Friday 30 November 2018

Following on from my post yesterday..... and MFin3

I eventually found this newspaper article from a year ago, says it all really inflation

Now you know why I am creating a Brexit food box! I have just found Elaine Colliars blog, Mortgage Free in Three is back up on Blogland, a fantastic blog on how to reduce debt and live frugally, see here.

Thursday 29 November 2018


No, not me, apparently for now at least, I am still as tall as I ever was!

I am referring to packaging sizes and/or contents therein, which have been shrinking for quite a while now.

Although I normally make my mincemeat every year, this year I haven’t. There is still one jar left from last year to make pies with but I needed some for a quick cake. On getting said jar home I noticed it no longer contains 1lb (454g) but just 411g!

Also, a packet of 24 Weetabix, that has never fitted upright on my shelves, now does so, so clearly each biscuit is smaller.

For our morning walk this week, I bought a packet of Jaffa cakes, now contains 10 rather than 12. Do they think we haven’t noticed?

Other brands of cakes and cereals are available!

Wednesday 28 November 2018

A strange meal....

We were going to have tomatillo chicken for tea and had cooked all the basics and added the previously made sauce. It was a bit of a strange colour but we carried on cooking. On tasting it, we realised it wasn’t tomatillo sauce but a portion of pea and ham soup!

That’ll teach me to label things. It still tasted nice and we had it with leek and potato mash. One portion leftover for DB to have for lunch.

Tuesday 27 November 2018


When we have visitors for Christmas or New Year, we like to exchange mystery mini gifts on that eve. Two for each person present, except for the giver themselves, wrapped in brown paper or neutral newspaper, and just the initial of the person on the gift.

I write out all the initials labels so handwriting doesn’t give away who is giving the present. They must be useful and not be anything to eat or drink.

We went shopping this morning and I got all mine. It is getting a tad more difficult as what we could buy just two years ago, now falls outside the maximum cost per present of £1.

Monday 26 November 2018

Meeting up.....

My niece and her future DiL, had to come to a shop near us to pick something up. Luckily she decided to bring her mum, my sister, for the ride. We don’t get to meet too often so it was now.

We eventually met up for coffee, lunch and a good chinwag!

All in all, a lovely few hours.

Sunday 25 November 2018

A dog day

Welcome to Catherine and Catherine Hinds via Bloglovin.

The hair in between Ruby’s paws needed trimming as it was starting to form tufts. Whilst DB held and distracted her, I managed to trim her two front paws, both between her toes and underneath. She isn’t too keen on us playing with her front paws but we did them and they looked better.

Today it was the turn of her back paws. She let me do one but fought against me doing the other. I won in the end and it was done. She now has smart feet.

She then had her ears cleaned and given one dried fish as a thankyou treat. Once she had eaten that, her teeth were cleaned. She doesn’t mind that at all and patiently sits whilst they are done.

We are now recovering with a cup of tea!

Friday 23 November 2018

For no reason.....

I can fathom, I have been cold all day. Hands like ice, layers of clothing but still cold. The heating has been on all day to not much use. Guess I must be feeling my age.

I have been slowing gathering what I need to make some light Christmas puddings and a last minute Christmas cake. I’m hoping to make a start Saturday, plus bake bread which I haven’t done for a couple of weeks. At least I will be warm in the kitchen baking:)

Welcome to Joanne via Bloglovin.

Thursday 22 November 2018

Clothes - could be another frugal tip!

I'm sure a lot of people spend an awful lot of money on clothes, changing with the seasons and fashion. Not here. Clothes get bought when we need them and not because we want them. They are often bought as presents as it doubles up and saves on buying seperately.

However, during the war, clothing was very restricted and bought on a points system. Other than jumble sales where points were not needed (or the black market), there was no way round it. Yes you could alter worn out clothing, sheets, blankets, parachutes (if you could get one)  to make something new. You could reduce items in size for the next child down. Bedding, blankets and towelling were often cut around holes then re-hemmed to make a new sheet etc. An awful lot of items were knitted but even wool for this was on the points system.

In the 60's, I remember my mum and gran pulling out old jumpers, washing the wool and reusing to make something 'new'. I had lots of hand me down clothing growing up, as did my peers.

Clothes rationing began in 1941 and ended in 1949. In the first year, each adult was given a grand total of 66 coupons to spend. By 1942, this had dropped to 48, then 36 in 1943 and by 1945 just 24 points. The chart below shows what was required for items of clothing in 1942 when you would have had 48 points to spend.

Just because an item was rationed didn't mean you were entitled to it. You had to be able to afford it and it also had to be available to buy. Would you have managed?

You can understand why everything was repurposed can't you?

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Final suggestion to get you on the road to frugality

I am sure I haven't covered everything but just wanted to give you a flavour.

Suggestion 4 - Money, yes, that old chestnut!

Sit down and write down all your income and outgoings. There are loads of blogs around that help you deal not only with debt but how to deal especially with credit card debt.

I just want to talk about the usual things, such as utilities and food. Shop, shop, shop around and then shop around some more. We change our electricity company every year. We compare online, find the one that will give us the best deal then swap, it really is relatively easy nowadays.

We usually use the same heating oil company but go on a comparison site first to make them bring down their quote. Same with house and car insurance. We have gone on a water meter and now pay 2/3rds less than we did before, a huge saving.

We do treat ourselves to tennis tv every now and then because we both love tennis and it is the cheapest option.

Check all the tv and phone packages you have. Do you really need them, do you use them to their full advantage? If not, change, pare back or get rid.

Are you saving each pay day? If you have any money left at the end of one wage month, save it as well, it soon adds up. Check for the best interest rates and move savings if necessary.

Sell anything you no longer need.

Food - cook from scratch, menu plan, shop for that menu plan as mentioned before.

There are loads of ways to change how you live, don’t just dream about what might be, deal with it.

Tuesday 20 November 2018

The road to frugality - suggestions 2 and 3

These suggestions are only that, suggestions and come in no particular order.

Suggestion 2 - If you don't already do so, learn to cook from scratch. I am appalled that so many people buy ready prepared vegetables and fruit. I have to admit to occasionally using bought sauces and the odd meal but usually, it is in an emergency or as a treat.

Why would you buy ready prepared fresh vegetables and fruit. Obviously some things such as baby sweetcorn and beans, it is how they come but carrots, cabbage, swede etc! For a start it costs way more and you have lots of packaging to throw away. Also, if you are growing some food yourselves, the peelings are great for the compost heap. It is far cheaper to buy these products whole. Anything leftover could be frozen or used up in soups, stews or salads. Don't know how to cook. Go to your local library, or online, loads of ideas there. I do wish schools would bring back proper cooking lessons, one of the worst things education did was to stop that.

Suggestion 3 - Make your own cleaners, washing machine detergent, soap etc. We really don't need all the posh, expensive and harsh chemicals in these things. Planet friendly but often expensive alternatives are available to buy and many recipes are online to make your own. Check out my tutorial tab for two different washing machine detergents, costing pennies to use. I now prefer the later version which uses a small amount of bought washing detergent rather than soap. I no longer use the citrus cleaner as it makes me sneeze non-stop for some reason:(

Also, I use large containers of white vinegar instead of fabric conditioner. For the most part, it works very well. 

Monday 19 November 2018

Beginning the journey to living frugally.........

When each of us begins our individual family journey into frugality, each journey is different as are the reasons. No one way suits each situation. Read, read, and read some more before deciding how quickly or slowly you want to take it depending on your strengths, weaknesses and reasons for doing so.

Try and chose obtainable goals so as not to get disheartend and don't give up. Don't try and do everything at once (unless you are in absolute dire straights), walk small steps before trying to walk faster and run.

Make sure, if you are a couple, and where possible, that you are both singing from the same hymn sheet, otherwise it may start to unravel. If a family, discuss, then discuss some more. Put your cards on the table and show why you need to change, what is the reason.

