Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Day 244 - The M& S Vouchers

Someone asked me the other day, and I don't think I answered, how many coupons or vouchers I had left.  Well this is my stash as of today.

They are all M&S vouchers now and this will be it until November, as I think that is the last delivery of vouchers from Tesco and M&S for the year.   I am going to try and just use one of these whenever we need milk, as with only £7.79 left in the cash kitty and not a lot of Nectar points I am going to have to shop extremely carefully from now on if I want to make the cash last for as long as possible.

Today is the last day of the month so I will do a review of August tomorrow, but I know from my diary it has been a pretty low spend month ... thank goodness!!

Today is a No Spend Day

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Day 243 - Dried Herbs

My prize winning herbs from the Llanrwst show are now dried and sat on the shelf in a jar,.  After a week of decorating the kitchen windowsill and adding a delicious aroma to the kitchen I thought it was about time I did something with them.  

There they are on the table at the show.

 I decided to chop them finely with the aid of the chopping blade of my Nutribullet to keep things simple, and then popped them into the warm oven of the Aga for a couple of hours to dry out.  Once cooled they were put into a jar and labelled .... and boy do they smell good.

A sprinkle of herbs brings so much to life, even something as simple as a pizza, whether homemade or shop bought is a totally different thing with a smatter of herbs amongst the other toppings.  These herbs have an intense taste, so only a little pinch is needed to have maxuimum effect.

In a few weeks I will be harvesting more of my fresh herbs to do exactly the same with, it's nice to have a good stash of herbs to see you through the Winter,  although for the last few years all my Rosemary plants have very successfully overwintered in their pots and the tin bath outside.

Today is a No Spend Day

Monday, 29 August 2016

Day 242 - Calculations

 Money Spent Today - 7p
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - £3.50
Money Spent in Total - £320.99
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £282.75
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - £7.72

We were passing Holland and Barrett the other day so I decided to spend my coupon as it had to be used before the end of September and I didn't want to have to make a trip just to use it.   I knew I needed some dried fruit to add to chutneys and scones etc so that's what I decided it was going to be spent on.

Luckily I had Lovely Hubby with me who is better at on the spot mental arithmetic than me so we stood working out the best way to spend my coupon, which was for £3.50, without having to add too much cash and also to get the most dried fruit possible for our 'money'.

It turned out that some things were on a 'buy one get one half price' offer, which was why I was stood working out the sums, and the items above were the best possible combination of products, and meant I only had to add 7p in cash to the voucher to get both bags.

And it looks from the till receipt that I won't be getting another voucher off them after this one, as I have just not spent any money there .... a total of 22p in cash and the rest has been coupons.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Day 241 - Potatoes With Every Meal

Usually when I'm making a meal we debate whether to have potatoes, pasta or rice, we both love rice ... but at the moment to make good use of the potatoes that I dug up recently it's been pretty much potatoes with every meal.

More specifically we are eating up all the weirder, slightly damaged ones or the ones with little green areas (that I cut off obviously).  This means that I can safely store all the more perfect ones in the cupboard under the stairs where it is relatively cool and always dark.

The more potatoes we eat now, the more rice and pasta we will have left when the potatoes eventually run out.  And we are trying our best to eat seasonally and mostly our own produce at the moment and saving all the jars, tins and packets of things and things still lurking in the freezer for when our own homegrown things diminish, although hopefully if I have got things right, we should never entirely run out  :-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Day 240 - Solving a Dilemma

There are lots of things that are outside the remit of the Challenge ... all non-foody things, as we already pretty much know how much we use and how often we purchase them.  Some of them come under the umbrella of our company and are purchased from the farm supplies shop.  But it doesn't mean to say that we don't use these items carefully and economically.

For instance washing powder ... we usually buy these tablets, which yes are a bit more expensive than buying huge boxes of washing powder but easier to store in the kitchen and simple to use.  We buy them in bulk ( a sleeve of four boxes at a time), and because we don't use them as directed on the packet, where it tells you to use two tablets per wash and thus only get 20 washes out of one box ...  each box lasts us for 40 washes.

