Sunday, 21 April 2013

Getting your grocery shopping cheaper.

I thought I'd write a post on grocery shopping and how to make your weekly shop cheaper. Food is one area where everyone spends, but not everybody really takes notice of what they are buying. 

We have some friends who are the same age as us, who don't understand why they never have any money. This weekend, I spent some time with them, and also went food shopping with me and, to be honest, I was amazed. They went round the supermarket, just popping any random thing that took their fancy in the shopping cart. 

At the end, I asked them what kind of meals they were going to have this week, and my friend answered "Oh, I don't know. We'll work that out when we're going to eat."

How can you possibly go shopping for food (they spent over £80 in that shop) when you don't know what you need, what you're going to eat during the week, and what you already have in at home?

My tips are:
- Plan your menu. I can't stress this enough - knowing what you're going to make during the week is helpful for two reasons. 1 - you know what you're having so that you don't have to think about it during the week. 2 - you know what meals you're having so you know what ingredients you need to get. 

- Eat seasonal. There's a reason why strawberries/raspberries/pineapples are really expensive in January - because they're not in season. Eat things that are seasonal, because they tend to be cheaper. 

- Go veggie. Have one or twos meals during the week that don't include meat, as it's healthier and also lots cheaper. Maybe have a soup night once a week, again another cheap, healthy option. 

- Check what you have before you go. Seriously, my friends didn't know if they needed anything, because they hadn't got a clue what was in their kitchen at home. Before you plan, check and see if anything needs eating up. That goes onto the menu first. Then, once you've written your menu, check and see what you have at home first - I bet it's more than you think! 

- Think about cost of food vs. calorie value. This may seem a bit strange, but some things are cheap and easy to cook, and very good for you at the same time! Take porridge oats - get the basic ones as they're pretty much all the same. Oats are really good for you, and yet they don't cost too much. There's so many varieties you can do with oats - breakfast is an obvious one, but use them to bulk out meals too. Bananas are always on our list too, as they're cheap and nutritionally very good too. Same goes for eggs, 

I hope that's helpful to someone. I've been to get some food today - a mixture of the market and the supermarket, and I've spent £21.32 on our weekly shop. Our menu for the week is:

today - roast pork with the trimmings
Monday - chicken fajitas
Tuesday - pizza
Wednesday - coq au vin with rice
Thursday - pasta with sauce
Friday - fish and chips 

I love food.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Finding my way through stuff.

I'm a list person - I always have lists around of things I need to do, things I need to remember, things I need to buy. There's lists around our house, which sometimes get updated and sometimes not. 

This weekend, I need to:
- plan our weekly menu
- go food shopping (I'm thinking I might try to avoid the supermarket!)
- hoover the downstairs
- tidy up the garden at the front
- work out where me and my friend are going to eat tomorrow night
- update our financial spreadsheet

For now though, I am just enjoying the sunshine. 

There's always stuff to do, stuff to sort and stuff to figure out. It's about finding a balance, and that's something that's still a bit of a way off for me. 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

This week.

This week I have:

- tried to persuade DH to let me buy this lamp

- Ate yummy, healthy food

- Went walking around Ullswater in the Lakes

It's been a good week. 

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Little things.

Little things that I am loving this week:

This little jug is my anniversary present from DH - it's so cute and the colours are lovely. The only problem is, I don't know where to put it! 

I treated myself to this candle whilst we were away last weekend - the smell is amazing so I haven't had to light it yet, as it scents the room already.  I love candles, they make rooms so cosy when they're lit. 

This wall clock was a present to us for our anniversary - it looks lovely in our newly finished (ish) living room and I now know what time is it when we're in there! 

Treated myself to these pretty shoes - these were not expensive but will liven up a jeans/jumper outfit. Win!

And finally:

A purple Le Creuset teapot! This was in the sale, and I couldn't resist. It's a big teapot, so I now have to wait until we have company to use it, but I love it. 

What little things are making you smile this week?

Friday, 5 April 2013

Visiting family.

I have had a couple of people asking about No Spend Days - I generally don't take any money to work with me during the week, so I don't spend then. I do most of our shopping at the weekend, so if there's something I want, I'll buy it at the weekend :)
This week has been spent visiting family down South. It's been lovely to see them and to get away again - we're trying to make the most of the break and see people and get out in the countryside whilst the weather is still fine. It's been cold, but dry which is the main thing.
We've been to Gloucester and the surrounding villages, where we've been for some walks.

We also went to look round the cathedral, which was very impressive. The choir was practising whilst we were there too, so it was lovely to sit and listen to the choral members sing.

What a lovely way to spend some time. We've been for a walk in the Forest of Dean today, but I didn't get any photos - I forgot! Oh well.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Monthly aims: April 2013

A new month always makes me want to review finances, and to see if we're on track. April is a relatively quite month for us, so I'm hoping that that will equate low spends! We shall see.

My aims for April are:
- lose 4lbs
- Overpay £600
- Get the Emergency Fund up to 25%
- Have 17 No Spend Days
- Have a date with DH

Again, my aims are similar to last month's but then I suppose they always will be. I'm hoping to continue to lose weight. I want to overpay by £600 but we shall see. I am determined to get the Emergency Fund up to 25% this month. 

We got a £20 Pizza Hut voucher given to us last week, so I'm going to make DH go on a date with me this month and we'll go there. 

Here's to April! 

A month in review: March 2013

This is slightly late, but never mind. I can't believe another month is over - how fast is 2013 going!? 

March has been up and down - it's been a very busy month for one reason or another, and money has slipped slightly. 

My aims for March were:
- lose 4lbs
- Overpay £600
- Put £300 in the Emergency Fund
- Have 18 No Spend Days
- Buy a new coat!

I've lost 3lbs, which is good going for me. I'm going to continue to try and eat healthy, though this past weekend is not a good indication of that...!

I've OP'ed the mortgage by £605.48 so I'm pleased with that. I don't know if we can continue with the big numbers for much longer, but it'll be good as long as we can sustain it.

Now, I've put nothing into the emergency fund this month. Nothing at all. Bad. 

I've had 17 NSDs this month, so one short of target. I'm pretty pleased with that. 

And, finally, I've bought a new coat! I shall post about it, but it's very nice and I am glad I took the plunge and bought a new one - I think it was 7 years ago since I bought a new coat. Oops!

So, overall, finance wise March has been okay. Not great, but okay. 

Monday, 1 April 2013

Our anniversary weekend away.

Yesterday was our first wedding anniversary. It seems mad that our wedding was a year ago already. How time flies!

We went up to Bamburgh in Northumberland for the long weekend. We stayed at the Victoria Hotel, where we had a beautiful room complete with a four poster bed. The hotel itself is luxurious and modern, and a short walk away from Bamburgh castle. The breakfast there was very good - a big selection of cereal, porridge, fruit, yogurt and various pasties, followed by cooked food, such as a full English breakfast, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, smoked haddock with an egg and things like egg on toast, egg with soldiers and other lighter options. All very nice and very filling. 

We did lots of walking around, lots of time spent on the beach taking in the scenery. We purposely didn't worry about money this weekend, eating out every night in different places, and buying things to eat for lunch. 

Just a few pictures:

A view of Bamburgh castle from the beach

The beach in Bamburgh - less than a 5 minute walk from the hotel

This is at Alnmouth, where the river meets the sea. 

Me walking on yet another beach

It was a lovely weekend away and I now want to live up there! A perfect first anniversary weekend.