Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Bargain finds

I work voluntarily in a charity shop one morning a week and it's a great place to find anything I need. When I needed a large pudding basin to make a Christmas pud I found one at our shop. When I needed some new ramekin dishes due to mine having cracks and getting broken, again some were found at the charity shop. I seem to find, if I'm patient, anything I require. Last week I really wanted some towels for the dog. Nearly every day he has to have his legs and belly sprayed under the shower after our walks. When I went to the shop to do my voluntary work Friday I mentioned to the girls if they came across any old towels that were going into rag because they are too tatty, to save them for my dog. I also mentioned I would like an old quilt to make a new bed for him if they came across one.

On finishing my shift I was presented with a double size M&S quilt and two worn out towels. I didn't have to pay anything for the towels as they were no good to sell and were going in the rags and I had to pay £2.00 for the quilt. Sherlock is very happy with his new comfy bed and I have a couple of towels to dry him off after walks, result.

I found a couple of smoked mackerel fillets stashed in a corner of the freezer which were dated months ago.
I whizzed these up with half a tub of cream cheese left over from a pate I made last week. I added a good grating of black pepper and the juice of half a lemon. Lunch for a few days there I think.

 I am determined to clear the freezer of all the bits and pieces I throw in there to save them going off. Wonder what I will pull out next week : )


Breakfast - Medium bowl of branflakes and skimmed milk

Lunch - Homemade spicy sweet potato soup (out of freezer) 2 rice cakes with mackerel pate, orange

Dinner - Fragrant quorn rice one pot and a small slice of homemade bread

Packup for nightshift - Mackerel pate & salad sandwich, cup-a-soup and an apple

Monday, 30 January 2012

Did I manage my shopping challenge?

YES! Just! And like Scarlets comment on my last post, it is time consuming. I have been on supermarket websites getting prices for their products and comparing them with old receipts from Aldi to checkout who's the cheapest. Was quite annoyed when some of the prices had changed since I price checked over the weekend. Aldis tuna had increased from 62p last week to 76p today! Aldi also had not put any fresh milk out yet because a man was cleaning the area milk is in so I did have to get some milk in Tesco but still go it for £1.00 the same as Aldi. I came in at £54.87 which I'm really pleased about. I did have to rummage around in my purse to get enough coins to pay for the sausages at the butchers. Was a tense moment, would I have enough to pay? hehe. Would have been embarrassing asking her to take a sausage or two back. So everything is bought for the coming week and my menu plan is

MONDAY - Egg, chips & beans. Jam sponge & custard

TUESDAY - Fragrant pork rice one pot & home made bread

WEDNESDAY - Beef casserole, mashed potatoes and Yorkshire puddings

THURSDAY - Homemade mince & onion pie, vegetables & roast potatoes

FRIDAY - Savoury mince on jacket potatoes & steamed veg

SATURDAY - Homemade curry, rice & naan bread

SUNDAY - Mushroom stoup & bread. Apple crumble & custard

We had a drive to the coast yesterday afternoon. We ended up driving to Hornsea which is about 45 miles away from us. I last went to Hornsea when I was about 10 years old. It was a cold and wet afternoon by the time we arrived. We sat in the car and ate our sandwiches we took with us. We had cheap Aldi lemonade for drinks then ventured out into the cold. Must get into the loft and find the box of kitchen stuff we have had packed aways sine moving six years ago! I need to find my flasks.

Daughter No3 and Sherlock were having a good run along the beach. Even though we were well wrapped up it was freezing and kept raining but it was good to get out and blow the cobwebs away.


Breakfast - 2 shredded wheat and an old banana

Lunch - Leftover quorn casserole with a bit of leftover pasta mixed in

Dinner - 2 eggs, few chips and beans. A small potion of jam sponge & custard

START WEIGHT - 12 stone 1.5lb

TODAY'S WEIGHT - 11 stone 11.5lb

LOSS - 1lb


Friday, 27 January 2012

Pay Day!

First pay of the year and I spent the afternoon working out all the outgoings for the coming month. We have father-in-laws birthday next week. Daughters birthday in a couple of weeks. A £75 payment on a school trip to pay. A TV to pay for. We have nearly £200 from unexpected cheques which are going towards the TV. The remainder will be out of this months wages. We don't like to get into debt so save up and pay for items we want. So, with all the extra payouts this month it's leaving us a bit short this month so I'm having to tighten the purse strings on the food budget.

