We’re having a cook-up

Since being in my new space and getting used to the new amenities, I have only spent fleeting time in the kitchen. But on my first day off, I knew it was high time for some serious bulk cooking. I needed to fill the fridge and freezer for the busy week ahead. I love spending time over the stove, stirring pots and throwing in various ingredients. It uses less power, ensures that no fresh produce goes to waste and saves time in the long run. Let’s just say, things got pretty inventive . . .

IMG_0324  These were my lunches for the past couple of days. It’s a concoction of savoury rice, taco-spiced onion and red pepper, and tuna. Sounds odd, but seriously tasty.

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Some times it’s necessary to have simple, cheap dinners occasionally so that I can afford really good meals at other times during the week. Although my supper on Thursday was simply mashed sweet potato and baked beans, it meant I had enough funds to buy necessary ingredients for a kickin’ chilli pot the next day.

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I will keep bulk cooking because it is the best way to cook on the cheap. Although I did get a reduced loaf of gluten-free bread this week, so it’s sandwiches aplenty for now. Nice to get a bit of variation going on.

Pros and cons

The best thing about living near the high street is the vast array of shops and not having to rely on one supermarket. The worst thing about living near the high street is the vast array of shops and not being able to rely on one supermarket.

            In my past life in Winchester, I would make a weekly pilgrimage to the giant Sainsbury’s nearby. I also knew what to expect, I could plan accordingly and I had to take or leave what was there. Occasionally, I would purchase items from stores in town or the farmer’s market, but most weeks, a single trip to Sainsbury’s was all I needed.

            Imagine my delight when I ventured into my new playground. That’s the best thing about living in a multicultural area, you get to purchase great food! There is also a charity shop every few paces and fantastic independent retailers selling everything under the sun. Stock changes on a daily basis and you’ll never know what’s going to be on offer at the greengrocer’s next. All of this is just a mere stone’s throw away, but that is where the conundrum lies. It’s far too tempting to pop into the shops when essentially, I don’t really need to. Products may be cheaper here, but I still have a budget.

            The first strategy I have employed is to stop carrying money. I had a snack, a water bottle and a fully charged mobile phone in my bag for work – there was no need for cash. This will stop me darting into shops at that perilous time of the day when I’ve just finished a shift and my tummy is rumbling.

            The next technique I plan to try is getting my cash out for the week and when it’s gone, it’s gone! I know several thrifty people who use this idea, and I’m going to try it out myself. That way, I can still enjoy touring the high street a couple of times a week, without overspending.

            It’s the balance of want and need and spend and save that I need to get accustomed to in this new environment. Got any tips? I would love to hear them.

Frugal Fridays #19

Moving to Southampton has been a costly affair. What with paying for the rental of the van, contributing to bills within the house and purchasing the necessary garments for my new job, my allowance for July has gone down shockingly during these past four days. But I have a wealth of frugal knowledge to call on, most of it gathered from a glorious selection of blogs. I know how to make the most of what I’ve got. So I was feeling confident as I stepped out to do my shopping with only £7.29 in my purse.

(I would like to throw in a disclaimer here to say I do have extra funds available if I ever did seriously run out of food. But this is a good chance to challenge myself.)

My first stop was the greengrocers, a new discovery of mine. The high street has an excellent greengrocers, stocked with all of the fruit and veg you could ask for. I made my selections carefully, making the most of the reduced section and came out with this haul all for £2.04! I handed over the exact change gleefully. I know I will become a regular customer at this shop.

My next destination was the huge Sainsbury’s at the end of the high street. Although it poses a menacing figure over the local shops and establishments, the area is still thriving. There is only one boarded up place along the entire road. So I didn’t feel too guilty about popping in to pick up some essentials.

I stocked up my cupboard with lots of Basics products. The rice packets are destined for lunch boxes, along with the tuna and sweetcorn. I know I can make good use out of everything I bought.

And one more trip on my thrifty shopping outing – to the library! I registered with the local library the day after I moved in and I’m so pleased I did. There wasn’t enough space to bring large supplies of books with me, so I’ll still be able to get my reading fix, for free!

In total, I spent £5.99. I came back with enough food to last me the week and two books to boot. A very successful outing, if I do say so myself.

I’m in!

