Category Archives: The Frugal Kitchen

Recipes and yummy tip!

Guest Post: Summer Berry Sorbet

When it comes to Summer recipes, there is nothing I like more than a little sorbet (or skinny ice cream, as I call it)!  So, with the lovely hot weather we have been enjoying, I thought I’d share this wonderful guest post from Jess, who writes over at Jessthetics, a recipe for Summer Berry Sorbet.  Go check out her blog, she’s a fabulous seamstress too and a real lover of all things environmentally and ethically friendly!

1 Hello! It’s Jess here, from Jessthetics. I’m so excited to be guest posting on Frugally Peachy today. I have a confession to make – I’m not that fond of ice cream. It’s okay, but it’s not my favourite treat by any means. I much prefer sorbet! The good news is that sorbet is really easy and cheap to make, and it’s (probably) healthier than ice cream! My recipe is for summer berry sorbet because I’m in love with cherries right now, but you could substitute pretty much any fruit that you fancy, or that needs using up.

2You wil need: 1 cup of blueberries, 1 cup of rasberries, 1 cup of cherries, 1/4 cup of sugar and a blender.

3First, remove the stones and stalks from your cherries, and blend all of your fruit, except for a couple of berries which will make a nice garnish later!

4Next you need to make some simple syrup. As the title suggests, it really is simple! Pop your sugar in a pan with 200ml of water and stir over a medium heat until the sugar’s dissolved. Then bring the water to the boil and turn off the heat.

5Once your simple syrup has cooled, combine it with the blended fruit and put the mixture in the freezer. It’ll take hours to freeze, so I suggest doing this in the morning ready to eat in the evening, or leaving it in the freezer overnight.

6Once your mixture has frozen, blend it together until smooth and put it back in the freezer for half an hour.

And that’s it! Scoop out your sorbet, add a couple of berries on top and gobble it up before it melts. Much more refreshing than ice cream, am I right?

7Thanks for letting me guest post on your blog Emma, and I hope you have a wonderful month of writing!

Thanks Jess…I might be a little too distracted to write with this gorgeous recipe! Thanks for sharing!

8

The Frugal Kitchen: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

IMG_20140617_180410It isn’t often, at the moment, that I’m getting a sweet craving; but when I do…I need it NOW!  I’ve taken to keeping a few bars of Lidl dark chocolate in the house, just in case the baking mood overtakes me! And on Monday…it sure overtook me!

I make no secret of the fact that I potentially view Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as one of the greatest creations of the modern day.  I love those things, the familiar orange, garish packaging, the satisfying crunch that leads to a smooth hit of peanut butter.  If you’ve seen Fifty First Dates and you’re anything like me, then that scene when Adam Sandler is given a huge box stuffed to the brim with Reese’s is a bit like porn!

Anyway, with a taste for peanut butter and about half a jar left milling around in my cupboard, I decided to try my hand at a cookie homage to my favourite sweet.  I tried a basic peanut butter based recipe and dipped half the cookies in melted dark chocolate for an extra hit.  As usual, I rustled these up from bits hanging around in the kitchen cupboards – and the choice of Lidl chocolate is only 35p per slab, an absolute bargain!  Try them if you dare…

Ingredients (To Make Approximately 8 Large Cookies)

100g Golden Caster Sugar

100g Demerara Sugar

140g Plain Flour

120g Butter (softened)

1 Large Egg

1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

1/2 tsp Salt

Approx 3 heaped tbsps Smooth Peanut Butter (crunchy is an option)!

100g Dark Chocolate

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 C /150 C for Fan Oven.  Grease a flat baking tray and line with greaseproof paper.IMG_20140617_180513

In a mixing bowl, cream together both sugars and the butter until light and a little fluffy.  Then add your egg and beat until combined.

Follow this by adding the dry ingredients to your mixture – the flour, bicarb and salt.  Mix with a spatula and ensure that the mixture is all incorporated.  Finally, dollop your peanut butter in and mix until combined.

Using a dessert spoon to roughly measure, separate your dough into 8 equal sized balls and place on your prepared baking tray.