I have worked it out that we shall have £55 a week to spend. I have been sat with pen and paper menu planning and searching out the cheapest places to buy my food for next week. I drew out my £55 from the bank today and that is now in my shopping purse. I do my shop on a Monday but called into Aldi today as I was passing to get stocked up with their 69p fruit and veg that I want for next week. So I bought a pack of six oranges, 2 packets of vine tomatoes, a bag of potatoes and a packet of green beans. Their super 6 changes Monday so I wanted to make sure I got these offers before it finishes. I also nipped into Sainsburys to buy a bottle of Robinsons fruit & barley squash as that was on offer at 74p a bottle. I have my shopping list for next week with the shop and prices already for Monday. If Scarlet can manage on £100 a MONTH http://talesfrombeyondthenook.blogspot.com/2012/01/and-so-it-begins-progress-and-view-from.html  I'm sure I can manage on my allowance.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Rain, rain go away

What a miserable day. Not stopped raining since I got up at 7am.
I shall tackle a mountain of ironing once I've finished my post for today. Yesterday I went for my 2 yearly eye test then I had my yearly contact lens check.  When all was finished the lady said, you don't pay for an eye test do you? I said yes I do to which she replied, no you don't pay any more because you pay for your contact lenses by direct debit each month which now allows you to have free sight tests with us. Great no more sight tests to pay at Specsavers for me, yippee. My prescription has changed in my weak eye so I need some new glasses but shall return once we have been paid. I'm also in a hospital fund which allows me to claim back on part of my optical expenses so it won't cost too much for my new glasses.

I really hate wasting any food so this morning I have used up some green tops of the leeks we have been eating over the last week.
I used one of the leek tops last night in my quorn casserole so the 3 remaining are being used with these few ingredients to make a half portion of leek and potato soup. I make this a lot.

Serves 2, double quantities for 4

3 leek tops, washed & sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
small knob butter
150g potato, chopped
1 veg stock cube dissolved in 500ml water
sprinkle dried parsley
Grating black pepper
150ml milk

Put butter, leeks and onion in a pan and saute for about 5 minutes.
Add potato, parsley and stock. Cook for about 20 minutes until vegetables are soft.
Blitz soup with a hand blender then add pepper and milk and adjust seasoning to your taste.

That's my leek tops used up into a lovely soup. It turns out very green compared to when you use the whole of the leek but it still tastes good.


Breakfast - large bowl hot oatbran made with water with 6 tinned prunes

Lunch - leek & potato soup, 3 rice cakes with remaining smoked salmon pate

Dinner - 2 veggie sausages, 2 poached eggs, potato cake, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms & baked beans

Work - Tuna mayo salad sandwich, apple and a cup a soup

Monday, 23 January 2012

Menu Week 23/01/12

MONDAY - Italian meatloaf, roasted potatoes with steamed vegetables and gravy

TUESDAY - Sausage, bacon, egg, potato cake, mushrooms and grilled tomatoes

WEDNESDAY - Tuna in tomato sauce on pasta with homemade garlic bread

THURSDAY - Roast chicken, Yorkshire puddings, mashed potatoes and vegetables

FRIDAY - Creamy beef & potato layer with peas and carrots

SATURDAY - Lamb/veggie bean burger, homemade chips & coleslaw

SUNDAY - Peppers stuffed with beans on rice/couscous

Just the usual Monday here, food shopping and cleaning with a bit of washing thrown in. Nice to have two days in a row where I can actually hang my washing on the line. It was part dried and it's finishing off on the airer. This afternoon I made good use of the oven space whilst it was on.

Family are having Italian meatloaf, recipe here on my old blog http://frugalinyorkshire.blogspot.com/2011/02/italian-meat-loaf.html I'm having casseroled quorn and I have a chicken roasting for sandwiches.

This morning when in the freezer I spotted some part used smoked salmon that wasn't getting eaten so was frozen last August so I thought I'd better get it used up. Whilst shopping I got some low fat cream cheese to mix with it.


80g smoked salmon
100g cream cheese
2 tbls lemon juice
good grating of black pepper

Just blitz all ingredients with a blender until smooth.


