Food and budget this week so far…

It’s two days now that I’ve been on track and haven’t succumbed to the devilish temptation of crap food! I’m using up food that I have in my larder that is on or coming up to it’s expiry date so for the last few days I seem to have eaten a LOT of rice crackers! I’m relieved that they have now gone…. There has been lots of healthy wholefoods though such as red split lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas and lots of vegetables from my small Riverford Organic Veggie Box (I’ve downsized to the small box every week to help with my budgeting)

Food-wise this week I’ve been eating oats for breakfast with some apple in it and a teaspoon of jam. Lunches have been rice crackers topped with raw veggies and salad and main dinner has been lentil and chard stew and then I made a really nice chickpea and swiss chard curry. I have plenty of potatoes to till use up and a butternut squash so these will be on the menu tomorrow night!

Budget-wise this week I’ve had to be EXTREMELY careful. I’ve had to do a round trip of almost 500 miles to move my daughter out of Uni and the petrol cost was £65 (gulp!!!). I put in £25 on Friday (out of last weeks budget) and then used £40 out of this weeks cash budget of £57.50 (which is £25 for food, £12.50 for petrol/car and £20 for entertainment/clothing/toiletries/toilet rolls etc) on Saturday to get us over to the University and finally back home again.

Luckily the only money I have spent out of my cash budget on food and household this week is £3. Tomorrow I will have to put £5 petrol in the car too. If my maths is correct I make that £9.50 left this week. I am determined to not spend anymore so I can add that £9.50 to my savings jar.

I’m really enjoying being so disciplined as it ‘is’ to achieve a goal but I’d be a liar if I said it was easy this week….it hasn’t been. It’s been tough.

The hardest thing is going shopping in the supermarket. Normally I will shop from a list but always add in extras that I fancy. Now I’m literally sticking rigidly to a prepared list and absolutely ONLY BUYING WHAT I NEED AND NOT WHAT I WANT!!!

It’s working though… but I’m not out of the woods yet. There are 4 birthdays this month (I’ve put my thinking cap on!).

C xxxxxx

27 thoughts on “Food and budget this week so far…

  1. Carolyn you may want to consider putting enough money into your weekly gas/petrol so it will add up, and provide a “cushion” for things like this trip you made. If you continue to take from Peter to pay Paul, it eventually causes a problem. Better to have some “extra” (set aside in the bank ??) just a little every week will add up. The same with the birthdays, do you have a “gifts” column, set amounts for all the gifting you do, and set money some aside each pay period.
    It takes 6 months to a year to adjust your final budget, as we learn as we go! You are doing well, I love the photos of the meals. ann lee s

    • Yes going to have to rethink- create a trip/holiday sinking funds category or something as I’ll be visiting family down south about 4 times a year xxx

  2. Thank you, I truly enjoy your blog. I have started the new year with planning a retirement in the next couple years. I can remain very strong most days and some days I am so weak. I agree with using a list – only buying what I need versus impulse buying. I have been making my own laundry detergent for the past three years and have saved large sums of money, I use 1/2 of the laundry softner called for in each load and hang my clothes out to line dry (Solar Powered lol!). Keep up the great work!!!!

    • Every little bit helps in the bigger picture for sure! I’m trying to do the same too (make small changes that add up to quite a lot at the end of the year!) xxxx

  3. Hello Carolyn, well done for sticking to it so doggedly. Regarding gifts, my 25-year old son actually prefers homemade gifts. For Christmas I curated a photo album of his childhood (had to print them first since everything is digital, now). Partly because I feel being the keeper of the family memories to be quite a big responsibility (in case there is ever a flood or a fire). I had intended to annotate each photo with the place and time depicted but I didn’t get around to it. He said it was the best gift he got this year! I did one for my daughter also. I got the albums reduced for about $12 each (about 9 British Pounds each). Depending on who you need gifts for, you could put together albums of happy times you have spent together. If not enough for an album, maybe a photo collage.

    • What a wonderful gift idea! It is true, curating family memories can be an enormous responsibility—I sort-of have that role in my own family—but the rewards are so great. One year, I took memoirs from my recently-passed grandmother and arranged them into a single volume with pictures, and printed copies to distribute to my family.

