Spending Diary 27th July to 2nd August 2020

Hi everyone,

I had taken this week off work due to needing to sort out things after my mum’s death, some of the days have been harder than others.

27/07/2020

I decided to travel back to my home town to see some family and be with them during this time. My training ticket cost £45.05 with insurance but I saved 1/3 on it due to my rail card. I also bought my Dad a couple of indoor plants early for his birthday so I could be there to see him open them. They came to £21.83. I went to the shops to stock up for the week for my flat mate. I bought Lucozade, milk, Pepsi, hand wash, garden peas, oats, chocolate x 3, cucumber, tomatoes and burger baps. That came to £14.15, but I split that with my flat mate.

I also went to Boots and bought conditioner, 2 deodorants and a leave in conditioner, but I paid with my Boots advantage card points as I am really low on money, so I saved nearly £10.

28/07/2020

I travelled back to stay with my Dad and Step mum. The train journey was luckily uneventful and with no delays or cancellations. At home I just hung out with my family for the rest of the day, and didn’t spend any money.

29/07/2020

It is my Dad and Step mum’s wedding anniversary today, so I bought them a bottle of wine and a card for £8. I picked up some shopping for myself at the local Co-op. That was £9.86, and later I travelled into the centre of my home town to see a friend. The train ticket was £2.05 after I saved 1/3 on it with my rail card.

30/07/2020

I had a terrible night’s sleep due to keep waking up in pain. It turns out I have picked up an infection. I went to the shops to buy some supplies (£4.10 for paracetamol, juice and yogurt) and in the shop I nearly fainted. I came home, started making a cup of coffee, and then fainted in the kitchen in front of my Dad who was very concerned.

My friend has had the same type of infection before so I asked her about treatment. She said waiting till I got back to where I live and seeing a doctor there would be unwise as this type of infection needs to be treated soon, so I spent a couple of hours today filling out temporary residents forms for the nearest surgery, getting assessed and then getting a prescription. In Wales prescriptions are free. In England they are not. So I paid £9.15 for the prescription but I was happy to pay this, anything to get better.

The rest of the day was uneventful.

31/07/2020

I slept all through the night and the infection feels like it is nearly all gone, wonderful! I went to the shops to pick up supplies for the train journey. A bottle of Lucozade and water which was £1.83 after I used my Co-op reward points. I also picked up some bread and milk for my Dad, £2.50 for them.

I had an almost uneventful train journey home until I got near Westbury when the train lost power. It eventually decided to terminate early so I got off the train in Bath as the station is very pretty and waited for the following train back to Cardiff.

I got picked up from the station by my flat mate and his girlfriend and back at the house we had store bought pizzas. It is very hot!

01/08/2020

I met up with one of my brothers in Bristol to go back to my mum’s house to look through her things. My train fare was £9.45, with a third off using my railcard. The taxi to my mum’s house was £15. I bought lunch at the local shop for £4.79. The deal was my brother would pay for the taxi back to the station and I told him to take money out but he believed he could pay by card. Turns out he couldn’t, so I had to pay. Another £13, but he’s promised to pay me back.

I had a few bags with me so back in Cardiff I caught a taxi home, which was £8. I did a quick run, made a decadent batch of veggie chilli cheese fries and had a zooms drink session with my friends. It got pretty emotional for all of us at certain points. Everyone has something going on in their life that could be better, and I truly believe all feelings are valid. It’s not like I think I’m the only person with problems, or the worst problems now that my mum has died. I want to be there for my friends with all their problems too.

I went to bed late, but I expected that.

02/08/2020

I got up when my alarm went off at 10am. I always set an alarm, even on weekends. I was still sleepy from a 2am bedtime, but I wanted to get on with my day.

I had a long to do list to do and I got stuck straight on it. I have been meaning to update my email address to a new provider after issues with my current one. After some research I decided to go for a professional account with a secure provider who look really good. That was £43.41 for a year’s subscription to their service. I then signed up to a couple of other tech sites. One was £33.99 for a year of their service. And I got a free month’s trial on another tech site, but that will be £7.95 a month going forward.

I later went to the shops and bought 2 face toners for myself, £3.38. I went to the local Tesco too for food shopping. I did my shop and was debating whether to get some more alcohol when I saw my favourite Welsh whisky Penderyn was on sale with £11 off its price and there was only one bottle left. I took it as a sign I should get it. The food shopping came to £51.07. Back at home I checked my bank accounts and noted that my wine club subscription had come out, that was £20. As had my beer subscription, £26.90. I also paid back my flat mate for food shopping he had bought whilst I was away, which was £20.81 worth of stuff.

I’m drawing a close on today. I really don’t want to spend any more money today and I usually try to finish this blog post early on a Sunday, because then I’m not tempted to do any more shopping as I would have to come back and edit this.

I bid you goodbye on this week.

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £140.92 (MY HALF = £70.46)

PERSONAL SPENDING = £222.39

TOTAL SPENDING = £292.85

Spending Diary 20th – 26th July 2020

Spending Diary 20th to 26th July 2020

Hi all,

I must precede this late spending diary with the information that on Monday 20th July I received the news that my wonderful mum had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack. It has understandably been a very hard time.

20/07/2020

Before I received the news about my mum in the evening, I had been having a good day. I got things done at work. Then I left work early to view a house as the flat mate and I are looking to move out in September. We decided to get a chippy for tea. That came to £12.15, but we split the cost of that. I started my latest session on the book course I signed up to but quit halfway through after my brother phoned me to tell me about my mum.

