Tuesday 28 February 2023

The First BIG Shop ... and Shopping Totals for February


Well for the first time this year I had to go shopping for things that I had actually completely run out of, and things that I didn't want to do without.  So I just bit the bullet and when Alan said he was going to Aldi I went with him.

I bought a lot of non-food items, but I did buy some foods specifically to start me off with my new diet plan.  I have decided to do the Fast 800 which I started yesterday, right through to my birthday week to see if I can shift the weight that has crept up on me.  There was quite a bit of interest in the comments on the last post, which surprised me, I wasn't really planning to blog about it, but I am more than happy to if it would help anyone else.   Maybe not everyday, but once or twice a week if that suits.

Anyway this Aldi shopping cost me the grand total of £41.76.

Meaning that in February I spent a total of £233.14 ... wow that soon added up!!

January =  £547.55

February = £233.14

TOTAL  £280.79

Leaving me with just £314.41 from my starting figure for the year.

But I'm quite happy with that, after all it includes two haircuts, a car MOT, all the food shopping that I needed and some sundry items like books, birthday cards etc.  and it averages out at less than £35 a week spent.  This is proving to be very good at focusing me more on my day to day spending so it's been really worth doing.

Now I'm going to spend a little bit more time menu planning for the rest of this week.  I have never been a calorie counter so it seems very laborious, but soon I will have a list of all my favourite foods that I can refer to when I menu plan for future weeks, and that should hopefully speed things up no end.

Sue xx

Sunday 26 February 2023

Early Morning Canal Side Walk, Breakfast Out and More Spending


The dogs and Alan were having a long lie in this morning. 

 Ginger had been over to me for his daily early morning treat of Aldi knock off  'Dreamies' and a cat stick, and then he decided to go back to bed at his Dad's.  It was looking to be a good start to the day with the sun peeking out every so often between the puffy greyish clouds, so I decided to go for a walk on my own.

I did what we call the 'reverse loop', along the road up to the canal bridge and then down the ancient stone steps to the tow path.  Without dogs stopping at every bush, post or unusual thing on the verge to either sniff at or wee on, the walk seemed more peaceful and somehow stiller.

This is the first time I have done this walk without at least one of the dogs by my side, and it's strange but I noticed different things for the first time.

The tree stump with the painted pebbles commemorating someone who had died recently, the fact that the tow path seemed clearer and neater than usual.  The sparrows flitting in and out of the hedge, chunnering at me as I passed.  The stillness of the water and the lovely reflections of the trees and bridges.

As I neared home I noticed the tiny narrowboat called My Newt had sold. 

Well I'm assuming that it has sold, there was a notice in its window the other day saying 'For Sale £14k' and a phone number.  I was briefly tempted but fought the temptation admirably.  😉

Just after I got back home Mavis' face appeared at the window and Alan called round to ask if I wanted to go out for breakfast.  Never one to not to look a free Sunday morning breakfast in the mouth, I of course said yes.  And once Alan had taken the dogs for a brisk walk to use up a little of their excess energy we all set off in his car for Daisy Clough garden centre and tearooms, and breakfast.

It was lovely, and very busy as it always is.  People round here can still afford to eat out it would seem.  I left an hour later clutching the sugar I hadn't used, the napkin Alan hadn't used (waste not want not) and a packet of Courgette seeds that I really needed.  

Another £1.90 spent.

Along with the £27.70 I spent yesterday, in readiness for something that I am starting tomorrow.

My spending challenge has really taken a battering this month, and it's time to add up everything that I have spent now that the end of February is looming.

Oh and I did my first BIG shop yesterday, I need to find my camera and download the photo and add that to my running total.  I'll show you what I bought on the next post.

Sue xx

Saturday 25 February 2023

Did Someone Mention Two Tins of Salmon ...


As I ended my last post with 'Now what did I do with two tins of salmon mixed with red onion and mayonnaise ...?'  It seems only fair that I quickly show you.

As you saw last time I added a spoonful to the pasta dish that I made whilst I was prepping the salmon, then I made sandwiches to take to Mum's for our lunch.  Two rounds of bread each with just the salmon on it, spread very thinly for Mum as that is the way she likes it and a bit thicker for me and Alan, Mum supplied some lentil crisps to go with the butties.

The next day I made the buns you see in the top photo for our lunch.  

For my tea I decided to use a bit more of the salmon, yes it was getting very fishy!!

