I've enjoyed reading other people's ways of saving so I thought I would write down some of mine too. It would be very easy to go on and on as ideas creep into my mind whilst writing down others. As I have a bit of a butterfly mind, they are not particularly logical in order but here goes anyway:
1 THINK before you buy anything. Is this a want or a need? If it is a need, can it wait a while or not?
2 If it is a need, then is the item on offer somewhere? Internet comparison sites and google can help here whether it is food or non-food. If you are buying this needed item on the internet, don't neglect sites like Quidco and Topcashback. They give cashback which mounts up to a little bit extra by the end of the year.
3 Before you buy clothes or other non-food items, do look in your local charity shops several times just in case what you need is on sale there. If you need a tool or gadget, then can you borrow it from a friend rather than buy something that is not going to be used very often?
4 I shop for food knowing what I have in the cupboards/fridge/freezer and I also have a vague menu plan in mind. That way, I buy what I need to fit in with what I already have but I can also be flexible enough to swap one item for another that is on special offer and cheaper than the one on my list.
5 I put some items that I don't buy very often, like Marmite for example, on my shopping list when I open the last jar/pack. That reminds me to check for offers so I don't pay full price unless there hasn't been an offer on that item by the time I run out. If I find a really good offer, then I will buy a supply to last several months or even longer. When Tesco had an offer of 3 for the price of 2 on dried fruit, I bought enough sultanas to last us a year.
6 If it is possible, always check the price per 100mls/100g in the supermarket. Don't assume that the larger "economy" size is automatically cheaper. A smaller size on offer may well prove cheaper per 100g so read the labels on the shelf. I had to buy baked beans for a church meal recently and was required to buy a top brand rather than my usual own brand version. At the supermarket, I found that the individual tins were on offer but the 4-packs were not so that 4 individual cans cost just over half the cost of the 4-pack.
7 The cheaper own brand items are usually on the bottom shelf at the supermarket whereas the most expensive ones are placed at a level where they most easily catch the eye. Always look around the shelf before choosing which brand to buy.
8 Reduce, recycle, repair, reuse.
This bears repeating over and over again. And I love things that help the planet and
9 Don't neglect the pennies - they do
mount up. There are always a couple of opportunities in a year to save (ie not spend) £100 or more when it comes to buying insurance or a necessary large item for the house. However there are literally thousands of opportunities to save 10p or even 5p. Make use of all these opportunities and the pennies will mount up to a sizeable sum by the end of the year.
10 Learn some very basic sewing skills. It is not rocket science to be able to sew a button back on a garment. I spotted that my shoe laces were starting to show signs of wear. I spent 5 minutes just reinforcing them with some black thread and using a basic in and out running stitch. Nobody can actually see the stitching because it is hidden in my shoes but the laces will last another year or two now. A new pair would have cost over £1 so that is one way of meeting the criteria in the title : )
11 Reuse things for another purpose - my hand towels go over a rail in the bathroom when in use and everybody tends to dry their hands on the end bits while the bit over the rail remains unused. I cut off the worn ends and hemmed the middle section so I now have a new kitchen towel and two floor cloths from those worn ends. I also patched my cotton oven mitts with the best bits from a very elderly tea towel. When fnished with, cotton items like these will end up in my wormery.
12 Can an item be mended easily rather than thrown out? Many things can be put back together with a bit of glue or some tape and a few minutes work. My son was once heard to state that just about anything can be mended with a bit of thought and some duct tape : )
13 Grow your own. Not everybody has the time or inclination to work an allotment but most people can grow a pot of herbs on the window sill. How about a tray of lettuce seedlings too? Ours (lettuce and herbs) are outside but in two tubs beside the back door so it is not far to go even in the rain. The lettuce don't need to be as far apart as the books say because they don't grow to ful maturity. I pick a leaf or two off each plant when they are big enough to eat but still young. Lovely! And how about some pea shoots too? Just soak overnight and plant whole dried peas in the same way as the lettuce. They'll be ready to eat in just a couple of weeks.
14 You don't have to spend lots of money on pots for growing things - just recycle and reuse what you have. Cut off the larger bottom section of a milk bottle; use yoghurt tubs; use butter/marg tubs. For larger seed trays, I use the large, flat tubs that mushrooms come in. Just use a skewer or something sharp to poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage. If the trays are going by an indoor window, then they won't mark the sill if the trays are used double. I put the tray with the drainage holes inside one without holes but with a few flat pieces of polystyrene packaging in between so that the top one drains into the lower one and not on to the window sill. If the trays are particularly flimsy then I use them double anyway because two together is so much stronger than just one.
15 By extension, I use the clear plastic tubs that fruit often comes in to keep drawers tidy. Used double, they are great for keeping things visibly in place and to stop the drawer becoming full of mere clutter.
16 Don't stop at just recycling little plastic pots. Be creative! I have a wigwam of runner beans against the fence in my garden but in the drum from my old tumbledryer which comes with drainage holes pre-installed : ) The beans are raised up and there are lots of ground level flowers around the base. It looks pretty and the slugs don't like it at all which is a major bonus.
17 Compost. If you do any gardening beyond a couple of pots then it is worthwhile having a compost heap. After all, it is turning a waste product into a free useable product.You can buy a plastic "dalek" but four pallets wombled from a skip and wired together at the corners will serve just as well. Just make sure to add a good variety of items (including torn up or crumpled newspaper) and not just lawn clippings.
18 We also have a wormery. I started with a dustbin that I found in a skip and driled holes all round at the bottom so that it can drain and the worms won't drown. They are little red worms that are sold as live bait from fishing shops or can be bought from somewhere like www.wigglywigglers.com
. My little worms chomp their way through all the teabags and coffee grounds and the fluff from the vacuum cleaner and anything else that was once alive like bits of cotton or torn up newspaper. They turn all this into high grade compost that is so rich it needs to be diluted with ordinary soil before use.
19 Cook from scratch. Not only will you know what you are eating but it is usually cheaper. Why pay somebody else to prepare something and to add lots of things that you don't want there in the first place? Here are several websites which are a good place to start with for economical (and simple) cooking. Lots of frugal or simple living blogs post really good recipes that are easy to make.
This last site was brought about by a group from Money Saving Expert (www.moneysavingexpert.com
) and is excellent. MSE is a tremendous resouce for being frugal in every sense and is definitely worth visiting.
20 Always use leftovers. If you can't use them in the next couple of days, then pop them in the freezer. Virtually everything can end up in a soup or a stew. Don't throw leftovers away or you are literally throwing money away.
21 Planned leftovers - for example, if you are having potatoes with dinner today, then it costs no more in fuel to cook some extra to make the mash to top tomorrow's cottage pie. It just takes a little thought to save fuel in this way.
22 Stretch the expensive parts of meals where possible. Meat is an obvious example. A pack of mince can be stretched a long way by adding a handful of porridge oats and some extra water/stock or a handful of lentils or some grated carrot or some already cooked beans or tinned beans (rinse the sauce off if using baked beans) or maybe a combination of some or all of these. Some leftover mince could mean an extra portion in the freezer or even a whole extra meal. I usually cook and stretch a whole pack of mince at a time and make it into soup/stew/pasta sauce and freeze the portions that are not needed immediately. I do this kind of thing with other kinds of meat too. And making pies with homemade or bought pastry will stretch meat a long way too as will cottage pie.
23 Since I freeze portions of pasta sauce, then I always have something that I can pull out of the freezer, thaw in the microwave and serve with pasta. If dinner has to be made in a hurry, for whatever reason, maybe because you are tired or feeling ill, then it really pays to have the makings of a few meals in the cupboards and freezer. A few tins of beans,tuna and sweetcorn, packets of pasta and such like can go a long way towards helping out at times like that.