It’s official, I have left my residence at Winchester. I’m now living and working in Southampton. I secured the job at a local supermarket and I start next week. I’ve had to pay out a fair amount recently to cover costs, so I’m back to some seriously thrifty activities! This is just a quick post to catch up, I hope to be blogging more comprehensively very soon.

New season, new shoes

I was out and about in town this afternoon, running errands (read: printing out lots of newly-revamped CVs). I granted myself a fifth of my recent earnings to purchase suitable summer clothing. The recent bout of warm weather has highlighted how inadequate my wardrobe is. My budget wasn’t large, so I concluded that the charity shops would be the best place to visit.

How wrong I was. The first two I ventured in displayed nothing I was interested in. The third had a ghastly smell throughout the whole store. In the fourth, I dared to try on a Monsoon kaftan dress, blue and silk and beautiful. This was more like it, I thought, as I turned the price label. It was nice sure, but £8.50 for a second-hand garment is too much in my book. The charity shops could not offer what I needed, so I headed to the place where the fashion is fast, the items won’t last a year and they charge the best prices. Got it in one, I went to Primark.

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Two pairs of summery sandals for £6. The black ones are perfect for peeking out beneath maxi dresses and skirts. The flip flops are for round the house and in the garden when we’re picnicking. They are exactly what I was looking for.

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I then scoured the New Look sales rails and found a white shirt, an item I’ve had on my wishlist for an age. My size and oh my, that price. I paid three pound coins and left the shop pleased as punch.

I know the ethics surrounding such fashion choices is shady. But when you’re saving up for a deposit on a new home, can you really afford to be picky? Or should morals stay intact whatever the cost? I’d love to hear about your clothing choices.

A simple mantra

Cos love is free and life is cheap

As long as I’ve got me a place to sleep,

Clothes on my back and some food to eat

Well I can’t ask for anything more.

The lyrics from this gorgeous Frank Turner song have been buzzing around in my head for the past couple of days. As I get ever closer to the next stage in my life, I like to keep this positive, simple belief in my mind. Everything will be ok. People move home and get new jobs every single day, there is no valid reason why I should be any different. I just keep plugging away at all the tasks that need completing before the end of the month. It makes sense to be productive, and it makes perfect sense to be frugal throughout this transition period. I’m needing to pay out for travel and various fees so that I can apply for jobs and visit potential homes. This means spending in other areas needs to be tightly controlled. Any money that can be saved is a bonus.

I’ve actually earned money this past week by hamster-sitting for my sister. I made £50 and my sister even bought me this darling gift from the Guinness Factory in Dublin. The retro print is perfect!

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It’s the perfect mug for winter time; hot chocolate, topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with marshmallows. I don’t know why that sumptuous image is in my head during a time of glorious heat. The weather is beautiful in Winchester today. The sun is high in the sky and a breeze is sweeping through. It makes it a lot easier to type up endless CVs when the weather is so grand. It’s the little things that lift my spirits and remind me what I’m working towards.

My morning oats

In my last post, it was a dinner meal that was being altered to fit the new season. But this time, I’m turning my attention to breakfast. I’ve always been a breakfast type of person, I’m definitely a fan. You know you get people who just aren’t breakfast people? Yeah, that’s not me. Ever since coming to University, my standard breakfast has been porridge, that good ol’ fashioned standby. I would say 80% of my breakfasts are porridge with some sort of fruit (strawberries/bananas/mixed berries). It’s a cheap, filling bowl of goodness – perfect.

But since the weather has taken a turn for the better, standing over the hob stirring hot milk isn’t appealing right now. But neither is paying out extortionate amounts for gluten-free cereal. The solution is simple; make the oats the star of the cereal bowl. Cold porridge doesn’t sound appetizing, but how about bircher muesli, overnight oats or oat cereal instead? Whatever label you want to give it, it tastes good.

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Add 4og of oats to 150ml milk (whatever kind of milk you choose) and place in the fridge for a good half hour, to forty minutes. This can be done overnight, but this was just how I prepared mine.

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Take out of the fridge, stir through fruit of your choice and serve. I’ve only tried it with strawberries so far (in season and oh so tasty) but I think it would work well with all summer berries.

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Cool, refreshing and yet still economical and satisfying. And it tastes even better when you sit outside in the sunshine listening to the birdsong. After all, that’s what summer is all about.