21/07/2020

My flat mate and I took a walk to a local park to clear my head. He treated me to a pasty and cake from a nearby bakery. The walk helped a little but I was still desperately sad. I continued with my daily runs as I didn’t see how they would make me feel worse and they might even make me feel better, but it was clear this grief was going to take time.

22/07/2020

The flat mate went to the shops and bought milk, alcohol free beer x 2 packs and 2 x bottles, Pepsi, tissues, bread, cheese rolls, cookies, cucumber, orange juice, jam tarts, tomatoes and strawberries. This came to £22.33, but again we will split it. We will also split the cost of the £7.95 coffee from the subscription company Pact that came out of my account today.

23/07/2020

Early bird sale entries for the 2021 October Cardiff Half Marathon went on sale and I took advantage and bought one. That came to £39.96, and I saved £5 from it. I also asked my colleague to tell me what my share of another colleague’s birthday presents was and it came to £3.10. My work friend was reluctant to bother me with news of the birthday costs but I insisted.

24/07/2020

I have been having alternating bad and better days since finding out the news about my mum’s death, and this was a particularly bad day. It was made better by my flat mate’s girlfriend coming round and him deciding to treat us all to an Indian takeaway.

25/07/2020

My brother and his girlfriend came to stay yesterday due to us going over to where my mum lived today. She lived nearest to me. I live in South Wales and she lived outside Bristol. My train fare cost £9.45, but I saved a 1/3 due to my railcard. I bought 2 sandwiches from the local shop to my mum whilst I was going through her things at her house. That came to £3.81 but I saved 84p using my co-op rewards card. My brother paid for the taxi to my mums and I paid for the one back which including tip was £15.

Back at my house we all felt too tired and sad to cook dinner so we ordered an Indian takeaway. The same place that we ordered from the day before. What I ordered came to £15 rounded up. Despite the circumstances it was quite nice to spend time with people. We took all the necessary social distancing precautions of course.

26/07/2020

My brother, his girlfriend and I went to get ice creams at a local place to me. My two scoop pistachio and elderflower came to £3.95. We went for a walk around the nearest beauty spot. When we came back we played board games. Later we went to the shops and from the household budget I bought prosecco, onion rings, pizza dips, pizza, garlic bread, macaroni cheese which came to £16.65.

It has been a very hard week to get through, and I predicted I would be very upset on the 27th July when the first week since I heard the news passes.

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £58.98 / £29.49

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £75.27

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £104.76

 

35 Days

In 35 days time I will become debt free for the first time since at least 2013.

Although I am lucky that on the 27th of August 2020 I can share that achievement with a vast range of wonderful relatives and friends, there will be a significant person missing that day.

My mum passed away this week. This grief is like no other grief I have ever felt before.

I got into debt because I lived impulsively and with my heart. Whilst a lot of my debt was caused by having insecure employment, ill health and bad luck, there were plenty of times when I went on Amazon and bought £50 of books I couldn’t afford on a credit card.

I have done a complete flip personality wise. I now live with my head. I live frugally, sensibly and in budget at all times. This makes me feel safe.

It is hard to let go of the head way of thinking. I fear relinquishing it’s controls will lead me back into debt.

But I want to look back on my life knowing I lived a balanced life, I want to live within my means, but I want to have adventures and let my heart have it’s way sometimes.

The best way I can honour my mum is by living a full, happy and healthy life. I will keep her in my heart every day. I know she was proud of me, but I want to make sure I continue to make her proud and honour her memory.

I love you, mum.

Strawberry Tragedy Cake

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Strawberry Tragedy Cake

Hi everyone,

I made this cake as a way of willing myself out of my feelings of despair on Saturday morning. I was upset because my Dad was back in Hospital having had a minor stroke. My flat mate wanted me to use up some strawberries he had forgotten about and this is what I made. Baking is my therapy.

INGREDIENTS

250g self raising flour

1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

200g punnet of strawberries – half diced, half sliced

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

135ml sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

100g soft brown sugar

 

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

Add the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda to a mixing bowl, mix together

In another bowl add the eggs and sugar and then whisk to a fine batter

Add the cinnamon and vanilla bean paste, plus the oil and sour cream to the egg/sugar bowl and whisk all together again until combined

Add the wet mix to the dry mix and bring together

Add half the batter to a spring form lined (greased and lined) then add the diced strawberries

Add the other half of the batter, then on top place the sliced strawberries cut side down

Put on the middle shelf of the oven and cook for around 50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean

Enjoy!

Spending Diary 13th – 19th July 2020

Spending Diary 13th – 19th July 2020

Hi everybody!

I hope you are all well. This week had a couple of notable events. Some good, some bad. I’ll take you through it.

13/07/2020

Back to work again. Today I did a short run that took in posting a letter to my Grandpa on the way round. I had quite a productive day at work and achieved a few things. I finished a season I was watching on Netflix. Today I didn’t spend any money.

14/07/2020

After work today I did a speed intervals session after work as my run of choice. I tend to pick days with bad weather to do that as there will be less people about. And it was another day where I didn’t spend any money.

