplus of Nectar points I have and fill a big storage box in the freezer with rolls, after all a roll like this makes for a full meal for me and is ideal if I'm travelling to stave off those motorway service temptations.  Imagine what a bun like this would cost at the services!!
 
Sue xx
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Last Banana

 
Day  49
 
Money Spent Today - £0  Vouchers Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £28.41 Vouchers Spent in Total - £5
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £20.59
 
Well there was one banana left, and after me craving bananas whist out shopping I had done my usual thing and left them hanging there until they were browner than I actually like them.  So after using the other two in the Banoffee Pie I decided to add the last one to a pack of Approved Foods Madeira Cake Mix.

 
Gosh that was a success!!
 
Whereas Madeira cake is usually light and delicate tasting, the banana added a density of texture and flavour that made for a whole new experience. It was lovely on it's own, even more lovely (but totally naughty) with a spread of butter and I guess it would be wonderful with some instant custard.   I'll watch out on AF for this mix on offer again just to replicate this once I run out of my present stash.
 
I cut off the piece you see missing in the photo and sent Lovely Hubby off to work with the rest in a box to keep it as fresh as possible for him and his housemates to share with coffee for supper tonight.
 
I'm glad I sent it away ...  I think I would have eaten it all much too quickly if it had been left here with me :-)
 
Sue xx
 
 
 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Real Luxuries

 
 
Day  48
 
Money Spent Today - £4.67 Vouchers Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £28.41 Vouchers Spent in Total - £5
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £19.59
 
We were out and about yesterday and I decided to pick up a four pint bottle of milk to top up all my single pint bottles, it's so much cheaper doing it this way and popping three of the re-filled bottles into the freezer for the next few weekends.  One pint of skimmed milk is 49p and a four pint bottle is £1 - so it's a real no brainer.
 
While I was there I gave in to temptation and bought a tub of double cream, I had decided to use two of the bananas to make Lovely Hubby a treat for Valentines weekend.

 
His favourite dessert Banoffee Pie .... as I already had a tin of Caramel Sauce, found earlier in the week at the very back of the cupboard, and one last ready made pastry base the cream was all I needed to produce this luxury dessert which did us for three servings each.  Total luxury :-)
 
We called to Bodnant Welsh Food on our way back from the shops as we wanted some information on keeping bees locally, they are home to the National Beekeeping Centre of Wales and LH is delighted to have such a brilliant resource right on our doorstep ready for when he takes up this addition to our self sufficiency repertoire.  While we were there we had a browse around the farm shop and as it was late in the day they were selling off the artisan breads 'Buy One Get One Free' so we did, and we chose a Tudor Loaf and a Beetroot Bread.
 
I'm not totally loving the Tudor Bread, it has a slightly weird after taste but the Beetroot one was fantastic, something I think I'll have to have a go at making myself.  It did make me think that I need to be a bit more adventurous with my breadmaking in the future.
 
So although I bought a couple of 'luxury items', the cream and the artisan bread I only actually spent £4.67 a real bargain I thought and a lovely treat for the weekend!!
 
Sue xx
 

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Homemade Bread


Day  47
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £23.74  Vouchers Spent in Total - £5
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £23.26
 
One of the mainstays of my baking at home is bread, homemade bread. I've been making on average two loaves a week since I started the Challenge, luckily I really stocked up early last year and I still have quite a stash of flours and yeast to work through.  It's a real treat on the day it's baked and then as toast for breakfasts or a quick snack.
 

 
I've been topping it with all sorts of interesting things recently but my favourite has to be this mixed seed topping which I've had the last few times.
 
 
Simply a mix of a couple of table spoons each of Sunflower, Pumpkin, Sesame and Poppy seeds all mixed together in a jar ready for use.  Next time I make a loaf I think I'll put some into the bowl as I'm making it for even more crunch and goodness throughout the loaf.
 
My Standard Bread Recipe
 
500g Mixed Flours
7g Yeast
1tsp Sugar
1.5 tsp Salt
400ml warm water
2 tbs oil
 
Mix all the dry ingredients, drizzle in the oil as you pour in the water, watching to see if you need all the water or not. 
 
Let your mixer knead the bread for a full five minutes with the dough attachment on and then tip out and hand knead for a couple of minutes, put back into the bowl and cover.  Leave to rise for as long as it takes to double in size. 
 
Knead again just for a minute or two and then shape into rolls or pop into a 2lb loaf tin.  Cover and leave to rise again for about 30 minutes and then carefully brush the top with egg wash or milk and sprinkle on your seeds or some oats.  Bake on a high temperature for ten minutes and then reduce slightly for another 20 -25.
 
Knock on the bottom as you take it out of the oven, if it sounds hollow it is cooked.
 
See how long you can resist eating some of the lovely warm bread - that's the hardest part :-)
 
Sue xx. 
 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Leftovers


 Day  46
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £23.74  Vouchers Spent in Total - £5
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £22.26
 
I forgot to put up the picture of what I made out of that sliver of pastry that I sliced off when I made the pasties the other day ....
 