I do around five washes a week so each box lasts us eight weeks.  It's knowing all this type of thing that will help us budget for all expenditure in the future.

Of course I do have a bit of a dilemma, instead of fabric conditioner I usually use vinegar in the final rinse.  It does exactly the same as fabric conditioner in that it neutralises any washing detergent that is left in the fabric of your wash and makes it come out soft, but it leaves your wash simply smelling clean and not perfumed.  

At first my dilemma was that it's a 'food' item, so when my current stash runs out should it be included in the food budget, but then I thought about it some more and decided that as I don't use vinegar in anything other than pickling things (nope ... I don't even have it on chips), I will buy vinegar for food use out of the food budget and keep the vinegar for fabric conditioning purposes out of the equation.

Today is a No Spend Day

Friday, 26 August 2016

Day 239 - Homegrown Food

I thought it is about time that I listed the home grown food that we are eating just for the record, as it is now the part of the year that we are in full production in the tunnels and out on the Veggie Patch.

I may have to come back and add to the list if I spot something that I have forgotten ... it's hard to mentally walk round the growing veggies when I'm sat at my desk  ;-)

Still growing and being picked/dug up regularly:
Spring Onions
French Beans
Broad Beans

Nasturtium  (leaves and flowers)
Apples (eating and cooking)

Things that are now harvested and stored in the house:
Dried Herbs

Things that have finished for this year:
Red/White/Black Currants

Still to come, but almost ready:
Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Today is a No Spend Day
... and this explains why I am not having to do much shopping at the moment!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Day 238 - Late to the Party

Our tea the other night.

Everything on our salady plates is now from the polytunnel and is completely homegrown, well except from the cheese ... and in the case of Lovely Hubby's plate the half a pack of pate.

I've not eaten grated raw beetroot before, I have no idea why ... I usually cook it in the oven and then cool it and slice it to add to salads, but this was a revelation.  Just topped, tailed and peeled, then grated into a bowl and I added half a sliced red onion, some podded peas and beans and gave it a good stir.  There was enough moisture in the grated beetroot for it not to need a dressing and it was absolutely delicious.

Gosh I feel as though I'm late to a party with this one, it's funny how you can so easily get into a routine way of doing things.  Now discovered it will be a regular on our salady menu ... well at least until we run out of beetroots  :-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Day 237 - Stocked Up for the Rest of the Year

 Money Spent Today - £0
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - £40.00
Money Spent in Total - £320.92
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £279.25
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - £7.79

Well  that's us stocked up in coffee and butter hopefully until the end of the Challenge, and perhaps even beyond!!

I did exactly as I said I would and drove to Sainsbury's to do this bulk shop with some of our Nectar points and to use the coupon that would give me £2 worth of Nectar points to use next time I shop there.  It's astounding to realise that to get 400 Nectar points I would normally have had to spend £400 ... so it's well worth using these coupons when you get them.

Unfortunately, as you can see if you click on the photos (it makes them bigger) I totally forgot to hand in the coupon that would give me all these extra points.  I didn't realise until I went to get some petrol from the Sainsbury's garage and it was still there in my purse.  So I drove straight back round the roundabout and into Sainsbury's carpark and went over to the customer services desk...

... where the kind lady put them onto my card for me.

We still have one of these coupons but as I bought with Nectar points I couldn't use it, so Lovely Hubby can take this back with him to work next week and use it when he buys something from his local Sainsbury's.  

To quote a completely different supermarket ... every little helps!!  ;-)

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Day 236 - Spending Wisely

Lovely Hubby got this Sainsbury's coupon when he bought fuel last week, and for once it's one I can use.  I need to stock up on coffee and butter we are halfway down the last jar of Nescafe coffee and have just one pack of butter in the freezer to use after the one I have just thawed out.  So I went on to check the prices in the supermarkets.  

