Monday, 5 December 2016

Day 340 - End of Challenge - Final Blog Post

CASH Spent This Year - £377.60
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent This Year- £351.75
Total Spend on Food - £729.35
No Spend Days  286 / 340
Weekly Average Spent on Food   £14.88

I have decided to end my blogging 'career', for now, for the future ... who knows.  But in ending my main blog I thought it only right that I bring this Challenge blog to it's natural conclusion too.

As you can see from the facts and figures published above it has been a true low spend year, exactly what we needed to enable us to pay off our mortgage.  It really helped that we saved some of our coupons, vouchers and points from the previous year and made good use of those earned during the course of this, and this has meant we managed to comfortably get through the year.  The homegrown foods were the biggest money saving thing we did and they pretty much took over from bought foods in the Summer and Autumn.

You saw on the posts from the other week that there is still food in the cupboards, a good selection of foods so we could have kept going.  The freezers are pretty full, but now it is with home grown fruits and vegetables rather than the packets of foods they contained at the start of this challenge.

I will not be dashing out and filling a supermarket trolley, in fact the only thing I am thinking of buying when I am next in the supermarket for the weekly bottle of milk is a packet of fish fingers to make a good old fashioned 'fish finger butty' .... I'm a girl of simple tastes, but I think you already know that.

The main thing I think I took from this year is that we don't need half as much food in the house as I originally thought we did, and that the less times you actually go to the shops the less you will spend.  I went shopping 54 times over the course of the Challenge, so just a smidge over once a week.

Thank you to all those of you who have followed this Challenge from it's beginning in January and to those of you who have joined us along the way.  It's been an interesting and very worthwhile thing to do and I know a couple of you are intending to do something very similar next year, so I will be very interested to follow your journey too.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a very peaceful and Happy New Year.

And yes ..... Today is a No Spend Day

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Days 338 and 339 - End of Month Eleven

Money Spent This Month - £32.12   Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - £51.00
All the Original £328.71 Budget Now Gone
Money Spent in Total - £367.67
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £351.75
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - None    Minus Figure of £38.96
No Spend Days  26/30

Total Spent - Cash/Vouchers/Coupons/Points   £719.42
Weekly Average £14.99

I'm a bit late with the end of month summary for November, it's just been busy here and time flies by so quickly.  So to keep everything straight here are the figures. as they stood at the end of November.

My biggest learning curve this month - that I really don't need or want to keep my cupboards overstocked with foods for 'emergencies'.  In the future our cupboards will hold the groceries listed on the 'Permanent Shopping List' page ... and not much else.

How am I feeling at the end of Month Ten -  Glad that the preserving of all the homegrown vegetables has finally finished but a little bit sad that I lost the last dozen bunches of celery to the hard frosts that we have had this past week.  Still they went on the compost heap so their goodness will help with next years crop ... all is never lost when you grow your own and make your own compost.

Today is a No Spend Day

Friday, 2 December 2016

Day 337 - More Shopping

Money Spent Today - £3.32
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - 0
All the £328.71 Budget Now Gone
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £351.75
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - 0
In the Red by -  £48.89

I went shopping today after a trip to the cinema with Jason to see A Street Cat Named Bob.  It was the first time for Jason seeing it and the second time for me ... it was just as good the second time around :-)

After the cinema he headed off home to Preston in Lancashire and I nipped over to Tesco.  I needed something not pictured here for this celebratory weekend  (hence the full receipt not being shown), but I also knew that The Trussell Trust are having a BIG Neighbourhood Food collection at ALL Tesco's in the UKfrom1st to the 3rd December, and I really wanted to do my bit.

When you go in you are given or can ask for their ideal shopping list, I decided to buy three of everything on the list ...

... as you can see from the list it didn't cost me that much and will hopefully be of good use to someone less fortunate than myself.  You don't have to buy that much, you could just buy one or two items, and basics lines are perfectly acceptable.  Just imagine how much food they would get if every shopper in the three days donated just ONE thing.

