Still frugal after all these years?

proud to be different

Hello Dear Reader,

I’ve been at this money saving malarky for quite a while now to the point that I forget that I might be a bit different. You see, I don’t consider that I live a frugal, austere life with any deprivations at all. I live, in my own opinion, really well. I have hot water every day, I eat three healthy meals a day, I put on clean clothes every day, we are warm, we have hobbies, ten weeks holiday and have savings. I’m more than happy with that lot and consider that we are very fortunate indeed.

I’m a delayed gratifier. I don’t need a take out to save me from cooking, I don’t need new clothes to cheer me up, I don’t need a bit or retail therapy to brighten my day and I don’t need bought and paid for entertainment. My gratification will come one day in the future when I’ve saved for it and don’t owe Santander any money for our mortgage. It’ll also come when we’ve paid fully into our pensions and savings funds. I have nine years until I retire and that might seem a very long term to get the rewards of all that saving but I’m patient enough to just keep on keeping on until I get there.

You might think, it’s ok having holidays but what about the other 42 weeks of the year……who wants to stay home and just amuse themselves for 42 weeks? Well, that’ll be me! I can amuse myself for hours without spending any money and can’t think of anything nicer that being at home or getting out for a walk somewhere quiet and natural.

It seems increasingly less popular to save and to wait and go without. I don’t mind that I’m the odd one out, when other than our mortgage, we have no debts of any kind and haven’t since 2011. We’ve been five and a half years debt free and have no intention of ever borrowing any money ever again. If we can’t afford it then we can’t have it until we’ve saved up for it.

That changes all of our perspectives. Now, if we need a ‘new’ household item, we’ll go without for months waiting to see if we can get one on freecycle, one of the bigger charity shops that sell reconditioned or being sold locally and for very little on ebay. We really only buy what we need and then make do with what we have making a point of not replacing something until it’s beyond repair. If something needs doing then we just have to do it ourselves. Changing our perspectives means we never have to keep up with the Jones. That’s a relief I can tell you.

As I was saying, I forget most of the time that I’m any different but when I remember I know it’s ok.

Over to you my lovely. Do you forget that being thrifty, frugal, prudent or financially cautious makes you different?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx









Keeping down the scary costs of food.

store cupboard

Hello Dear Reader,

It really seems that food prices are rising every minute and it’s getting harder and harder to keep the costs down. That means we all have to keep our eyes open for every deal, for every offer and make sure that we don’t waste a single mouthful. Now that might seem extreme but it’s never the money you spend you need to worry about but the money you waste.

There are ways to make sure you only buy what you need and that you avoid impulse buying. I know some of you have big store cupboards, chest freezers and can make the most of offers but if you’re on a finite budget (I know I am, my budget is THE budget because there is no more!) or you haven’t got the storage facilities then you need to buy exactly what you need and nothing more.

My starting point is always a stock check or a quick count. How many tins? How many packets? What condiments do you have? How many jars of pickle? How many bags of flour? What’s in the freezer? If you have a chest freezer, make sure you empty it out really quickly with someone else writing down what’s in there as you just call out the contents one by one. How many stock cubes or pots do you have? Spices? Dried fruit?

Most people will have a sizeable list of food already in the house. Here’s the first way you save money and wastage.

Eat that food first! If you can, keep eating that food before you buy anything else. Use of the fridge today or tomorrow, then work your way through the freezer and then onto the store cupboard. If you have tins of beans such ask kidney beans, haricot or butter beans then look for beany burger recipes, for dip or vegan pate recipes and add them into the week’s menu.

Remember all the time, I’m talking about what I would do and I’m only making suggestions and no one has to do as I do.

  1. Stock take and use what you have.

Next, and I think this is the most essential thing to do is to make a menu plan for the week. If you can, do this with the family or in my case, I do it myself as neither of us really care what we eat so long as it’s tasty. There are lots of ways to do this: a chalkboard, a note pad in the kitchen, a spreadsheet, a write on board or you enter it into outlook on your phone. I just use a note pad by the kettle. In that menu plan, I plan three meals a day plus snacks. Our snacks are mainly apples and bananas as those fruit are always on offer or at least affordable.

2. Create a three meals a day meal plan.

Now you know what you have in the house and you’ve created a meal plan incorporating as much as you can from the stock you already have, you can write your shopping list. I make sure, I don’t rush this as it’s easy to forget something. I check the bathroom, do I have toiletries? I check the ‘utility room’ (my porch and downstairs loo where I keep all the cleaning and laundry supplies) to check for cleaning products. I also think, will that last another week?

3. Write a really good list of everything we need.

I’m a budget supermarket shopper. I shop in Lidl, Aldi, Farmfoods and Asda as I find them the cheapest. I also rarely buy brands unless there is not alternative such as stock pots. I’m not a food snob and I shop for nutrition and price. Most supermarkets have stopped doing their very bottom priced products and have just regular branded items. I now have to buy these instead. As I mainly cook from scratch, I don’t buy biscuits, cakes, pies, ready meals anyway so I don’t feel I’m missing out in any way.

4. Compare the unit price!

Whilst I’m in the supermarket, I don’t let them confuse me with baffling unit pricing! They try this all the time and I think it should be utterly illegal! They will try and sell you: each item, an example would be a swede or melon that they don’t sell by weight. If that’s the case, simply find the biggest and there’s the value for money. Some packets of cheese or cooked meat, they will try price on the shelf by 100g – if that’s the case, multiply they 100g unit price by 10 to get the price per kilo. Look at the cheese and find the price per kilo in your budget (in my case, I always go for the lowest price per kilo of mature cheddar – we don’t eat cheese on its own and add it to something as a flavour so I want a mature cheese with lots of flavour)

My issue with unit pricing is that supermarkets deliberately try and con you into thinking you have a bargain, with a multi buy and sometimes the unit price is higher. It’s important that you know what you’re paying for.

5. Stick to the list.

Don’t be duped by offers. They supermarkets use clever psychology to dupe you and convince you with: lighting, product placement, end of aisle offers and blatant bullshit to sell you stuff you don’t need! If you’ve already got some, if you can’t afford it, if it’s not on the list, if you’ve no room in the freezer, store cupboard, if it’s unhealthy, high fat, sugar filled rubbish then I just don’t need it. Remember again, I’m not telling you what to do, do what you like.

6. Rotate your stock.

Pull your old stock forward and place the new items behind. If you have a chest freezer, you could eat from left to right. If you have a small under counter freezer and could decant what you have into two of the three drawers and the new stuff goes into one drawer. Personally, I pull the food I already have to the front of the drawer and place the new behind that and then eat front to back.

7. Batch cook.

A whole chicken is often cheaper than buying chicken pieces so I’ll roast all of it and we’ll eat a roast meal two days in a row. A pack of beef mince will feed four if I was making cottage pie so I’ll make two pies and freeze one for another day.

8. Buy tinned and frozen.

We use frozen fish, tinned fish, frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables so they don’t go off and there’s no waste. The price is often cheaper than fresh too.

We all have to extremely savvy shoppers as the prices in the supermarkets seem to be rising daily and it’s getting harder and harder for some families to even feed themselves at all and that’s why number nine is optional for anyone and not even possible for many families.

9. Pay it forward.

Shop, if you can, a couple of items a week for the local food bank. We have collection points at the back of the tills in our supermarkets. The food banks always need protein, fruit, veggies and something to fill up a child’s belly. They always need tinned meat or fish, rice pudding, tinned fruit or veg as there are families who no matter how hard they try just don’t have money enough to eat at all.

10. Stock up.

Protect yourself from that bill, that breakdown, that week of shorter hours and less pay. Try and have your own stock of tins, dried goods and expensive items such as tea and coffee. You can’t plan for every eventuality and help yourself by just having a little buffer to keep you going.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xx

Stock pots?

Hello Dear Reader,

I’ve been confusing you.

When I say stock pot, I mean these. Pots of stock.

They come in a variety of types and most are gluten free. Most stock cubes are not gluten free so I can’t use them. I buy these when they are on offer or multi buys. You open them, and plop the little lump of concentrated stock into whatever requires it. 

Sorry for any confusion.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs 

Cold, wet and hungry? 

Hello Dear Reader,

We’ve got dirty weather! You know the sort where you can barely see the car in front of you on the commute home. The temperature has dropped and the house felt really cold when I got home….well, it was until I got my fleece PJs on! On days like these (Sept-May!) I need to come home and have something to eat straight away.  Before I left this morning, I used

1 reduced price pack of chopped chicken breast

2 chopped leeks

1 sliced onion

6 medium potatoes cut into large chunks

1/2 a swede cut into cubes

2 tins of tomatoes

1 stock pot

1/2 bunch chopped celery

Add the lot to a slow cooker and cook on low all day. When I got home, I threw in a tablespoon on gluten free gravy granules to thicken.

Most of our weekday meals will be simple meat, veg and stock cooked together in the slow cooker and ready to eat when we get home. It’s not much to look at but I’m hungry enough to eat anything when I get in and I don’t want any faffing around and just want supper.

Nothing to fancy to share at the moment, just chuck it in and cook it food.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Always fix it first 

Hello Dear Reader,

We’ve had a wonky creaky ecofan that had clunked and rattled as if was off kilter in some way. The noise drove us mad!

What’s an ecofan? It’s a fan that converts heat into electricity and turns a fan to circulate the warm air from the top of the wood stove around the room. Ours is the original, made in Canada and that’s where we had the part delivered from; via a supplier in the UK. It came with instructions to replace the motor and now its whirring away quietly on top of our stove creating an even warmth around the room.

I’m a great believer in repairing anything we own and keeping it going even if it might seem cheaper to just go out and buy new. It seems a shame and a terrible waste just to throw things away when they can be repaired. Our ecofan worked perfectly for five years and the repair should get that much out of it again. 

Who’s with me on this one? Who’d rather repair than replace?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Shopping and budgeting 

Hello Dear Reader,

The larder has had a sort out, stocktake and replenish thanks to Lidl: baked beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, passata, tomato purée, mushy peas, fruit, fish, corned beef, flour, pasta, rice, stock pots, pulses and milk. Several week’s worth of meal additions.

On my way home, we called into B&M as I find it really cheap for cleaning products and toiletries. I found some fleece ladies pyjamas for £15 which I thought I might come and buy at a later date. Then I noticed the men’s were reduced so I bought those instead. I don’t sleep in them but wear them around the house in the evenings instead of putting on the heating. I’ve been wearing old jogging bottoms and a sweatshirt but they’ve definitely seen better days.

I buy food and toiletries for our local foodbank and picked up ten toothbrushes for £1.99. What a bargain. 

Over to you, is anyone else well stocked? Or found any bargains?

I’m now off to cook for the week ahead.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Gluten free pizza

Hello Dear Reader,

Supper tonight was always going to be a whatever I could find in the fridge night but on the way home we almost succumbed to pizza takeaway. Our local chippy is now a Domino’s pizza. Whilst I drove, DB rang them to find out how much a gluten free pizza would cost. £9 For tomato and cheese plus £1.50 for each topping and it was only a 9″ pizza. We thanked them for the information. £9! Who on earth pays £9 for pizza? 

I used gluten free wraps, half a jar of basics pasta sauce, two tomatoes, budget wafer thin ham, some mushrooms, a tin of sweet corn and three slices of low fat Cheddar. 

The wraps were expensive but I wanted something pizza-ish and this is pretty close and was assembled in a couple of minutes and cooked in a hot oven in ten.

We kept it cheap and low calorie as we had very little cheese.

With the exception of the wraps, the topping for three pizzas cost the under £1.50 and £3 for a pack of wraps. A bit of a budget blowout for us but a lot less than £9 for one little pizza.

A perfect Friday fakeaway. We might have a Domino’s pizza takeaway in Liskeard but at those prizes, we won’t be going there.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Stretching leftovers in every direction

Hello Dear Reader,

My soup mug contains just one portion of homemade ragu sauce and I needed to feed us both. I added a jar of cheapo tomato sauce, it’s gluten free and 80 calories for half a jar (4 slimming world syns). It had less fat and less calories than the low fat versions in the supermarket. Ironically, it costs the same as a tin of tomatoes so it was cheaper than making it myself.

As usual, we ate it with a massive pile of steamed greens instead of pasta to keep our carbs low and to get more nutrients into ourselves. Seasonal veggies like this are really cheap too.

I added a tin of sweet corn too. More cheap veggies.

We had one slice of cheese each. It might seem a bit expensive to buy sliced cheese but it’s portion control for us. You can see, one slice goes a long way. (4 syns) 

As if spring greens, carrots and celery in the ragu sweet corn wasn’t enough, I chopped up some gerkins and the crunchy spicy sourness really added punch to an already flavour filled bowlful. 

So today we’ve eaten: frozen leftovers, jarred, tinned and pickled and fresh…..all on one plate. Healthy, cheap and used up everything we had at home.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xx

Chicken, bacon and bean casserole 

Hello Dear Reader,

We have the first autumn storm bashing Cornwall and the rain is coming in sideways. That says one thing, it’s time for a casserole. This didn’t take long in my slow cooker and I made an entire batch and we’ve eaten half today and we’ll eat the rest tomorrow. 

I used

1 kilo of frozen chicken breasts and I added them frozen and cut them up once they cooked 

Half a head of finely sliced celery

1 small things onion – finely diced 

6 large carrots, peeled and chunked

1 tin of haricot beans

2 tins of tomatoes 

Half a pack of cooking bacon – cut into cubes

I popped the lot in the slow cooker and set it on low for 6 hours. That meant it was warm when I got home but had to take out what we needed and microwave it after I’d cooked some cabbage and rice to have with our supper. 

It’s cheap, simple and the addition of beans meant we didn’t need so much meat. Another supper with a combination of tinned and frozen along with some fresh veggies and rice from the larder.

I’m off to get in my pyjamas, get under a quilt and keep warm for the evening.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Tinned or frozen?

Hello Dear Reader,

I don’t cook on Mondays or Thursdays. I cook for meals the day before and just microwave the next day. We call it ding cuisine. I’m all for money saving short cuts. We’re almost out of fresh vegetables and didn’t want to shop today so I see frozen mixed veg, a tin of mushy peas and a tin of sweet corn. 

The bits in the gravy, if you’re interested, are sage. I used to make gluten free sage and onion stuffing but as we’re eating low carb (following slimming world) I no longer make it. My food processor died and I can’t make bread crumbs without one so we don’t have it any more. The sage in the gravy gives the lunch the flavour of stuffing without the calories.

I always have plenty of tinned and frozen food and use it to pad out our budget and my time budget. If I’m busy, it’s good to have a couple of cooking free nights and a few meals that are much cheaper.

Every now and then, we all need an easier life.

Over to you. Tinned? Frozen? Or a bit of both? Ding cuisine? Cooking free nights? Let me know how you free up a bit of time and get yourself out of the kitchen every now and then?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxk