Money saving July

In July we managed to save a whopping 19.75% from our food budget which is almost an increase of 5% on last month. The cupboards, fridge & freezer were again filled up before the end of the month and I even had enough to fill 2 carrier bags of food for our local food bank. In fact in I take the food bank donation into account I think I would have saved 25% on what we used to spend prior to me starting this in May.

I’ve been trying to think about what I’ve changed in the past few months to achieve this and make a few notes here:

  • I now bulk buy items where I know that they’re cheaper rather than just when I see them in the shop. For example Kidney beans are 21p in most supermarkets but 27p each in Morrisons. Loose oranges are 10p each in Asda but £1.49 for 6 in Aldi so Asda wins that one.  More info on that here.
  • I don’t however make special journeys just to save a couple of pence as that would cost more in diesel. The way to handle it is not to totally run out of the ingredient in the first place. Which leads me onto the next item…
  • A detailed shopping list. Write items down as they’re running low rather than running out altogether. Don’t go shopping without a list of what you need. Don’t have an empty stomach and it helps if you can go without impulsive partners and children as well.
  • LOTS of home cooking. Freezing the extra portions (there are 3 of us) provides meals for another night or for lunches whilst also ensuring that we keep our portions under control.
  • I plan our meals a few days in advance and ALWAYS build in using up leftovers to ensure no waste. Initially I did a menu plan for a full week but that didn’t enable us to use up leftovers or special offers on fresh produce.
  • I’ve massively cut back on our use of kitchen roll by using Krama washclothes from Ikea (my husband has to have something with him to wipe his face whilst he eats apparently) and they’re also useful for my facial routine which again saves money on expensive beauty products.
  • Keep all your food receipts. This makes it really easy to compare prices later and keep a track of your spending.

I hope that this is of interest to someone and if you do manage to save money using any of the above please consider donating food to your local food bank.






June budgeting

After my last post detailing how I’m aiming to save money on our household spending I’m pleased to announce that I saved 15% from our food budget in June. An increase of 5% on the previous month and like last month we ended the month with full cupboards and freezers.  In fact twice this week already we’ve had meals out of the freezer as I need some room. I’ve found that most recipes are for 4 and as there are 3 of us the 4th portion gets frozen. So eventually we end up with a huge selection of home cooked ‘ready meals’ that need using up. My burger press has been used a lot and home made bean burgers are open frozen before being bagged up.  They are much nicer than shop bought vegetarian burgers, cheaper and far healthier as well as I know EXACTLY what’s in them.

Previously I would have to ‘stretch’ the last of the food budget by the end of the month and as soon as the 1st of the month came around I had to do a HUGE food shop but not any more.  I’ve continued to watch prices of food but am also careful regarding fuel and time. I’m shopping carefully and to a list (the latter makes a big difference).  Shopping is fitted around other things going on and items deemed non-essential wait until I can get them cheaply.

The garden has kept us in strawberries for the past month and we have so much lettuce it’s getting a bit silly. The courgettes have just started and soon the tomatoes and cucumbers will be available as well.  Which explains our ‘ready meal nights’, I need room in the freezers for meals made from our home grown vegetables.

I wonder how much I can save in July?




Posh Paws

Oscar has been suffering in the heat recently so I spent most of yesterday grooming him. After last summers fiasco with
grass seeds I decided to clip his paws very short like a Poodle to try and avoid a repeat performance.


Before grooming he looked like a normal Airedale Terrier albeit a bit shaggy.

As we’re finally experiencing a summer here in England I took his coat shorter than normal and then gave him ‘Posh Paws’.  It was quite hard to do as he has extremely ticklish feet and kicks like a mule but hopefully he’ll get used to it:


He normally suffers from knots in between his paws in between grooming sessions but I managed to clip this area clean which will hopefully solve that problem for a bit.



One benefit of him having poodle paws is that it took seconds to hose them down after his walk this morning so they might be here to stay even if he looks slightly ridiculous.

