Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Stoptober.... what it means to me.

I haven't blogged in a while, mainly due to being horrendously busy at work and trying to decorate our flat at the same time. This month is going to be a bit of a tough one- in addition to our usual monthly bills the service charge and water bill have also come out of our joint account- leaving £24 left to pay our TV provider, meaning we will no doubt be in our interest free overdraft by the end of the month if we use it to pay for food. We have also had to buy a new washing machine due to the one here being ancient and washing is taking about a week to dry leaving the flat resembling a sauna!

Furthermore, I have also bought a new pedigree crossbreed kitten who is due to arrive on the 16th Oct- she's a little white bundle of cuteness! However, because of these factors the food budget is being reigned in even further.

In an attempt to put off going food shopping I cobbled together enough ingredients to make this delicious chunky winter soup in my slow cooker- inspired by Frugal Queen's post a few days ago.

Otherwise I know I would have ended up grabbing something from one of the overpriced cafe chains in London, which everyone knows don't come cheap. This one dish has made four portions of soup- ideal for an Autumn lunch.

Here's my recipe:

1. Chicken stock made from the left overs from a roast dinner which I froze in Tupperware boxes and stored in the freezer
2. Tinned tomatoes- I used plum but chopped will be fine
3. Sliced onion
4. One sweet potato (sprouting crazy purple bits- I just removed these)
5. Two small white potatoes
6. One tin of chickpeas rinsed (three tins for £1.00 I think- worth stocking up on when cheap)
7. Cumin, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper to taste

Put all of the above into a slow cooker and put on high for approx 4.5 hours, then blend.

By the time I got home one eve this week I was pretty hungry and with not much food indoors I was very tempted to head for Nandos- especially as I have to walk past it on my way home. However, thankfully the BF suggested just going food shopping instead so we picked up a cooked rotisserie chicken for £5.50 (made four dinners for us) some spicy Nandos sauce (which I thought was kind of expensive- but not compared to eating out) and some frozen fries and salad- coming in at a fraction of the cost of eating out.

We will be eating up our stores of food (I have lots of pasta/rice/noodles) and trying hard not to waste any food. I have also been checking out the cash back websites and considering whether I can sell some of my photos to stock websites.

Until next time!

Friday, 22 March 2013

I'm back!

I've been kind of awol on the blogging front, despite following my favourite blogs on a regular basis. Looking back, it has been two months since I last posted. During this time a few things have happened:

1. We had an offer accepted on a flat, with the condition the lease was extended in time for completion. 
2. The lease came back 5K more than expected, prompting the seller to want to pull out of the transaction.
3. We ended up paying an increased purchase price to cover the lease extension costs + an extra £1000 on top (to cover the loan the seller had to take out?) who knows.
4. Our mortgage lender was only prepared to lend us x amount, leaving us 10k short. Cue tears and my M&D coming to the rescue with the offer of lending us money. 
5. I joined the gym! Only a frugal £20 per month; so far I have been to spinning and zumba classes.
6. My car is back on the road and is now registered to my parents address (It was registered to a flat I had lived at two and a half years ago!) 
7. I got a £200 tax rebate and £200 interest payment on my ISAs which covered the cost of my annual insurance. 
8. The building survey & all searches are almost complete on our flat, and we have given our two months’ notice to break our rental contract. 
9. The glasses I bought plus car costs (MOT, repairs & tax) have all been paid for (hefty credit card bill last month).
10. Have been trying to save as much as possible, so lots of home cooking and cutting down on waste has been taking place. 

However, I have been carrying on with the packed lunches to work every day, and even at weekends if I go to the pub I have been driving so the cost is minimal. 

One thing I have discovered though is where if you have a nectar card you can earn points just for watching adverts and rating them. It’s been helping to build my nectar nest egg which pays for my diet coke habit at work. 

By the way, has anyone else been having a problem with what I think are spam comments? I keep getting them on one post. I'm not sure what to do with them, or even whether they are actually spam. 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Pumpkin soup

I love this time of year when the supermarkets stock pumpkins ready for Halloween at great prices; at the beginning of the week I picked up a medium sized pumpkin for 87p to make some soup with. Last night I whipped a batch up to eat at work at lunchtime. I also wanted to use a few fresh ingredients up in the fridge as I'm heading home for the weekend in a few days time.


  • Half a medium pumpkin
  • One white skinned sweet potato
  • A small handful of shallots
  • Some sliced onion
  • Two cloves of fresh garlic
  • One stock cube 
  • Dried Italian herbs
  • Peanut butter
  • One yellow pepper 
I chopped all the ingredients up, boiled them for approximately 15 minutes and blended with a hand blender (£5 from Asda smart price, which was a moving in present from my mum). This made three portions of soup which was poured into old (clean!) glass jars, as well as one portion which I poured into a Heinz baked beans fridge pack carton which I'll probably freeze for next weeks lunches. I haven't tasted it yet- oopsy!- so I'll let you know how I get on at lunch. 

