Thursday 2 December 2021

Back to the fridge

 After six days I still haven't needed to go shopping but with food supplies like mine that is no deprivation

The fridge has gone from this

to this

There are definite gaps but I doubt if I will starve.

Today I tackled the butternut squash which had been bottom right in the first picture and I made soup, using the squash, an onion, two potatoes a carrot, a wallop of chopped ginger and a spoonful of honey plus stock.  Just the thing for a cold day.

And improved by home made bread!

Sunday 28 November 2021

Cottage cheese

 If there was one everyday item which I used to waste a lot, it was milk.  I know this isn't a problem for most people but in a household of one person who doesn't eat breakfast cereal and drinks her coffee black, it can be difficult.  

I buy UHT milk to use for tea/coffee when guests call unexpectedly.   If I know guests are coming I buy pasteurised milk.  The UHT stuff comes in one litre containers but I can buy just a pint of pasteurised and sometimes even less.  I can manage to use up the remains of a pint but a litre is a lot of milk!

So I make cottage cheese.  Heat the milk to just below boiling point, add a generous squeeze of lemon juice and stir.  The milk will curdle.  (IT IS NOT THE SAME AS LEAVING MILK TO GO OFF!)  Leave it to cool a little then strain it.  I use muslin inside my sieve.  Leave it until all the whey (a colourless liquid) has drained off then put the cheese to chill in a dish in the fridge. The whey can be used in baking.

It does not have the same texture as a commercially produced cottage cheese but it has more flavour.  You may want to add salt.

Saturday 27 November 2021

No waste!

Although my stated aim of doing this challenge is to keep food expenditure low for a few weeks, the real need is to minimise food waste.  I think we've all become more aware of this issue over the past few years.  Awareness of the need to respect the planet has been added to our consciousness of hungry people in our own country and abroad.   Rising prices are driving the message home even in households with a "comfortable" income.

The soup which I made yesterday from the lurking calabrese is lovely.  I just sweated some onion in rapeseed oil, then added the calabrese and sweated that, added stock, partly vegetable and partly made from the chicken skin and bones from yesterday, then blitzed the lot.  It is delicious.  Today I had it with some of the bacon lardons which I cooked yesterday but the remaining soup portions will be served with either cheese or yoghurt.  Just the job on a cold November day.  

Friday 26 November 2021

The Fridge

 When I made my decision to eat down my supplies I had just been shopping so I had new stuff to deal with as well as stuff which had taken up long term residency in the fridge.  The fridge was very full and very disorganised and, while I haven't fully inventoried it yet, I have made a start on organising it.  

Fruit and vegetables which had been in plastic bags has now been transferred to dishes or net bags.  Some of the vegetables have been transferred to the vegetable box in the conservatory/utility room so tat I can see better what is left in the fridge.  

There was a head of calabrese which had been there for several days so it got made into soup.  The pack of cooking bacon was cut into lardons: a few lardons were then cooked for salad and soup garnishes in the next couple of days while the rest were made into 100g packs and frozen.  The chicken thighs have now been skinned and deboned and again frozen although the skin and bones are still simmering to make stock.  

My main aim in organising the fridge is to make sure I can see everything so there is less chance things will be wasted.  I threw away one apple and one courgette this morning.

Wednesday 24 November 2021

Am I crazy?

 Don't answer that!  It's just that I fancy a mini challenge about food purchases in the run-up to Christmas.  

Let me set the scene for you.  As always I will spend Christmas alone after I come back from church.  This is my choice: I always have lots of invitations.  I always cook a special lunch for myself although that is often not on Christmas Day.  This year I've bought a frozen three-bird-roast. I've made the pudding when I made lots of other puddings as Christmas presents.  I just need to buy things like cream, vegetables and the treats which I enjoy at Christmas.  

At this time of the year the shops are full of very tempting treats and, like Oscar Wilde, I can resist anything other than temptation.  I have a fridge full of food and I want to make sure I waste very little of it which is what would happen if I spent a lot of time in a supermarket or on its website.  

So, I am allowing myself just £20 for food between now and 22nd December when I have a delivery slot booked.  I'll be very honest about how I get on!  The only exception I will make is for purchases for the food bank.

Today I am going to clean the fridge to make sure nothing is lurking which needs to be eaten soon.

Sunday 17 October 2021

If all else fails: part 2

 Back in August I wrote a post about the time saver button on my washing machine.   It's an AEG 1400 spin 7kg machine which I bought in December 2013 and it has been brilliant.  There are probably even more economical models now but at the time it was AAA rated.  I've now been using the time saver button for a couple of months so thought I would report in.

