Monthly Archives: April 2016

A Year From Today

I’ve seen plenty of quotes on the internet along these lines but lately there’s a thought, a question that has really resonated with me of late:

In a years time, what will I regret having not started today?

What do I want to be different a year from today?

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Tomorrow is 1st May. What – realistically – would I want to be different on the 1st May 2017?

There wouldn’t be anything earth shattering. We’re settled with where we live, our home, local schools and so on so no big moves or anything like that. The changes I’d like to see relate to more mundane, day to day, very ordinary things! I’ve really given this a lot of thought and have tried not to tackle too many different things to give myself the best chance of success. Here’s what I’ve decided on:

  1. Save money. Ah, it sounds so simple. However, Husband is currently working very hard to get a company off the ground and his earnings vary from month to month. Even on the best months this figure is low so it is hard to cover basics, never mind save. However we desperately need the security of savings plus I don’t want the kids childhoods to go by with no holidays and limited experiences so I’d like to save for that too.

2. Lose the weight. Wow does this blog reveal how long I’ve been trying to do this. I need to lose about 20 pounds to get back to my happy place. But frankly 10-14 would do!

3. Sort out my front garden. My back garden also needs some work and we really must get on with some of our interior work. But seriously, the front garden is in an embarrassing state. It is very unsafe for kids (it’s a sharp slope dropping down to a very busy main road and we can’t put a fence on the boundary) so I struggle to find time to go out there (when my littlest in napping I have to work so it is almost impossible). Plus I have chronic back problems and am having long term physio which also complicates things. But! It must happen. I am determined that this time next year it will not look so dreadful.

4. Writing project. A determined effort must be made. I’ve dithered around with this in one way or another for, oh let’s see, almost twenty years. Yes, years not months. Time to stop messing around and give it a year of attention. I plan to start out with the intention of writing 500 words a day, 6 days a week. I reserve the right to change this to whatever works but this is a starting point! If I can’t do anything with it after a years effort then I am officially freeing myself from it!

And that’s it. Obviously there are loads of other things I want to get done as well. But these four things have got to be uppermost in my mind. Those random little pockets of time that get lost in aimless screen time or whatever? This is how they are now going to be spent.

It’s been a good exercise, thinking about 1st May 2017. What would you regret then that you hadn’t started today?

 

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Food shop:

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Last weeks food worked out pretty well though I did have to nip out and top up on fruit. I can’t remember the exact amount but it was around 3 pounds.

Sticking to my ‘rule’ about keeping the weekly Tesco order at no more than 50 pounds (including non-food items), this weeks shop has come in at 51.38 pounds. 2.60 of that was on colour catching sheets (they have saved many an item of clothing in the past!) and ibuprofen. So the food spend was 49.78 for this week. for this I have bought:

Greek yogurt, Cheddar, 6 eggs, brioche, loaf of bread, 3 bananas, 2 cucumbers, cheese and onion bread mix, 2 honeydew melons, ice cream, lollies, 2 different kinds of pasta, 12 pints whole milk, 2 packs Ryvitta, babycorn & mangetout, breadsticks, yellow pepper, grapes, frozen mango chunks, frozen cherries, broccoli, 2 packs babyleaf salad, baby plum tomatoes, beetroot, coleslaw, ham, 5 oranges, butter, stir-fry veg pack, celery, 2 packs apples, whole chicken, baby potatoes and strawberries.

I think that’s a pretty good haul all things considered! Here’s the corresponding meal plan (also using things I already have in my pantry and freezer):

Beef casserole and veg

Roast chicken with roast potatoes and veg or salad

Ham with new potatoes and salad

Jacket potatoes (with either tuna, beans or cheese) and salad

Pasta

Egg salad with new potatoes etc

Eggie bread or beans on toast for the kids / Stir fry for me when I get in from work

 

Salad is going to be featuring quite heavily for the first time this year. The great, GREAT advantage for me regarding salad based meals is the fact that I can prep all (or nearly all) of it in advance. This means that if the weather is reasonable (ie not pouring with rain) then I can take the kids to the park or the beach after school). This is hard otherwise as they get in STARVING and the  have to wait while dinner cooks. While wanting me to do a hundred other things at the same time!