It turns out that the Nescafe decaf coffee that I drink is not on offer anywhere but the good news is that Lurpak, our favourite brand of butter (and the only one we eat) is on offer at Sainsbury's.

It's always worth checking.

Today is a No Spend Day 
... but now I'm off to the shop.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Day 235 - A Free Drink

Yesterday we had a most delicious drink, cooling and thirst quenching sat on the bench outside the house, on a hot, humid and for Lovely Hubby, hard working day.

And it was totally free!

Do you remember last month when I did the post about our favourite cake Rhubarb Upside Down Cake and one of the comments asked what I did with the drained juice from the cooked and cooled rhubarb.  Well usually I don't have more than a spoonful or two of liquid left over but yesterday when I made a cake with the rhubarb that I had cut for the Llanrwst Show I decided to add a little bit more water than usual.

When I drained the rhubarb over a bowl while it cooled and I made the cake batter, (for the recipe click on the link that is the cake name) I did have more rhubarb juice as planned.  So I split it between two glasses added a good handful of ice cubes as it was still quite warm, and topped it up with sparkling water.

Delicious, and you've got to love something for nothing haven't you ... especially when it's as tasty as that was.  Luckily there's more rhubarb left so I can do it all over again  :-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Day 234 - Leftover Potatoes

Even though we have lots of potatoes I don't waste them if I cook too many, and when I had some over from my tea the other night I put them in a bowl in the fridge to give me inspiration for the next nights meal ... I like to have a starting point there for me.

I picked a few peas from the plants in the net tunnel, and realising that they were really not enough to bother cooking on their own and could so easily have disappeared as a snack on the way back to the house, I remembered my potatoes and decided to add the two together.

So with a tin of mackerel fillets from the cupboard ...

... an egg yolk for dipping purposes and some breadcrumbs from the freezer ...

... I turned my leftover potatoes into two pretty large fish cakes.
(One broke as I was breadcrumbing it, hence the funny shape.)

The funny shaped one for tea last night ... and the other is for tea tonight while Lovely Hubby has a steak from the freezer.  I think they will be served with some homemade spicy wedges ... a good use of some more of the potato stash.

Today is a No Spend Day

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Day 233 - Something for the Weekend .....

Money Spent Today - £1.96 
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £320.92
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £239.25
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - £7.79

We needed some milk for the weekend.  It would have been ridiculous to drive all the way to Sainsburys or M&S and anyway would have meant buying something we did not even need just to get the value of the Nectar point allowance or to the full value of a M&S voucher ... so as I was passing Tesco I just went in there.  I decided to go mad and buy Lovely Hubby some salted peanuts as well, he loves them sprinkled on his salads.

Milk £1.00
Salted Peanuts 2 bags x 48p  = 96p

So my purchase was all cash and has reduced the money left in my purse to just £7.79.  It doesn't worry me, in fact it makes me smile.  This isn't a hair shirt type of challenge it is just a challenge to see how we manage, and one day pretty soon I guess the figure will go into the minus state and then keep on going down and down until the end of the year.

Don't fret though, even when we're in the negatives the Challenge will still carry on.  We need to know our eating habits through each of the four seasons of the year so we can continue to plan for the future and work out a realistic living budget to allow ourselves.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Day 232 - Potatoes

(Pictures from Google Images.)

From now on most of our meals will be served with, or will consist of potatoes!!

I have just dug up another few kilos of our 'Estima' potatoes from both the polytunnel, where they were in pots, and from the Veggie Patch where they were high on the hillside.  I needed five pretty similar potatoes for the Llanrwst Show on Saturday and got a bit carried away with my unearthing of them in my pursuit of matching spuds.  They will all need to be dug up soon though so no real harm done.

There are rather a lot of them though so it will be one potato, two potato, three potato four .... for the foreseeable future.

Potatoes will be cooked every which way.

Today is a No Spend Day 
... and I most certainly do not need to buy any potatoes  ;-)

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Day 231 - Massive Fail

I've read lots of recipes on line for ways to use Aquafaba, or bean water.  

