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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Add imagination

Its been two weeks since I started the challenge to live out of the cupboards and freezer therefore reducing my food purchases to a minimum.  This will not only give me a chance to clear out all the food stashed in the chest freezer some of which I have no recollection of buying and some I am unable to identify because I didn't write on the pack what it was, it should also allow me to save some of my food budget allowance. This will go towards restocking  but I will be looking to buy bulk packs if they work out cheaper.

Just to recap I retrieved:
Yellow sticker Turkey mince (was £2.45 cost £1.67), yellow sticker seeded bread(was £1.00 cost 65p)Half went back in the freezer, a tub of  green beans that where from the garden and one of my berry tubs.  Buying berries when they are cheap and open freezing them gives you winter berries at a reasonable price.

One medium onion, 150g of frozen peppers from the garden, 150g of cooked Puy Lentils were added to the 500g of lean turkey mince. Puy lentils are a good source of fat free protein  and adapt to lots of flavours. I use them to reduce our meat intake. The lentils and meat were  browned together with onion and celery before removing one third to another pan. The larger portion was made into cottage pie with added a sprinkling of finely diced carrot and swede. The dish was finished with a stock cube, water and a few flavour filled spices/seasoning.
I forgot to take a photo of the cobbler in the oven dish
but here it is on hubbies plate, he loves gravy!

I had 3 large potatoes left in the cupboard and I want them for potato Dauphinoise on Thursday, so I only cooked one potato with a small carrot and a piece of  diced swede. This was mashed and added to the top of one of the cottage pie mixes. The other was made into a cobbler when I made some  mini horseradish scones. The other third of the meat mixture had a jar of  Lloyd Grossman Bolognese sauce added  to it.  I found it on the top shelf of the cupboard, the shelf I can't see unless I get on a stool! There are enough beans left to serve with another meal.
Today we will have the Bolognese,  I spent  a further 31p of the £2.26 left  (£1.95) on mushrooms. Some will go in the Bolognese when it heated through and a couple will be left to go in the quiches I will make on Thursday. I also purchased another sponge mix 22p from Asda (£1.73). Going into two shops and only coming out with two things is an amazing test of determination for me.

A third of the berry box, an apple, orange, kiwi fruit and  a tin of peaches in juice was used to make fresh fruit salad. This will be served with a

With a little imagination you can turn most ingredients into a  dish that is cheap, nutritious and absolutely delicious. Don't be afraid to experiment, if you don't try you will never learn. Do you experiment. I wont need to freezer dive again until Thursday. I have enough soup until Thursday when I'll make another pot out of the vegetables I have left. Bye for now. Tx

Monday, 16 January 2017

Freebie and safety

As hubby predicted Friday the wind turned slightly keeping the homes in my local town free from the surge tide that had been predicted.  Hubby did venture out at midnight on Friday evening as high tide was 9 minutes past midnight the crucial time.  He took his camera but unfortunately the lighting or lack of it made it impossible to capture any images.  The orange street lighting we have these days casts so many shadows nothing was showing up.  He did say the entire quayside was rammed with the Environmental Agency, police and harbour officials. But thank goodness nothing happened and everyone remained safe and dry.
Sorry about the red line, hope you can see the thick ice.
Water is the one element I dislike the most, both frozen and wet! Above is the frozen road gutters Saturday morning, I just had to take a photo because the ice was so thick.  If you have a leak working back to where its coming from is often very difficult.  We had some mold appear around the bathroom window during the summer and the paint was lifting in places.  I knew it wasn't due to condensation because we both open the window etc and the bathroom faces south meaning its warmer.  Hubby got the ladders out to check the guttering as he'd noticed the end cap was loose.  When he got up to roof level he found a piece of roof tile in the guttering, it had smashed the clip on the end cap causing it to move. The rain was getting in the wall cavity where the tile should have been and causing the mold. So it was replaced and all is good, except for the cosmetic work needed in the bathroom.
I went to Iceland on Friday and said to the checkout person I don't need anything but I would like my coupon.  I ended up purchasing a carrier bag for 5p in order to get my £1.69 coupon for free veg. This is what I chose from the £1.69 range.  Very nice but worth £1.69 No not in my opinion.

