Reducing the spending…week 39-days 4-7 update

Meal day 4 from the store cupboard, fridge / freezer

On day 4 hubby was away on business and I was home late so I tucked into one of the left over portions of the curry and instead of a baked potato I had taco shells – a mixture of cultures I know but quite yummy all the same.


I took the remains of the Chickpea dish and had it with some of the Ciabatta bread.

Meal day 5 from the store cupboard, fridge / freezer

Slight change of plan here.  The menu was Halloumi and salad however my elder daughter and I went to visit to my younger daughter in Masham and we had lunch out – Cheese and Tomato Toasties with Salad.  Hubby was expected home from his trip away with instructions to warm up his left over portion of curry which was waiting for him in the fridge, but he had forgotten and started to make himself some pasta.  I was supposed to be eating my tea at Ikea where we called on the way home to return a duvet cover.  I was looking forward to their Mushroom pancakes but oh no they have once again stopped doing them and all the remaining dishes were meat or fish. To help with the hunger pangs we had a drink and a bowl of chips.

When I arrived home I had the left over curry portion with a slice of bread and hubby continued with his pasta!  Curry 3 times in one week for me was probably a bit much but very cheap.

Day 5 Spend

  • Lunch £16.30 for two
  • Xmas Chocolates £5.16
  • Ikea drinks and bowl chips for 2 £3.00
  • Card and homemade tiny heart from daughters shop £2.00

Total spend £26.46

Meal day 6 from the store cupboard, fridge / freezer

Halloumi and Salad
Halloumi and Salad – instead of the planned Frittata

This is the first time I had used Halloumi and I wasn’t sure how I would cook it as I do not have a griddle.  To improvise I cooked it in my pancake pan for a while then sprinkled the crumb topping on made of seeds and breadcrumbs from the freezer, then popped them under the grill for a few minutes to brown.

I had been gathering bits of salad items all week and then added the tiny new potatoes and a pack of beetroot in the fridge.  We both enjoyed this meal and I discovered I really like Halloumi so now I am searching my books for more recipes.


Leek and watercress Soup followed by Apple and Plum Crumble

I made some of the Leek and Watercress soup again using up the last of the leeks, a stick of celery, 2 sweet potatoes, a bunch of spring onions and most of the bag of rocket, watercress and spinach.  I stirred in some of the Creme frais, leaving a blob each for the pudding.

Day 6 Spend

  • 1 bag rocket, watercress and spinach £1.49 the bag I bought earlier in the week smelled like compost on opening so I had to go and buy fresh.
  • 1 bunch spring onions £0.75
  • 2 pkts Lavazza Espresso ground coffee (for hubby) £5.76 on offer

Total spend £8.00

Meal day 7 from the store cupboard, fridge / freezer


Risotto – you may have noticed this changed from the planned Nutloaf

This was a bit of a throw it in risotto cooked by my hubby and using most of the button mushrooms (still a few left), spring onion, frozen broad beans, frozen peas and a few sun-dried tomatoes from a packet in the cupboard.  I had a packet of Organic Arborio rice and there will be enough left for another meal another day.


Egg salad using the remains of the salad from Day 6

Day 7- No spend

To summarise

So that is the end of the first week and I spent £20.78 on groceries – £5 of which was on the stock of tissues and another £5.76 on the stock of coffee.  Without these items I would have spent just £10.02.

The £10.02 was spent on fresh produce to go with my store cupboard, fridge and freezer items that made our 7 main meals for the week plus lunches and breakfast.

I can say that we had some lovely meals – all freshly made and not a ready meal in sight.  Of course the fridge is looking quite empty now but the challenge is to see how far I can stretch the remaining store cupboard groceries over the coming week.  Tomorrow we will be beginning a new month –  October or should I call it Stocktober – the month I use up all our stock of food.

And you might be asking did I manage not to use any of my wage before the end of September – all will be revealed tomorrow.


Reducing the spending…week 39 – day 3 update

Meal day 3 from the store cupboard / fridge and freezer

Chickpea and Tomato Bake

Main Meal – Chickpea and Tomato Bake

An old favourite, quick and easy to make.  I had a packet of chickpeas and a jar of passata in the cupboard.  The tomato base consisted of onion, celery, the final courgette and half the red pepper.

For the topping I used the ciabbatta loaf which I got reduced – cost 80p, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with grated cheddar and parmesan cheese from the freezer to which herbs can be added if required.

I opened a small tub of tomato paste to add to the tomato mixture and so as not to waste the rest of the tub I put it into an ice cube tray to freeze.

Tomato Cubes


I am pleased to report that I did manage to take my lunch today which saved me £3.22.  However I did pick up a smoothie £1.80 and a pack of buttered Soreen malt loaf for a snack whilst at the hairdressers after work – costs £2.39.

I also bought

  • 1 small bag of mini salad potatoes £1
  • 1 carton of lactose free milk £1.48

At the hairdressers I spent a £1 on a piece of choc cake as a donation to the Macmillan Coffee Morning that my hairdresser is holding tomorrow – and it was yummy!

Total spend today £5.87

If you are wondering whether I got my baking done for the Macmillan coffee morning….I did – just in the nick of time.  I settled on a very easy chocolate tray bake coated in dark chocolate and sprinkled with nuts, choc chips and sprinkles.  Sorry didn’t have time to take a picture before having to deliver it to a friend who will take it to work for our coffee morning  tomorrow.

I won’t be attending as I will be on my way to see my younger daughter in Masham accompanied by my elder daughter.  The younger one is opening a new shop called Birdhouse Design, selling crafts and painted vintage furniture.  It is a new venture with two of her friends and I am really looking forward to seeing what they have done.  I may even get some pictures.  So forgive me if I sign off now to have an earlier night.

Tomorrow nights tea will be the left over curry and lunch will be at one of the lovely Masham cafes.


Reducing the spending…week 39 – day 2 update

Meal Day 2 from the store cupboard / fridge / freezer onlyLentil Curry

Main Meal – Curry and Brown Rice

This was the nicest curry I have made in a while – the difference might be that I made it with Coconut Oil rather than Olive Oil.  The brown lentils and rice were in the cupboard and I added 1/2 large can of Coconut Milk from the freezer.  The vegetables I used in this dish were 2 onions, 1 large carrot, 1 of the 2 remaining courgettes, 2 sticks of celery, 3 small potatoes and 2 left over ones.  To all this I added 1/3 of small jar of Pataks Korma curry paste which I bought on offer recently.  For the two of us I like this size of jar but I rather think it has been discontinued.

For dessert we had some more of the crumble with a spoonful of creme frais.

Shopping Day 3

Today’s spend in readiness to make meal day 3

  • 1 Ciabatta Loaf reduced from £1.50 to 80p
  • 1 bag radishes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 red pepper

Total Cost £3.00


No 7 offer

  • 3 for 2 offer on NO 7 Protect and Perfect Serum @ £23.95 each is £47.90 less £5 voucher = £42.90 or £14.30 each

plus 168 points plus Extra points with 2 points vouchers 500 = 668 or £6.68

Marks and Spencers

1 Navy stretchy pencil skirt £25.00 less £6 vouchers = £19.00


I have to confess I was up too late to make anything and so had to buy soup and a bread-cake again for lunch cost £3.22.  I will definitely be taking my lunch tomorrow.

Vouchers still to spend

As you may have noticed I am using up vouchers and collecting extra points where I can. I have still  a number of vouchers to use – some better than others

  • £5 Morrisons Voucher (we tend to use these in Scotland)
  • £5 Tesco (also use in Scotland)
  • £5 Garden Token
  • £5 off at BHS
  • 3 x £5 Boots No7 skincare tokens
  • 5 x £3 No 7 makeup tokens
  • 2 for 1 entry to Stllingfleet and Parcevall Hall Gardens
  • 50p off McCain Chips
  • 100 points at Sainsbury’s on canned or packet veg and pulses
  • 70 points on a frozen pie or ready meal
  • 120 points if spending £3 on a curry sauce
  • plus various coupons for Boots toiletries from 25% off to extra points.

I also found out you can get a £5 BHS voucher off £25 spend if you book a collection for donated used clothing before 30th September – might just make that.

I have booked a hearing test at Boots and I get 150 Advantage points.  I also claimed my free 100 or so points at Sainsbury’s for having my cholesterol test at their pharmacy.

For my Day 3 meal tomorrow there has been a slight change of plan and we are having Chickpea and Tomato Bake to use the Ciabatta loaf and red pepper instead of the Tuscan Casserole.

I noticed hubby is also out of Jam so he is being forced to eat up any leftover bits before I get a new jar.  I will need fresh milk tomorrow and some potatoes too but nothing else – so should be a cheap day.

I foolishly volunteered to bake something for the Macmillan coffee morning we are holding at work on Friday.  I say foolishly not because it isn’t a good cause but because I hadn’t thought about just when I would do this baking.  Where am I going to find a spare hour tomorrow when I am having my hair cut after work and will be in late?

Still I couldn’t say no as Macmillan is the charity of our choice at work this year and the whole office is supporting them and raising money by organising pamper evenings, sleep overs, long walks and marathons and jumping out of airplanes – I will just stick to the baking it is not quite so taxing even if I might be doing it at midnight!


Reducing the spending…week 39

Meal Day 1 – from the store cupboard / fridge and freezer only

Mushroom and Leek Pancakes

Main Course – Mushroom and Leek Pancakes baked in a cheese sauce with steamed Broccoli

To make the pancake batter I used some Buckwheat flour which is gluten free, lactose free milk and 2 of my remaining 10 eggs.   For the filling I used up the remaining 4 chestnut mushrooms and a further 8 button mushrooms – so I have half a pack of mushrooms left for another meal.  I used 1 generous leek and I will use the other 2 in soup.  I had fresh parsley for the filling and grated cheese for the sauce in the freezer.

Plum and Apple Crumble

Dessert – Apple and Plum Crumble with ice cream

The apples came from our Beach cottage garden and I already had the plums which I left to ripen from last week.  The crumble topping was the end of some ready made in the freezer and I used up the end of a tub of ice-cream.

I will post the recipes in my recipe pages.

The weekly shopping #39

A slight change to my shopping this week as I will not be doing a ‘big’ shop but rather buying as I need.  Today’s purchases.


  • Yoghurt 2 for £2.50 a saving of £0.68
  • Creme Frais £0.77
  • Salad Cress £0.25
  • Bag Lettuce £1.00
  • 4 Kitchen rolls – £1 a pack of 2 saving £1.16
  • Kleenex Compact Tissue offer 2 packs of 4 for £5.00 saving £2.36 although not on my list I took advantage of this offer while it was still available (they are the flat handy little boxes that fit neatly into my glove compartment and dressing table drawer).

Total Spend £11.77 less a Brand Match coupon for £2.66 = £9.11

Although the Tissues at £5 will take me over my budget for the week it was too good an offer to miss.

My new points balance is now 11338 worth £56.69 – I think I have just discovered a good source of extra income!

In Boots I bought a pot of basic No 7 Night Cream with my £5 off coupon – cost £4.95.

I also purchased a card and bunch of flowers for a colleagues birthday – cost £5.99

And…I will say this quietly as I am trying not to draw attention to the fact that I bought my lunch – soup and a bread-cake – cost £3.22

These small birthday gifts and cards do add up over the year and it would be good if I could turn my attentions to making some cards.

Well that is a full account of today’s spending. Tomorrow I have another Boots coupon to use and I will be making another store cupboard meal.

September Challenge

Reducing the Spending – ideas to cut the grocery bill to get to the end of the month

Although I have just received this months pay on the 20th I am trying not to spend any of it until until I can combine it with my hubby’s pay at the end of the month.  It is so much easier to do a budget for a combined income starting on the same day rather than be part way through one wage when the other arrives.  Ideally my aim is to be one months pay ahead so we are spending the previous months pay when the current one is received.