Has anyone noticed how the papers (or is it just one I pick up on my commute?) has been full of doom and gloom over the last few days- first energy is predicted to go up by 10% in the new year, then petrol prices are ever-increasing, and then I read this morning that food prices are set to rise due to the heavy rainfall. Ergh! We'll just have to keep plodding on with it all. 

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Living on a financial edge

Inspired by this post by Frugal Queen, who has become one of my favourite go to inspirational blogs over the last few months, I whipped up a rather unconventional culinary treat last night.

Out came the big box of fishcakes which were £2 for about 12 I think, I popped five into the oven so as to have some for my lunch at work (today). Realising I had no potato-type foods I scavenged in the back of the cupboard for half a packet of couscous I'd pegged down, and rummaged in the freezer for some peas. I was feeling quite hungry so also used up a naan bread that I had frozen before it had gone off. The combination was fairly strange to see and a few people commented on my random assemblement of food but it filled a hole (twice) for almost nothing. I kind of wish I had taken a photo- but I'm sure you can imagine it.

I cooked my dinner and placed the remaining food into a washed out plastic Tupperware container (recycled from a housemates recent take away) to take to work. I think one of the key aspects to saving as much as possible is being organised- from doing a weekly food shop for foods which will a- last the week and b- make enough filling, healthy meals, to making sure the washing is kept on top of so as not to buy any impulse clothing buys, to keeping a constant eye on bank accounts etc, and finally always looking for the best deals from car insurance to washing powder.

Just one week away from payday I feel quite like Astra from who looks forward to her monthly bank statements as its the reward for a months worth of hard work saving. I feel the same and can't wait to have a new budget, plus to see my figures increasing on the spreadsheet knowing we are getting closer to our goal.

I have roughly £4 at the moment once all my bills etc are paid, and I'm off out for a few drinks tomorrow night. However, I figure the money I'll get from Saturday's bar shift should be enough to cover this cost. Otherwise I'm just ploughing on with the no-spend days.

And I've also updated the ticker so that the figures are all proper.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Another week, another update....

I've got a bit of an obsession with cat paint atm lol!
I think this has been the longest amount of time I haven't blogged for to date. The reason? hmmm... no real reason really, things seem to be ticking along fairly smoothly, no disasters to report etc. I did end up picking up another four hour, last minute bar shift on Tuesday evening, so come Wednesday eve I was feeling pretty sleepy.

Then on Thursday I went out after work for a colleagues leaving do in town; I made sure I stuck to the happy hour glasses of wine which were £2.70 with 50% off, topped up with soda to make them last longer, as well as to dilute them down. Because we had reserved a couple of tables the bar gave us a couple of platters of free finger food, bottles of champagne and about 20 shots. Luckily I was well positioned when the freebies arrived, so enjoyed a couple of glasses of Prosecco for free as everyone else seemed to turn their noses up at it, some food and three free shots (I'm pretty sure they were mini glasses of bitter lemon lol!) before heading home.

Friday lunchtime we went out for lunch to a new American restaurant called 'Meat Liquor' which is located behind Oxford Street. The food was delicious, and I could see why the burgers have been getting rave reviews all over the internet. The bill set me back £16 which meant  it took up the majority of my weekend budget, but I was paid for the Saturday bar shift so squeezed it in without going over budget. I also put all three meals on my credit card and the others are transferring me the money to get more use out of my credit card to try to push up my credit score. Friday evening I was so sleepy from my huge lunch and kind of late night the night before me and the BF just dozed on the sofa in front of the TV.

Saturday I had to buy my Dad a present for his birthday; I couldn't find anything and decided to give him the vouchers I won through work instead which can be used at Halfords, Homebase and HMV amongst others. My Dad's quite practical (think that's where I get it from) and was very pleased when he opened his card and found these nestled inside. Saturday night, after watching Britain's got talent I cycled to the pub for a few drinks, spent about a fiver sipping slowly lol, and this also included the price of my cab fare home too.

Sunday we decided to rearrange and sort out our room, all junk was thrown out, stuff we won't need has been put away in the loft and all our paper work has been filed neatly into labelled plastic wallets.

Then yesterday we visited my family and went out for dinner for my Dad's birthday. We went to the harvester, and managed to wrangle a free round of drinks for six- and four of them were re-fillable too! The bar man completely messed up the change he gave my dad, and ended up giving him all his money back in a different form. Mum & Dad covered the bill, so will probably have them up and cook something nice as a thanks in the next few weeks or so.