Although the Lidl receipt says £4.85 I actually spent £3.47 because my saboteur husband gave me back the cash for the horrid smelly fish he bought. I picked up some more  fruit and vegetables as they were so reasonable and we go through such a lot.   I have £2.26 left and no it isn't going to get me through to the 1st February but it is going to get me through to the weekend when I get my pension, I only need milk and maybe bread.  I'm really pleased because I've spent £100 since 22nd December so its taken me right through Christmas.  I will borrowing £100 from the pension and repay it when the rent  comes in (complicated but I know what I'm doing).  I'm hoping to spend £50-70 of this as I'm still on a mission to empty the freezer. Furthermore,  I'm hoping to stretch this through to the 1st March so I get in sync with my rental income.
Rummaging through the freezer I found some really old cheese (70p 2015 bargain). Its just like  parmesan accept its crumbly and was delicious on the top of our risotto on Saturday, that I made using the last dregs of the gammon. I will be using it in quiche towards the end of the week.

I'm loving the surprise food I'm finding as I rummage around in the freezer.
On Sunday I got out some food ready to have a batch cook Monday. Yellow sticker Turkey mince (was £2.45 cost £1.67), yellow sticker seeded bread(was £1.00 cost 65p) I only used half the loaf the rest went back in the freezer for midweek as we don't eat a great deal of bread. I retrieved a tub of  green beans that where from the garden and one of my berry tubs.  I open freeze berries when they're exceptionally cheap to use during expensive times of the year. Update tomorrow on how these cheap goodies were put to good use. I hope you had a good weekend and stayed safe. Bye for now. Tx

Friday, 13 January 2017

Crafting and Budget

I've extended my 'use what I've got' challenge to my crafting boxes.  I am not buying anything unless I really, really have to.  Because I don't have a dedicated craft room just a couple of boxes that contain all my bits and pieces my first job is usually to go through everything to see what I have got,.  I then tend to throw anything that I've saved and no longer like etc.  Re-acclimatising myself is important because I don't touch the boxes from one month to another. I've been looking on Pinterest and there is so many things I want to make for next Christmas so I may have to have a couple of trial runs first to see if I can make them. Wednesday and Thursday afternoon were spent making birthday and Christmas cards. I have lots more to make  using the Christmas trees I cut out, so the boxes have stayed downstairs ready for when the mood takes me! 
The budget is holding well at the moment.  I needed milk on Wednesday but I had a litre of long-life skimmed milk in the cupboard and I picked up another yesterday along with some fruit and vegetables.  We aren't using a lot of milk at the moment, hubby has gone off cereal and trying to lose a couple of pound,  so I won't buy any large bottles until after the weekend. I may need bread too but I'm using the last of the part baked rolls and pittas etc from the freezer. 

Budget: £10.90 - £5.17=£5.73 Unfortunately I had hubby with me and he insisted on buying orange hi juice cordial (No added sugar) because he wants to stop drinking as much coffee as he does now. He is my saboteur and I do get annoyed with him.  I'm probably as bad because I bought some low fat snax because I'm craving crisps after having that sort of stuff in the house over Christmas.   The oranges they have on offer  at the moment  are absolutely delicious and I can see myself heading there tomorrow to pick up some more. 

The gammon cooked on Wednesday was half of the original one we brought in Sainsburys before Christmas and cut into two then frozen is beautifully lean and tender.  It has provided two meals so far and tonight the third meal will be ham egg and chips, followed by fruit salad and yoghurt.

Severe weather warnings have been issued for my coast town, however we are lucky because we live at a much higher point in the town but when we were out walking earlier and went a long to the beach to the old town to see how the tides were behaving and it looked relatively calm.  But the sandbags were out. We've has snow today on and off all day, its dry and extremely windy now. 

How are you coping with this chill? Stay warm and safe.  Back soon.  Tx

Thursday, 12 January 2017


I thought I'd pressed the Publish button on this  but I must have pressed save.

Its much easier getting on with jobs when hubby is at work then when he is hanging around at home, especially cleaning jobs. So on Tuesday  I decided the shower needed descaling and gave it a spray with the CIF foam to get the lime scale off. We use a window squidgy to remove the excess water every-time the shower cubicle is used but we live in such a hard water area I have to do the glass, tiles, shower head and taps once every three months to keep it under control.  I use white vinegar too but the foam is better when a deep clean is needed.  

