Frugal Fridays #21

Out of all possible meal scenarios of one day (elevenses, brunch, supper and midnight snack included), afternoon tea is my favourite. Not only is it an opportunity for cake-based delights and gallons of tea, it’s a chance to use all the delicate and beautiful china I’ve been hoarding collecting. It’s actually quite a thrifty meal, especially if you adhere to the following tips.

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Make your own sandwiches with whatever is in the fridge. Shop-bought sandwiches are never up to scratch. Plus, it seems counter-productive to specifically buy ingredients when you already have a selection in the house. The magic comes with how you cut them. I did fingers of cheese and pickle, triangles of raspberry jam and trimmed my cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches with a cutter. The two different breads I used were bought from the reduced section, not that my guest needs to know that!

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Make your own biscuits. Yes, my home made gingerbread does look quite rustic, but I was complimented on the flavour. I know scones are more traditional, but you can knock up biscuits with minimal ingredients, thus decreasing the cost. I also quite like the different texture biscuits bring to the table.

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If you do buy your cakes, try to get ones on offer. I ran out of time to bake my own, and I’m not entirely confident with gluten-free cake anyway. Luckily, these finger cakes were two packs for £3. Standard cakes are much cheap, and once you add a little garnish (like my raspberries), who would know the difference?!

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Afternoon tea is an indulgence, gosh yes, and by no means a necessity. But it is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in the company of a good friend.

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Frugal Fridays #20

I think the lesson at the top of the list for thrifty living is to readily accept free stuff. Not always, because some items will provide no use to you whatsoever. But if something comes along that you favour, or enjoy or can make use of, pride should not stop you from accepting free items. This edition of Frugal Fridays highlights all the lovely items that have come into my possession lately, for free!

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My housemate was clearing through her kitchen cupboard yesterday and pulled out this box of tea. It’s not one I’ve tried before, but seeing as tea is rationed, I saved it from the rubbish pile and snaffled it away.

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In another free stuff story, other housemates purchased a bag of potatoes this week. The supermarket had run out of loose potatoes, so they bought a huge bag instead. I found it a bit bizarre, seeing as they are only staying for a couple of days. But it meant good fortune as the remaining potatoes were gifted to me. My ration recipe books provide dozens of recipes for potatoes, as you can imagine, so these will go a long way I’m sure.

It’s two sides of a coin really. On one hand, I wish everyone was sensible and thrifty and didn’t waste unnecessarily. But on the other hand, I do benefit from other people’s flagrant behaviour. Is that bad?

In other frugal happenings, the chap returned from yet another adventure with yet another gift. I am now the proud owner of this exotic range of spices.

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I’m already imagining all the dishes that can be flavoured with this mix, but the one I’m particularly interested in is this one:

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Is Turkish Saffron different to regular saffron? I can see Paella happening in the near future.

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.

Frugal Fridays #18 – Online Grocery Shopping

I would deem my recent online shop with Asda to have been a success. I stayed within my budget, I selected a range of good value products and everything arrived without a hitch. After this experience, I would say that a large, online shop at the start of each month is beneficial to those of us living a thrifty lifestyle. I’ve compiled a post featuring my top five reasons for this. I do hope someone out there finds it useful.

Efficiency; You get what you need and only what you need. As long as you can resist clicking onto certain sections, the lure of temptation is far less. It’s a lot easier to ignore the siren song of unnecessary products when there are out of sight, compared to being blindingly apparent throughout conventional supermarkets.

Sticking to a budget; When I did my Asda shop, I was pleased to see a running total as I added each item into my electronic trolley. After I factored in the delivery cost, I had a clear view of my budget and how close I was to reaching it with each purchase. It was also easy to remove any items I no longer required, instead of walking across the store to return them.

Comparing items; I always want to get the best deals possible. By seeing the items on screen, I could judge which ones where the best value. I didn’t have to traipse up and down the aisles, squinting to see the £ per kg labels. For me, it also helps that I could see the ingredients list at a glance, rather than scouring the packet for the information I need.

Time-saving; All of the above points help to save time. Now, I’m normally willing to sacrifice a couple of hours to get a good job done. But by having access to all of the information, alongside a running total, my shop took less time than browsing a supermarket with a calculator in hand.

Also, it would have taken me two trips to my local supermarket to buy the same amount of groceries I did online. I don’t drive and I couldn’t physically carry £30 worth of produce. No time was spent travelling to and from the supermarket.

Variety; Like I mentioned, I don’t drive, so I’m somewhat limited to my choice of supermarkets. There is the big Sainsbury’s and . . . well, that’s it in practical walking distance. I could get a bus to get to Waitrose or Tesco, but by the time I’ve paid for a return bus fare, it’s more than the delivery cost from Asda.

By shopping online, I was able to get a variety of products. I’ve mostly relied on Sainsbury’s for the past two years, so it was pleasant to get some different items. I was delighted to see how reasonable Asda’s vast range of Free From products is. I’ve never had gluten-free cous cous before!

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There are, naturally, downsides to online shopping.

  • At Asda, you have to spend a minimum of £25 plus delivery, which is a considerable outlay.
  • You don’t get to browse reduced stock.
  • You don’t get to choose your own loose fruit or veg, so you are reliant on the integrity of the shopper.
  • Substitutions are offered in place of certain unavailable items. I was lucky this week, receiving 4 pints of milk instead of the 2 I ordered. But I have seen this go the other way.