Breakfast -Medium bowl branflakes with 6 tinned prunes

Lunch - Homemade calcannon soup (found in freezer), smoked salmon pate on a homemade toasted bagel

Dinner - Casseroled quorn chunks with veg, roasted potatoes and steamed cabbage and peas

Start weight - 12stone 1.5lb

Today's weight - 11stone 12.5lb     

Loss - 3lb

Total loss - 3lb

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Bagel making

My youngest daughter loves bagels at the moment toasted for her breakfast every morning. I buy Sainsburys bakery bagels at £1.00 for 4. I thought today I would have a go at making some myself to see how they turned out. I worked out the costings to be around 30 pence for eight bagels which is a bargain and a big saving on the shop bought ones.


250ml tepid water
1 Tbls oil
11/2 tsp salt
11/2 Tbls sugar
450g strong plain flour
1 sachet dried yeast
1 egg white
2 tsp water

Put water, salt, sugar and oil in breadmaking machine.
Add flour to wet ingredients then the yeast.
Set machine to bagel program or dough program.
When program is finished  knock dough back and divide into 8 pieces.
Roll into a ball then with a floured finger push your finger through the centre of the dough.
Put a pan of water to boil then drop two bagels into the water for 3 minutes turning half way through.
Repeat process until all bagels have been done.
Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on a clean t-towel.
Mix egg white with the water.
Place bagels on a tray and brush with the egg wash.
Bake in fan oven at 200C for 20 minutes.

Had a day at home today pottering around the house doing cleaning, baking and ironing. I only ventured out to take the dog on his walks. It was actually a love day for dog walking. Sun shining and not too cold. Whilst cleaning the bathrooms I noticed one handwash had just about been used up so I took it to the kitchen, got the handwash from the shower room and did this...

Just leave it like this for a while and you won't waste a drop of hand wash. I always do this with a lot of things, ketchup, shampoo and hair conditioner to name a few. I'm sure all you frugal people out there will already do this anyway.


Breakfast - medium bowl branflakes with skimmed milk

Lunch - Homemade spicy sweet potato soup and a homemade bagel

Dinner - 2 Veggie sausages, boiled potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, carrots

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Packed lunches

My Hubby can be a bit boring when it comes to making his own packed lunches for work. I tend to make the girls and Hubby makes his own. If Hubby has to make his own he just slaps a bit of home boiled ham in two slices of bread with a bit of tomato and low fat spread, that's it. If I tell him to open a tin of tuna he says it's too much hassle to make tuna mayo, what! If I suggest egg salad or egg mayo I get the same response. Laziness comes to mind here and it annoys me.

They all love chicken in sandwiches so yesterday when I did my shop I bought a small chicken in Aldi for £2.69  and slow cooked this. It works out to be a very economical sandwich filling if you get chicken this way rather than slices of prepacked stuff.  I stripped all the meat from the carcass and popped the carcass back into the slowcooker last night to make some stock. I got a lot of meat from the chicken and this will be used for sandwiches for my lot over the week. Last night I cooked off a couple of smokey bacon rashers and chopped them with some chicken into mayonnaise. This was their sandwich filling for today. I will use some with sweetcorn and mayonnaise for another day and will make a coronation chicken filling too. I will portion the chicken up into bags and freeze after today to keep the chicken fresh. I'm sure there will still be plenty to make a chicken salad sandwich at some point. These fillings will be alternated with tuna mayonnaise and some of the fillings I've listed below this week. These are things I regularly make for packed lunches -

Ham & tomato
Ham, salad & mayo
Chicken, smokey bacon & mayo filling
Chicken, bacon,sweetcorn & mayo filling
Chicken, sweetcorn & mayo filling
Tuna,sweetcorn & mayo filling
Tuna, onion & mayo filling
Egg mayonnaise filling
Boiled egg, lettuce, cucumber & tomato
Cheese, lettuce, cucumber & tomato
Cheese & tomato
Tomato & tuna pasta salad
Tuna & sweetcorn pasta salad
Cheese, onion & potato pasties
Mini Cheese, tomato & onion Quiches
Slices of homemade pizza
Homemade sausage rolls

Had some leftover mashed potato from yesterday and a little pastry from Sundays pie so made a cheese, onion & potato pastie for daughters lunch tomorrow. Popped it in the oven to cook whilst my bread was cooking.

Can you think of anything else I could make for packed lunches?