 I'd just finished cleaning the bathroom and it was time restock the toilet rolls in both the bathroom and cloakroom down stairs.  It was then I noticed this: 

Look at the centres of the rolls.  I always buy Velvet and only when its on offer coming it at less than 35p a roll. But this summer my brother in law visited and he brought us a ton of toilet roll and kitchen paper.  Strange present I know but useful but more importantly FREE.  The factory that makes lots of supermarket own brand paper products is in his vicinity and someone he knows works there. Employees are allowed products every week both free and at a reduced cost.   I was shocked that the roll on the left  has a smaller centre and appears more tightly rolled is TESCO's, the one on the right is my usual brand Velvet, the one I've always believed to be the best!
Tesco currently retail at £3.35 for 9 rolls (37.2p)or 2 packs for £9 (33.3p). Velvet are currently £6 for 16 on offer (37.5p). So,  I think I'll definitely be more open to using cheaper brands now. As for the kitchen roll.....I'm not convinced by the own brand.  I definitely prefer Plenty for my needs. What do you use? Have you felt cheated buying a quality brand?

Out of the freezer and in the oven cooking.  I also got out a tub of rich tomato sauce and  I'm thinking of making cheesy tomato pasta to give us a break from potatoes. Bye for now. Tx

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Busy busy

Hubby only works on a Monday and Tuesday, so its my opportunity to catch up with housework and meet friends, batch cook etc. I was up early preparing the pork loin  for dinner.  I made my version of barbecue pork in the slow cooker.  I  browned the meat  in a pan first then layered it up in the slow cooker with onions and peppers. I made a sauce out of some of my tomato chilli jam, chicken stock cube, paprika, cumin, all purpose seasoning, cider vinegar and a little soy sauce. it tasted great so it was poured over the pork and veg in the crock pot.

Browning the pork loin

The salad produce purchased prior to Christmas needed using up so I made a bowl of coleslaw using up the lettuce and cucumber. 
Cucumber dated 29/12, Lettuce dated 27/12
 and the bargain Pork Loin package

Fruit salad and coleslaw
I also made some vegetable soup from one of the large portions of swede I had left and a couple of the carrots, onions and peppers from the freezer. An old packet of French onion soup that had sat in the cupboard for months was  added once the vegetables were cooked. This will do us for lunch from Wednesday onwards until I get one of the frozen soups I have in the freezer out.   I ended up peeling and blanching the rest of the carrots because they were a little jaded. Some of the fruit we purchased at Lidl on Saturday was turned into fruit salad and this will be served with yoghurt.  
My friends know me well  and they know I like useful things as presents.  I received a Spiralizer  and twine tin which is really pretty.  Both of them are going to come in very handy during the growing season. 

Today is one week into the 'Living out of the freezer and cupboard challenge' I know I will still need to buy items in order to utilise the contents of the freezer and cupboard but I want to keep these purchases to a minimum.  I'm keeping a list of things that will need replacing on pay day, like cordial for the grandchildren.  There is some left and there are other things they can have if they visit before 1st February. The surplus food budget money will go in a tin and I will use it to buy bulk packs or multiples  of things as long as they prove to be better value. Tonight hubby will have the  left over pork loin for dinner and I'm having a salad style meal to use the last knockings of the salad bits. I'm going to rummage around in the freezer shortly to see what I can cook up next. 
Its lovely and sunny in Essex with a great breeze for drying all my lovely washing for free. According to the weather map I saw today we (the UK)  are set to get THUNDERSNOW, however it looks like my part of the  Essex coastline will miss it.  Thundersnow, also known as a winter thunderstorm or a thunder snowstorm, is an unusual kind of thunderstorm with snow falling as the primary precipitation instead of rain.  Basically its going to get colder and as per usual, the shops will start selling out of milk, bread and vegetables  like WW3 is upon us, LOL.  Bye for now. Tx