For the remaining days of September I am looking to use up food that I have already bought and create menus to fit the items I have.  So far this year I have spent £2,222.56 on groceries over 38 weeks which is an average of £58.50.   This is just for groceries and does not include face creams, shampoo and conditioner or supplements, remedies and occasional whole food items from my local health / wholefood shop.

If I were to stick to my target of £50 a week then I will only have £377.44 to last me until the end of the year, which works out at £26.96 per week.

Something tells me that £26.96 a week is going to be a tough target and, if I am both realistic and honest, one that I will not succeed in meeting no matter how creative I am!  So what are my choices?

  • Find free food – I do not grow our own food yet, it is on the cards for next year so free food this year would have to be foraged foods and I don’t think hedgerow berries or wild mushrooms would give us a good meal every day and I doubt very much that I would come across some road kill Lentils!
  • Perhaps I could sell some of the ‘stuff’ I am getting rid of and use the income to add to my grocery allowance.
  • I could try buying my food daily as it is needed, although I am not convinced this would work out cheaper although it might stop me buying items just in case.
  • I could go back to being non-organic and also buy the very cheap basic economy foods.
  • I could make savings in another area of my budget and add this to my food allowance.

Instead of any one of the above list I will put all of them into place except the non-organic.  I think staying organic is well worth it on taste alone.

Foods I already have in stock

Fresh Fruit and Veg

  • Carrots
  • 4 Leeks
  • Bunch Celery
  • A head Broccoli
  • Pack Beetroot
  • Courgettes x 2
  • Pack button mushrooms
  • 4 sweet poataoes
  • Bunch spring onions
  • 5 onions
  • Handful potatoes
  • 3 Braeburn apples
  • 4 lemons
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Kiwi


  • Frozen Broad Beans
  • Frozen Peas
  • Frozen Spinach

There is plenty of frozen fruit in freezer which will be fine to go on my Yoghurt and I have fresh apples for my snack at work.

As a standby there are two pies in the freezer should I not get to cook the intended meal for some reason.

Groceries / fridge

There are a selection of herb teas and a unopened box of decaff tea, 2 packets of ground coffee, a new tin cocoa and a large drinking chocolate.

In the fridge I have an unopened fresh orange and apple juice and 1 carton Almond Milk.  We have just opened a Lurpack tub butter 9should last the week) and I have 2 tubs Bertolli spread.

In my cupboard I have an unopened box of wheat free Museli and some linseeds to use up for breakfast and a few Spelt flakes.  I also have a whole tub full of Porridge Oats – this might become Flapjack, Melting Moments or even just porridge.

I have bread in the freezer so I will take the Pitta breads to work for my lunch and buy some fresh salad to put inside and add chopped boiled egg or Feta Cheese from the fridge.

The plain Indian Chapattis will be fine with some curry and rice. I have a bag of rice and I can use the courgettes, onions, celery, potato and carrot in the curry plus 1/2 tin coconut milk from the freezer.


I bought Halloumi to try a couple of weeks back so I must find a recipe for this.

The eggs will provide another meal – probably pancakes with the buckwheat flour and I have leeks and a pack of mushrooms for the filling.


Below are a few more of the items I have in stock.  The Butter Beans will go in a soup or Tuscan Casserole,  the Bulgar and Quinoa with roasted vegetables.  I have already mentioned the curry and I will find a recipe for the sun dried tomatoes.  Not in the picture are a selection of mixed nuts which I bought on offer earlier in the year.

Store Cupboard

So putting that altogether the weeks menu plan is looking like this-

Menu Plan

  • Monday – Pancakes with Mushroom and Leek filling with Broccoli florets and peas
  • Tuesday – Curry and Rice
  • Wednesday – Tuscan Casserole – Butter Beans, Leeks, Courgette and Tomatoes
  • Thursday – Left over Curry with Baked potato.  Hubby away this meal
  • Friday – Halloumi – recipe to find for this – will probably serve with Salad
  • Saturday – Frittata using left over veg, some Parmesan in the freezer and served with Salad
  • Sunday – Nut loaf with Broad Beans and roast Sweet Potatoes

With any other leftover veg I will add beans / lentils and make some soup for the weekend and lunches at work the following week.