It's simply the water from a can of beans, usually the recipes state they have used chickpea water.  It can be used to replace eggs in lots of recipes and there are myriads of photos of perfect looking meringues made with it on the internet.   So last time I was making a Quinoa, Chickpea and Potato Curry I drained the chickpeas over a bowl instead of the sink.

As suggested in the meringue recipe I started whisking the liquid up with my hand whisk, it was splashing everywhere, so I pulled off a large sheet of clingfilm and covered most of the dish with it, keeping it taut and away from the spinning whisks ... I bet you've guessed what happened next, my attention was diverted by something the dogs were up to and I took my eyes off what I was doing for a split second, long enough for the whisks to catch the clingfilm and tangle it up around themselves and in the process splatter half whisked bean and sugar water all over the kitchen.

You don't realise how many things you have on the worktops until you have to wipe everything down with a wet cloth.  But Suky loved licking the mixture off the front of the cupboards while I was wiping all the other surfaces first.

I tipped the remaining mixture into my freestanding Kenwood mixer and left it whisking away while I completed the kitchen clean up and then I went in the cupboard to get the Cream of Tartar needed for the recipe ... no Cream of Tartar anywhere ... bum!!

So I thought what's the next best thing ..... so I added instead the same amount of Baking Powder and continued whisking away.  The mixture instantly transformed and suddenly looked very meringue like and I happily dolloped it in eight large mounds on a lined baking tray and popped it into the bottom oven of the Aga.

I finished cleaning the kitchen and retired to the living room with a coffee, with the house gradually starting to smell very meringue-y and nice.  When the timer went off an hour later I couldn't wait to get to the oven and take out my nice crispy chewy and almost free meringues.  

When I opened the door I was greeted with a sticky puddle of aquafaba filling the whole of the baking tray ... my meringues has dissolved in the heat instead of setting  .... massive fail.  

I'll try again using Cream of Tartar next time ... because guess what I've just found in the basket I keep my spices in!!

Today is a No Spend Day

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Day 230 - A Daily Harvest

The reason I'm not shopping very much at the moment, I've only shopped once up to now this month and it's already the 17th, was brought home to me yesterday morning.  

I tend to do all my chores early in the morning while it's still nice and cool, things like cleaning out the henhouse, a bit of daily weeding so I can add the weeds to the compost bin along with the chicken house waste, watering anything that's looking thirsty etc.  

Then I go round the Veggie Patch and the tunnels and pick anything that looks like it should be picked.  If you regularly pick from your beans, peas, courgette and tomato plants it encourages the plant to produce more and that's what we really need.  I don't do a big pick just enough to use that day and the next and occasionally some excess to freeze but it soon adds up.  This photo is of yesterday's early pickings and includes the three eggs that were already in the henhouse by 9am.

The blueberries were open frozen and have now been added to the huge tub we have in the freezer, the plants have been very prolific this year, they obviously love it in the net tunnel.  The tomatoes are in a little dish by the kettle and get snacked on during the day, any left at teatime get added to my meal, along with other things that I have harvested over the course of the day.

So it explains to me why I've not needed to shop much, and it's really helping documenting all this on this blog, so we can plan the extras that will always need purchasing, things like rice, pasta and flour which along with the harvests make up the rest of our meals.

Today is a No Spend Day

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Day 229 - Simple Suppers

On these hot, busy Summer days it sometimes means that I have little appetite for a cooked evening meal when I come back into the house, and I'm often to be found rummaging through the freezer for a bread roll or two. There are only a couple of rolls left now so I think need to get baking again.  It's about time my bread making skills were put back to good use instead of buying so much bread.

Last night I used the last of my Falafels and added salad from the polytunnel and a good splodge of homemade mayonnaise, a simple and cooling Summer's day supper eaten at my desk while catching up on emails and blog comments in the cool of the office.

Tomorrow I think I'll make a loaf or two ... or maybe even some more bread rolls, I've never been able to master really soft rolls though so I think I'll do a bit of reading around my cookbooks for a good recipe.

Today is a No Spend Day

Monday, 15 August 2016

Day 228 - This Week's Soup

This week's soup for my lunches is Potato and Leek.

I had lots of partially slug damaged potatoes so I cut out all the good bits and made something from them ... waste not want not and all that.  I've sprinkled a good few slug pellets on the remaining potato beds and it seems to be having the desired effect, lots of little bodies and slimy trails, so hopefully the next batch that I dig up should not be as affected - fingers crossed.

I'm also into fried eggs on toast for breakfast at the moment, quick, simple and very, very tasty.  
All this plate is lacking is a smiley face  :-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Day 227 - My 8p Tesco Shop

Money Spent Today - 8p 
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - £14.00
Money Spent in Total - £318.96
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £239.25
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - £9.75

After a whole thirteen days of not shopping I decided to had to venture out and have a mooch around the shops.  Lethally I did it on an empty stomach .... and we all know what that can lead to ...and instead of just buying the sparkling water that I went for I bought this little lot.

It's not the end of the world although ALL my Tesco vouchers have now been spent.  While I was there I noticed that the tissues I like best were reduced to half price, £1 a pack instead of the usual £2, so I decided to use my manufacturer's coupon and stock up with three boxes.  So £6 worth of tissues for a big fat zero spend.

I bought the 'seasoning/cook in the bag' sachets for chicken as they were reduced from £1 each to just 25p and we have a big bag of chicken portions in the freezer that would benefit from a more unusual flavour for a change.

The Falafels were just an empty stomach thing, I had them on a couple of buns when I got home with some salad from the polytunnel.

I lost the receipt, so I did this from memory and from prices on the packs when I got home, I had to  check the jam sugar price on the mysupermarket site as I wasn't sure, but I did have it right.  I don't know where the receipt went I'm usually so careful with it these days.  I guess I'm out of practice after not shopping for nearly two weeks ... well that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it  ;-)

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Day 226 - The Coupon, Voucher, Points and Cash Stash

I decided to tip out all the coupons, vouchers and cash from my purse, and look up online to see how many Nectar points I have left to use to see what my grand total of available spending power is.  It has to last me for the next few months, well for as long as possible really.  The next time there will be any vouchers through the post will be November, and there's a lot of eating to do until then.

As you can see from the top photo I have -

£52 in M&S vouchers
£11 in Tesco clubcard vouchers
and a £3.50  Holland and Barrett voucher

My coupons are a 'luck of the drawer' Tesco coupon, a £3 manufacturer's coupon to be spent on tissues, toilet rolls etc (I got this by writing to have a sort of semi complaint and pointing out a fault with the Andrex Moist Tissues that I had).  And three Pets at Home coupons.  Usually I can't use the '£5 off a £50' shop coupons as I rarely spend that much at once, but this month the dogs and Ginger are all on the verge of running out of food so I think I will restock and get a total of £6 off.  (The dogs eat the James Wellbeloved food that the additional £1 coupon is off.)

I have a total of £45.19 in Nectar points.

And of course there's the £9.83 in cash.

So there's not a huge sum and I'm going to have to be careful how I spend what I have, and I think some careful maths will be the order of the day as I shop, so that I can spend the vouchers wisely and not have to top up with too much cash.

Today is a No Spend Day

Friday, 12 August 2016

Day 225 - Simple Supper

Some days there's nothing to beat a nice simple supper that virtually cooks itself in the time it takes me to tidy up the kitchen and wash the dogs bowls.

Last night I had some brown spaghetti and a quick sauce made from gently fried red onion with a crushed clove of garlic and some quartered cherry tomatoes ..... all homegrown.  At the last minute I added a sprinkle of chilli flakes, a dash of bottled lemon juice and a jar of salmon paste from the cupboard.  Yes, good old fish paste from a little jar.  It goes great with pasta, a lesson I learnt from Jack Monroe on her blog many moons ago.  