Monday, 9 January 2017

Manic Weekend

We had a manic weekend starting with a hubbies hospital appointment in Colchester, however just as we got a mile up the road all the traffic ground to a halt because of an accident. The police were already on the scene and had the road blocked off so while we had the  opportunity to turn around we took it. The back road was clear thank goodness but it unfortunately added time to our journey. We where supposed to arrive 15 minutes before the appointment incase he needed a  dye injection.  We arrived 5 minutes late and he didn't need an inject.  The hospital and car park were ghostly quiet and we made out way straight o the MRI building which appears to be run by a private company. Hubbies results will be through in 5-10 days.
We made our way to Clacton and I picked a click and collect order from M & S, leggings I'd purchased with the very last of my vouchers from last Christmas and birthday.  ;0( I bought a few bits from Aldi costing £6.05 Leaving me £10.90 in the budget.
On the way home I received a text from my niece saying she was having an open house between after 2 to celebrate her sons 3rd Birthday. Its was a lovely surprise, thank goodness we'd completed our shopping and had his present and card ready.  We popped along  and it was a lovely with lots of delicious food. By the time we got home at teatime we weren't hungry, so the chicken hotpot remained in the fridge for Sunday.
The hotpot was transferred to a shallow oven dish on Sunday morning and a little cheese was sprinkled on top. I decided to do some more baking as I didn't want to cook just one thing while the oven was on. So I made some jam sponge tarts and fruit sponge cakes that didn't rise a great deal but taste good.  I did get the pork loin pre Christmas bargain out of the freezer ready for Monday morning.  

I also used the apple and raisin mix from the freezer to make a crumble for tea time. I'll definitely use this method of freezing again as its so easy to get out just a few pieces at a time.
Do you have an Iceland bonus card? If you do check your emails for your free food. The email said I had to decide what I wanted: vegetables or dessert, my coupon will be printed out at the till after the 12th and I can get my free vegetables worth £1.69.
The afternoon was spent trying out one of the two new dies I received for Christmas. It was so fiddly but worth the intricate effect.  I'll be turning them into Christmas cards later this week. I love the different effects you get using different card. Lots of the card was the old back of birthday and Christmas cards so they haven't cost me anything.

The other die will be used to make felt Christmas tree ornaments and I'll be doing trial run of those and let you know.  I was on Pinterest the other evening and I've seen lots of things I want to make......lots and lots. Back tomorrow with what I cooked today and  some more useful Christmas presents.  Bye for now. Tx

Friday, 6 January 2017

I am an addict

Thank you for all the comments over the last couple of days, they are much appreciated.

Its approximately  two and a half miles into town and that's were I headed this morning  to have a look around the market, I didn't really need anything but its  always worth a gander.  A lot of the normal stalls were missing probably because using the post Christmas quiet period to take a holiday. I did pick up two large tubes of sweeties that are in date until the November 2017 for £1. They have gone in the present box as I have some kiddie birthdays soon.  Tomorrow I'll be buying my fruit, veg and bits for the week in Aldi and Lidl but I decided that I could do with some frozen green beans and sprouts.(£19.24-£1 =£17.95 -£1=£16.95) 
As I looked around there were a number of products reduced. I lifted the lid of the freezer and picked up the large Turkey roasting joint (1.6kg) reduced to £5 from £10 and went to pick it up. Then my conscience kicked in ' what the heck and flip are you doing woman?' 'you are not buying anything, you are meant to be emptying the freezer at home'.  I stepped away from the freezer feeling awful that I'd left the bargain behind, that's when I realised I'm an addict...crumbs!
 ADDICT: an enthusiastic devotee of a specified thing or activity:

I spent the afternoon sorting through the Christmas cards received to see which ones will be cannibalised to make next years.....recycling at its best! I always try to reuse stuff as much as possible wrapping paper, present bags and that goes for birthday cards too.  Once refashioned, chopped, crafted and stuck they transform into new ones. 
This year I'm going to make present bags too which I'll be practising next week using gift wrap. I was thinking of buying brown paper bags on eBay as they are very cheap and refashioning them into birthday and Christmas bags.

The chicken hotpot was delicious, why does slicing vegetables up thinly and layering them up make meat taste totally different? There is enough for another meal so I don't need to get anything out of the freezer for another day. So the bargain chicken  cooked on Tuesday has provided: Tuesday roast, Thursday risotto, Friday & Saturday Hotpot.  The stock was used to make the soup for two days, gravy and the risotto. Excellent value. Bye for now. Tx