Place the cookies in the oven for approximately 20 minutes – the cookies should be golden brown in colour but not hard.  Remove and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, over a pan of boling water, heat your dark chocolate in a bowl.  Once the cookies have cooled, dip one side of each cookie in the melted chocolate, place onto a cooling rack and allow to harden.

Go put the kettle on, relax and enjoy a cuppa with your new favourite frugal cookie!

IMG_20140617_180449Stay Peachy x

The Frugal Kitchen: Garlic Naan Hack!

IMG_20140604_163629A very quick little piece of heaven for you today – I’m aiming to get my Friday posts back to being all about food because, well, I love food.  Food glorious food!

Coming to the end of the week, I always try and eek as much as I can out of my existing ingredients, to avoid going for a food shop.  So, having whipped up a quick veggie curry, using all the veg I had left in my fridge, some chopped toms and the remainder of some tikka masala paste, I really fancied a side to go with it!  A quick check in my bread bin gave me some inspiration…why not have a go yourself at my Crunchy Tortilla Garlic Naans.

Ingredients

One Flour Tortilla (per person)

About a tablespoon of Garlic Paste with Veg Oil (You can also use crushed garlic – ensure it is crushed smoothly)

Salt to taste

ingredientsMethod

Place your tortilla on a flat surface and, using a spreadable knife, smear a very thin layer of garlic paste over the tortilla and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Be sure not to over fill with the paste.

Fold the tortilla in half and repeat the same process – keeping the paste to a minimum.

Finally, fold the tortilla in half again and spread another very thin layer and finish with a sprinkle of salt.

Place under a grill for approximately 4-5 minutes on a medium heat, until the corners of your tortilla naan are starting to brown and the naan itself is hardening.  Serve as a starter or side dish!

Sounds simple?  It’s a great hack and a real money saver too – with very little work and a delicious, crunchy, flour-y taste!

Why not try with ground almonds and a dab of almond oil for a peshwari-style taste?

IMG_20140604_163607Stay Peachy x

How Does Your Garden Grow? Part 2…

mini gardenWell, with the sun shining and thoughts of Summer truly on their way, my thoughts have turned to trying to do something with my tiny garden!  If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you may well have read my last ‘Garden’ post about our ‘great’ sideboard idea and the little herb rack Mr J made for our kitchen.  Well, sadly, with the demise of the relationship came the swift demise of the sideboard and the rack!

herbs close upNow, I’m no horticulturalist, but I do like the thought of a nice garden that me and Little D can sit in.  So, on Friday, armed with a few Pinterest ideas, I took a trip to my nearest DIY centre and bought a couple of little plants to pot.  My back garden is entirely concreted, not to mention narrow, which leaves very little room to do much.  I am always so envious of good garden space but, instead of dreaming of acres and acres of land, opted to make mine a pretty little haven.

I started with a good old sweep of the area, over time our ground has become so cluttered with weeds and ‘bits’, it was great to get things straight.  garden sweepI had several plastic and terracotta pots lying around from previous attempts at joining ‘Club Horticulture’, so I simply potted a couple of Conifers, a Dahlia and some Fuchsias, to begin with.  And, being me, I simply HAD to surround them with my weird and wonderfully small collection of garden creatures!  The outcome?  Well, I still have a way to go, but it was a great excuse to make a start and GUESS who has already taken a keen interest with her brand new watering can??

I’ve got BIG plans now!  I’m on the lookout for a nice garden table and chairs to upcycle and I’m planning on trying to grow some strawberries and tomatoes from hanging baskets – I’ve made a start on some tomatoes and I’m keeping everything crossed (I don’t have a great growing track record – I’ll refrain from telling the sad tale of Simon Le Bonsai…and Simon Le Bonsai 2)…more updates on my dream garden to follow, I’m sure!  I’m armed with secateurs and I’ve got the bug now!

Daisy Garden CollageNot content with not really getting into the ‘grow your own’ spirit this year, I also took this old mini palette I’d been given and set to work making a Jazz Domino Holly/Queen of Crafts -inspired Victory Herb Tray.  Lined with mini pots and a spot of basil I’ve had for a while, I potted and labelled up some of my most used herbs – a great thing to start growing and maintaining as they keep all year round!  I even knocked up some miniature bunting for the tray just, you know, because!

herb tray vintageWhat are you growing in your garden this year?  Do you have any great ideas for a small garden?  I would love to find some more inspiration! x

The Frugal Kitchen: Avocado Brownies!

mixtureAVOCADO…what now?!?!  Yup, that’s right…and guess what?? They are deliciousness personified!