I spent £3.32 on some crisps and bananas.  I don't know why but I just fancied some crisps for the weekend ... possibly something to do with the two bottles of wine in the cupboard ;-)

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Day 336 - Buying Salad Stuff

Money Spent Today - £6.61
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - 0
All the £328.71 Budget Now Gone
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £351.75
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - 0
In the Red by -  £45.57

I bought all the above, plus one four pint bottle of milk, which I had already put in the fridge, yesterday.  I have been craving salad stuff, and although there was a few spring onions, some mixed leaves and some kohlrabi in the polytunnel I thought I would go mad and buy some fresh things for the fridge.

I have just lost the last of my homegrown celery to the frost, such a shame I should have covered them sooner with fleece, but even that might not have worked as it was down to -3 degrees inside the polytunnel this morning.

I just scrolled back through all the 'Shopping' posts to see when the last time I bought a cucumber was and it was on the 17th July!!  That's not bad at all considering that until recently we have been eating a minimum of four a week.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Day 335 - Warming Soup

It just had to be soup for lunch and tea today ... it was soooo cold outside. 

Working in the polytunnel for as long as I could bear it, (it was -3 degrees), to clear away all the frost damaged plants, and cover what I could salvage with an extra layer of fleece left me feeling chilled to the bone.

As soon as I came in I put the radio on and set to chopping everything up, including the little leeks that I had brought back from the polytunnel with me.  I also brought over a cabbage, so some of the outer and most damaged leaves went to the chickens and a couple of good dark ones were chopped and added to the soup along with an onion from the fridge.

I used the last of some Vegetable Soup from the fridge for my lunch and then took myself off to the cinema to see 'Bad Santa 2', not the best film in the world, but I thawed out nicely while I was sat in the cinema.

By the time I got home my fresh pan of soup had been cooking away for a few hours in the bottom oven of the Aga, it was lovely to have for my tea, left chunky as it was so it wasn't too reminiscent of my lunch.

Today is a No Spend Day

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Day 334 - Which Are You ?

I bet this top picture made you wonder for a second ... no it's not my secret larder stash ... both todays pictures are from Google Images, an absolute font of photos of every description :-)

I just wanted to ask you something for a change!

Which of these two images sums you up best?  Do you like a well stocked, indeed overstocked food cupboard like the one above.  With foods for every eventuality at your fingertips.

Or do you prefer the calming, almost sedateness of this lovely little store of foods, that are most likely used to compliment fresh produce that is stored in the fridge.  This photo reminds me of Nigel Slater's fridge and larder in one of his television series.

I most certainly used to be the former, with fresh foods alongside and now I feel that I have come full circle to the latter.  There's something about the lack of garish packaging that makes the second picture look better, healthier and more calming ..... although I guess you could tip your chocolate biscuits and sweeties into a jar and have them look equally at home!

I might be off to do a bit of decanting  ;-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Monday, 28 November 2016

Day 333 - Self Deprivation ?

'  Oh, goodness gracious. Let your self go. Life's too short to deprive yourself of the little luxuries in life. It isn't helping anyone else. Oh, how I long to see a pic of you, with Christmas pudding and brandy sauce dripping down your chin (sigh) Will it happen? Or are you so far down the self denial path that you just can't do it. I need only add, Baileys, mince pies, double cream, Thornton chocolates, creamed sprouts with chestnuts? Just how will you resist? Obviously, only joking, but life really is too short! anyway, Merry Christmas, and heartfelt Blessings to you and your family. '

Yesterday this comment pinged into my Inbox and onto the blog comments, said as 'Obviously only joking ...' but I feel with more than enough seriousness to warrant a reply.  So for those of you who know me well sit back with your coffee and have a recap, while I address the issues raised in this comment for those readers who don't know me so well ... as this reader perhaps doesn't.

I don't need to 'let myself go' - I am a really chilled out person, who has just about enough money to do and buy what I wish if I wanted to.

I don't deprive myself of any 'little luxuries in life' - I think some peoples ideas of luxuries are just different.  Mine are a good solid roof over my head, warmth, health, family, including our furry and feathered friends, good food, lots of books and all the little extras that make life really good ... hot bubble baths at bedtime, a good film on the tele in front of a roaring fire, with copious amounts coffee and homemade nibbles .... what more really is there?

