Tag Archive | cooking from scratch

A Week Of Organising…..

This week has been a busy week in the ‘Thrift’ household for me.  It has been a week of catching up with some of the jobs that I just haven’t had time to do over the last few months.

The first Snowdrop at my allotment

The first Snowdrop at my allotment

.

As I said previously, the last few months have been quite stressful for myself and Mr Thrift and unfortunately my usual routines have gone out of the window and leading up to Christmas, I felt exhausted.  This has certainly had a knock-on effect, as I have noticed we have spent more and more money at the supermarket on products that I would usually make myself.

I bought washing powder for the first time in ages (and my goodness isn’t it expensive) and more dishwasher tablets than I would usually buy.   I have also been buying vegetables that I would normally just go and dig up from my allotment over winter (cabbages, carrots, leeks, kale, brussells etc) and I have been buying bread and pizza’s to save time…..but this has all had an effect on the bank account and I’ve got to say we also started to get out of the routine of sitting down as a family for our meals.

SAM_3696

.

“So onwards and upwards”…. it’s time for a change!

So I decided it was time for me to establish a new routine (as best I can at the moment) and start to go back to basics again.

I started this week by making my own laundry liquid.  It took just 15 – 20 minutes to make and it will last me approximately 70 washes and last time I worked it out, it cost me just £1.75 to make (far cheaper than buying it).  The recipe is here if you are interested in how I make it.

SAM_0282

I then set about making some dishwasher liquid using the soap nuts I have in my cupboard.  Again it is cheap and quick to make and it washes well.  However, I do use a supermarket dishwasher tablet every third wash as I find this stops the grease from building up inside my dishwasher.

Again the recipe is here if you are interested in making it.

SAM_9521 SAM_9523

SAM_8021

.

I then gave my food cupboards and pantry a really good clean and tidy and discovered that I have more things in them than I remembered:

SAM_0325SAM_0329SAM_0322SAM_0327

I even found some Christmas cake that needs eating up , that I had completely forgotten about:

SAM_0330

.

I also took stock of what I have left in my freezers too (this took quite some time as I have three large freezers).  I found I still have a lot of fruit and vegetables still to be used up, which is good news.

SAM_0167 SAM_0166

One of my three freezers

.

I then looked at my stored crops and I found I still have a big pumpkin and lots of butternut squashes to use.  As it’s January and they have been stored a while, I will need to think about using them up soon:

SAM_0352

Outside in my vegetable storage boxes I also still have potatoes waiting to be used and a few apples are left too:

SAM_0350 SAM_0149

So I have discovered that we still have lots left to eat in my cupboards and storage.

.

I then decided it was time to keep organised and on top of things:

Firstly at the end of last week I started to hang my washing out in the morning on a regular basis again.  It seldom completely dries outside in winter (unless it is windy), but it does partly dry which means I can usually just air it inside to finish it off.  This saves money as I don’t need to use the tumble dryer so much.

SAM_0353

.

An Organised Shopping List:

A long time ago I typed up a big list of products I regularly brought from the supermarket, so I could compare prices (this was before Mysupermarket.co.uk existed, which now does the hard work for you).  I decided to update this list and print out a few copies to hang on my pantry door.  This way I can quickly mark down which products I need to buy when I next go to the shops.

SAM_0328

.

Batch Baking:

I then set about batch baking some chocolate brownies ready to freeze for my daughters lunchbox (it’s easy to just pop a frozen brownie in her lunchbox each morning and it will be defrosted by lunchtime):

SAM_8572

 I also made some rolls for the first time in ages and they tasted so delicious, they were eaten up really quickly.

SAM_8472

.

Meals From Scratch:

This week I have finally started to cook my meals from scratch again.  We have also started to have some nice puddings too (even though they were very quick to make, especially the microwave chocolate sponge) :

SAM_0300 SAM_0277

So all in all it has been a good, positive week for me at home.

.

Other bits and pieces:

After my blog post last week (Problems With Our Rescue Dog Judy), I had some lovely comments – thank you all for your kind words and encouragement.

Mrs Yub said something that stuck in my head:

“Your wee doggie has a different look in her eyes in the last picture from what she had in her first! I can see the difference. It’s a calmer, more confident look”

So I dug out a photograph which I took of Judy when she first arrived home with us in October from the RSPCA and compared it with a photograph I took this week.  I can really see how much she has changed and how she looks so much better now, so thank you for pointing this out to me as I just hadn’t noticed this.

  In the first photo she looks very thin……

Her first week with us in October

Her first week with us in October

….but I am glad to say that Mrs Yub you are right…I think she does look a lot happier and healthier in the photograph that I took this week:

This week

This week

Her training is still going well and I am starting to have some nice, longer walks with her now she isn’t reacting quite so badly at other dogs.  However, the walk to and from the park is still hard with her as she is still so scared of the buses, motorbikes and lorries on the main road outside the park……but we are working on this slowly with lots of treats.

.

Finally I want to show you something my daughter made.  It was her friend’s birthday and she wanted to give her something special, so she made her some cup cakes and iced them beautifully.  She didn’t have a box to put them in so she used wrapping paper to decorate an empty sweet tub too:

SAM_0317 SAM_0318

SAM_0319

I think it looked great and I would love to receive this birthday present.  I was very proud of her!

.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back next Friday at my usual time.

Advertisements

Struggling To Make Ends Meet?

(*** Don’t forget I will be back on Monday 11th November 2013. ***)

.

.

On Wednesday the BBC reported:

“The number of people relying on food banks to survive has tripled over the last year, according to new figures.  The Trussell Trust, which runs 400 food banks across the UK, said it handed out supplies to more than 350,000 people between April and September this year”.

“The Trussell Trust said the problem was so severe that some people using food banks have started to hand back items that need cooking, as they cannot afford to use the energy.  It also forecast that rising energy prices this winter are likely to see more people choosing between heating and eating.”

“However the government has taken issue with the report and says – The Trussell Trust itself says it is opening three new food banks every week, so it’s not surprising more people are using them,- said a government spokesperson”.

You can read the whole article here.

SAM_2329

On Wednesday, Radio Leicester also asked me to give my views on the situation.  There were lots of people calling in and texting.  Quite a few people were saying that they think food banks were being used when they didn’t need to be, so that people can continue to drink, smoke, have Sky TV, holidays etc. instead of buying the food they needed.  I really don’t know if this is true or not, but I should imagine that there are always going to be some people that take advantage of a situation.

SAM_2390

The whole discussion made me think back to a 2012 survey where the ‘Save The Children’ charity estimated that there were 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK and predicted a steep rise in the numbers in years to come.

At the time the figures surprised me and I looked further into this and found that when my children were younger, we were actually classed as ‘living in poverty’ with the household income that we had.   Looking back I would never have classed ourselves as living in poverty and our children never went without food or clothes.

We chose for me to stay at home to look after our children, but we never realised this put us under the so called ‘poverty line’.

SAM_2280

.

So what did we do when we were struggling to make ends meet?

.

When we decided that things had to change, we were lucky as we didn’t have debts to clear.  We desperately wanted another child and we knew we couldn’t afford this and carry on the way we were living, so we made changes.

We looked at the luxuries that we had (rather than the necessities) and decided if we could possibly cut back on them or give them up completely.  In those days there wasn’t mobile phones, laptops etc, so we chose to give up our car, as this saved us the most money.  I can’t say it was easy at first, but we managed it, thanks to shopping deliveries from Iceland and Somerfield (things would have been different now, as you can get deliveries from most of the major supermarkets).

SAM_2500

Over the years that followed, I made changes to how I shopped, prepared food, cleaned etc. and began to meal plan. I went from a ‘packet mix queen’ to cooking from scratch.  I took on my first allotment and began to grow our own fruit and vegetables and as you know, I now have four allotments.

All the above things developed over time.  Unfortunately, the common sense things that ‘grandma’ knew just weren’t passed down to my generation, as the 80’s and 90’s were affluent times. It took me a long time to work out how to cook things from scratch, with no one to tell me what to do, but I did it and I’m proud of myself.

SAM_2655

We are lucky to have the internet these days and that is why I am so passionate about writing my blog.  I want people to know that cooking from scratch and growing your own vegetables IS easy when you have someone to show you, which is why I try and include as many photographs in my recipes and when I write about what to do in the kitchen garden each month.

SAM_2380

There are still things that I want to explore to save more money and I am always looking for new ideas.  This is never a chore now, as I find it such a challenge.

What I have learnt along the way will stay with me for a lifetime, as I now enjoy our lifestyle.  I have found that simple living  is a ‘lifestyle change’ rather than a way to cut back ‘when the chips are down’ and I actually love living this way.

SAM_2384

Thank you for reading my blog today.

I am going to take a break from blogging for three weeks, as my daughters are off school next week and I want to spend some time sorting my house again, after the builders have finished.

