Frugal Fridays – Grocery Haul Special

The magical day is upon us – pay day at last! After sorting my other affairs, I took my £50 allocated for groceries out to Sainsbury’s.

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These are the rations I have purchased thus far. I thought it was silly buying more eggs, sugar and butter when I already have plenty of these things in stock. So I just purchased my bacon ration (Basics, £1.80), my cheese ration (Deli counter, £1.40), half of my sweets ration (Basics, 30p) and a third of my meat ration (Sainsbury’s own, £3). I already have some braising steak in the freezer too.

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This is my store cupboard all, various tins and boxes of long life stuff that has to last the month. This pile of goodies cost well under my target of £10.

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I filled up on fresh, as this is un-rationed and the best food for me! The root veg will soon be in a stew with the braising steak and I can do various things with the frozen mixed veg.

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Just two extras that I was in need of. I am certainly taking inspiration from rationing, but I’m not going without clean clothes.

 

All in all, it was a very successful trip. I managed to get everything on my list and the total cost was £26.57. That’s for everything you can see in the photos. I’m quite impressed by that actually. I will be able to feed myself for the foreseeable future for less than £30. If I need it, I’ve still got the remaining £23.43 to spend on the rest of the rations and fresh stuff, NO more store cupboard items.

I was talking to my mother during the week about rising food prices. But with a bit of forward planning and not budging from a list, I think you can still get good deals for your money. Do you agree? Or do you think certain foods are just too expensive? I must admit, if I was inclined to eat meat every day, I think I would struggle to stay in budget. Let the rationing meals commence!

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Lessons from the past

 

I love history as a topic. My favourite part about gazing into the past is examining how people went about their everyday lives, just what they got up to day to day. Second World War Britain is my favourite historical era for this reason. It’s all about the people.

I enjoyed studying Nazi Germany at A level, even though I flunked History as a subject. I came out with an overall D due to my abysmal mark on my Arab-Israeli conflict module. Tell me, how does one conclude an essay concerning a feud that is, unfortunately, still going on? I didn’t know the answer to that, but at least I still got to attend University. And I gathered knowledge on Hitler, Goebbels and the rest of the nasty Nazis.

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Poster in Imperial War Museum

            The chap and I have visited the Imperial War Museum and Churchill’s Wartime experience, both in London. I desired to visit both sites to possess more information on my chosen subject. I borrowed books from the library about the Home Front, even when I supposed to be studying for other things! Maybe that’s why I failed History A Level.

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Checking out the Andersen shelter in Churchill’s Wartime Experience

            Anyway, I have decided to use what I have learnt about the past to assist my current situation. During the war (and even more so post-war) thrifty values and a keen eye for a bargain were important for survival. This was the era of “make do and mend” and “waste not, want not.” I know I’m not the only one to see the correlation with our modern age. There is no money left to burn.

In order to stick to a budget with my groceries, eat healthily and become more creative as a cook, I have been researching rationing. I do not wish to trivialise what is clearly a struggling time for those who lived through it. I am merely taking inspiration from the past to help me with budgeting today. These ration books actually belonged to my great aunt and uncle and I consider them a great treasure.

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According to Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall in her book, The Ministry of Food (a brilliant charity shop find), a typical week’s rations for one adult reads as follows:

Bacon & ham 4oz

Butter 2oz

Cheese 2oz

Margarine 4oz

Cooking fat 4oz

Milk 3 pints

Sugar 8oz

Preserves 1lb every two months

Tea 2oz

Eggs 1 shell egg per week

Sweets 12oz a month

I then set about converting this into a measurement I could understand and combining/omitting certain products. My personal rations consist of:

115g bacon/ham

60g cheese

230g butter (encompassing all cooking fats and margarine, and allowing myself to use the olive oil in my cupboard)

230g sugar

60g tea

1 egg

350g sweets

Meat is a different matter as it was rationed by price, rather than by weight. But Jane F-W estimates the weight at approximately 1lb, which is 450g. So I shall also have 450g meat a week.

I shop at Sainsbury’s purely because it’s the closest superstore I can walk to. A month’s supply of my region would cost something like this:

Bacon/Ham – 450g Basics back bacon £1.80

Cheese – 250g block Red Leicester £1.78

Butter – 750g tub Countrylife Butter £3.90

Sugar – 1kg bag Silver Spoon Caster £1.49

Tea – Sainsbury’s Basics 27p

Eggs – Sainsbury’s Free Range medium eggs, 6 – because I won’t be having dried eggs and where can you buy just four eggs?

