Tag Archives: food

Menu Plan

I almost forgot it was pancake day last week until I strolled down the baking aisle in Sainsbury’s and noticed the empty shelves and a lot of frantic shoppers wondering what they would do now the pancake mixes had all gone!

I always look forward to stuffed pancakes and I have made this recipe for Leek and Mushroom Pancakes a few times.  I use spring onions, celery and young leeks together with button mushrooms and for the batter I use buckwheat flour.

Pancake Day

Pancake Day

Pancake Day

Mushroom and Leek Pancakes

Once the filling is rolled into the pancake I cover them in a white or cheese sauce and sprinkle Parmesan over the top and bake until piping hot and golden brown.

Last weeks menu plan

Menu Plan 3rd to 9th March   

Monday -Pizza and Salad
Tuesday -Mushroom and Leek pancakes
Wednesday -Baked Potato, salad and cheese
Thursday -Samosas and Salad
Friday -Halloumi and Roasted Veg skewers with rice
Saturday -Eating out or Pasta
Sunday -Shepherds Pie with Lentils

On Friday we were both home late so we ended up with good old Egg and Chips with peas as hubby can rustle this up with no help from me.

This coming week I am trying to incorporate some of the ingredients already in my cupboards and fridge so I am making a casserole, omelette and soup so I can throw some of the use up items in.

Menu Plan 10th to 16th March

Monday – Leftover Lentil Shepherds Pie with Broccoli
Tuesday – Tuscan Tomato Casserole with Chickpeas
Wednesday – Omelette filled with courgette and peppers with side salad
 Thursday – Cauliflower and Broccoli Bake
 Friday – Homemade soup with whatever need using up
 Saturday – Cottage – possibly
 Sunday – Soup from Friday

Today is Monday and we are on track so far with the leftover Lentil Shepherds Pie.  I will be using any bits of salad still in the fridge rather than buying any fresh, I know I have a little gem lettuce, cucumber and radish as a base and also a few tomatoes so if I add some peas and buy a small tub of coleslaw I think I can call that a salad.   If we go to the cottage I don’t want heaps of salad items lying around uneaten over the weekend.

As the weather is becoming warmer we will soon be leaving the winter recipes behind and I will be looking at lighter fresher foods and hopefully I will be looking at a lighter fresher me as I believe from the scales that I have gained 3 lbs over the winter months!


Reducing the spending week #8

Groceries Wk 8

This week I spent a hefty  £57.95 on groceries and a further £13 on Britta water filters, (half price for a box of 6).  As I thought I didn’t need very much shopping this week I was a little surprised at the amount.

However, quite a few of the items were expensive buys this week as I was running out of a few things or come to the end of a roll.  Some of the dearer things were –

  • Cling Film (biodegradable)  £1.95
  • Foil  £1.65
  • Flaxseed  £2.40
  • Coffee Espresso x 2  £7.18
  • 1 doz organic eggs – mixed sizes  £3.70
  • Rubber gloves  £2.15

I saved on the offers on Ecover washing up liquid, cheese, bread and Kitchen towels.

My lunches at work were dearer this week than last.  I only managed one lunch taken from home and the rest I bought at a cost of £9.04.

I also bought two bottles of supplements – Vitamin D £8.79 and Acidophilus £7.55.  I haven’t been taking these for a week or two and my plan is to take them every other day as a compromise to try and save money on these over the year as this is definitely and expensive category in my budget.

I spent a massive £34.72 in the stationery shops – Staples and Rymans.  I am working on simplifying our home office at the moment and I am changing one or two of my systems for keeping track of all the paperwork.  So as well as decluttering I am also spending some money here to try and improve the set up.

I needed to renew my 3 lever arch files which have worn and split due to continuous use.  I managed to get some new ones at half price and they are sturdier than the old ones so should last longer.  I use one for filing my papers that relate to my bill account, one for my bank, credit card and savings statements and a third for my mum in laws paperwork.

However, I decided this week that I would begin a separate fourth file for my savings statements and remove them from my bank statements file as it is an expanding section which is overloading the file.

