Not Counting My Chickens

I’ve started my new job, and the lodger has signed the contract!! Things are definitely heading in the right direction. No actual money has changed hands yet (apart from the deposit from the lodger, which isn’t mine to spend anyway), but I think it’s time for a review of how I’m Husbanding my Resources. It’s now five months since my husband left – and I haven’t starved yet.

I’m determined to keep up the economising until the money is safely into the bank account (and beyond). Don’t count your chickens… many a slip twixt cup and lip… and so on.

These are the Rules I set myself right at the beginning –

Rule 1 – use up what I’ve already got. Well, I’m still doing that – but there’s isn’t much left. Slowly but surely I’m having to start to replace things. I finished the last of the jam a couple of days ago, so that’s on the shopping list for tomorrow. There’s still a bit of alcohol left – half a bottle of gin, a bottle of Pimms, some ‘heavyweight’ stuff like port and whisky, and of course the advocaat. I’m thinking I might buy a bottle of wine with my first pay packet when it arrives… I’ve had to start buying mixers (Indian Tonic Water at Aldi is 32p for a 1 litre bottle, so that’s OK). I’ve still got plenty of herbs and spices, cooking oils ditto, I’m on to my last jar of pickle (most of the contents of one shelf in my kitchen turned out to be pickles and chutney!!). I don’t think I’ll ever run out of washing powder – how on earth did I end up with three family-sized boxes of the stuff!!

Rule 2 – plan ahead. Even more important now, as things are getting busy round here. I still stick to my routine pretty much – but I swap things around if I need to, and with the current hot weather I’m not doing a full-blown roast chicken – instead I cook it in the cooler part of the day and have it cold with salads. I have fish at least once a week, red meat once a week, a meat-free evening meal once a week, and pizza once a week.

Rule 3 – write a shopping list (and stick to it). Oh yes. But then, this was something I did Before anyway (well, I always wrote a shopping list – I didn’t always stick to it…). The list lives on the bench in the kitchen, and as things run out I jot them down. I then plan the meals for the week and jot down anything I need for them. And I always check the back of the fridge and make sure things get used up before they go over. There isn’t much you can’t chuck into a pan of soup!!

Rule 4 – write everything down. Yes, still doing this – recording everything I spend on food, every week. My graph is looking great!! My averages have increased a bit (as I knew they would, once I’d used up what was in the store cupboard). Current stats are: weekly average spend on food (including a takeaway once a month, the occasional coffee out, and pizza on a Friday night) £17.58 (up from £15.75); daily average £2.51 (up from £2.25); average per meal 84p (up from 75p). But still not bad. Based on the £50 a week I was spending before my husband left, I thought about £30 a week would do the trick. So I’m chuffed to bits to be averaging just over half that!!

Rule 5 – shop at Aldi (other supermarkets are available). Yes, of course, why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t anyone? I had to take a bottle of milk back the other day – very unusual. The use by date was 17th July, and on the 13th I made myself a cup of tea in the evening, and it tasted everso slightly iffy. By the next morning it was definitely ‘off’ – but I was working so couldn’t take it back. It was a 4-pint bottle, and I’d only used about half of it, so I wasn’t going to just pour it down the drain… Took it back on the Monday (still 2 days within date), and they swapped it for a new one with no difficulty at all, and lots of apologies from all concerned. I’ve been shopping at Aldi for 3 years, and never had an issue before. The milk thing was just a blip, I’m more than happy with the quality of the food and you absolutely can’t argue with the prices. I try to walk there when I can – in fact I only take the car if I know I’ll be buying something really heavy like cat litter, or if it’s chucking it down with rain.

I’ve been living like this for five months now – and I truly don’t feel deprived in any way. It makes me wonder what I used to spend all the money on Back Then. The benefits of knowing that I’m being as careful as I can be with my money outweigh any feelings of being hard-done-by if I don’t have a glass of wine on an evening or a chai latte when I’m out.

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