Tuesday, 31 January 2017

More good value shopping

Thank you for all the comments on OH's impending retirement, it's certainly got us thinking and making plans.  Oh, and I've joined our local Freecycle group - no breadmakers as yet, and to be honest there's a lot more Wanteds than Offers there at the moment.  Still, I'll keep looking.  I seem to have a few new followers - welcome and thank you for reading.

We did our shopping in L*dl yesterday, with a top up shop in the big supermarket of things we couldn't get in L*dl.  I spent £22 in L*dl, and was surprised and pleased at how much cheaper, yet still good quality, the fresh veg, bacon and cheese is, we will be shopping there regularly from now on.  The top up shop in the supermarket was £16, it's a pity there are some things we just can't get in L*dl or A*di.

We're taking Betty to the vets tomorrow for her final booster jab and some flea and worming advice.  I'll do a Betty post, with pictures, tomorrow.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Exciting times ahead!

OH was 66 this month.  He currently works part time, 3 shifts a week....he was planning to carry on working until he's 67 or 68.  However, a couple of days ago he announced that he's now had enough of driving lorries (he's been doing it for around 40 years, and has been working continually since he left school the day after his 15th birthday) and night work and wants to retire this year.  He's looking at probably the end of June to stop work.

I don't blame him, I reckon he's well and truly earned his rest!  And I've had enough of spending so much time on my own (he works a minimum of 12 hours per shift, and is of course in bed for much of the morning, so on his work days I only get to see him for around 3 hours).  He gets very tired as he doesn't sleep well during the morning.....especially when Betty wakes him up when she's having one of her noisy play sessions!  He also doesn't much feel like driving on his days off....understandably. 

So we're now starting to plan for his retirement, a year or two earlier than expected.  Which means, of course, adjusting to living on a smaller income.  I'm not due for my state pension for another 10 years or so - if then even, since the Government keep moving the goal posts! 

Over the next few months, we plan on building up our savings as much as we can, and restocking our stores of dry goods and toiletries.  I'm going to scour the charity shops for a breadmaker (mine gave up the ghost several months ago), they often have them in.  I want to start making bread again, but my hands and wrists aren't strong enough for all that kneading.  We're also going to eat less meat - we're not planning on going vegetarian, both of us are confirmed carnivores, but we'll have 2 or 3 veggie days a week instead of the 1 we currently have.  We'll also eat less meat - I'll still buy the good quality meat from our local butcher, but will use less for a meal and bulk it out with veg or pulses.  I'll also start to do more shopping in the cheaper stores......we eat a lot of Cheddar, e.g., and a kilo of Cheddar for £4.99 in L*dl is a bit of a no-brainer really!  I was amazed to see it for that price when we went there a couple of weeks ago, it's so much cheaper than the big supermarkets.

As a couple of you pointed out, FarmF**ds do some good deals too - I've not really had much of a proper look round there in the past.  I do buy toilet rolls there (£3.99 for an 18-pack, Nicky brand) but am not very keen on their frozen stuff.  They do seem to have good prices for tinned and packet foods though, although it seems a bit hit and miss as to what they actually have in every week.

I'm not at all snobbish about where we shop....neither of us (husband in particular) just really fancies trawling around several places to get all the shopping, up to now we'd much rather do it all in one place.  But if it means we'll save money, and of course in future we'll have more time when he retires, then we'll have to start doing it!

Having OH at home 24/7 will be nice after all these years, it will certainly give us a lot more time to do things, and spend more time together.  I'm just slightly concerned I'll get a bit fed up with having him around ALL the time, after so long with my own company....

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Check your receipts

I have to say I don't always remember to do this, and if I do, it's only a cursory quick glance. 

Went shopping this morning armed with my list.  As usual, I did buy a few (and it was only a few) extras, things that were on a good special offer that I would normally buy anyway.  However, on going through the till, the total bill came to more than I was expecting (I'd had a quick mental tally up as I was going round).  Rather than hold up the queue, I paid and then checked the receipt before leaving the shop.....found that I'd been overcharged for 2 items.  They were on offer at £1 each, on a special display unit in a prominent position at the end of an aisle....but the till receipt showed them at full price of £1.95 each.

So I went to Customer Services - they paid me back the £1.90 overcharged with no quibble whatsoever.

Mistakes happen all the time, I'm not annoyed....although I probably would have been had we got home before discovering it! (we don't live near the town, it's a 25 min drive away).  But it does make you wonder just how often mistakes occur and we're inadvertently overcharged when shopping, and we don't know about it because we don't bother to check.  Well, I will be checking from now on!  £1.90 isn't a lot I know, but if it happened regularly it would soon add up.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Vegetarian Sunday dinner

Thanks for the comments re the A*di shopping and cheap washing liquid.  Haven't used it yet so can't comment on how well it works.  Sheila, I run the washing machine empty with a handful of soda crystals on a hot wash every month or so, seems to keep it clean and fresh smelling.

This is the dog after an hour's walk in the nature reserve this morning:-

She always sleeps for an hour or two when we get back, which is brilliant as it means I can get on with some jobs without her being under my feet all the time. 

I found a sheet of puff pastry in the freezer, had bought it reduced to half price a couple of months ago.  I'd noticed yesterday that the last 2 of our home grown butternut squashes were starting to go wrinkly, so whilst Betty was asleep I diced and roasted them, sprinkled with oil, paprika and sage.  Laid out the sheet of pastry on a tray, cut a border round it and part cooked it for 10 mins whilst the squash was in.  When it had cooled a bit I spread the base with a mixture of tomato puree and oil, piled on the squash and a whole pack of supermarket's own cheap Feta type cheese, diced up, and a sprinkle of grated Cheddar.  Back in the oven for another 20 mins.

We'll have a slice at room temperature with tomatoes, beetroot and coleslaw, the rest for lunch tomorrow.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Cheap week's shop and stocking up

Thank you for all the comments regarding shopping and dog walking.  We're certainly enjoying the dog walking, although everywhere we go with the dog takes much longer than anticipated, as everyone wants to stop us and make a fuss of her.  We've spoken to more people in the past week than we've done in years!  Having a dog certainly breaks the ice.

Well, I did my shopping in Al*i this morning, went armed with my list but anticipated buying a few extras, as I was sure I'd find things that we normally buy anyway that were cheaper in there.  And there were....I stocked up on shower gel, liquid soap and anti perspirant, all much cheaper than the ones we usually buy in the bigger supermarkets.  I also bought a few packs of bread mixes, they were reduced to 39p and dated mid April, so plenty of time to get baking.  Dental chews for the dog were half the price of the ones we've been buying in the normal supermarket or pet store, so got half a dozen packs of those too.

Even with the extras, the bill only came to a few pence over £30, very pleased.  I doubt we'll shop there every week as it is a bit limited, but will certainly go there every few weeks.

Welcome to a new reader, Sammie of Sammieskint.blogspot.co.uk.  She's got a good eye for a bargain and is kind enough to tell everyone about it.  Yesterday I called into B&M to look for the washing liquid she mentioned (we don't have a T**co in our town, amazingly, which is where she bought hers, although she did say she'd heard they could be found in B&M also).  I found them, they're called Enrituals, come in a couple of fragrances and only cost 99p for a litre bottle.  I bought 4.  Thank you Sammie!

Friday, 13 January 2017

A quick catch up

Sorry for the lack of posts, I've been so busy recently.  Betty is now able to go for walks (hurray!!).....pity it's just as the weather has decided to be awful!  We have managed to get her out to the local nature reserve a couple of times - not bad at all, actually.  She did wrestle with her lead and harness initially (although we had been putting the harness on her for a few minutes at a time for several days beforehand, to get her used to it), but soon stopped that and became very interested in the surroundings.  Especially leaves being blown about by the wind, she loved chasing them.  Oh, and whenever we saw other people approaching, with dogs or not, she was straining at the leash to get to them for a fuss.....she just LOVES people.  Well, it's more the fact that they all want to pet her as, being a puppy, she's so cute.  Well, in looks anyway....she's a right little madam in temperament haha.

The walking is great though, gets rid of a lot of her excess energy and she's out for the count, sleeping for a couple of hours, when we get home.  Marvellous - means I can actually get a few things done!

I've been making use of the time to do quite a bit of batch cooking for the freezer.  A slow cooker potful of mince and veggies, split into 4 portions for 2, to be used for cottage pie, pasta twists & cheese sauce stirred through for an easy cheats version of lasagne, or chilli powder and kidney beans added.  Spicy pork, enough for 2 dinners with noodles or rice.  Frugal Queen's version of Tartiflette - 2 double portions of that.  A big panful of mashed spuds & swede, portioned up into 3 lots.  A tray of roasted root veggies, enough for 3 meals. 

I will do another couple of freezer meals on Monday.....a slow cooker chicken casserole and a couple of fish pies.  That'll mean I don't have to do much in the way of cooking for a couple of weeks, so we can concentrate on getting out for longer walks with the dog, weather permitting.

I did an online supermarket shop this week, next week I should only need some fruit and green veg, hopefully.

