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What I’ve been doing this week

So, I’ve done quite well this week sticking to a budget, except for buying some unbudgeted things for one of my side businesses. And that knocked off my budget and made me curse myself for doing it. However, I do need the things I ordered, so it’s a kind of rock and hard place for me. Anyway, it is what it is and I’ve had to redo my budget.

How has your week been? Have you done anything to be more frugal or to set up a small side business? My side businesses – I’m a writer and PR person full time – are selling vintage knitting patterns and I’m about to set up one selling vintage images, calendars and some stationery. I’ll share more info about it when I’m ready to launch.

Two of the images from my current 2021 calendar, you’ll get it in my Vintage Knit Treasures shop on Etsy

I am continuing to try and cook from scratch every day, but some days it’s near impossible. I’m working long-ish hours some days and am exhausted by the end of it. The last thing I want to do is cook a big meal, so we’ve been having quick and easy to cook meals. I’m going to tackle this by doing a meal plan for next week (I usually do this, but didn’t manage it for this week) and stick to it. Not easy when you have a fussy teen daughter (who is also quite stroppy) who only wants to eat Korean food because she’s obsessed with a K-pop band. Sigh.

Managed to snag a magic bag from the Too Good to Go app. It was for a local M&S mini store and we came away with an Indian meal for two, some rolls and two cream cakes for £4. Fantastic. Going to have the meal tonight. We picked it up last night at 8.30pm, which was too late to eat and it had a use-by date for yesterday, so I shoved it in the freezer and have defrosted it for tonight’s dinner. Yum.

Sauerkraut

Talking of cooking, I’ve got a whole lot of reading up to do on pickling, drying and other methods of food preservation. I’ve got a hankering to make home-made chutney and ice-cream (not to have at the same time!), biscuits and bread. I’d also like to make sauerkraut. I really loved the pickled cabbage you get with a donner kebab, so I’d like to have a go at making it. I’ll let you know how I get on. Need to find the time in my busy schedule to get all this done!

Right, so that’s my update for just now. I’m going to love you and leave you as I have two more blogs to write before I go and make dinner. Til next time.

Dawn

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So I’ve Been Reading Up on Frugality

After last week, I decided it was nigh on time I re-read some of the great books I’ve collected over the years on being frugal. I started with Steve Economides and Annette Economides’ book America’s Cheapest Family which, although now 13 years old is still packed full of great advice. They also have a website charting everything they do to live frugally whilst still having a great life. It’s called Money Smart Family.

Thrift

I also dug out India Knight’s The Thrift Book and have thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it. I read it first years ago, but I can’t remember it so this is like reading it for the first time again. Both books are great if you’re looking for hints and tips on cutting back. I love India’s way of writing. It’s so laid back and funny. She definitely doesn’t mind taking the mick out of herself. Here’s her website India Knight.

I’ve also joined some groups on Facebook, people who are into frugality and/or into good home cooking so have been getting tonnes of recipe ideas from there. My favourite one is Home-made Scottish Recipes, which is a private group but is great because it isn’t just Scottish recipes that are on there. So long as the recipe has a Scottish theme or accent it can be on there. I love it because a lot of the recipes are dishes I loved growing up such pancakes and scones and mince n tatties. Yum.

Puddings

There’s also a great group called Old School Puddings, which is about Old School Puddings. There’s tonnes of nostalgia, but the best bit about is that most of the puddings are very cheap to make and delicious.

Another thing I’ve been doing more of recently is tightening our spending. I have to admit I’ve been a bit lax with keeping tabs on every penny that goes out. I’ve clamped down on buying treats every day for me and the kids, instead waiting til a Friday to buy them. That has saved me more than £1800 per year. Yup, you read that right: £1800 per year.

Cola

And that was only on coca cola, the 500 ml bottles. I used to buy us one each (there are three of us) every single day. At £1.65 per bottle (dear, I know), that added up to £1806.75 every year. I was also buying crisps and sweets every day. I have not added up what that cost, but you can bet it was several hundred pounds on top of that. So, I’ve stopped and we only have those treats on a Friday. It’s also better for us health-wise so it’s a win-win for me.

And finally, my mum sent me a recipe for home-made bagels. It arrived in the post this morning. I cannot wait to make them. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Right that’s me for this week. Going to go and put dinner on. It’s fishcakes (shop bought – they were in the freezer already), veg and potatoes. Yum. See you soon,

Dawn x

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Back to Scratch Cooking and Disappointing Magic Bag

Hello everyone! I’m back. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything other than seasonal greetings. The pre-Christmas period was really busy for me. I was exhausted and desperately needed a break so I took two weeks off over Christmas and it’s done me the world off good.

And not just for my physical and mental health. It allowed me to take a look at what I was doing with my finances particularly when it came to food. I do make up weekly menus and use a list to buy food, but I wasn’t sticking to it and I wasn’t cooking healthily either. So, over the festive period, I donned my pinny and got back into cooking…and I’ve been loving it. I’ve made all sorts of frugal dishes, saved leftovers and ate them for lunch, tried to make sure I had all the food was used up and none wasted. I’ve kept going as we went into January, the most recent being these gorgeous 30 minute rolls. You’ll find the recipe here on my friend Elaine Colliar’s Mortgage Free in Three website. BTW there are loads of great tips and recipes on there.

Home-made 30 minute rolls – they are delicious

One of the things I’ve introduced lately is having a pudding after dinner…well, when I say pudding, there is only one the kids want all the time. And that is? Tinned fruit cocktail with cold custard. I used to have this as a kid in the 1970s and always loved it. My kids love it now too. The next thing I’ll be introducing them to is Semolina! 😂 🤣😂 🤣😂 🤣 I like it, but am not sure they will. Oooh Semolina with a dod of strawberry jam. Delicious. 😋 I’ve actually been having cravings for home-made rice pudding so that might be my next make. The kids aren’t fond of it – I didn’t like it myself as a kid – but I’ve grown to love it. I’ll make it and give them something else.

Trying to be more frugal and more green, I signed up to the Olio and Too Good To Go apps. The first one takes excess food from supermarkets etc and shares it out for free. So, far there’s been nothing in my immediate area, so haven’t been able to get anything. Tried the Too Good To Go app. Ordered a ‘magic bag’ (a bag of food on its use by date) from our local Costa Coffee and picked it up yesterday. It cost my £3 and…well…I was disappointed. I was given two paninis (two different flavours) and a savoury pastry. I must admit I expected to get a little more in the bag. After all, this food would have gone to waste anyway. Where were my cakes and sweet pastries? Let’s face it, that was what I was really looking forward to (even though I’m supposed to be cutting down). The boy ate one panini and I froze the other along with the pastry (I’ll have that for dinner one night). I’ve seen what others got from other food outlets and it seems to be so much more. I think I’ll not bother with Costa again and see what I can get elsewhere. Stay tuned. Have any of you had any great hauls using these apps?

One positive thing about lockdown (and it’s also a negative too) is that I’m not spending any money meeting people for lunch. However, I am missing meeting my friends and family for lunch, so I don’t view this as a win. Anyway, like everyone else I’m just getting on with life in the pandemic.

Right, so – success – I’ve complete my first blog post of the new year. I will be back. My plan is to go through all my cookbooks and report back on any great recipes I find. I have a lot of very old cookbooks with some great cheap recipes in there, so this should be fun.

Until next time,

Dawn xx