I've got £16 of disposable income to last the week, then I should get paid about £25.00 for my bar shift last week. I'm out for a few drinks Saturday, so this should easily cover this leaving me with about £40. I'm also expecting one of my Quidco payments of £13, so should be able to scrape through the next two weekends and make it to payday.

I think there's another happiness revolution due, but I'm a bit stumped for ideas as to what to include.... 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The beauty of the humble voucher

These were taken Sunday morning waiting for the parentals to arrive x

So the music quiz came and went, I enjoyed a good night with good food, drink and company and as a bonus our team won so we took home a bottle of champagne to share, a vintage radio and £25.00's worth of 'Love to shop' vouchers each. Not bad for an evenings work, and Radio Works (the media hosting) are thinking of holding a quiz ever month too. I'm thinking of using £20 of vouchers to pay for a present for my Dad's birthday which is at the beginning of May, and save £5 to put towards something for my sister's birthday present which is in June.

Thursday I was off work so enjoyed a bit of a lazy day as it was raining for most of the day. In the evening I went to see a free screening of the teen thriller 'Elfie Hopkins' which was pretty scary, and some parts I was hiding behind my coat. The film was ok watching, but I wouldn't have bothered paying the £10.00 for a ticket to watch it.
Literally, sunshine through the window...

Then afterwards myself and my housemate did a food shop at Asda; I allowed myself one basket only and managed to squeeze a weekly shop in, which came to £30- it's definatley the way forward. I've had a quick meal pre-plan and I reckon it will be enough food to see us through until next Thursday evening.

Then Friday evening, I was meant to be going out for dinner with a friend but she ended up in A&E so after a fleeting visit to make sure she was ok while she was waiting I went to the pub for something to eat and a few drinks. I had set aside £20.00 for the eve, but only spent £16.00 including my food so had £4.00 left over.

Then saturday I went to have my hair cut, I had allowed myself £35.00 from  the money I picked up the week before working at the pub and it came in at £32.00, so I have a whole £7.00 to last until payday in two days time, then I'll have hit my £10k mini target.

Today my family came up as my sister had one of those photo shoot make over things in Richmond so I went with her while my Mum and Dad visited Ham House. The shoot was pretty cringy and I was glad it wasn't me the photographer was prodding about and telling me to look sexy. I was also dreading the viewing, which the M&D came in for as I have experienced the aggressive selling techniques these places employ before as they to try and get you to buy their photos.

Needless to say it came, the photographer was really trying to sell his images, saying how lovley the shots were etc, then the prices came and my Dad nearly fainted- £85.00 for one A4 image or £400+ for about five- what a rip off!

They declined the images you had to pay for, selected their one favourite which was free and we were hurried out the studio as the photographer slammed the keyboard on the 'don't save' icon after they wouldn't part with their cash, and I for one don't blame them! Above is a few pics I took of the shoot behind the scenes.

Has anyone else had one of these shoots and been completely taken aback by the ridiculous prices??!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Batch cooking

Our fridge is looking kind of barren, just some cheese, butter and eggs with some veggies in the draw. So last night it was time to put my 2kg bag of smart price carrots (78p) to good use. After quickly eating some left over fresh pasta from the night before I got peeling and chopping, using up half a red onion and stock cube from the cupboard.

The carrots and other bits made six portions of soup which was poured into washed out old food jars. Two were placed in the fridge for lunch today and Friday (I'm off tomorrow) and four in the freezer for quick, cheap standby lunches which should see me through to payday.

This week I don't think any food has gone to waste which is good, and even the BF seems to be on board with cutting down on the food shopping. Tomorrow eve would have been one week on a £47.00 shop (approximately- we may have bought a few bits at work out of our own money).

Tonight is a media music quiz night which should be good fun, its free and there'll be free food and drink so I plan to make the most of it!

Happy hump day!  

Monday, 16 April 2012

Weekend update

This weekend went pretty well on the financial front; we payed a visit to the local funfair with discounted premium tickets which were given to the BF at work. It was something cheap (a total of £4 was spent), fun and a bit different for us to do together- we had a giggle. Then we had a takeaway, eep, but this was from our joint account so doesn't affect my own saving. This came to about a tenner anyways for both of us so relatively inexpensive again.

Saturday, my parents came up and we went cycling around a local country park in the afternoon, then out for a meal with BF too in the evening. As we were chatting away about saving, my mum was a little bit critical and said that I can't put my life on hold because of the saving. But I said that its for relativley a short period of time, my life's not on hold its just a little bit restricted and normal spending will probably resume once our goals have been achieved.

However, what I think I'll take from the super saving game is that it is possible to cut back, I think I'll always be a little bit cautious when it comes to money, I've always been the same, and I will always set a small amount of money away for a rainy day. I said I've always preferred to use my money for one really good thing I want then use it to buy lots of rubbish, such as I saved my part time shop wages at school for a trip to New York, and I squirreled £2,000 away for university- I can't help it I'm a bit of a worrier and a planner, which I think explains quite a lot of my attitude towards my finances, opposed to my sister who is quite spontaneous. Its strange to think that the two of us were bought up the same yet have such different behaviours.

However, what I have picked up from other bloggers is that I just don't need all this stuff; I don't need ten bottles of perfume, ten eyeshadows in my make up bag, or ten pairs of jeans. This is why I'm trying to run all my stuff down, perfumes won't be replaced until I have none left, jeans are being worn until the seams split and then cut into shorts, bed covers are being used even though they don't always match (but are otherwise perfectly fine) and make up is being used up, foundations and body lotions having the tops cut off to get every last bit out, and then only replaced if nesseccery.

I also think its because I wan't to buy new homey stuff once we (hopefully) have our own space, and I also don't want to have to move stuff which I've accumulated that I don't really need or even have space for. To me its just makes sense, but my mum doesn't seem to quite understand.

On Saturday I payed for the dinners (three for £23.00 approx using staff 20% discount- BF decided he didn't want to eat), so my bit was done for the evening. This was within my weekend budget of £25.00.

Sunday we had a lazy lie in, I got up hoovered and cleaned the floors of the house, some dusty grubby shelves in the bathroom that were gathering dust, done some washing and generally sorted our room out.

Then I had a phone call from the BF asking if I could help out at the pub as they were short staffed as someones nan had died. My evening was going to be a fairly quiet one anyways, so I figured I may as well make some extra money. I cycled the mile to the pub and did a 6-11.30 shift, which was extremely quiet and was paid until 1am for helping out. The BF also paid for my dinner too as a little thank you.

The extra cash will pay for my hair to be cut hopefully on Saturday. Just one last weekend until payday with a £25.00 budget which should pay for a cheap dinner and some drinks on Friday night, and I'm planning on keeping the rest relatively low key as I'm out Wednesday and Thursday too.

Last night I didn't have time to pre-pack my lunch as I was at work in the evening, however this morning I threw some instant couscous and vegetables from the fridge to make a healthy, filling salad come lunchtime. I just ate it and it was pretty yummy, much better than a soggy pre-packed sandwich from the supermarket. What's more, it made two portions and my lunch for tomorrow is sitting pretty in the fridge at work- and I still have loads of veg left over too.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Food glorious foooddd.....

Over the last few days we have been using up whatever food has been lurking in the fridge, freezer and my desk draws before going shopping tonight.

Last night I didn't bother making a packed lunch as I still had half a portion of the pasta I made the other week still at work, some olives, some water biscuits, hot cross buns and some apples at work.  Slowly over the day I intend to eat most of this list, despite the randomness of different tastes.

This week I have had to throw out a little less food wastage, I think only a carton of left over chocolate milk bought on impulse from the Co-Op downstairs. And I think from now on I'll start using my credit card to pay for the food shop and transfer the money from the joint account to pay for it as this benefits us in three ways; it shows that I am able of borrowing more money and repaying it, it will show how much we spend on food over the course of a month and I don't have to use my credit card for things that aren't really essential.

As the 10k target gets closer I'm itching for payday to come which is in two weeks so I can say I have achieved it (even though we still have a way to go on the saving front, the majority is probably done :)).

I'm finding that I'm getting a bit bored in the evenings at the moment, where I'm cutting back on my spending whereas before I never got bored and always felt like I had lots to do, so I think that's why I'm getting more impatient. But I keep reminding myself, in a few weeks we are already four months through the year and there's only eight more to go.

Does anyone else have a relatively short saving target they are itching to reach? and the more impatient I'm getting the more I want to cut back to reach it quicker, but there's only so much you can cut back on. Patience is a virtue after all, and the good things in life are worth waiting for.

Luckily over the next few weeks I can make use of free tickets I've accumulated; two free VIP tickets for the funfair (we plan to go Friday night should the weather hold up), two free cinema tickets courtesy of a work colleague who got them from Sky and a free pub quiz, with free food and drink which is being held by a media company next Wednesday which I plan to take full advantage of- I've even booked the next day off of work!

Here's to the next two weeks xx

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Batch cooking

This morning after enjoying a nice lay in I decided to indulge in a spot of batch cooking so as to not let any more of our food go to waste.