 
... well it was a lovely little Salmon en Croute
.
Unfortunately I overcooked it a smidge, I love my pastry light and flaky and this was just a tad dark and hard.  But luckily the salmon fillet I found in the freezer was a Chilli Salmon fillet so it had lots of flavour to mask out the slightly overdone pastry.  It went wonderfully with the last of the Mixed Leaves and a rather large dollop of Mayo.

 
 
Well worth slicing off that end of pastry. 
 
I simply rolled it a little bit thinner, lay the fillet on top and then brushed the edges with leftover egg wash, I tried to plait it but the pastry was too hard to handle so I ended up just sort of folding and sticking with the egg wash and then brushing it all over.  So easy to do and having just that tiny bit of pastry turned what could have been a snack into a full and filling meal.
 
Sue xx

Friday, 14 February 2014

Vouchers and Points

 

 Day  45
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £23.74  Vouchers Spent in Total - £5
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £21.26
 
I decided to total up all my store reward vouchers and my Nectar points to see what I have available to spend should I need them.
 


 
I have a grand total of £84 in M&S vouchers ... and more to come in May.  I knew it was a wise decision to pay for my car on the card and then pay it off at the end of the month ... woo hoo.
 
 
I also have £9 of Tesco Clubcard vouchers to spend.
 
 
          You have 14,432 points worth £72.16
 
And this many Nectar points.
 
*** *** ***
 
WOW!!  A grand total of £165.16 in 'non money' to spend. 
 
I had better make this last and spend wisely when I do decide or need to spend!!
 
Sue xx
 
 
 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Fruit and Veg

 
Day  44
 
Money Spent Today - £8.30 Vouchers Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £23.74  Vouchers Spent in Total - £5
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £20.26
 
The fridge drawer was virtually empty, well there was a carrot in there and a sliver of an iceberg lettuce looking very sorry for itself.  The lettuce went to the chickens and the carrot was joined by this mass purchase of fruit and veg. 
 

]
 
I went into Asda to get some dried dog food and had a wander round.  The apples caught my eye, they just called me over tempting me with their luscious red skins, now I know why Snow White succumbed!!  Then one thing led to another and before I knew what I was doing I was feeding the 'serve yourself money grabbing till' a total of £8.30 from my purse.
 
Still it's a good looking shop and now the fridge drawer is looking decidedly healthier ... as will I once I have chomped my way through this lot.

 
These arrived in the post this morning and after seeing my money plummet by over eight pounds it was a relief to get just over that back in vouchers.  I have decided to get all my vouchers and points out and see just what I have available at the moment ready for use.
 
Sue xx

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Using Up All the Leftovers

Day  43 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £15.44   Vouchers Spent in Total - £5
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £27.56

I don't know what your fridges look like but usually by the end of the week but mine is usually full of little plastic containers, half used packets and just lots of bits and bobs.

So I always like to take the 'bits and bobs' and make something as tasty as possible out of them.  This week after having to thaw out a full pack of beef burgers (see yesterdays post for the reason why), I started with a couple of larger than usual items to turn into another meal.


I could have just warmed them through thoroughly and served them in a bun again but where's the fun in that, so I decided to use one of the packs of my 'bargain pastry'.  I got together all the plastic tubs out of the fridge, the third of a pack of rice, half an onion and some grated cheese from the box in the freezer and mixed a chopped up burger in with half of the 'bits and bobs' and simply extra cheese with the other half for me, mixing in the tubs to save on more washing up.


I cut a narrow end off the pastry and re-wrapped it and popped it back into the fridge, I have a plan for that ...


.. and then rolled the rest slightly thinner before dividing it into 'big half/little half' and placed the mixes on top.  

Is it my imagination or do the fillings of these pasties look like they're holding hands!!


I brushed half of the edges with an egg wash and then folded the top snuggly over the filling and then turned up the edges and crimped with my fingers.


This picture shows you how I do it, rather than just letting the edges meet if you have a lot of filling this way seems to stop as much filling leaking out in the oven.


They we're very filling served with some of the Mixed Leaves.  Lovely Hubby loved his, but to be honest mine tasted a bit 'ricey' so next time I need to add a dollop of chutney or something spicy to give it more flavour.  But you live and learn, and at least using leftovers you never get exactly the same meal twice.

And the final burger ... well we had three very happy little doggies after their tea that night :-)

Sue xx



Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Burgers

 
Day  42 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers Spent - £0   
Money Spent in Total - £15.44   Vouchers Spent in Total - £5
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £26.56
 
I must have done something I very rarely do way back in August of last year .... put something in the freezer without first opening the pack and individually wrapping the contents before freezing them.


This is so easy and quick to do when you get home from shopping tired and just needing a cuppa but you pay the price further down the line when you want to actually use one or two of the items.  When I got them out the other day they were firmly welded together, even a knife carefully inserted into the slight gaps around the edges wouldn't make them come apart.  So there was nothing for it but to defrost the entire pack.
 

 
Of course Lovely Hubby could only manage two of them in one sitting, on a bun with some cheese and spicy tomato relish eaten while he was watching the rugby on Saturday, that left me with two burgers left over and as I had something in mind I cooked them all together and then let two cool down before popping them in the fridge. 
 
(I had veggie burgers that were thankfully individually frozen so my two burgers came out and were used with no problem whatsoever.)
 
Back tomorrow with what I made with the others.
 
Sue xx