First of all my clothes are still as clean as ever.  However, very few things get really dirty in this house and I use a pre-soak powder if they do.  I've only done the figures for a cotton wash with a 1400 spin.  I have not checked the energy consumption, just the time.  I can press the button either once or twice and usually do so twice for maximum saving

Temp                  Time          1 save                 2 save

95                        2.52          2.28           1.42

60                        2.39          2.15           1.15

40                        2.38          2.15           1.15

30                        2.19          2.00           0.57

20                        1.54          1.40           0.54        

Temperatures are in degrees Celsius and times are hours and minutes.

Another useful feature of this machine is the half load wash in twenty minutes at 30 degrees.  However, if I use this I usually do a fast spin afterwards.

Thursday 16 September 2021

Value for money!

 I had to do some small jobs in Brigg yesterday so I nipped into Lidl and got a "Waste Not" vegetable box for £1.50.  Our local store has now changed where they display them (for some unknown reason they used to be after the check-outs!) and they make them available at more times of the day so I'm finding it easier to buy them.

And what fantastic value they are!  Look at this box!  There's celery, two bunches spring onions, cherry tomatoes, big tomatoes, carrots, plums, potatoes, onion, Padron peppers, sweet peppers and corn.  There were also five bananas and I can't imagine where they went,  

What surprises me is how few people bother to look at the boxes, despite the store making it easier.  I was in the store for about twenty minutes and my box was the first thing I chose and the other two boxes which were there when I went in were still available when I left.  True, this isn't the freshest or prettiest produce but there is nothing in that box which is unusable and there is plenty to enrich my diet.

Wednesday 11 August 2021

Getting my house in order

 One of my main jobs over these last months has been to get my house in order - literally.  I've always been able to dash and stash when guests are expected but I wanted to move on from that, even (dare I say it) behave like a reasonable adult.  So long as just the kitchen, sitting room and bathroom needed to be OK I could just about manage but if guests were expected for a meal I needed at least two weeks notice.  Quite frankly, the dining room was a horror story.

Diming room cupboard after

But the great thing about the pandemic has been that I have an unprecedented amount of time on my own.  Back in February I challenged myself to get rid of 406 items before the end of the month.  I failed in February.  However, since 8th March I have got rid of 775 items.  I find counting and recording very motivating - yes I know it's weird but it works for me!  Some items have been large like a freezer, a felting machine.  Others have been more modest like spare haberdashery or vases.  The vast majority has been passed on to charity shops or similar but some has had to go to the recycling centre or as a last resort, to landfill. 

Wednesday 4 August 2021

If all else fails. . .

 . . read the instructions!  How many times have I heard (and said) that?

I don't know about you but I usually read the instructions when I buy a new appliance and then they get filed away.  Often I also go to the manufacturer's website and download the manual on to my laptop so that when I need them next time I can find them without too much struggle.  But the only time I look for them is when all else has failed!  I forget that there may be things in the manual which will help me use the appliance better.

On a whim (we are sixteen months into very restricted activities!)  I decided to check the washing machine manual.  I bought the machine in 2013 so it's a while since I've checked.   I have my favourite programmes which I use most weeks.   I know how to clean it.  It is working safely and the clothes get clean.  Why bother with the manual?  

However, I want to reduce my electricity consumption so I wondered if the manual would help.  And it did!  There, right in front of me, on the control panel, was a button which I'd never really noticed - never mind pressed.  It's a "Time Save" button.  Press it once for "daily soiled" items and twice for an extra quick programme for items with almost no soil.  I wear aprons a lot of the time so my clothes don't get too bad and a light wash is all they need.  Over the next few weeks I shall be experimenting.  

(Sorry it is so long since I was here.  Must do better,  Thank you for visiting,)

Monday 3 May 2021

Moocing again

 It's a long time since I wrote about MOOCs so maybe I'd better say what MOOCs are.  Massive Open Online Courses.  

Moocs are another frugal hobby.  Just log on to Futurelearn  or Coursera and you'll find free on line courses on hundreds of subjects.  I've done courses on everything from the anatomy of the abdomen to money management.  And not a penny has left my purse in the pursuit of learning.

This week I have started a course "From waste to value: how to tackle food waste".  It looks at food loss and food waste (and explains the difference between the two) and gives information to help ordinary consumers like you and me to reduce our food waste.  I've been encouraged to set up a food waste diary and an action plan.  Over the next three weeks I shall be keeping an even closer than usual eye on the food which I buy and use.  

It's also giving me information on food waste throughout the supply chain and how the food industry is trying to find new ways to use it's own waste products.  So far that has been the biggest eye opener for me.   I've been a tad judgemental (sometimes with justification) but for me this is new information.  