I cooked us some breakfast, so had to defrost and cook an entire packet of sausages. I used the left overs as part of a two portion pasta dish and as a topping for my made-from-scratch pizza.

I had the following to use up; four sausages, three peppers, a handful of plum tomatoes, cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese. So I dug out a jar of Asda brand tomato pasta sauce and whipped up the pizza for tomorrow nights dinner and some pasta for next weeks lunches.

I made the pizza dough using the ingredients that was already in the cupboard and putting them in my bread maker. Once it was ready I put it in a large bowl, covered it with a tea towel then place it in the warm oven which I had just switched off after cooking the breakfast.

So we have four meals made from food which would otherwise have turned mouldy lingering in the fridge.

Here's some pics of my production line.

Enjoy your weekends x

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Spring has arrived in London!

I love it when the sun shines and all the cherry blossoms bloom! I took these pics before meeting a friend in Putney yesterday. We had a few drinks whilst enjoying the sun walking next to the river which was lovely. I love these colours and think it would possibly make quite a nice bedroom colour scheme one day....

I love it when the sun shines and all the cherry blossoms bloom! I took these pics before meeting a friend in Putney yesterday. We had a few drinks whilst enjoying the sun walking next to the river which was lovely. I love these colours and think it would possibly make quite a nice bedroom colour scheme one day....

Anyways, payday came around on Friday and with that the ticker gets updated. So if my calculations are correct this is how much I've saved so far (including the BF's credit card repayments which will end next January)

Things on the money front are coming along fairly well I think, besides having to throw some food out earlier on in the week; a new tub of Heinz 'fridge' beans that I forgot were ours which were growing mould, some out of date eggs which were put on someone elses shelf and forgotten about after doing a big shop, a carton of gone off pomegranete juice, blood orange juice and chocolate milkshake.

Things I'll take from this is to keep control of the shopping by not buying such big shops as we don't get round to eating it, not buying items to try which may end up being wasted and keeping all our items on the bottom shelves so I can actually see what we have.

Friday was our two housemates birthday drinks, I managed to dodge the offers of shots with the urges to 'live a little'...hmmphh! and only had two bottle of cider (I don't know how it lasted for the few hours we were there-I guess you get quite a lot in each bottle). I had budgeted £30 for the night, but only spent a fiver- result!

Today I have put this dress on Gumtree to try and sell for £50, like the other dress it came from New York's Greenwich Village and unlike eBay Gumtree doesn't charge you to advertise. I also took advantage of this websites offer of 50 free prints when you sign up, I've signed up with a new email address about four times now.

 I plan on making a border of photos around our room seeing as we're going to be here for another year. Other than that I've sorted out our room for the week, done two loads of washing and may head to the park to start reading 'The time travellers wife' in the sun before cycling up to meet the BF from work. Hope you're all enjoying the sunny weather, Happy Sunday! x

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The 2012 budget changes,,, what it means for me

If what I can make of the reports is true I think due to the increase in the amount you can earn before tax I should be approximately £12 better off per month as of next month, I think. That's a whole £144 per year each and £288 between me and the BF which isn't too bad.

Although the price of cigarettes is going up by 37p hitting BF in the pocket. I want him to give up, but he doesn't want to even though on some days he forgets to smoke lol.

In other news our council tax has also dropped from £164 per month to £135 so we should be slightly better off there too. It all adds up, and as everyone here and at Tesco knows 'every little helps'. I'm hoping the BF doesn't notice the decrease in the council tax so I can squirrel away the excess into the holiday fund without hurting our pockets too much.

The weather is getting much nicer so this morning I caught the early train and walked from Waterloo to Tottenham Court Road. I'm considering refunding my tube train and bus travel card and getting an overground only rail pass as its almost £400 cheaper a year, money I could use for a holiday or car insurance. I also know my walking routes to and from work now so it doesn't seem as daunting as when I first started working in the city last October.

I think I may inquire at the train station at the weekend to see if its worth getting it changed over and I'll have to check with HR too to see if my monthly re- payments can be altered, as I know that they can be difficult in accommodating admin changes outside of the 'allocated window'.

Anyways, its been a fairly good month money wise, I think I've put almost £800 into various saving pots thanks to my interest payment. So here's to limping through to payday, eating carrot soup lunches (only the one jar remains of the batch I made the other week) I think I'm going to have a lovely golden glow come the end of the year from all the carrots I've eaten hehe- who needs a pricy spray tan?! 

Friday, 10 February 2012

Lunch time post

I would like to welcome the latest follower to my blog, Jack McCallum! Although this blog is to track my saving journey it's always nice to see people are interested in what I have to say.

