Monthly Archives: September 2011

Teeth

Sorry for the lack of posts. We’re living in a house of teething. Baby has three big ones coming through thus we have all been up at night and not doing a lot of sleeping. Am hoping normality will be resumed before long!

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Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

My love/hate relationship with cooking

The title says it all – sometimes I’m really fired up about it, other times it is just a nuisance. The thing is, I can’t get away with not doing it. Depending on when Husband is working, he is generally willing to cook provided I tell him roughly what to make or what he can use up. He can produce a far better roast dinner than I can for example (though I make better roast parsnips. I digress.). But more often that not it is down to me and a lot of the time is just feels like a chore. I’m not really tempted to buy ready meals. I’ve tried them on and off over the years and I don’t really like them. They just don’t taste ‘right’, plus they’re not very filling. When you are cooking for two or three of you, you have to start taking into account who can/will eat what and having to find compromises.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been relying heavily on batch cooking because I really, really don’t want to cook in the evenings. By the time Baby is in bed I am spent. I’ve usually got just enough energy for a quick tidy up, maybe the internet banking if I really need to and all I want to do is have a read or just chill out for a couple of hours before going to bed. Although many meals are quick to prepare, by the time you factor in the clear-up operation it can take up most of the evening! Also, quite often what I fancy is ‘something on toast’ or a bit of salad but Husband (who works long hours in a physical job) needs something more substantial. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been defrosting ‘proper’ meals for Husband so I can actually have whatever I want. It’s been working just fine. Sometimes I’ll join in and have lasagne or Shepherd’s Pie…sometimes I’ll have beans on toast or soup and salad. If we carry on like this it might actually work out to be cheaper as well as keeping us both happy! For the last week or so it’s all been about the salad as far as I am concerned. I’m going to be sad when it is too cold to be as appetising and seasonal. I actually need to sort the freezer out at the moment. It is full of random things but very few actual meals and there is very little space going. I need to sort this out!

I have to say that there is one ‘ready meal’ that we do really like and we stock up on it whenever it is on offer. Young’s Mariners Pie is often available in the freezer department (it is more expensive to buy ‘fresh’) at Co-op for only £1. I think the price is great and we love it. I also buy Uncle Ben’s Korma sauce as a) we like it and b) it is cheaper to buy than make. There are always exceptions but generally we make everything else ourselves!

As for the cooking love…I hope it comes out because it has truly deserted me for the time being!

Categories: Frugal food | 3 Comments

To spend or not to spend

I’ve been a bit quiet here. Partly because we’ve been away but also because I’ve had a period of mulling things over again. I seem to go through frequent cycles of contemplation about the whole money/frugality thing which, by writing this blog, I end up thinking about perhaps too much. Sometimes I think it makes me overly focused in a way that is not good and then I have to step back from it a little bit so I can try to remember what I am trying to do.

This particular episode has been brought on my having bought some clothes and then having a slight guilt attack about it. I mean, how can I write about being on a budget etc etc when I’ve bought clothes? I already have clothes – there was no danger of me having to go naked! And yet I bought some and ended up questioning everything again; what should I spend money on? What shouldn’t I spend it on? What are the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ things to spend it on? Should I even spend a single penny? Does the purchase of non-essentials make me extravagant? Why am I even thinking in these terms? While I was having a ponder along these lines I had a look in the dictionary and this is what I found:

Thrifty: showing careful management, esp of money

Frugal: economical in the expenditure of resources

Economicaladj 1. thrifty. 2. efficient; not wasting money, fuel, etc.

And then I realised I am doing just fine. I live within my means and even though I don’t earn a lot I still manage to save. Everything gets paid for. I’m careful not to waste food, fuel and energy. Everyone’s definition of ‘wasting money’ is going to be different. But there is no point in worrying about anyone else’s definition of what is a waste of money. If you start thinking in those terms you are doomed – you wouldn’t have holidays, you wouldn’t go out, you wouldn’t have pets, you wouldn’t even have a framed picture hanging on the wall. I guess I just needed a reminder that my way of going about it is the only way for me!

Categories: Frugal ideas | 4 Comments

I’m back!

We had a great holiday though we’re totally exhausted. Back to blogging soon…

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Holiday packing, wellies and the end of the 7 week challenge

It’s been total bedlam at our house for the last couple of days as I’ve tried to juggle getting all of my ‘work’ work done as well as everything at home. You need almost as much stuff to go away for four days as you do a fortnight, particularly when you’ve got a little one! Baby and I spent three hours ironing, packing and sorting yesterday. She was very patient and even quite enjoyed helping to put things in bags. Even so, it looked like a bomb had gone off at the end of the day. There are things that we can’t pack until tonight and even more things we can’t pack until the morning. Argh! I wish I could just get it all done! I used to be able to clean my house from top to bottom before going on holiday. Now I’ll consider it a success if I manage to empty the bin and don’t leave any washing up in the sink!

