Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Simple foods part 2

 Another simple meal I love to make is lentil bolognese. I make this up, we have it for one dinner and then I adapt it for a few more meals. 

All you need is

1. 1/4 bag of dried green lentils 

2. Several carrots

3. 2 tins toms

4. Dried parsley

I pop it all into the pressure cooker for 20 mins. Let the pressure release naturally then serve with cooked pasta and garlic bread. 

Using some of the left over lentil bolognese I then make lasagne. I add some extra tomatoes to the mix. Then make a simple white sauce. In the pot I put a layer of bolognese, top with lasagne sheets, add white sauce then another layer of lasagne. Repeat until dish is full. Ending with white sauce on top. Then sprinkle with grated cheese. 

Always a little more lentil mix left so I make one more meal the next day. I cook some dried pasta. Then mix the lentil mix with some passata then mix into the cooked pasta. Pop in an oven proof dish. Top with cheese and bake for 20nmins or so. Serve with home made garlic bread. 

I use dairy free milk and cheese to make these dishes so all are vegan. These meals are for two of us, you may not get as many meals out of that first portion of bolognese if you have larger appetites or a larger family eating this. 

I usually have enough left of each variation for a few lunches to take for work. 

Side note: I don't season with salt/pepper so we can do this to personal taste. You may wish to add to your meals when cooking if that is how you prefer to cook. 

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Simple meals- version 1. Jacket potato salad

 Following on from my post the other day I thought I would share some of our simple meals that we have. They are low cost, low effort so perfect on busy days, or indeed if like the South of England at the moment you are in the middle of the summer week!who knows when the sun will go again so I send as much time as possible out enjoying it!

Jacket potato and salad with home made coleslaw. 
I love this meal as so low effort. I cook potatoes in microwave for around 7 minutes depending on their size, then it o the oven to crisp for 20 mins. 
The coleslaw is home made, it contains red cabbage, white cabbage, red onion and carrot. All grated. Then mixed with some mayonnaise, white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. Most of what is in this plate is from the reduced section of the supermarket, the vegetables last way longer than the supermarkets say. 
Costings for this obviously depend on how much you pay for the veggies but guesstimate this at 
Potato 10p (from a bag costing 50p)
1 carrot 2p (1kg bag reduced to 23p so prob even less!) 
Salad leaves 20p, cheaper soon when out of my garden! 
Tomatoes 1/4 bag that costs 55p so say 15p
Cucumber a few slices from a 50p cucumber say 5p worth maybe 
Olives from a jar I don't remember cost but from aldi so not a lot! 
The cheese is around £2 a bag, it's free from due to my intolerance so the most expensive part prob around 40p worth on my plate. 

So this meal comes in at around £1. It's very filling and so full of yummy goodness. 

I'll share another tomorrow. 

Monday, 7 June 2021

Our pets

 I've just updated the 'all about me' page on here. I've discovered that some of it was quite out of date. Sadly, the last of our rabbits died last year.

We do have another new addition though. I agreed just before Christmas to allowing Smudge to stud with a dog of a family friend. The lady lives on a farm and wanted to breed her good little worker and approached me as she said Smudge has good characteristics. I agreed and asked for first choice of any boy dogs as I'd been looking for a year for a friend for Smudge. His litter was born in the middle of February. We went to visit several times from when the pups were a couple weeks old. It was a tough choice as they were all little crackers.

This little cracker is Loki. He was the only boy with this colouring which I absolutely love. The other 3 boys were all goergous little chocolate dogs. 

We are now a proud 2 dog household! I'm pleased to report the boys get on fantastically. Smudge is very kind and gentle, Loki as expected with his name is a mischief. We are having a lot of fun with them both and our lives are definitely much richer, even if my bank is a little poorer. 
More about the costs of my babies another day! 

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Low spend food shop

 I am trying to keep my spending as low as possible so that I can pay as much as I can onto my debt. One way I do this is by buying as little food as possible. I don't mean by starving any of us either! Haha

Throughout the week as inspiration arrives from many places I jot down idea of food/meals we can eat. This inspriation could be from spotting food in the the fridge or freezer that needs using, or I could see a picture of someone else's food on social media etc and think I have ingredients to make that.

This is our current menu plan

This week's shopping list

I then create a shopping list of the extras I will need. That's my water bottle next to the list. It's warm out so I know I'll get thirsty on the drive into town and then with the walk around the shop so I fill it with cold water and take it with me. It saves buying a drink out, and the plastic waste from buying a drink.

I headed off to aldi as it is cheap and stocks what I needed. I had a target of £20 in mind for this week's shop. Here's what I got:

All of this came to £20.90. There is a lot of food there for the low price, including done treats that weren't on the list. £7.30 worth of treats to be exact. I'm a work in progress, I'm not great at saving money but I save more than I have in a while.

How do you keep your food shop low? 

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Debt repayment and side hustling

 I've been busy over the last 9 months or so since I posted. I've been working flat out, trying to keep up with the ever changing government guidance to ensure we are being as safe as possible at work.

At home I have been working hard at overpaying my debts to clear the credit cards. I have one completely paid off,just 2 more to go. I started my journey to clearing them with over 15k in debt, I am now under 10k. I'm so

proud of that milestone and can't wait to bring it down further.

I was accepted by my bank to transfer just over half of one of my remaining cards onto a 0% for 26 month card. This will save me masses as I'm currently paying around 23% interest. I will clear the remaining credit on the High interest card, then will clear the 0% card. This will leave me with one more high interest paying card (I'm currently paying off 2 cards) which I'm hoping to secure another 0% for when I get a bit further along with this one. It's all go!

By the end of this year I will have cleared my second credit card. That is the end goal. Lots of steps I am taking to make this happen including:

* reducing my food shop bills

* making money via surveys

*making money via receipt apps

*saving money by eating at home

Example of a survey I will get £10 shopping voucher for completing

These are all current things I am doing. Next up, I am going to start selling all the excess belongings we have in our house. This will also clear the clutter which I want to do for several reasons including making the hoen easier to clean, making it a calm space, eventually when I get a mortgage in a couple of years I will be moving and I do not want to move the old clutter with me. So I may as well make it work for me now by helping to make a little extra cash.

Where do you sell things you no longer need? I have books, dvds, clothes and toys. I'm sure a lot more once I start digging deeply! I used to sell on ebay but know there are many other choices now. What are your favourite places, and why?

Friday, 28 August 2020

A little camping break

 I am so pleased that we managed to get away this year, and with my sisters too. It was a really nice break which involved lots of laughter, walking and eating together.

We went to the Peak District and stayed on a dairy farm in Pomeroy. There was a little shop onsite, a petting zoo with goats and from the part of the field we were pitched in we got to see the dairy cows go out every morning and back in again in the evening. The children were fascinated by this as the cows just wandered through to the correct field.

We had a real mixed bag of weather whilst we were there but still managed some exploring. 

This pub was found wandering along the High Peak trail straight out of the campsite.

This was at a park in Buxton, Pup was most confused by this statue HAHA. Think he thought it was real, he stood staring for a while.

This is walking along the river in Bakewell.

View from the top of the hill at Cavedale in Castleton. I love the rainbow across the water.

It was so nice to go as a group as it meant; company for me, company for teengirl as her cousins of a similar age were there, and the younger cousins had each other too. This meant so few tantrums/silks from all invovled. It was a very relaxing week. I stuck within the budget I had set for the week, and even came home with big change!

Teengirl and I had planned to see if we could stay on for a couple of extra nights as we were enjoying it so much. However, we went out on the Friday for lunch with my sister and her family and when we got back the tent had broken. Several sections of three of the long poles had shattered. It was a very windy week and the poor tent just couldn't stand up anymore.

So instead of a few extra days we ended up driving home that evening and having two less days than we had planned. I was a little disappointed then I realised that actually given the current situation around with Covid-19 we were very lucky to have managed to get away at all. So turned that round and have concentrated on how much fun we have had instead.

Now to start saving for next year as we all want to go again. I also need to find out where I can get my tent poles repaired...

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Batch Cooking


I try to find recipes that I like in order to batch cook and freeze. This saves me so much time and money, especially when I am in work full-time. I go back in full-time next week so I am trying to get prepared ready for the onslaught that September brings to teaching. It has also provided me with an opportunity to use up odds and ends in the fridge. I still have plenty to use up but I am determined not to waste the food we have. Some is being used for snacking- for example Teengirl has just came down and asked for the corn on the cob we needed to use, she has sat quite happily munching on that. I had a left over bit of chicken from last night's tea as my lunch with some of the wilting salad. 

My freezer is now stocked with 21 ready meals. I will use these either as quick after work dinners, or lunches. I shall be adding to these as the week progresses. So far I have made;

Lentil curry- there are 9 portions of this leftover in the freezer.

Lentil bolognese- I have 8 pots of this in the freezer.

Veggie chilli- I have 4 portions of this in the freezer.
I also found some mushrooms languishing at the back of the fridge so I made creamy mushroom turnovers- I have eaten 2 of these and have a further 2 in the freezer for a quick lunch at some point.

I love that I have so much prepped already. I have planned out my menu for the week, and will prepare next week's menu over the weekend. 
This was created with the food I needed to use in mind, so the fish fingers and chicken wraps are served with salads to use up the lettuces etc in the fridge.
The pesto will use up the bargain packet of fresh basil I got in the supermarket at the end of the day- recued to 5p! I bought 3, 2 went in the freezer for later in the term as I recently discovered how quick and easy it is to make your own pesto. I had been buying the free-from jars for around £1.50 a pot. I can make it for pennies!

What are your favourite batch cook meals? Bonus points if they are meat-free/ use store cupboard foods. We aren't veggie (see the plan above!) but I am reducing our meat consumption in an effort to save on food costs. Post your favourite meals below.