Sweets – Basics toffees (250g) and block of Basics dark chocolate (100g) 80p

= £11.44

On top of this would be my month’s supply of meat, taking advantage of Sainsbury’s 3 for £10 deal. Then there would be “the points system” – as many storecupboard items as I can get for £10. Plus £5 a week for fresh fruit and vegetables, as these were un-rationed. I will also continue to use up everything I have already got in stock, but I will not be purchasing extra because of this.

So my total grocery bill, according to this plan, would be £50 a month. That would be a big saving for me. At the moment, I’m constantly nipping in and out of shops looking for bargains (read: reduced labels). I think this would help get a few more pennies in the saving pot.

Do you think this is a good idea? Could you do it yourself? I know I’m not the only one to have this idea, as these three wonderful blogs show.

1940s Experiment

Rationing Revisited

Nellie B’s Wartime Rationing

I will be purchasing my rations on June 1st, otherwise known as payday. I think I will be creating a few interesting dishes towards the end of the month, but I’ll let you know how I get on. Wish me luck on this historical dietary experiment!

Frugal Fridays #3

1) Selling bits and pieces on eBay to make a tidy profit margin, even after forking out for postage! I’ve still got some clothing items for sale if you’d care to take a look. I’m hoping to get some electrical items that I no longer need on there, probably at the weekend. Any one on the hunt for an ipod?

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2) Getting a visit from the cheese fairy! My housemate works on the deli counter at Sainsbury’s and occasionally delivers parcels on cheese goodness to my fridge drawer. I’m not quite certain what I’ll do with this piece of feta yet. Me and the chap really love it on top of cottage pie.

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3) Some interesting reading. I have been forming plans on a new eating regime, based on the lessons of the past. I will posting about this in more detail on Sunday. I think rationing could just be the answer to eating frugally and healthy, my two main objectives.

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Not-so-frugal – Paying out £1.50 to get a bus home from work as I’m a big wuss and didn’t want to walk home in the horrendous weather. I need to toughen up to save pennies!

Broke

            The Channel 4 programme Skint has caught my attention recently. Much like BBC Three’s Growing Up Poor earlier in the year, this series is following the lives of residents of a council estate in Scunthorpe.

            The main reason I am enjoying the programme is due to the clever way that it engages with both sides of the story. The stereotypical notion is there for a reason. This week’s episode had a particular case that was frustrating. There was a girl the same age as me who already had five children, three different fathers. It is not for me to comment on the lifestyles other people have chosen, but it was the arrogance of this girl that riled me. She was complaining about not having enough money to buy formula due to her benefits being cut, but in the background of the shot was the most enormous TV. It was adorned with all of the latest gadgetry. How can people have such a warped perception of money that they purchase such expensive items when they can’t even afford to cater for the necessities?

            There seemed to be a dire lack of understanding concerning budget and “living within your means” for these people. They have no concept of cutting back in order to save money. It gets my goat that some people think it is their birth right to take handouts from a system that they didn’t contribute to. There was a lack of striving amongst the people featured, no sense of self-improvement. I wonder if this is a culture-led expectation within Scunthorpe.

            However, another girl on the programme should be commended. My heart strings twinged as this fifteen year old informed the cameraman that her daughter had been taken into care. It was horrible to see the sorrow that filled her eyes after being separated from her daughter, but she was brave enough to admit that her current situation wasn’t adequate to raise a child. There was a shining light at the end of the programme though, as she moved into her new flat. I do hope they do a follow up later on in the series.

            I will continue to watch the series as it shows just how much people can step up in the face of adversity and lead a comfortable life with next to nothing. But it also addresses stereotypes, not as fanciful imaginings, but based on real life people. There are people who would abuse the systems in place in this country that are designed to help people. Some people need assistance when they hit rock bottom, and they deserve it. Some people need to get off their leather sofas, stop being so dependant and use a bit of ingenuity to improve their lives and the lives of their children.

Frugal Fridays #2

This week’s Frugal Friday fun is foodie based. I will gladly change my food plan if I see something good on offer. And this was a very good offer.

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Braising beef, £2.24 for 400g! Very impressed with this bargain. It got thrown into my slow cooker with root vegetables, improvised stock made from gluten-free gravy powder and a bay leaf found in my spice box.

The results were delicious. I love having meals ready and waiting for the rest of the week.

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Costs:

Beef £2.24

Parsnip 25p

3x carrots 12p

Onion 23p

Pre-packed half swede 54p

olive oil/bay leaf/stock powder/seasoning – already in store cupboard.

