being thrifty, celebrations, fEAsible, fEAsting, food shopping, meal planning, my goals, taking stock, trEAsury

a new word for a new year…

My Focus Word for 2017

After much thought and deliberation I have decided on my focus word for the year and it is

economise

Taken from the Greek oikos meaning house and nemein meaning manage –  economise is the careful management of resources, careful use of something

I like the sound of carefully managing resources as I feel our throw away society is something I prefer not to be part of and I want to see just how resourceful I can be this year.

As well, due to impending changes in our household income  I need to cut down on unnecessary spending.  Becoming resourceful with our resources in order to ‘minimalise’ our purchases will also feed my desire to simplify and ‘minimalise’ our possessions.  Now we have the caravan whilst waiting for the cottage to be sorted we only have room for what is absolutely necessary and I love living with such a drastic reduction of ‘things’.  At the moment we only have 2 cups – so we have to keep on washing them up to reuse – it is quite challenging to see what we can get by with but also quite liberating.

The plan

Already this year I have been writing a Menu plan for the week – this seems to be the most effective way to save money,  reduce food waste and eat healthily.

At present I am shopping in my cupboards and only buying fresh vegetables and other necessities to add to what I already have to be able to make 7 healthier home-made meals each week.

I find it hard to admit that I am not sure what my food bill was each week over the last year – it was so manic that just getting through the week was a challenge on its own.  I ended up in Sainsbury’s with no plan and often duplicating items I already had in my cupboards.  We have probably eaten far more ready-made meals than ever before – pizza, vegetable samosas and quiche are the pre-prepared foods we normally fall back on together with those pots of chilled sauces for pasta.

I believe almost all of my lunches at work last year will have been bought and I dread to think the number of baked potatoes with cheese and coleslaw I got through but it will be quite a few – luckily it is my favourite lunchtime meal.

When I run my end of year spending report on my computer program all will be revealed and I don’t think it will be a pretty sight.  I know I will be upset at the amount of money I will have spent and wasted.

I find that at this time of year it is so easy to start off on the right foot but then as life takes over our good intentions fall away.  I have yet to resolve this recurring situation and I am thinking hard of a way to keep on track even through busy periods.

Below are some of my ideas to get me into Economy mode and at the same time increasing the number of nutritional  meals we have to improve our health.  I buy as much organic produce as possible – I like to think my food is free from any contaminants or artificial flavourings etc. –  this already makes my shopping dearer than the average, however, on the plus side we are both vegetarian so no expensive fish or meat in my trolley.  Having said that some vegetables can be quite expensive bought at the wrong time.

  • Having a menu plan is the number one priority – it only takes 20 minutes to write a simple plan for the week.  For me it is best done on a Sunday so that my new plan begins on a Monday – on a busy week even this amount of time can be difficult to find so my plan is to have some pre-written menus for these weeks to tide me over.
  • Keeping up with what is in the store cupboards, fridge and freezer is the second priority and including these foods in the menu plan helps to keep everything rotating and avoid food going past it’s sell by date.
  • Only buying store cupboard items with long dates on them when they are on offer such as cereal, packets of Passata, tea bags rice etc.  Some foods that I buy are rarely on offer but others come round fairly frequently.  Having a quick look as I go along the aisles to check the offers is worthwhile and saves money on those staple items.
  • Trying out new recipes to add variety to the weekly meal plan.  Test these on a weekend and time how long they take.  Having lots of very quick meals can become quite boring to the point where we often go off a certain meal.
  • Planning the menus around seasonal produce – this saves money as fruit and veg in season is usually cheaper.
  • Look out for coupons and vouchers.  As I shop at Sainsbury’s I automatically get Nectar points but I also get coupons at the till with either money off or additional Nectar points.  Make a point of buying the item on the coupon if it is something I would use or normally buy.
  • Remember to freeze left over bits of foods that have been opened but only a small amount used – such as tomato paste, coconut milk etc.  Also grate and freeze cheese and breadcrumbs and mix up and freeze crumble topping.

 

In addition to the planned meals I have a one or two quick standby meals in the freezer just in case.  Last week it was a ready-made pasta sauce to add to whole wheat pasta and this week a pizza. If I don’t need to use them then I will save money by not having to replace them.

My lunch at work is the area I need to get to grips with – I am more likely to eat a sandwich at home and prefer baked potatoes at work rather than too much bread. My current idea is to buy a ready done baked potato but take my own fillings and salad. This should cut the cost down and I can also organise myself to make soup for the week and freeze in smaller portions.

 

So far this year we have really enjoyed getting back to proper home cooked meals and saved money at the same time.  I actually prefer the winter salads I make of shredded cabbage, carrot and beetroot and raw cauliflower florets – I like the crunchy texture.  I find the bagged lettuce quite limp and wasteful.  Any remaining salad items have made delicious sandwiches served with home-made soup for lunch at the weekend. The meal plan for this week was a little different as we were on holiday from work and stayed at the caravan for 4 days and had to rely more on easy to make meals.  On Saturday night we are hosting a Burns Night Supper with some friends – we brought the haggis back from Scotland (vegetarian for us) together with some mini steak pies and macaroni pies, not sure of the nutritional quality of these!

 

I will put the menus in the tabs above – here is the quick link

Weekly Menu Plan January 2017

 

Just to update on the caravan we now have running water and central heating and a fully operational shower.  The Swift engineer who was coming to replace the fridge socket however did not arrive – or rather he did come but thought we were on the caravan site next door – as this is all closed up for the winter he went away again.  So fridge socket still not sorted…watch this space!

homestEAding

Where the journey takes me – will I be surprised?

I have found my way back to post on this blog and just like everything in life familiarity feels safe and second time around feels easier. As with all the new technology in our lives I will no doubt be exploring the different options available to me on this site very soon – so all I can say is watch this space and perhaps a photo may appear!

Yesterday and today I have been steadily packing away the Christmas things as my energy allows and quietly putting things back into order.  As I lovingly wrap all my treasured Christmas decorations between the layers of tissue and place them back into the storage boxes I have had time to ponder on my new key word for this year.  I began using a focus word two years ago after noticing something similar on a blog site.  Last years word being PROGRESS as there were many things in our lives that did indeed need to be moved on.  I can say that we did progress all the outstanding matters, such as clearing out and selling my mum in law’s house (and a few legal and financial issues arising) and now all that is left is the filing.  Having got those major activities out of the way (phew!) I feel that I can now draw a line and begin to look at the tasks that need to be done on our own house as it is looking very tired through a few years of neglect when our time has been required elsewhere.

Having had such a busy year last year coming and going most weekends or was that going and coming –  I now feel I want to put my own life in order and I mean all aspects from my house and garden to our budget and shopping and most important our social and leisure time and for that reason my chosen word this year is ORDER.

My initial aim is to have a good declutter and put the house in Order whilst at the same time planning this years budget which will hopefully do two things –

1 – make sure we do not overspend on unnecessary or impulse buys which might then be wasted or unused (food, clothes, resources etc) as I do hate waste

and

2 – help us to save more to be able to decorate and revamp the house and put aside some of our earnings for the future or maybe even a luxury spa weekend.

One of the worst things about being too busy is that the house becomes a dumping ground and I tend to spend more money on ready meals or stock up the fridge and then have to throw out unused food because I didn’t get chance to cook the meals I had planned.

At this time of year I usually try to have a spend free January to make up for the overspent December!  And this year will be no different.   I collect together all the vouchers and reward points I have accumulated to put towards any necessary shopping as well as using up everything that is in my cupboards – a kind of shopping at home.  I try to put menus together using items from both the freezer and store cupboard buying only a few additional items such as fresh veg and dairy.

Given the huge mountain of chocolates and biscuits we received for Christmas this year I don’t expect to be buying these again for a long while!

I am looking forward to getting started as I always feel much better when everything is in its place and life has a steady routine but there again the other part of me likes spontaneity and surprise – just like I would never have a Sat Nav as I like getting lost and finding new places!

Better get those decorations to the loft and that will be one item off the list.