Wednesday 21 April 2021

Another frugal hobby

 Readers of my main blog, Trundling through life, will know that I sometimes struggle with pain and have to spend quite a long time sitting down.  I don't like being idle, though, and I knit, crochet, sew and, of course, I blog!  Last time I posted on this blog I wrote about entering competitions which is a frugal hobby, but I have another computer based hobby: doing surveys.  

The survey companies vary country by country. They also vary greatly with how many surveys they send and how much they pay.   Don't expect to have a vast second income, but I now earn about £60 per month.  I used to earn rather more but these days I've reduced the number of sites I use.  When I passed 65 I worried that I wouldn't be asked any more but that hasn't proved true.  I could do just as many as before but I've pulled out of some sites.

So, some of my favourites.

Prolific Academic.  The surveys on this site are for academic research and they can be really interesting.  They also pay well (by survey site standards!) and once I enter a survey I am never screened out.  They pay instantly via PayPal once £5 has been earned.

Lifepoints.  I get lots of invitations and am able to complete about half.  However, If I start on a survey and then get screened out they pay 2 points for trying.  550 points buys a £5 Amazon voucher so 2 points isn't much but I feel they make the effort to screen surveys properly before they send them to me.

I-say.  This is another site which screens well and if they send a survey which isn't suitable they give me 5 pence.  a £5 Amazon gift card here is 490 points.  They also have a game called Poll Predictor which has a prize draw attached.  I haven't won anything (and don't really expect to!) but it's fun to play.

Pinecone.  I don't get many from them but when I do they pay £3 each.  Sometimes, too, they send a product to be tested.  I've several had, boxes of chocolates, face cream butter and shampoo.  My most recent test was on a facial foundation cream.  

Onepoll.  These are really odd surveys!  They don't issue invitations but whenever I log on to their site there are two or three surveys waiting.  They pay 10p to 20p per survey so you have to do a lot before you get a £25 payout via PayPal.

If your life is very busy you are highly unlikely to want to do surveys.  I, however, have to sit quite a lot of the time and there's only so much knitting that a girl wants to do!

Sunday 21 February 2021

A Frugal Hobby

 It's a while since I wrote about comping but it's only a few hours since I was doing it.

"What is comping?" I don't hear you say, but if I did, I would tell you it's entering competitions.  I do a lot of them.  A very lot of them  Anything from 3000 to 8000 per month.  That includes a lot of competitions which allow an entry every day for several weeks and a lot of competitions which appear on multiple sites so it is considerably less than 3000 different competitions.

Comping is part of my routine.  When I get up I check e mails, I check my finances, I read the news and then I settle to enter a few competitions.  It's the time when I sit in front of my daylight lamp, have a cup of coffee and generally find the energy to meet the day.  

I don't win many competitions, but I win considerably more than someone who doesn't enter competitions.  That sounds obvious but so many people have said, "Oh, I never win" but then reveal that they never enter!  Last year I had only three wins all year, but in 2019 I won eleven different prizes.

I never pay to enter competitions.  I enter only on line and I never need to buy something to qualify.   It is a frugal hobby in that it costs nothing.  Most of the prizes are not high value and I give away a high proportion of them.  For me the reward is just winning.  When postie comes with a mug or a parcel of books, I feel that the universe is on my side.  Giving away tickets for London shows or exhibitions at the National Exhibition Centre gives me pleasure.  

And this week I have won this book.  It was on a financial site which I use, Warren Shute and, unlike many competitions it needed a bit of effort as it was a quiz about decimalisation.  That happened fifty years ago on 15th January 1971 but it wasn't very hard for an oldie like me who could remember it all happening!

Monday 1 February 2021


 This pandemic seems to be going on for ever but one day - one day! - we will be able to go out and socialise and do things!  I think it will be a few months before I resume even a little of my "normal" life and I want to make the most of this time to be ready to enjoy myself when that wonderful time comes. 

So, a project for February.  Twenty eight glorious days.  What to do with them?

Well. there's a project which is staring me in the face wherever I look.  It can't be avoided.  It's STUFF.  I've sorted quite a lot but I know there's plenty more which could go, so my aim for February is to have less stuff on 1st March than I have on 1st February. 

I'm going to try and get rid of one item for day one, two items for day two and so on to twenty eight items for day 28.

However, I'm not necessarily going to make 1st February my one item day.  Far too straightforward!  There will be a one item day but it might be 12th February whilst 2nd February could be a day for twenty five items to leave the premises.  However my days fall, 406 items should go before the month is through.  I've used this sort of crazy system before.  The advantage is that I can get rid of lots of stuff early whilst my enthusiasm is high and then as it gets harder to find items I can use the smaller daily targets.

Saturday 30 January 2021

Went the month well?

 It's almost the end of January and I am very unlikely to spend again so here is my report on my no spend month.  

I've paid all my usual direct debits of course, and this is my discretionary expenditure

Carrots                43p

Parsnips                49p

Peeling knife        £6.49     (wholly paid with Amazon vouchers from surveys)

Frying pan        £32.24     (£15.20 Amazon vouchers, £17.04 cash.)

Iceberg lettuce    60p

Eggs                    £4

Magazine subscription   £5 plus Tesco vouchers

Twirl (chocolate bar)    43p

So, as far as no spend I failed, but to be honest I expected to.  £5.52 on food is miraculous, as far as I am concerned.  I had some Tesco vouchers which would soon expire so I needed to spend them.  I explained the knife and pan here. 

And the chocolate amuses me.  I get a Twirl delivered by Amazon for 43p.  If I went to Sainsbury I would need to pay my petrol and pay 70p.  I rather like inconveniencing Amazon.  

Friday 15 January 2021

Reporting in at half time

It's half way through my no-spend month so I'm reporting in.  

Carrots                43p

Parsnips                49p

Peeling knife        £6.49     (wholly paid with Amazon vouchers from surveys)

Frying pan        £32.24     (£15.20 Amazon vouchers, £17.04 cash.  That hurt.)

Menus are getting more creative and the freezer is being "rationalised" but I can't claim to be starving.  Root vegetables are the essence of winter comfort food for me so the carrots and parsnips were necessary.  My non-non-stick frying an was ruining food and driving me crazy.  I tried various hacks from YouTube involving dishwasher tablets, washing up liquid, vinegar and bicarb but in the end I had to give it a decent burial. 

Friday 8 January 2021


This is a time for a confession.  I do not plan my weekly menus.  I am very envious of those who do.  I have many times planned menus but I never stick to my plan!  

What I do plan is meals.  When I create a shopping list I have in mind something I want to cook and I order the ingredients accordingly.  Today I have made six portions of cottage pie.  I ate one for lunch and I have no idea when the remaining five will be eaten but I know they will be eaten and I will enjoy them.  On Sunday I knew I had cooked too many vegetables but I had in mind various meals I could cook with the leftovers.  

Because I plan meals I knew I had everything I need to make my cottage pies.  There was a bag of frozen lean mince, a couple of onions, and carrots.  I'd got the food processor out for something else so I grated the carrot and onions which was very successful and I shall do that in future rather than chop them.   I had a brainwave and added a portion of very thick butternut squash soup along with the gravy to increase the vegetable content.  I had a bag of frozen mashed potato and I used that for the topping.  It was one of the best cottage pies I have ever made and probably one of the healthiest.  

I also have to confess to ordering a new vegetable peeling knife.  Mine has disappeared from the face of the earth or more likely it went in the bin with vegetable peelings at the weekend.  That is not a frugal way of being!   I paid for it with my Amazon vouchers.

Wednesday 6 January 2021

Cook once, twice, thrice

 Cooking for one can be a dispiriting experience, or it can be fun, calling on extra creativity.

On Sunday I decided to have roast vegetables with my pork chop.  I roasted carrots, parsnips, onions and sweet potatoes but also cooked baby carrots and broccoli from the garden.

There was, of course, far too much so Monday the I cooked Bubble and Squeak, using half the leftovers but all the remaining broccoli.

Tuesday the other half became soup.  I'd planned it this way and as I don't like leafy sprouting broccoli in my root vegetable soup I was glad I'd used the leftover broccoli on Monday.  

And there's a bowl of soup left for today.

I think tomorrow I may need to cook again!

Monday 4 January 2021


 No-spend January is no small undertaking but I have all sorts of assets.

The first is very well stocked stores.  January is often a very depressing month for me and I have noticed in previous years that when I get depressed I can't be bothered to cook.  There's just me and it seems like too much effort.  Just a sandwich - again! - will be OK.  This year I started to prepare for January back in November.  I stashed away some batch cooked meals and didn't allow myself to eat them.  So far I haven't touched them but I know they are there.  

Secondly it's the things I don't eat which could trip someone up.  I don't use milk but others would consider that to be an essential.  I drink my coffee black and don't drink tea.  I don't eat breakfast cereal and, at the moment, I don't need to think about visitors.  I've got UHT milk in the cupboard and I can use that for cooking.  I'm not bothered by wanting salad in January.  I make my own bread.

And thirdly the biggest asset of all - I have vegetables in the garden.   I had leeks, broccoli and carrots from the garden yesterday.  I save the fresh garden veg for a treat on Sunday and the rest of the week I can eat frozen vegetables or the carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and parsnips I have in store.  

It may be that I will need some emergency purchases and I have to admit I have a small cheat up my sleeve.  When I do market research surveys I am usually paid in either cash (PayPal) or Amazon vouchers.  I am going to make strenuous efforts not to use the cash but the Amazon vouchers will be used if absolutely necessary.