We've had no snow, not even a flake, but galeforce winds and rain lashing the windows through the night.  Bright sunshine with blue skies peeping through today, still cold and windy but less severe.  Hope everyone is staying safe and warm, wherever you are.

Thank you again for the comments....a few of you have mentioned Farm Foods, Lidl and Aldi.  Yes we do have all 3 of those in the town, I do buy toilet rolls from Farm Foods but haven't had a proper look round there for ages (we get 3 or 4 packs of toilet rolls at a time, which last us for months, so I don't need to go there often).  The Aldi and Lidl are always heaving nowadays, so that tends to put me off of going there.  Perhaps I should investigate going at a different time.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

First shopping of the year

Took my shopping list and am pleased to say I stuck to it, apart from just 2 extras.  It's OH's birthday on Sunday, we always cook each other a meal of whatever the birthday boy/girl wants....he asked for steak (it's always that or a big pork chop!) so that's what I got.  And there was a large piece of fresh salmon, enough for 3 meals for the two of us, reduced to half price because of the use by date.  We love salmon and eat it a lot, so I got that, cut it up and froze it.

I had a look round the supermarket's sale section, just to see if there was anything we needed that had a fantastic reduction.....nope, so I wasn't tempted to buy anything.

I did notice that they've already started putting up some prices (to claw back what they reduced before Xmas I suppose), and again have made some packs of things smaller.  E.g., I usually buy a 400g block of prepacked Cheddar, whatever happens to be on special offer that week.  Some of them were reduced in size to 350g some while back, whilst keeping the price the same (do they really think us savvy shoppers don't notice?!), but there are still several that have stayed 400g.  Well, one of the ones I regularly buy is now 370g - that's new, it wasn't like that before Christmas.  Ho hum.  I still won't be caught out though, as I always check both shelf label and pack size.

Took Betty to the vets yesterday for her 2nd vaccinations....the vet gave her a bacon chew to have to distract her whilst she did the jabs - not a peep out of Betty other than chewing and slurping noises!  So now there are just 6 days to go before we can take her out.  She is such a funny little thing, she makes us laugh every day.  When she's outside sniffing around the garden, for example, she's making snorty snuffly noises, she sounds like a pig looking for truffles, it does make me laugh.  And if we tell her off for chewing something she shouldn't and give her a toy to distract her, she carries the toy over to whatever it was she was chewing, sits and pretends to play with the toy for a few seconds and then sneakily goes back to chewing the chair leg or whatever....little monkey!!

Thank you for all the comments yesterday, and welcome to Cheryl from MylittlepieceofEngland.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Aims for this year

Wow, such a lot of comments on my last post.  Thank you so much for all your good wishes and I return them all to each one of you. 

I'm not making resolutions as such....to me, a new year's resolution is something that's set too high and thus you'll soon get fed up with trying to achieve it or keep it going for any length of time.  But I have thought about a few things we want to achieve this year, starting now, all of which are well within our reach and can easily be maintained, with a bit of effort.

1.  Zero food waste.  I don't want to waste ANY food, if I can help it.  We never have to go hungry in this country, whereas thousands in poorer countries do every day, so to waste food is a crime.  I know it doesn't benefit any of those poor people (Mum used to say to us when we were being picky at mealtimes as kids "there are starving children in Ethiopia who'd be glad of that!"), but even so, we shouldn't take food for granted to the extent where we just throw it away.  So if I notice we have fresh food that's going past its best or is about to go out of date and we can't use it immediately, I will cook and freeze it.  Any leftovers from dinners will be frozen too, even if it's just a small amount of meat or veg.....added to over a couple of weeks and there'll soon be enough to make a hash or bubble and squeak.

2.  Cutting down on shopping, both the quantity and the time.  This can be achieved by doing a few things.  Writing a menu plan each week, by looking first in the fridge and veg baskets to see what we have that needs using, supplemented by frozen or larder stuff.  Then making a shopping list of only what we need and sticking to it as much as possible.  I plan on doing this every week from now on, but with the aim of eventually shopping fortnightly instead of weekly.  Although I want to stick to the shopping list, I won't exclude buying a few bargains, but only of things that we use anyhow if they happen to be on a good special offer, or are reduced a lot because of the date.  Our chest freezer is currently full, so we certainly don't need much in the way of meat, or even milk and bread, for a while.

3.  Doing more batch cooking.  At the moment, as Betty takes up so much of our attention, I don't have a lot of time for cooking on a daily basis.  So on one or two days each week when husband is off and he can keep her amused, I aim to spend some time cooking meals for the freezer, so there's always a dinner there ready to be pulled out when I don't have a lot of time.

There are a few other things I'm mulling over, but that's enough to be going on with.