24 Along the same lines of saving fuel when cooking - always fill the oven when it is being used. At least bake some potatoes which can be sliced and fried/grilled tomorrow. Or do an extra pan of roast veg which can reheat beautifully in the microwave. Can you use a steamer and boil the potatoes in the bottom at the same time as steaming the veg on top? A pressure cooker saves both time and fuel and I found mine to be a worthwhile investment.
25 Bake! There are lots of easy recipes around. Look on those websites in 19 above for some inspiration. Homemade cakes are MUCH nicer than shop bought ones. And if you make a cake and you don't feel it is up to scratch, pour custard over it and serve it as pudding. The family will love it - just don't tell them it was meant to be a cake in the first place.
26 If you have run out of bread and haven't the time or inclination to make yeast bread, then a simple loaf can be made by mixing together 2 cups of self raising flour and 1 cup of milk (or milk and water mixed). 1 teaspoonful of baking powder mixed with the flour will help it along but is not essential if you haven't got any. Just mix lightly and turn it on to a floured board or plate. Turn it around until it becomes a neat, rounded loaf shape that is dusted in the flour from the board or plate. Put it on a lightly greased baking tray or a lightly greased cake tin and bake at 400'F/200'C/gas 6 for 25 to 30 minutes or until nicely browned and cooked through. This doesn't keep incredibly well but what is not used at the next meal will toast nicely. You don't even need scales for measuring - just a mug or a cup will do.
27 If you use the above recipe but use a smaller cup to measure, then the mixture can be cooked in a frying pan so you don't even need to heat up the oven. Just pat the mixture out flat to the sides of the pan or make it into little flat "cakes" and cook over a medium heat with a lid over the pan. When they are nicely brown on the bottom, turn them over with a spatula and cook the other side which will take less time. These are really nice served with homemade soup and if you like, a pinch of mixed herbs added to the dough makes them really tasty.
28 Vegetables and fruit, whether bought or home grown or picked wild need to be used well. I don't peel potatoes or carrots but just scrub them well. And as my rabbit eats the carrot top for me, not even that is wasted (she also likes my apple cores - generous, aren't I). Slightly old veg gets made into soup. Fruit that is getting a little old to eat fresh, is stewed and served usually with yoghurt. I love the leaves from sprouts and cauliflower and brocolli, especially if I have enough to serve as "mixed greens" with dinner. If you have a bunch of spring onions and, like me, prefer the green top to the white part on your salad, then cut off the green top to use and put the white part with the root into a small jar of water and it will grow again 3 or 4 times. This extends the life of my bunch of spring onions enormously. I also make all our jam and marmalade and most of our pickles using fruit and veg that either we have grown or had given to us by people with a glut of something or picked from the wild, such as blackberries.
29 Cut down on the use of gas and electricity wherever possible. Use low energy bulbs and turn off lights if they are not needed. If you have gas CH then don't use it if it isn't needed. We don't use the timer any more because we are not always home from work at a regular, time and we were wasting gas by having the timer set. When we get home, we are rushing round feeding animals and doing jobs and preparing the meal. It is time enough then to switch the CH on because the house is warm enough by the time we are sitting down to eat and need the heat. However, if we are going out again, we don't turn the CH on but just just use the halogen heater to warm the room we are eating in. Those halogen heaters are great as they are not expensive to buy and cost about 20p per hour to run and the replacement bulbs are fairly cheap too.
30 My opinion is that the most important frugal tip is just to think about what you do and how you do it. Don't just do things out of habit but think - can you do it in a different way with less impact on the planet and on your purse? Do you need to do it at all ? Can you tweak it a little bit if you can't make a major change? Just THINK.
And just think about all those savings adding up and what you can do with them and about that little bit more of the earth's resources left for your greatgrandchildren to enjoy too.
Labels: food, growing veg, saving pennies