Tag Archives: Shopping

Reducing the spending… week 9

Shopping day has come around fast – by the time I got to the supermarket tonight I had spent the best part of the day in Leeds trekking up to St James hospital for blood tests then getting the train back to Huddersfield and going to work.  I worked until 6 o’clock then walked around to Sainsbury’s in the downpour and stood dripping at the counter waiting for a very welcome hot chocolate!

I wasn’t in the best frame of mind for shopping but managed to grab a few bargains.  My total spend has taken me over my £50 by £7.05 but I took advantage of some of the offers still on this week.



Fruit and veg

Fruit and veg

The offers 

  • 2 more packets of Oatiflake cereal still on offer for £2 a box,
  • 2 packets of Birds Eye frozen petite pois peas at £1 bag,
  • 3 x Soya milk – 3 for £3,
  • 2 organic Cheddar cheese – 2 for £4.50,
  • 2 x organic semi skimmed milk for £3,
  • 2 x organic Braeburn apples for £4,
  • 2 bars Green and Black organic chocolate 2 for £3.00,
  • 2 boxes mushrooms for £1.50
  • 2 organic granary loaves reduced to £0.59 each

Because the mushrooms were such a bargain I will be amending my original menu plan to incorporate two mushroom meals one of them a Stroganoff.

The cheese I will grate into a container and freeze.

The chocolate is also a bargain and I have bought this ready to make chocolates for Easter.

The bread I had sliced and this will go in the freezer.

Total spend £63.34 less savings £6.29 = £57.05

Reward points 122

Total rewards 885 worth £4.42

I am building up a nice stock of some items that have been on offer for a few weeks – cereal, cheese, soya milk so that when the offer finishes they should last me a while hopefully until they are on offer again!

We still have a lot of food in the cupboards but until the threat of snow disappears I am not going to run my cupboard stores down just in case.

Menu plan for this week

We never got to make the curry last week and I had to adjust the menu plan to fit in with the fact we came home late on the Wednesday and Saturday.  Wednesday we had Pizza as I bought  2 Marguerita Pizzas for £1.59 with salad and Saturday good old Egg and Chips.

I made the curry on Monday evening and we ate the rest tonight.  Lovely hubby made a big pan of soup on Sunday for lunch and so I have been able to take this to work for 2 days.  I also bought a crustless Quiche in Sainsbury’s which I will take for the next 2 days and have with salad – this will save me £8.20 on my lunches.

This isn’t the most exciting menu but it will use the cheap mushrooms and the left over courgettes from last week.  I haven’t planned to try out a new recipe this week as I know I will be a bit short of time.


Lunch – homemade veg soup leftover from Sunday

Evening meal – Veg and Lentil Curry with brown rice


Lunch – last of homemade veg soup

Evening meal – Veg and Lentil Curry with Taco shells


Lunch – salad and 1/2 Sainsbury’s crustless Quiche

Evening meal – Mushroom Stroganoff with green beans


Lunch – salad and 1/2 Sainsbury’s crustless Quiche

Evening meal – Ratatouille (using mushrooms) and Baked potatoes


Lunch – sandwich and salad

Evening meal – Lasagne with ratatouille as a base and Broccoli


Lunch – homemade soup / something on toast with salad

Evening meal – Shepherds pie with brown lentils and frozen broad beans


Lunch – homemade soup / sandwich

Evening meal – Shepherds pie and frozen broccoli

Hopefully I will be able to keep to the plan this week but I can recommend making a plan to anyone who wants to save money and reduce waste as even a very loose plan is better than none.  It helps to focus on making the best use of the food already in the cupboards and fridge and reduces the amount of fresh food that is wasted if it doesn’t get eaten in time.  I find with careful planning I buy fewer veg – but what I do buy we eat at its best and I am not ‘guess’ buying only to find I have over bought.


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 5#…

I have been on holiday from work all week this week and up until yesterday I hadn’t spent a penny, my £10 remained quite content in my purse and was remarkably silent, no screaming ‘spend me, spend me’ as soon as I open it, in fact I hadn’t opened it to even check the £10 is still there.

So this week I have discovered that by not going to work I save on petrol, car parking, donations to brown envelopes, and incidentals.  I also save on footwear and clothes (both wearing and washing of) and shampoo and conditioner (as I have washed my hair every other day whilst at home).  So someone please remind me again why I go out to work it seems cheaper to stay at home LOL!!

Throughout the month I have kept tabs on my spending down to the last penny.  I have challenged myself to £10 a week allowance and surprisingly have managed to keep my spending within this limit – so again I ask myself why in the past have I had to withdraw £20 to £30 from the cash card each week and what on earth did I spend it on?  Probably all the excess ‘stuff’ I am now trying to get rid of from our house!  Stuff in… stuff out –  so the brilliant answer to my ‘stuff’ problem is easy isn’t it – don’t buy it in the first place.  Why did I not see this before?

I am now learning to transfer the feel good of spending onto the even more feel good of saving.  Now I have no wish to be labelled a Scrooge or a tight wad and I am not sure I even like the title penny pinching and scrimping as I have always tried to be a generous person giving my time or money freely as needed.  So although it probably all boils down to the same thing I am choosing to become ECONOMICAL instead mainly because the ‘eco’ bit has an important meaning for me in that if I reduce my spending I reduce my stuff and I therefore reduce the amount of eventual landfill rubbish.

In my quest then to become economical I can now tell you the price of a lot of the items in my cupboard and even though my better half thinks I am a bit strange photographing our shopping it does help me to really SEE what my money has been spent on and the percentage of offers per shop that I have been successful in buying.

So this was my final January shopping day so how did I do?

The General Spend – my personal £10 allowance

plus £20 cash towards hair cut

  • To add to £20 for hair cut actual costs £22   –  £2.00
  • Tip for Hairdresser  –   £2.00   (for a £22 cut and blow dry – is that a usual, generous or mean tip?)
  • Hot chocolate treat  –   £1.79 and 2 Reward points

Balance left for the weekend £4.21

The Weekly Shop

I had everything planned down to the last carrot this week – I set off for Sainsbury’s armed with my meal plan, lunch plan, coupons, list and large note to self – IF IN DOUBT DON’T BUY IT!

Everything started well (as usual), the store was virtually empty without any panic buyers this week (no snow forecast then!) but then the unexpected happened which immediately sends me into a mad flap of indecision and not even the thought of another hot chocolate treat (if I had had the money to buy one) would calm me down.  It is always the offers that get me every time.   I stand in the isle like a gibbering wreck muttering to myself- ‘Do I or don’t I’ and trying hard to work the unit prices out in my head.

Firstly it was the Mango Chutney (we never eat curry without it) which was on my list as the jar had just been completely emptied the night before.  I then discovered it was on offer at a £1 a jar – normally £1.99 – seemed like a bargain to me so I put 3 in my trolley a saving of £2.97 or is it ? when I would only have spent £1 for one and saved myself 99p.

We do use it frequently and should probably be on my stock items list so if it is on the list I am covered as my guidance is I buy stock items on offer…phew…sorted!

Next steering round into the cereal isle I spy the Oatbix flakes still on offer but definitely not on my list.  It is a stock item though so I decide to buy another box only £2 saving £0.69p.  I have now got a stack of seven boxes in my cupboard and couldn’t possibly get another box in.  I just hope I don’t go off them or get an allergy to flakes.

So you get the gist of my dilemmas and to say that overall my weekly shop is much smaller it is taking me twice as long!

Offers week 4

Items on Offer

  • 1 pack Oatflakes   £2.00
  • 3 Mango Chutney @ £1.00 each (save £2.97)
  • 2 Cartons Passata with Basil 2 for £1.50 (save £0.40p)
  • 2 Semi-skimmed milk  2 for £3.00 (save 0.58p)
  • 1 Pack Cauliflower and Broccoli £1
  • 1 Half Swede reduced to £0.14
  • 1 Bag Crisps £1.00   (save £0.50p)
  • 2 Alpro Soya Milk 2 for £2  (save £0.70p)
  • 2 Organic Wholemeal 2 for £1.50  (save £0.30)

Fruit and Veg

Fruit and Veg

    • Bag Organic Carrots 750g   £1.30
    • Bag Organic Potatoes   £3.00
    • Bunch Organic Leeks  £2.00
    • Net of Organic Onions  £1.00
    • Loose Brussels Sprouts (approx 12)  £0.48
    • 1 Cabbage Organic  £1.40
    • 1 Bag organic parsnips  £1.50
    • 2 bunches organic celery  £1.20


    Items not on offer

Store Cupboard

  • Organic Shell Pasta   £1.05
  • Decaff Espresso   £3.69
  • 1 Carton Lentils  £0.79
  • 1 Carton Butter Beans  £0.79
  • 1 Tin Baked Beans   £0.57
  • 1 tin Organic Cocoa   £2.20
  • 2 Organic Bloomers @ £1.20  £2.40 (misread shelf label – thought these were on offer!)
  • 2 box Tissue   £2.00
  • 1 Ciabbatta loaf as a treat £1.50 to go with the soup
  • 1 organic brown rice  £1.79
  • 1 Organic Coconut milk  £2.09 extortionate regrettable bad buy
  • 1 small jar Korma paste  £1.49
  • 1 can Organic baked beans  £0.57
  • 1 organic mixed bag nuts  £3.59
  • 2 packs Frozen Pea and Mint Risotto cakes  2 for £4.00 (good standby meal)
  • 1 pack Frozen Broad Beans £0.79 with 40 bonuspoints


  • 1 large Natural Yoghurt  £2.50
  • 1 Coleslaw  £0.55
  • 6 organic medium eggs for baking  £1.40

Total spent

43 items Total Spend £60.82

Reward Points earned 120

Bonus Points for Broad Beans and over £30 spend 160

Bag re-use 4

Total Points balance 2079 worth  £10.39

So to recap

I make that a £10 82 overspend this week.  If I had not bought the coconut milk and the extra bread that I thought was a two for offer and wasn’t I would have been £4.49 better off.  The nuts are expensive at £3.59 but then again we do not eat meat.  I added the stand by Risotto cakes £4.00 and not on my list but were on offer and they are handy in case I need a night off cooking.

I have now got a menu plan which will be another post and I have been looking at buying seasonal which will be in more detail there.  I did check out the prices for the seasonal produce and to be quite honest it doesn’t appear any cheaper than the non-seasonal.  Some items I have bought year round so I might see if I have old receipts so  can compare prices.  My next step is to compare organic against non-organic not that I would change but  can see what the cost would be if I bought non-organic.

I will also post a review for the whole of January when I have totted up.

Next week will be my first February shop and I am determined to get back to my £50 limit…watch this space.



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 ?