A third of my tub of mash, a good helping of the salmon mix and lots of pepper and I had four little fishcakes.  I decided against making any breadcrumbs and instead just dredged them in flour.

A nice simple tea on a bed of iceberg lettuce and drizzled with mayo.

The next night it was a bowl of pasta, this time without any tomato based sauce but with lots of peas.

And then the next day it was a simple lunch of the rest of the mashed potatoes and the last of the salmon mix.  Oh I do love a plate of mashed potatoes with lots of butter.

So, two tins of salmon, a huge dollop of mayonnaise and half a finely diced red onion and I got five different meals.  One of them serving three people, one serving two people and the rest just for me.

What would you have done with two tins of salmon?

Now for a little bit of Weekend Watching.

First Frugal Daddy diving in the dumpster and rescuing food just before the refuse collectors come and take it all to landfill.

How sad would it have been for all those chickens to have lost their lives only for their breast meat to go to landfill.  It's shocking and horrifying in equal measures.  Well rescued Frugal Daddy.

Now step away if you have any sort of cat phobia!!

This is just hilarious. 😄

Have a great weekend everyone.

Sue xx

Friday 24 February 2023

So Why Does Food Last Me So Long?

I get asked a lot why I have so much food in my cupboards, freezer etc etc, and sometimes I even wonder myself why there's so much ... and then I monitor what I do for a while and the answer becomes apparent.

I make what I do have go as far as I can, and I make as many meals as possible out of everything.  I guess it comes from having nothing in the past, the days when I opened cupboards and there was virtually nothing there and there were two little boys that needed feeding.  You soon learn the value of what you have when you have it, and it is ingrained so deeply in you to make the best out of every single thing, make it go as far as possible and waste nothing.

Take the chopped veggies I roasted last week for instance.  I call them Med Veg for short, and once I have made a tub full I use them day after day in as many ways as I can while they are still lovely and fresh in the fridge.

You have already seen the first meal a pizza ... although you saw it in it's uncooked state ... made from half of the sheet of pizza dough with the Med Veg and some dairy-free cheese.

The second meal was a nice simple lunch just stirred through some cous cous that had been cooked in vegetable stock.  It was delicious, and as usual reminded me that I just do not use my big jar of cous cous anywhere near enough!

The third meal saw me using the other half of the pizza dough to make a 'pizza pocket' type thing, and very nice it was too.  But I will not be buying that ready rolled pizza dough again, it has absolutely no flavour, I can do so much better myself.

As I was preparing the fourth meal I decided that the Med Veg had been in the fridge for long enough, so I decided to divide it into four portions, three for the freezer, I'll let you know what I use these for ... if I remember.

The other one was added to a bowl of pasta along with some prepared tinned salmon, which caused a link over to the next good use of food.  

Now what did I do with two tins of salmon mixed with red onion and mayonnaise ... ?

Sue xx

Wednesday 22 February 2023

The Final Food Stash ... My Tuesday in Pictures


Yesterday I spotted little cobwebs at the base of this set of drawers on the edge of my kitchen, it made me decide straight away that I should sort through this final stash of food.  I sort of knew what was in the drawers but I couldn't remember how long the dates were on them.

So here's what I was up to yesterday in photos, with lots of little breaks and some tasty snacks thrown in while I did it.

First  I emptied the top of the drawers and wiped it down.

Then the drawers came out, and the void they left was hoovered out and spiders re-homed to the great outdoors.

The next stage was to wipe everywhere down and clean the floor, including under the food cupboard next to this little set of drawers.

With the floor wet there was nothing for it but to make myself a cup of coffee, and retire to the living room for twenty minutes of YouTube watching.

I took this bag of Cassava Chips with me, I didn't expect to like them as I really don't like salt and vinegar as a flavour for things.   I was going to pass them onto Alan after tasting them, but I did like them ... so he didn't even know that he so nearly gained a snack. 😁

When the floor was dry and the coffee gone, I came back and went through my sweetie drawer.  Everything is now stacked in date order and the only two things that need immediate consumption are these two items .... it's a hard task I know but I will do my best!!

The other little wooden drawer contains nothing edible, so I sorted through the food bags, wrappers etc, wiped out the drawer and put almost everything back.

The first of the basket drawers contained cracker type snacks, and unbeknown to me two packets of biscuits.  I do like a sort out when it reveals tasty treats that you have forgotten you have.  The empty cassava chips bag is here to show you where it used to live.  

