About frugalqueenblog

Blogger writing about all things thrifty who wants to save money wherever she can.

Peg leg day

Hello Dear Reader,

I’ve done nothing all day. Totally frustrated as I’ve been unable to do anything useful. It’s nothing to worry about, it’s plantar fasciitis and it flares up occasionally and it will calm down soon enough. I’d love to tell you that I’ve cooked, bargain hunted in charity shops, crafted or looked after the house but I’ve just loafed in pain all day.

I’m alternating between, hot and cold compresses, paracetamol and ibuprofen gel and TV programmes on iplayer.

Normal service will resume as soon as I can stand up without complaining.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs x

Spring clean your family finances

Hello Dear Reader,
I posted this in 2015 and read it again today. No matter where you are on your money saving journey, I still stand by this as a way of checking your finances to ask, “Where can I make some simple tweaks?” There are plenty of really easy way to spring clean your finances and here are just a few options.

Feed your family the thrifty way!

Always check what you have in your house first. Can you create meals from what’s already in the fridge, freezer or store cupboard?
Next create a simple meal plan. Work with your family and children so everyone is involved.

When you’ve taken stock of your cupboards and made a meal plan, use http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk to shop around for the best deals.

Please Freeze! Also make the most of your freezer and save any leftovers!
Power up! Check your energy suppliers and usage.

Simple changes to LED lighting will reduce your electricity bill.
Get the slow cooker out and use that for a few meals a week.

You can cook two meals at once and keep one in the fridge or freezer ready to be microwaved when needed.

 Hang your clothes outside to dry whenever you can, even if only for a while and finish them in the tumble drier.

Shorten your showers by one minute, I promise you won’t notice the difference.

Bright Idea: Use price comparison websites to compare energy suppliers and find the best deals for your area. Switch if you have to.
Make yourself at home and save on essentials.

Check out price comparison sites to compare your phone and broadband. Are you getting the best deal or can you reduce this monthly bill?
Mobile phone tariffs. None of us use all the minutes, texts and download that we pay for. Contact your supplier and renegotiate a cheaper deal. Or, if they can’t offer you anything, give notice and go to another supplier altogether!

Tune in to savings on satellite TV. If you live in a cable area, look at price comparisons to see if you can get a better deal. You could also get a ‘Freesat’ box and enjoy all of the available channels for free!

Hit a savings Home Run: Ensure your Household insurance is right for you. Never just renew your boiler cover, your home and contents cover or accidental damage cover. Always pay for one year only and ensure you check you’re getting the best deal before you renew. Keep paperwork proving your no claims and if you’re a careful householder, look at raising your excess if it’s within your budget so you pay less for the insurance.

Simple Swaps for Super Savings
These won’t hurt at all!
Treat out – If you eat out, cut it back to once a fortnight or once a month.
Take aways – Try the supermarkets Chinese or Indian ready meals. You could fake it altogether and buy frozen battered fish fillets, frozen oven chips and tinned mushy peas. All of a sudden the Friday night fish supper will be a fraction of the cost.

Clever coffee – Can’t do without your coffee? Taking your own coffee to work will save you hundreds of pounds a year. If you do have the occasional coffee out with friends, see it as a treat!

Pack a lunch – even if you just pick up a supermarket meal deal of £3 a day this works out at £730 a year! Why overspend when you can pack a lunch from home and take it with you?

Gym membership – it is time to swap any membership that doesn’t get used. Instead use weekly passes when you have the time or use YouTube and exercise at home. There are hundreds of trainers who want to share their fitness tips with you for free!

Now, that didn’t hurt at all did it?

It’s always great to hear of your financial overhauls and how you keep your finances and budgeting in check.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Does budgeting make life better?

Hello Dear Reader,

Being a blogger and living as if I were on the Truman show means I open myself to criticism. It goes with the territory. Some people ask: how do you do it? Or, why do you do it? Or ask whether it’s all worth it or how can you live like that? The way we live isn’t for everybody. You see, we live on a tight budget. We choose to do that. We are not hard up, low paid, scrimping because there’s no choice but because we want to live that way.

Living on a budget means we don’t spend without planning and we plan, each day, each week, each month, each year and the next few years of our finances. That means we don’t just up and go on mini-breaks, city breaks or cheap deals on Groupon, not because we don’t want to travel but because they are not part of the immediate plans. We don’t ever just think, ‘I’d like that’ and up and off and buy it. We never hear of a new restaurant locally and think, ‘let’s go off and try that place’. We live, what might seems as a very austere life but it’s purposeful and keeping us on track to have a mortgage free life, with a comfortable retirement and adequate savings to buffer any possible difficulties.

So, what does our budgeting by choice mean day by day? We are, to be honest, complete tightwads and proud of it. We get what we can for free, secondhand or at the lowest available prices. We home cook every day with the exception of twice last year in France. We don’t eat takeaways or ready meals and cook from scratch. We believe that a baked potato and beans is a fantastic meal. Our house isn’t cold but don’t think of sitting around without thick jumpers and some woolly socks. We’re clean and tidy but that’s thank to quick timed showers to save on gas and water. I smell nice when I can get perfume at the giveaway price of free and we stay fresh with toiletries, at low cost, from a budget supermarket. As I said, tightwads and proud of it.

Budgeting in the immediate doesn’t look a lot of fun does it? Budgets are not for the here and now, they are for the long term. We’re in this for the long haul and have make the best of our day to day life in all its simplicity. A home cooked meal, the warmth of our wood stove, a walk in the forest or a snooze in the garden in the summer. Budgeting in the long term means, for us, a house as an investment to rent out to supplement two pensions, a house to live in and in comparison to many, an early retirement. You can have comfort when you’re young or when you’re retired and you’d have had a very blessed life if you could have comfort for both. We’ll take the penny pinching now rather when I’m older thank you very much. 

So, in answer to the question, does budgeting make life better, we believe it does. It might look a bit dusty round the edges to some people but we’re perfectly happy to play the long game.

Over to you, do you get questions asked of your thrifty life?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Batch cooking 

Hello Dear Reader,

I shall be cooking on quite a tight budget for the rest of the month. Where do I start? First of all, new glasses! I have varifocals and have three prescriptions in one lens for reading, using a computer and distance and they came to £350! That includes an outdoor pair with tinted lens. Next, the pantry was bare! We’ve stocked up for the month and oh my, food is getting ever more expensive. I’ve notice price hikes of, on average, 20% on a lot of products. I’m going to have to rethink some menus and dig up some frugal ideas to stretch the budget.

Now the pantry is full and after today, so is the fridge and freezer for the rest of the week. A couple of cheese, bacon and tomato quiches,

Cottage pie, cauliflower cheese, hunters chicken with homemade BBQ sauce and sausage casserole.

I had some smoked mackerel lurking in the fridge and that’s the recipe I’m going to share today.

2 smoked mackerel fillets with the skin removed and flaked. 

200g soft cheese, I used Lidl’s version of Philadelphia 

Squirt of lemon juice – I always keep a bottle in the fridge.

Heaped dessert spoon of horseradish sauce.

Place in the blender or processor and mix until smooth. You could just keep working with a fork until you get a smooth consistency. 

I ate mine with rice crackers and as you can see, I took a bite and then remembered to take a photo. It works well as a dip with crudités. 

Anyone else get some batch cooking done this week? I’ve got a busy busy week ahead and I need to cut myself some slack. If you batch cook, what’s your ‘go to’? Also, those food price hikes, anyone else noticed a jump? 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

Cooking with polenta

A garden tidy up on a warm spring day, path weeded and garden gate washed. A quick bit of work which needed a tasty supper.

Hello Dear Reader,

It all started with a bag of polenta at the back of the cupboard. 

1 cup of polenta on a plate with some salt, pepper and garlic powder. This made the courgettes crispy and is a good gluten free alternative. 

1 shallow bowl with beaten egg.

2 frozen cod fillets

2 large courgettes cut down into chips.

Set the oven to 200 and have a baking tray ready

Roll both the courgette chips and cod , still frozen, in the egg then the polenta, place on the baking tray and cook for 15-20 minutes. Overcooked fish is dreadful so be careful.

I also made tartare sauce with what I had

8 small gerkins finely diced

Squirt of lemon juice

Heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard

2 dessert spoons of mayo

2 dessert spoons of natural yogurt – it lightens the calories

Mix together, tasting as you do, you might want more mustard or lemon juice.

I didn’t add capers as I didn’t have any.