So I will be back on Monday 11th November 2013.

 

  

“Simple Living In The Modern Day”

This week I watched the first episode of the new series of the ‘Great British Bake Off’ (BBC Two on Tuesday Evenings).  I don’t watch many programs on TV, but I enjoyed the last series so I made a special effort to watch it.

For those who have never seen this program, the contestants bake the most amazing cakes, biscuits, breads and desserts that all look stunningly perfect and Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood taste and judge their heavenly creations.

At the end of the program I made a comment to my youngest daughter that I would love to bake as well as the contestants on the program and she replied “you always bake a perfect chocolate cake”, which is not quite true but it made me feel nice and gave me a warm feeling inside.

I then began to think about ‘baking’ and ‘cooking from scratch’….

SAM_2816

‘Afternoon Tea’ at our house

I enjoy baking and cooking meals from scratch and I feel it is part of living a ‘simpler life’.  I love the contented feeling I have when I see my family happily eating the food I have produced for them.  The meals I cook are not always perfect and I sometimes have the odd burnt bits on top, or some cakes may slope to one side, but as long as the things I cook are within our budget, healthy, taste nice and fill empty stomachs, then I have achieved what I set out to do.

I know most people just do not have the time to cook meals from scratch or even ‘want’ to cook meals from scratch, but I enjoy it and love the challenge of feeding my family healthily on a tight budget, which is why I took on my allotments.  My allotments enable me to provide my family with organic fruit and vegetables, which we wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford.  It took me a while to get into the swing of growing my own food, but now it is second nature and it is something I really enjoy.

SAM_2380 SAM_2763

Between 1st January 2011 and 31st December 2011, when I was cultivating three plots (I have four plots now), I worked out how much money I saved by growing my own fruit and vegetables during the year.  When I picked any fruit or vegetables I weighed them the same day and worked out how much they would have cost me if I’d bought the ‘value’ (not organic) version  from my local supermarket and made a note of this on a spreadsheet.  I picked the cheapest priced fruit and vegetables to work the cost out, as this is what I would have to buy if I didn’t grow it myself, even though my vegetables were grown organically.

By the end of the year I had picked and used £1454.53 of fruit and vegetables and this didn’t include things which you just can’t buy from the supermarkets e.g. patty pans, kohl rabi and fresh gherkins.  So I decided it definitely pays to ‘grow your own’.

SAM_7235 SAM_7209

By growing my own fruit and vegetables I know that no pesticides have been used to grow them and by using basic ingredients to cook from scratch, I nearly always know what my family are eating.

SAM_2357 SAM_2693

Cooking from scratch is a skill I learnt over time, by reading cookery books, blogs and looking up recipes on the internet.  Years ago my friends used to call me the ‘packet mix queen’ as I never cooked anything myself.

SAM_2811 SAM_2813

I learnt to cook because I had to, as money was so tight, but it’s something I really enjoy doing now.  All the recipes I use are not difficult and can be made easily.

When my confidence grew,  I followed this by learning how to preserve my fruit and vegetables, use leftovers and then I started to batch bake.  Finally I learnt to make my own laundry liquid here and clean using old fashioned cleaning methods, using lemons, olive oil and white vinegar, which avoids using harsh chemicals.

I have written about old fashioned cleaning methods here.

The above things all helped to save money.  I am still learning new things as I go along today.

SAM_2500

My blog title today is ‘Simple living in the modern day’:-

I think my generation have the best of both worlds, as in the past cooking from scratch and cleaning would take all day to do.  We now have the advantage of modern day appliances that make cooking and cleaning much easier.  We have bread makers, microwaves, washing machines etc.  which all make light work out of the things that would have taken our ancestors a long time to do, but we also have the benefit of their experience and knowledge too.

SAM_3635

Through reading blogs on the internet I have realised that there are a lot of people out there that want to live more simply in our modern day world and I’m hoping that simple living blogs like mine will help people to take their first steps towards this way of life, enabling them to leave empty ‘materialistic’ lives behind them.

SAM_2355 SAM_7224

We started living this way because of necessity (we chose to live on one wage so I could stay at home with our children).  My children are now 15 and 13 years old and yes I could have gone back to work a long time ago, but we chose for our life to continue in the same ‘simple’ way, as we think this way of life is the best way of life for us.

The journey hasn’t always been easy, but now we can see and reap the rewards.

SAM_2384

Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday at 4pm.