Then I looked in my food cupboard and pulled out the crackers that were in there on the top shelf, and added them to this drawer now that there was more space.

These are the only things that need eating up immediately, all go out of date this month.

Hands up ... I volunteer. 😁

The next basket held these.  They were all just about in date, except for the rice which has next years date on it.

The cashews were decanted into a jar and then everything was packed back into the drawer.

The Naan breads were originally ....

... on top of the pasta in this drawer, and are out of date.

They will be used this week.

The pasta in this drawer all has dates in 2025 on it, so I just put it all back in for now.

This final drawer also holds pasta and some sauces and they are all well in-date, so they just went straight back into the drawer after it had been shaken and wiped out.

And here we are!

I know that it barely looks any different, but now I know that everything is in date order, and is clean and okay for use whenever I need it.  The basket on top which was from the hamper that Alan bought me for Christmas and which I was wondering what to use for, now has a good purpose.  At the start of each week I am going to place in it some of the foods that I really need to use up first, if I can see them I hope I will be more inclined to use them.

I quite enjoyed doing this and it pretty much brings to the end the sorting out of the food, and it's nice to know that I really won't have to do a proper 'big shop' for a long time.

Note:  If anyone has been wondering why I haven't mentioned the sad case of our local lady, who was missing for just over three weeks, it's mostly because there has been so much media speculation and so much said that I just didn't want to add to this.  Also partly because my son works for Lancashire Police and I felt (and still feel) it prudent to keep quiet.  And finally because almost exactly the same thing happened to a member of my family back in the late 70's, only his body wasn't discovered for ten months.  So I know first hand just how hard the not knowing is.  Now at last her family have closure and will hopefully be left in peace to grieve.  

RIP Nicola Bulley 💔

Sue xx

Monday 20 February 2023

A Chip Shop Shock, a Lack of Menu Plan ... and What you Want When You Want It

I missed menu planning at all last week ... the first time I've not written out a menu plan since the start of January ... and I'm not really in the mood to do it today, so this week I have decided to mix things up a bit and instead of writing out a menu plan I will be filling in the menu sheet with the foods that I actually eat all week as and when I have them, then I should be able to have a look on paper at what is going on in my mind ... and going into my stomach.

I seem to be having a real, 'I'm not that bothered about anything' mood going on at the moment and it would be all too easy to eat crappy foods all week, but I don't want to do that.  So I think if I write it all down I will want it to appear slightly healthier to my own eyes ... not just if I share it on here.

Breakfast - tick!

After breakfast I took the dogs for a walk to the park, dropped some sorted out clothes into the charity clothes recycling bins in Booths car park, and then some unwanted dog food into the Animal Sanctuary collection point at Sainsbury's and whilst I was there was inspired to get some shopping.

Inspired by seeing the yellow-stickered reduced price fish fillets.

Last week when we got back from Manchester,  Alan went to get us a chippy tea after walking the dogs and the prices had shot up again ...  the fish were £8.50 each. I was so shocked.   So when I spotted this reduced price box of two very similar battered fish for just £3.99 I instantly thought that I would recreate last weeks meal for under the cost of just one chip shop fish portion, to show Alan that it can be done so much cheaper.

Alan has a bag of these Aldi oven chips in his freezer that cost £1.29, and I have bought the fish and the peas.

A meal for two -

1/2 bag of chips - 65p

1/4 bag of peas - 25p

Reduced price Battered Fish fillets - 3.99

Total £ 4.89

I think we might possibly have had our last chippy supper for a while, well a bought from the chippy one anyway!!  Even I didn't think that it would so far under the price of just one of the fish portions.

As you saw up above I didn't just get the fish, I also bought the peas, which were on offer at £1, two yellow-stickered chocolate bars at  79p each and because all this thinking about fish made me want to have some for lunch I bought two haddock fillets for £2.25 and some buns to have one of them on, for £1.40.  

The total spend including the fish was just £10.22.

Lunch - tick! 

There has been some talk of supermarket shelves being pretty empty in lots of places around the UK over the past few weeks.   I have to say that our store was pretty well stocked on most things, but I guess with it being such a small Sainsbury's it's easy to keep it looking well stocked.  What seems to be missing ... according to that and other articles ... is the really out of season things such as tomatoes.