The additional groceries I will need to buy to complete the meals above and for general use:-

Shopping List

  • 1 Baking Potato
  • 1 bag fresh salad leaves with watercress
  • 1 bunch radishes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 4pts 1% milk
  • 1 Lactose free carton milk
  • 1 tub Lurpack butter

A quick add up and I estimate that the foods I have in stock for the menus above together with breakfasts and packed lunches will save me about £80.  My only costs for the few items required in the shopping list will be about £10 less the £2.66 brand match coupon.

Now going back to my saving money ideas can any of my readers tell me how you sell on ebay – is there a good article somewhere on how to do it?

Hard Facts…and figures

Six Month Update on my Reduce the Spending Challenge


All my household accounting is done in the Microsoft Money program which I have had installed on my computer since 2002 and it serves me very well.  Before that I was a pen and paper girl and my loft is home to about 9 large accounting books that hold the years from our marriage in 1976 to 2001.  Our life during these years in terms of our financial status with all its ups and downs are documented in these pages.

With Microsoft Money the big advantage is being able to customise a report so that I can see exactly how much I have spent in every category.  Looking at my Housekeeping – Food section for the first 8 months of this year it is no surprise to see that my grocery bill for each month during the Jan to June period is lower than the last 2 months of July and August when I appear to have lost the plot a little.  I know this will be because life had become a bit hectic around here with holidays and outings…oh and a bit of a do on my birthday which exceeded the budget by a mile.  However, despite everything, my efforts in keeping a closer watch on the food bill and what I buy have really paid off.

The figures below include all groceries, fruit and vegetables and cleaning products also soap powder, toilet rolls, tissue, kitchen roll, foil and freezer bags etc.  I have a separate category for toiletries (such as face creams, shampoo etc) and supplements and they are not included in these figures.

  • Jan  £294.92
  • Feb  £208.01
  • Mar  £242.05
  • April £232.94
  • May  £292.33
  • June  £175.14
  • Total £1445.39

A total of £1445.39  divided by 26 weeks = £55.59 per week which is £5.59 over my £50 a week budget or £145 over budget for the half year, but remember this is for mainly organic food which I do not want to give up so I have to be extra careful in what I buy to keep the prices down.  I am sure if I bought the basics of everything I would be well under budget.

Just as a guide the figures for the same period last year are £2252.73 for the first 6 months or a weekly spend of £86.64.  So I am already saving £31 a week.  Even though this is good I feel I must now take stock of where I am and look at how I can do even better in the next 6 months.

I will continue to buy as many of my purchases that I can when on offer and use all the coupons I can get my hands on and as you know one or two of these have come from empty trolleys and my mum bless her posts the Sainsbury’s ones down to me.  Some kind person left a £5 Boots voucher on my desk today – so the word is certainly getting around!

I have been and will continue to cook from fresh and use less processed foods and ready meals as I want to be healthier as well as wealthier!

I rarely buy cakes or biscuits now so when we went on holiday in July I made a Farmhouse Fruit Cake (see recipe section) to use up the eggs and this lasted us for the whole fortnight and was so much nicer than bought.  It is one of those all in one recipes which you can mix up in your Kenwood, however, I use my food processor and to avoid the fruit becoming ‘liquidised’ by the blade I fold it into the cake mixture at the end.


So what are my plans for the remaining 4 months of the year?

My aim is to reduce the weekly shop to £45 which would be another £1170 in total.  To do this I shall have to be even more careful with my choices and look for more bargains and offers.

I know I need to work on my menu planning – I do enjoy doing it but find it hard to set aside the time to do it and so I keep a small recipe book with me of our favourite recipes so I can plan meals whilst having my Hot Choc treat in Sainsbury’s cafe.  However, I often forget what we have in the cupboards at home.  So plan number 1 is…

  • Do an audit of everything in my cupboards and freezer
  • Plan for two to four weeks meals around the contents adding in items to purchase where necessary.  For instance if I have a box of lasagne sheets and some tins of tomatoes I might need to buy a red pepper and courgette to make a lasagne meal.  If I have a load of flour I will add dried fruit and make another fruit cake.
  • I challenge myself to use up and empty my cupboards over the next few weeks and only buy what we absolutely need unless there is a good offer on an item we use.

In addition to this I would like to try more of the recipes in my folders and get rid of those that we decide I wouldn’t make again.  It would be useful to mark some of them that are fast and easy to prepare as well as ones that will freeze well.  So plan number 2 is…

  • Look out for new easy to make nutritious recipes specifically for the nights when we are late making tea and can hardly be bothered.
  • Identify more meals for the freezer and make at least 1 meal to freeze each week.

As we are vegetarian I have to be creative with a number of foods that give us our protein.

  • Eggs
  • Cheeses
  • Soy / Tofu
  • Pulses and beans
  • Grains – Quinoa, Bulgar Wheat
  • Nuts

One food group for each day with the seventh being Pasta.

I have come to the conclusion that cooking from scratch every night on my working days is just too much so making one meal cover two nights is a good solution.  If I make a curry or a Nutloaf this lasts 2 days so I get a night off from cooking.

When I did my recent Detox Healthy Eating Weekend I tried and tested a whole host of new recipes and discovered that we like Quinoa and Bulgar Wheat both useful as a stuffing for peppers or tomatoes.

All I need to do now is get my pen and paper and go and look in my cupboards.

3 for 2 offers at Boots…

Lift and Luminate Cream


Apologies for the lack of posts recently.  I promise when I return from Scotland (our holidays) I will do more frequent posts and let you all know what I have been up to.  This is just a quick update to let you know I am still trying hard to reduce our spending and taking full use of coupons and offers if and only if it is something I frequently use.  As you may already know for those of you reading my blogs my aim is to reduce my stuff as well as spend less.

My bathroom cupboard is almost down to the basic essentials.  I have been using up all those unwanted gifts, impulse purchases and items I just didn’t gel with.  I now have more room to build up stocks of the items we do use.

I use Boots No 7 face creams as I have a problem with sensitive skin and No 7 has very little if no perfume in the range.  I always make use of the 3 for 2 offers but I make sure I wait to buy anything until they are also using the £5 off coupon which can be used in conjunction.  And wow did I do well at Boots yesterday.

I bought 3 Lift and Luminate face cream pots usually £23 each.  On 3 for 2 this cost £46 less the £5.00 coupon £41 in total.  This is quite an outlay but it does keep and it will last me easily the whole year and beyond.

But that was not the end of the ‘good deal’ because I had been to the advantage card point before my purchase as I have trained myself to do religiously when I walk into the store and got a coupon for extra points on purchases over £30 that day.

 I also had another point’s coupon just for No 7 purchases and a double points coupon sent to me by post as an advantage card holder.  Altogether I had 208 points for my original purchase points plus 900 with all the extra points’ coupons that would scan through.  That equals £2.08 in ordinary points and £9 in extra points.  That is like a £11.08 reduction on my £41 making my 3 creams £10 a pot… oh and of course you get another £5 off coupon with the purchase.

 A word of warning though for anyone confused with working out the costs benefits whilst in the store – buying 3 for 2 if you have a £5 off coupon is only an advantage on items over a certain price.  £10 would be the break even point.  Anything less than £10 and you will get better savings.  For instance I also buy the basic No 7 day cream which I have to use as a base cream on my sensitive skin.  Each pot is £9.00.

If I bought 3 for 2 x £9 pot less £5 this would cost me £18 less £5 = £13 for 3 pots.  However if I have 3 x £5 coupons and bought each pot individually this would be £9 less £5 = £4 x 3 pots = £12.  Buying each individually with a £5 coupon is £1 cheaper.

My tip is always take the time to visit the advantage card point before shopping.  Some of the coupons have long dates so print more than one off.  This week I have a 10% off any shower gel, 10% off toothpaste / toothbrush, and 10% off shampoo and conditioner.  They run until 3rd September.  They almost always offer points if you spend more than £15 / £20 or £30 in one transaction so worth shopping for all your requirements in one go.

I just love how my stock of cream looks in my cupboard now.

3 for 2 on No7