Monday, 31 March 2014

An Urge To Shop


Picture from Google Images.

Day  90
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £61.94   Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £134.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £28.06
 
I'm ninety days into this challenge already, where has the time gone!! 
 
Today is the first day when I have really got an urge to go shopping, I don't know why .... there is food in the cupboards and also in the freezer, I just suddenly have an urge to shop.  But I'm going to fight it and whistle up something tasty for lunch instead and see if it goes away.
 
There really isn't much I need.  If I still have the urge to shop tomorrow I will go and buy a couple of jars of Nescafé with my Nectar points and see if that cures me :-)
 
Sue xx

Belated Sunday Post

 
 
Day  89
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £61.94   Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £134.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £27.06
 
 
Our 'go to' breakfast of the moment seems to be poached eggs on toast.  Not so long ago it was scrambled eggs on toast, it's really funny how once you've mastered something and found out how to cook it to your exact taste it's the thing you fancy most often.
 
I've never really been into fried eggs although they do taste nicer cooked in the top oven of the Aga when they are cooked with an 'Aga fry up', there's non of that greasy taste and the extra crisp outside edge that I think is what puts me off.
 
Whatever we have Lovely Hubby usually has a couple of rashers of bacon added to his plate of eggs and the kitchen fills with that wonderful aroma of cooked bacon.  But whereas once I might have been tempted to nibble a bit of bacon these days, and perhaps for the past year or so I really have absolutely NO interest whatsoever in cooked dead pig !!
 
Wow ... how times have changed :-)
 
Sue xx

Friday, 28 March 2014

Saturday - Filling the Cupboard with my Winnings


Day  88
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £61.94   Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £134.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £26.06
 
Thanks to all the lovely readers of my other Blog 'Our New Life in the Country' I have just taken delivery of twelve boxes of Dorset Cereal after winning the February 'Little Blog of the Month Award', these along with a cute little egg cosy were my prize.  Over £40 worth of their cereals. 
 
 
Lots of lovely goodness to see me and Lovely Hubby through the next few months. (I must make a note of the date and see how long they actually last us.)
 

 
And thanks to us eating our way steadily through the cupboards over the past couple of months I had space to put them away immediately.  Although soon I am hoping that this larder cupboard situated in the conservatory will hold NO food at all and everything will fit into a couple of cupboards in the actual kitchen.
 
I wonder how long that will take?
 
Sue xx

Coffee and the 100g Saga

 
 
Day  87
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £61.94   Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £134.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £25.06
 
Well I've used all my current stash of M&S vouchers, the T*sco Clubcard vouchers are all gone and all that's left are some Nectar points.  I think I have just over £40 worth available at the moment.  These build quite quickly with LH travelling so much as every full tank of fuel adds nicely to the total.  I've been saving them carefully and letting them build as I knew this day would come. 
 
I am down to my last jar of coffee !!
 
 
Now I have to work out which is the best way to buy it. 
 
 Sometimes these great big tubs are the best value and sometimes it's the smaller jars when they are on special offer.  Over at mysupermarket.com which I use a lot to check on prices (and where I picked up these pictures of coffee) it tells me that currently in Sainsbury's the 300g jar is on offer at £4.99 which works out at £1.66 per 100g, cheaper even that the so called 'money saving' refill which is working out at £2.45 per 100g.
 
I always, always, always check out the price per 100g before buying something.  It used to be that the bigger pack of something would always be the cheapest way to buy but now with the wiles and the trickery of the supermarkets trying to part us with our pennies by hook or by crook this is not always the case.  It really does pay to take a little time to stand and do the maths while you are out and about food shopping.
 
This was really driven home to me while I was using mysupermarket.com to see what I would be able to afford to buy if I do decide to do the Live Below the Line fundraising Challenge this year and although some basic lines seemed cheaper at certain supermarkets their pack sizes were much smaller than their rivals, and when you are trying to keep yourself completely fed with only £5 for five whole days it really does pay to get as much volume of food as you can with that money.
 
Sue xx

Thursday, 27 March 2014

A Garden and a Library

 
 
 
Day  86
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £61.94   Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £134.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £24.06
 
This is going to prove very true in the next few months.  A garden to grow us lots of lovely vegetables and a library of books full of ideas of what to do with them so there will be lots of variation in what we eat.
 
Things are taking shape soooo slowly outside and it's at this time of year I always doubt there will be much grown and therefore little to eat later in the season.  More so than ever this year with our recent move and having to start completely from scratch.
 
Time I think to bite the bullet and get a few seeds in that I can grown in whatever bit of earth is available.  A few lettuces, a few tomato plants even the very basics will be very welcome as the freezer stock of last years vegetables runs out.
 
Sue xx

Last Slice of Carrot ?

 
Day  85
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £61.94   Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £134.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £23.06
 
 
 
"I wonder is Mum down to her last slice of carrot .... should I eat it? "
 
Sue xx

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Lamb Stew, Veggie Stew


 
Day  84
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £61.94   Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £134.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £22.06
 
The food in store both from the freezers and the cupboards is lasting pretty well up to now.  Yesterday I knocked up this tasty looking (if you're a meat eater that is) Lamb Stew for Lovely Hubby.  I did myself a smaller vegetable version too but didn't take a photo of it.
 
They simply each had a couple of onions and large handful of the frozen carrots, a few small potatoes, and a big handful of lentils thrown in for extra bulking out and goodness purposes alongside LH's lamb pieces.   I've noticed I seem to throw lentils into so many of the hot warming stews and soups I make, it's a good job I started off with lots.
 
Both the pans of stew lasted us for three meals each with a portion also being put into the fridge for LH to be able to have one more .... well his pan was much bigger than mine :-)
 
 
Sue xx

Monday, 24 March 2014

Water Going Up?

 
Day  83
 
Money Spent Today - £1.70 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £61.94   Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £134.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £21.06
 
Yesterday I posed the question to myself ...
 
' I wonder - is it possible to visit Tesco and just buy 10 bottles of Sparkling Water ? '

 
The answer ..... YES it is !!
 
Although after reading Laura's post today over at  No More Spending, I'm sorry I didn't check out the bread aisle and get a couple of packets of bagels as they seem to have been on offer at just £1 a pack.
 
Oh well I guess I saved money by not knowing about this until I got back.
 
Just to let you know though the shelf edge label for the water read 24p a bottle, and although I was annoyed at such a massive rise, almost 40% in one fell swoop, I was still going to buy 10 bottles as this is our favourite cheap brand, but when we got to the checkout the bottles still scanned at the usual price of 17p each.
 
It does look as though they are going to be going up in price soon though  :-(
 
Sue xx

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Shopping for Drinks


 
Day  82
 
Money Spent Today - £5.50 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £60.24   Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £134.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £21.76
 
It seemed to be all about the drinks this week.  I've been really fancying some pure orange juice and this one was the cheapest of the 'Not From Concentrate' ones, I'm hoping it tastes okay!!  We had also completely run out of cordials and we have both taken a real liking to a dash of Lime cordial in the cheap Sparkling water, which of course means that supplies of that have run down really quickly.  A shopping expedition to Tesco is required I think.
 
I wonder - is it possible to visit Tesco and just buy 10 bottles of Sparkling Water ?
 
I've lost the receipt for this shopping trip but going from memory it went like this -
 
Lemon and Lime Juices (58p and 78p or 2 for £1) - £1
Quorn Slices (£1.50 minus coupon of £1) = 50p
Tomatoes - £1
Milk - £1
Orange Juice - £2
 
Total - £5.50
 
Sue xx

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Poached Bantam Eggs

 
Day  81
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £54.74 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £134.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £26.26
 
The last slice of the lovely M&S loaf we bought last week made for a lovely breakfast this morning.  Simply topped with four of our Lavender Pekin Bantams eggs, two cooked in each of the poaching pans little cups as they are such tiny little eggs, it was totally delicious and very filling.
 
Some days as I carry the eggs back from the henhouse after cleaning it out and giving the girls (and boys) their corn ration for the day I think I'll never starve while I have my lovely feathered friends providing for me :-)
 
Sue xx
 


Friday, 21 March 2014

Fish and Chips

 
Day  80
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £54.74 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £134.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £25.26
 
I'm currently eating fish alongside my other foods, this is sporadic for me.  I usually follow a vegetarian diet but every now and then I do switch to including fish in my food choices.  This of course makes me temporarily Pescatarian, which makes my Mum very happy as she is convinced I won't get my nutrients from my veggies alone!!
 
Can I afford to continue to eat fish though once my vouchers and points run out.  These fillets bought as part of a special offer work out at 83p each, the few chips from the large bag of frozen chunky chips in the freezer probably only add a few pence to the cost of the meal and make the meal filling enough for me not to want to raid the biscuit tin after an hour or so ... as my other half is apt to do if I don't fill his plate up with lots of veggies alongside his fish and chips.
 
Filling the plate up with home grown veggies once we have them, would make the meal affordable, as would having eggs for breakfast, and homemade soup and bread for lunch to make my pound stretch to encompass the whole day's budget.
 
So I guess I could just about afford to continue to eat fish either in this form or tinned Tuna which is about 49p a tin for the basic flakes in Asda at the moment ... but do I want to?
 
I seem to be having a pondering over food week this week   :-/
 
Sue xx
 


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Strawberries and Coffee

 
Day  79
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £54.74 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £134.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £24.26
 
This is real luxury at the moment, the last of the M&S voucher Strawberries for breakfast. 
 
A total treat at this time of year and normally I wouldn't have bought them, but at just £2 a punnet and knowing how lusciously sweet they were from our last purchase I just could not say no.  I ate them and drank my coffee while at the computer researching possible food prices for doing the Live Below the Line fundraising challenge this year, a very weird juxtaposition as if I do decide to take part this year that £2 will be my entire budget for food for two days, as indeed it could be said to be for this Challenge.
 
Thank goodness for my vouchers and points.
 
Sue xx

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Soup and Scones

 
Day  78
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £54.74 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £134.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £23.26
 
Remember my Blanching Carrots post the other day, well last night for tea I had the last of the soup made with the blanching water, and very nice it was too eaten with a couple of the Wholemeal Scones, one 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Forgotten Scone Mix


Day  77
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £54.74 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £134.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £22.26
 
Whenever I decide NOT to spend money the urge comes over me to make good use of what I have, so I am trying to keep myself in this mind-set for the rest of this month.  I really don't need anything.
 
I went to the supermarket this morning and managed to come out with only what was on my list and NONE of it was food for us.  Dried dog food and some cleaning products were all I needed and all I got - result !!
 

 
I decided to make some scones when I got home and I had rediscovered this large bag of Scone Mix from Approved Foods at the back of the cupboard last time I took some photos.  How I forgot I had something so bl**dy big I have no idea but I had!!

 
So I made up a batch of Wholemeal Scones, using just the mix and water.  Twelve nice little diddy scones and one little oddment for the 'cooks treat' ....

 
... well you have to have the 'cook's treat' don't you :-)
 
Sue xx

Monday, 17 March 2014

No Shopping But More in The Freezer!!

 
Day  76
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £54.74 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £134.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £21.26
 
No shopping yesterday but I did put some more things in the freezer. 
 
After tipping out the open frozen carrots into a freezer bag I used the tray again to open freeze some mushrooms.  I buy punnets of mushrooms when they are on offer or if I am cooking something for LH that calls for mushrooms but I cannot for the life of me bring myself to like these little fungi so to make it worth buying them I usually end up slicing and freezing whatever is over so nothing goes to waste.
 
Even the chickens don't like mushrooms!!
 
Sue xx

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Weekend Shopping - Part Two

 
 Day  75
 
Money Spent Today - £1.33 Vouchers/Points Spent - £44.00 
Money Spent in Total - £53.41 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £134.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £20.26
 
After my visit to Tesco I went straight along the road for a mooch around in Llandudno and ended up in M&S, I was going to treat myself to a coffee with my personal spends, but the café was heaving,  full of early season holiday makers that had been drawn into M&S for the 50% off sale that was in full swing.  I went down to the food department instead and decided to spend some of my vouchers.
 
I spent them all .... but as you can see I did amazingly well.  All the fresh stuff we need for the week, lots of lovely treats (the sugar free sweeties are a favourite for in the cars and are ideal for LH as he is diabetic) AND a bottle of wine.  I also bought a Basil plant and a Parsley plant as the seeds I have already planted have not germinated at all.  I will put some more in but I think it's time for some zingy cooking and I love fresh herbs in my food and I really can't wait anymore.
 
 
To help things along I had a 10% off food voucher and then £44 in vouchers so all in all I spent a grand total of £1.33 and used up ALL of my remaining vouchers.  There was one very clever purchase the shortbread biscuits were £1.99 per pack or two packs for £2 ... as you can see I got two, what a lovely treat to have tucked up in the cupboard.
 
It was brilliant to walk out of the shop with so much shopping for so little cash, even the cashier was very impressed with my clever shopping :-)
 
To celebrate I did buy myself a coffee but in a more little known café in town .... upstairs in Waterstones, books, coffee and cake under one roof, it's somewhere I'm keeping quite about .... shhhh don't tell ;-)
 
Sue xx

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Weekend Shopping - Part One


Day  74
 
Money Spent Today - £7.69 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0 
Money Spent in Total - £53.41 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £90.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £20.59
 
I went to Tesco because I had a £1.30 off price comparison coupon, due to the last shopping being available cheaper elsewhere, and yes Tesco's little trick worked.  In my head I was only going to buy a loaf ..... but I got some bread and a bottle of milk, then I spied the butter on offer, so I spent much more than I had planned to spend. 
 

 
It's why they do it, they just know we will spend more once we are in there.  Money in their bank and not in their rivals.
 
Oh well I saved £1.50 on the butters and they are now in the freezer and we have some nice big buns for lunches over the weekend.  The loaf has been frozen in my usual way, with the slices being loosened and then frozen and then pushed back together again so we will be able to take them out one slice at a time.
 
And then I went to M& S ........
 
Sue xx

Friday, 14 March 2014

Blanching Carrots

 
Day  73
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0 
Money Spent in Total - £45.72 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £90.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £27.28
 
I am going to be really strict with myself over the next couple of weeks and stop buying anything that isn't strictly necessary. 
 
I bought a bag of carrots last week and they have sat in the fridge not touched since then.  I can't even remember what was on my mind to do with them when I bought them.  So this morning I set to and prepared them for the freezer
 

 
I don't always blanch fruit and vegetables before I freeze them but I thought I would this time as I want to compare which method is actually best.  I have a bag of un-blanched and frozen carrots in the freezer already (another reason why I shouldn't have bought these!!).

 
So after a good scrub, a slicing and then bubbling away in boiling slightly salted water for about three minutes, they were tipped into cold water in the sink and then a colander.  Once they were thoroughly drained they were patted a bit drier on a clean tea towel and then placed into my new open freezing trays in a single layer.   Do you recognise the plastic trays the fish portions came in last week (see HERE).

 
They might not stack as well as my others but they do a brilliant job.  I will give the trays a shake after about an hour or so in the freezer to make sure that none of the slices are sticking together, and then I will have free flowing carrot slices to bag up and use whenever I need them.
 
 
And in the interests of wasting NOTHING I am using the blanching water to make a pan full of soup for lunch, well I mean it's blanched three lots of carrots and there are lots of tiny carroty bits floating around in it as well as lots of the lovely vitamins that I would lose if I threw it away. 
 
I simply added one carrot, half an onion, a handful of red lentils and a tablespoon of vegetable bouillon mix, it's now in the bottom oven of the Aga simmering away nicely and making the kitchen smell gorgeous.
 
Sue xx
 
 


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Cooking Rice

 
Day  72
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0 
Money Spent in Total - £45.72 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £90.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £26.28
 
The other day I mentioned cooking my rice in the oven and flummoxed a few of you. 
 
I bought this book years ago when I had my first Aga in our rented farmhouse, and after going to a friends for supper and having the most gorgeous fluffy rice that she whipped out of the Aga and served straight to the table without even taking the lid off to see if it was ready, she just trusted her recipe completely and quite rightly so.
 
So now I have returned to this tried and trusted method and it really is the best way to get nice fluffy rice without having the hotplate lid open for any length of time and risking the pan boiling over.  It is really easy and if you play around with your own oven temperature with whatever kind of oven you have I can't really see a reason why it wouldn't work.  But to make it financially sensible it would have to be while something else is in the oven at the same time.
 
So if you were slowly cooking a stew or a curry that would be fine.  I guess the simmering oven of the Aga is about Gas Mark 3 or the equivalent in electric, it's funny how I always think in terms of gas temperatures when I haven't had a gas oven for over ten years!!

 
If you click on the picture it should enlarge enough for you to be able to read it comfortably.  But basically you put 235g rice, 370ml water and a teaspoon of salt in a pan bring it up to boil, stir it once, put the lid on and place in the oven for 18-20 minutes. 
 
After this time take the pan out of the oven give the rice a fluff up with a fork and it's ready to eat OR put the lid back on and stand your pan somewhere warm (I leave it on the edge of the Aga) your rice will keep perfectly in this state for up to half an hour.
 
Brilliant and SO easy.  But I still like to have a couple of the microwave packs in the cupboard if possible and do get tempted to buy them if they are as cheap as the ones I got the other day.  Some fast foods ARE worth having to hand, and I don't even mind paying the extra after seeing what they have to do to be able to produce these packs of good wholesome carbs.
 
Sue xx

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Empty Shopping Basket




 
Day  71
 
Money Spent Today - £0 Vouchers/Points Spent - £0 
Money Spent in Total - £45.72 Vouchers/Points Spent in Total - £90.45
Emergency £5 Spent on Butter
Money left in purse  - £25.28
 
I Googled 'empty shopping basket' to get a picture to go at the top of this post which I thought I would write all about me NOT going shopping for a few days to stop all this temptation to spend the little money that I have.
 
I got the lovely wire version above ....
 
 
 
... this very nice wicker one, which I totally love .....  AND
 
 
 
 
... there seems to be a picture of me out shopping on there looking very fetching in red!!
 
I can't really remember now what I was going to write so I'll leave it at that :-)
 
(All pictures courtesy of Google.)
 
Sue xx