  Wouldn't it be so much better if people ate more seasonally again, ate more British produced foods and stopped expecting to be able to buy exactly what they want, when they want it all the time!!

Sue xx

Saturday 18 February 2023

Six Shops in Eighteen Days, and Weekend Watching

I've just spotted in my diary that I have actually shopped six times in the first half of February.  Just how is the shortest month of the year going to be the month that I shop the most, it's ridiculous!!

The bread and tomatoes were bought on Wednesday ready to be turned into corned beef and tomato sandwiches for Alan and Mum and cheese and tomato for me.  We each had a flapjack from my food stash for dessert.

Total spent - £2.10

The little jar of jam was in my handbag and was what I brought home from the afternoon tea, I wasn't going to waste that nice jam on horribly dry gluten free scones!!

Then yesterday Alan asked if I wanted to go to Aldi with him ... of course I said yes. 😄

I mostly shopped for the Foodbank but the items above went into the trolley for me.  It's funny but ever since we were talking about sausage rolls when we went for the afternoon tea I have been fancying some.  I could of course have made them myself with the ready rolled pastry in my fridge and the Linda McCartney sausages from my freezer ...but I was in Aldi, theirs are some of the best and they are one of the rare items that have never increased in price.  They have been £1.19 for around three years now, so when I spied them in the freezer next to the pizzas I just had to buy a box.

I also decided to buy some sparkling water and fresh orange juice because just the evening before I had been stood looking for something to drink other than coffee, tap water or wine, and I had found nothing.

I did remember to keep the receipt, again it's another very faded one  Is Aldi too poor to buy fresh ink for their tills?

I spent a total of £9.96 on these six items for me, and quite a bit more on the Foodbank ... but that doesn't come out of my challenge budget, hence me not showing the rest of the receipt.

A couple of the YouTube videos that I have enjoyed this week.


Firstly Madeleine Olivia and her ongoing decluttering.  

It's a bit long and there's quite a lot of waffle but some good ideas, and it does spur me on to keep sorting out the nitty gritty of what I have left.  What I am always astounded by though is her talk of all her work tiring her out so much.  

She's an influencer, she films her actual day to day life and occasionally food videos ... and has other people working for her to get these edited and put onto YouTube and various other platforms. I may be being over-critical but we all live our lives and just get on with it.  Spending a portion of nearly every video that she has put out recently, saying how tiring she is finding it all just seems a bit much when she is earning a LOT of money just for filming herself living.  What is clever though, and something I thoroughly approve of, is that this video does seem to be addressing most of the criticism aimed at her on Tattle Life. 

It's a pretty despicable website with people really being keyboard warriors, and being very negative and sometimes extremely nasty about people online or in the media.

Claire's Journey

Now there's a good pantry for storing all your food in one place.

And finally ... a bit of What's for Tea.  

A Scottish lady with an accent that's very different from Alan's, she simply shows us the meals that they've had over the previous week.  She has a huge following of people that love to pick up new meal ideas.  A new meals video comes out every Sunday, a shopping haul on Friday and sometimes there is a recipe video too ... and yes Mince and Tatties is one of Alan's favourite meals.   

Hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Sue xx

Friday 17 February 2023

Ramekins, Lids and Food in Unexpected Places


I've been getting a head start on the Spring Cleaning, just little bits here and there so that there will be no need for an almighty cleaning session.  The other day while the computer was firing up I noticed a fine layer of dust on this shelf ... you can even see the dust here in the photo ... so I decided that this would be that days little task.

So the shelves were emptied and wiped down, while they were drying I emptied inside the cupboard too and wiped that, putting everything back a little bit neater and getting rid of some of the excess plastic lids that I had for the Gu ramekins.

My world was made happy when I discovered that Pringles and Stacker lids fit these so neatly!!

But I did have to start being ruthless when we were packing to move from Wales and I discovered just how many of the little ramekins and lids we had actually saved!!  

While I was organising the contents of the cupboard I decided to streamline the bulging sachet bowl.  So I opened and tipped the contents of all the brown sugar sachets into my little sugar jar.

And did the same with the salt, leaving just a few of both in my little sachet stash for emergency use.

It was when I went to lift the enamel teapot down that I discovered the 'food in unexpected places' !!

 I can't remember when I put salt and spices in there, but the minute I picked up the teapot and felt it's weight I knew what it contained.  They will come in very useful, and I'm really pleased that I found them before I ran out of any of them and purchased some more.

Sue xx