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Some simple summer frugal tips

Hi, how’s things? Hope you’re all well. Just a quick drop in to say ‘Hi’ and to give you a few tips (above). The last week has been a whirlwind of working and trying to do basic DIY around the house. I’m considering trying to find some time to do some quick videos for this blog. What do you think? I’ll see what I can do.

Right, I need to go now. Til next time.

Dawnx

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Thrifty Living Tips – My Top Ten

I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up reading all about how amazing some people are at running their amazing lives. That is not my life. I struggle to keep up with the house and garden as I’m working all the time and I often don’t make meals from scratch.

However, here are a few thrifty living tips that I do try and do as often as I can:

Okay, so I do cook from scratch as often as I can because it can be cheaper and you know what’s in it. I set aside a cooking afternoon and try and do three or four dishes at once to freeze. Some weeks I don’t manage this and the kids get chicken nuggets for dinner. I don’t beat myself up about this. My daughter is one of those teenagers that hates everything I cook.

I mark all my tins of food and packets with their use-by or best by dates and make sure the ones that are nearing these dates are used first. The reason why I write all the dates on them in a marker pen is because it’s much easier to see when they are going out-of-date.

Meal planning is a must, that way I can stick to the household budget. However, I do try and budget in a takeaway once a month – I need a treat sometimes.

Buy second-hand/used – I often do this for clothes for myself as I find I can’t find clothes I like in the shops. I don’t follow fashion, but I do have specific things I like in bright colours, so if the fashion is for pastels, I’m on a hiding to nothing. I sometimes buy the kids second-hand clothing too. Other used items I buy include books, furniture (old furniture is often so much better quality than today’s offering) and nice dinner plates etc. I’d hate it if my house looked like many other people’s so I fill it with antique and vintage pieces. It’s my taste and I love it.

Repair, re-use or give it to charity – I’m astounded how many people throw out perfectly good clothes because they can’t sew on a button. What a waste. I endeavour to repair everything myself, not just clothing, and if I can’t I look at how I can reuse it. That hasn’t come off very well so far, but I live in hope. If it’s still in good condition, I’ll give it to charity or recycle it.

I buy gifts in the sales. If I see something in the sales I think someone will like, I buy it and put it away for birthdays and Christmas. That means I can give a person a really nice gift that hasn’t cost the Earth and I can buy them something else too.

Stick to a budget – I do struggle sometimes with this, there always seems to be something that needs money spent on it in this house. Anyway, I do set a budget every month and try to keep to it. I also budget for birthdays and Christmas. Everyone gets a set amount and I do stick to that.

I use washable cloth napkins instead of paper napkins or kitchen roll. In fact, I don’t buy kitchen roll. I think it’s wasteful and I cut up old towels to use as cloths. When they get dirty, I wash them in a 90 degrees wash. That gets rid of any germs and means I can use them again.

Where I can, I make my own. My plans for the coming weeks including making my own dog treats, making my own cleaning products and canning for the first time.

Back to food again, I use up leftovers where I can. Mainly I will eat leftover meals for lunch the next day. I can tell you, it beats a sandwich any day!!

Dawn x

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A couple of weeks of frugal successes and frugal fails

I’ve been knitting a lot lately.

Hey everyone! How are you all? Hope you’re all doing good this week. Today, we’ve battened down the hatches as high winds and rain batter the house. However, the previous few days were gorgeous but cold in Scotland – some places even had snow. We had a tiny flurry, but that was it. The dry and finer weather did allow me to go out and finally cut the grass (it was in danger of becoming a meadow) and clear up the path.

Anyway, enough about the weather, on to today’s post and it’s a post about frugal successes and frugal fails.

Okay, so my frugal successes recently have been cooking from scratch. I cooked a whole chicken in the slow cooker the other day and the meat I got from the bones is allowing me to make three dinners for me and the kids. The first was just chicken breast with gravy and vegetables. I had that, but the kids refused. They made their own (NB they are both in their teens and able to fend for themselves in the kitchen). I don’t know why they wouldn’t eat it because it was amazing. Cooking whole chicken in the slow cooker is THE way to do it. It’s tender and delicious.

Apart from the chicken breast, I made chicken noodle soup from the liquid that was leftover in the slow cooker.

Anyway, the following day, I cooked unsmoked ham in the slow cooker. We had that for dinner with veg. The leftovers I used thus: half went into a stir fry the following evening along with some chicken, the other half (plus whatever was left of the chicken) is now in my freezer to be made into chicken and ham pie. Delicious.

Stir fry chicken…yum.

Another success I had recently was in doing small repair jobs around the home rather than getting someone in to do it. It’s something I’ve always done and I’m getting a dab hand with the electric screwdriver, although I cannot hammer in a nail straight to save my life (I need more practise). Have also been painting an old free standing cupboard white to make into a new glass cupboard.

Small repair job – I’m on it!

I’ve also been knitting some tea cosies which I will be selling in my Etsy shop, Vintage Knit Treasures, very soon.

Now on to the fails. There was only one and it didn’t cost me that much. I had a friend round for tea in the (cold but sunny) garden the other day. The rules have relaxed a bit recently and it was good to catch up with her. I didn’t bake, I’m afraid to say. I just didn’t have the time. I popped down to Morrisons and picked up some cream cakes instead. Here’s an image of baking for you anyway, in case you are in the mood for it.

Baking – not something I’ve done much of lately due to time constraints.

So, what are your frugal fails and successes? Any you care to share with me? Just send me a comment.

Right, that’s me for this week. Got to get on. Til we speak again.

Dawnxx

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Re-growing vegetables and some tips on being more frugal

So, I thought today I’d share something I only just learned about recently and that is growing new plants out of old. What do I mean? Well, I recently found this book languishing on my book shelf. I had forgotten I’d purchased it. I can’t even remember where I got it from, but it’s a useful little book. I’m sure someone told me you could grow new veg out of carrot tops etc years ago, but I’d forgotten all about it. I read about it in My Zero Waste Kitchen and thought I’d give it a go. My chickens love lettuce, so I sliced the bottom off one and stuck it in water. For a couple of days, nothing appeared to be happening and then this occurred:

And within a few days it was like this:

So now all I have to do is plant it in some soil and hopefully it will root and grow. It’s actually been one of the most exciting things to have happened here this week! 🙂

What else has been happening? Well, after months of online shopping from Morrison’s, which, let’s face it, isn’t the cheapest shop around, I actually left the house and went to Aldi. What a difference in price and the food is good there. Also treated myself to some flowers – tulips, which are my favourite flowers next to peonies.

Talking of peonies, I have some peony seeds to sow in the garden this year…when I have five minutes to actually do any gardening that is. I love peonies. I’ve also got a mixed pack of flowers, which I will sow this week so that there’s plenty of nectar for the bees. The flowers should survive this year as the chickens are now confined to a covered run. Last year, nothing could get established as the girls just love baby plants.

My tulips – not a frugal buy, but a treat.

Okay, so to finish up today, I thought I’d share with you some frugal tips.

Tip one: take them out of their packaging and place in your own for a longer shelf life.
This makes sense – your herbs won’t dry out.
Make sure this in uncooked veg, but be warned they might attract rats – that’s what happened in my garden when I did this. Now I only compost garden waste.
A delicious way to use up old carrots. Get a recipe from the internet, there’s loads of them.
Mashed potato in soup thickens it and adds texture. Don’t fancy putting it in soup? Make potato (or tattie) scones, a favourite Scottish dish. Recipe online.
Delicious!

Right, that’s me for this week. I’ll see you again very soon.

Dawnx

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My Favourite Frugal Blogs

For this post I thought I’d share with you some of the blogs I love to read. Not only are they full of great tips and information, but they are just lovely blogs anyway and a great read.

