being thrifty, fEAsting, food shopping, getting things done, hEAlth, healthy eating, managEAble, meal planning, trEAsury

a relatively good start…

With menu in hand I completed my Sainsbury’s shop last night after work and felt quite pleased with myself, especially as I limited myself to a hot chocolate without a little snack (I would usually have a scone to keep me going).  Even though I was aiming to buy seasonal British grown produce I noticed the  cabbage was actually grown in Spain!  My trolley was mainly vegetables with a couple of loaves of bread and a few groceries – the ones we were running out of and one or two on offer.  My total bill came to £32.21 for the week – so I am quite pleased with that especially as we are eating better than when I spend a lot more!


This was all the fresh veg that I needed to add to the bits and pieces in the fridge to make my selected weeks menus.  The cheapest item was the Kiwi fruit at 30p and the dearest the dozen mixed sizes free range organic eggs at £3.70.  I need five for the Spiced Chickpea bakes and the remainder will carry over for next week.  The herbs were on offer and I will be able to freeze what I don’t use.  In the end I decided to buy a ready pack of Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato for £1.

Fresh Veg

Last night we had the Mushroom Stroganoff unfortunately when hubby made it he forgot he was making Stroganoff not risotto and mixed the rice into the mushroom mixture – but in the end it tasted the same!  Tonight we had the veggie stew with roasted chickpeas and butter beans a good warming winter dish – we both enjoyed the new recipe but perhaps the sweet potato and butternut squash made it a little too sweet for me so I would need to make slight adjustments next time.  The other draw back is it does not make enough for 2 meals – the leftover portion will however do for my lunch.  I will have to think of something to fill the empty slot for our tea tomorrow or move everything forward a meal.

Whilst in Sainsbury’s last night I had some returns – I had bought a snuggly throw for the bed at the caravan to keep us warm overnight.  It was a knitted cream blanket with an acrylic sheepskin style underside.  I never thought to check the washing instructions when I purchased it and was rather shocked to find it was not washable.  When I found the receipt to take it back I noticed I had been charged twice for this item.   As it was part of my weekly shop at the time I had not thought too much about my bill seeming a bit dearer than normal and had not checked the receipt afterwards.

So when I asked for a refund of the throw I had bought  I mentioned to the lady at Customer Services about being charged twice and confirmed that I had only bought one – after a bit of a quiet moment and a few umm’s and argh’s she agreed to refund me the money for both.  I thought this was very good of them as I had no way to prove I had not bought two at the time.  So well done Sainsburys for the goodwill gesture – but I will be checking my receipts more throughly in future.

We are certainly getting back into a routine again, all though we are well into January now, and a few of those stubborn little tasks are being crossed off the list.  I booked the car in for the MOT and service on Friday  and made a dentist appointment for the same morning. 

 I am not sure if the car or my teeth will require any major repairs – I hope not as I need to make economies in all areas of my spending.









being thrifty, fEAsting, hEAlth, healthy eating, meal planning, sEAsons, trEAsury

menu plan monday…

It is definitely that time of year when every magazine you look at has eye-catching headlines such as ‘Best Year ever’,  ‘Your time to shine’,  Make 2017 your year of change’  – I can never decide whether this is motivating or suggests that we are lacking a certain amount of satisfaction with our lives and are left wanting more or different.

The start of the New Year does seem to bring with it a desire to change many aspects of our life that we are disappointed with and of course we all begin with such good intentions but often by the time we are midway through February we have slipped back into our old habits and the resolutions we made become a distant memory.

If I were to make a list of all the things I would like to change it would be so long I wouldn’t have a hope of fulfilling them all this or any other year.  So then I start wondering why I want to change and I can only say to try to make my life feel better – less stressful – more as I imagine it could be – certainly happier, healthier, perhaps a little wealthier – plenty of me time, family time – a well run house, a glorious garden and even some room for creativity.  Of course I then have to wonder why on earth I am not already living this perfect life!

However, in my Economy mode I am whizzing straight past all the magazines with such appealing headlines – I already have a subscription to Country Living magazine (Xmas present) so for as long as I can hold out that is my lot.

This month I am concentrating on compiling Menu plans – mainly for our evening meal at present and then I will deal with my lunches later so I don’t make things too difficult for myself all at once.  I am aiming for low-cost, no waste, nutritional meals using seasonal fruit and veg as much as possible and also using up items from my store cupboard, fridge and freezer.  See the list here.

I have laminated my Good Food – Get 5-a-day every day chart of seasonal winter fruit and veg – this tells me all the British grown fruit and veg and also those items from further afield that are in season and therefore should not be too expensive.  Blueberries and Strawberries are not on the list so I will use up any frozen berries to go with my natural yoghurt for breakfast.




My menu plan this week uses up a few items already in my stock cupboard but most of the veg I will have to buy fresh as I only have celery, carrots and onions left over together with some rather soft radish and a bit of dubious broccoli.

The sprouts, parsnip, leeks, cabbage and beetroot are all in season and British, the Sweet potato is also in season although not grown here.

The items not listed as seasonal are broccoli, green beans and mushrooms.

I am introducing 3 new recipes this week –

  • Vegetable Stew (substituting Sweet potato for the Butternut squash – this will also use up the remaining leek from the Stroganoff on Tuesday).
  • Spiced Chickpea bakes
  • Herby Brown Rice Salad

From my choice of fruit and veg I am told that I will be enhancing my Beta – carotene intake effective against viruses and bacteria, Vitamin C  for my immune system and phytochemical that help the digestive system.

I am looking forward to making the new recipes – if they pass the taste test then I will put them into my recipe binder – if not they will go straight in the bin so I am not keeping recipes that I will never make again.  Any modifications I will add notes to the recipe for next time.

I will be going shopping tomorrow night so will then know just how economical my shop is (or not!) in financial terms – bearing in mind the cold weather a warming Vegetable Stew sounds just right this week.

Have a good week.





fEAsting, hEAlth, healthy eating, meal planning, mEAndering, out and about, sEAsons

An overdue update…

Hi everyone –  I know I have been away from my blog for far too long – this Summer has been really action packed and after our main holiday in Scotland, my birthday (and a wedding anniversary), a few weekends away and all that unexpected hot weather life here is gradually getting back to normal and I feel I am now able to devote some time to blogging again and here is a quick update.
For most of the time our finances have been up to date and by that I mean bills paid, statements balanced and any outstanding matters attended to (well almost as I believe my to do list is increasing again) I will confess that I have overspent in the grocery shopping and have not been as rigorous as I started out at the beginning of the year, (one or two extra magazines have also found their way into my trolley); the garden has had a good going over in respect of weeding, feeding and watering and inside I continue to examine every drawer and cupboard and justify the contents to myself or else out it goes to spend a new life elsewhere.
During the hot weather I had a mad hand washing day of all my daughters clothes that she had not got around to doing.  These have now been pressed and taken back to her own house – so yet another free drawer and Laundry room – I am just loving the space I am creating all around me.
The house is in desperate need of decorating but it is much easier to look after at the moment as most things have been allocated a place and a quick whip round usually gets each room back into a reasonable state.  Asking friends around on the spur of the moment is not a daunting prospect now and this is exactly what I did to celebrate my birthday.
Over the Bank holiday weekend we went to stay with my mum who lives in Yarm near Middlesborough and we had a great day out on the Saturday at Eggleston Hall near Barnard Castle.  The house isn’t open to the public but there are some well kept gardens and a plant Nursery with good quality plants for sale.  The old church is now a ruin and forms part of the garden trail.

