Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Puff Pastry Pizza

Reducing the food budget to £5.00 per person per week for all meals may seem challenging to some but for others, it's a bit of a game where we try to use up everything so we are wasting nothing. Puff pastry pizza seems like a great idea to me, but does it work?

I had half a block of puff pastry defrosted after making a pie at the start of the week - it is National Pie Week this week, did you know that? Anyhow, I had defrosted the pastry, therefore I couldn't refreeze it, so I decided to try making a flaky bake, puff pastry pizza. Rake out the rolling pin and let pastry flattening begin! I rolled it into a circle large enough to fit into my pizza tray.

Puff pastry pizza base with tomato and chili paste

I have a tube of double concentrate tomato paste with chilli, so I diluted a half cupful and spread that on as the tomato base. Next up, some of the bacon bits retrieved from making this week's pan of soup (bacon & lentil), as these all get removed from the stock before I add the vegetables and pulses.

Chopped bacon bits

The cooking bacon costs 80p per 500g pack from supermarkets, it makes a full pan of stock for soup and at least 2 meals for two of us after that, so it's a fabulous bargain to have as back-up in your freezer.

Stir fried mixed vegetables

Meanwhile, I diced an onion, chopped a tomato and added a portion each of mixed peppers and sliced mushrooms with seasoning and herbs to quickly fry these for faster cooking.

Mozzarella cheese on pizza

A bit of added luxury for any frugal budget has to be some mozzarella cheese! At only 46p per pack from supermarkets, a half pack is sufficient for a large pizza. (This is a 30cm/12" diameter pizza tray.) You can pretty much add any leftovers to a pizza but I have never, until now, tried making one from leftover puff pastry. Wish me luck!

Fried vegetables on pizza

The quickly fried vegetables got poured over the top - onions, mixed peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes - but anything goes when it's pizza, especially if you are adding more cheese.

Cheese pizza

I used supermarket's own smart price cheddar to top my pizza tonight, so here's hoping the mini oven can cope with baking all this lot into something tasty!

Puff pastry pizza

I needn't have worried. The puff pastry pizza worked out a real treat when baked at 200C for about 25 minutes. However, I can't recommend this temperature or time, as my mini oven is now running on just the lower element, so keep an eye on your pizza if baking in a conventional oven. This one will do us for two meals, so guess what's for dinner tomorrow night? I'll probably follow that with more of the raspberries set in jelly, too, as I'm now trying to use up all the garden-grown berries I have stashed in my freezer.

Don't get me wrong, if you are one of these people fortunate enough to have access to coupons and live within walking distance of a supermarket, chances are you will be able to buy discounted pizzas cheaper than us rural dwelling frugalites can make them, but we know exactly what's in our pizzas, they are made to our specifications and appreciated for what they are - open top pies that can be adorned with all sorts of leftovers. No easy access to shops is one of the things that townies often overlook when trying to state the obvious about money-saving in the kitchen. From here, our nearest supermarket is 20+ miles away and we don't have a car, but recently, we have been blessed with a trial delivery service by Asda, so their vans have suddenly become a very familiar site on our back roads and farm lanes.

Join us in www.frugalforums.co.uk to keep up to date with the £5 per person per week for all meals challenge.

Puff Pastry Pizza

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Moderation March 2015

It isn't all pie in the sky! Beating down the cost of food in an effort to reduce how much money we waste while grocery shopping can be the easiest place to start saving, especially if you are adopting a more frugal lifestyle while focussing on a healthier diet.
 
 pie in the sky

Welcome to March, month of mad hares and, hopefully, the final throws of winter for us here in the UK. Hopefully, the temperatures are beginning to drop for our readers in Australia and snows begin thawing for our Canadian frugal friends. We've survived the festive sales, the New Year sales, St Valentines Day and the Frugaldom February Fitness Challenge, now we have Mother's Day and Easter to contend with before springing fully into spring cleaning - or so I am led to believe!

Where last month was about losing pounds, namely the surplus gained over the festive fair season, March is about gaining them, marching proudly onwards in an effort to repair the rest of the damage that could have been done, especially by way of finances. We also need to reclaim cupboard space in preparation for the year ahead. And so through to winter we go, once more. It's that circle of life that gets us from one year to the next until we fall off the merry-go-round.

Moderation: Moderate - Balanced - Reasonable - I am neither over-indulging nor depriving myself of anything, but I will be saving money while enjoying the finer things in simple life, no matter what.

In the Kitchen  

Making savings in the kitchen is the easiest place to start and it needn't result in deprivation, unless you have chosen to deprive yourself of anything specific during the days of Lent. (I do notice quite a few mentions of cakes, biscuits, chocolate, sweets and alcohol when this topic arises. However, as a good non-pursuer of such faiths, I choose to motivate my lifestyle by moderation most of the time, not just for a few weeks of the year.

March has been named as our frugal month of moderation in the forums for all those taking part in the various money saving and lifestyle challenges. I have already looked back at my previous budgets, each having been charted in spreadsheets since bringing my frugal living challenge online officially. The following is from a few of my previous grocery budgets:  
  • 2011: Annual grocery spends - £1,298.16
  • 2012: Annual grocery spends - £1,227.59
  • 2013: Annual grocery spends - £964.80
  • 2014: Annual grocery spends - £916.06  
As you can see, year on year, my overall grocery spends have reduced and yet I have still been able to build up a suitable stock pile of dried, tinned and preserved goods. There were three of us in the house during 2011, so a drop occurred in 2012 when the household reduced to two.

For 2015, the new challenge is to hammer down the grocery budget to £640.00, which equates to £520.00 for foodstuffs and £120.00 for toiletries, medications, cleaning and laundry products.  I cannot guarantee that this will be achieved, as it actually works out at just under £5.00 per person per week for all meals, but with food prices continually falling and us now having access to one of the big supermarkets, I think it is entirely possible. It is even possible to include some luxury items, like biscuits, cakes and desserts. In many cases, such things cost less to buy than to make.
 Homemade choc chip cookies

In the meantime, if the ingredients are there, then homemade is always preferable.  Flour can be bought for 45p per 1500g, sugar at 49p per kilo. This morning, I made some luxury choc chip cookies for this afternoon's visitor using the tried and tested 1, 2, 3 recipe:

CHOC CHIP COOKIES
  • 100g sugar (5p)
  • 200g melted margarine (32p)
  • 300g self raising flour (9p)
The above is my basic starting point, to which I added an egg (10p) and extra flour, (3p). You can add about 100g of anything at all, be it grains, seeds, chopped nuts, chocolate, dried fruit... I chopped up a 100g bar of cheap supermarket (30p) chocolate for these. The mix does more resemble crumble but it kneads together like dough. I make the biscuits individually by squeezing then rolling a handful of the mix into a walnut-sized ball and then flattening it, rather than having to knead/roll/cut.  There should be enough in this to get 24 cookies but I opted for making larger ones today, so will probably get only 18. To make them extra luxurious, I added an egg and a little extra flour to bind it all together, baked 12 on a greased tray and have wrapped the remainder of the cookie dough in polythene to refrigerate for later use. The tray was baked for 10 minutes in the middle of the oven at 180C, then the biscuits transferred to a wire rack to cool.  

Total cost for luxury handmade choc chip cookies - 89p - this is assuming you have paid full price for everything, but my margarine cost less than half that quoted and my egg came from one of the garden hens, so my luxury cookies actually cost only 63p. You can, of course, reduce this cost by making plain cookies, as opposed to using the chocolate. As I use a mini oven for baking, the electricity costs are minimal and contribute to the overall heat in my otherwise cool kitchen.

If you would like to follow the progress of this or any of our other money saving, frugal living challenges, feel free to join us in www.frugalforums.co.uk where all the information is fully accessible to members only - not even the search engines get in to the members' only sections.

NYK in Frugaldom.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Free Seeds from Grow Wild Scotland

Grow Wild 2015 seed kit registration update: Hello Frugaldom, Thanks again for registering for free Grow Wild Scotland seed kits to share with people in your group/s. We’re delighted to let you know that you will receive a seed kit by late March 2015.


Grow Wild Scotland

Ready

You’re joining the UK’s biggest ever wild flower campaign, helping to create over one million square metres of colour in summer 2015 Supported by the Big Lottery Fund and led by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Grow Wild inspires communities, friends, neighbours and individuals across the UK to come together to transform local spaces, by sowing, growing and enjoying native wild flowers.

Steady

While you wait for your seeds, join the 20,000 people across the UK planning a growing space with their group/s.

Please join us too for exclusive tips by signing up for the Grow Wild e-newsletter and social media at growwilduk.com, where you’ll also find an exciting range of free advice, activities and how-to videos. We’ll add more content as the delivery date gets closer.

Sow

Each kit has a getting started guide, five seed packets, site markers and a DIY bee house. There are also Grow Wild prizes to be won for the best photos/videos of your group/s creating and enjoying your Newton Stewart space.

For inspiration and updates follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.

The Grow Wild team

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Working Wood tree pack

This is great news, as we need all the help we can get planting up the Frugaldom Project so it grows and flourishes into a wilderness of colour. Along with this news, we have also received notification from Alba Trees to say that our Working Woodland tree pack of 420 young trees from the Woodland Trust has now been despatched. The trees should be with us next week and we hope to get them into the ground as soon as possible, so have a planting expedition planned for next weekend.

www.scottishmultimedia.co.uk

Free Seeds from Grow Wild Scotland

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Frugaldom Woodland News

Hope everyone is doing OK, sticking to the plan and making the most of whatever they can. February in the Frugaldom household is very much a use-it-up month and the 28-day kickstart to summer fitness, so being awarded another 420 trees by the Woodland Trust as part of the WWI commemorative woodlands scheme will help further the fitness regime! Anyone up for some tree planting?

What's next? Well, as many of you know, this entire challenge began as a way to steer completely clear of debt, save to buy a fixy-up and then live the frugal good life mortgage & rent free. In 2011, we managed to buy our fixy-up house, which still isn't fully 'fixy-upped', but never mind, we'll get there one day. In the meantime...

Frugaldom Project

Last year, the savings bought us a bit of land, now known as the Frugaldom Project (www.frugaldom.com for anyone who wasn't aware of how long this challenge has been going) and we have started planting up our community woodland.

The Frugaldom Project is about creativity, sustainability and lifestyle, so why not join us online and become part of the project? Sample frugal freedom for yourself: budgeting, foraging, food growing, tree planting, crafting, photography, writing, outdoor fitness, nature studies, environmental art or even just to appreciate the simple things in life, like frugal living, working from home and having affordable fun.

Current projects include taking part in the Woodland Trust's WWI Centenary Woodland project, plus the creation of our garden of gratitude, sensory gardens, haiku corner, trading post, hitching post and our very own interpretation of, or even solution to, writers' block. All aspects of the Frugaldom project will be recorded online and can be found in the dedicated section of the frugal forums.

Tree planting at Frugaldom, 10th November 2014

As part of The Woodland Trust World War I centenary woodland project, Frugaldom is taking part in this once-in-a-generation tribute, by creating a growing legacy for centuries to come.

We planted 420 mixed hazel, blackthorn (sloe), crab apple, dog rose and elder on 8th & 9th November 2014 to produce the first stage of our new harvest woodland and edible hedging, which should provide a great future foraging area for all concerned.

We have been awarded a further 420 trees by the Woodland Trust, sponsored by Ikea, with those trees being expected during the first week of March. For anyone interested, planting is scheduled (weather permitting) between 7th and 8th March 2015

Muscle Food

Back on the home front with the bargain food budget, now that we have the joys of Asda deliveries, I have been trying to work in a small order once a month - I've cut the food budget to £5 per person per week for all meals. I'm making the most of everything I have in stock and just buying the minimum necessary, but it does seem to be going OK.

My freezer is still full of delicious meaty bargains from Musclefood and I continue to be both amazed and thankful whenever someone becomes a customer via my friend referral link (the banner above) and starts saving their own loyalty points towards filling their freezers.

Many thanks to all and none less so than to the company itself, for giving us frugalers the opportunity to benefit from what would otherwise have remained the secrets of the bodybuilders, rather than us cashbuilders! :)

www.scottishmultimedia.co.uk

Frugal Living Blog

Frugal living blog about how to do some money saving and cost cutting in an effort to live a good life, free from debt, without having to live in self-imposed poverty. You won't find us running for awards or seeking fame, fortune or even national recognition because we live the life we write - it is as simple as that.

Money Saving

The Frugal Blog is linked to and supported by the frugal forums, frugal shop, NYK's chat room and the land of Frugaldom, which came about as a direct result of having stuck with my frugal living, moneysaving challenge unfalteringly until the point of attaining debt freedom, and then for the next 7 years thereafter. This is now year 8 of my debt free challenge and almost all of it has been documented online as a frugal blog with forum posts.

Frugal Living Challenge

This is an adaptation of the original 'Living on £4,000 for a Year' challenge, which has been running online since 2007. Some of the NYK challenges date back to the late 1990's, so I do have a considerable amount of experience in balancing my own books, while living within my own means, always done on a budget that some consider to be impossible. Utter nonsense! It is entirely possible and is an achievement of which I am particularly proud. I can say with confidence that frugal living, free from debt, on a small income is 100% possible. You do, however, need to exercise will power and keep yourself focussed on your plans in order to achieve these otherwise impossible goals.

We have seen many changes over the years, so each stage in the development of our frugal living and working plans takes us a step closer to the good life and beyond. Your budget is personal to you, it should fit with your personal financial situation and it should be something you are happy to achieve. If you can achieve a point at which you spend less than you have coming in, then you are halfway there. Getting to the point that you are spending less than you are earning while also absolutely free from debt is the ultimate goal. You just need to believe it is possible and stick to your plan, no matter what.

You can join our quest for financial freedom by visiting us in our members only frugal living forums.

My frugal living challenge is not about self-deprivation or self-imposed poverty just for the sake of it, it is about providing genuine support for those who are prepared to try making a real difference to their own lives while sorting out their difficult financial situations. Once the debts are gone and you are in full command of your own spending (or not spending, as the case may be), the world is your oyster. Whether you choose to invest, explore, plant a forest, see the world or lead a comfortable life knowing you are financially secure is entirely up to you.