15/07/2020

Today I did something I had been saving up to do for ages. I signed up to turn my Word Press blog into a premium site so I can redesign it and get rid of all the ads. Yey! That was £84. I had been saving up for a while and I didn’t quite have enough but I decided to just jump in, move some money around, and do it now. The flat mate went to the shops today to buy some house supplies. That came to £7.62, but we split the cost of all the household shopping in half. I will spend some time this weekend playing around with Word Press and making my site look pretty.

16/07/2020

The flat mate fancied something different for dinner, so he went to the shops and bought houmous, halloumi, falafel and salad items and we had wraps for dinner. The shopping came to £12.06, but once again we split that in half. My run incorporated picking up my prescription from the pharmacy so I only had to leave the house once today.

17/07/2020

Today I received the bad news that my Dad had suffered another stroke. He had a major stroke in December last year and has slowly been recovering and gaining his speech back. This stroke was mild in comparison, but it is still a blow to the family. I’m so confused by lock down rules, especially because I live in Wales which has different rules to the other UK countries that I’m going to have to look into how I can see him. I just crashed out in front of the TV this evening and didn’t do much.

18/07/2020

I was really sad this morning and it took me a while to get up and get going. It was after midday when I finally began doing things. First of all I made a lovely strawberry cake which I’ll put the recipe up for on here.  I then went to the shops to do the big weekly food shop. That came to £36.27 because I tried out my Tesco Clubcard Plus app which I had been given a 2 month free trial of and it gives me 10% off my shopping. I’m not sure whether I will make back the cost of it when I start paying for it, so this time is just to see if I like it or not.

I did a 5km run later on which didn’t make me feel better but it didn’t make me feel worse either. In the evening I had zoom drinks with my friends and I may or may not have drunk a whole bottle of white wine. Whoops. I had a really good time though. I watched the end of a music documentary downstairs with my flat mate and went to bed shortly after that.

19/07/2020

My plans for today are to do a long run and do some writing and other bits and bobs. I treated myself to watching a show in depth on TV this morning. Normally I just put something on and have it going in the background whilst I do other things, but this I really paid attention to and even took notes!

I went out for my long run at lunchtime. 13.22km. It was tough in parts but I powered through it. I had a shower and took care of my weekly beauty admin – shaving, face mask, etc – and then I made an amazing omelette. I used to not be able to make omelettes at all. I have gained this skill during lockdown.

I was really tempted to get an ice cream after the run, but decided against it to save money. Which is just as well as I went on to buy a copy of Jack Monroe’s latest cookbook ‘Good Food for Bad Days’ That was £5.59 and will arrive tomorrow as I have a free one month trial of Amazon Prime. A bit of an impulse purchase, but I really do love Jack Monroe and their recipes.

I don’t anticipate spending any more money today, so I will sign off.

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £55.95 / £27.98

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £89.59

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £117.57

Apple Flapjacks

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Hi everybody,

I was always a big campaigner for preventing food waste, but it became more important during lock down. So when I saw 4 sad apples in my fridge going a bit soft I knew I had to do something with them.

I also found some nuts in my cupboard expiring soon, so I incorporated them into the mix.

INGREDIENTS

4 apples, diced

45ml golden syrup

300g oats

100g walnuts, ground

100g sugar – optional

Small amount of water and butter

METHOD

Place the diced apple in a pan and cook with the golden syrup and water and butter over a medium heat until soft.

Place the walnuts in a food processor and grind

Add the walnut grounds and oats to a bowl

Add the sugar to the walnut/oat mix if using

Place the soft apple mix into the food processor and mix to a puree

Add to the oat/walnut mix and combine all together

Press into a greased square baking tin

Cook at 180 degrees for 20 minutes

Enjoy!

Spending Diary 6th – 12th July 2020

Hi everybody,

This week is special for me because on ‘hump day’ I will only have 50 days left until I am debt free. I started the countdown on my blog from day 100 so I am half way through the countdown, though obviously it’s been a lot longer than that.

But I digress, let’s look at my wallet.

06/07/2020

First Monday in 5 weeks that I didn’t have off as annual leave. It felt good to be at work. I had a new range of work to begin this week which I was very excited about. I had a good day at work. I made use of working from home by doing a strength workout in my kitchen at lunchtime. After work I did a 10km run to make up for not doing one on Sunday. The flat mate and I made spaghetti Bolognese from things we had at home so that kept us out of the shops today.

07/07/2020

I got paid all my Amazon vouchers from my side hustles today. I had £50 on my account in vouchers. I decided to buy things I needed so I bought the Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook 2021 that is released on the 23rd of July, a French grammar book for beginners, a beauty spatula and a lavender pillow spray as I’ve been having trouble sleeping. The order came to £50.01 so after I used all my vouchers it cost me just 1p! I was so happy about this. I was prioritising comfort for my future self by buying things I needed instead of all the CDs I wanted, so I was proud of myself.

08/07/2020

To celebrate there only being 50 days until I become debt free I drank rather a lot of wine today. I think a later 0% alcohol beer is bizarrely what pushed me over the edge. To celebrate the 50 day countdown I did 50 press ups, 50 squats and 5 x 50 second planks (standard x 2, reverse and each side). I did a small run as well. I had my most productive day of the week at work which was nice. I had some things to do with my book writing masterclass in the evening, and I had my daily French lessons on Duolingo too. I decided I needed to do a financial forecast for August, so I spent some time doing that this evening.

09/07/2020

The flat mate convinced me to get a take away today. I owed him two for design and branding work he is doing for me so this would be the second one. We fancied a Mexican so we ordered from Taco Bell. I had three things and the flat mate had four things and it came to £22.98. It was money very well spent, I loved it! I was in a celebratory mood because of the 50 day countdown so I was very happy to get a takeaway.

10/07/2020

At work today I received the best news I could have ever hoped for. My Fixed Term Appointment position had been converted into a permanent position. This would make my financial future so much more secure and help from everything to getting a rental contract to eventually getting a mortgage one day. I guess yesterday’s takeaway was a nice precursor to today’s good news. My subscription to the environmentally friendly laundry capsules came out of my account today and I checked and I now have so many that I pushed the next delivery back to late August. No point buying more than I need to buy, that’s just money down the drain. I considered buying something to celebrate my job news and it was made further tempting by Marks and Spencer’s giving me a £10 off voucher to celebrate the launch of their new Sparks loyalty service, but I decided against it in the end. I didn’t really need to buy anything and I should save my money for things I do need to buy.

I didn’t really feel like cooking so I just had some instant noodles for dinner, then I tidied up the house which is something I love doing on a Friday as it means the house is tidy all ready for the weekend and that’s one less thing to waste my time on then. I did a French lesson on Duolingo, my French grammar book turned up today, as did my lavender pillow spray and beauty spatula yesterday. My Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook 2021 isn’t released until the 23rd so I have a while to wait for that.

11/07/2020

Saturday is typically my shopping day. The flat mate and I tend to only go shopping once a week now. Before Covid-19 hit the UK I would probably go to the shops most days and buy a small amount of things on whim, now everything is planned out in advance and we shop infrequently, but we shop much bigger than we have done previously.

I bought a wide range of groceries. No alcohol for once, I am tempted to get some whisky, but I figured I would use up the alcohol at home. I bought lots of fruit and vegetables, chocolate and crisps for the flat mate (and some for me!), lots of store cupboard tins and sauces, drinks, dairy products, fish and vegetarian products and finally some doughnuts as a treat. Doughnuts are my kryptonite. I spent £47.15 and I bought so much stuff that an hour later my arms are still sore from carrying back the shopping to my house. 6 bags and a backpack! I think shopping will have to become a 2 person job from now on!

I also wanted to treat myself on a small scale, but I don’t really have money for unnecessary treats. What I decided to do was get some beauty products. I needed a face mask pack and a face wash, but I decided to get a face scrub too. I am well stocked now.

12/07/2020

Today I did a long run, my longest run since the 14th March. It was 12.25km long and it felt great to do it. I had my daily Duolingo French lesson. My flat mate and his girlfriend went to get ice creams from a local store and came back with one for me – peanut butter and strawberry. It was amazing! He didn’t even want any money for it, so today was a no spend day. We had a late Sunday dinner as it was far too hot to have one earlier in the day, and we watched Rocky III. I decided to go to bed at a sensible time too.

Now, let’s see how much I spent this week.

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING – £53.15 (£26.58)

PERSONAL SHOPPING – £52.75

TOTAL SPENDING – £79.33

 

 

50 ways to cut the cost of your household shopping

bank notes
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Hi everybody,

To celebrate there only being 50 days left till I become debt free I thought I would do a bumper post about how to save money on your household shopping!

Looking to cut the cost on your household shopping is one of the easiest ways to make savings to your spending. It is one of the areas we have the most control over, and therefore it is a good place to start.

Here we go.

