Low Fat On A Budget?

  I made this yummy Slimming World recipe over the weekend, crustless bacon and mushroom quiche. The recipe says it will serve two but I would say  three as two of us couldn’t eat it all: recipe here.

So-called ‘slimming foods’ can be dear in my experience, but all of the ingredients for this came from Aldi and it was quite a cheap supper. We had the left over cottage cheese and bacon over the weekend, so no waste there. 

Logically if you are eating less you shouldn’t be spending more….I guess people tend to buy more healthy fruit and veg and lean meat and less of the cheap stuff like sausages and processed food when they are dieting. But if they also purchase fewer treats, less alcohol and gave up the takeaways you would think it would even itself out!

 I am encouraged at the number of nice looking veggie meals that are either low fat or can be adapted to be lower fat than usual. A meal based around pulses, vegetables and grains will generally be cheaper than eating meat. 

Another nice dish which happens to be vegetarian is vegetable paella, another Slimming World one. Delish and packed full of peppers and other veg so lots of antioxidants too. Replace the saffron with turmeric, use dried parsley and use ordinary rice instead of risotto  rice to make it a bit cheaper. I used mushrooms instead of courgettes as that was what I had. Use frozen instead of fresh peas and beans.

1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1.5 pints veg stock
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, sliced
2 courgettes, sliced
454 g tomatoes, skinned and chopped (I used a tin)
349g risotto rice
1 tsp paprika
0.5tsp saffron, soaked in 2 tvsp water
113g green beans
113g peas
salt and pepper
3tbsp chopped parsley

Put the onions and garlic in a large pan with half a pint of the stock and simmer until the onions are soft. Add the peppers, courgettes and tomatoes and cook gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and paprika. Pour in the saffron and add the peas and beans. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook very gently, adding stock as it is absorbed and stirring regularly until all the liquid is absorbed. Season to taste and add the parsley just before serving.

I will definitely be making both these again!

My frugal journey: sources of inspiration

How did it all begin? At what point did being frugal become a lifestyle choice for me? I have been pondering and the truth is that it was foisted on me by circumstance of course. But I was brought up in a frugal household and have never liked waste, so living simply and frugally comes naturally to me. I don’t enjoy being short of money, but I do get satisfaction out of managing the money I have and using my creativity to life a life that is enjoyable. 
  The first book that gave me real inspiration was the absolute classic Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczin. It was published in the 1990s, but is totally relevant today. If you haven’t read it, it is worth buying.

There is an interesting interview with Amy here.

The second, which is aimed for a UK rather than a US market, was the Penny Pincher’s Book by John and Irma Mustoe. This is packed with useful tips and quite witty at times too. I notice it has been updated in recent years.

As I got more computer savvy and moved onto the Internet – this opened up a whole new treasure trove of inspiration and advice. Moneysavingexpert.com was the first site that I got into. It is massive! So many good articles and great advice from forum members who have experienced awful debt and have either got themselves back on track or are working their way towards that goal.

Frugal Queen was the next. That woman is great at giving you a good motivational talking to via her blog whilst getting herself out of debt and sharing her journey. 

There are so many good sites and blogs on saving money now. One of my absolute favourites is Life After Money. Ilona, who writes it, is a great character and very inspirational. She has become something of a celebrity, even appearing recently on a radio show in Australia!

I like Ricky on Skint Dad too – nice to get a male viewpoint. 

Where do you go for frugal inspiration?

Making do and mend: the kitchen gets a make over at last!!

I am exhausted! We have spent the past three days painting and repairing our kitchen. In an ideal world we would replace it, and we are saving towards that. However, until we have the funds we will make do and mend. It all looks much fresher and cleaner.

I have been buying a few nick knacks over the past six months to create a colour scheme of green and pink and it is starting to come together. I bought a few more inexpensive bits on eBay this morning and I can’t wait to get them in place.

I couldn’t afford a blind for my huge window but I don’t really need one. I got some pretty bunting instead!

We had to wait until we were between language students to do it but now I hope we get offered another soon to go towards my savings.

A make do and mend inspiration

I am currently listening to the marvellous blogger Ilona from Life After Money on the Jeremy Vine show, hosted today by Vanessa Feltz. She is an inspiration, thrift personified, and certainly a fan of a make do and mend approach. She shows that you can have a good and happy life on very little money by being resourceful and creative with the funds she has. What more could any of us need?

Can you eat really healthily on a tight budget?

In a word, yes! You don’t have to buy an organic veg box every week to eat a good diet. You just need a decent understanding of nutrition and to be willing to try different  foods. 

  I know I go on about Aldi and the money it saves when I shop there. Lidl is similar, although we don’t have a local branch yet. They both have their specials on fruit and veg for a start: this week Aldi is offering as part of their weekly super six selection mushrooms, oranges, apples, onions, mange tout and grapes – 59p for a pack of each. Lidl has aubergines, rocket, cherry tomatoes and broccoli for 39p each.

Tinned pulses cost very little wherever you buy them and the dried kind cost even less. They are packed with protein and fibre and low fat to boot. Kidney beans are pretty much a super food too! I have found nuts and dried fruit to be very expensive in health shops and the bigger supermarkets but great value in Aldi. I take them to work to snack on rather than falling foul of the chocolate machine!

They sell a decent range of fruit and green teas, and their fruit juice is a bargain and nicer than the value range from Sainsburys or Tesco I have found.

If your budget is really tiny you may not be able to eat much meat. I have found that adding a small amount of bacon or chorizo to a dish can add flavour and stop carnivores feeling deprived and not break the bank, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest a vegetarian diet is good for your health so leave the meat out altogether, chuck in loads of vegetables to soups, casseroles and pasta dishes and there is no need to feel deprived. 

If you can afford a bit of meat or don’t want to go full on veggie the chicken thighs in Aldi are amazing value. If you are feeling flush they even sell free range. 

  A treat at the moment with cheese or some hummous is the seeded crackers. They are exactly the same as Dr Karg’s, which I love, only about half the price 😀.

They sell plenty of low fat and natural yogurts and even organic milk.

The budget supermarkets don’t sell brown rice or wholemeal pasta unfortunately. They are probably cheapest bought in as large a pack as possible from the large supermarkets and health food stores.

The eat well plate looks like this:

  Lots of fruit and veg, healthy carbohydrates, a smaller amount of protein and dairy and tiny portions of fat and sugar. You can buy all of these types of foods at the discount supermarkets and most within the value or basics ranges at the larger ones. So, yes you can eat a healthy diet on a tight budget!

I am trying to teach my daughters what constitutes a good diet and they all have good basic cooking skills. They all eat too much chocolate, but they do have me as a mother!