So hopefully, if all goes well, it should be another week staying within budget.

 

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This weeks food shop: 43.34

While this weeks online food shop has only come to 43.34 I did go slightly over my weekly budget of 50 pounds as I spent 9.70 on household items:

Plasters – 1

washing up liquid – 75p

18 loo rolls – 6

3 x wipes – 1.95

 

The food spend of 43.34 went on:

2 x honeydew melon – 3.50

Babycorn, asparagus, baby sweetcorn and tenderstem broccoli – 4

Pack of stir fry veg – 1

Chicken portions – 3.50

Chicken and mushroom pie slices – 1.50

12 x yogurts – 2

Skimmed milk, 2 pints – 75p

Whole milk, 12 pints – 2.96

Baby plum tomatoes – 1

Cucumber – 42p

Potatoes – 1.19

Broccoli – 39p

Red grapes – 2

Bananas – 61p

Brioche x 8 – 1.20

12 x gala apples – 1.50

6 eggs – 89p

20 lemon and ginger tea bags – 75p

3 x Napolina pasta sauce jars – 2.70

Breadsticks – 1

Ryvittas x 2 – 1.60

Frozen salmon fillets x 8 – 5.60

Fishfingers – 1

Bread – 75p

Ice cream – 1

Butter – 85p

Frozen yorkies – 49p

 

From looking at the above you’ll note that while we eat quite a lot of fresh produce I unapologetically don’t make everything from scratch! My kids don’t like my homemade pasta sauce at the moment so while Napolina have a fab offer on of 90p per jar I’m stocking up. We like Tesco frozen yorkies at 49p a bag – I can’t make them in small quantities for that price. And a pack of fishfingers are always handy to have in the freezer!

The big treats this week are the honeydew melon and the ‘posh’ vegetables. We usually only have carrots and broccoli but, as I mentioned the other week, I’m trying to broaden the food the kids are getting access to at home. At 4 pounds for three packs of vegetables it seems a lot but I think it’s worth it. I also stocked up while there was such a good offer on frozen salmon.

While I will be using things that we already have in the pantry and the freezer, you can see I am also stocking up for future weeks (with the salmon and pasta sauces etc).

Here’s the meal plan:

Tuesday: Jacket potatoes (some with beans, some with tuna mayo)

Wednesday: Chicken and mushroom pie slices with veg

Thursday: Eggie bread / Stir fry

Friday: Pasta

Saturday: Chicken Korma with rice

Sunday: Salmon with a light cheese sauce and veg

Monday: Random bits – there are always bits and bobs leftover! Failing that either pasta or something from the freezer.

The kids tend to have some variation on brioche, yogurt, fruit or scrambled egg for breakfast. Ditto me. Husband doesn’t eat breakfast. Neither kid would eat toast daily (seriously – once a week MAX) and neither has every ‘got’ cereal.

I don’t plan lunches particularly. Husband comes in and out and grabs something depending on what work is like that day. I tend to go for Ryvitta and / or soup (there’s always a lot of soup portioned up in the freezer as that’s how I make sure no veg goes to waste). My son (2) tend to eat some of whatever we’ve come up with but he’s not hugely keen on ‘lunch’ and my daughter get free school dinner as do all kids under 7.

And that’s it!

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When you’re spending too much on food…

…well, you’ve got to cut down haven’t you?

I’ve kept track of everything we’ve spent since the beginning of the year in this rather fabulous (and possibly inappropriately luxurious) diary:

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I’ve totted everything up monthly and, this morning, I got around to working out what we have spent on everything in the first quarter. Even with meal planning we’ve spent more than we can afford to on food and houesehold items. In the first three months of the year we have spent:

Food: 833.76

Household items: 78.22

Total on ‘supermarket’ shopping: 911.98

Divided by 13 weeks this means we are averaging 70.15 pounds a week. This INCLUDES additional ‘shops’ for when we’ve run out of things. We invariably run out of something like butter or milk or eggs and we always need at least one top up shop for fresh fruit. The household items included laundry detergents, washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets, toilet paper and so on. I’m intrigued how some people report these items all together or, conversely, how some others seem to ahve a super cheap food shop but it’s because they don’t include the things like binbags that other people just lump in under the food budget.

There was also another horrifying and eye opening category – snacks. I forgot to take my packed lunch to work one day plus then there’s been all of the times where we’ve wwanted some ice cream or chocolate to have after dinner. Or when we go to the park and don’t want to get stung by the concessions stands. So it’s saved money in one way but – at 70.69 (over three months so an average of 23.56 a month) that needs to be cut down too.

I’ve already had some of this plan in operation for a few weeks now but I’m brainsorming other ideas too. So here’s how I’m making serious cuts to our food (and household) spending:

  • I’ve signed up for Tesco’s deliver saver deal. As I get my delivery in the more unpopular midweek slots I get a discounted rate. The first month has been free and after that I will be paying just 3 pounds A MONTH for my weekly food delivery. I couldn’t drive to Tesco and back for 75p so this is great. More importantly though having the delivery means I have much more control over my spending. I can see the exact running total for what I’ve spent. The value of this cannot be underestimated. It also means you don’t get tempted to pick up extra things.
  • Keeping that total under 50 pounds. The order HAS to be over 40 pounds (otherwise Tesco charge me extra) so if my basket shows less then I stock up on things that I know we are always going to need like loo roll or laundry detergent. However, the figure in the basket (according my own self-imposed rules) must not be allowed to go over 50 pounds unless there are exeptional circumstances. Such circumstances would include buying extra food as we are entertaining, a really good offer on something like buying meat or fish when in quantity that can be frozen (thus bringing down the shopping total in the coming weeks).
  • The 50 pound a week total, sadly, has to include all of the household items like cleaning products, loo roll, bin liners and laundry detergent. I’d like to be able to spend the whole 50 pounds on food but we just can’t afford to allocate our budget like that at this moment in time.
  • I need to plan better for a greater variety of food. I know some bloggers and people in online forums seem to be able to spend hardly anything compared to me. I honestly don’t know how they’re doing it. We only eat meat or fish once and twice a week. We don’t buy cereals. We don’t buy the fancy or luxury versions of anything (apart from the occasional box of herbal tea). In spite of this I’ve really noticed that, in trying to keep costs down, we’ve been eating quite a restrictive, unvarying diet. I’m getting worried that the kids could develop fussy/narrow eating habits as a result. For example we had friends over for lunch last week and so I bought some hummus which we haven’t had since sometime last year, not being an essential. Both of mine refused to eat any after the first taste and clearly didn’t like it at all. So, while spending less, I somehow need to find a way to increase the variety of foods we are consuming.
  • Try to plan better so I don’t need to do ‘extra’ shops in the week. OR if they are essentially spend no more than absoloutely necessary.
  • Try to spend A LOT less on extra snacks when we’re out and about. It’s easy to spend on snacks in a way as so much of what we do for leisure time is free so we’ll have gone out for the afternoon but only spent 1.50 but still. It really does add up. Perhaps I could buy some multipacks of treatish food. The trouble here is that I can’t trust myself not to eat it (and I would have to hide it from Husband as he would eat it too!).
  • I don’t think I can really cut back any more on household items. I alternate between washing up by hand and using the dishwasher depending on which makes most sense with what needs doing. We need binliners. I only buy one kitchen cleaner and one bathroom cleaner and I stock up when they are on offer at 1 pound each. I buy own brand bleach for the toilets and own brand washing up liquid. I also buy own brand laundry detergent and fabric softener though I may look into seeing if Lidl or Aldi do a version that is genuinely cheaper. I may also try to buy loo roll in bulk as I seem to be buying it all the time (it doesn’t help that we also use this for tissues and have just been through cold ‘season’).

In short I will do an online shop for no more than 50 a week including all household items. I will try to spend nothing extra on snacks when we’re out and seriously limit what extras we buy inbetween shops.  I will see if I can buy laundry detergent and loo roll in bulk from a cheaper source.

Onward!

 

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