What I bought this week


Four white lever arch files £3.34 x 4 = £13.36

8 narrow plastic wallets (I have a purpose for these wait and see!) £10.13 with 15% off

1 slimline purple pen for my notebook £2.99

1 Martha Stewart stick up pocket £5.49

Filofax Expenses

1 pack of Filofax expense forms – did I really need these – probably not! £ 2.75

Spring Flowers

Various Spring flowering plants for the garden £15.95

    • 1 Hellebore Niger
    • 2 pots Dwarf Narcissus
    • 2 pink Cyclamens

1 box of 6 primulas



Decorating items – £12.98

  • Hairline crack filler £5.99
  • Filler tools  £3.00
  • Tester pot  £3.99 (not shown)

I will be doing a post soon about Simplifying our home office and all will be revealed.  Meanwhile this coming week has to be a no spend /low spend to compensate for last week.  There are only 5 days left in February and although I have overspent in Stationery and Supplements I am still within the whole housekeeping budget because my food spending is only £115.95 so far for the month.

Tomorrow I will post my coming weeks menu plan and review last weeks.

Reducing the spending…a whole new year

I haven’t been here for a while but it is good to be back and yes I know I need to update my header for 2014 but that will be coming soon.

Last year I did make a big effort to cut the grocery budget and even though it wasn’t as much as I wanted (£10 a week over my budget of £50) it did make a big difference over the year against my previuos £70-80 week.  The weeks that I managed to write a menu plan in reasonable detail and stick to it helped to lower the costs substantially as did buying items only on offer,  unless we were absolutely desperate.

I work four full days a week so I can’t put heaps of time into this exercise but the new habits I did put in place have continued.  So this year I will be building on last years success.  Of course it will get harder as I am starting from a different place where the many obvious and easy savings have already been tried and tested.  Finding new ways to save money can depend on a number issues and for me eating organic is not negotiable even to save the pennies, whereas trying a different supermarket or method of shopping might be.

For anybody reading this who thinks that being frugal or thrifty is about a choice rather than absolute necessity they are quite correct in my case, it is a conscious choice.    Even though we had a 25% wage cut for the last 3 years we are not surviving on the bread line like some households – however, I would say that there is no room for frivolous spending or throwing money away needlessly, especially as retirement is looming on the horizon and we want to make sure we have enough put by not to be a burden on anyone else, including the state.  We also want to be able to enjoy our older years when they arrive.

Another reason for the mindful thrifting is I hate waste or buying for the sake of  – it seems like an insult to all the starving people in the world to be throwing any food stuff away.  My main and only reason for throwing food away would be for the safety aspect and by this I mean if I wasn’t sure if a food could still be eaten beyond the stated use by date without undue harm.

I will often stretch some foods beyond the use by unless it has mayonnaise in it like the deli pots of coleslaw then I take extra care.  Fruit and veg dates I completely ignore and I just use the visual test – if it is shrivelled and bearing mould it becomes compost.  This is not often though as I tend to make soup with any remains from the week.

Planning menus wisely does overcome this tendency to end up with a pile of items in the fridge at the end of a week that have only had a spoonful removed and have since exceeded their use by and beyond.

So of all the ways of saving on the grocery spending I am going to concentrate on the menu planning as I believe this is the one thing that promotes  both a balanced meal and big savings on food waste and food cost.

Having said all that I ended up in Sainsburys tonight without a list or a plan, the shopping expedition was a feat in itself, battling not with snow today but with the strong winds and lashing rain.  Sainsburys had to close off their automatic doors at one point.  I had no choice but to do a bit of a trolley dash so I could get on my way home.

I decided tonight was not the night to be exceptionally frugal with the groceries and although I was by no means stockpiling I made sure that we have a good stock of items to tide us over should the snow return.  Bare cupboards are fine if you don’t get marooned.

So here is the grocery spend £62.01 to be precise less £13.50 reward points – I found a few items on offer – to the right of the photo.

Food shopping

The Bargains

  • The Soya milk was a good buy 3 for £3,
  • Oatibix flakes £2 a box,
  • 2 x Spelt rolls reduced to £0.69,
  • Vivaldi potatoes reduced to £1,
  • 2 loaves  for £1.50,
  • cheese 2 for £4.50,
  • Milk 2 for £3.

