Husbanding my resources (oh the irony!)

I’m cutting back. You’ve heard of Extreme Ironing? This is Extreme Economising. But also – I’m determined to keep on eating healthy food. This is my way of taking control. So I’ve made myself some rules – here they are

Rule 1 – using up what I’ve already got. I’m working my way through everything that was lurking at the back of the cupboards and the freezer. I won’t be buying alcohol until I’ve used up what I already have – I’ve got gin, a few beers, port, sherry and, bizarrely, a bottle of advocaat. That should keep me going for a while. Too much alcohol isn’t good for you anyway – so two or three nights a week (and then only one glass) makes sense. Not that I was a major player when it came to drink anyway (that night in Brussels with the cocktails notwithstanding…)

I’m shocked at how many things in my kitchen were out-of-date! A quick word about dates on packaging. Best before dates are simply that – the product is still edible after the date, just no longer in its prime. Use by dates should mean the product shouldn’t be used after that date – but I’ve found that food often is perfectly acceptable after the use by date. Use your eyes, use your nose – if it looks OK and smells OK… I bought a big bag of potatoes from Aldi – they were 39p because they were bang on their use by date. A week later, and they’re still OK.

Rule 2 – planning ahead. I have a routine. I’ve worked out a plan that hopefully makes sure that I have a balanced and varied diet. My Rubber Chicken deserves (and will get) a blog post all of its own. I have fish at least once a week. I eat salads, and veggies, very little red meat, very little processed meat, not as much fruit as I should (I’m working on that), milk, cheese, eggs and yogurt. I have real butter, wholemeal bread, I avoid refined carbs, I have 3 proper meals a day, a lot of tea, the odd cup of coffee and an occasional biscuit. Be right back…

Rule 3 – writing a shopping list (and sticking to it). I have a notepad in the kitchen, and when something gets close to running out I jot it down. Then I go through the cupboards and the fridge and the freezer to see what’s what, and what needs using up. It irritates the hell out of me if I have to throw food away. I compare my plan with what I’ve got in, and I only buy what I need. And I only buy what I need. But I also keep an eye out for the bargains. It only counts as a bargain if I would have been buying it anyway (like my 39p potatoes). If I buy something I don’t need, just because it’s cheap, it’s not a bargain – it’s still just something I don’t need.

Rule 4 – writing everything down. Ev. Ry. Thing. Nerd alert!! I have a spreadsheet. Every week I write down how much I’ve spent on food, itemised so that I can see where its all going. I use the spreadsheet to work out the monthly spend, the average weekly spend, and what that works out at as a daily average and even per meal (currently averaging £15.75 a week, £2.25 a day, and 75p per meal). I did warn you. But here’s the thing – I’m not depriving myself. Not at all. On a Sunday I have roast chicken dinner, with at least 2 veggies, gravy (I make the best gravy) and homemade stuffing. I have pizza and a glass of something on a Friday night. I have breakfast every day. I have wholemeal bread, and free range eggs.

Rule 5 – shopping at Aldi. Other supermarkets are available, but this one happens to be within walking distance. So I walk. If you’re only spending £15, even at Aldi, it’s unlikely to be more than a couple of bags full!! Once upon a time, when there were two of us and before Aldi opened in the town, I was spending about £75 a week at one of the big supermarkets (and having to drive for 20 minutes for the privilege!). Now I’ve got it down to less than £70 a month!!

Rule 6 – it’s OK to have treats. I have a glass of something alcoholic on a Friday night. And a Saturday night. And sometimes on a Sunday night. I’m working my way through the stores – I’ll let you know when I get on to the advocaat… On a Friday night I have pizza. Once a month I have a takeaway. Takeaway portions are huge – so I eat half and freeze half. So next month the ‘takeaway’ will be from the freezer. (A word of warning – freezing and re-heating rice can lead to the growth of Bacillus cereus, which can lead to food poisoning. Don’t do it.) I buy a packet of biscuits every week (when they’re gone, they’re gone – I don’t go and buy more!). I meet up with friends for coffee – but I get the small filter coffee rather than the large chai latte, and I don’t buy the cake. The important thing is the meeting up with friends, not the coffee.

I know this isn’t sustainable in the long term – I’m still using up the stores and eventually I’ll have to start buying wine again! But I’ve surprised myself with how long I’ve been able to continue it for – nearly three months now. Any suggestions for more extreme economising are always welcome – but please don’t feel sorry for me. It is what it is – and there are a whole lot of people out there who have it a lot worse than I’m having it.

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21 Comments Add yours

  1. anglosvizzera says:

    Btw, fruit is overrated. Read Zoe Harcombe’s stuff and she’ll explain why veg wins all the time over fruit. Aldi and Lidl are our favourites – we have to economise as my husband was made redundant a few years ago and he chose to have his work pension early at 55, and didn’t want me to work either – so I’m living on my inheritance from my late mother and hoping it will last till I’m 66. However, if it doesn’t I’ll probably end up down on the till at Sainsbury’s – my past professions will probably not be of any use at my age!

    We have ‘gin Tuesday’ and ‘gin Friday’ and only drink wine at the weekend (usually). We wait for money-off vouchers from Waitrose etc and then buy our grass-fed meat and organic veg from there, using the hand scanner to get it just to the £40 mark, and get £8 off. Even better when there are special offers and reductions. I use http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk to check the prices of things and set up alerts for those things that are more expensive (eg gin and grass-fed organic meat) and then go and buy them.

    I did use an accounts book when I was first married to my second husband, split our income into monthly allowances for ‘groceries’, ‘utilities’, ‘car’, ‘savings’ etc – good idea to allocate some of your money into ‘savings’ so that it builds up for any emergency. Then I would go through all the outgoings at the end of each week and check that I was on track and look at potential savings. At the end of the month I would be pleased if there was a little bit left over – sounds ‘sad’ but was a good exercise in knowing where the money went 🙂

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  2. Thank you so much for your kind comments.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. SisterStay says:

    I admire your cost-saving measures. You don’t have to be skint to be careful; it just makes sense. I’m a LIDL girl myself and I like buying second-hand stuff on eBay, be it books or fashion or whatever. We throw away way too much so let’s at least try to recycle as much as we can.

    Like

    1. I like that – you don’t have to be skint to be careful. I would go as far as to say that the reason I’m not skint is because I’m careful!!

      Like

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