Did anyone see her on 'Inside the Factory' the other night, cooking from tins and making a lovely two course meal for pennies.  Brilliant stuff.

My supper was delicious, bursting with flavor and an easy supper to eat in front of a bit of catch up television.  I'm afraid I'm not a fan of the olympics or any sport for that matter.  In fact I would go so far as to say I am pretty much sport phobic, so thank goodness for our Freesat box and it's stash of films that I am slowly working my through.  The one I watched last night I had recorded in May last year!!

Today is a No Spend Day

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Day 224 - Yay ... More Coupons

Yay .... the M&S coupons came, a lovely £22 worth.  

This will be the last lot until November of this year and thankfully we've got a decent amount, helped this time by purchasing the guttering, downpipes, roof stuff and paint for the house repairs and renovations all on the M&S card.  And of course paying it off at the end of the month from the money we had saved in the bank for doing this major house work, M&S get NO interest money from me and I have the end of year statements to prove it!!

We always negotiate us paying for any supplies for building or major works that we have done separately from the labour charges, as unlike lots of the smaller companies we use for jobs on our property we are VAT registered and can claim the VAT back through our company, saving us a whopping 20% on all jobs done.  We do have to pay a big VAT bill sometimes though so it's swings and roundabouts!!

I always make use of these coupons too, even spending small amounts on food getting triple points helps towards the next quarters coupons.

I've not used any of these this year though, as there have been no clothes or home things bought.

Now I need to do a proper 'stocktake' of the coupons, vouchers, cash and points I have available and work out how best to use them.

Today is a No Spend Day

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Day 223 - A Good Pan of Soup

I always like to have a big pan of soup in the fridge, it means an almost instant lunch any day of the week and I don't like to have to stop for too long faffing about in the kitchen at lunchtime.  I find once I come in and stop thinking about the jobs that need doing outdoors I  struggle to want to go back out.

So it's much better to just get a couple of ladlefuls of soup from the pan in the fridge into a bowl, pop it in the microwave for a quick reheat and then slurp away for ten minutes over my latest magazine. My gardening subscription magazines are great for keeping me in the right frame of mind for getting back out there  :-)

And of course at the moment the soups are virtually free of charge as I just use all the thinnings from the polytunnel, a few outer leaves of cabbage, kale or chard, an onion from the string in the conservatory and a garlic clove or two from the bowl of non-stringable garlic that sits on the worktop.  The only thing I add that I've paid for is usually some vegetable bouillon as I like the depth of flavour this adds to the finished soup.

This photo is this weeks soup which is delicious and has lots of carrots in it.  I think next weeks will be potato based as we now have LOTS of potatoes  :-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Day 222 - Taking Stock of Coupons

I decided to 'stocktake' the coupons yesterday after the Tesco ones arrived last week and I went to put them into my purse.  I do have quite a haul.  

I'm not making any fixed plans for them yet as I know there are some M&S ones due sometime this month and then I will know what I have to last me until the final coupon delivery of the year in November.

So in my purse at the moment I have £44.50 worth of coupons and of course my £9.83 in cash.

Thank goodness I have a fridge that is literally full of vegetables over from the weekends flower show and a very large pan of soup made from polytunnel trimmings.  Well that's my meals for this week taken care of with no trips at all to the supermarket.

Today is a No Spend Day

Monday, 8 August 2016

Day 221 - Eating the Prizewinners

There's only one thing to do the day after winning an award for your marmalade and chutney isn't there?

So yesterday's breakfast was a couple of bagels discovered in the drawer of the upright freezer accompanied by a good spreading of prize winning Orange Marmalade.   

Then after a few hours of pottering in the polytunnel and on the Veggie Patch for me, and knocking fence posts in round the old Chicken World for Lovely Hubby, it was cheese, salad and Green Tomato Chutney buns for lunch.

A delicious day, made all the more sweet by someone else recognising the quality of the homemade produce :-)

Today is a No Spend Day