We had a lovely evening, with the fire lit in the dining room, good linen and a leisurely supper with some delicious grub. Rough costs, 65p per cod fillet, courgettes 35p each, tartare sauce 25p each, tomatoes 20p for 7 each, polenta 20p -£1.65 per person. 

Over to you Dear Reader, other than making a creamy alternative to mashed potato, what do you do with polenta? Do you use it at all? 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Rustic, earthy and with kale on the side

Hello Dear Reader,

We’re still trying to fill ourselves up with the good stuff on the cheap. Tonight’s supper was a beef and veggie stew with kale. That was it!

This serves four. We had two portions tonight and two will be for lunch tomorrow.

400g of diced beef

6 shallots, peeled and finely diced.

1 swede, diced into medium sized chunks.

4 large carrots, peeled and in chunks.

2 cups of stock – I use GF knorr stockpot and add boiling water.

3 leeks washed and sliced. 

Heaped tablespoon of whole grain mustard.

2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce.

GF gravy granules to thicken.

Black pepper – I don’t add salt as the stock has salt. 

I used my slow cooked and added all the ingredients in one go, set it to the low setting and left the stew to simmer away for ten hours.

I didn’t add any potatoes but used swede instead. This could be served with brown rice or crusty bread and it goes really well with green vegetables. Any leftovers can be reheated in the microwave or frozen.

Cheap, warm and filling.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Posh nosh on the cheap

Hello Dear Reader,

It’s one of those nights that, if budget allowed, I’d have got someone else to have prepared our supper. Instead and as a half way measure, I bought some easy food on the way home and cobbled it together. Broccoli, sweet potato, tofu, falafels, avocado and tomato salsa. 

My most favourite restaurant is in Totnes in Devon and it’s a veggie restaurant called Willow, we rarely go but when we do, we get food like this. 

So, I set the table with the best  linen, put out glasses of chilled water and threw a posh supper together. It cost £5 for the two of us, which is massively over our usual budget but it was worth pushing the boat out.

It was delicious.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Chicken, leek and mushroom pie

Hello Dear Reader,

I promise this tasted a whole lot better than it looks. I can’t take credit for this recipe, with a little adaptation, this is off the Slimming World website. It’s basically chicken pie, topped with mashed potatoes.

Serves four

Here’s what I used,

500ml of vegetable stock – I used 60ml to add to the mashed potato – keep the rest aside.

3 large potatoes, which I microwaved for ten minutes. I then halved them and used a spoon to remove the skin, I mashed them with the vegetable stock.

2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes

2 leeks, finely sliced,

8 button mushroom cut into half

Frylight spray

2 teaspoons of GF gravy granules

40g of finely grated cheddar.

Heat a pan with some frylight, add all the ingredients, other then the stock/gravy granules until the leeks have softened and the chicken is cooked. Add the stock and bring to the boil and then simmer for five minutes and add the gravy granules.

Leave to cool slightly, top with the mashed potato and sprinkle with cheese.

Add to a casserole dish and bake at 180 for twenty minutes.
Serve with steamed veggies.

We had two servings tonight and two portions have been popped in lunch boxes for tomorrow.

Try this, it’s lovely.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Shop well for less

Hello Dear Reader,

I consider myself to be a savvy consumer who makes every spending decision an informed one but there are plenty of people who just get it so very wrong. If you’ve seen the BBC’s #shopwellforless, then you’ll know exactly what I mean. Of course, the TV company will go and find the most extreme cases of people who seem to shop in the same way that I breathe, it’s as if they have to shop or their lives wouldn’t be the same if they didn’t.

I get that it’s hard for some people and they succumb to peer pressure, fashion, an unfilled need, being unable to say no or just being a total numpty; the latter being the minority but they do exist. You know the sort, I can only wear/eat/be seen in/drive blah, blah and a bit more blah and there is nothing sensible about any of their justifications. I really don’t know why I watch these TV programmes as I watch them open mouthed wondering about their lifestyle choices although I fully accept each to their own. I mean, if everyone lived like me, watching every penny, budgeting for every spend, thinking about financial goals and objectives then the retail sector would shrink by more than half.

So, if you want to shop well for less then you need to start making informed decisions and here’s what I do if I need something. I ask the following questions and take the following steps.

  1. Can I get it for free? I’ve signed up online, on Facebook and Twitter to local sites where people have something to give away and I’m on it like a Ninja! So far, I’ve got a fridge, freezer, dishwasher, curtains, bedding and firewood. Free is my favourite price and if I need something, you’d be amazed how long I can go without something until I can get it for nothing. I’m cheeky enough to ask members of the public for something they are taking out of the back of their car at the recycling centre or they’ve put out for collection by knocking on their doors.
  2. Can I get it second hand? If I need something and I can’t get it for free, then I’m all over Shpock, ebay, charity shops, freeads, local adverts on Facebook. Most of my furniture, curtains, craft fabric and  books were all bought second hand. My quilts are mainly made of shirts, pyjamas and bedding I’ve bought in charity shops.
  3. This should have been the first thing but I ask myself can I do without it or live with out it? Usually, I don’t actually need it. The thing I do is to take time to think about it and we’ll discuss it as a couple. Currently my sofa is getting on my nerves as it’s just not comfy…………..in the meantime, I’ll sit on the floor on a cushion and no harm is done!
  4. If I’ve thought about it, can’t get it free or second hand then I ask, am I getting the best price for this? I’ve put off buying new work trousers for ages and repaired my old ones and wash them midweek and keep wearing them but I really do need a new pair. My size is extra long, with 33″ inside leg so there’s no popping into Primark for me and I can get trousers from Long Tall Sally or Next and that’s it! I bought them online, got a 4% cashback going through Quidco and used click and collect to pick them up in a local store so I don’t pay for delivery.
  5. Make the best of what I can get for my budget. Being tall, I suit tunic tops and they are often expensive so I’ll buy dresses for a tiny price and wear them over trousers. I’ll adapt clothes as I’m nifty with a sewing machine or lengthen or widen clothes with contrasting fabric. At no stage do I get precious about what I have to wear even though I’m difficult to dress.
  6. I plan my spending. There are months where I spend nothing and put all my salary into long term savings. This month has been about new clothes and paid £20 for trousers and two jumpers for £36 and got £7.14 cashback.
  7. I’m proud of being a tightwad but I have to be careful not to be shocked by anyone else’s spending, they have their reasons and very few of them are actually numpties so I’ve learned to say nothing when they talk about their purchases or spending. There’s no point offending people, they are unlikely to change.
  8. I spend consciously or as the word of the moment would suggest, mindfully. I never shop unless I need something or really want it and get the best price and hopefully cashback or use a discount voucher or code.
  9. I make lots of financial plans, in doing so, I’m aware that no job is secure, that life can change so we make sure we save more than we spend. We’ve tied a lot of finance into our retirement plans but know, with the best will in the world that things change; we have to have flexible finances to do that and we’d never do that if we didn’t save the way we do.
  10. I give myself a break every now and then! I’d rather spend ten weeks a year in France than looking at a balance sheet so I make sure that I budget for four ferry trips and enjoy every minute when I get there!

Over to you now, we’re all on the same page and in the thrifty zone so what do you do to shop well for less? I love hearing from you all.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

Maintenance, aging and smelling nice

Hello Dear Reader,

That’s another thrifty week. I’m a simple soul and I’ve kept myself busy this weekend with some maintenance and you would have laughed if you saw me efforts. I needed to clean my roof as the green was blocking out the light. I leant out of the window and mopped it. It’s now much better. I try and get something ‘sorted’ every week to keep on top of things.

I thought I’d update you on my grey hair grow out, I’m still not colouring it and I’m just living with it. The grow out is properly white and that’s ok. Typical of me to take my photo whilst wearing an apron, I always wear one when I’m doing housework to save my clothes.

I’m trying to do more ‘nice’ things, whether that’s cooking something special, taking ourselves out or in this case, smelling fragrant. Even so, I’m going to do that on a budget. If you’ve not heard of Yves Rocher, they’re a French perfume from La Gacilly in Brittany and it’s still made there. I’m signed up to all sorts of retailers from Lidl to my favourite perfume company and get updates of special offers and I wait until I can get my favourite perfume for free. The vanilla perfume was two bottles for the price of one, one of the handbag sized perfumes was half price, one was full price, the hand creme was free as was the full sized perfume. The lot, including postage was £32.25  and will keep me smelling lovely for months. You know me, I never pay full price and I love freebies.

Over to you, who else is signed up to their favourite retailers so you can get updates of special offers? What good deals have saved you money recently?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx