Monday, 27 August 2012

Keeping the food spending low low low

It's a Bank Holiday Monday and I'm not going anywhere today. I'm not a fan of Bank Holidays, far too many people out and about. I like to take my days out/holidays Monday to Friday if possible. I'm planning a walk with Louise for Thursday in the Peak District, that's if it is not pouring down with rain so we'll keep our fingers crossed for that. The weather has rather put a dampener on things this summer, it's been difficult to avoid it at times.

I have a gap where I can fit in a camping trip with a shopping trolley and a bus pass, that's if the weather is kind. Then I am planning to walk across Britain again, this time starting at Ellesmere Port and walking through Cheshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. My home made coast to coast as I call it, or, from the Mersey to the Humber. This will be done whatever the weather. At this time last year (mid September) I did the River Trent walk and I was lucky with the weather so I am hoping for the same again.

Anyway, are you keeping up with my food diary, the link is at the top of the page. I am still posting my food shopping up there, so you can see what I eat and how much I pay for it. I am not doing a monthly total as I already know from the previous experiment of eating as cheaply as possible, that I can get it down to around about £10 - £12 a week. Anything less than £15 a week I'm happy with, it keeps it within my budget. When I say food diary I mean just the food I put in my mouth at home or pack ups. I very rarely buy any food out, maybe fish and chips twice a year, and I just can't bring myself to go into a cafe or restaurant. If I haven't planned very well and feel a bit peckish I will pop into a shop and buy a cheap tummy filler over the counter. I never buy bottles or cans of fizzy drinks, or even the supposedly healthy drinks, they are too expensive and have far too much sugar in them.

Some people add on toiletries, household cleaning products, and pet food to their shopping list. I don't, I have a seperate budget for these. My use of toiletries is negligable. I am still using up the home made soap which I used to sell seven years ago. Sales dropped dramatically and I was left with stock I couldn't sell. I buy the cheapest shampoo and moisturisers, and  use them sparingly so they last a very long time, sometimes years. I don't bother with anything fancy just the basics. My last deodorant is what my sister gave me four years ago, I keep forgetting to use it. I find a wash under the armpits works just as well. No perfume, I hate it when you walk by someone and are almost choked by the powerfull fumes coming from them. And have you ever walked by a house when the occupants have just let the bathwater down the drain? The whole street is enveloped in perfume, what a waste of money. I just like to feel clean and not smelling of anything at all.

My household cleaning budget is also negligable. I mainly use diluted wash up liquid in an old spray bottle, does the job as well as any expensive gunge you can buy for lots of pounds. Some people are hung up on zapping every square inch of surface with powerful chemicals. Hot mildly soapy water will do the job. I do buy cheap bleach for the toilets, but use it very sparingly, maybe four small bottles a year. A regular scrub with a brush keeps them sweet. My other indulgence is two cans of spray polish a year. No I don't want to use vinegar and newspaper for the windows, I don't have any newspapers and I don't buy vinegar. I maybe dust and polish the furniture about once every three or four months, so my two cans a year are more than enough, and I can afford them.

The cats? Well they get what they need, but I always look for reductions/special offers. They have a treat now and again. This week they had a whole cooked chicken, it was reduced from £4 to £1. I didn't enjoy pulling it to bits, the things I do for love. There was enough for Rocky as well.

Anyway, enough of the waffle. I bought these deli wraps for 27p, reduced from £1.80. There's no way I would pay full price for them. Wraps seem to be the 'in' food at the moment. I can't see why, they're only like thin bread that you wrap your filling in like a parcel. It all goes down the same way. But they were cheap so lets have a go at wrapping.

My filling was... cook some sliced mushrooms in olive oil spread, (I don't buy butter), add half a teaspoon of grainy mustard, half a tin of chick peas, splash of lemon juice (out of  a bottle) and a big teaspoon of soft cheese spread with garlic. Cook on low gas for a few minutes. Just before it's ready break an egg into it and mix it in allowing the egg to scramble. It firms the mixture up.

Spread the wraps with the same cheese and garlic spread. Put half the mixture in the centre of each wrap and add half a sliced fresh tomato. Wrap up and zap in the microwave for 30 seconds, lettuce to garnish. I eat it with a knife and fork. My posh sandwich was lovely.

Thought I would show you this cauliflower, look at the size of it. I know, you can't expect much when it is a Value item, but flippin eck, it's miniscule. Original price 79p, I paid 20p. I love cauli, enough here for two meals, mixed in with other veg.

I dug my spuds up yesterday, a very disappointing crop. Probably my fault because I didn't water them enough, and my compost might be tired out now and need feeding, and the weather hasn't been good for veg growing this year. Never mind, better than a slap in the face with a wet flannel, ha ha.

On the other hand I have a good crop of runner beans and courgettes, I'm eating these every day. Every little helps. It's a shame that my cucumbers are late, there are loads of flowers on the plants, but I fear we may run out of summer before they have a chance to produce. I live in hope and keep watering them.

Got to go, time for Rocky walk. Enjoy your Bank Holiday Monday. Toodle pip.


  1. I enjoy reading about your food shopping. Its the one financial area I have the most control over and enjoy to get it down. I'm still yellow stickering (thanks to you) and got my weekly shopping to £30, which is for a family of 4. The freezer is full and I will have plenty left over for next week. The last week of the month is 'using everything up' week which is fun and challenging and gives us a true reflection of what we actually spend over the month. It's nice to start a month with empty cupboards and freezer to stock up again. I find it hard now to pay the full price for anything, it all seems vastly overpriced. I'm a diluted washing up liquid girl too. It's amazing stuff - why pay more.

  2. How many tomato plants did you have? I had two pounds from two volunteer potato plants. It was four meals. Next year, I am going to purposefully grow potatoes. I read about planting potatoes in buckets. I may try that.

    Today, I was thinking I must try to spend less this next month! The only store in town that has marked down produce has produce that smells like it it rotting. I cannot handle that. The stuff from the dumpster is actually fresher!

  3. Replies
    1. Washing up liquid is dish liquid e.g Joy or Dawn. Agree with you about Bank Holiday's Ilona-i always stay at home-today i'm decorating my kitchen.

  4. Lovely veg! We have 3 tomatoes on our plants, but as you say, we'll probably run out of summer before they ripen.

  5. I feel the same about cleaning products. I don't like chemicals, especially being spread around the house and I think they're very unnecessary too - as you say, a bit of washing up liquid does the job and water itself is pretty effective! We also have separate budgets for food and toiletries/cleaning products.

    I'm getting caught up after our time away and am going to check out the maps and locate the layby you mentioned! My dad grew up in that area and I have been there though I can't say I'm very familiar with A628!

  6. My "cleaning products" are also very simple and inexpensive, and - except for laundry detergent, which I have found worthwhile buying - all made with various combinations of a few ingredients: water, baking soda, vinegar, dish detergent, grapefruit essential oil (because I love the smell of citrus, not because it's needed), and rubbing alcohol. It is amazing how far a few drops of this or that will go, in terms of cleaning. I have a bottle of bleach and one of ammonia on hand, for when I need to disinfect (bleach) or clean something truly mucky or resistant (ammonia), but those bottles last for years. My favorite all-purpose cleaner is a spray bottle with half water, half rubbing alcohol, a few drops of Dawn dish detergent, and a few drops of essential oil. I use it for everything from cleaning the stovetop to dusting the bookshelves. Spraying a mist into the air and letting it fall before sweeping the wooden floor of the screenporch really helps keep the dust down; plain water will do this also, but I like the very faint smell of grapefruit out on the porch.
    I hope your trips work out, and the weather cooperates, Ilona. Comfortable walking weather is a treat!

  7. Just been looking at your food diary, have you ever had your diet assessed? You seem to have very little protein and calcium on a daily basis. Where do you get your vitamin B12 from? This isn't stored well by the body and we should top it up daily. Eggs are a good source but you don't seem to have one of those every day.
    It's fine to say you're healthy now but you could be storing up big problems for your future, osteoporis is just one. Although there are small amounts of calcium in some of your diet (eg.chickpeas) have you thought about supplementing with a calcium supplement? Also a vitamin/mineral supplement. As our bodies age we need to ensure an adequate supply of the essential vitamins and minerals, zinc, iron etc.
    You do seem to get through rather a lot of peanut butter! Very high in fat.
    Donuts, cider, crisps? We all like a treat sometimes but it shouldn't be at the expense of healthy life giving food.
    Sorry if this seems like a criticism of your diet but my work is nutrition and just by looking at your shopping lists I saw very visible lack of sufficient nutrients.
    I get lots of people of a similar age to you being referred to me for diet assessments after blood test results and they nearly all lack the basic requirements for essential nutriments. After two months of healthier intake they're assessed again with amazing results from the lab tests.
    I rather suspect you'll think 'mind your own business' and tell me your diet is already healthy but if you're unable to have an assessment there are many good informative books out there. (unfortunately there are many rubbish ones too!) Patrick Holfords (Institute of Optimum Nutrition) books are good and very informative and he's recognised as a leader in his field.

