budgeting, financial focusing, trEAsury

trEAsury…October spending

October has not turned out to be a good reflection of our usual housekeeping budget where the food shopping is concerned.  I can’t report any real thriftiness on my part but we continue to eat well and plan what we eat which is one of the best ways to save money.

As always you have to factor in the out of the ordinary expenditure and from my records the average weekly spend has increased over this month due to a number of reasons:-

  • Brexit is certainly having an effect on the prices now and inflation is beginning to bite hard.  Many items are going up by 50p a time or shrinking in size to compensate.
  • This month in particular I have increased the amount of fruit I am eating – OH has been preparing some wonderful mixed fruit salads to go with my plain no fat yoghurt at breakfast.  As we all know fruit, especially the soft fruits like blueberries and raspberries, are expensive but so good health-wise. I always eat an apple a day for my morning break at work as well so I think my vitamin C quota is well covered each day and I shouldn’t need to take any supplements.
  • When we went to help my daughter move she had no means of cooking or chilling food so was managing buying one meal at a time for a few days.  We had just returned from holiday and had no food in our house either so I grabbed a basketful of ready-made lunch items on the way at Marks and Spencers at the Wetherby services – their selection of sandwiches being better than the local Co-op.  This cost me over £16 for the four of us with a chocolate eclair each and a bag of crisps.
  • I have been using this month to stock up on basic items like toilet rolls ready for Christmas.  I always plan ahead to get these now as I don’t want to be thinking about the basic necessities close to Christmas when I need to be thinking more about shopping for meals and entertaining.
  • I have been buying the ingredients for the cake, nut roast and food gifts – they are generally found in the baking goods aisle which is always a costly place to be.
  • My lunches which I used to buy at the local Bakehouse are now all made at home so I have to factor in the extra cost of this into the weekly shop but this is balanced by the saving to my weekly personal miscellaneous spending which is virtually at zero now.
  • Due to time constraints with our decorating program my weekly visits to the supermarket have not been on the same day and I noticed that sometimes my weekly shop has been done less than a week after the previous one.

I read online that for Yorkshire and Humberside a weekly shop is on average £47.30 for a family – we eat organic foods mostly so you can add a further 10% to that figure, however I do buy mostly Sainsbury’s own cheaper brands rather than other well-known ones.  although there are only two of us sometimes a weekly shop costs as much as buying for a family of four because you cannot buy smaller sizes or the smaller sizes are more expensive to buy.

I admit we have a few expensive items such as  unfiltered organic virgin olive oil and organic free range eggs, but we do not eat meat or fish so these are a good source of the Omega 3.  A packet of lentils or chick peas is quite low-cost at only 60p and a staple diet for us together with brown rice we then buy a heap of veg to go with these and usually meet the required 5 a day at any one meal.

I like to buy good quality unprocessed whole-foods in an attempt to keep us as healthy as possible and I think I do get value for the money I spend although I would like it to be more around £50 a week mark rather than the £70 average it has crept up to because of the reasons I explained above – so plenty of work still to be done in the coming months to bring this back down.

On the positive side – I spend very little on my mobile phone a £10 recent top-up making that £10 for the year to date as I had a free £10 when I switched to Vodaphone pay as you go.

I don’t pay for all day parking on a Thursday now as I am only working Monday to Wednesday –  a saving of £16 to £20 a month – and I don’t have the petrol cost on top either – however, I have lost a whole day’s pay which more than covered these but I will be using the extra time I have gained wisely to save money in other areas too.

October achievements

  • I have bought as many items as I can when on offer, reduced or I have a coupon.
  • I continue to plan out a menu to avoid food waste – we have very little food waste now – I stopped buying those cartons of chilled coleslaw and salad stuff as once opened they only last a couple of days and I found the last little bit never got used.
  • I have about £106 in Sainsbury’s reward points to spend at Christmas.
  • I tried some new recipes – one or two will make it into my tried and tested section of my binder
  • I managed to skip the magazines most weeks buying none in August and September and only two health and food related ones in October

November budgeting

  • Making my own Christmas cake and Nut roast
  • Adding basic items to my weekly shop to stock up for Christmas
  • Making a Christmas menu plan so I don’t over buy or over spend on food that will not be eaten
  • Using the Waitrose £12 off a £60 spend
  • Clean out the freezer – use this month to plan weekly menus to use up food in there.
  • Use the £106 reward points on the double up event for drink and Christmas requirements
  • Use remainder against food bill
  • Fill car up with petrol using 9p off litre voucher









baking, fEAsting, recipes

fEAsting…gathering ingredients

I am starting to feel a sense of urgency now October is over as if I am suddenly hurtling towards Christmas and I need to get a move on as I know in my head that I have far more to do than I will have time to do it in.

In the past I have always had a rule that we would never decorate beyond the end of October after finding ourselves once or twice still decorating on Christmas Eve to finish a room (ah we were young and foolish) but now we are just old and foolish and what are we doing – still decorating –  but I need to get the guest room done no matter what so that we can buy the bed and my mum can come to stay before Christmas.

Decorating aside, I thought it would be a good idea to start checking over the store cupboards and stock up on ingredients for THE cake (you know the one I am referring to), the Nut loaf and any other baking I might do for gifts.  So with list in hand I went to town on Saturday to my favourite little whole food shop that I buy from as it is the only place I can find organic short grain brown rice for puddings, organic lemon juice and organic currants, raisins and sultanas for the Christmas cake – I find each year that currants are so hard to get hold of, maybe some recipes don’t use them.  My recipe has equal amounts of currants, raisins and sultanas – I use the same recipe each year and it is totally organic and totally yummy (despite my attempts to burn it!).

I know for all you ‘frugaliers’ out there that organic is more expensive but I made this commitment years ago to support natural farming (otherwise known as environmentally sustainable way of growing food) and I am well prepared to pay the price and cut back in other ways.  Baking ingredients are not cheap even in the supermarkets, I noticed how much the dried apricots have risen in price, I always get the non-sulphured variety – the ones that look more like wrinkly dried brown prunes – I cut these up into small pieces to put in the cake in place of candied peel which we are none too keen on but even if we did like it I would still prefer to use the apricots as I think they keep the cake moist and add to the flavour.

I always look forward to making the cake and even more to eating it but at the moment I am just gathering ingredients so they will be ready when I am.  I don’t usually make it until the last weekend in November, it seems too early at the moment – I am holding off getting too involved in doing things just for Christmas as I do not want it to take over my life so much that I don’t even notice November – so to start with I have plans to do a bit of general baking to try out one or two new recipes I have torn from the stack of magazines I decluttered.

I found a recipe for Toffee Apple Flapjacks and also on my list is Chocolate Hazelnut cookies – I have stopped buying biscuits recently so OH will be pleased to see the biscuit jar with something inside it for a change.

As we have an overabundance of cooking apples again this year in the freezer I will be using some up in a well-tried and tested recipe for Apple Cake, that uses stewed apple rather than chunks, from my Good Housekeeping Basic Cookery book.  This was one of the best wedding presents we received when we married in 1976 and I still use many of the recipes today – as you can see from the title it was the revised version which included metric weights (I hate to say I still use the ounces!).  I’ll post the recipe and photos later this week, however, you will have to take my word that it tastes just heavenly.

Of course the book cover is anything but vegetarian but I love the old-fashioned basic recipes it is a bit like using an old much loved Bero book.

Have a great week x


being thrifty, budgeting, fEAsting, food shopping, meal planning, trEAsury

Never spend your money before you have it…

and when you do have it hold on to it and don’t waste it on lots of things you don’t really need…I really should listen to my own advice!

I have spent all day today entering a stack of receipts into my money program on the computer and balancing bank statements from as far back as March.  That must be when my life notched up a gear and everything went a bit crazy for a while.  As I remember we had my sister’s wedding, then a two-week holiday at Easter, followed by my return to working a lot of overtime well into the evening, followed by a visit from my mum, followed by another holiday and so on and so on…

Anyway I am now balanced again and it has been no surprise to find that I have well and truly overspent on food, clothes, general day-to-day spending and dare I say it…I will whisper it (magazines).  So much for my budget and good intentions – so much for those good ideas I had to shop at home – so much for my pledge to myself to avoid the magazine aisle – I certainly need to take myself in hand again as I have 10 more days to pay-day and I refuse to dip into savings to bail myself out.

Tonight I have been down to my local Sainsbury’s to do the weekly shop (yes I know how sad I am to be shopping in Sainsbury’s on a Saturday night) and I managed to claim back £65 before I began by returning some clothes that didn’t really work for me and some door hooks we decided didn’t look right where we were going to put them.  My total shop was £74.79 and with items already in my store cupboard and freezer I should be able to make a decent meal every night and packed lunches for me and my daughter to take to work each day.

As it happens many of the items I bought tonight were on offer so certain items will cover next week too.  I actually saved £3.34 according to the slip of paper I was given at the till called a Brand Match. I don’t usually buy many Brand items as I tend to go for the Sainsbury’s own ranges but I do like the Alpro Organic Soya milk mainly because Sainsbury’s don’t do an organic one.  My most expensive item was a block of Organic Parmesan cheese at £4.50 but I intend to grate it all and freeze it and that way it is much cheaper than buying those little ready grated packets.  I find that it adds flavour to many dishes when sprinkled on the top and as you need less it is better for you than other full fat cheeses and apparently easier to digest.

Deutsch: Parmigiano Reggiano in der Markthalle...

My cheapest item was a tiny tin of Tomato Puree for 25p followed closely by 4 Bananas for 40p.  It is unusual to see anything on a receipt for under a pound now – I expect if I bought the Basics range there might be more but I do tend to go for the Organic range and foods with no additives and as close to nature as possible especially with dairy foods, eggs, breads and vegetables.

This week I intend to make a Nutloaf to use up some of my left over nuts and we can have it hot one night and then cold with salad the next.  I also like to sprinkle Almonds on my Cauliflower and Broccoli bake as they are an excellent source of protein.

My budget isn’t the only thing I have been busy on today – I have been developing a new system for my clippings as I seem to have quite a collection.  I see all kinds of bits and pieces when I am flicking through my magazines, sometimes it is a new beauty product or supplement that I might like to try, sometimes I want to keep an article about a place or art exhibition I want to go to or a play I might be interested to watch at the local theatre – so tomorrow I will introduce you to SPIF my Systemized Product and Information Folder.  Until then I am going to bed with a mug of cocoa and a couple of magazines ( that I bought last week and not tonight – just in case you were about to ask!)