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:

  • 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 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.


  1. Thanks for the cookie recipe - will def give that a try with some impulse-bought marg in the fridge from Xmas - I never usually use marg just butter. Have been keeping a check on food & general shopping since Jan (on a spreadsheet) and will take a look around this blog and forums for some more tips..thanks

    1. Under normal circumstances, this would traditionally be butter but the frugal challenge doesn't allow for such luxuries. :) Have fun exploring the forums and blogs.

  2. need to bake this week at some point.........

    1. Very tasty no matter what you add to them. :)

  3. Replies
    1. Tasty snack, made in under half an hour including cooking time. :)

  4. I sincerely appreciate that the copy of "me on pause" was taken down. Thank you very much. I don't know how to reach you and say thank you.

    1. Not sure what this means but all the contact details can be found on the contact page or via the forums.


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