Cooking from scratch is a great way of saving money.

Okay, so let’s get on with it (btw these are a mixture of UK and US blogs):

Mortgage Free in Three is a great blog by my friend Elaine Colliar. Although she has moved on to pastures new for blogging, this site still has some great tips and amazing recipes. Please try her 30 minute rolls.

Skint Dad is a UK blog by a couple, Ricki and Naomi Willis, who are all about watching the pennies whilst living a good life. They promote vouchers and apps which can help you save money. They’ve also got a number of tips on making money.

Make do and mend.

Money Saving Mom is a US blog by Crystal Paine aimed at the US market, but has lots of great tips you can use over in the UK. She also does a podcast.

Looking on tips for cookery and other great frugal things you can do? Follow The Frugal Girl blog. Kristen is passionate about good home cooking and saving waste

One of my favourites is The Diary of a Frugal Family. It follows UK-based Cass and her family as she lives well frugally.

Make your own.

Jo is a single mother from Somerset, England and has her own blog: Slummy Single Mummy.

And finally Money Smart Family which is the Economides family’s frugal blog. They were responsible for the America’s Cheapest Family book I spoke about recently. Their blog is full of great tips on shopping and family living, they’ve got books and do courses.

Every penny counts.

I’m always on the look-out for other blogs to follow, so please feel free to share your favourite in the comments.

Dawn xx

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Spectacular Budget Fail and sneaky Creme Eggs

So this week has been all about trying to stick to my budget and failing spectacularly. And the cause? The telly has gone on the blink. It works in a fashion, but the picture is half in shade and it’s annoying. Being still in lockdown, the telly is a vital part of our lives at the moment: I watch it to relax at night and to learn things (I watch a lot of documentaries, particularly history docs). Anyway, I had to dig into my savings for £300 and I’ve ordered a new one from Amazon (btw I did a price comparison first and they were the cheapest this time). Sigh.

Apart from that, I’ve stuck to the budget pretty well and we’ve still managed to have the odd treat.

How’s your week been? Done anything interesting? If, like me, you’re in the UK, the answer to that will be a no as we’re all still in lockdown. On the bright side, it is saving us all money. I’ve save a whole load on petrol and eating lunch out.

Is it just me or has everything gone up in price? I knew this would happen as soon as we went into Brexit. I really wish we hadn’t, but it is what it is. A friend of mine owns a film production company and he was costing buying a new high tech computer. The computer had doubled in price since last year. Doubled!! Ridiculous. Food is more expensive too. There’s just pennies on here and there but it all adds up at the checkout.

I can’t wait to get out of lockdown so I can start going to the shops again – I like to buy the bulk at somewhere like Aldi or Lidl and buy specialised things at M&S or Morrisons or Asda. However, with there being the new variants of Covid-19 now in the community, I’m steering clear of shops and doing it online. I’m having to buy from Morrisons as there are no home deliveries from Lidl or Aldi in our area (I believe they may be doing some of them in some areas). Not to worry, this can’t last forever. The Spanish Flu burned out in about two years, so hopefully we’ll be back to normal some time this year.

Okay, so some of you will know that I’ve been trying out the Olio and Too Good To Go app to see if we can buy waste food from retailers cheaply. Unfortunately, there’s no-one nearby who is doing the Olio thing, so have had nothing from that. Tried the Too Good to Go app and got something from Costa Coffee which was really disappointing and from a small M&S outlet (which was much better – we got a curry for two, some rolls and two cream cakes for £4). So, it’s kinda been a bit hit or miss. Maybe once we’re back to normal things will pick up and we’ll get more shops joining in. I’ll keep looking at them. Do you know of any good money saving apps you can recommend? Let me know.

Right, going to finish up now as have a cup of tea to drink and a cheeky wee creme egg to eat. Yum.

Dawn

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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