Thursday 23 November 2023

Christmas puddings

 Oh, how I love them!  I always make my own.  I don't use currants or raisins but I do use dried strawberries, blueberris and cranberries.  My recipe is distinctly unfrugal, especially as I make them for quite a few people.  

But although they are not cheap to make, I love giving them, and in return I get goodies like mince pies, sausage rolls and piccalli. 

Martin Lewis (Money Saving Expert) suggests a pre-nupp agreement, in other words a pre Christmas No Unnecessary Presents Pact.  In many ways I agree: Christmas present giving can create a sense of obligation which the recipient may find it hard to filfil.  Often presents finish up in the bin or charity shop anyway.  Over the years I have reduced the number of presents I give.

However, my puds won't br gracing the rails of a charity shop because I check that they will be wanted.  I'm very grateful for the food gifts I receive, taking advantage of other people's particular culinary skill.  I give my time and talent and reduce my friends food shopping bill and I enjoy the fruits of their kitchen skills  

Tuesday 21 November 2023



I have something of a love/hate relationship with Amazon!

Amazon is very good at what it does.  They supply a huge range of  products at very competitive prices and they have a highly efficient delivery system.

Unfortunately they are also highly efficient at persuading me to buy things which it might be better to buy elsewhere or not at all.  It's all too easy to click on something on their site and know it will be delivered next day.  Amazon Prime makes that even easier with an annual payment for delivery so everything seems even better value.  Occasionally I have even ordered a single bar of chocolate (value around 50p) for the joy of knowing that my order has cost Amazon far more than I have paid.  

I've now decided to be more mindful when I shop at that site with the smiley face.  I've cancelled Prime.  I've installed Icebox so that items go "on ice" for a day instead of directly into my cart.  Icebox also acts as a holding list for small items which I can amalgamate to create an order worth £25 and so get free delivery.  (Be very careful with the free delivery option: you need to check everything with a fine tooth comb.)  

Black Friday is coming up and Amazon has some very good deals but they are only good deals if I really need them.  I've managed to get Sloggi briefs at a good price.  Amazon's own devices are always on offer at this time so I waited until now for my new Echo device and smart doorbell which I have got as a bundled deal.  

My Amazon spend has dropped considerably since I cancelled Prime.  Some things I have managed without, others have gone on my weekly shopping list and been bought locally.  

Saturday 18 November 2023

Sam Vimes Boots

You probably know about boot theory: that people in poverty have to buy cheap products that need to be replaced repeatedly, proving more expensive in the long run than more expensive item.  Put more simply it's buy cheap and you need to buy twice (or even more!).  I am able to set money aside to save me money long term, eg I bought an air fryer and thus save on energy costs, but others can't afford that investment.  

Although I try to be frugal, my frugality is by choice.  I have a fair income (state and occupational pensions) and my needs are modest.  I am aware that there are many who have to choose between heating and eating.  There are parents who go hungry to feed their children.  There are many for whom Christmas is a time to dread.  Frugality is not a choice but a life sentence. 

My frugality is about getting value for money rather than getting the cheapest possible.  It's also about avoiding waste as a matter of principle.  It's about mindfully using my money, possessions, skills and time.  

All this is to explain why I have been AWOL from this blog for such a long time.  I have decided to return but I want to be open and say that I can write only about the frugality which applies to me and the choices I can make.  I have more money than many but disability costs me dearly.  

I take my hat off to those who have far less choices and still live a glorious life.  


Friday 24 March 2023

What happened next

 What happened to the contents of that lovely "Waste not" box?

The onions, the chilli and the swede were perfectly sound and went into my general vegetable store.

Two onions plus the peppers, padron peppers, tomatoes and aubergine went into ratatouille.  No courgettes but that's OK by me.

The apples and plum were stewed to have with my breakfast porridge.

The satsumas have mostly gone into my fruit bowl.

I say mostly because I also made a fruit salad with the melon, a couple of the satsumas and a banana, an apple and a mango from elsewhere.  The juice of the lemon added a tang to it.

The lettuce will be in salad over the next couple of days.

And the mushrooms have been frozen.  

Well used loveliness, I think.

Thursday 23 March 2023

The Box

 It's a while since I shared a Lidl "Waste Not" box with you, but today I had time to weigh things and price them so here goes.  I've priced the stuff as though I had bought it at Sainsbury because the Lidl website doesn't help much.

Swede                             0.62

Onions                            0.6

Tomatoes                       0.74

Apple                               0.6

Plum                                0.40

Satsumas                        0.73

Honeydew melon            1.69

Little gem X2                 0.85

Red onion                       0.09

Sweet peppers              1.3

Mushrooms                   1.26

Padron peppers            0.30

Chilli                                0.10

Lemon                             0.30

Aubergine                      0.85



Having bought a "Waste Not" box for the princely sum of £1.50. I consider myself to be honour-bound not to waste it.  I don't waste food anyway but for this it seems doubly important.  So when I have sorted it even more, I will let you know the destiny of everything.  For now I will say that the only worrying item was the mushrooms so they have already been wiped, sliced and frozen.  

Saturday 25 February 2023

Comparing prices


I checked a Sainsbury receipt and compared prices from February 2022 to now.   I did this back in September and found my food inflation was 12%.  

Once again I have excluded anything which I bought in 2022 but can't get today.  And I do most of my shopping at Lidl but use Sainsbury when I can't go to Brigg myself.




% increase

2     Young's Admirals Pie 300g




1     Sainsbury's New Zealand Lamb Mince 500g




1     Mary Ann's Dairy Mature Cheddar Cheese 600g




5     Semi-Skimmed Longer Lasting UHT Milk 1 Litre




2     Sainsbury's Light Evaporated Milk 410g




1    Frozen Cooked & Peeled Coldwater Prawns 250g




1     J.James White Fish Fillets 520g




1     Sainsbury's Salmon Fillets 360g




1     Sainsbury's 7% Fresh British Turkey Mince 500g 




1     Sainsbury's Buttersoft Spreadable Butter 500g




1     Sainsbury's Celery




1     Mary Ann's Dairy Mozzarella 125G




2     Sainsbury's Aubergine




1     Sainsbury's Sweet Potato 1.25kg




1     Sainsbury's Young Spinach 260g




1     Whipping Fresh Cream 300ml




1     Sainsbury's Cherry Tomatoes 500g




1     Bisto Turkey Gravy Granules 190g








As you can see my food inflation is now 14%.  It was 12% in September.  Almost everything I use is Sainsbury's own label apart from the fish pies and the gravy granules.  Mary Ann and J James are Sainsbury budget range labels. 

Friday 17 February 2023

Year on year


Way back in April 2022 I said I was going to try and reduce my grocery spend.  I gave my figures since 2018 and said that in 2022 I was going to reduce the weekly spend from £44.17 per week to £35 which I called "a very considerable reduction".  As inflation has been so high I thought that might be an understatement!

But I managed it.  In fact I cut it from £44.17 to £31.85 which has amazed me!

I've put the figures below and have also listed my eating out spending.  Eating out includes coffees and snacks as well as the occasional meal.  In 2020 and 2021 such treats were very curtailed because of the pandemic and I felt a little anxious that once the compulsory restraint was over my spend would once again soar.  That hasn't happened - I still take my own snacks if I go out for the day and I have reduced the frequency of meals out with friends.

                                2018                2019            2020            2021    2022

Av grocery               £56.81            £52.92        £47.17          £44.17    £31.85   

Eating out                £15.45            £17.77        £5.27            £0.49        £3.23

Total                        £72.76              £70.69        £52.44        £44.66        £35.08

So the big question is, how did I manage to spend so much in 2018?