I'm also treating myself (a little) this lunchtime due to the unexpected tax rebate- Thai food for lunch, £4.00 but will probably be my dinner too, and a six pack of diet cokes to keep under my desk on offer for £2.50.

I've taken out £20 for the weekend, which should cover a bottle of something for tomorrow evenings gathering, and a half price trip to the cinema seeing this week come to a total spend of approximately £30 from my disposable bank account. Hope you all have a great weekend, Happy Friday! x

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Just a quick lunchtime post from me- hot office topic of debate: do you ever use tea bags twice?

Are you a double tea bag dunker?! 
Pros- one packet of tea bags last twice as long
Cons- two s**t tasting cups of tea

Decide for yourself which side of the fence you sit on- I think I fall somewhere in the middle of the two. If I'm coming to the end of a pack I'll make do until I next pass a shop which stocks them at a decent price. £1.50 for a packet of green tea in Budgens or 77p in Sainsburys?

Secondly, I've just given the Sainsburys basics chocolate digestives a go and they are no different from any other biscuit, bar the packaging. I've kept them tucked away in my bag though out of sight of judgmental eyes lol.

Often my housemate (currently around 5k in debt) makes comments about the 'cheap' food I buy, in reference to Adsa or Sainsburys own brands, not even the 'smart' price value ranges. I think I will definitely give the value brands more chance, even if I have to smuggle them into the cupboards. Also the BF can be a bit snobby about some food items, so wouldn't dare switching his beloved peanut butter down a range. I may buy one for him and a cheapo jar for myself in the future. Ooh the excitement of my life at the moment.....

In other news my dress has a bid of £27.00 on eBay, another £13 and I'll have recouped the money I spent seven years ago and freed up some space in my wardrobe. 

Monday, 9 January 2012

Making food go further

Yesterday evening I made a lovley little pasta dish inspired by watching a Nigel Slater TV programme called 'Making food go further' (is on BBC iPlayer). It involved using very few ingredients, all of which I already had in the cupboard/fridge/freezer.


1. Pasta shells
2. Frozen peas
3. Margarine/butter
4. Cheese
5. Fresh basil


1. Cook pasta and drain
2. Cook peas in microwave for a few minutes
3. Put a generous scoop of butter in frying pan and heat until melted
4. Take butter off the heat when begins to bubble. Pour in peas and torn basil
5. Pour butter mixture into pasta, sprinkle over grated cheese and serve

What I loved about this recipe, besides its simplicity is how the peas sit inside the pasta shells. This week I also want to give a Jamie Oliver pasta recipe a go; red onion, sun dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Though I don't have these store cupboard ingredients at home at the moment.

I also plan to treat myself to some earplugs as these are a necessity at my house which seems to be a bit like Charing Cross station at times with two shift workers living there (silent grr!) and living on top of shops this morning a lorry driver seemed to be revving his engine for ten minutes interrupting my sleep- and I love my sleep! Rant over.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Welcome 2012

Last night I spent the evening working in the pub where I used to work when I was a student a couple of years back and where my BF still works and our two housemates and friends drink. After making the decision to swerve the 02 Islington with its £25.00 entry fee, expensive drinks and endless waits for night buses home I was told the bar was short staffed for NYE and asked could I help out if possible. I figured that I would only be on the other side of the bar come midnight if I turned the offer down anyways, and the BF was working as well as his cousin and one of our close friends.

The evening started off fine, then as 10pm approached people started to get drunker and more annoyingly rude, one of the staff members who was working had a particularly bad personal hygiene problem and I was hungry! However, disappearing for half an hour to tuck into some homemade soup (1KG carrots a snip at £1-Asda made five jars of soup, four of which are tucked away in the freezer) and a chunk of homemade bread (I was lucky enough to be given a bread maker for Christmas :)) a few deep breaths and peace and quiet I returned to the bar much calmer. That and most of the clientele had left for the evening leaving just the regulars and our friends at the bar. We shut about ten to midnight, had a few glasses of (free) champers to see in the new year and then returned to work for 45 mins. We cleaned up and were finished at about 2am when we all sat down and had another free drink.

 Though it was hard work at some points (why do people feel the need to speak to bar staff like they are stupid when they're actually in the wrong I don't know, and I don't know how people have the patience to deal with them full time- it certainly makes me appreciate my job) I think it was worth it, I didn't spend a penny and people were flinging cash around left right and centre last night, I have no hangover today and even earned a little extra cash too.

