PLEASE NOTE . . . . .

If you want to leave a comment and you don't have a Google account or similar, can you please choose the 'Name' option and put your name in the box, before you send your comment. Instructions are on the side bar. All comments coming in under Anonymous will be deleted. Thank you.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

If you've fallen off the spending wagon, now get back on

Hello. Thanks for all your comments on yesterdays post. It's nice to see we are singing from the same song sheet when it comes to spending at Christmas, and we don't get sucked into the mayhem all around us. Have your families around for Christmas, visit the relatives, but don't throw any food away. Use it up the day after, or the day after that, or freeze it for future use, but don't chuck it. I'm sure you are all clued up to using up leftovers. 
Pam has said in a comment that she will be looking to save a bit of money on her food shopping in the New Year. She is planning a year of buying as little as possible,  and her spending will be roughly based on the way I shop. I hope you do well with that Pam, so here is a reminder of how I shop. 
I go once every 2 to 3 weeks to the big Tesco, timed to arrive about 7.30pm for the yellow stickers. I also like to time it if possible to use the money off coupons I get in the post. £3 off a £20 shop. The value of coupons you get will depend on how much you normally spend. 
About once a week, sometimes I stretch it to 8 or 9 days, I go to town. I visit several shops, the discount stores where I know I will get the best prices for what I need. I look out for the special offers, but only buy if I need it, not just because it has a bit knocked off the price. If I find something that has been reduced by quite a lot I will stock up on it because I know I will use it. 
In town I will park my car in the free for 2 hours car park and walk to the places I want to visit. There are some shops I go to every time, Home bargains, B & M, Poundland, and there are some I pop into to check for any offers. I mainly buy pet food, coffee, sugar, Coffee Mate, bleach, wash up liquid,  because it's cheaper than the supermarkets.  
Here is a run down of my dry cupboards. I keep everything tidy so I can see at a glance what I have. Imperative to know this before you go shopping. I price things up as I put them away so I know how much I should be paying next time I buy it. Tins, jars, bottles, packets of dried fruit and nuts. Rice, pasta, couscous, spices. 
These are a few purchases from the Cash and Carry. I know not everyone has one of these, but just to let you know how I actively search out a bargain or two. Mayo, tartar, and sweetcorn relish, all 20p each. Linseed 30p, I put these in the mini chopper with nuts and seeds to go on my bran flakes. The Special K was 50p, when this is gone, it's gone. That's the thing about the Cash and Carry, they only get so much in. It's usually out of date, sometimes by a few months, or occasionally only a few days.
I have been drinking Nescafe for years, a long long time, but recently I have discovered Carte Noire, and I like it, but it's more expensive. So what I do is mix it 50/50. Still tastes good, and it stretches it a bit further. You can do that with a lot of things, mix the cheaper version with a more expensive one. Say you have a big family and you want to warm up some rice pudding and one member doesn't like the cheap Value stuff. Open a tin of Ambrosia as well and mix the two together. Same with baked beans.

Other shops I look for bargains are, Poundstretcher, they reduce out of date stuff  but you have to search for it. Wilko, they are generally expensive for what I want, but they sometimes have an offer on cat food. Farmfoods, I skip through there, scanning the shelves for prices and buy if I spot a bargain.

I shop in Aldi but only get a few things there if it's a week when I am not going to Tesco. I buy bran flakes, nuts and dried fruit, yogurt, veg, cheese, pet food, cider 4 pack. I don't use Lidl as it's up the other end of town. Sometimes I visit the Asian shop when I want spices.

I don't take a shopping list with me, it's all in my head. If I find I have forgotten something I manage without it, I don't make another trip to get it. I keep an open mind when shopping, price is the first thing I think of when choosing what to buy, not what I fancy eating. If it is cheap, I fancy it. I will buy supermarket own Value labels and ignore the more expensive branded labels. I can walk by a shelf full of delicious looking puddings, cakes, and other fancies, and go for the real food which is going to fill me up rather than just put pounds on my hips.

Not everyone will have time to shop as I do, but you can still save a bit of money by being more selective in what you buy. Ditch the junk, the sweets, crisps, cakes, biscuits, fizzy drinks. I call these treats, and to be purchased only now and again. Stock up when something is on special offer, buy enough to last you until it comes on offer again. If you are on your way home and passing a supermarket, try and time it to about 7pm. Have a look if there are any yellow sticker bargains. Orange stickers in the Co op. Don't go shopping when you are hungry, or you will buy crap just to satisfy the hunger. Take a list with you if you can't be trusted not to impulse buy. If you only want a few items, pick up a wire basket, don't use a trolley. As the basket gets heavier the more you will be inclined to give up and go to the checkouts.

Make shopping a contest between you and the shops. They want you to spend willy nilly, and you need to beat them and only buy what is a good price and what you really need. Get yourself a good dose of willpower, drag yourself away from the ready meals and fattening junk rubbish and concentrate on what is good for your body and your purse. A few pennies saved here and there is much more satisfying than being ripped off.

Tonight's dinner is a bowl of veg stew, or should I say, was, I've eaten it. Yellow sticker veg from Saturday night. I also bought a pot of guacamole for 16p, not realizing that it is quite spicy. Too hot for me, so it went in this stew. Ages ago I bought a packet of ground rice thinking it would be a nice change to make a pudding. I used it once but got fed up with stirring it and it went lumpy, so instead of throwing it out, I now put it in my stews to thicken them. Works a treat. This was lovely. So, if you have anything in your cupboards, packets or tins, and you no longer like it, try adding it to something else to make it more palatable. I made a big pan of this stew, I will freeze the rest in margarine tubs, because I need to eat more of the fresh veg tomorrow.

Well me hearties, thanks for popping in. I shall be here over Christmas. If you are not going to be around, we'll catch up in the New Year. Toodle pip


  1. We also drink instant coffee, Tasters Choice by Nescafe and then there is never any waste. We actually enjoy the taste and got rid of our regular coffee maker years ago. I stock up when price is absolute lowest. I also drink earl grey tea and find it really goes on sale once per year so stock up for at minimum a years worth each time. I like the idea of writing the price on things. I do write the date I open things like flour so I can see how long it takes me to use up larger items.

  2. I love looking at the insides of your cupboards, it makes me feel organised and productive. I have to say I am jealous though as we don't have Aldi, Lidl or any of those more affordable shops and our yellow stickers go from something like $10.99 down to $ real bargain drop at all.

  3. One year when the children were younger but old enough, we decided to go to a local pub for Christmas Day meal. It wasn't a huge posh affair just a 3 course meal and it seemed like a good idea for a change. BUT the worst thing was next day and there were NO leftovers, I had to cook anyway! we've never ever done it again because the best thing about cooking a Christmas dinner is NOT cooking for the next 3 days! Nothing will get wasted here that's for sure

  4. Merry Christmas Ilona. Some great tips. We dont have a Tesco and the local Morrisons have very little yellow sticker food. But I do plan and buy very carefully.

  5. I do use coupons off of items that we use (usually in the Sunday paper here) and take advantage of special price reductions on the sale items offered each week if it is something we buy and use.

    Nothing much gets wasted here. I love your stew and do something similar with a little stew meat added.

    Happy Christmas to you and the little pets that live at your house.


  6. I've been following your tip about writing the price on things when you buy them and it really works. I have become so much more aware and now if it isn't a bargain/on offer it gets left on the shelf.

    Hope you have an enjoyable Christmas.

    1. Me too. The best tip ever. I also do it for other things like toiletries as well as putting a date on when the are opened so I know if something needs using up first. If I buy anything knew for the house I put a price and date on the instruction manual so I can compare its value the next time I need to replace something. Thanks Ilona for this tip I don't think I have seen it anywhere else but here. Debbie

  7. Lovely post, could you say what is an average day of meals is for you please. Do you not eat sweets, chocolate or puddings at all? I know you eat rice pudding, what about bread? thanks I plan to copy you if that's ok, I live alone, and don't eat a balanced diet now the children have left home. I can't be bothered to cook for one. Thank you.

    1. Eggs are always a good option for when living along! You can't beat scrambled eggs with grated cheese on top for a hearty dinner :-)

    2. Scrambled eggs with anything are fantastic. I love two scrambled with mushrooms. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. Interesting that you are able to buy Old El Paso. I haven't seen the corn relish here in Louisiana. I look for bargains, as you do. I'm fortunate to have over 8 groceries within 2 miles of my house and 4 drug stores. But, I rarely find items marked down as much as you do. Have a wonderful next few days. Leslie from New Orleans (QueenVictoria)

  9. great post, I need to make notes.
    no real mark downs here like those yellow stickers of yours.
    hope you have a lovely Merry Christmas.

  10. Dear Ilona, I would like to wish you a lovely Christmas, with lots of good health, hope and happiness... and peace to everyone. Best wishes Greetings Maria x

  11. I have spent more than intended this year, partly because we'll have had 2 celebratory meals with daughters visiting at different times from various parts of the country. And I have a fair amount outstanding on the credit card from making online purchases,but with savings I had put by throughout the year all has been paid for and the card will be cleared with no interest paid, when I receive this month's statement. I've already sat down with pen and paper and started plotting out my 2016 budget. I know you don't make a fuss on the day, but have a Happy Christmas in your own way. Looking forward to more of your wonderful posts in 2016. Love, Helen xx

  12. A really good post, and lots of tips there for folk wanting to save money in the New Year. Writing the cost of items before putting them in the cupboard is a brilliant way of imprinting the cost in your mind. I don't do it for the stuff in my cupboards but I do tend to do it with the things I wrap, box up and put into the freezer.

    Wishing you and all your little furry companions, all the very best for Christmas, and a peaceful and Happy New Year. xx

  13. Just wanted to wish you a happy Christmas Ilona! I don't comment much but read every day. I wish you a peaceful Christmas time and a happy and healthy 2016. Susan from Perth x


To put your name at the top of your comment click on 'Comment as' the small down arrow, a drop down menu will appear. Highlight Name/URL, click on that, and put your name in the box. Ignore URL. Click on continue, then publish. Thank you. Nobody needs to be Anonymous, everyone has a name.