Give me just a little more time

I had a doctor’s appointment this morning, which meant I had a bit of extra time before I had to leave the house. What a difference an hour and a half makes!

imageI made a bolognese sauce for dinner, to serve with my bargain Approved Foods pasta which I have in large quantity. This was made with entirely home grown ingredients, apart from the beef. No room to raise cattle here! (Although it was yellow stickered and a bargain). I used home grown onions, peppers, courgettes, tomatoes and herbs. I love that!

I also chopped up and froze two big bags of courgettes to use in soups and stews over the winter, and picked the latest batch of tomatoes and runner beans. I need to freeze more of those as well as soon as I get the chance.

Then I sat in the doctor’s waiting room to write my blog. I am well ahead of the game! Still have the day job to catch up on though…

Using up the leftovers and indulging in some curly veg

Watch out, they taste curly!

Watch out, they taste curly!

I have had a very productive weekend, although there are still a lot of things I would have liked to do. I did have a lie in this morning though – I made a point of it. What a luxury to chill out a bit on a Sunday morning!

I made some scrumptious banana bread. I always use the Delia Smith recipe here, but this time I substituted the orange and lemon peel for some toffee chips I bought a while ago to decorate a cake and it worked incredibly well – toffee and banana is a winning combination. I was also a lot easier than faffing around pulling peel off fruit and then wondering what to do with the fruit itself!

banana breadWhilst the oven was on I used the week’s bread ends to make bread pudding. Mr S took half for his Mum, and the rest will be used for lunches and puddings through the week.

For dinner I used Frugal Queen’s cheat’s meatballs recipe, which was very nice with home grown beans, carrots and chard. I made double for tomorrow’s dinner too. It was dead easy and certainly cheaper than a roast.

shedI sound as if I have done nothing but cook all day, but we did manage to get out and do a bit of tidying up in the garden, plus picking the veg for tea. I have no idea why the carrots turned out to be curly as we grew them in big pots so there were no stones. Still, they tasted nice! Mr S continues to make his sheds look fabulous, putting an old enamel sign he came across on the wall of one of them. I think he has plans for a woodburning stove and a veranda. He will be on George Clark’s Amazing Spaces next 🙂

To top it all, the new series of Downton Abbey started tonight. Brilliant as usual and an excellent way to finish the weekend. What did you all get up to?

Bring out the slow cooker

I haven’t used my slow cooker that much recently, although I really should. Even in summer you can cook a nice ratatouille in it.

imageI was very short of time the other day. I knew I would be late back from work, I really didn’t have time to prepare anything in advance and I had a whole chicken. I couldn’t roast it in the oven when I got home as we didn’t want to be eating at bedtime, and I didn’t have time before work to start jointing it and chopping veg to make a casserole. In the end I chucked it into the slow cooker whole with some white wine, chopped carrot and onion, and a bit of stock. DD3 did some mash and veg when she got back from school and it was marvellous, melt in the mouth and flavoursome.

The remaining chicken made a delicious curry last night, warmed through with a jar of sauce from Approved Food and served with brown rice. This is what  need when you work full time: quick, cheap and healthy!

Do you use your slow cooker? What do you use it for?

A day of small frugal steps

My daughter asked when I was planning to go shopping this week – I usually go on Friday, but this week we seem to have a lot of food. Now that I have sorted the store cupboard, we have plenty to keep us going. I only intend to buy a few bits such as milk, bread, cat food and maybe some chicken.

She constantly complains that there is no food in the house. What she means is that there isn’t loads of rubbish that she can eat with no effort. I try to guide my daughters towards sensible eating, but it is a struggle sometimes! So I need to make sure there is some easy food that keeps us within budget.

frugal stepsFrugal steps to start the day

I began my day by putting 2 and a half kilograms of tomatoes on to roast with some olive oil and garlic. Whilst they were cooking I made porridge for everyone and touched up my roots – I don’t like to admit to going grey just yet.

My hair costs hardly anything to do. I could spend £50 at the hairdressers having it coloured, but instead I mix up half a box of dye and brush it on myself. Yesterday in Boots they had my usual colour at 3 boxes for the price of two – so £12 for 3. These will last me at least 8 months. I intend to call the local college this week to book myself and DD3 in for a cut and blow dry each. This will cost about £8 each.

Tomato soupHair sorted and myself showered and dressed, I used the tomatoes to make a big pot of tomato and barley soup (determined to use up those store cupboard supplies!) and a smaller pot of roasted tomato sauce for the freezer. So that was lunch sorted for the next few days! As I grew the tomatoes, the cost was minimal. More frugal steps.

Extra income

I gave the house a thorough clean, including the student’s room. I don’t have one due until next month, but it will be one job less to do when she comes. This is an important source of income for me, so I have completed a form for a different agency today as well. They find placements on a slightly longer term basis. I think it is unlikely I will get any more students until the Spring with the agency I use currently.

I then made some courgette fritters for our tea, using up some from the garden – we had them with sausages, but I would be happy to have them as they are. I used some of the tomato sauce I made this morning with them.

Checking the budget

I have spent the past hour checking my bank statement to see how the budget is going and to make sure there is nothing amiss. I have also changed energy supplier – hopefully now that First Utility have resolved our argument this will go through OK. I decided on Good Energy.  They aren’t the cheapest, but they come highest for customer satisfaction and use 100% renewable energy. After my nightmare with First Utility, getting a decent service is my top priority.

Frugal steps towards tomorrow’s meals: I have taken some plums out of the freezer and tomorrow I will make a plum crumble using the super cheap crumble mix I bought from Approved Foods. This should stop the troops moaning and keep them happy!! If I get time I will make a victoria sponge for the week as well.

I have also washed and hung two lots of laundry. One lot dried outside, but it clouded over and I thought it might rain, so the other is drying inside on the clothes horse. No tumble drying for me – far too expensive!!

So, a day of lots of small frugal steps. This is why I love weekends and I can potter and get a bit of control. What have you managed to do to save money today?