Breakfast - Small bowl branflakes, small banana, skimmed milk

Lunch - 2 slices toast, 1/2 tin pilchards, large grilled tomato & shredded lettuce

Dinner - Medium portion pasta, quorn bolognese, little sprinkle cheese

Work packup - Crabstick salad sandwich, apple & a cup-a-soup

Monday, 16 January 2012

Work uniform tax rebates

Today I shall write a letter to my tax office to request a rebate for cleaning my works uniform. I never realised I could claim money back from the tax office for this. More details on who can claim and how you claim are on this great site http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/reclaim/uniform-tax-rebate#eligible  The tax man is all too quick to take money off us but they don't give willingly details of all the things you can claim for. So because I'm a healthcare worker in the NHS and have to wear a uniform and my employer does not clean my uniform I can claim a rebate. The procedure to claim is straightforward enough so once I've finished blogging I'm getting on with my letter. I shall let you know in due course how I get on.

MENU PLAN 16/01/12

MONDAY - Sausages, roasted root vegetables & jacket potatoes

TUESDAY - Pasta bolognese

WEDNESDAY - Chicken/prawn stirfry and noodles

THURSDAY - Roast chicken, Yorkshire puddings, mashed potatoes and vegetables

FRIDAY - Chicken in sauce over vegetable rice

SATURDAY - Chicken/tofu fajitas


Today I am starting the challenge of tackling my weight. I love my food and I comfort eat too if upset. I am not starting out too strict. I am taking the more healthy approach and portion size control. Hopefully I can shift some of my 12stone 1.5lb weight and reduce my BMI 27.31.

Breakfast - Small bowl bran flakes & skimmed milk
Lunch - Bowl spicy sweet potato soup
             1 slice toast, poached egg, grilled mushrooms & cherry tomatoes

Dinner - 2 vegetarian sausages, jacket potato & roasted root vegetables

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Oops! How did that happen

Oops, think it's time to start the diet!

I split my work trousers Tuesday night at work when I bent down. They are a tight squeeze on the waist now and they are elasticated on the back! I know I've put some weight on over Christmas and I really need to sort myself out so come Monday when I do my shopping it shall only be healthy stuff.

Took Sherlock my dog to the vets this morning for his yearly booster jab. He also got weighed and is a kilo heavier than last years weigh in. Oops! Looks like we're both on the healthy road : ) At least the bill at the vets was not too painful, £35.80 so I'm happy with that.

I hate wasting any food so this morning I am using up some sweet potatoes that have been lurking in my utility room since the beginning of November! Guess sweet potatoes are like normal potatoes, they keep very well if stored in the right conditions. Don't even know why I bought them. I'm not that keen on them and none of the family are either.

So today I have made,


2 onions,chopped
1 Tbsp oil
Ginger, grated (however much you like)
2 cloves garlic, grated
800g Sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp garam masala
2 tsp curry powder
1 chilli, seeds removed & chopped
1 litre veg stock
300ml milk
salt & pepper

Heat oil in a pan and add onion . cook over a low heat for 5 minutes.
Add ginger, garlic, spices, chilli and sweet potatoes. Stir & cook for a minute.
Add stock and cook until potato is cooked, about 15-20 minutes.
Blend all ingredients then add milk. warm through and season to taste.

Spicy sweet potato soup
I had this with a swirl of plain yogurt and a freshly baked bread roll. Yum. That's got rid of all the sweet potatoes then: )  Plenty left for lunches over the next few days.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Using my Christmas gift

For Christmas I received some cookery books so today I set about making a meal from one. I had ordered some new spices I had never used before off the Internet and they arrived today. I was hoping they would have arrived yesterday but an e-mail in my box today said it was to arrive today. Having worked last night I wanted to go straight to bed this morning so I left a note on the door asking them to put the parcel at the back door as I work nights and I'm sleeping. Did he do as I asked? No, he rang the door bell then pushed a card through the letterbox saying they had taken the parcel to the village post office ahhh.

The book I chose to make my evening meal from tonight was,
Anjum Anand, I love curry. There are lots of recipes I will be trying from the book which I have already marked in the book with strips of paper. She seems to do her recipes healthier than other Indian recipes which can be smothered in oil so they will be great for when I'm starting my healthy eating.

My evening meal was made up of two different dishes. Both very cheap to make and I had all the ingredients in the house. I was only short of some spices  but was fine once I collected my spice delivery from the post office.

The left hand side of the plate was, karahi mushrooms with peppers and peas. I really enjoyed this as it was a lovely fragrant spice mix. It required mushrooms which I always have in, a pepper which I had in the fridge, an onion, I always have onions in. It also wanted peas and I had some in the fridge leftover from last night. The right side of the plate was, punjabi yogurt and dumpling kadhi. The dumplings were like onion bhajis. I had gram flour already in my store cupboard and it was really only onion and tomatoes and plain yogurt and spices for the sauce, which I had in. I had this with some plain basmati rice. It was a really nice vegetarian meal and I've plenty left for some lunch tomorrow.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Use it up, wear it out

Well I think I can safely say I have definitely worn these out!

My poor dog walking boots have been flapping away at the toes for a few weeks now and I guess it's time to part with some hard earned cash and buy some more. I come back from a dog walk with all kinds of foliage sprouting from my toes. I look a right plonker and have to start plucking my boots when I come off the fields. I must admit they were only cheap boots, about £18.00 from Aldi. Like they say, you get what you pay for. I shall go to a proper outdoor shop and buy a quality brand, hopefully in the sale so that shall be my quest sometime this week.

Look what I found in my garden today...

I've got quite a few daffodils popping up. They think springs here. I've noticed other plants budding on my walks with the dog. We have had such a mild winter so far, hope it lasts. The evenings are staying lighter a lot longer now. I noticed this last night when stood at the kitchen sink. Makes me feel like spring is just around the corner.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Back to menu planning

MONDAY - Trout & broccoli pasta bake

TUESDAY - Roast chicken, Yorkshire puddings, mash, peas, carrots & broccoli

WEDNESDAY - Karahi mushroom with peppers & peas, punjabi yogurt & dumpling kadhi, rice

THURSDAY - Chicken wrapped in bacon, jacket potatoes and homemade coleslaw

FRIDAY - Pork steak, potatoes, roasted carrots, cabbage & peas

SATURDAY - Homemade pizza and wedges

SUNDAY - Homemade mince and onion pie, gravy, roast potatoes and vegetables

So tonight's meal is going to be

Serves 2

150g pasta
Broccoli florets (however much you like)
25g butter
25g plain flour
400mls milk
2 Trout fillets, skinned and cut into pieces
80g Cheddar cheese
8 Cherry tomatoes, halved
ground pepper to taste

Boil pasta for 5 minutes then add broccoli and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Make a sauce by melting the butter then adding the flour. cook for a minute then gradually whisk in the milk. Continue to cook and stir for a few minutes.
Add 50g of the cheese to the sauce and season with pepper.
Drain the pasta & broccoli and return to the pan. Add the sauce, tomatoes and fish.

Pour all the mixture into an ovenware dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Bake in the oven at 190C for half hour.
I covered with a plate halfway through to stop the pasta getting too dry on top.

We had this with some homemade garlic bread.
It was a nice tasty meal. Was nice to have trout instead of the salmon I was going to originally get until I saw the price of salmon. The trout was from the Tesco value range and cost £1.75.

I made this meal tonight after being inspired by a recipe I saw on http://welshcottageonthehill.blogspot.com/ so thanks Debbie for the recipe which I adapted.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

New start

Followers of my old blog http://www.frugalinyorkshire.blogspot.com/ will know I had a rough time around Christmas. The outcome is we have decided to try again and make a go of our marriage. We have made a concerted effort to not take each other for granted and to spend more time together, going out and generally making more of an effort with the relationship. We went out Friday for a cheap meal at a local pub and today we are going to the cinema to see Mission Impossible. I am still trying to be frugal and hope to have more days out on a Sunday to places that are free so we don't end up spending much on entertainment.  I made a promise to myself to give Hubby a hug every day and since we decided to give our relationship another go I have been doing this every day. So hopefully we can sort ourselves out.

You may be wondering why I started a new blog and didn't continue with the old one. Well, my eldest daughter let slip to my mum some time ago that I had a blog and now she drops in to read my blog which I am not happy about. I have not spoken to my mum for 9 months and I feel very uncomfortable that she can just tap into my blog anytime and see what I am doing. So this is why I've set up a new blog.

Enough of all the miserable stuff and back to my cooking, menu planning, trying to be frugal and trying to save some money. I even went to poundland the other day as I was passing and bought two bottles of coke for £1.00 to take to the cinema today and will be getting cash back with Quidco at the cinema. Hope you all come back and follow again. It would be great to have you on board.