Our son was just 4 when our moment came. We had always been relatively frugal, discussing finances with each other but we sat him down, told him the reason (for beginning food rationing, see diary above) and he seemed to understand and came on board. It certainly hasn't done him any harm and when their own moment came, both he and his wife were able to deal with it in a positive way.

We are all better off now but those lessons continue to serve us all well and we know if another moment of hardship came, we would be able to deal with it, discuss it with each other and offer help to each other, if we are able to.

A Possible First Step - Greatly reduce your expenditure on food and toiletries where possible. Then stock take, menu plan, shop for only what is on the menu plan. The menu isn't written in stone though, swap meals within the week if circumstances change. Eventually, this will become second nature and your bills should reduce and any money left at the end of the month can go into savings.

You may be surprised at how much cheaper lesser known brands are. Most are equal to your well known brands but some aren't so try and decide. Get to know the cheaper supermarkets, their prices are quite a bit cheaper and for the most part, food is just as good.

By shopping for what you need, rather than want, you should have less food waste. Most people know the saying 'take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves". We have a second saying "take care of the grammes/ounces and the kilograms/pounds will take care of themselves". Don't bin unserved leftovers from meals, most can be reused, either in a second identical meal, or a soup, pie, quiche or a hash.

Saturday 17 November 2018

Getting harder to stick to budget some weeks

It would be easier to just up my new food and toiletries budget a tad but I’m still trying hard to keep within it and succeeding most weeks. I increased it from £35 to £40 a week in Spring as rises started occurring then. Most months there is around £10 - £15 left which gets put to one side for winter. Meat is a treat or an add on flavour now as it’s price continues to rise.

Food price rises are noticeable now though. At the start of the year, our loose tea was about £2.25, today it is £2.70! When I bought tinned apricots a few months ago, they were 48p, today 80p. Our large jar of coffee was £4.50, today it is nearly £7. However, it was on offer in Lidl for £4.98 rather than £6.78 elsewhere.

I was discussing it with the cashier and she too had noticed it, going as far as it say it wasn’t just a few pennies either but 20p or 30p a time.

Started my Brexit box in earnest today and I feel better now. If we have a poor winter it will come in handy then, if not, it will keep. Bargains today were 2 packets of good oats for £3 (cheap ones make me feel sick) and 2 tubs of custard powder for £2, plus of course the coffee.

I have written dates and prices on each item and will sort out an inventory list to keep it in order, I love lists. I have money put to one side for this food plus enough for a food bank shop. When shopping for that, I go online first to check what they actually need.

Every £2 coin we get through the year is saved for Christmas. How are you all coping?

Friday 16 November 2018

Been and gone....

A new blogger got in touch the other day, asking how to begin the frugal journey. For whatever reason, her blog has disappeared, I do hope everything is ok and she wasn’t put off by the processes us bloggers were suggesting.

It got me thinking and next week, I’ll go over what why’s and wherefores I found useful, just in case, the info will be of use to someone, somewhere.

Did you hear on the news the other morning that Premier foods are starting to stockpile certain food lines?

Thursday 15 November 2018

Random thought....

we were sharing a Bounty Bar the other day when I suddenly thought, when did the cardboard base disappear from inside the packaging?

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Another mushroom based meal

If you like mushrooms, this is a relatively cheap meal to make. If not, you could substitute for Quorn or other vegetables. There was also a can of tomatoes, bringing the total cost of 4 main meals to £2.60 all in, including the rice:
A plateful each for one meal:
Enough leftover for another plateful each:
Although we rarely have pudding, the rest of the apricots went with the last of the Chai cake, for a late supper top up:

Monday 12 November 2018

A new coat

Welcome to Rebecca via Bloglovin.

We have bought Ruby her first coat although not the one we initially wanted. Not for going out in, she is after all a dog and her hair will keep the worst of the weather off. This is for after we get back, if she is shivering, which she does when soaked to the skin:

She of course wanted to chew it the first few times, so we distracted her by throwing toys and a quick game of go find! Hopefully, she will eventually accept it and leave it alone.

