Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Recovering from a wonderful weekend with our family. My eldest, his wife and our little grandaughter came to stay. The sun shone, despite a reaction to her MMR vaccination, our little grandaughter smiled, chattered, walked, ran and played to her hearts content. Her Daddy bought her a little £3.99 paddling pool and set it up in the garden so that we could cool her down. My peg basket and a few pegs and second hand mega blocks were enough toys to make it fun, they built boats and splashed. This kind of entertainment costs next to nothing.

We did go out, to a wonderful little zoo called tropical wings, complete with a butterfly house, meercats and giant rabbits - though not all in the same enclosure! :)

We had ice creams and came home to eat, saving ourselves (over the weekend) at least £100. The cost of eating out is soaring, at home we can have what we want, when we want it and then enjoy the leftovers!

Today I have a poorly little dog, she has been to the vets and is now on a chicken and rice diet for a few days. Luckily we had chicken at the weekend so I have enough chicken for now. Somewhere at the bottom of the freezer I have more chicken pieces and must now go and "freezer dive" to find them! Don't you just love chest freezers?

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

I love leftovers! Especially planned leftovers. Today we have leftover chicken from one of the costco chickens I bought last week. I cook a chicken and we have a roast chicken meal from 1 breast, with vegetables etc., next day I take all the meat off and put to one side, everything else is in the slowcooker for some lovely stock and soup. Chicken sandwiches, chicken curry and a Nasi goreng (fried rice) are all planned, either to eat this week or for the freezer for later.

According to a recent yahoo news story we can all eat gourmet food quite cheaply! Worth reading the article as everything is priced up in large quantities, not taking into account that there would be plenty of ingredients left over! Leftovers that would make another meal or 2 in some cases, bringing the price of the portions right down! Half price in some cases (see first recipe) I wonder what suggestions we could all come up with for the leftovers in this article?

Monday, 16 July 2012

We spend far too much money on sandwich fillings so today I cooked a ham (3 for £10) so £3.33 which produced 472g of lovely ham slices! So much nicer than the 180g packet of ham slices I had bought last week for £1.50 but which normally costs £3. I have frozen some of the slices so it should do 2 weeks of sarnies and meals. We add chopped ham to quiches, fried rice and Nasi Goreng - a malaysian fried rice meal which is delicious!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Last night we braved the rain and went to see Shakespeare in the park - Macbeth performed by the brilliant Lord Chamberlain's men! The poor actors were also braving the elements and by the interval were coping with thoroughly rainwater sodden costumes as well. We enjoyed a home packed picnic, a glass of wine each and some hot chocolate to drink at the end, this warmed us up a treat! We had the shelter of our umbrellas, groundsheets and waterproofs! The moral of the story is if you want to enjoy outdoor life in Britain at the moment, be prepared and pack for rainy weather!

Sadly during the interval, many people decided enough was enough (surely not true brits then) and packed up and left for home. This was good news for us though as we suddenly were the front row! The folks at the side of us also stayed declaring that they were making memories! We agreed!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Today we received a letter from Santander letting us know that the new total for the mortgage is £64,425.00 Yay! The letter then informs us that our monthly payments will now go down by the princely amount of......wait for it, drumrole...... £1.80 .... Awww!

At first we felt quite let down but on reviewing it, over a year that comes to £21.60 saved against a paltry £5 over a year if we left it sitting in our savings account! Personally I would rather be bringing down that total anyway! This way we are heading slowly but surely to our target of becoming mortgage free with another £16.60 saved!

Today I visited our local Barnados charity shop with a bag bulging with de-cluttered articles! Great feeling! Unfortunately I came out of the shop with another 2 bags of bargains! :) For £10 (everything is 99p) I got 4 t shirts, 1 shortsleeved jumper, 1 beautiful teal varigated wool shawl, a Cath Kidson magnetic board with a shopping list and notebook attached and 3 toys for when my little grandaughter visits! Very pleased with this, my first visit to a charity shop since I hurt my foot!