So now I must set to and plan the menus around the shopping for this week – in fact I hope I can stretch this amount of food to a fortnight or maybe longer.

How is your food shopping / meal planning going so far this year?

Reducing the Spending…the weekly shop 7 & 8#

With one thing or another I am a bit behind with my posts and in fact I can’t even remember myself where I have got to!  So I will do a quick review of the last week or two and then get back on track.

My shopping total for week 7 came to £29.88 a much cheaper shop as I was only buying a few necessary items to be able to make the next seven days menus and I had planned these around using up one or two items such as the Sos Mix and the Christmas pudding.  You can see how I am doing by clicking on the ‘Items to Use up’  tab at the top of the header.  As I incorporate these items from my cupboard/ fridge and freezer that are nearing their use by date into my weekly menu plans I will be crossing them off my list.

Week 8 I spent £25.51 and this was mainly fresh fruit and vegetables however I did need some Britta water filter cartridges and managed to hold out until they were on offer this week but they were my dearest purchase at £9 for a box of only 3.  I had a couple of minor purchases of salad and more nuts on offer over the weekend.  We went to visit my very sick friend and I made Nut Loaf and took salad for lunch for all of us followed by a Cherry Crumble and Creme Fraiche.

I had a £4.50 coupon to spend from Tesco before it expired this week.  Hubby and me paced up and down the isles not really knowing what to spend this on.  We thought maybe cards as we have quite a few birthdays coming up but the selection was very mediocre in our local store.  So then we checked out all our usual purchases but nothing was on offer until I came to the Passata and beans both on offer.  Then we splashed out on a piece of Spanish Manchego cheese as a treat…yum!  My hubby could not believe it took us the best part of an hour to spend £4.50!

Tesco Coupon

In Boots I bought face cream on a 3 for 2 offer and cotton wool pads on buy one get one half price and shower gel for hubby on 3 for 2.  I had been waiting for ages for these items to be on offer and was really scraping the last of the cream and almost down to the last cotton wool pad.  it is a very good feeling not to buy anything at full price.  I feel almost cheated now if I do have to hand over the full amount of cash for any reason.

I have now got two £5 off coupons for Boots No 7 and an extra points coupon for the hair mousse that I use.  I have a coupon for the Body Shop for £10 off a £25.00 purchase in March but I don’t think I would use it so would be happy to post it on to anyone who would like it.

I will be doing a full review for my spending in February and comparing this to January.  I feel that I have done better this month and I have certainly tried harder with both the meal planning and eating meals made of seasonal produce.  Our waste of fruit and veg is quite minimal and at long last I am getting to use up the bits and pieces not only from the food cupboards but also the bathroom cupboard, the craft cupboard and very shortly I will begin in the garage and shed.

How are you doing with your plans so far?

Reducing the Spending…the weekly shop 3#…

I am definitely getting into the hang of this now and every purchase I make becomes a minor challenge.  Firstly I notice the price,  then I check out if there is a similar product but cheaper, then I debate if I really need it.  It is a bit like mirror, signal, manoeuvre when driving a car.

So how did I do this week?

The General Spend

On Monday morning on my way to work I took out £10 again from the cash point and this is how I spent it during the week.

2 Birthday cards for my mum and mum-in-law – from Clintons Cards   2 x £2 = £4.00 (plus two reward stamps).  I really must get down to making some cards – huge savings here to be made.

A packet of coloured paper parcel string for gift wrapping from The Works    £0.99p

1 bag organic carrots   £1.30

1 bag organic onions   £1.00

1 courgette    £0.38

1 pack of 2 Ice Cube trays from Poundworld   £1.00 (more about these later)

A total spend of   £8.67 plus 4 Sainsbury’s Reward points

So I have £1.33 left for the weekend.

I also had my Hot Chocolate treat (£1.79 plus 2 Reward points) before I started the weekly shop tonight bought with my Sainsbury’s Gift card.  Only £3.91 left on this now.

If you remember I would normally withdraw £20-£30 each week and buy most of my lunches.  I now take my lunch and so I have made savings here of £10 – £20.

The Weekly Shop

This week I had to take into account a possible visit from my daughter and her husband (I say possible as it will be weather dependent!) and a trip to Shrewsbury to see my mum-in-law and celebrate her 89th birthday (again weather dependent).  So extra quantities if my daughter comes and a birthday cake to make and a picnic or packed lunch for our trip.

This is what my shopping list looked like.

The planned items

Fruit and VegThe Veg

1 box 250g organic White Mushrooms

1 box 300g Portabella Mushrooms

1 bunch organic Spring Onions

1 bunch organic Leeks

1 packet of 3 Courgettes

1 pkt organic Watercress, rocket and spinach leaves

1 organic swede

1 pack of 6 organic Tomatoes

1 pack organic Beetroot


2 large Multi-seeded loaves

1 white organic Bloomer

3 for 2 Rolls (for travel picnic)

Dairy and Fridge ItemsThe Dairy

2 x 4pts Organic Milk

1 Organic Soya Milk

1 x 1k Organic Low Fat Natural Yoghurt

6 Organic eggs

1 small Coleslaw

These were on offerOffers

Store cupboard items


1 Tin Organic Baked Beans

1 tin Creamed Mushrooms

1 tin Organic Sweetcorn

1 pkt Espresso Ground Coffee

Bought especially for Recipes

Recipe items 2

1 jar Wholegrain Mustard

1 Bottle Soy Sauce

1 jar Marmite (since when did this go up to £1.70?)

1 Ready roll Puff Pastry

1 Filo Pastry

1 pack Seedmix

1 pot Organic Half Fat Creme Fraiche

1 Organic Feta Cheese

1 carton Double Cream for birthday cake reduced to £0.49

The unplanned but on offer

Offers 2

2 Bran Flakes reduced by 99p each

3 boxes of Tacos Shells on offer 3 for 2 saving £1.54

The Grand Total

£53.37 less a coupon for £2 off (given to me by a colleague at work) and total discounts of £2.52 = a total of £48.85

I had a coupon for double Reward points

Previous balance 1394

Points earned 100

Bag re-use 4

Bonus points  100

New points balance 1598 worth £7.99

So to recap

39 items this week cost me £48.85 with all the discounts and vouchers and I earned 204 points.

I worked out the extra ingredients to cover the food for my daughters visit is £11.94.

My hubby had to get a bag of potatoes from the tiny Sainsbury’s beneath his office in Leeds due to the panic buying tonight at the store I was in – cost £1.90.  The shelves had almost been stripped bare of bread, potatoes and milk because of the threatening snow!  So added to my spend this increased to £50.75, however I am going to try to make this shop last longer.

My aim is to stay under £40 for all the food shopping which includes adding any fresh veg during the week. Last week I spent in total £43.44 (main shop plus fresh veg during the week). My shop before would have been closer to £80 on a bad week and did not really include my lunches but would have included a magazine or two!!

This week I checked out my basics for offers and found that only the Bran Flakes were reduced so bought another two boxes.  The Tacos are not really basics but they do store well and provide an easy meal during the week filled with a chilli or lentil bolognese type mixture.

Having to provide meals for more people certainly has increased my spend this week but I am looking forward to trying out some new more gourmet recipes.  Perhaps I should mention that my daughters husband is a professional chef and so I always work myself up into a panic whenever I have to cook for them!

I picked out a couple of recipes to make when (if) my daughter comes,  one is a Mushroom Stroganoff with Mustard and Chive Mash and the other is a Spring Onion and Watercress Quiche.  I might use the mushrooms to make a Mushroom Strudel instead hence the Filo pastry.  The Puff Pastry is for the Freezer.  I had to invest in one or two items to make the recipes, like the soy sauce and mustard but they are things that I can use in other meals.

I was very pleased with myself for staying clear of the magazines and came up with a brilliant idea to satisfy my addiction that costs me nothing – but this will be another post.

How are you doing with your Low / No spend ?