Many former and current challengers have achieved debt freedom and now follow frugal lifestyles in order to stay free from debt while pursuing better lives without the entrapment of credit. Others are tackling debts, including mortgages, while following a frugal lifestyle in an attempt to reach their debt-free or mortgage-free day. Whichever stage you are at, feel free to join us and share your journey.

2015 saw the return of the live NYK Chat room, complete with scheduled chats for the purposes of additional support, plus live question time. The new platform has been tested over the past few months and it is hoped that the increased potential for even more real time interactivity can help many more people who want to embark on their own money saving journeys to financial freedom.

This challenge is about establishing your true cost of living, sticking to your budget, clearing debts (if you have any) and making savings wherever and however you can to enable you to live the life you really want.

Frugal living isn't for everyone, but everyone is welcome to join us. Methods employed by frugalers include batch cooking, stockpiling useful bargains, preserving, foraging, mending, shopping in charity shops, reducing, reusing, recycling, Local Exchange Trading Schemes (LETS), vegetable and fruit growing, allotments, keeping hens, using cash-back sites and doing whatever it takes to become self sufficient in managing the cost of living without incurring debt.

For some it is about clearing debt, for others it's about increasing savings, buying property, becoming stay at home parents or paying off the mortgage early. Some choose the lifestyle on ethical grounds, others seek early retirement or self-sustainability. Above all, this is meant to be a fun and supportive way to manage a minimal budget so you have control of your own money.

  • It's about NEEDS and not WANTS
  • Living on a budget = living within our means
  • Frugal = thrifty, living without waste

Fifty Shades of Money Saving

  1. Recognise the differences between needs from wants
  2. Spend within your means
  3. Set a proper budget
  4. Quit expensive habits
  5. Houseshare or get a lodger
  6. Shop via cashback sites
  7. Always price compare
  8. Buy reduced items in stores only if you need them
  9. Stockpile & bulk buy long shelf life groceries that you will use
  10. Batch cook
  11. Make the most of charity shops
  12. Join Freecycle or other similar waste awareness and recycling groups
  13. LETS trading - become active members of trading & exchange groups
  14. Barter
  15. Grow herbs, fruit & vegetables
  16. Preserving - jams, jellies, cordials, pickles, relishes & wine
  17. Bake your own bread using cheap flour
  18. Learn easy bake biscuit, cake and pastry recipes
  19. Make your own greetings cards
  20. Give homemade gifts
  21. Share orders with friends, colleagues and family for better discounts & reduced delivery costs
  22. Landshare, garden share or apply for an allotment if you have no growing space
  23. Make the most of all freebies
  24. Develop your own home-based business
  25. Sell your surplus through the likes of eBid and eBay trading
  26. Do a kitchen cupboard inventory of foodstuffs
  27. Use lists for grocery shopping
  28. Know exactly what is in your freezer
  29. Use up everything in your fridge
  30. Learn how to make soups, stews and casseroles
  31. Make the most of your slow cooker, if you have one
  32. Learn how to knit, crochet and/or sew
  33. Make do and mend rather than buy new
  34. Engage in clothes swaps and accessorise your outfits rather than have to buy new
  35. Learn to make your own laundry cleaner
  36. Make your own household cleaning agents:  invest in soda crystals or sodium bicarbonate,
  37. Get inventive in the kitchen with herbs and spices to use up all leftovers
  38. Use the free gym whenever you like - just open your door and step outside
  39. Use housework as an exercise routine
  40. Dry flowers so they last forever
  41. Collect seeds for sowing
  42. Go foraging for free wild foods
  43. Trim your own hair or ask a friend to do it for you
  44. Turn down the thermostat if you have central heating - wear an extra layer of clothing instead
  45. Early to bed, early to rise - based on daylight, it can save on lighting
  46. Collect fallen sticks, twigs, dry leaves and fir cones for kindling if you have an open fire or stove
  47. Save all suitable containers for freezing or preserving food
  48. Eat a sensible diet: over-eating is one of the costliest mistakes you can make, along with wasting food
  49. Food is NOT bad just because it has passed its 'Best Before' date. Undamaged tins and properly stored dried goods can last for years beyond that
  50. Stay focussed and stay strong - debts have to be paid before saving for rainy days and luxuries

By basing your frugal lifestyle around a combination of the above suggestions, you will soon begin to recognise many more ways of saving money but the easiest way to get started is simply to quit spending it until you have assessed your real cost of living. Monitoring and revising a budget is part of any frugal living plan.

IMPORTANT

Please respect others' lifestyles and beliefs. We are not here to judge, we are here to support. Feel free to join us by following the frugal blog, registering for our free forums or joining us in the chat room sometime soon. We aren't here to score points or win prizes, we are here to show how simple life can be and then the fun can begin.

Frugal Living Blog