  1. Store your food correctly. Not every fruit/vegetable needs to go in the fridge. Onions for instance are happiest in a cool dark place, though don’t keep them with your potatoes as both emit a chemical that will make both of them go bad twice as quickly. Onions love scurrying about in an old clean pair of tights (perverts) and will last for ages if there.
  2. Obey Use by Dates, but Best before Dates are just a guidance as to when the food will be at its best quality and may last for absolute ages after that date. I regularly make cakes out of tinned fruit that were BBE nearly 2 years ago and I’m yet to get sick. Use your judgement. If it looks fine, smells fine, tastes fine then it is fine. If it looks bad, smells bad and tastes bad then get rid of it. As for sell by dates if these still exist as there are calls to abolish them, they are just about stock rotation for a supermarket and have no other importance than that. Ignore them.
  3. Eggs can be fine long after their date. They way to check is to fill a glass with water and gently place the egg inside. If it just lays there at the bottom, then it is fine. If it sits up, it’s getting old and should be eaten soon. If it floats chuck it, it’s bad. Eggs should never be washed as their shells become porous in water, so only do this glass test if you plan on eating the eggs straight away.
  4. Buy a loaf of bread and freeze half of it. Use the fresh slices for sandwiches and the frozen slices for toast, they’ll defrost straight away on the toaster. Sometimes I ended up with a huge amount of frozen bread slices in my freezer so then I would make a savoury bread and butter pudding with eggs and cheese. Nice. That’s a bonus tip for you.
  5. Star drops is a miracle product. It sells in places like Home Bargains, Savers and on Amazon. I am only just beginning to find out all its uses. The simplest thing I use it for is as a surface cleaner. Diluting 1 part star drops to 9 parts water will turn it into a surface spray. Decant into an old spray bottle and bingo!
  6. Anti-bacterial wipes are convenient, but they are also expensive and bad for the environment. Following the tip above you could also buy some reusable dish clothes and use one every day and then throw it in the wash to reuse again.
  7. When you buy a nice jar of sundried tomatoes or similar in oil you can save the oil and use it in cooking. It will be nicely infused with the taste of whatever was contained in the jar and is one way to stretch your food budget better.
  8. Measure out your ingredients to prevent waste. 75g of rice and pasta is all you need for one person, especially if you are having other things with it. Therefore measuring out 75g per person when cooking will give you the right portion amounts and this means there won’t be any waste.
  9. A lot of people wax lyrical about reduced items. I tend not to bother too much with them but it is true you can get some good savings on them but think practically. Reduced items should be used on the day or frozen on the day ideally, therefore it is hard to plan your life and weekly food plan around them. When perusing the reduced aisle really think about whether you need the item and if it is going to be used in time.
  10. I live my life around meal planning. I base it around how much time I’m going to have on a particular day (so I’m not making a three course meal on a day when I’ve only got one hour to spare) and also on what needs to be eaten first and before it goes off.
  11. Eating up fresh items first means they won’t get wasted. Do not put your money in the bin.
  12. When times are really tough financially I tend to meal plan every meal, though in easier times I tend to just plan the dinners, though this usually extends over into lunches as I batch cook. During lockdown I once went two weeks before I had to go shopping again as I had fanatically meal planned and made use of everything in the cupboards.
  13. Batch cooking is my saving grace. I tend to spend either Sunday or Monday prepping a lot of meals for the week – Dinners like pasta dishes and curries, lunches like soups, breakfasts like overnight oats. This saves me so much time during the week as it means I can have a nice tasty meal ready at the ping of a microwave button and being able to take something into work means it keeps me out of the workplace canteen spending money.
  14. Batch cooking is a really good thing, but you must make sure to prep the food safely. Look up what things can be frozen and what can be kept in the fridge and for how long. You don’t want to throw away food that has gone off. Likewise you don’t want to get food poisoning and take time off work or spend it in hospital.
  15. Make sure to reheat leftovers to the correct temperature, to prevent the above maladies. 82 degrees is best. You can buy an inexpensive food thermometer to check the temperature.
  16. Using an oven for a long time uses a lot of energy and can be expensive, particularly if you are only heating up just one thing. Why not cook two things at once?
  17. Herbs and spices are a great way to make food taste better, but you can end up with a lot of them languishing in your cupboards for years, particularly if you buy one for a specific recipe and never use it again. Try seeing if there is a zero waste shop near where you live where you could buy a smaller amount of the desired herb/spice so that it won’t go off. This can often cost just pennies. Or try and learn a little bit about herbs and spices and see what ones can be substituted for another in a recipe and still give the desired taste.
  18. Personally I feel that herbs and spices are still good long after they’ve been opened. The taste may dull a little. I would find it a nonsense to still keep an herb for 13 years as I have heard in some cases, it’s clear you don’t need that one in your life. But I have been known to use herbs and spices a year past their best before date.
  19. Food can be an inexpensive and thoughtful gift at seasonal times. In Nigella Lawson’s ‘Nigella Christmas’ book she gives a recipe for making a gift of vanilla sugar – a literal jar of caster sugar with a scraped vanilla pod in. This can be a fun way to get children involved at gift making stage, and with placing the treats in a sterilized kilner jar with a nice ribbon it can look delightful. A nonfood tip would be to decorate the jars with paints or pens and make them look pretty that way.
  20. I recommend doing a food inventory once a month, ideally around the time of the first big shop of the payday that month. I get a notebook and write down everything in the cupboards, on the surfaces and in the fridge and freezer to get an idea of what I have, what needs to be eaten first, and what I need to replace of add. This saves me money because it means when I go to the shops I am buying what I need, I am not wasting food and I can come up with food ideas using what I already have in stock. Some people like to take a ‘shelfie’ which is a photo of your cupboards so that when you go to the supermarket you remember what you already have. Whatever works for you is best, but the premise is to get an idea of what you have. Oh, and get rid of those 13 year old spices.
  21. Facebook groups like ‘feed yourself for 1 a day’ and ‘scrimping on a budget’ are great low cost ways of getting ideas and tips for your food and meal plans. The members often post great low cost and kid friendly recipes, and something I often see is a member asking whether they can substitute a particular ingredient for another, or what they can make with the ingredients they have in.
  22. Save old vegetable scraps, celery stubs, carrot tops and peel, onion scraps, potato peelings etc in a zip lock bag in the freezer. When you have a large enough collection add to a large pan of water with black peppercorns, a bay leaf and bring to the boil and then simmer for about an hour. Strain over another pan and you will have homemade vegetable stock and you can feel all smug and domestic goddessy. Add a chicken carcass and extend the process for about 2 hours and you will have chicken stock.
  23. Life is about treats as much as it is about being sensible with your money. There will always be something you won’t compromise on taste wise or brand wise. That is fine, I’m the same! I love ground coffee. I have a subscription to a coffee service. Not very frugal when a small bag costs much more than a larger jar of instant, but I won’t compromise on this, but there are things I don’t mind buying cheaper versions of and that’s how I make my savings.
  24. Having said that, when I do buy one of those large jars of instant coffee I wash the label off the jar and sterilize it in a dishwasher and I keep it to store things in, like nuts, lentils etc. My grandparents had exactly the same in their kitchen and when I see my appropriated coffee jars in my cupboards it always makes me think of them and smile.
  25. I relaunched this blog during lockdown. You may remember how hard it was to buy pasta and other grains. I thought I’d share what I adapted that situation with during that time. Cauliflower can be processed in a food processor or bashed about in a bag with a rolling pin to make cauliflower ‘rice’. Rice itself is quite cheap, perhaps cheaper than what rice can be produced from the average Tesco cauliflower, but if you can’t get rice but can get cauliflower then the rice is a nice carb type substitute.
  26. You might have seen ‘courgetti’ (spaghetti made out of courgettes) produced with a spiralizer, but spiralizers are quite expensive for something you might not need very often. Courgetti can be produced to a similar effect with a potato peeler. Again this is a carb type substitute and will count towards one of your five a day.
  27. Pearl Barley is a nice grain and can be used to make a ‘barlotto’ which is a risotto like dish just made with this grain instead. I made a really nice one once with a bag of frozen mushroom mix and it tasted great.
  28. The freezer is not a place for chicken kiev’s to go and die. It is also not just your random storage container. But it can be quite forgiving to odds and ends. Your ice cube tray is your friend. You can freeze individual portions of wine, herbs, hummus, and various other bits and bobs and store them in a bag and just throw in one or two when you’re making a sauce or similar.
  29. When you do store things in the freezer, label them. You don’t want to tip what you think is vegetable stock into a curry only to find out it is gooseberry sauce.
  30. Freezer bags can easily be reused. Don’t just throw them away. Wash them each time you use them. This will not only save you money but will save the planet too.
  31. Likewise tin foil can be washed and dried and used again, as can baking parchment. Sometimes it can’t be saved, but usually it is good for another one or two goes.
  32. Whatever you do on Pancake Day just make sure you don’t buy a packet of instant mix pancake batter. You can make this for literal pennies with flour and milk and egg. This does not require any fancy cooking skills, believe me if I could make pancakes at the beginning of my food cooking experiments then so can you.
  33. A portion of juice is 150ml. Only 150ml once a day counts towards your five a day. Therefore you do not really gain anything from drinking a pint of it. Measure out your 150ml, get your dose of vitamins, and then put the juice back in the fridge.
  34. Likewise a portion of fruit and vegetables is usually about 80g of fresh produce for an adult. You might benefit from having 125g of tomatoes if you are adding 35g of olives as combined that would be two portions, but likewise with the juice you can save loads of money across a few days if you measure out your portions.
  35. Milk that is on the turn can be used to make scones. Cream on the turn can be used to make butter. Yogurt on the turn is quite forgiving in smoothies, cakes and homemade frozen yogurt. Use your judgement, if it is bad don’t use it, but if it is just about fine then use it up and don’t waste it.
  36. Buying a 9p reduced bag of parsnips to then batch cook and make curried parsnip soup is a great way to play the reduced food cabinet to your advantage. This is where buying from the reduced section can save you huge amounts of money, but you do have to be prepared to use the food straight away.
  37. Cooking food often extends its shelf life a little longer, so if you buy reduced fish or meat it is wise to either freeze it straight away or cook it straight away. Anything else is a bit risky.
  38. A small glass of wine is 125ml, a medium glass is 175ml, a large glass is 250ml. Getting wine glasses that have measurement lines on them is a great way to practice portion control and make that bottle last longer. Or use a set of kitchen scales. Simply put the glass on the scales, set it to zero, then measure out your required amount. Of course, I’m not saying you need to do this on a good night out/in, live a little! But if you are having just a random glass during the week measuring it is a good place to start.
  39. Wrap hard cheese in baking parchment to keep it from going sweaty in the bag. And then follow the practice of an earlier tip and reuse the baking parchment after that use.
  40. Worried about the eggs in your fridge might have gone off? Place it gently in a glass of water. If it stays on the bottom it is fresh. If it stands upright it’s a bit old and should be used quickly, if it floats you should chuck it. Eggs become porous after coming in contact with water so only do this if you are sure you’re about to use the eggs.
  41. If you’re vegan you might give making your own oat milk or almond milk a try. Don’t throw away the pulp once you’re done. Use it in cakes, flapjacks or overnight oats. It’s still perfectly edible.
  42. Dried lentils and other pulses are a fraction of the cost of tinned, but you must be sure to cook them correctly otherwise they can be poisonous. Usually they require an overnight soak and then a cook for about an hour for them to be edible. You might not be bothered about going to this much effort and will just stick with tinned but there are serious savings to be made.
  43. Both Tesco and Holland and Barrett do a dried soya vegetarian protein product range which when prepped correctly is similar to Quorn mince. This is a good way to make a saving.
  44. An economy bottle of bath foam decanted into an old hand wash dispenser and watered down slightly is an easy way to get cheap hand wash.
  45. Tinned fruit is a great addition to cakes, I made a lovely coconut and mango cake using an old tin of mango. I then used the syrup of the mango to mix with icing sugar and drizzle on top. Don’t be afraid to use every part of a food item.
  46. Most of the good nutrients in a vegetable is in the peel, so buy a nice vegetable scrubbing brush and get into the habit of pre-scrubbing your vegetables and then using every bit of it.
  47. If you have the space for it and are a keen gardener why not start a composting patch? That way you are repurposing your food waste. Or see if there is anyone you can donate the waste to such as a local allotment.
  48. If you are a keen baker you might want to look into wartime cook books which would should you how to make dishes when there was very little available due to rationing. Museums and of course online retailers are good places to find such delights.
  49. Personally I think some things are worth investing in and paying more for. Ice cream is one such item. A sign of a good ice cream is if it was to melt it would taste and look like a delicious milkshake. If however it looks like the cream has separated and gone watery, then this is a bad ice cream and isn’t worth bothering with.
  50. Herbs and spices are an inexpensive way of lifting flavour in a dish and making your food taste great. The ones I can’t live without are basil, chives, bay leaves, oregano, onion powder, turmeric, ginger, mixed spice, cinnamon, coriander, garam masala, curry powder, paprika and ground black pepper. They are perfect for making bland and simple dishes taste amazing.

So there we have it, 50 ways to cut the cost of your household shopping. Thanks for joining me on the 50 day countdown to being debt free.

 

 

 

Banana Loaf Cake

IMG_7724

Banana Loaf Cake

Hi everybody,

I’ve finally given in to the call of lock down bingo and made banana bread.

I have jazzed mine up slightly, to make use of things expiring in my cupboards. This is always the way, I usually end up creating a recipe to make use of things I have in stock.

INGREDIENTS

225g self-raising flour

60g soft brown sugar

75ml rapeseed/vegetable oil

3 squishy bananas

50g coconut, ground

75g dates, chopped

A splash of water

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. mixed spice

2 tsp. baking powder

 

METHOD

Mix the dry ingredients – flour, spices, coconut, and baking powder – in a bowl.

Add the chopped dates to a pan with some water and heat up until it forms a paste.

Mash the bananas together, then add to the dates and add the oil.

Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.

Add to a lined and/or greased loaf tin and bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 180 degrees or until a skewer comes out clean.

Cool (if you can contain yourself) then eat!

 

Spending Diary 29th June to 5th July 2020

Hi everybody,

Welcome to another week in the life of Flo’s wallet!

I’ll take you through my spending.

29/06/2020

Today is a glorious day because today is pay day! Is there any better day? Who knows? I spent some time paying off my credit card bill this morning that was £117.19. This is just a credit card I use to do some flexible payments, I always pay it off in full on pay day. My goal for July is to not use it at all, let’s see how that goes!

I also transferred money into my sinking fund pots on Monzo. A sinking fund is where you put money aside each month for an expense that happens at irregular periods, such as annual things like insurance, Christmas etc. Or you could also have a pot you put money in for things like ‘Car repairs’, so you always have money set aside for when you need to buy new tires or similar. My pots on my Monzo card include Christmas, Home Insurance, TV License, Water Bill, Web Domain Names and Word Press. So I transferred what I put into them each month and that left me with £100 spending money for the month.

I needed new moisturisers so I took advantage of a voucher Cult Beauty had sent me for 15% off my first order. I’ve been really eager to buy from them. I chose two moisturisers, a day one and a night one, from a company called Versed and that came to £30 but after discount it was £25.50. A bit more than I would have liked to have spent but my friend who knows everything and anything about skincare had recommended some products to me previously and my skin cleared up immediately so I wanted to continue trying products she recommends.

I had £20 come out of my account as my first deposit for a mail order wine company. This will be split on the food bill as the flat mate benefits from the wine as well. I ordered my first crate with them last month and have loved it! I don’t think I’ll continue with this after lockdown is over and I’m back working in the office, just because I think it would be too difficult to order wine to be delivered, but it is nice for now.

I went to the shops as I have the day off work and bought cleaning supplies in Savers which came to £18.85 that will be split with the flat mate on the food and household shopping budget. I also bought myself a few beauty supplies in the same store, which came to £9.95.

I then went to Tesco and it’s hard to say what I bought that made the cost of the shopping come to £69.28, but nowadays nothing surprises me price wise during lockdown. It was a big food stock up shop. The shopping included a 1kg tub of peanut butter, loads of different herbal tea bags as I have finally used up my complete stash in lockdown, and various tins and long life stuff. I made sure to buy a jar of jalapenos just in case I get another craving to spend all my money on a Domino’s again.

I then went and bought the flowers I will be sending to someone for their birthday. The flowers and card came to £27.98, they were worth it.

I’m going to have to be a bit careful with money as I’ve now spent most of it and still have some birthday’s to come this month and the takeaway I need to get my flat mate in exchange for branding work. I have enough money for all those things, it’s just if I get a sudden impulse to buy a bunch of random crap that I’ll get in trouble! And it would be really nice to not use the credit card this month.

All in all an expensive day, but pay day usually is a spendy day isn’t it? Everyone is excited about having money again so goes and buys the things they couldn’t just the day before. And I really do have everything I need now.

30/06/2020

It was back to work today. I had a lot of stuff to catch up on from having the day off yesterday. There were a few things to wrap up as it was the end of Quarter 1 at one and that means soon I’ll be having a review with my line managers about how it has gone. There were a few niggly tasks to do as well. At lunchtime I did a strength session, mainly bodyweight exercises. After work I ran a 5km which brings my mileage for this month up to 75 miles. Go me! I’m going to reflect on the goals I set myself for June. It was a bit of a mixed bag. Some stuff I didn’t do at all and a lot of the things I did do was a real rush to get done in the last week of June. I hope I’m better prepared in July.

I made a huge lasagna on Sunday where the main ingredient was carrot. It’s because I had a load of sad looking vegetables at the bottom of the fridge I had forgotten about and I didn’t want to waste them. I’m a big fan of batch cooking, making that lasagna has taken care of dinner for three days in a row. It’s a nice little treat to have a nice dinner to look forward to each night.

In the end I didn’t spend any money today, woo hoo.

01/07/2020

I had a few things come out of my account today. I had my monthly crate of craft beer be taken from my account. That was £26.90. I also had my subscription to Tribe protein bars come out, that was £22. Finally I had a £20 amount be taken which took me a long time to figure out what it was. I later realised it was another deposit to the mail order wine company because I had tried to change my payment date to the beginning of the month not the end, and it had taken the payment twice. Oh well, at least my wine fund is nicely funded now. All of these will be split with my flat mate, so the £68.90 is actually £34.45.

The water bill finally arrived, the post has been a bit slow obviously because of lockdown. It was less than I was expecting, by which I mean it was similar to the last bill’s amount and I figured it would be more since the flat mate and I have been at home full time for three months. My share of the bill was £110.70. It is my flat mate who has the account set up to pay it so I left it for him to deal with.

02/07/2020

The beer delivery came today, as did my order of moisturisers. I love getting post, even if it is stuff I knew I had ordered.

The flat mate and I split the final portion of lasagna and had it with sweet potato wedges and broccoli. We have now run out of some things and I expect we’ll be hitting the shops at the weekend, we should really go back to food planning and making sure we use up what we have in stock first.

On my run today I went a route that would go by a postbox so I could post the letter to my Grandpa. The run streak I’ve been doing has really helped me be creative about fitting in my runs, such as doing my errands on the run. I probably wouldn’t have figured that out if I hadn’t decided to do a run streak.

At work it is another colleague’s birthday soon and I’ve been in charge of organizing their gift. I’ll leave the amount out of this in case the work colleague reads this, but I’ll include my share in the week’s total. I had nearly all of the other team member’s shares come back into my account so I am now nearly fully funded again.

03/07/2020

I missed out on tickets to see Fontaines DC in my home city, boo. I didn’t think it would sell out that quickly even though everyone said it would. To cheer myself up I bought a ticket to see Echo and the Bunnymen next year, a band I’ve always wanted to see since getting into them. The ticket was £54.15. I made sure to sign up to insurance on the ticket. If this year has taught me anything it is that you never know what is going to happen!

The flat mate wanted something nice for dinner, so off he went to the shops and came back with take away style pizzas and a whole bunch of other unhealthy stuff. Yummy. He spent £24.55 in one shop and £8.40 in another, but we will split the costs. The pizza was so big that I could only eat half of it which is unheard of for me. We watched wrestling in the evening. I had already gone for my run that day. A good thing too because that pizza really was huge.

My friend is going to be copy editing some written work of mine. I wanted to pay her for her work but she wasn’t keen for whatever reason. We eventually compromised on a donation to a food bank in return for her services, so I sent £33 to my city’s local food bank tonight.

I probably didn’t imagine when I woke up today that I would spend all the money I did, but I feel everything I bought has had a good value.

04/07/2020

I woke up late, boo. I had a quick coffee and breakfast then I ran into town. I was under the belief my bank was open, I had checked online yesterday. When I got there however it was very much shut. But at least I had gotten my exercise in for the day.

On the way back from the ill-fated trip to town I stopped off at the shops to pick up tomato ketchup for my flat mate because last night with dinner he was devastated when he discovered he didn’t have any ketchup. He really was devastated! So I bought him some today to cheer him up.

I had a zoom session with my book writing masterclass, and then I spent about 2 hours finishing a course on Duolingo that I was really struggling with. I’m learning French, technically I have a GCSE in French, but that was 15 years ago and it was a mediocre grade C so I definitely wouldn’t say I am skilled in the language. To be honest I think Duolingo is a better teacher than any actual teacher I had in high school. One teacher would write the lesson on the board and not even speak to the class during the lesson at all. That same teacher also once didn’t show up to class and we all bunked off and it was never discovered. No wonder I did so poorly.

I had another zoom call in the evening with friends from work. My poor phone got a bit overworked today, I’m always having to charge it. My laptop is over 9 years old and I’m amazed it still does anything at this stage, though there is an awful lot it doesn’t do. I would love to get a new laptop but that is a far off purchase for when I am richer which is probably going to be never. Oh well. I can dream.

05/07/2020

Disaster. I woke up at 12:30pm. I didn’t go to bed till after 1am but I am still disappointed with this waking up time. I have got to get my sleep under control again. I always struggle to sleep well in summer.

I went for a small run with my flat mate, then I made some banana bread. I made banana bread all the time before lockdown but I almost refused to make it during lockdown because it’s one of the lockdown bingo things to do. But I love banana bread and I had three bananas turning black and squishy so it had to be done. I jazzed it up with coconut flakes and dates, yummy.

I will be doing my pub quiz in the evening with my siblings, and other than that I have no plans for the rest of the day. I’ve already done my 5 French lessons on Duolingo, je suis chez moi is the latest sentence I’ve learnt (I am at my place). I might watch Rocky III in the evening with my flat mate, and eat some banana bread of course.

So with that I will sign off the week.

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £212.78 / £106.39 (my half)

PERSONAL SPENDING = £155.56

TOTAL SPENDS THIS WEEK = £261.95