So, in spite of the sheer amount of things left to do and the fact that the weather report is shocking for our weekend away I’m still really excited. It’s out first holiday with Baby and I can’t wait to see what she makes of it all. I also can’t wait for the change of scenery. I last went away two years ago next month (when I was 6 weeks pregnant). Because the weather forecast is rubbish I went and bought a pair of wellies today. I did have a pair but when it snowed last winter I realised I can’t get my feet all the way down in them so they were useless (maybe due to the weight gain?!). I don’t have any other outdoorsy footwear and since I live by the sea and am surrounded by countryside they are a bit of a must! While I was buying them I saw some very cheap yet sturdy looking hiking boots at £32.95. I might put some cash aside for a few months and invest in a pair – they’d definitely come in handy! Anyway, I’m very pleased to have a pair of wellies I can wear since autumn is approaching (plus they are pretty, cheery ones with butterflies!).

So, the 7 week challenge ended this week. How did I do? Okay. The house is not finished yet but we really did get a lot done. I won’t bore you with a giant list (I’ve covered most of it on this blog as we’ve gone along) but I’m pleased with the amount we achieved. I also feel like I am much more organised and on top of things again. When you are ‘running’ a house there will always be another 10 jobs on the ‘to do’ but 10 is better than 50! I’m on top of the washing and ironing, the paperwork, the food shopping, batch cooking and all the rest. I’m not one of those people that really enjoys the domestic hoopla of cooking and cleaning but I do get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing everything done. I also find I can get away with spending a lot less time doing it all if I’m on top of it which is a good thing in my book! As for losing the last of the baby weight…disasterous. Not only did I not lose the weight but I actually managed to pile a few pounds on! I had just over half a stone to go and now it is closer to a stone. I’m not going to buy any clothes in the next size up just yet. My clothes are, er, on the snug side at the moment. I’m actually hoping that my jeans pinching my thighs will remind me I probably don’t need more cake. Other than that, I’m done. I am not blogging about this again until at least next year unless it is to say that the pounds and inches have magically vanished!

And now it is time to continue with the packing…. 🙂

Categories: Getting organised | 1 Comment

Shoestring shopping, cooking and relaxing!

I seem to be back on top of the food shopping and budgeting. I did a ‘big’ shop from Tesco today to stock up on things for the month. They currently have bags of frozen Lakeland chicken breasts at half price (just over £3 a bag). I haven’t bought frozen meat before so I thought I’d give it a go. I’ll be using them to make some chicken and vegetable korma to go in the freezer. I make most things from scratch but korma isn’t one of them – Uncle Ben does it much better than me! I saw the korma sauce on offer a few weeks ago and grabbed a couple of jars. I always add vegetables because a) we like them and b) it makes the meat go further!

I actually bought so much stuff that I’ve had trouble fitting it all in the fridge-freezer. This is good by the way – all stuff I can use! I had a cauliflower and some broccoli left from last week so made up a big batch of cauliflower and broccoli cheese with some frozen peas added. I know some people have this as a side dish but we have a great big bowl each as a main meal! It is also one of Baby’s favourite meals. After Husband, Baby and I had had some there was enough left over that there are two portions for Baby and one adult portion in the freezer. I also had some carrots left over so I made a batch of carrot and coriander soup – two portions for the freezer and the rest eaten today and tomorrow. I know the carrot and coriander soup gets mentioned here a lot. It is my favourite and it has so few ingredients that it is very easy and very cheap to make. I’m trying to have soup and/or salad as much as possible at the moment but other than that he diet has officially been abandoned!

I made a beef and vegetable casserole yesterday and have stocked up the freezer with adult and baby sized portions. I’m really not loving cooking in the evenings these days so I’m trying to batch cook more than ever. It seems to be working out pretty well as we’re eating well and I’m getting some extra time in the evening to read a book or chill out with Husband and maybe watch a film if LoveFilm has done its magic!

PS I’ve just watched Wuthering Heights (the one that was on TV last week). Brilliant! Anyone else see it?

Categories: Frugal food | 2 Comments

Mini jars and movies

I pinched this teeny jam jar when we were out having a cream tea a few months ago. It is the perfect size to fill up with salad dressing and take to work in my packed lunch box.

You can’t really tell from the photo but this jar is smaller than the usual little jars and I took a real shine to it! I thought I might as well take it home and re-use it rather than let it go in the bin.

You might remember that I downgraded my package from Lovefilm a while back, saving £5 a month. At the time there weren’t many films out that we really wanted to watch so it seemed like 4 discs a month would be enough.  It turned out they weren’t! Almost straightaway I missed being able to order any old film I felt like once I remembered that they were rationed (for the extra £5 we can rent an unlimited number of films). I realised how much I liked being able to watch lots of different films and the really good TV series and that when I heard about a new film coming out, knowing I’d be able to watch it as soon as it came out on DVD. It also never seems a ‘waste’ to rent an older DVD. Last week I was in the library and spotted The Ruby In The Smoke which was adapted from the Sally Lockheart series by Philip Pullman. I loved this series of four books and had been wanting to see the two that got made into films. I really enjoyed the DVD and my first thought was to add the next one to my LoveFilm list. My second thought was the realisation that I already had quite a few DVDs on the list and so I might not get to see it for a couple of months! I can afford the extra £5 a month so I went ahead and changed back to my original package where we can have unlimted DVDs and two discs at home at any one time. Long, cold, dark evenings are not so far away and it is good to know we’ll have a bit of entertainment lined up!

When you are living on a tight budget you do end up questioning every penny. However, sometimes it is worth loosening the purse strings, particularly when you can get such a lot out of a little bit of cash!

Categories: Frugal ideas, Make do, Shoestring Fun | 5 Comments

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