It’s been a little while since I got creative in the kitchen, I’ve been busy readying meals for me and D, plus trying to eat healthily and shed a teeny bit of weight.  When the chocolate cravings call though, one must act – so I decided to try something a little different!

I’ve had an interest in this amazing cross-genre baking for a while, I tried sweet potato brownies a while back, which were gorgeous and cakey, and low in calories!  avocadoAfter reading several sweet recipes using avocados, I decided to try my hand at a quick, simple and healthier alternative to a full-fat brownie!

When it comes to a bit of frugal baking, I like to use as little ingredients but without sacrificing taste.  A classic brownie recipe should be fuss-free, gooey and satisfying.  We keep avocadoes in abundance in our house; D loves them and I am on a continued quest for long, ebony Priscilla-locks, so they do their bit for me as well!  The recipe below took about ten minutes to mix (once the chocolate had melted) and about 20 minutes in the oven.  The result?  Beautifully rich, gooey, chocolatey goodness and (if you’re a calorie counter – which I, sadly, am) they come in at abotu 272 calories for a large slice!  Go on…give ’em a go!

You Will Need (To Make 10 Large Brownies):

100g Dark Chocolate

4 Eggs

100g Dessicated Coconut

100g Caster Sugar

100g Demerara Sugar

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

70g Cocoa Powder

Handful of Flaked Almonds

1 Large Avocado – mashed

ready to bakeMethod

Over a pan of boiling water, melt your chocolate.  Preheat your oven to 180 C and grease a baking tin (ideally square).

In a bowl, mix your flour, sugars, cocoa powder and vanilla extract.  Pour your melted chocolate and add the eggs and mix until combined.

Finally, add in your mashed avocado and continue to mix until your batter is combined, brown (!) and fairly smooth!

Transfer to your prepared baking tray, sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake for approximately 20 minutes.  Your brownies should be very dark in colour and slightly gooey on the inside.  Remove and leave to cool – or shovel one in straightaway!

finishedStay Peachy x

 

The Frugal Kitchen: Hashed Beef Teriyaki with Noodles

beef teriyaki finalIt’s needless to say that I’ve been in something of a clearing out mood of late, not least in the kitchen!  Last week, I had some beef left over and, rather than going with the usual casserole, I thought I’d try something with a little more bite to it – whilst using up some of the egg noodles I’d had lying around the cupboards for weeks!

The result?  This rather hashed-together, throw-in-anything-you-like Beef Teriyaki!  Made with some of the obscure spices and vinegars that are forever stocked in my frugal cupboards, I literally spent nothing on this meal and it was DELICIOUS!  I thought I’d pop the recipe up on here BUT, if you don’t have quite the right ingredients then fear not – using basic soy sauces will give you a rich, sticky taste and the cornflour is a must for the right texture!  My measurements are pretty loose on this one, I just went with my tastebuds and added a little where I thought necessary – so I hope it works as well for you as it did for me!  I think the dish would work well with pork and am tempted to try a sweet vegetable version too!  I do hope you enjoy if you give this a go – it’s quick, makes work of those obscure ingredients we all have AND it tastes delicious!

beef ingredientsIngredients (To Serve 2)

200-300g lean braising steak

2 clusters of medium dried egg noodles

1 clove garlic

2 tbsps cornflour

21/2 cups water

2 tsps dark soy sauce

2 tbsp demerara sugar

1tsp granulated white sugar

1/2 tsp crushed chillies

1/2 tsp Chinese Five Spice

1/2 tsp crushed ginger

S&P to taste

dash of red wine vinegar

Method

teriyaki sauce 1In a saucepan with approx 2 cups of water, add all your sugar, spices, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, garlic, ginger and chillies and a bit of S&P and bring to a low boil – continue to heat until the sugar has dissolved, leaving a slightly thickened ‘syrup-like’ texture!

Whilst the sauce is cooking, fry your braising steak until browned and tender, and bring your noodles to the boil in a separate pan.  Remove and drain after 2 minutes (ish).

Once the sugar has dissolved in your sauce, add 1/2 cup (thereabouts) to your cornflour and mix until smooth.  Add this to your sauce and continue to stir until the sauce thickens – keep on a low heat whilst stirring and remove from heat immediately after thickening, to avoid congealing.  In your frying pan, add the sauce to the beef and toss over a low heat until the beef is covered – you’ll notice the beef getting really sticky, try not to over cook (if you value your teeth, anyway)!! beef teriyaki 2Place the cooked noodles into serving dishes and divide up your beef teriyaki – serve and ENJOY!

Stay Peachy x

How Does Your Garden Grow?

rosemarySpring, it seems, has sprung!  Compared to the bitter cold of last March, when I was drifting about the home in a heavily pregnant daze, checking off calendar days and admiring the snow outside.  Even as a firm lover of all things morbid, dark and rainy, I’m enjoying waking up to the rays of sunlight and taking warm afternoon strolls in the park!

When we moved into our house – which has now been our humble abode for 18 whole months – we had great designs on the incredibly small back garden space bestowed upon us.  In some ways, I love it, having no grass means very little maintenance and the area is also nice and shady.  On the other hand, whilst we were able to grow an unsightly amount of tomatoes last year in our makeshift allotment, I couldn’t help but look out of my lounge window and fancy seeing something a little more pretty!  Winter came and went, I wrote about ideas for a small garden space on the old blog and we decided 2014 was going to be the year of the Innovative Garden Space!  I’m seeing a little rusty table and chairs and sunflowers, I really want sunflowers!

I can’t take full credit for our ideas, Mr J constantly has his head stuck in this little book I bought him for Christmas, but I thought I’d start off our little How Does Your Garden Grow mini series by showing you our little window herb garden!  Ain’t it pretty?!  And so useful for picking straight from plant pot to saucepan!

herb rackBeing that our windowsill gets a lot of sunshine in good weather, we decided to make a mini herb garden to soak up the sun – herbs are very easy to grow, we are always using them in our cooking and many can grow all year round.  So we kickstarted with some Basil, Coriander, Parsley and Rosemary and what’s best of all? coriander Our little set up cost us absolutely nothing, apart from the seeds themselves and the compost!  The recycled materials have all been saved and salvaged and we have plenty more yoghurt pots and egg boxes to add when we start to grow more.

The two tiered rack we have used is an old shoe rack we were given a couple of years ago, sprayed white to fit in with the kitchen decor.  The mini greenhouse was a present from myself two Christmasses ago and we were given a Garden Basil Pot by my Mum as a gift.  All other containers are recycled, housing little seedlings whilst the eggbox *should* house our first batch of tomatoes for the season.  The Coriander is growing at a rate of knots at the moment – which means there is no excuse for a good old homemade curry – whilst the other herbs are catching up fast and the current lovely weather we are experiencing should help things along a little!  The only thing it needs now is some sort of mini bunting – but there you have it, a little piece of our homegrown home!

sideboardOur next job is to take a look at the outside space – we have moved this rather gorgeous sideboard outside and waterproofed it, ready for a quirky plant feature – what do you think?

Look out for more frugal garden spaces in the coming months!

Stay Peachy x

Garden general

The Frugal Kitchen: Nanny’s Chocolate Pudding!

chocolate pudding finishedAs you know, when it comes to baking and cooking – I love nothing more than tinkering about in the kitchen, making everything from scratch, including PUDDINGS!!  Now I would say I have a pretty sweet tooth, but I’m also trying to fit back into that vintage leather skirt and I do try to keep my sugar intake down!  BUT – when the winds are howling, the rain is beating against the windows and you’re all snuggled in with a hearty dinner, there is nothing quite like a hearty pudding to round off your evening!!  Literally!

Recently, whilst trying to be frugal with our food budgeting, I’ve been looking for foodie inspiration from the past.  I’m not talking Henry VIII style digging into pies with your hands – but old, simple recipes that were thrown together during rationing, when both food and convenience were scarce.  So I thought I’d try my hand at recreating a little pudding from my youth – my Nanny’s chocolate pudding!

Let me tell you something about my Nanny.  She is an incredible lady, full of zest and fun in her (slightly) younger years, who often looked after me when Mum was at work.  On our family holidays, it was my Nan who would be queuing up to go on all the rollercoasters and, bless her, she even taped an interview with Marilyn Manson that she saw on the TV once, just because she knew I loved him!  Who WOULDN’T be inspired by this lady! I have great memories of having lots of lovely, traditional dinners at her house, but my favourite dish was, by far, her chocolate steamed pudding with chocolate custard!  Sadly, being a lady who cooked from memory, she never wrote the recipe down – so I hope I’ve done it a little bit of justice with my researching, trawling and playing about!  It’s a perfect Sunday dinner recipe, easy to pop together and leave to steam and excellently chocolatey!  As with most recipes I put together, there is always room for experimentation and adding extra ingredients to suit your taste buds!  I do hope you enjoy!

Ingredients (Serves 4-6 – depending on how greedy you’re feeling)!

For the Pudding

110g Soft Salted Butter

170g Plain Flour

110g Golden Caster Sugar

2-3 Tablespoons of Milk

2 Large Eggs,

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

For the Custard

1-2 Tablespoons of Bird’s Custard Powder

1 Tablespoon Sugar

1-2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder

1 Pint Milk

Method

In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter until light in colour and fluffy.  Then add the eggs, one by one and mix until combined and smooth.

In a separate bowl, sieve the flour and baking powder together.  Slowly, add the flour mixture to the cream mixture, mixing in a couple of spoons at a time until the mixture is combined.  Add the milk to stop the mixture drying out.

chocolate pudding mix

chocolate pudding whiskOnce the mixture is ready, pour into a grease and prepared pudding bowl, smooth the top and cover with greaseproof paper.  Seal with string around the top (I used some old yarn – Frugally Fabulous Me)!

chocolate pudding basinPlace the pudding bowl in a large crockpot or pan (with a lid) and fill with water until about 2/3 of the bowl is covered.  Place the crockpot lid on and allow to steam for approximately 1 1/14 hours (medium heat on the hob).  Be sure to check the water levels often and remove from the heat once the pudding has steamed.

For the custard – it’s easy enough to follow the instructions on the Bird’s tub, but you add your custard powder, sugar, cocoa powder and about 2 tablespoons from the 1 pint of milk, mix together until a paste forms.  Pour the remaining milk  into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Once boiling, remove from heat and pour onto the custard paste. Mix together and return the whole mixture to the pan and bring to the boil again, over a gentle heat!

Serve the pudding warm, preferably near a roasting fire, switch the TV off or, at least, indulge in some appropriate viewing, such as Call the Midwife and Bob’s your Uncle…or Pauline’s your Nan!

nanny and meStay Peachy x

 

Hello ‘Memories March’!

Hello MarchWell…two whole months of my Frugally Fabulous Year have passed!  Hello March indeed!  How is the weather doing where you are?  I’m sat typing this as blissful sunshine seeps through my kitchen window and the babe naps – nursing a teeny tiny cold!  Spring is in the air..well sort of, I always mourn Winter, I’m quite like that!

March, for me, is a very special month this year.  This month, little D turns a whole big 365 days old!  This time last year, I was sat twiddling my thumbs as we passed our due date and I became ever more tired and immobile.  Snow was on the ground when D was finally born – I can’t say for sure but it’s looking slightly warmer for our planned trip to White Post Farm to celebrate.

So what’s on for Frugally Peachy this month?  Well, as you can imagine, I’ve been working through a few Birthday projects that I think are great (and frugal) ideas for Birthday presents.  We have our #CraftBlogClub big unveil tomorrow evening of the I Re-Love You challenge, so I’m looking forward to showing you my progress here and I can’t WAIT to see what everyone has come up with!

Paint brushesAside from that, the knitting needles have been clicking again and I’m FINALLY starting to get over my fear of the Sewing Machine, which is just as well – because I’m bored of my clothes and I’m ready to inject some new life into my wardrobe!  One of my toughest challenges, so far, has been learning to re-imagine new ideas with fabrics and get to grips with sewing basics, but I’m determined to get there!

With talk of Spring and, of course, my Frugal Kitchen, Mr J and I have started looking at growing our own fruit, veg and herbs.  In truth, we have the tiniest garden known to man – so look out for some posts and projects on making the best of a small garden space!

With Spring, always comes the need for a huge de-clutter!  I try to keep our house free of clutter as often as I can – but I’ve been clearing out a whole host of D’s old bits and a few of mine and I’m planning to do a couple of blog sales!  So if you’re looking for new baby bits or even thinking of treating yourself to something – I could have JUST the thing!

I think, as each month goes on, I’m getting more and more used to not spending money.  Even last month’s Waterstones issue has got me thinking about how I can move forward – and I will need YOU, fellow bookworms!  Here’s what else I’m up to at the moment…

Book shelfCurrently Reading: ‘The Power of Now’ Eckhart Tolle –  I’m quite into spirituality and I had been wanting to read this book for ages, after it was recommended in a magazine by Boy George, of all people!  So far, though I think the premise and ideas are good, I remain unconvinced by the writing itself.  But I do think it challenges a very ‘modern’ way of forward thinking and planning and perhaps there is much to be had by simply taking in the present world around you!

The Power of nowCurrently Watching: Sense and Sensibility – Since my Thursday night Dracula treat has finished, I’ve been struggling to find something on TV that I actually enjoy!  I do like a programme to sink my teeth (ha ha) into.  I stumbled across this on the Drama channel and thought I’d tuck right in!  I love the story of Sense and Sensibility and with actors like David Morrissey and Dominic Cooper in this adaptation, it’s a really strong re-telling, though doesn’t quite beat the Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet film of the 90s – nothing like a wistful hour wishing you were flouncing around in Austen period!

Currently Blog Crushing – I suppose not shopping means I can live vicariously through other bloggers who like to show their reviews and purchases!  I recently came into contact with Naomi from Style Face Beauty – a local lass who loves to shop!  Her blog is lovely, great product reviews and some wonderful advice on healthy eating, I’m totally coveting the Lemon and Chia Seed Tea right now!

Made Peachy – look out for my post about fellow Peachy Person Laura Strutt’s book, The Sewing Manual, this month – time and time again I head over to Laura’s blog for a bit of inspiration and, of course, craft porn!

Daydreams and Sunshine – Jenni’s blog is so crafty and creative, I am particularly loving this post about making her own knickers – I’ve already suggested a bra-making competition!!!

Currently Working On: I’ve become a little obsessed with mini-bunting!  I’ll be posting some more on this later in the month, but it seriously makes everything look so damn cute AND hardly costs a penny!!!

So let me wish you the happiest of March’s, filled with Pancakes, Mummies and weird weather – as I finish this, it has started hailing!!

Stay Peachy x

 

 

 

Reflections: Things Falling Apart

Mirror 1Well, I can’t believe I’m two months in to my Frugally Fabulous Year!  Time is marching swiftly forward and guess what?  I’m still somewhat withering around my sewing machine at the moment.  Those ace clothes are NOT going to sew themselves!  Luckily, for me, I have the wonderful Laura Strutt here – not personally but in book form, to show me the ropes and I’ve been looking forward to settling down and overcoming my fears for a very long time now!  I guess February just ran away with me…

What with the chaotic wonderment that was #MidsBlogMeet, our #CraftBlogClub challenge, Mr J’s Birthday, the arrival of Mortal Instruments from Lovefilm AND about 6 other writing and crafting WIPs – I have barely had time to sit down and think about my sewing machine, let alone fathom my fears.

The trouble is, whilst I’ve been busy with life this month, everything else is starting to fall apart; the buttons on my coat have nearly all fallen off, my oven gloves have seen much better days, my slippers are cracking on the soles and my wardrobe is starting to look somewhat lacklustre.  It’s time to face the music!

Wardrobe 2On the other hand….a good Tweeple Buddy asked me the other day about how I might track my savings through my Frugally Fabulous Year?  It got me thinking about how I could do this – without boring the pants off my readers with facts, figures and somewhat personal accounting!  It’s tough – the majority of our money comes from Mr J’s earnings and, whilst we are trying to live frugally, we are also paying off debt.  The good news?  My final payment from my previous job FINALLY arrived this month and has allowed me to pay off a debt I incurred whilst I ran Miss Berry’s.  It feels amazing to have that relief wash over me – I can only imagine what the end of my Frugally Fabulous Year will look like!  I spent just £8 on cosmetics this month – extremely frugal in comparison to an average of £20-30 when I was working full time.  But perhaps I need to start monitoring even more closely?    For now…here are my Frugal Tips for tracking your savings!

1. Budgeting

Mr J is not big on financial budgeting, but I see it as a necessity to ensure we know exactly what we have coming in and going out each month.  I don’t always profess to be as meticulous as I should be – but I’m definitely getting there.  In particular, setting yourself a food/entertainment/travel budget for the month is a great way to really monitor how you’re spending and also look at how/where you can save.

2. Change Your Ways?

Whilst we are on the subject of food budgeting, this is one of the areas I am really looking at saving.  For ease, I have often booked one to two online shopping deliveries a month, whilst stocking up on fresh produce at our local greengrocer’s.  Recently, I’ve turned my weekly shops into several smaller shops, where I can, whilst really looking at where I can make the best savings.  Ok, so carrying my shopping can be a bit of a drag, but I’m saving about £10 a month on delivery costs.  Plus, shopping with smaller, cheaper brands or local suppliers has also meant a saving of almost £12 a week (yup, I’m becoming THAT person) – which translates roughly to a saving of £624 over a year – that’s some festival tickets and a chunk of the ‘Swedish Dream’ right there!  I have already started to draw relationships between Money and Convenience, it seems if you are serious about saving money, convenience has to go out the window!

receipt reflections3. Don’t Be Loyal to Brands, They Aren’t Loyal To You

When I was pregnant, like most people, I stood in the middle of Boots baby aisle, completely befuddled by the sheer amount of branding, products and general colours being thrown at me.  I have always prided myself on keeping things to a good, but necessary minimum – I’m not easily sold on baby gadgets especially – the trick is to sort through what you need and what you don’t!  It’s easy to get bombarded with constant 3 for 2 offers and discounts – the new parent market especially is a hive of activity for offer emails, special events and what not.  But in making your purchases, no matter how ‘loyal’ you think a brand is, remember that all they really want is your money (I see Johnson and Johnson, I think ‘Johnson and Formaldehyde’)!  Clever advertising can go a long way to make you feel you are missing something important by not making that purchase, but the truth is you can most probably go without it – or at least go without the last minute eye-catching add-ons and special offers.

4. Don’t Turn Your Advantage Points Into Disadvantage Points

All that aside, if you shop religiously at one place, get all your cosmetics from Boots or drink all your coffees in one coffee house, then make sure their loyalty cards ARE working for you.  These days, most big names are offering a loyalty card at practically every paying counter you head to.  Prior to having D, I picked up loyalty cards for Starbucks, Holland and Barrett and Waterstones – to name a few.  Well almost a year on these cards remain redundant in my wallet, they’re not worth the space they take up and they certainly don’t encourage me to want to spend any more with these companies.  Now I’m probably not the best to judge, being that the whole point of my Frugally Fabulous Year is to NOT shop on the High Street, but it seems to me that if you do shop with one shop, you might as well make sure you get the very best of their offers and points benefits.  Why not have a look through the loyalty cards you have stashed in your wallet?  Have you got cards that are encouraging you to spend more than you should in places you know you shouldn’t?  Do you have loyalty cards that could work much harder for you?  This will take all of five minutes, but could save you a little bit of cash money AND make sure you are shopping in the RIGHT places for you!

5. Make Yourself a Joy Jar!

Once you’ve done the hard work – if you find you save a little bit – be it £1 or £10, why not physically take that money out and pop it in a ‘Joy Jar’? joy jar Here’s one I made earlier!  I think there is a lot to be said, psychologically, for being able to see, in the flesh, just how much money you are saving.  Once the jar is full, you can pop it in a savings account, sort yourself out with a much-longed for treat or p**s it up the wall, it really is up to you!  I intend to start using my jar to physically chart how much money I save each month – why not do the same?

Well, it is with a fondness that I bid my Frugal February adieu…it’s been wonderful, full of love, lust and knitting needle clicking – I shall see you on the other side in March, which wil undoubtedly be one of the most special months for me this year!

Stay Peachy x