Sorry but I don't eat Christmas pudding or brandy sauce - I just don't like them, so no it  won't ever happen  :-)

I'm not down a path of self denial -   We eat well, luxuriously well.  Home produced free range eggs with the most glorious almost orange yolks.  Home grown fruit and vegetables, picked and frozen at their peak of ripeness and full of goodness.  Home made cakes, biscuits, quiches, pies and soups .... things you will never  be able to buy from a shop.

Baileys, mince pies, double cream, Thornton chocolates, creamed sprouts with chestnuts - yes please BUT out of all these there is nothing that I eat!!  I don't like mince pies ... although I do keep trying, I want to learn to like sprouts and chestnuts but I'm struggling ... and the others all contain milk products which I am unfortunately intolerant to.

' How will you resist? ' you ask.  Easily I answer, we eat better, we eat more, we have exactly what we want and what we need.  We are satisfied and what's more thanks to this year of living within our means and using what we have and what we have produced ourselves, we have paid off our main mortgage completely and done something very exciting that will give us an additional income to help our drive towards self sufficiency.

So thank you for your comment Lesley UK,  it's made for what I hope is an interesting post on a Monday morning when I had no idea what to write other than ...

... Today is a No Spend Day

Todays picture is from Google Images.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Day 332 - Wow!!

Wow ... is it really Day 332 !!

I think this is the longest I have been able to keep a Challenge going for, and I'm determined to be here until the end of the year. 

A couple of you have asked if I am going to go wild shopping in January.  Buying all the books on my wish-list, buying new clothes for the year ahead and  having a supermarket splurge, well in all honesty I have thought about it ... especially the supermarket one.

Imagine leisurely wandering the aisles, throwing anything that takes my fancy into the shopping trolley, a bit of this, a bit of that, a lot of the other.  Coming home and filling all the recently acquired space in my cupboards so they are bulging at the seams.

Nah .... I can't imagine it either!!

There are just thirty four days left of this year long Challenge, we have yet to plan our Christmas eating but I can assure you I won't be joining the masses with piled  high shopping trolleys, shopping as though the shops are closing for a fortnight and no doubt throwing lots of the purchases in the bin come the day after New Year.  We will be using what we have already in store, the homegrown veggies that lie in the freezer, the jars of homemade sauces, jams, pickles and chutneys.  I will have a few baking sessions with the remains of my flours, butters and sugars so we will have lots of treats. 

Basically we will be using up what we already have.

Today is a No Spend Day

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Day 331 - The Cupboards - 3

This is our main food cupboard, and really if I took out all the homemade pasta sauces that have been added to it, the one that would show the most difference.  Eighteen jars of lovely homegrown and homemade tomatoey goodness have been added to the ones that are left from last years stash that we had at the start of the year.

The main food cupboard in January at the start of the Challenge ...

... and as it was on Thursday of this week.

It's been interesting this week to clear out all the cupboards and see exactly what we have remaining to see us to the end of the Challenge and beyond.  And giving all the cupboards a good clean out is a head start on the clean up I usually do before Christmas ... not that I will be dashing out to fill up the cupboards ready for the festive season, what we have here is more than enough  :-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Friday, 25 November 2016

Day 330 - The Cupboards - 2

In my quest for seeing exactly what we have left in the food cupboards, yesterday I went through ALL the cupboards in the kitchen.  Hoicking everything out, cleaning the cupboard and then putting most things back where they had come from but making somethings more logical, so moving them to another cupboard.

The condiments cupboard in January.

... and as it was yesterday after a wipe out.

So you can see straight away one of the baskets from this cupboard that was almost empty, was used instead in the baking cupboard for all the little bits and bobs, essences, baking powders etc.  Oh and as you read the other day, the Bouillon tub no longer contains bouillon, it is now full of Knorr vegetable stock ... I should label it as such really  :-)

Today is a No Spend Day