  4. I have been inspired by the idea of using up stuff that I’ve had, but am still waiting to use. This past week I decided to use up a bunch of dried soybeans that I have had for close to a year! I cooked them in a slow cooker—they need the wet heat and long cooking time or they will be hard to digest—and after cooking have used them in a few different ways.

    I have had soybeans and brown rice, made soybean patties with seasoning and matzo meal–I’m Jewish, and a vegan to boot–and am thinking of combining what’s left with vital wheat gluten and making vegan sausages. Oh, another thing I have done with them I got from an old vegetarian cookbook called “Laurel’s Kitchen”, and that is to make a sandwich spread out of the mashed soybeans and vegan mayonnaise. Now, the recipe in the book isn’t vegan, but vegetarian, so they have you add real mayonnaise and stuff like grated cheese, but Daiya cheese could be substituted.

    I live here in the Southern California desert, close to Palm Springs, and fortunately there is vegan stuff readily available, but I think probably they made similar things during the war? I know the Vegan Society began in England in 1944, and I have some of their old cookbooks in digital form too, and they have a lot of similar recipes. Have you ever seen “First Hand, First Rate” by them? It is a very interesting document to me, because it includes two early recipes for vegan cheese, including one called “bean cheese”! As always, I love your site!!!

    Here is a link for the pdf, if you are interested:

    • I’ve been using stuff up too, and it’s amazing just how long you can eke things out. I have had to buy some basics, milk, veg and tea mainly, but I don’t think I was have emptied the store cupboard by the end of January. I accidentally bought two bags of self raising flour at Christmas, when I don’t usually buy it at all, so I’ve made soda farls, cheese puffs and a tea loaf and there’s still loads left! I need to use that up asap.
      Good luck with the store cupboard ‘shopping’

      • That is so true! It really IS amazing how long you can live off of stuff with a little creativity and economy. I was just looking at some of what I have left—flour, VWG to make my “ersatz roast duck”, some carrots, and soy sauce—and inspiration hit me! I will make kreplach: the Jewish version of won tons, and vegan too!

        My friend, Mollie, gets amused at me; she has said often that anyone looking through my larder would ask, “What is there here to EAT?” But even my carnivorous neighbors are impressed with the meat that I make magically appear from seemingly nothing. 😀 😀 😀

      • I should explain–being a vegan, I make mock meats, seitan, from vital wheat gluten. I forget sometimes that not everyone is familiar with this. It really is amazing how similar t meat it is, and MUCH cheaper.

      • Hi Jack – I’ve been watching several videos on making Seitan over the last few months and will definitely give this a try. xx

      • Hi, Carolyn! 😀

        One tip is to–despite what the videos say–NEVER cover it while it’s simmering. If covered, it absorbs too much water and turns into a gloppy mess. I have an old cookbook called “How To Make All The Meat You Eat Out Of Wheat” and it really helped me more than anything else. The way I make it now is to mix up the VWG with seasoning, water and a little oil–I never use exact measurements, just judge it by eye–until it is very firm. Then I refrigerate it for a few hours, before slicing it as thin as I can get it, and setting to simmer in vegetable broth that I have added a touch of oil to. A good vegan consommé is the Osem brand, which you can get in the kosher section.

        You want it sliced thin, because it always expands a bit. Simmer until the water is gone, and then let it brown a bit in the pan. Take it out and let it sit for fifteen minutes and then use it as slices of mock duck, roast beef, pork…it all depends on how you have seasoned it. A good trick I picked up is to use a Chinese barbecued pork marinade; it really does turn out like restaurant quality Chinese barbecued pork! It is great in sandwiches, cooked with cabbage, whatever you like. 🙂

      • That really sounds delicious indeed and inexpensive to make….thank you for the tips. I will make a note of them and let you know how I get on when I come to make some! xxx

      • Totally agree! I am always amazed how much I get out of a bag of lentils that cost me £1! All that fibre and protein and it adds some filling substance to the stews and soups I make. xxxxxx

  5. Buying the bulk food buckets for your larder sounds like a good idea. Something I might copy in the future. Good luck with your extra low spend, this time of year is a busy one for birthdays in my family too. Why can’t people spread themselves out over the year a bit more more 😉

    • Hahaha yes indeed! Yep I’ve got birthday money which instead of spending on ‘treats’ I’ve bought some food grade sealing buckets which I’m going to fill with bags of my favourite staples to keep them fresh and out of the way in the larder instead of taking up space in the kitchen cabinets. xxxx

  6. In our budget we have a “TRANSFER” jar. No matter how careful you are there will always come a time when you will be short funds for something – gas, groceries, clothes, allowances, prescriptions. Got to love these surprises.

    The transfer fund allows you to move money into whatever category you need it. I started our jar with $25. After that I added whatever was left over from the cash in the different categories until I had $100 – in small bills and large coins. I eventually raised the amount to $200. It all just sits in that jar 99% of the time smiling at me and letting me feel very secure.

    We were very careful to stay within the budget for every category and decided that we would always try to have money left over which we decided to put into another jar with the intention of accumulating a whole months worth of money so that we were running a month ahead. What we discovered is that we were not saving as much as we thought we would.

    So instead we took 2% (and eventually 5%) of all the cash that was to go into the jars and put it aside first. If we needed it it was there but otherwise we actually never thought about it. When you have $400 for groceries and you put $8 aside you don’t even notice it missing. This is the old fashioned way of saving that my parents called “paying yourself first”.

    When saving you have to have patience. It took us quite a long time to get into a position where we had savings of any kind. But time passes no matter what so any amount adds up.

    Back in the 1950s my Mom put 5 cents a day aside for each of us – the kids, the pets, the adults and the household – 30 cents a day or $9 a month. She said it was her safety net as she knew that no matter what happened she knew Dad would find the money to pay the rent and she would be able to feed us all and keep the house running.

    I have a $1 a day fund – putting $30 aside a month and adding $5 for Christmas. I have been doing this for 10 years and have $3650 which is part of our safety net.

    • That all sounds very good and very sensible and I totally agree with paying yourself first and having money in hand! I planned ahead for starting this year on a good note and first started back last February by putting £50 a month into a Christmas Club savings account which I didn’t withdraw until December 1st. In addition was putting away a little for car repairs. After we had gotten over the expense of moving house to cheaper accommodation near where I work on the couple of months before Christmas I was able to actually for the first time (at the grand old age of 52) put some proper savings away… LOL! By the time my next pay check comes around I will have managed to put together a £1000 mini emergency fund. Next it will be paying off debts and refining the budgeting so I have everything covered while I pay all those bills off! After that I’ll start on my fully funded emergency savings and then after that go hell for leather saving for retirement. I wish I had done this a LOT sooner but better late than never!

      By the way WELL DONE YOU for your cash savings safety net- WOW!!!!! xxxxx

  7. I don’t know the ages of the birthday people but could you give them “gift” cards that are things that you can do for them? I used to give lawn cutting, snow shoveling, fruit picking, dog walking and babysitting gift cards. I also tried giving baking and main dish cards but that was not so popular. Mostly because I am not that great a cook. I also gave organize and de-clutter gift cards as I am a pathological cleaner-upper and all my friends and family had to do is point me in the direction of the mess. My humming did annoy some.

    One of my Mom’s frugal recipes was Turkey or Chicken Porridge soup. She always made this when she cooked a whole bird. Sounds very odd I know and to get people to try it was always a bribe them situation but this is a soup that everyone who has had it asks for all the time.

    Simmer the turkey/ chicken carcass in enough water to create at least 3 cups of broth. Strain. Pick the meat off the bones. In a large pan melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Gently brown one cup of oatmeal in the butter. Add the broth and simmer until the oatmeal is cooked (about 30 minutes). Add the meat bits about half way through the cooking process. Salt and pepper to taste.

  8. Hi Carolyn!! I go back to your blog time and again. I have a real interest in wartime history. However, these recipes are so practical today. Our budget has taken a hit recently due to my mum passing away suddenly and having to pay out of pocket for the funeral. In addition to grieving, I had to take unpaid leave from work to sort her affairs. So these recipes are keeping me sane in more way than one. I’m not panicking about how to make frugal food seem interesting, they’re tasty and nutritious, and I won’t get as big as a barn eating comfort food. It’s also pretty neat to be creative with ingredients that some people consider nothing. Also, after taking a financial hit, I’m really enjoying seeing how to better stick to a budget (because it’s so easy to stray!) Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂 🙂

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