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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.





Apple Flapjacks


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.


4 apples, diced

45ml golden syrup

300g oats

100g walnuts, ground

100g sugar – optional

Small amount of water and butter


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


Things to do with leftover vegetables and fruit

Hi everyone,

I’ve been making a few things this week which I didn’t really feel were special enough to dedicate a post to on their own, so I’ve decided to combine them all in one.

I have some sad looking potatoes and onions, so by adding spinach I made these potato and spinach cakes.


I cut about 3 big potatoes into tiny pieces, boiled them, then mashed them and left to cool. Whilst that was going on I was wilting the onion and frozen spinach in a pan with some butter, and eventually added to the mashed potato. I added a bit of wholegrain mustard and chilli, 2 slices of bread worth of breadcrumbs, and 2 eggs. I mixed them into about 7 patties, and then baked them in the oven.

I also had most of a bag of carrots looking sorry for themselves, so I made carrot, ginger and coriander soup. Just soften some onion in a pan with butter, add the carrot then add about 1 litre of vegetable stock and cook until the carrots are soft. Add some coriander and then blend and divide into four portions.

Finally, frozen yogurt.


This was made more because I had some soy yogurt about to go off. For the banana frozen yogurt I blended 250ml of yogurt with 2 frozen bananas in a food processor, adding some cinnamon to the mix. For the strawberry frozen yogurt it was 200g frozen strawberries plus cinnamon and 250ml soy yogurt, also blended in a food processor. What I did was place them in tubs and then put them back in the freezer to go solid.

There you have it, three quick things to do with leftovers. Waste not want not!

Vegetable Stock


Hi everybody,

I thought I would share how I made vegetable stock, as I was originally unwilling to try and make it, which is silly.

Making vegetable stock is one of the most frugal things you can do, as mine is only ever made out of vegetable scraps and peelings that I collected over the course of a week or so.

Vegetable stock is quite forgiving, I throw quite a lot of stuff in it and it always tastes fine.

I can’t really give you an ingredients list, just if you see my photo of my freezer scrap bags you’ll see it’s just a load of carrot peelings, celery scraps, a bit of onion and sometimes potato peelings too, though these are quite starchy and there doesn’t need to be many of them.

Add scraps over the course of a week or month until you have enough to fill a ziplock freezer bag, keeping them in the freezer whilst you collect them, then when you have enough add to a pan of water (about 2 litres of water) with a couple of bay leafs and some black peppercorns.

Bring to the boil and then simmer for about an hour, skimming off any foam if necessary.

Decant into tubs/containers and either freeze or chill until needed, or use straight away to make soup or similar.

My Food Prep for the Next Few Days

Hi everybody,

I’ve been looking through my cupboards and although I’m running low on some things I’ve still got plenty to keep me out of the shops until later this following week.

Things I have in stock


Potatoes, Onions, Apples, Bananas, Cucumber, Carrots, Orange Juice, Beetroot Juice

Eggs, Margarine, Dairy Free Milks, Soya Yogurt, Some Cheese

Sauces – Various

Bread – 4 Slices


Store Cupboard

Plain Flour, Bread Flour, Corn Flour, Fast Action Yeast

Tuna, Mackerel, Sardines

Marmite, Peanut Butter, Jam

Baking Supplies – Various

Coconut Milk, Chickpeas, Baked Bean, Chopped Tomatoes

Teas, Coffees, Hot Chocolates – Various

Sultanas, Cranberries, Walnuts, Almonds, Cashews, Chia Seeds, Dates, Coconut Flakes

Oils – Various

Pasta –Various

Rice, Couscous, Lentils

Spices and Herbs – anything and everything



Vegetarian Products – Mince, Sausages, Burgers, Nuggets, Meatballs

Vegetables – Broccoli, Sprouts, Sweetcorn, Peppers, Peas,

Fruit – Raspberries, Strawberries and Blueberries

Bread – 10 Slices


Lots of Beer, Prosecco, Gin



My food plan for the next few days won’t be very exciting.

