Frugal Friday 26th May 2017: How has your week been?

Frugal Friday is a good day to think about this week’s frugal accomplishments. I returned home from holiday on Tuesday to find quite a bit of food sitting around – darling daughter didn’t appear to have eaten much whilst we were away! I hate food waste. There was a lot of fruit hanging about so I thought I would tackle that first.

Frugal Friday achievement no 1: Banana loaf and fruit salad

We had a large bunch of black bananas that I couldn’t just dump. I considered putting them in the freezer to make something later, but I decided to bite the bullet and use them up straight away. I also had quite a few oranges and a bag of walnuts, so it had to be Delia Smith’s super frugal  banana and walnut loaf. The recipe asks for lemons as well as oranges, but since I had none I just doubled up on the oranges. You only use the peel in the recipe so I shredded that then cut up the fruit to make a fruit salad with some grapes and apples that needed using. I made two loaves, one to eat now and another for the freezer.

Frugal Friday achievement no 2: Excellent value on holiday

Fabulous pic of the Caves of Drach taken by Mr S!

Our holiday turned out to be excellent value for money so I can add that to my Frugal Friday list. Because we went fully inclusive we barely spent anything. We did have a delicious meal in a restaurant for Mr S’s 50th, however. It was a beautiful place overlooking the port on a gorgeous sunny evening. The food was excellent quality and well worth splashing out on. We also had a trip to the Caves of Drach in Porto Cristou. They were truly stunning and I highly recommend them if you ever visit Mallorca. Other than that, we had a very relaxing time, walking, swimming and sunbathing (oh, and eating and drinking far too much!).

The hotel very kindly delivered a bottle of fizz and two glasses to our room for Mr S’s birthday. We saved this for the following day and sat decadently drinking it on the beach!

We had to catch the coach to the airport at 7.30 am on Tuesday, so we shot into the restaurant first and grabbed some coffee and breakfast and also made up some cheese and ham rolls to have on the plane with some fruit. Well, we were fully inclusive and our frugal tendancies got the better of us!

Frugal Friday achievement no 3: A frugal shop

As I said yesterday, I restocked a few things in B&M, as they are excellent value for money. I nipped into Sainsbury’s too for some Lactofree milk and yogurts as they aren’t available in Aldi or Lidl. It would save me so much money if the discount supermarkets stocked Lactofree products. I plan a bigger shop once I have used up what we already have in the fridge, freezer and cupboards.

Frugal Friday achievement no 4: excellent eBay sales

I was very pleased that I sold several items whilst I was on holiday. As my daughter was at home and works shifts, she was able to package them and take them to the post office for me. I have done the best ever in my 60 day total. I hope to list some more things at the weekend.  This is a really useful extra income stream for me.

So, this is my frugal Friday, and this is what the cat thinks of it all!

My Zero Waste Kitchen – book review

I have said before in this blog how much I dislike the pervading waste culture. We are a throw away society and no longer seem to value our possessions or how much they cost in financial and environmental terms. Easy come, easy go!

This also applies to food. I remember learning about wartime rationing at school. Food was scarce but nobody starved in the UK because nothing was wasted. Now we are guided more by use by and best before dates than commonsense and a lot of perfectly edible food is thrown away with barely a thought.

I am generally careful to avoid waste like this, but I am not perfect and could definitely try harder, so I was delighted to receive a copy of My Zero Waste Kitchen from Dorling Kindersley.

It is a prettily designed, small hardback book and good value at £6.99 I think. The advice given is clear and simple, although probably aimed more for those who have just begun to think about reducing their food waste rather than the seasoned waste free cook.

I like it though – there are a lot of useful tips that I hadn’t come across before, such as the page on eggs. Did you know you could use crushed eggshells as a stain remover or as a calcium supplement? Or that you could revive stale cake by putting it overnight in an airtight container with a slice of bread?

Why not put apple cores and kiwi skins in your smoothie? I am sure they would taste just as nice and add nutrition. I was less convinced about adding banana skins, however, as I think they would be too bitter.

If you want to get maximum value from your lettuce, you can cut off the end and root it in water to start a whole new plant. I have never tried this and I am sceptical, but might give it a go.

The recipes in the book look interesting. I like how a base recipe is presented such as hummus or flapjacks alongside ideas for foods you could add to save wasting them. I will definitely be trying the Waste-not want-not savoury muffins, as they look yummy.

If you want some fresh ideas on how to begin to reduce your family’s food waste, or you want to teach your children more about the subject, then this book will be a great place to begin.

If you decide to buy this book using the link below, I will receive a small commission from Amazon.

Using it all up! Clearing out the larder

Happy New Year! May 2017 bring you love, health and happiness, with maybe a side of wealth if you are lucky.

Today my no spend January begins in earnest. As well as buying nothing except necessities such as food and petrol, I am aiming for a low spend month even on groceries. To this end I will be making meals using up everything in the fridge, freezer and larder, buying only what I need to make meals out of what we already have. 

Yesterday I cleared out all of the frozen chicken carcasses and bones to make a good stock. I then pulled out a couple of bags of frozen courgettes and all of the slightly wonky veg lurking in the fridge to make a huge pan of soup. This will do us for lunches for the whole week and I have also put about half of it back in the freezer to eat as and when.

I had two bags of apples taking up far too much space in my fridge what also needed using up. They have been there for months and had kept really well but I hadn’t got around to doing anything with them. So I made two big pots of stewed apple which is also now in the freezer. I will take some to work instead of fresh fruit once we have eaten everything in the fruit bowl.

This morning I will be making banana nut loaf as we have 4 bananas past their best as well as plenty of bits left over from Christmas. 

Yesterday I managed to get a great bargain. I have been generally ignoring the sales in preparation for my no spend January but I spotted a pair of lovely leather boots in the Brantano concession in the Co-op where my daughter works. They were reduced from £60 to £40 , which was still too much, but my daughter had a 20% staff discount so I thought they were worth trying on. The lady at the till then pointed out that they had a further 25% off for one day only so I couldn’t resist. When she rang them through she discovered they had been reduced even more so in the end I paid £14.50! Not bad! Good job January hadn’t started so I could justify the spend 😀. I did actually need some more boots as I had to glue the sole back onto my other pair for the second time last week so I don’t think they will last much longer.

We are off to friends for lunch and a nice long dog walk today. It’s so great that we have yet another bank holiday tomorrow and I don’t need to go back to work until Tuesday. 

How are you reducing your food waste? Anything you need to use up?

Fun for free (you’re never too old for a rope swing)

imageI found this on Pinterest – I am going to print it out and stick it to the fridge to remind my family not to waste food!

It was rather misty and grey on Sunday, but we decided to get out and take a walk around the woods anyway. It’s healthy and it’s free!!




Here we are proving that you are never too old for a rope swing – so much fun! There was an awful lot of mud too, but fortunately we all managed to avoid falling off.


I had lots of people at my yoga class this week, sticking to their New Years resolutions as I am. Let’s hope they keep it up!

I am still trying out recipes from my Girl Called Jack recipe book. I used up some red wine to make chicken chausseur and it was another hit. I thoroughly recommend this book. The recipes are straightforward, tasty and above all cheap!

Waste not Want Not

Yesterday we had a fabulous Christmas buffet at work. Everybody brought in a contribution, ranging from salads to sausage rolls, crisps to cakes, even some home made suchi but, more than anything else, piles and piles of mince pies. If you have trouble finding any in North Essex, it is probably our fault!!


We had an awful lot left over. The unopened and wrapped cakes and crisps and mincepies can be saved and munched on over the next few weeks so I put them all to one side. However, my manager’s comment that ‘we might as well throw the rest in the bin’ made me a) give him a stern lecture on wasting perfectly good food, and b) force my colleagues to take some bits home with them to share with their families.

As they were going out the door I was handing them ‘party bags’!  Today at work the few of us who were lucky enough to be working on a Saturday shared a few savoury bits that I had clingfilmed and put in the fridge overnight and had our own mini party. Each time I got up they flinched in case I came back and offered them a sausage roll or another dreaded mince pie 🙂

They may laugh at me but they know I am right. We waste vast amounts of food in this country, especially at Christmas when too much is purchased in the first place. I am stunned and amazed at people’s casual approach to this, when we are supposed to be suffering the effects of a recession and tightening our belts, and when there are so many people really struggling and using food banks to get by.

Most people who grew up in the forties and fifties have a different approach because they were still feeling the effects of food shortages and rationing for many years after WW2. I think perhaps the rest of us need to get some of that mentality back, and to realise that we are lucky to enough to have enough to eat and that food is precious, to use up leftovers, to turn that chicken carcass into stock, to save the ends of bread for breadcrumbs and puddings, and not to buy so much in the first place!!

I will be devising all kinds of recipes to make sure we use up or freeze all of our leftovers after Christmas. Mince pie risotto anyone?

Discounted Goods at the Community Shop…a sign of the times

I got a small Approved Foods order last night to help get me through Christmas and into the New Year without over spending. I got pasta, pickles, crackers, crisps and soft drinks for Christmas, casserole mixes for when I am working the late shift so my daughters can have something quick but healthy, soups, chickpeas, a big enchilada kit, even bargain teabags. I spent £17 plus £5 postage on goods that should have cost £40. If I had been more organised I would have shared an order and the postage cost.

Companies like Approved Foods, selling products beyond their best before dates but perfectly safe to use still, really do help folk on a small budget, and stop this food from being wasted. Years ago, I had a friend whose disabled Dad lived above a supermarket, and every evening he would help himself to the contents of their skip. The stuff that was thrown out was shocking – dented tins, tins with no labels (this was exciting – you didn’t know if you would get baked beans or cat food), fruit, veg, meat, cakes and bread only just past their use by date, would all get skipped. For him, it meant the difference between eating and not eating.

Now, there is an organised movement – people go ‘skipping’ in the dead of night as a form of protest at the amount of perfectly good food that supermarkets throw away. Fair play to them: it is obscene that we throw so much away when there are people surviving on so little because of the recession, not to mention terrible for the environment. Some mean spirited supermarket staff object to this, and have been known to spoil the contents of the skips by pouring bleach and cleaning chemicals on it so the skippers can’t use it *rolls eyes*. What is wrong with these people?

Now the supermarkets are starting to take a different approach. I read on the BBC news website today about the opening of the first community shop, selling heavily discounted products to people on benefits, donated by large organisations like Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Asda and Tetley. This seems like a common sense approach all round. Food isn’t wasted, hard up families get to stretch their budgets further, and a few jobs are created. I hope this is the start of a new trend.

You can read the full story here.