Overall, I think a substantial top-up shop at the beginning of the month is a good idea. It gives you a chance to fill the cupboards with supplies you can fall back on towards the end of the month. Shopping online every week is out of my price range and my needs. I don’t get through £25 groceries every week. But I can see how this would be a valid option for families.

What do you think of online shopping? Yay, or nay?

Frugal Fridays #17: Grocery shopping tip

No matter how much I squeezed it, the five pound note in my purse was only going to stretch so far. I did the normal scramble around my room in search of loose change, but as I’m always prudent with my money, this only yielded 20p. Then, I remembered Belle, of Beauty and the Beast fame.

In our first semester in this house, contributions were added to the Belle-shaped moneybox to purchase household items. Now we have a new system whereby each of us is responsible for a different item. My job, for example, is to maintain supplies of washing up liquid and sponges.

“Is there any money left in Belle?” I asked my house mate.

“No idea, no one’s checked for ages,” said she. “Have a look.”

The content of the moneybox was £1.20, all in silver and copper coins.

“Oh, that’s not real money.” The housemate said with a sigh.

“Do you mind if I have it then?”

Yes, it was cheeky, but if you don’t ask than you don’t get. And I do assist the household by buying washing up supplies. So my budget for my food shop soared to £6.40! I spent a grand total of £6.23 in the end and here’s what I got:

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I went into Sainsbury’s armed with a list, like I normally do. Next to each item is the corresponding price. That way, I have a rough idea of how much my grocery bill will be. But this trip, each time I made a saving on an item, I made a note of it. For example, I had written down 20p for onions, but they only came to 12p – 8p saved. They totted up as I was going round the shop. I had 90p allocated to buy butter, so when I saw the reduced posh Lurpak butter for 99p, I knew I could afford it because of the savings I made elsewhere. I’m sure most of you shop in this manner already, but it really did help me to stick to my budget, so I thought I’d share my new found knowledge.

It felt very satisfactory knowing that I was getting the most from each penny. Even the kind checkout lady commented on the amount of products I had managed to buy. It did feel good carrying home my heavy shopping bags, filled with my lovely bargains. I do believe I’ve caught the frugal living bug good and proper.

Frugal Fridays #16

Today’s post is all about making the most of what you have. This mantra is high on the list of commandments for thrifty people. I personally think it’s very humbling and rewarding to make something out of very little. I thought I’d list some prompts that might spark off your own venture into a more frugal lifestyle.

1) Use your skills.

Money is tight for me right now, there’s no avoiding that. But I would never back away from celebrating Christmas. Hence, I am making a lot of my Christmas gifts this year. I may not be able to whip up some jam, but I’m not too shabby when it comes to sewing. A lot of the people I give present too are female, so I know my handmade items will be appreciated.

2) Go searching for buried treasure.

How often have you been rooting around in the back of your cupboard and have stumbled upon an ingredient you forgot you owned? I’ve done it, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. After reading One Pound Per Day, I feel like a lady of the manor with my collections of herbs, spices and flavourings. I’m going to avoid the shops for a while to concentrate on making meals out of my stock.

3) Make your own entertainment.

I had forgotten what it is like to be totally engrossed in reading. I used to be an avid reader as a child, getting through three books a week, no problem. My interest waned when I was forced to read in school, but my passion for books is blossoming once more. I have plenty on my bookshelves that are, as of yet, unread. There is a wealth of free material in libraries, online or amongst your friends. It’s up to you to make the most of it.

I do hope my tips have given you some things to consider. I’m not a frugal lifestyle guru, I can’t even get my own life in order just yet. But I thought I would still share a few things I’ve learnt so far. Please feel free to share how you make the most of what you have.

Frugal Fridays #16

I’m coming to you live from the chap’s Mac, so no pictures to serve as proof. But you will just have to believe me when I say my new scales and book arrived this morning! It’s odd how happy I was to finally have scales back in my kitchen. I am looking forward to baking up a storm at the weekend. If the delights from the oven are particularly tasty, I might even be inclined to post the recipe. No promises!

But as this is a frugal friday, I thought I’d share two standard tips for when you do have to make a purchase.

Tip One: Shop around. The scales I bought from Amazon cost £12. The same scales from my local Sainsbury’s cost £15. The £3 I saved went on my new-to-me book. Two items for the price of one, thrifty shopping at its best.

Tip Two: Don’t be afraid to buy second hand. I know I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but for the grasshoppers amongst us, second hand is the way to go. Books, clothes and furniture (amongst other things) are all cheaper when they’ve had a previous owner(s). It’s a form of recycling to me, to give a home to something that’s pre-loved. It saves landfill. If you shop carefully, you’ll often find second hand items to be in good condition, particularly books. I often donate books to charity shops so that they can be bought, read, donated and the lovely cycle can begin again. Don’t be prudish about second hand. We all share the same air and water and can all live peacefully with pre-loved items, I’m sure.

I hope my tips will assist whatever frugal journey you’re on. My phone bill came through and I have purchased a ticket to visit my chap. So the current balance is £54 to last 22 days. I’m feeling pretty confident that I will succeed in this challenge and use £150 as my monthly budget for the foreseeable future.