Tonight I’m going to make a veggie burger and have it with potato wedges, onion, sauerkraut and mustard.

Then the next few days will be:


Bran Flakes, Almond Milk and Orange Juice


Hummus and Carrots, maybe on toast or in an open sandwich


Home Made Fish Cakes with Vegetables


I get paid on Wednesday so may look to do a bigger and better food shop by then. I’m really trying to make do with what I have in the house so I spend less time out at the shops.



2 Ingredient Pizza Dough

Hi everybody,

I’ve recently joined a bunch of Facebook groups such as ‘Feed yourself for £1 a day’ and ‘Scrimping on a budget’ and I had heard about a great 2 ingredient pizza dough that was just flour and yogurt and I thought to myself that that was something I would really like to try. I’m really trying to get more into cooking during lock down, it’s not like I’m going anywhere.

Here we go

Serves 1 greedy person (me!) or 2 smaller stomachs


2 ‘parts’ Self Raising Flour

1 ‘part’ Yogurt

So, I used cups to do the measurements and sometimes cups are really useful as measurements, but the trouble is they translate differently between wet and dry ingredients, so if you don’t have cups I would suggest trying about 120g self-raising flour and 60ml yogurt. I used soya yogurt for this recipe so don’t worry if you’re vegan and are worried it might not work because it does.


Roll it out to desired shape. It’s a bit crumbly so I would suggest doing this on a piece of baking paper and that way you can just lift it on the baking tray.

Add your desired toppings. I had cheese, olives, anchovies, onion. Turns out I didn’t have any tomato puree so I just used a mix of ketchup and sriracha sauce. Wasn’t bad.



Store Cupboard Mango and Coconut Sponge


As you may have gathered by now I care little for the rules given to me by a Best Before Date on a tin/jar/packet. Use by dates are different as they shouldn’t be ignored, especially in the case of meat and fish, though I have been known on some occasions to eat a vegetarian ready meal after its use by date, but do as I say not as I do! Best Before Dates are a case of using your judgment, does it smell or taste funny? Don’t use it if so, but usually a Best Before Date just means that the quality might be a little off, though tinned products rarely have this trouble. I’ve been known to use tins a year past their BBE date.

So all Best Before Dates do is prompt me into using the packets up first, so the tin of Mango in syrup in the cupboard was making me feel rather guilty. I had a think about what Mango goes with and inevitably ended up thinking about cocktails, and I had some coconut flakes in the cupboard that had also passed their BBE date, so that’s how this cake came about!

When I made this cake I used coconut flakes that I grounded up in my food processor to use, and you could do the same.

I made this cake when it was hard to get eggs due to Covid-19, so I made it vegan, but feel free to replace the oil with about 3 eggs.

Serves 8 ravenous people or 16 peckish people


175g Vitalite Spread

175 Caster Sugar

150g Coconut Oil

325g Self-raising Flour

50g Desiccated Coconut

1 x 400g Tin of Mango Slices in Syrup

Optional – icing sugar and the syrup from the Mango


Preheat oven to 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4

Place the coconut oil in a pan and melt over a low heat, put to one side

Cream the vitalite and caster sugar together, then drain the mango tin (keeping the syrup in a bowl) and add the mango to the vitalite/sugar mix and mash together. It will looks lumpy and a little curdled, don’t worry about it.

In another bowl measure out the coconut and flour, then add to the sugar/vitalite/mango mix, then add the coconut oil

Combine well, add a little more flour if needed but it should be a wet and sticky mix

Add to a greased/lined square tin and cook for about 40 minutes, checking after 25 minutes with a skewer until it comes out clean

Optional extra – once the cake is completely cool mix the mango syrup with icing sugar (about 150g icing sugar and half the syrup or to your own desired consistency) and drizzle over the top. This will make the cake ridiculously decadent and sweet and I believe it adds something but you may prefer it without.



Chocolate Avocado and Lime Cake

This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Store-cupboard Chocolate Orange Cake’ as it works on the same premise of using a jar of lime marmalade to get the bulk of the flavor. This version of the cake is not vegan, but it could easily be adapted to be vegan by replacing the egg with a flax egg, aquafaba, or some other egg substitute.

If you want to be playful with the truth, you could say this cake is almost healthy as it contains good fats from the avocado, and if you use strong dark chocolate you will get lots of nice antioxidants.

This cake came about from wondering how I could use up some leftover frozen avocado and what flavours go well with it, and then thinking about lime, and then wondering if I could throw chocolate into the mix. This is one of my favourite cakes.


125g Avocado – either frozen defrosted or the fresh equivalent

100g Dark Chocolate – I used 85% cocoa

300g Lime Marmalade/Conserve – if all you can find is a lemon/lime mix this is fine to use and usually cheaper

150g Caster Sugar

2 Large Eggs, beaten

150g Self Raising Flour


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4

Cook the avocado over a low heat in a pan until soft, then add the dark chocolate and mix until melted together

Add the lime marmalade to the pan and mix until you have a sticky mess, take off the heat

In a bowl add the flour, sugar and salt, then add the egg, mix

Add the pan mix to the bowl mix and combine together

Place the mix in a greased/lined 20cm springform tin and cook for around 60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out from the cake clean, this cake always seems to take longer than I expect in the oven so don’t be alarmed if it takes up to 75 mins

Cool on a rack, and then enjoy!

How to make oat milk, plus 2 uses for the leftovers

Hi everybody,

I recently had a go at making my own oat milk due to having a case of it on order and not wanting to spend any more money than I had to at the shops. I thought to myself ‘How hard can it be?’ as I heard lots of people online say it was just 2 ingredients.

It is very simple. The hardest part was setting up the sieve/muslin cloth on a jug so I could leave it.

Even though it’s only 2 ingredients I do feel it’s best to make with a lot of kitchen equipment. I used a blender, a muslin cloth, a jug, a sieve (or funnel) but I have heard lots of people say they just use a bowl and a spoon to release the ‘milk’ from the oats.

If like me you’re used to a particular barista brand of oat milk then this won’t be quite the same, but it’s good to know if you are in an oat milk pickle you can rustle up something to keep your coffee tasting nice.



200g Oats

800ml Water

This makes about 400ml of oat milk. For this I used a 17p 2 litre bottle of filtered water from my local Tesco as I thought that would make it nicer, but tap water is fine. You don’t have to use these exact measurements, you can scale up or down but the key is to keep it one part oats to four parts water.


Add the water and oats into a blender jug and then blend for a good minute or two.

Set up a sieve and muslin cloth over a jug and pour the blender contents over, being careful not to spill or upset the sieve like I did on my first attempt. Whoops!

Leave it. You may have to come and poke it occasionally to get all the milk out but that’s about the hardest work you’ll have to do.

You will now have delicious oat milk!

But wait, that’s not all.

I’m a passionate believer in reducing food waste, and the oat pulp is not to be wasted.

Here are two things you can do with it.



I made this cake with all of the oat milk pulp, about 60g of sultanas, 50g sugar, 150g self-raising flour, cinnamon, mixed spice, ginger and a bit of vitalite greasing the cake tin. This is just one idea, you could make flapjacks from the pulp, or any other cake treat.



The leftover milk pulp was placed in a jug, then I added 240g frozen cherries, 90g vegan chocolate protein powder and about 150ml almond milk and mixed it all together. I divided it into three containers and that’s been my breakfast this week, this dish also contains one of your five a day!

In this time of food shortages in the supermarkets and the need to avoid leaving the house too often these are little hacks to save some pennies and spend more time indoors doing nice things for all the family like baking and cooking.

Do you have any other suggestions for oat milk pulp?



My Prep for the Week Ahead

Hi everyone,

It’s the end of the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend here in the UK. I’ve had a nice weekend watching some films and TV shows.

I’ll level with you. It is a really strange time around the world for everyone at the moment. The world I started this blog in no longer exists, and I’m trying to keep up the spirit of being frugal, money conscious and looking to get debt free, but really those things don’t seem like that big of a deal when there is a killer virus travelling round the world.

So, I’m using this blog as an escape. That’s why I’ve gone back to it. It seems really crass to talk about a spending diary when people are losing their businesses, their jobs, their livelihoods, but it’s all I know to do to keep my mind off the pandemic.

So I’ll be clear, you’ve seen me through all sorts of struggles. High debt, insecure employment, being kicked out by my landlord and the lot, and now I’m in a really good position. And I do not take for granted even for a second that I am so lucky to have what I have.

Even though I’m in a really fortunate position, I’m still struggling with this pandemic. So this blog is my safe space. On here my concerns are saving money, being frugal, and maybe baking a cake or two.

Off here I’m panicked about Covid-19, about what’s going to happen next, and will my loved ones be ok.

I hope we’ve cleared that up.


I’m trying to go to the shops as little as possible. So I’ve done an inventory of all the cupboards in the kitchen and the fridge and freezer to see what I have to live on until Thursday when I would next like to go to the shops.

I am getting a delivery of long life oat milk on Wednesday, but I actually had a go at making my own oat milk today to tide me over. It wasn’t too bad, a bit watery, but much better than I thought it would be.

A rough inventory

Flours – self raising, plain, bread, cornflour

Pasta – spaghetti, lasagna sheets, penne





Sugars – honey, caster, golden syrup, maple syrup, treacle

Baking ingredients – raising agents, cocoa powder, vanilla paste

Yeast – dried, and a sourdough starter I’m working on

Tins – mackerel, sardines, pilchards, tuna

Tins – baked beans, black beans, chopped tomatoes, coconut milk

Nuts – peanut butter, cashew butter, pecans, walnuts, cashews, almonds, coconut flakes

Spreads – jams, marmite

Oils – rapeseed, olive, extra virgin olive, sesame, coconut

Cereals – oats, bran flakes

Teas – just about everything imaginable

Spices – just about everything imaginable

Vinegars – balsamic, malt

Condiments – ketchup, vegan mayo, hot sauce

Fresh – onions, apples

Fridge – milks, cheese, eggs

Fridge – orange juice, beetroot juice

Fridge – cucumber, sauerkraut, olives, leftover hummus and falafel

Freezer – various vegetarian proteins

Freezer – sweetcorn, broccoli, spinach, peppers, peas, sprouts, onion rings, vegetable stock

Freezer – berries

From this I’ve devised this menu for the week


Lunch – beans on toast

Dinner – falafel, hummus, salad

Snacks – apple, beetroot juice, cake


Breakfast – overnight oats

Lunch – beans on toast

Dinner – pilchard puttanesca pasta

Snacks – apple, beetroot juice, cake


Breakfast – overnight oats

Lunch – beans on toast

Dinner – veggie chilli and quinoa (batch cooked)

Snacks – beetroot juice, apple, cake


Breakfast – overnight oats

Lunch – beans on toast

Dinner – veggie chilli and quinoa

Snacks – beetroot juice, apple, cake


Breakfast – overnight oats

Lunch – beans on toast

Dinner – veggie chilli and quinoa

Snacks – beetroot juice, apple, cake

You keep seeing a cake being mentioned. Pictured below is the cake I made out of the leftover oat milk pulp from this morning. Nothing can be wasted.


This menu for the week should give me 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day which I’m always eager to get and should use up the things that are going to go off soon like the hummus, cucumber and falafels.

Have a look through your cupboards and see what you can make with what you’ve got. I was reading ‘Better than Before’ by Gretchen Rubin and she talks about how people are either ‘finishers’ (those who love finishing up packets) or ‘openers’ (those who love opening new packets) and I’m definitely the former so I do like to run my stocks down from time to time, and I guess now is the time to do it.