Today I plan on going for a little relaxing swim and steam room session, and then will be trying to make my own sweet and sour sauce seeing as I have most of the ingredients in the cupboard (note to self, buy white vinegar) with king prawns, vegetables which need using and rice and making the most of my time off before going back to the grindstone on Tuesday.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Happy Hump day folks

Santander finally came through and managed to send both my debit card and pin number to the right address- it took almost two months needless to say I have been less than impressed with their 'services'. It's been so long since I could just pop across the road to Sainsburys for food at work it was quite a luxury to scour the shelves today.

I've given myself £75.00 to last until payday next Wednesday, and so far this week I have spent almost £25.00. Yesterday I ordered my Dad a 'National Geographic' subscription for the year which was a reasonable price of £19.00, included in this price is a fleece, ideal for wearing to work on cold days and out walking/cycling at the weekends as well as a world map. I thought it was an unusual and much more thoughtful present than the standard Next jumper I usually buy him, although I'm not sure if he'll actually have anything to open on Christmas day- I think I'll probably have to print something out to put in his card.

Today I spent almost £5.00 in Sainsburys on, well snacks..... I felt like I needed some nourishment to fend off the winter snuffles and general 'urgh' feeling as was pretty sleepy this morning- more so than normal! So I bought some peppermint and nettle tea which is meant to be cleansing etc. some mixed unsalted nuts with raisins for some good fats, vitamin e, a small bar of Green and Blacks organic dark chocolate (it has antioxidants right?) a bag of cherry tomatoes to go with the cheese and crackers in my packed lunch and a jar of very mini gherkins to also go with the cheese (a bit of an odd craving). I thought I would be needing to keep my strength up over the holiday period and really want my skin to clear up and improve as much as possible before the work Christmas party. Therefore, as well as the unsalted nuts I've also been guzzling water at my desk, eating avacado and peanut butter wholemeal sandwiches and making an effort to eat my fruit. Does anyone have any blemish fighting tips om foods to avoid? I've heard dairy is bad but I'm not sure.

So left in the budget I have £50.00 left, out of which I need to get my hair cut (again before the said office party) as my bob has completley lost its shape. I'm hoping I can get a stand by appointment after work on Friday which is £25.00. I also need to buy a small present for the BF around £20.00 approx. I'm also meant to be going to Richmond on Saturday and will probably end up having lunch or dinner out.... I doubt it will come to a fiver so may eat just a little into the overdraft once I've put the £400.00 into my savings account.

Overall I don't think that's too bad considering I've also completely paid off the car repairs too. Fingers crossed no disasters strike before the 21st like last month!

Image courtesy of  'We heart it'
Hope you're all having a good week so far- Happy Humpday x

PS. do you remember this time last year when there was non-stop snowfall? I'm quite happy its bright and nippy outside today!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Cheapy easy cheesy pasta

Inspired by some of the recipes floating around the frugal blogosphere this weekend I decided to try and make my own cheese sauce. Though this is a fairly simple task to do I'm too impatient to follow recipes and weigh out my ingredients, preferring instead to wing it.

So into a saucepan went some margarine from the fridge, some milk and flour which was heated gently over a low heat, whisked and then I added half a ball of mozzarella some garlic powder and black pepper and whisked a little bit more to make a smooth paste. I set this aside while the pasta finished cooking, microwaved a cup of frozen peas, chopped a few leftover cherry tomatoes lurking at the bottom of the fridge and combined all the ingredients which was then poured into a casserole dish. I then placed this into a warm oven to bake for half an hour to make the top crispy.

 When I sat down and had a mouthful it tasted like I had gone a bit overboard with the flour, and the mozzarella had a very weak taste. But it literally cost me pennies to make, and filled me up for the afternoon. The next day, I had the leftovers after returning from a spot of Christmas shopping. This time I melted some smoked applewood cheese over the top which gave it a flavoursome taste- much better! I'm planning on practicing my easy cheesy sauce again this week.

On another note there's just ten days to payday, and less than two weeks to Christmas Day- can't wait! I cleared out all the rubbish in my wardrobe I never wear and utilised a top organising tip from A Thrifty Mrs whereby you place all your clothes on hangers facing the "wrong" way; i.e so that the hooks are all facing you, and once you have worn the clothes you turn the hanger around again. It's an easy way to see exactly what you wear and what items are taking up precious space in your wardrobe.

And I have also made a list of a few items I think I do actually need to stock up on- including a flat pair of pale ballet pumps (oh-so-chic, versatile and most of all comfortable) I'm planning on throwing away my tan coloured ones which have been worn to death, a new black cardigan as my current one is looking somewhat worse for wear and lots of new socks (say goodbye to holy socks!)

Now all I need is for my pin number to come through from Santander......though it's been pretty annoying being without my debit card it has made me consider my purchases much more than normal- which is always good for the piggy bank. 

Friday, 9 December 2011

Weekly round up

Today was a mini payday for me, a little sum of £32.00 was deposited into my account from the three and a half hours bar work I did a few weeks a go- not too bad. I deposited that, and a little extra to round it up to £50 which I tucked into the savings account to make the little turtles journey a tiny bit shorter.

It's payday a little earlier this month due to Christmas, four days early so just eleven days away. I've worked out that after taking my rent and joint account money away from the sum in my current account I should be left with around £475.00. I'm going to give myself £75.00 to play with up until then (including a small token Christmas present for the BF- were keeping it small this year as we're planning on buying a decent desktop computer in January. I'm tired of trying to read around the crack in the screen on my laptop, and the keyboard is definably on its wayy out too (what a fabulous excuse for the typos!) I've also almost sold my WII with some games for £100.00 too, which will be going towards the computer, so all round a fairl good week- though after last week I'm not catching my chickens before they've hatched!

Today everyone made a trip to Gregs the bakers and the chip shop for Friday chips, I was a little envious sitting there with my mozzarella and tomato home-made sandwich and a couple of satsumas, but was quite glad come 3pm when a box of beautiful cupcakes from a bakery in Primrose hill arrived. I had a red velvet glittery cupcake (it didn't taste any different from a normal cake- I was left wondering what all the hype was about. After 20 mins I had sugar overload and had to prop my sleepy eyes open until I was able to nod off on the train. I'm cooking a chicken breast which needed using before tomorrow, sliced in half and seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic along with some pan fried potatoes, Brussels sprouts and peas which were left overs that were frozen a few weeks ago- some gravy will complete my thrifty dinner. xx


Thursday, 1 December 2011

Dealing with 'The urge to shop'...

This week, sans payday and with most of my Christmas shopping done (go me!) - which never usually happens The urge to shop came over me. On my morning commute a girl stood in front of me who seemed to be wearing the exact same blazer I had lost last week (sob!) and after logging onto the H&M website I realised that a) my bank card STILL isn't working as it should, and b) I had left the joint account card at home, preventing it from taking another battering (which it really doesn't need!). I had a few quid in my purse to buy food shopping at lunchtime, so said clothes shopping was put on hold (phew!). However, after a turn of events in the office someone piped up that they had my little black blazer at home, after picking it up at the end of the night, and this morning I was reunited with one of my wardrobe staples- happy days!

This week, so far has been fairly frugal (didn't really have much of a choice!) I have only spent money on food for lunch supplies from Sainsburys across the road including;

  1. A mini loaf of bread (will keep in the freezer and take out as and when) 
  2. Six pack of McCoys crisps (on special offer £1, two down, four to go- around 16p per bag!)
  3. A packet of crackers (nom..nom)
  4. A punnet of plums (loads left- will take to Centre Parcs this weekend)
  5. A packet of cherry tomatoes (again, loads left but should last in the fridge until next week)
  6. A bag of satsumas (two left, which will be eaten today)
  7. A bag of spinach (last handfuls will be wilted in pasta tonight)
  8. A budget ball of mozzarella (finished; made four sandwiches 11p per sarnie)
  9. Six pack of diet coke (also on special offer £2.50, 41p per can opposed to 65p two left for the picnic) 
  10. Two sausage rolls (52p) 
  11. One mini french stick baguette (50p)
All of this came to around £11.00, which really is the equivalent to a couple of lunches from a posh coffee shop, and this should do me for lunches for the rest of the week.

 Last night we were also taken out on another media night, this time to Byron a very posh burger chain which has just opened up around the corner from the office near Centre Point- all expenses paid of course. I tend to be like a kid in a candy shop at these events, and last night was no exception. I ordered the Byron burger with blue cheese and bacon, accompanied by courgette fries (yummy!) and a HUGE Oreo ice cream milkshake- delicious, but somewhat of a bad idea, followed by a full fat coke. I had been sooo hungry all day I had eaten loads, and by the time I had made it to the tube station I was feeling more than a little sick.....

Anyways, enough of that, this weekend I'm off to Centre Parcs for four days with the BF and the family which should be nice, and relatively low cost too (M&D paid as a VERY late part 21st present for me, and part 21st present for my sister) We've both always wanted to go since we were little, I think mainly due to their clever advertising campaigns, so looking forward to it. M&D want to keep the cost down as I think it set them back a fair bit, so it will be a weekend of relaxing in the spa, being forced to do Zumba and cycling about, spending the evenings having a few drinks (probably non-alcoholic as I think alcohol makes my skin worse!)......

Is anyone up to anything nice this weekend? .. x