Cooking up a storm today, 2 packs of half price steak and kidney in the slowcooker, half of which are now 2 steak and kidney puddings (using up some of the approved foods suet mix) the other half is bubbling away as a stew with yummy dumplings in! If I have any spare energy I shall go make some apple cinnamon muffins, need to use up some apples for the box delivery!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

I've been taking a leaf out of Frugal Queens book and spent some time bulk cooking for the freezer! I now have more than a dozen home made "ready meals" available! That should help us resist temptation to order a takeaway!

I have 2 portions of soya bolognaise, 4 portions of chilli con carne (minced beef and soya mix to stretch it) and 8 portions of italian pasta soup (I doubled the recipe), which is more like a spicy vege stew, it is so filling! Here's how to make the soup:-

Italian Pasta Soup

1 large onion (finely chopped)
1 lg clove garlic (crushed)
2 sticks of celery (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon olive oil
15oz tin of tomatoes or 1lb fresh tomatoes
1 + 1/2 pints of stock
4 oz wholemeal macaroni
1 handful of chopped parsley
2 carrots (grated)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Saute the onion, garlic and celery in the oil for 5 minutes, without browning. Roughly chop the tomatoes (skin if using fresh)and add to the pan. Stir in the stock and bring mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat and add the pasta/macaroni. simmer for 15 minutes until just soft. Chop the parsley and add with the grated carrots. Stir and season to taste! Serve with chunks of wholemeal bread. My cookbook says this amount will serve 4, has 163 calories a portion and is high in fibre and vitamins, it is also very yummy!

Now that we have all been reminded of just how dangerous a police officers job can be, perhaps the government can leave their pensions alone! Tereasa May are you listening?

Thursday, 5 July 2012

It's too hot outside today, so after pegging my washing out on the line, to take advantage of this free heat, I did a stocktake indoors.

We shopped at Costco at the weekend, we do this every 3 to 4 months, and spent £150 on food, so £50 or less a month. This ensures enough meat and fish to keep us going until the next visit. We have a good supply of pulses and we bulk buy tinned tuna, tomatoes, sardines etc.

For this we got:-
5lb minced beef,
2 large chickens,
11 large chicken breasts, (1 enough for 2-3 portions)
4 huge gammon steaks, (thinking quiches etc)
18 thick sausages,
big bag of cod loin fillets,
big bag of salmon fillets,
big bag of fish fingers,
Large tub of hommous (it freezes)
Cheese spreads,
huge block of mature cheddar,
so lots of protein, also:-
6 large mixed peppers,
large bunch bananas,
lg bag of salad potatoes,
Butternut squash wedges,
lg bag of sliced mushrooms,
18 fr eggs,
1 kg yogurt,
2 x 500g bags of gnocci,
very large jar of tiptree marmalade,
3 large bottles pissata,
2 large bottles black olives,
6 pkts wm pittas,
2 seeded batch loaves,
18 bags of tyrrells crisps (a naughty treat)
1 big bag of sweet potatoes (costco ones are larger and nicer than the ones in the supermarkets)

Most of this has been packed into portion size packs and frozen down for later use. I can feel the wolf running far away from the door!

We have 2 organic fruit and veg boxes delivered a month @ £14 each and shop only for essentials to a max of £30 a week. This should total £198 for the month and includes dog food and treats. I am going to try to cut the weekly shop down to £20 if I can to make some more savings. Time to use up all the old stores!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Hello again! After a long break, due to illness and the demands of 2 weddings in the family, I am going to give blogging a go again. We still want to do everything we can to pay down the mortgage, preferably before we hit the big 60 and I would like to record our journey. This week we managed to pay another £1,000 off the balance, slowly but surely we will get there! Today I have been using up some of the huge supply of frozen bananas we have in the chest freezer. I found this fab recipe on MSE Old Style, it is fatless yet makes a really lovely tasty fruit loaf. Thank you to the original poster whoever she/he is!

Fat Free Banana Loaf

5 large bananas,

6oz soft brown sugar,

8oz SR flour (I use wholemeal)

2 eggs,

6oz sultanas (I use a mix of sultanas and chopped dates).

Mash the bananas and mix in everything but flour. I make this in my Mum's old kenwood chef! Add flour, the consistency is quite wet, so don't worry. Use a 2lb loaf tin and cook for 1 hour at 170c. I add cinnamon as well. Makes a lovely moist loaf. Although fat free I do sometimes slice and spread with a tiny bit of butter - yummy!