Sunday 11 November 2018

Has anyone else....

found they can’t find Elaine Colliars blog Mortgage Free in Three? She started blogging again recently but every social media outlet linked to it seems to be missing or not working. I can find social media stuff relating to her mind maps stuff though. I was after some of her recipes. Any help with an answer?

Saturday 10 November 2018

We have finally started....

Cleaning our windows. It is a job we both aren’t too keen on, on a par with dusting!

There is only so much grimy window staring I can put up with though. Out came the bucket, sponge, cloth and wiper. Now, the dining room and kitchen windows look clean at last, well, the outside at least.

Ruby was watching me intently. Up, down, to the left, to the right and circles. She looked like she was watching a tennis match. The insides can wait.

DB is going to also do the new lounge window as well as hose down the car. It was serviced and had its MOT a few days ago. We expected a bill around the £225 mark. It was just under £500 as it needed two front tyres and there is now a £20 environmental surcharge for disposal VAT bumped it up as well, always forget about it:(

Mind you it also had a quick valet and was washed, so that was nice. Ah well, just as well we watch our pennies.

Friday 9 November 2018

A lack of attention

Coming home from my massage the other day, we had to sit behind a waiting lorry whilst a white van came in the opposite direction. A young lady, wearing ear phones, walking on the pavement, saw we had all stopped and decided to cross the road - without checking behind her. The poor van driver slammed on his brakes, turning white in the process.

Luckily for her, he was driving below 30mph. Just as the front of his van dipped during braking, she saw him and reeled herself in.

Later in the week, on the way to training, a similar thing happened to us. We were approaching a pedestrian crossing, having already noticed, a baby buggy, mum and grandma walking near us on our left. Without warning or indeed looking, the mother turned her buggy, sharp right onto the crossing, straight in front of us.

DB slammed on his brakes, everything on the back seat fell on the floor, and we heard Ruby slide into the back of her car crate with a thump. The mother held her hand up with an embarrassed smile, mouthed sorry and continued to cross!

I can honestly say I have never done that with DS, always stopping well clear and checking before stepping out.

Two different but very lucky escapes methinks.

Thursday 8 November 2018

Chai Tea Cake

Welcome to Patricia Wallis via Bloglovin.

On our way to dog training each week, we usually stop off at a supermarket to use their toilets, picking up their weekly recipe paper in the process. DB saw this Chai Tea Bundt Cake and fancied having a go:
Life had got in the way so in order to speed the process up, I read the method out and he made it, having previously weighed out all the ingredients. We had read it as an all in one cake mix but just as he added the butter, I realised a bit of the method sheet was missing which said to add the butter melted - doh!

Many dirty implements later (I no longer have a hand held electirc whisk), it was as ready as it was going to be. We just could not get rid of all the minute lumps of butter:(

It should have taken 30 - 35 minutes to cook - nope - took nearly 55 minutes. There was quite a lot of butter swimming on the top near the hole (we didn't have a bundt tin either).

After cooling and tipping out the tin, it was done. I was a bit frazzled, can you tell!

Anyhow, it does taste rather nice but we are not sure the chai tea adds anything other than colour as the mix also required 2 teaspoons of mixed spice, which seems to be the main flavour. Its texture is similar to a banana cake.

Herewith the recipe:
Courtesy of Waitrose!

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Food price rises after Brexit

I have trawled the internet, reading official articles about probable food price rises after Brexit, although some have already risen such as bacon, pork and beef. In this country, we now only produce 30% of the food that we need (such a change from post war production).

Here are the list of goods expected to rise:

Butter, cheese - foreign and oddly enough, cheddar, yoghurt up by 8%
Beef up between 5% - 29%
Other meat products up 6%
Pork and bacon already up 20%, more to come
Chicken up 25%
Fruit and vegetables, including potatoes, up by 4%
Tomatoes up between 9% and 18%
Broccoli up 10%
Cod up 18%
Bread (non-wheat and oat) up 2%

Some of the increases are due to increased feed and labour costs. We have already seen this year, orchards of fruit left to rot due to shortages of foreign pickers. China, after severe flooding, have bought a good portion of our pork whilst we continue to import, crazy or what.

Some items that are sourced outside of the EU may rise but not so much. These include Quinoa, Rice, Beans, Pulses etc.

It is recommended you source British flour, oats, white sugar in particular, local salt, cider vinegar, and mustard. Buy British afterwards, when possible.

EU products to source now are olive oil, pepper, pasta, spices, herbs, tomato paste and tinned fish. There are probably far more but I couldn't find anything about those.

If we leave without a customs agreement, things could get very bad with severe delays both in and out of the UK.

Major supermarkets have already siad that due to modern computerised stocktaking, and day to day ordering from the global economy, they are incapable of storing food too long in advance.

Some drug manufacturers have already started stock piling, as drugs are a darn site easier to store than food.

I made the decision this year to increase out soft fruit production. Tinned fruit in juice rather than syrup, is recommended to store long term.

Although I had started my Brexit storage, I have used some of it up. I shall now start again and find somewhere different to store it for use later on.As prices could rise between March and June, I shall make sure that a lot of what I store will be for the summer and autumn months.

Tuesday 6 November 2018

Piccalilli spread

Welcome to Ramona Strnad via Bloglovin.

After making my piccalilli, I set to this morning, with an altered batch, this time more finely chopped to try and create a piccalilli spread. Although we like chunky piccalilli, we find it breaks up sandwiches too much.

On the left is the normal type, finer cut on the right. I didn't want to risk going too small otherwise the vegetables might lose their crunch.

Monday 5 November 2018

Piccalli making

Sooze, I sent you an email from my email, but am not sure if you got it.

You can find the recipe for this under my recipes tab above or here:

1kg vegetables soaked overnight in salt, rinsed and drained:
I have adjusted the recipe to suit our tastes:
Mixed with enough apple cider vinegar to combine:
Sugar and honey ready:
Remaining vinegar ready:
Sauce was made and boiled for 2 minutes before vegetables were added. They were then boiled gently for 5 minutes:
Potted into hot jars and lids put on immediately to help create vacuum:
They now need to store for a minimum of 6 weeks to help develop the flavour. We like to leaves ours longer than that before eating. Two jars didn't pop but they will be fine to eat after the maturity date for about 3-6 months due to the amount of vinegar.

Saturday 3 November 2018

Using my instant potato

For tea, I thawed the remaining leek and chicken bake from the previous week:
We didn't have enough real potato or even enough instant. I made up what we had and had a think how to stretch it further. Eventually I drained and rinsed a can of baked beans and added them to the instant mash:
It was put on top of the food in the dish, a good grating of cheddar cheese was added and it was baked in a hot 200C oven for 20 minutes. Unfortunately, we ate it, shared between us before I remembered to take a picture. Sorry...

It was good though and I shall add beans to more potato dishes in future.

Friday 2 November 2018

Out of a packet or a can....

If you had to choose between instant mashed potato (rehydrated) or a tin, what would you prefer?

We have tried tinned potatoes, and even roasted, neither of us was keen. Instant potato, for us, has a lot better taste and we always have a container of it, just in case. It is also used in the ingredients to make our potato bread.

For mash, I weigh the dried flakes out, measure the liquid (using milk and water), a blob of butter, salt and pepper. Once mixed, it’s texture is great. Taste wise, with cheese, gravy or sauce, it is quite good.

Left to go cold, it can be used in fish cakes, fried in a hash and probably a myriad of other things I haven’t yet tried.

Thursday 1 November 2018

Ah well....

Win some, lose some. I tried my blueberry and damson jam leftover bit, it is over cooked. Lovely taste but a bit chewy. Fine for our use though.

Next on my list is piccalilli. Although I will use my normal recipe, I have decided to have jars of normal chunky but also try making a finer version for sandwiches. A piccalilli spread if you will. I’ll let you know how it goes.