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………… 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

Love your leftovers

Hello Dear Reader,

Tonight we had a stir fry of chicken, onion, mushrooms and chopped up leftover s from Sunday lunch with sweet and sour sauce. Adding the leftovers meant I could make one large chicken breast feed the both of us. 

First, I sautéed onion and mushrooms no then added chopped raw chicken and kept turning it in a hot pan until it cooked.

I popped in the leftovers of carrots, cauliflower and peas and heated them through. 

I didn’t make the sauce, I used this sachet from Aldi and at 39p, I couldn’t make it for that price myself. It’s quite sticky so I added some water from the cooking rice to thin it down

Chicken, leftovers, brown rice and a drizzle of chilli sauce for me. I always keep and use leftovers and it’s rare that anything gets wasted.

Over to you my lovelies, what do you do with your left overs?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxx

Sad face 

Hello Dear Reader,

Old soppy dog had two back teeth out today. He was dropped off at the vets at eight this morning and we picked him up at five this evening. He’s feeling a bit sorry for himself and we’re £225 lighter. That doesn’t matter at all as we budget for our pets and consider their health and well being to be as important as ours. 

We often get asked if we pay for pet insurance and we don’t as we have savings and always aim to save more than we spend. It is expensive having three dogs as we have them clipped every other month, they have annual jabs, rabies jab annually, visits to the vet when we leave France and owning dogs is not cheap. 

Our dogs are our constant companions and wherever we go, they go with us. We’ve had eleven years of smoochy kisses, dog art on the windows, sofa snuggles and footprints right across our hearts. 

I’m off to cuddle my old pooch.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs 

Why wait until Shrove Tuesday? 

Hello Dear Reader,

I love the occasional pancake, don’t you? Mine are gluten free and quick, cheap and easy to make. Here’s the what you need and the how to….

150g gluten free flour

1 tsp xanthum gum

1 large egg

350ml milk

50g melted butter 

Blend the egg and flour and beat in the milk  and butter a bit at a time, keep beating until smooth. The butter is for flavour, texture and stop them sticking. 

Get a non stick pan really hot and add a wipe of butter, I use a paper towel with a smear of butter and literally show the butter to the pan. Use a ladle and add the batter to the middle of the pan and then, whilst holding the pan, manoeuvre the batter around the pan to coat it. We like our pancakes to be crepe thin. 

A good spread of chocolate and hazelnut spread is my favourite and DB loves lemon juice and sugar.

So, why wait until Shrove Tuesday? 

Over to you, what goes on your crepes or pancakes?.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Sweet potato rosti with goat cheese

Hello Dear Reader,

I thought I’d share our lovely lunch following on with my promise to cook ourselves something special every week. I bought welsh goats cheese from Aldi as well as sweet potatoes and shallots which are a bit more expensive than regular potatoes and onions.

Here’s what I used

1 large sweet potato, about 500g grated

2 beaten eggs

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely diced

Salt and pepper

Tablespoon of oil

200g of goats cheese

I grated one extra large peeled sweet potato and then popped it onto a clean tea towel and wrung out the sweet potato and added it to a bowl.

Combine the rest and shaped into six patties and brown them in a hot pan with oil.

Transfer to an oven tray and bake for fifteen minutes.

Crumble goat cheese on top and put back in the oven for five-ten minutes until the cheese has melted. 

If we had any salad, this would have been great but there’s very little available so we just ate them as they were.

Over to you, who loves goats cheese or is it just us Europeans? Does anyone else make something special at the weekend?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Veggie smuggling 

Hello Dear Reader,

Veggie smuggling, hiding vegetables or stretching meat as it’s so expensive is some thing we all do., right? I never had to hide vegetables from my children but if I did need to, then I’d have done this. 

I used 500g of low fat minced beef, two large carrots and one large finely shredded leek and a finely diced onion as it makes the meat go twice as far and gets plenty of vegetables into us. There are plenty of ways of stretching meat, I sometimes add lentil, chickpeas or any range of chopped vegetables and I often use diced frozen vegetables. 

Once it’s made, with the usual addition of herbs, garlic and tomatoes, you’d never know it was full of vegetables.

A spag Bol is DB’s favourite supper with a sprinkle of grated cheese and that’s just what we had. There’s loads of ways I stretch meat and this is just one of them.

Now, it’s your turn, what do you do to stretch meat a bit further? 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Let sleeping dogs lie

Hello Dear Reader,

It’s still windy, cold and wet! We’re in the best place, tucked up in the warm. Supper was just egg and chips and a squirt of ketchup. We’ll go on topping up the log burner and toasting our toes. 

It’s been a thrifty week as we’ve just been at work, it’s a great money saver being busy all the time. My big dog, on the left, is off for some dental surgery on Monday so I’m glad we’ve been thrifty to afford it as it’ll make him a whole lot more comfortable. In the meantime, he’ll be warm and cosy along with us by the fire.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Cheap quick eats 

Hello Dear Reader,

Storm Doris is on her way and the weather has turned cold again. This lovely piece of gammon is from Aldi and two steaks were £1.69 and were quickly grilled. I served it with sweet potato mash where I microwaved the potatoes and then scooped the flesh out, it’s the easiest way I know of doing it. The addition of a spoonful of coleslaw and some tinned peas and that will do! 

I’ve washed up, I’m in my pyjamas and I’m going to have an early night and wait for Doris to rattle our windows.

Over to you, what do you cook that’s cheap, quick and easy?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx