Sunday, 19 October 2014

'Fessing up

I know it’s ages since I was here.  I have a terrible confession to make.   I have failed spectacularly to keep to my £50 budget.

It was the Farmers’ Market that did it.  I went on Friday and blew more than the whole budget on beautiful pork and lamb and even a bit of mutton.   My favourite pork farm sells mostly through these markets and they happen only monthly.  Mutton is so hard to find these days and having hung myself for the sheep I decided I might as well go for the lamb.

However, I have now managed to defrost the freezer and have eaten the oldest food which was in there.  I’ve run down the tinned goods cupboard considerably and an inventory of freezer and cupboards seems imminent. 

There, I've ‘fessed up.  I think I chose my name of Frugally Challenged very well.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Things that lurk in freezers

I’m sorry I haven’t written for such a long time but I’m finding that being unable to upload photographs is very frustrating when my main emphasis for the month is on crafty making things.  Hat and bag production is high and I’m hoping that all will be revealed before the weekend.

However, here’s a report on the food front.  I am trying to find items which I would sling out if they were left hanging around for much longer.  On a day to day basis I’m fairly good at keeping my food waste very low but some things get left.  As my freezer stocks get lower I am finding things which I had forgotten about.  Yesterday I found a brace of pheasants which I was given at the end of last year.  I’m a bit squeamish about them and don’t like to dress and eat them on the same day (or even consecutive days) so I had dressed them and put them in the freezer to share with a friend, but for various reasons that delicious shared lunch never happened.  One is now defrosting and will be cooked tomorrow.  I also found a pack of two duck breasts which had been RFQS, frozen and left to languish.  If these items had been left in the freezer much longer I would not have eaten them.

Also each autumn I buy some UHT milk in case I get snowed in.  I use very little milk myself except for sauce making and similar and there were two litres from last year still in the cupboard so yesterday I made a huge rice pudding and froze it in single portions. 

Food expenditure this month has been kept down to 6 packs of butter £5.74 and two bottles of coke £3, so I have £49.97 left.

Friday, 3 October 2014


Frugal in Derbyshire (who writes a wonderful blog) posted today about the wisdom (or not) of Stoptober as a no spend or low spend month.  As I am now on my second consecutive low spend month it made me think about whether it is a good idea.

My primary aim was to focus on how I spend money on food.  I wanted to look at the stocks of food that I have and decide if what I bought was really what I wanted.  As I work my way though the cupboards I am finding that I am ready for Doomsday and my reserves were ridiculously high.  Even after making about forty jars of jams and chutneys I have a whole unopened five kilo bag of sugar for example.  I didn’t have to buy any sugar or vinegar this year and I could make just as much preserves again without having to buy either.  Supplies of rice, tinned goods, frozen peas are also at disaster readiness level.

Another thing I have had to face is impulse buying.  Let me let you into a secret – I love Tesco paella.  Actually I just love paella but if I was feeling lazy or down I would buy paella.  If I was out shopping and I would buy one (or three) just because.  Having a low spend month has made me realise that what once was a treat had become a regular part of my diet and it was not money well spent.

And that leads me on to the fact that at one time I cooked almost all my meals from scratch.  Usually I bulk cooked and froze meals but nevertheless my food was mostly home cooked.  I’m hoping that as I use up all the bits and pieces in my freezer I will be able to have some good cooking sessions again, knowing that I will have space in the freezer because the odds and sods will have been used.

So for me, low spend is proving useful.  Yes, I know that I shall have to have a “proper shop” before long as I but ingredients for cottage pies, chicken casseroles and sausage hot pots – but having found the pot of goose fat I won’t be buying roast potatoes.  I’ve found the boxes of chicken stock I’ve made each time I’ve roast a chicken so the so ups will be good. 

I’m not kidding myself that a couple of low spend months have solved all my menu problems but they have shown me the issues I need to resolve.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

And so to October

So October has started.  And my “thirty completed projects” challenge has got off to a slow start as I haven’t finished anything today!  However, I have got the sewing room ready for concentrated activity which should start tomorrow and I have finished knitting a hat but haven’t got it sewn up yet.  The reason is simple – I need to press it before I sew it up and I don’t want to put the iron on for just the one very small job.  That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

The grocery challenge has been OK tomorrow.  I didn’t write anything yesterday but I bought a punnet of strawberries for £2.  I suspect these will be the last English strawberries I shall see this year.  That means that my carry-forward was £8.71 so with this month’s addition of £50 means I shall have £58.71.  And I haven’t spent any of it today!

I’m hoping my laptop will be back very soon so I can upload photographs of my finished projects.  That will keep me accountable!