    1. I'm well into wraps at the moment. Lidl's tortilla ones cost 67p for six. I did a post recently about how I make them into chimichanga by enclosed the filling in a square parcel and dry frying them so they're toasted. The possibilities are endless.......!x

  8. Hi Ilona! I'm hoping to have a day or two camping before we go off to Uni too. Only somewhere in Cornwall but it would be nice to have a cheap break before going off to Uni! I only have a 4 day window at the start of the month before we move though, so I don't know how lucky we'll be!! There's always Wales when we're in Bristol though I suppose!

    I am going to try using white vinegar solutions and baking soda for cleaning when we move. Did you see Barbara's cleaning episode of Superscrimpers ages ago, where she could use those two items for pretty much everything? Apparently you can stick the really really cheap value cola down the toilet to clean them too! Haha!

    Glad to see I'm not the only one with pants potatoes (although yours look far more respectable than mine did!!)

  9. I must say I disagree with the obove as it seems to me that your diet Ilona seems very healthy to me ! Stacks of veg and hardly any junk food and mostly non processed and home made !

  10. Bryallen gave me a giggle...I hate cola...even the smell makes me want to lose my lunch..I can't think of anywhere better for cola than the toilet!
    Jane x
    PS Really looking forward to your next hike.

  11. My cucumbers are just the same. I've only had one off 2 plants so far.
    Love from Mum

  12. I am losing weight, so I went to, a site Lance Armstrong has. I think it will track nutrition, not just weight. Not sure. Anyone could look there for information. Of course, you don't need to lose weight! But, it is for all sorts of nutrition.

  13. Tortillas are yummy :) Homemade tortillas are super cheap to make and require only a few ingredients. They also freeze well. You can also fry them up in a little oil and shake some cinnamon sugar over them. DELISH! Love reading and seeing your is a DELIGHT!

  14. Looking forward to your hike. I hope you have better weather than my cycle trip this year. It tossed it down a lot of the time. Good luck.
    Brenda in the Boro

  15. Your food budget is fantastic and you eat so well.

    Really looking forward to following your next coast to coast.

    Sft x

  16. Hi Iona,
    I have been reading your blog for a while and have been marvelling at your thrifty ways. I was going to buy some tortilla wraps at our local supermarket last night, but the cheapest were 2 pounds forty pence (NZ$5.47), and things are never reduced to bargins like you find. The chickens were NZ 16 or 8pounds per chicken. Food is very expensive here, and I am lucky that I have a job, the thought of me retiring is terrifying.

    Julie Q

  17. We had a pretty poor potato crop this year, I grow them in bags. Apparently food prices are supposed to rise due to all the wet weather we have had and the drought in the USA. Veggies such as potatoes are being imported and prices are things such as bread and pasta are supposed to be increasing!!! Take care x

  18. Our spuds are all a bit on the titchy side too.

  19. Hi Hilary. Thank you for your concern about my health. I haven't had my diet assessed, and I have read Patrick Holfords books, he talks a lot of sense. I get them out of the library and I am constantly referring to them. I mentioned him in a blog post on 31st March 2009.

    You picked out donuts, cider and crisps from my shopping lists. There are numerous mentions of vegetables and fruit. It's true I do eat naughty stuff ocassionally. I only buy donuts and crisps when they are very cheap (reduced) as a treat, and not very often. I buy a four pack of cider and it sits in my cupboard in case I fancy one, maybe one can every two weeks. The peanut butter I put in my store cupboard, I have six jars in there at the moment, I don't need to buy any for a few weeks. If I have a Tesco money off voucher and need to spend a certain amount to use it I will stock up on food items that will keep. I don't eat them all straight away. There are some items which I never run out of because I plan ahead.

    I used to take suplements but gave up on them. I expected to feel crap afterwards but it didn't happen, I feel great.

    I think there are millions of people in this country who are on very poor diets, I see them in the supermarket with all kinds of rubbish in their trolleys. I am happy with what I put in my trolley. There is one thing I will say about my diet though, I could vary it a bit more.

    Thank you for your comment.

  20. Hilary s comments were interesting; did you give up supplements because of the cost ? You might be able to get them on the NHS. The trouble with bone thinning is that you dont feel it and so it is easy to think it is not happening. I dont think Hilary is concerned about the junk food, it is the things that might be missing from your diet that add up over time. The amount of exercise you do helps but if you can get a free bone scan on the NHS and a free medical to assess you overall health I would definitely go that route. You are relatively young at the moment but problems can crop up in your late 60s and 70s.


Trolls will be deleted. Please include your name in your comment, or choose the 'Name' option and put your name or whatever you call yourself, in the box. Thank you.