Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Day 152 - Bank Holiday Weekend Shopping

Money Spent Today - 78p   Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - £5.00
Money Spent in Total - £240.14
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £113.25
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - £88.57

We've never been ones for dashing out and stocking up for Bank Holidays, the odd extra bottle of wine, bag of crisps and some chocolate used to be the norm.  But these days we barely eat crisps, have cut right down on alcohol and we haven't had a block of chocolate in the house for I don't know how long.

So a sliced loaf, a bottle of milk and some salted peanuts to sprinkle on salads were all that was on my Bank Holiday weekend shopping list .... and as we have lots of vouchers for M&S and we were passing there anyway that's where we got them from.

Back tomorrow with the end of month round-up.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Day 151 - More Free Seeds

July's edition of Kitchen Garden magazine thudded satisfyingly onto the doormat the other day, bringing with it even more free seeds ... and of course the now obligatory for the photograph free elastic band.  I have quite a collection, of free seeds and elastic bands ;-)

After spending virtually the whole of yesterday in the polytunnel sowing seeds, potting on tomato seedlings and planting out cucumbers it's nice to know that I have enough seeds to keep me this busy for the whole of this year, next year and potentially a couple of years after that with some of the seeds that I have in stock.

I think this subscription (that I thought was about to run out but seems to be coming and coming, I'm now wondering if I paid for two years and not just one!!) is one of the best things I did last year.

More sowing of seeds needs to be done today, the Spinach and Kale plants that we used all through last year and are still using both for us and the chickens is determined to go to seed, meaning that the plants are desperate to hand over to the next generation.  So I need to get a fresh tray full of seedlings to replace them in the next month or so.

To me each packet of free seeds is more food in the larder, the freezer and most importantly our tummies and less food to buy from the shops.

Today is a No Spend Day

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Day 150 - Homemade Goodies

We are really trying not to buy any sweet treats at the moment, but stopping cold turkey is never easy and there's no reason why they should even be off the menu completely as long as we are both sensible, and of course making things for yourself means that the amount of sugar in any sweet treats can be reduced to more reasonable proportions.

So with all this in mind I have recently once again gone back to baking after a bit of a break.  This weekend's treat was a tin of oaty biscuits ... and very tasty they were too.  

The weekend is far from over but the tin is already empty!!

Today is a No Spend Day

Day 149 - Computer Woes

Lovely Hubby accidently deleted a driver from the computer and it refused to work without it,  For now we are temporarily fixed with a cable instead of our usual Wifi until he works his magic and gets things back to normal.

So Saturday was a no computer day .... 

as well as a  No Spend Day  :-)

Friday, 27 May 2016

Day 148 - How to Have a One Egg Breakfast

Take one egg ....

... compare it for size against the eggs we normally get.

Weigh the ordinary sized egg ...

.... compare the weights .... yes just as I thought almost twice the weight!
4 oz = 113 grams

Crack the whopper into a bowl, and just as I expected it was a double yolker.  
We have one of the ladies that seems to specialise in these, we got at least one a week.

Add the egg to the melted butter in the pan and cook slowly ... they taste so much better that way.  Drop the tomatoes you haven't already eaten into the pan for the last couple of minutes of cooking time.

Serve on a single slice of seeded brown bread.


Today is a No Spend Day

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Day 147 - I Don't Even Know What I've Got.

The little jar that used to contain the quinoa had been sat on the shelf empty for quite a while.   I used the last of it's contents making a Quinoa, Chickpea and Potato curry from my Deliciously Ella book  the other week  (it was delicious by the way)  then I downsized something else into this jar.  I always think less air in jars means that the contents last longer, so downsizing is a regular occurrence here both with my jars and the boxes in the freezer.

I wasn't going to buy any more for a while, intending to get stuck in to using up the vast amount of rice we have in store ... one big jar each of brown rice and Basmati rice.  But I was missing quinoa, I had sort of got it into my head that when I go to M&S armed with one of my vouchers to pick up some milk this weekend I would get another bag of quinoa and try to use it alongside, or indeed with, the rice.

Then lo and behold I was in the cupboard for something completely different and I slid out the basket on the top shelf, and look what was in it ... three things that I was convinced I had used the last of.  This just goes to prove to me all the more that I need to get the contents of the cupboards organised enough and with just the things we use regularly, that way I will know at a glance what we have and what we need to buy when we venture out to the shops.

Now it's been decanted into a little jar, I do prefer my dried goods in jars once they have been opened, apart from looking nicer and keeping fresher you can see straight away what you have,

Today is a No Spend Day

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Day 146 - Simple Food

I was pondering the other day over why it seems to be taking sooooo long for the contents of the kitchen cupboards to go down, and I realised it's because we both tend to prefer and eat really simple food.

So I looked at a  typical days menu.

Breakfast is usually egg based, poached, scrambled or fried either on a slice of toast or with tomatoes and sometimes a slice or three of bacon for Lovely Hubby.

A bowl of homemade soup, with virtually all its ingredients from the polytunnel or the veggie patch will make up most lunches, and then our tea, usually eaten when all chores for the day have been completed and we are both cleaned up,  can be something like a homemade quiche put together with our own hens eggs and a handful of grated cheese from the freezer, served with salad or vegetables again from the polytunnel (or from the freezer from last years polytunnel stash).  Or simply a bowl of pasta with one of our own jars of tomato based sauce again from last years tomatoes from the polytunnel, with something meaty either on the side or mixed in for LH.

So I think the only way to consciously get the contents of the cupboards lower a bit more quickly is going to be to think outside of our comfortable eating box and mix it all up a bit.  Eat meals we haven't eaten for a while and reassess if they are the sort of meals we want to be eating again in the future, and if they aren't I simply won't buy the items again even if they are on special offer.

I've decided to start a Permanent Shopping List  listing the store cupboard items that we will carry on buying in the future, hopefully that way by the end of the year we will have a definitive list of things we need to purchase outside of those which we can produce ourselves.

Image result for simple food

I Googled 'simple food' images, and this was one of the images that came up .... not really my idea of simple food but each to their own!

Today is a No Spend Day

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Day 145 - Safely Stashed

The food I bought last week from M&S using none of my vouchers is now safely stashed in the freezer.  Just as space was appearing I've been and gone and filled it up!!  A bit of Mancunian talk there for you  ;-)

I don't know why I write the prices of each individual item in a box or pack of food.  I think I got into the habit a while ago when I was keeping tabs on the cost on individual meals.  But it's something that I guess is worth keeping up with just to keep tabs on prices.  

Things seem to be quite balanced in the shops at the moment with prices pretty stable.  But have you noticed how petrol and diesel prices are stealthily creeping up again ... and why they bother with the points as in £104.9 for a litre I have no idea ... they don't fool me for an instance, it's just the old £9.99 thing for  something that is in reality £10.

Today is a No Spend Day
... although I did have to buy petrol ... grrrrr

Monday, 23 May 2016

Day 144 - We Are Every Advertisers Worst Nightmare

We are turning into every advertisers worst nightmare!!

We record all the television programmes that we watch on our Freesat box so we can whizz through the adverts, something we only realised fully when we stayed at the holiday cottage a couple of weeks ago and didn't have the ability to do this.  Sitting watching the adverts then we kept saying Why!!  What!! and WTF!!

Yes ... a lot of exclamation marks but we were incredulous at some of the adverts and the things they were promoting .... how often do you really need to change your sofa, your carpet, your bed, how much junk food do you want your family to eat, how many takeaways is it even possible to eat in one week, how many toys can your children play with and do your really want to get your child one more computer game to keep them chained to their screens when the sun is shining outdoors.  

It made us realise how much we have pared back the things we buy, the things we use and the things we eat.

We don't dash out to fill the boot of the car with new household items every Sunday or Bank Holiday, the ones we have will stay with us until they are no longer able to fulfill their purpose.  We don't rush to join in throngs of folk at the first day of the sales ..... if we didn't want something at full price the chances are we still don't want it just because it's reduced. 

I open my subscription magazines when they arrive and out fall lots of advertising brochures, I don't read them at all they go straight in the recycling bin.  If I do want something I will sit and research what I need, and where I can find it for the best possible price.   I will not have someone else tell me that I need this thing or that item to live a happy and fulfilled life.  When I used to buy magazines at the newsagents or supermarket I could take these advertising leaflets out there and put them in the bin provided, if there was no bin I would leave them on the shelf where others had left theirs ... it was always nice to know I wasn't alone in doing that one :-)

Over the past few years we have both taken back something that advertisers are trying to whittle away at  ..... and that is control of our lives.  Why follow the pack when you can run free, with just what you need and enjoy life in a simpler and more meaningful way.

Today is a No Spend Day

Photographs on this post taken from Google Images.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Day 143 - Replacing Things ... or Not

I found this in the cupboard the other day and decided to have it for my tea with a veggie kiev type thing from the freezer.  It was okay, nice and spicy and a good sized portion ... perhaps it was meant for two but I managed it easily on my own, but it will not be replaced.  I can make something very similar myself with a few onions, herbs chopped vegetables and some spices added to a jug of Basmati rice, of which I have lots.

It's finding and eating this sort of thing from the depths of the cupboard that is the very purpose of this year long challenge.  What will we need in the future, what have been silly or impulsive purchases in the past that we can either do without or make ourselves, usually in a healthier and better way.  What do we like enough to replace ... and which ones will never cross our threshold again  

Some ready prepared foods will always have their place in my cupboards, and I'm using this year to find out which those are and not replacing the others.

Today is a No Spend Day

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Day 142 - Inspiration

I'm taking a little break from reading through my cookbooks to settle into a couple of inspirational books, two books that just happen to be my favourite reads of all time.

The Garden Cottage Diaries is the account by Fiona Houston of her year living in the eighteenth century (as it says in the subtitle of the book).  It's a fascinating read of how she ate, used and wore, pretty much all of the time, only things that were available then and did most of her travelling on foot.

Now that's a Challenge I admire!!

Strangely enough she did all this not far from Lovely Hubby's birthplace, and just outside the same village that my sister in law now lives in, Innerleithen which is in Peeblesshire, Scotland.

I say strangely because for years and years, way back when my boy were young this was one of my favourite books (and still is) and we've ended up living not far away from where Elizabeth West and husband had their home, and occasionally we shop in Llanrwst just the way she did.

Making the time to read my way slowly through my own books during this year of not buying any new ones, is one of the best bits for me.  It also means that the books that I bought either new or from car boot sales and charity shops that I decide are not worth keeping will make us some money when we sell them, and this cash will go towards paying off the mortgage and we will have more space on the bookshelves for the books that we do decide have earnt their place.

Today is a No Spend Day

Friday, 20 May 2016

Day 141 - I Didn't Make It Through May!!

Money Spent Today - £53.50  Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - £0
Money Spent in Total - £239.36
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £109.25
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - £89.35

The day started so well.  I nipped into Tesco as I was getting fuel for the car and bought a bottle of milk for £1.10.  Then I went onto Llandudno to run some errands ....

.... and lost the plot completely!!

I went in M&S to see if there was anything we needed for the weekend with this weeks remaining £5 voucher.  Browsing the shelves is dangerous .... I spotted our favourite salmon fillets on special offer.  Somehow four packets of them ended up in my basket then I remembered I had a 'get £3 worth of points on a £50 shop' coupon in my purse and decided I might as well make it up to the £50, so I added fish in batter and some chicken in breadcrumbs (they were on a '3 for £10' offer), some sliced meats and some of our favourite 'travel' sweets to the basket.

My bill came to £52.40 !!

Total madness!!   I must have been on another planet because I wasn't wearing my Make It Through May hat at all.  I had a brief thought that I could just stash the shopping in the freezer and keep my mouth shut ..... but that lasted all of five minutes.  I couldn't cheat or mess this Challenge up now, it would just be cheating myself and not teaching us anything about our spending habits for next year.

Of course I had to use my M&S card to pay for the shopping to qualify for the offer, so I will be putting the cash from the Challenge tin straight into the bank ready to pay it off next month.

The only good thing to come out of this was a £5 off a £35 spend, to be used before the end of the month.  So I will have to make use of this to grab back some of the cash I spent in such a willy nilly fashion.  It's irking me no end that I have fallen into their trap not once but twice!!

And of course I totally forgot to use the two vouchers that I did have in my purse  :-(

Not my best day, and shock, horror the cash in the Challenge tin has now fallen to less than a hundred pounds.  I have some serious scrimping and saving to do if this Challenge is not going to limp to a sad end before July.

Today I Shopped
and I did NOT Make It Through May  

It's time to brush myself down and make a real effort to get back on track ..... somehow.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Day 140 - Freebies

I forgot to mention that while I was in Llandudno running errands, and buying the M&S shopping the other day, I nipped into Asda to spend my Linda McCartney £3 voucher.

Before I left I had gone onto the mysupermarket.com website to see which of the supermarkets had them at the best price and Asda won my spend.  They were on offer at £1.50 a pack, as were the sausage rolls and all the other Linda McCartney products ... but I wasn't going to risk buying any more pastry covered things.

I thought I had a pack of ready rolled shortcrust pastry in the freezer that I was going to use to make some of my own sausage rolls, but it turns out I must have used it and forgotten to cross it off my freezer inventory, so now it's crossed off and I will make some pastry myself if and when I fancy a sausage roll.

I must get into the habit of crossing things off the inventory every time we use something or we are going to be very disappointed in few months when we think there is lots to choose from when in fact the freezer is bare ;-)

Today is a No Spend Day
and I will Make It Through May

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Day 139 - Back on the Menu

After my tomato purchase of yesterday my favourite breakfast is now back on the menu.

As I was scrambling the eggs this morning and popping some of the tomatoes in my mouth while stirring, I suddenly realised this breakfast will be totally free in the next few weeks.  Our own tomatoes and our own free-range eggs.

My tomato plant seeds were free from First Tunnels when I put in the order for the netting from the net tunnel (you get a free packet of seeds with every order off them, I must have about half a dozen packets in my seed drawer), and our eggs are free to us as the cost of production is covered by the eggs we sell.

Today is a No Spend Day
and I will Make It Through May

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Day 138 - Shopping at Marks and Sparks

Money Spent Today - 80p  Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - £10.00
Money Spent in Total - £185.86
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £109.25
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - £142.85

I needed to shop today ... I had to have a tomato fix ;-)

I think I did quite well considering it was M&S prices, to get this little lot for £10.80 wasn't too bad.  I just used two of my available £5 vouchers, I could have spent three of them as this is the third week of the month, but I didn't need anything else. 

So I still have this weeks £5 voucher and £1.20 in cash that I can spend before the weekend, leaving the final voucher and pound coin for next week.

The Make It Through May Challenge s going great guns and is really helping the cupboard supplies and the freezer stocks go down.

I shopped ... 
but I will Make It Through May

Monday, 16 May 2016

Day 137 - More Vouchers

The latest lot of M&S vouchers landed on my doormat last week.  The amount we get is definitely going down, but £22 worth of vouchers ... or as I see them 'free food' is not to be sniffed at.

I have added them to the vouchers that I have remaining, and I will continue with the just the four £5 vouchers that I have in my purse for the month of May.

The new arrivals are now with the remaining vouchers clipped to the noticeboard and will be put in my purse when May is over.  It's very satisfying to know that I have £70 of 'free food' coming soon and the Challenge can carry on  :-)

Today is a No Spend Day
and I will Make It Through May

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Day 136 - Last Tomato Eaten

I need to go shopping I have just used the last of the tomatoes!!

I love tomatoes and usually grab them like sweeties whenever I go into the fridge. It's quite ironic that I will be nipping out tomorrow to buy some fresh supplies with this weeks (and last weeks) M&S voucher as I have just been potting up over thirty tomato plants in the polytunnel ... and that's just of one variety, there are lots more coming along of other types.  My aim is to grow lots this year and turn them into sauces and soups .... if I don't eat them all straight from the plants that is!

Actually I have just realised that on Monday I will have three of my £5 M&S vouchers available to spend as it will be the start of the third week of this Challenge!!

Roll on the free tomatoes :-)

Today is a No Spend Day
and I will Make It Through May

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Day 135 - Temptation?

It's ironic that just as I am slowly but surely sorting through my clothes and whittling things down to a manageable P333 that this Boden catalogue should come through the post and land with a thud on the doormat.

I get annoyed when it arrives every few months as I have never, ever ordered or bought any Boden clothes other than at a charity shop, where did they get my details?  I think I'll send the next one straight back to them, but I opened this one and had a browse of the pages.  There were some very nice clothes for some very nice prices, but I was not in the least bit tempted.

The sorting is going well there is a stack of clothes about three foot high ready for the car boot sale ... although admittedly about a third of them are big wooly jumpers ... let's hope the first car boot sale we do is on a chilly day, it's the only way you can get folk to buy jumpers at this time of year  ;-)

Today is a No Spend Day
and I will Make It Through May

Friday, 13 May 2016

Day 134 - Books

One by one I am reading my way through my books.  

It's going to take some time, but during this year of not buying books I feel I am slowly but surely starting to make inroads into them.  

Some of them I have whizzed through, like the cook books I have picked up from car boot sales, bought because a cover caught my eye or just because who can say no to a glossy hardback cookbook for 20p ( I'll give you a clue .... not me!!), maybe copied a few things out of them and then added to my car boot sale pile, others I have realised how much I love and I have taken my time over, these are the ones have been placed back on the book shelves.  

I am trying to list all the books I read on the sidebar of this blog to give myself an idea of how many books I can read in a year, but I can't for the life of me remember the name of the fiction book I took on our weekend away.  It was a good read but not good enough to keep and I added it to the bookshelves of the cottage for someone else to read.  If I think of the title I will add it later on  :-)

I don't think I need to worry about running out of reading material this year .... or any year after for that matter.

Today is a No Spend Day
and I will Make It Through May

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Day 133 - Clothes

As it says in the title of the blog, this year is not just about not spending money on food but it's also about living 'without clothes' .... not going naked as the title might suggest, (brrrr .... it's much too cold on Welsh hillside for that!!) but not buying any over the course of the year.

I have taken part in Courtney Carver's Project 333 on and off since December 2012, (see HERE for my original blog post about it), and I think it's about time I got stuck in and did it again.  The main reason is that I currently have all my clothes mixed up together, some Winter, some Summer, some in boxes some in drawers and a portion of them hanging in the wardrobe.

It would really help me to go through everything and get back to a fixed number for this year of not buying any more clothes, to see exactly what I do already have.  One of the main reasons I enjoyed doing P333 is that you get to wear a selection of your favourite clothes over and over again, and by the time they are worn out you have really enjoyed having them and can look forward to replacing them with something fresh.

So it's time to get everything out of the drawers, cupboards and boxes and try and make it all make more sense, simplifying my mornings along the way .... and perhaps finding a few more things to pop into the car boot sale box.

Today is a No Spend Day
and I will Make It Through May

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Day 132 - Using up the Lasts

At the weekend I got the last of the shampoo bottle stash out of the cupboard in the bathroom and added it to the then half empty dispenser bottle ... it's filled it up almost to the top.  

Of course I then left the new bottle upside down and we have been using the dregs of it up since then, it's now Wednesday and I think there is enough for one more days hair washing ... it's a good job we both have short hair.  It will be interesting to see how long the shampoo that is in the dispenser will last us until I have to relent and buy some more.  I've never let it run right down before.

There have been some other 'lasts' over the past few days too.  For instance all the quinoa is now gone, and although I will buy some more for the jar eventually there is no rush.  Not having any means that other grains can be used in it's place.  It's oh so easy to add something to your shopping list the minute you get to the end or near to the end of a product, I want this year to be the one that makes me think twice and look for alternatives before dashing out to keep every jar on the shelves filled with the same products that get used regularly while other jars sit there permanently full of things we don't seem to use very often.

And that's what this year is all about seeing what we do need and what we don't and adapting our shopping habits accordingly.

Today is a No Spend Day
and I will Make It Through May