Watermelon socks


PatternDavid’s Toe-Up Sock Cookbook by David Schulz using 3×1 twisted rib.
Yarn: 65g of Opal Acapulco shade 1306 and 33g of Regia Uni shade 1092
Needles: 2x 2.25mm circulars
Made for: me, UK 7
Method: Two at a time, toe up. The toes were cast on separately, rejoined and then separated again for the heels before rejoining and then I worked up the leg.
Time taken to knit: March 10th 2013 – June 19th 2013


I fancied another pair with solid heels, toes and cuffs after making my Waffle House socks and liked how these colours worked together.



I worked a twisted 3×1 rib and then changed to a twisted 1×1 rib for the cuff:



As always I was determined to get the stripes to match which meant more ends than normal to sew in but it was worth it.


But unlike my Easter socks I made myself sew the ends in straight away so they didn’t languish in an almost finished state for weeks.

I particularly like the heels…


Progress report

I’ve been busily working on my socks whenever I’ve had a few minutes spare and finally I feel as if I’m getting somewhere:
Comparing them against my Easter socks I’ve only got a bit more to go before I can start the rib…

Necessary budgeting

Like many of you we’ve been increasingly having to juggle our finances as the cost of living increases, pay freezes continue to bite and in addition I’ve had a huge cut in salary since I got made redundant in February.  I was fortunate enough to get another job within days but my hours are a lot less than the previous job. We are already very careful with money –  cautious with the heating, don’t use a tumble dryer, have replaced windows and our front door, share one car which neither of us use to commute to work and don’t go out very often, etc etc so don’t have many areas we can cut back on.

One extravagence that we have is that all 3 of us have gym memberships but for both my husband and I exercise is helping us overcome injuries and without the monthly gym fee individual classes would be a lot more expensive.  After my knee injury in December 2009 my mobility has massively improved in the past two years that I’ve been going to the gym and I go most days. I haven’t had to use a walking stick for 2 years and recently started running again and also cycling which is a significant improvement so we both decided that the gym memberships were essential for us.

Having 4 animals isn’t cheap but again I source their food as cheaply as I can and my dog Oscar is a blood donor at the vets so we get his annual injections free of charge. I groom him myself which saves a lot.  I am also a firm believer that you get an animal for life, so even though money is tight at the moment, I would never consider re-homing our pets unless things got really bad and we’re nowhere near there yet.

So I had to look to our food budget in order to save some money. I use a separate bank account for food and the money is transferred on the 1st of the month so it’s pretty easy for me to keep track of our budget.  Both myself and our daughter are vegetarian and my husband doesn’t eat a lot of meat so straight away that probably saves us money compared to others but I wanted to reduce the actual amount we were spending every month. I was already shopping in the discount supermarkets and often cooked in bulk and froze meals to use fresh ingredients up but still thought that there was room for improvement.

My husband, when bored whilst recovering from his Discetomy surgery went through our kitchen cupboards and freezer, organising and sorting which made us realise just what we already had in ‘stock’ so to speak so I’m aiming to use these things up rather than keep buying more of the same.

And then I found A Girl Called Jack.  I started off by reading her blog from start to finish and really admire her strength and determination to improve her situation for both herself and her son.  Her recipes are born out the necessity to feed herself as cheaply as possible but are healthy and very tasty. They are priced up per single portion and everyone that we’ve tried so far has been gorgeous. We’ve enjoyed Mumma Jacks Best Ever Chilli, Courgette Sultana and Lemon Bread (very nice toasted), Chocolate Tea Bread (again nice toasted and I prefer to make it with plain bread flour. I slice it up and freeze. DD likes it spread with Nutella.), Jardaloo Ma Murghi (apricot curry), Mixed Bean Goulash and Carrot Cumin & Kidney Burgers (I make these Slimming World friendly by leaving out the flour).   I also have some Courgette, Tomato & Philadelphia Gratin (I didn’t have any Brie) in the freezer.

Where as previous attempts at meal planning involved us all choosing favourite meals and shopping accordingly, this time I’ve been planning our meals around whatever fresh ingredients we have in the fridge – hence the Gratin in the freezer as I was trying to use up some reduced price courgettes before they went off.

I’ve also been making a note of food prices and was shocked by the differences charged between supermarkets for the same item – I always looked at own brands for comparison.  Now I aim to shop at a number of different shops and always use MySupermarket to check prices but unfortunately the discount supermarkets aren’t listed at the moment. I’ve been planning shopping trips around other things so I don’t waste fuel or time.  Staple items that we use all the time are logged on a spreadsheet with prices so I know to stock up on kidney beans if I’m going near Sainsburys for example as Morrisons is 6p a tin more expensive which adds up over the month as we use a lot of them.  Or that a 500g pack of red lentils is 69p in Homebargains but £1.28 in ASDA so I make sure to buy more at Homebargains (which I visit twice a month) before I run out.

So in May 2013 by employing the above methods I managed to save 10% on our food bill. In addition out of the food budget I bought a foodie gift for a friend and stocked up the cupboards with tinned foods at the end of the month; whereas normally we have almost run out of money by the end of the month and have some ‘odd’ meals.  Plus I have to do a big shop as soon as the following months money hits the account. I haven’t had to do that so far and am hoping to save more money in June…

What are you doing to cope with rising prices?  Have you got any more tips?





a modelled photo of the Moss stitch edged cardigan that I finished a while ago:



Our morning walks…

For the past two weeks my husband has walked with Oscar and I in an attempt to get fitter after his surgery before returning to work.

We are lucky in that we are near to a beautiful park where dogs are allowed to run off lead and Oscar has a firm group of friends. There are a LOT of photos of dogs playing below. If you came here purely for crafting projects or don’t like dogs please look away now…


Oscar, an Airedale Terrier














































And those are Oscars’ friends. We walk every morning, enjoy the woods, the sounds & beauty of our surroundings. A ball will always enliven a walk in Oscars’ opinion but friends to bounce and run with are far better.


A quick explanation

Life has been a bit crazy here recently. I’m finding it hard to find time to sit down and write out a full post so I’ll just summarise it quickly.

I got made redundant at the end of February which although not unexpected was a shock.

I was lucky enough to get another job 3 days later but with less hours so my income has taken a hit which is difficult in this economic climate.

2 weeks later my husbands’ back (he slipped a disc in his back last June) deteriorated and he had emergency surgery to remove the disc. So my gardening leave was spent nursing a very sick partner and doing everything that needed doing. He returns to work on Thursday and although he still struggles to sit down for any length of time I think he’s ready. He has been on a lot of painkilling drugs both before and after the surgery and it’s been a major job sorting them out and making sure he takes them on time. For the past 2 weeks he has been walking Oscar with me every morning in an attempt to raise his fitness and soon I will hopefully be able to share some fantastic photos of Oscar and his friends playing.

My new job is going well and I’m still based at home which is just as well given that I’ve been a nurse for the past 2 months.

I also had a birthday a couple of weeks ago but my birthday treat of a day out was postponed due to a sick car.  My present from DH is a trip to the Festival of Quilts in August with an overnight stay which I’m looking forward to as I’ve never been before.

Craft wise this is what I’ve been doing over the Bank Holiday weekend:


Apple core shapes cut out with the Accuquilt.

So that’s it, I’ve probably missed something vital out but that’s it for now.

Some knitting

I finished a knitting project ages ago but forgot to share it:


Cardigan with Moss stitch edging

Cardigan with Moss stitch edging


PatternCardigan with Moss Stitch Edging by Debbie Bliss.
Yarn: 100g of Baby Cashmerino
Needles: 3mm & 3.25mm circulars
Made for: Baby J, size 12 – 18 months.
Method: Sleeves, fronts and pockets were all knitted two at a time.
Time taken to knit: July 30th 2012 – January 10th 2013

The photo above isn’t a good rendidition of the cream colour but it was late and I wanted to get it in the post the next day. A better picture of the colour can be seen here.

I’m embarrassed to say that for such a small garment it took me AGES to knit as I got bored. Plain stocking stitch doesn’t interest me and the sewing up is even worse. Eventually a lovely friend of mine took pity on Baby J and sewed it up and I fed her home cooked food in return. It’s a deal which we’re both happy to do again so hopefully future garments won’t take as long.

It’s a lovely fit apparently and Mum loves the style.

I’ve also started another pair of socks:


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