Total cost = £3.38 Divided by 5 portions = 68p per portion! Can’t go wrong with a hearty stew 🙂

I was lucky with bargains on my last supermarket shop actually. I prefer to use butter when baking and cooking because you can understand the ingredients list, compared to some of the chemical-ridden margarines. Countrylife butter was on offer, 750g for £3. Sainsbury’s own brand butter, you would have to pay £4.50 for the same amount. This will last me the month, if not longer.

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And because I’ve learnt to read use-by dates with a pinch of salt, I got a dozen eggs for £1.96. That’s even cheaper than the Farmer’s Market! They are free range eggs from some fancy farm and made a delicious omelette for lunch. I’ll use these up in no time; omelettes, scrambled eggs, pancakes, cakes, cookies, lots of possibilities for a frugal cook’s best friend.

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I hope you’ve all managed to procure some bargains recently. Thanks to feedback from pipknits, I’ve made a proper “About” page. Do let me know what you think of it 🙂 I’m still learning about the ins and outs of WordPress, and I know there is definite room for improvement. Have a lovely weekend.

Ying and Yang

Today has been a perfect amalgamation of the two areas of my life.

I was on campus at 10am this morning to take part in a group session to discuss the ECP. The Extended Creative Project is the biggest part of my University degree, the big one, the one students all over the country pull their hair out over. Yup, it’s a big deal.

But the meeting this morning was very helpful concerning guidelines and advice. It’s a student-led project, so the more hours I put in, the more marks I shall get. It’s comforting in a way to know that it’s all on my shoulders. My own hard work should reap rewards. I was lucky enough to be allocated my first choice tutor, Judy Waite. She is a talented author who has several published works for children of all ages. Judy is the type of teacher who explains things in a very understandable manner. I find some creative writing tutors expand on their point more than is necessary. Treasure comes out of Judy’s mouth whenever she talks about writing for children, and I feverishly scribbled everything I could in my notebook this morning.

In our individual meeting later on, Judy was very positive about my proposed story. That was a huge confidence boost. I showed her the notebooks and art folders I had worked on ever since I was eleven years old. This is the story that has grown with me and the reason I chose to do this course at University. The story means a lot to me and I am determined to do it justice. I have a lot of hard grafting ahead, but I am looking forward to the adventure. I left the office beaming with the anticipation of the finished article.

After the writer inside of me was set upon an exciting new path, I came home to attend domestic matters. The laundry is complete; washed, tumbled and put away. I went grocery shopping and snared some bargains – more on Friday! And I spent the afternoon batch cooking an almost obscene amount of banana cakes/muffins. The chap had bananas that he said were destined for the bin. I rescued the brown blighters, mashed them up and popped them straight into cake batter. It’s a real heap of cakes – 27 to be exact. My part of the freezer drawer is well stocked and my cake tin is full to the brim. And that makes me smile too.

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It’s always bound to be a good day when I immerse myself in things that I enjoy. This morning, my head was swimming with runaway queens and dashing pirate captains. This afternoon, daydreams of baking and an upcoming beef stew took hold. It’s lovely when life correlates so perfectly.

5 Activities That Make Me Smile

1) Breakfast in bed. Just the act of placing a meal on a tray is a delightful flourish in itself. But then silently carrying it up the stairs, balancing it carefully as you ease back into bed and enjoy the meal is such a cosy position is a real joy. I love making little moments stand out. After all, it was only breakfast.

2) Organising stuff. Today has been the perfect drizzly Sunday to get certain things in order. I filed away the last of the Uni work, added some items on eBay (zero insertion fees!) and organised my thread boxes. Call me crazy, but I find jobs like that really satisfying.

3) Taking a walk in the sunshine. I know the clouds have rolled over today, but the recent sunshine isn’t a distant memory just yet. In this country, we have to enjoy nice weather when we can and cross our fingers that it comes back. I look forward to wearing my dresses sans tights again soon.

4) Taking a walk in the rain. Time with my chap is so special. Even though my clothes were damp by the time I arrived at work, the walk into town with my beloved, both of us huddled under an umbrella was heart warming.

5) Reading a book. I am one meeting away from being officially “free from Uni” and a whole heap of free time is soon to be unlocked. I shall keep up with my writing, naturally, but there will still be free periods where I can curl up under a blanket and read. I’ve already started writing down my reading list, listing books I want to have read by September.

Best of all, my five chosen activities don’t cost a penny. It’s the smallest things that make me feel so content. Here’s hoping your Sunday was equally as pleasant.