Churchyard Eggleston Hall

There are many graves dating back to the 1600’s with some very young occupants…

Gravestone Eggleston Hall

Some of the graves stones form a little path which winds through the ruined church.  It is a very tranquil place and slightly overgrown like a Secret Garden.
Continuing along winding paths in the gardens and through many archways we eventually came to the Kitchen Gardens and Nursery…


where we spent a long time admiring the beautiful late summer colours.  I especially like the Rudbekias and the vibrant Montbretia.


This is a shot of the little stream flowing down through the Kitchen Gardens – the Candleabra Primulas that cover either side of the stream bank are now over but it must have looked quite spectacular when they were in bloom.

Eggleston Hall

This is very much a productive garden and it is no surprise to discover the white painted Beehives in one section of this Walled Garden…

Beehives Eggleston Hall

The vegetables are grown decoratively in boxes laid in gravel with espalier trained apple trees forming a low hedge around the edge.

Kitchen Garden Eggleston Hall

On the Sunday we had a drive over to Saltburn and had a stroll along the busy pier.

Saltburn Pier August Bank Holiday Weekend

Along the hand rail at one side there had been an explosion of Yarn Bombing…with delightful shrimps…

Yarn Bombing Saltburn Pier 3

…a keen sunbather…

Yarn Bombing Saltburn Peir

…and a very pink Octopus.

Yarn Bombing Saltburn Pier 2

We lunched at the wonderful Real Meals Deli where the food is freshly prepared and you can design your own lunch from almost anything they have on the menu.  I decided on a ploughmans with some local cheeses, homemade organic bread and pickle.  Afterwards we had a quick walk around the town discovering a few new shops tucked away that we hadn’t come across before.
Last weekend we were at home and I organised a ‘Detox’ weekend.  Only fruit, vegetables, brown rice, pulses and beans, nuts and eggs were consumed with a small amount of Goats and Sheep’s cheese.   This was not about fasting but rather cutting out any unhealthy foods; cakes, biscuits, crisps, fats and processed foods and increasing the healthy ones.   I also bought some digestive aids – supplements and herbs – as I really need to get my sluggish digestion working better and from past experience this is the best way as I find I am often eating too much wheat and cows milk products which I feel don’t really suit me.  I also need to get back to losing a little weight – it has crept up a few pounds over the summer and although I don’t feel I have been eating anymore than usual I have been doing less exercise.  Of course not having a Thyroid gland at all and being totally reliant on the medication Thyroxin doesn’t help as taking too much or too little disrupts the metabolic rate and weight gain and a sluggish digestive tract can be a side effect of this.
Before we began I searched through all my healthy eating books and photocopied any recipes that I liked the sound of.  I then made up a folder and tried out a number of the recipes.  My favourite new dish was some Watercress and Baby Leek Soup and the Quinoa and Bulgar Wheat stuffed Beef Tomatoes accompanied by a large green salad.    I will post the recipes later for anyone interested.
It is now midweek and I am easing back into more usual eating patterns but I am continuing with the large bowl of fruit for breakfast and no wheat bread in my diet.  I am also trying the lactose free milk to see if this has any effect on my digestion.  From my last focus on healthier eating I am still eating an apple a day at elevenses and drinking only water or herbal tea in the mornings at work.  Since the weekend began I have dropped a couple of pounds although the waistline refuses to shrink!!
Well I must go now and see what a delicious new meal I can create tonight.  We have baby aubergines, courgettes and peppers so my guess is something Mediterranean.
exercising, fEAsible, hEAlth, healthy eating, my goals, taking stock

The Healthy Eating Challenge – September update…

Target Date:     31st December 2012

Target Weight:    8st 12lbs (without clothes)

Target waist measurement:     28″

Starting Weight:    9st 5lbs (without clothes)

Starting Waist Measurement:   33″ (yes you have read that correctly!)


 Target for 30th September 2012: 

Lose 1lb (this will be measured by staying 1lb lighter for more than 7 consecutive days)

This was a mini target for this month to allow for research and implementing ideas

How did I do?

Major Achievements: 

eating an apple a day for my morning snack

drinking only water at work

avoiding cakes and biscuits at work – almost (see below!)

eating less food for evening meal on a smaller plate

taking daily supplements and Flaxseeds

Teeny Weeny Temptations:

I Chocolate Mini Roll (at home – bought to cheer husband up)

I packet of Chocolate Raisins (from Macmillan box at work)

1 tiny party plate of crisps, cheese and french bread (birthday treat at work)

1 Afternoon tea with jam and cream Scone and Trifle (at John Lewis)

Could do better:

Increasing my steps at work – getting up and going to see people rather than email – I have made a conscious effort but not quite good enough


(not got off the ground yet)

An evening walk


Lots more sleep

Choosing new recipes

Preparing and taking lunches and planned snacks to work

And now the measurements…

Weight as of 1st October:  9st 3lb (yes yes yes I did it 🙂 )

Waist measurement: no change at 33″ (sigh! 😦 )

All in all not a bad result – I have been consistently at 9st 3lb either just over at 9.36 or just under at 9.28 now for the last seven days so I think I can claim a small victory here and really that has been achieved without too much hardship – it is notable though that these little changes have had a desired effect.

The Difficulties

My draw backs have definitely been that I really haven’t had the time to spend on my challenge and I am hoping when we are back to normal life at our house (when daughter and partner return to theirs – getting closer!) I will have more time to spend on myself. 

Work is pretty manic too at the moment my colleague on long term sick now awaiting radiotherapy and her second op in January and my helper off sick this week too!  So I have been holding the fort on my own and I am absolutely worn out this week.

My Teeny Weeny Temptations are obviously when I am either at work or out and about rather than when at home – it is easy to see the pattern when it is documented like this.

The Positives

As you can see from my NGOTGY section I have plenty of work to do to implement the changes I set for myself last month but after doing this challenge over the last few weeks I realise that it is the small and simple changes that are lasting.  The ‘apple’ as I have said before has become my symbol for this challenge and I cannot imagine walking out of the house in the morning without it  – it would be like going out without my keys or my bag.  I automatically reach for my supplements before getting my breakfast and I am so used to drinking water now that my colleagues do not even ask if I want a cup of tea, however, I will be re-introducing a herb or green tea to my list as this is quite a healthy drink.


The Next Steps

So from what I have learnt already I have decided to introduce each new challenge more gradually and break each one down into a smaller task than I had first planned.  So my next task this week is to spend time sifting through all my recipes and make myself a folder of snacks, lunches and meals that are easy to prepare, low on calories and high on nutritional value.  From this I will make some kind of menu plan and then a shopping list and then implement the changes starting with lunches for work.  The reason for choosing this first is that when I buy my lunch I have no idea of the content or calorific value.  I suspect that the soup I get from the local sandwich shop, although homemade, is laced with fats, fresh cream and salt – homemade would be much better.

On the Yoga front – I have photocopied some of the Asanas that I wish to work on with a view to laminating these as A5 cards to stick to the wall.  As my only real space for such exercise is in the living room and I do not feel I can contort myself into weird and wonderful positions in full view of my future son-in-law I will have to wait until I can have a little more privacy in the house.

 If I manage to get more sleep that will be a bonus and I will make an effort to set a limit of going to bed before midnight but this will not be a focus this week.  I am expecting that when we are back to the two of us the cooking and washing up marathon that I have now will ease and we will be able to eat much earlier giving me my evenings back.

The October Challenge

I set myself the goal of losing 2lbs for this month so I would then reach a Target Weight of 9st 2lb by October 31st (which has to be fairly consistent for 7 consecutive days to qualify).  As I have dropped more than I thought for September I have a little slack here and am already ahead.  It will be interesting to see if the changes I have already made and adhered to keep my weight constant and when I implement my next tasks how much impact they have.  Wish me luck!

PS  For more ideas have a look over at Laura’s site movetoportugal – I noticed this week she too is setting herself a few targets to lose weight.  I wish you well Laura – I am looking for good ideas so will be following along with you.