This week’s Thrifty Finds (4-10 September)

 

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I can’t believe it’s been nearly a month since I last posted! I hope you had a good summer and, if you went away, you had an enjoyable break.

We had a lovely holiday and if you follow my instagram posts you may have picked up a snapshot of what we did. While away, I used my net shopping bags for fruit and veg and we religiously used the free drinking water on the campsite (why do people have to buy SO many large bottles of water when they’re abroad? It’s only France for goodness sake and none of us got ill from drinking from the campsite’s water taps!)

Anyway, now we’re back and the kids have returned to school I can slowly get back to normal and post our Thrifty Finds from the past week. Please let me know what your Thrifty Finds were – or any you made over the summer holidays. I’d love to hear!

1. The Veg Box came when I wasn’t expecting it! So I had a glut of veg and fruit that I have been trying to use up. Last Sunday I spent the morning making soups and a plum flapjack cake.

2. It’s the start of the ‘free apple’ season in the village. A neighbour left this lovely sign outside her house and I helped myself to a few of the apples to make a fruit crumble. This also allowed me to use up some frozen stewed apples, rhubarb from the veg box and even some blackberries I had picked and put in the freezer last year!

3. Like many of us, Back to School means a lot of expense buying uniforms, supplies and shoes. This September I have staggered the purchase of shoes to fit in with the monthly wages. So, my youngest daughter got new shoes in June as her feet had grown quite substantially; we bought shoes for my middle daughter at the end of July as soon as schools broke up; and my 15 year old picked up some (cheap but fashionable) school shoes at the beginning of this month. If I had paid for all three girls to buy school shoes from Clarks at the same time it would have cost  £120! My eldest has really outgrown their styles anyway and, as she will be finishing after GCSE exams, I don’t mind if she has a less hard wearing pair of shoes.

4. I read on another blog about being able to get a free audio book download from Audible. So, before we went on holiday, I signed for a free trial and picked up ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ (narrated by David Tennant) for free! This weekend I cancelled the subscription so that I won’t be paying for it once the trial finishes.

5. I also cancelled a magazine subscription that the girls weren’t reading. I felt quite sad as it was a science magazine aimed at kids, but they just weren’t interested 😦

And finally … my September task is to look at our existing budgets and adapt them for the new school year. The girls seem to be doing less paid for activities but I also want to plan for the next 12 months. Once my eldest leaves secondary school we will need to pay for her transportation costs to college. My middle daughter will be starting secondary school so we need to look at uniform and travel costs for her. There are also school residential trips, extra GCSE tutoring, end of school Prom etc to pay for. And who said state education was free?!

If you have school age children how do you pay for uniform, supplies and activities?

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too! Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

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Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds ( 26 June – 3 July)

 

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How was your week? Did you make any thrifty purchases, donate anything or choose not to buy?

This past week I have been raiding the library, meal planning and making my own cat deterrent spray for the garden!

  1. Following our huge monthly supermarket delivery I have tried to stick to a meal plan, and reduce waste. This has had mixed results – due to last minute family plans we had to swap meals around. I also threw away a few items (I’m going to start to keep track of what I actually put in the bin as I underestimate our food waste)
  2. I popped into the library on my lunch break and picked up a few parenting books. The ‘Simplicity Parenting’ book has been on my wish list for ages.

library, parenting, borrowing

 

3. I also made my own cat deterrent spray for the garden! My husband has been doing some serious landscaping in the garden and the freshly dug soil has created a lot of interest from the local felines. I  googled ways to get rid of cats from your garden and, apparently, a citronella and water spray is good. So I have covered the soil with loads of this mixture, in the hope to deter them from using our flower beds!

citronella spray, cat deterrant

4. We go on holiday in six weeks’ time and I am trying to get organised about budgets and packing. I have started to create a clothing list for myself: most of which I plan to get from second hand shops. You may remember that last week I also started my hunt for second-hand books to take on hols.

5. I’ve also started to investigate the best way to spend money overseas. We are going to France and, as it’s our first time since the Brexit vote and drop in exchange rate, I am bracing myself for a more expensive trip. I’ve found the Money Saving Expert website really useful for tips like whether to buy currency in advance or use credit cards/pre-loaded money cards. I’ve also been researching where we are staying, and our journeys so that we can budget for excursions, petrol and tolls (for the first time in four years we are driving, rather than taking the train).

And finally it’s the start of Plastic Free July. Although I’m not taking part in it this year (see my post here from 2014) I’m hoping to keep to many of the plastic free habits I have got into over the past few years. (Although I failed at my first hurdle on Saturday night when I went to a party and used a disposable pint glass!) Take a look at their website and see if there’s anything you can do – or are already doing – to reduce plastic waste.

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too – or if you’re taking part in Plastic Free July. Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (19-26 June)

 

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How was last week? Have you cooled down since our mini heatwave here in the UK?

Here are some of my Thrifty Finds from last week:

  1. The weather was really hot here! It got up to 30C plus which is hard to live in when you don’t have air conditioning and life has to go on as normal. I located our two portable fans from the loft and we got by on closing windows, drawing curtains and staying inside (our stone cottage stays lovely and cool downstairs; upstairs is a different story though). We also did things differently: at the beginning of the week I took the girls to the play park at 7.30pm because it had only just started to cool down then! I also said ‘no’ to a picnic lunch at work because it was too hot to go out.
  2. When the weather cooled down towards the end of the week I did go out on my lunchbreak for some charity shop browsing, which I hadn’t done in a while. While I resisted a couple of dresses (see my Instagram feed) I bought a pile of books (total £4.60)

second hand books, charity shop books

Two of the books are for my holiday reading pile. I thought this one was particularly prescient, given the recent heatwave (and hottest day since June 1976!)

second hand books, charity shop books

3. These two books were for a friend who had a nasty horseriding accident and has suffered a badly broken leg 😦

Shell be immobile for most of the summer; I thought a couple of good books might help her to get through it. I’m just so relieved the accident wasn’t more serious.

4. Friends came round for a meal on Saturday night and we ended up with some leftover pudding (which they kindly made).

5. We survived to payday with very little food in the house and ended up eating the last of the freezer meals on Sunday. However this past month has been rather chaotic, shopping wise. I usually place one large supermarket order to last the  month, and then top up with regular veg box delivery/trips to the greengrocer in Corsham, plus doorstep milk delivery. This past month, however, I did a smaller online delivery and, as a result, we have been spending a small fortune each week on ‘top up shops’ and have gone way over budget! So it’s back to one large monthly shop for July and if we don’t have it, we don’t buy it (apart from fruit and veg).

By the way if you are a UK reader have you been watching the latest series of Eat Well for Less ? It’s a really informative series that tries to help families who are overspending on, and throwing away, a lot of the food they buy. Every episode I find I am picking up some useful tips (and recipes), even if I think I am quite organised when it comes to meal planning and shopping.

What are your tips when it comes to food shopping? I’d love to hear about all your Thrifty Finds. Please  share them on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds

 

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Last week was a rather strange one, given that it was bisected by the General Election.

1. Pre election I managed to get back into cooking and baking, and using up leftovers. I made soup from some Sunday lunch veg and baked cakes with some brownish bananas (the latter to keep us going on election night).

2. not quite a Thrifty Find but I do need to make a decision as to whether I continue with my veg box. I ended up composting a fair bit of it last week 😦

 

3. On election night I was very good and, at the North Wiltshire count* I avoided the pre-wrapped biscuits and disposable cups and bought my own snacks and reusables.

4. We received a few gifts last week. Friends came to dinner and bought some homemade goodies:

l-r: biscotti, elderflower cordial, chipotle ketchup 

5. And we had a visit from Grandad who gave the girls a new (to them) Wii!!

*my husband stood as Green Party candidate; see my previous post for more.

What were your Thrifty Finds! please share on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (3-10April)

 

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This past week we continued to eat our way through the once a month delivery of food. To top up supplies I did:

  1. Change my regular veg box order from medium boxes of veg and fruit to just one small veg box (no potatoes). Some weeks I do really well with my veg box but other weeks some of the stuff can end up in the compost, which I know is a complete waste of food and money. I’m trying to be better and only order when I really need it, and change the order depending on what we need.

2. With this in mind, I made sure I used up most items within a few days, even if we didn’t eat them. I roasted some of the tomatoes and courgettes, to make a pasta sauce later in the week. I also tried my hand at wild garlic pesto (stored in an old Nutella jar):

Wild garlic pesto organic veg box

Wow! Normally I add the wild garlic to a little salad or soup a little half heartedly – and then end up composting the rest.But this recipe really worked to help extend its shelf life. Although I added a couple of spoonfuls to some pasta, the taste was a bit TOO strong (although it would have kept vampires at bay!). But, I have kept it stored in the fridge and am now using it as a replacement for garlic cloves in recipes, adding a teaspoon at a time to dishes.

 

3. On the food front I also topped up the olive oil in my cupboard as I ran out earlier in the week and hadn’t ordered a replacement. My local Holland and Barret store has a large oil refill station. You buy the glass bottles, fill them with oil and then pay. Next time you return to the shop, you just refill the glass bottle and pay only for the oil. I love that mainstream stores are now offering zero waste products and services. When I saw the oil and sesame oil reduced I had to buy it. Once I’ve used these bottles I can keep returning to the store to fill up, thus encouraging repeat custom.

 

 

4. My daughter helped to collect the eggs from the school hens and came home with some beautiful eggs on the last day of term – perfect timing for Easter!

Multicoloured eggs pastel hens eggs

5. On Saturday night we went to a fundraiser for Alzheimers Society. We took part in a quiz, enjoyed a ploughmans meal and bought a few raffle tickets. We ended up winning a Ghostbusters 1 & 2 dvd plus big bag of popcorn – perfect evening entertainment for the school holidays!

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too! Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (27 March – 2 April)

 

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This past week I tried to get more organised with giving things away, and planning for the month ahead.

  1. My husband fixed the vacuum cleaner! He used another one of the replacement belts I had ordered, and succeeded where I had failed 😦 We now have a spare belt in case it happens again.
  2. For my book group we are reading Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes. One of the joys of working in Bath is being able to pop into the library and pick up a copy (or order it via the excellent Libraries West service). They had a copy on the shelf so I was able to borrow it straight away.
  3. I’m trying to be more organised with getting rid of items we no longer need. Instead of letting them pile up by the door, I have a box in which I am putting them. The plan is to take donations to the charity shops as soon as anything is put in the box. Again, one of the joys of being in Bath is being able to pop out on my lunchbreak and drop stuff off at a charity shop (and have a quick browse while I’m there!)
  4. The beginning of the month means a) clearing out (and cleaning) the fridge and cupboards; b) meal planning for the month ahead; and c) ordering an online delivery.                                                                                                                                Because I don’t have much access to the car and hate food shopping, I have got into the habit of shopping once a month. It’s a money-saving tip I first picked up from Danielle at the Blissful and Domestic blog. The idea is you shop once (apart from fresh milk, bread, some fruit and veggies) and you shouldn’t have to visit the store again for that month. If I run out of things I have to make do with what I’ve got.                                                                                                                                     In order to do these I have to meal plan for the month. It takes quite a while to work out what we are going to eat (which can depend on what we are doing later in the month, ie birthdays, day trips, Easter meals etc). But once the meals are planned, and the food ordered and delivered, that’s it for the rest of the month.

Over on instagram I have been sharing the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pics of my cupboards and fridge (if you like that kind of thing!). The aim is to show how we go from a full fridge to an empty one by the end of the month by posting pics every week. In my view, an empty fridge means I’ve planned well for the month and haven’t had to throw food away.

Before and after my monthly delivery:


Empty fridge at the end of the month

 

 

5. On a sad note, we have had to give up the garage we rent 😦 We own one car (see the post here about living in a small rural community with just one car) but, due to the location of our cottage, we have nowhere nearby to park it.

A few years ago we started renting a garage at the far end of our road. This seemed like the answer to our dreams: no more struggling to find a parking place (and annoying neighbours); a guaranteed parking spot at all times; and safe, secure and weather-proof parking under cover.

However, the housing association whom we rent the garage from are selling off all their garages and we had to vacate ours by today. The one advantage is that we only stored our car and roofbox in the building. Lots of neighbours used them for storage and, for the past few weeks, have been busy clearing out and moving all their stuff. I’m just glad that we don’t have that much stuff that we need extra storage for it, but am sad that we will now be adding to the parking problem in our village:(

Please let me know about your Thrifty Finds -and your tips for meal planning and food shopping – on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (6-12 March)

 

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Hello! How was your week? Did you have any Thrifty Finds, make any savings or choose  not to buy?At the weekend we ran our Repair Cafe, I also inherited a new armchair and carried on with reducing our food waste.

1. The Repair Cafe was pretty successful. We changed location, gained a new volunteer (who will be doing plastic repairs at the next cafe), and had a visit from colleagues in another part of the county who will be running their first Repair Cafe in May. I also got a moth eaten item of clothing fixed by the lovely Alison, our volunteer seamstress.

 

 

 

 

2. My parents bought along two items to be looked at: their Kenwood mixer (which is as old as me!) was easily fixed, but their paper shredder was a no go. However I’ve taken the wire basket from the shredder and am now using it as a waste paper basket at home.

3. Following the Repair Cafe I came home and fixed our vacuum cleaner all by myself! I had ordered a new belt for it and, following an excellent YouTube video, I was able to replace it!

4. My parents very generously gave us their old armchair, which fits perfectly in our sitting room:

 

 

5. I continued to work hard to reduce our food waste, following the ecothriftyliving blog and Facebook group. We’ve eaten banana bread, apple muffins and lots of leftovers this past week!

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too! Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram