Tag: Saturday

Planning meals around the food hoard

Earlier this week I wrote a post about how shocked I was at the amount of food I had in the house that I wasn’t using. It was written following a discussion on how we would behave if there was a blackout.  I thought that I probably had enough food to survive a short while and decided to do a food audit to see if there was a blackout could I survive.

I was shocked at quite how much I actually had in the house. Here is the food list and my mission is to plan meals around this, limiting my food shopping to staples and ingredients needed to make a meal from what I already had. This week is all about using left overs, store cupboard ingredients and cooking on a budget. More Jack than Jamie.

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Tuesday

Lunch was leftover items from pizza night and ham and bread. No spending on lunch today.

I made carrot soup using up stock and most of the carrots and Apple and Sultana crumble with ingredients I already had.

Dinner

Pasta bake made with pasta I already had, left over passata in the fridge and onions and peppers. I only bought Steak Mince that day, used 250g of 500g. The rest will be used on Saturday.

Spending £3.69. Expensive mince, yet I think it is worth it as goes further as there is so little fat. It fed three adults today and will do so again on Saturday. Just over 60p each for a portion of meat.

Wednesday

Lunch, sandwiches with existing ingredients.

Dinner

Sausages from freezer (10 Black Farmer) with frozen peas and fresh carrots and courgettes from a neighbours allotment. I bought bread, potatoes and baked beans from Aldi.  The bread will last the week for sandwiches and the potatoes will last about a fortnight.

Spending £3.23

Thursday

Lunch was ham sandwiches for two of the family. I had some of the leftovers from last night sausages.

Dinner

I used up the curry kit, chicken breast and prawns, with rice. This meal was made with ingredients I already had, so no spend on meals for those of us eating the curry. I bought butter, milk, a pizza (as one of the diners doesn’t like curry and quite honestly I couldn’t be bothered to make two different meals) and tinned chopped tomatoes for the curry. I ended up using fresh tomatoes that were very ripe instead.This fed two of us and there is a leftovers for lunch on Saturday.

Spending £4.26

Today (Friday) is fish and chips night so no cooking and no shopping.

Lunch for me was left overs of the sausage meal. the others had sandwiches and soup.This fed three for dinner on Wednesday plus two smaller lunch portions for me so feeling very frugally smug.

I am getting to the end of the meat supply in the freezer so it may be a veggie week ahead. Lots of lentils and rice.

If anyone has any meal ideas based on my food list, please share.

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Spendy Sunday redeemed by a thrifty Monday

Short post today (and a bit of a rant)

The flu bug or whatever I have has decided to come back with new nasties. Week 4 and I am now really fed up of being ill. If I had to add in the cost of all the medication, prescription and over the counter I had bought, I would be struggling to live on the IDS £53 let alone on £1 for the Live Below the challenge. As it was all these costs were in March and now I am just powering through it with the help of Diagnosis Murder re runs. So no drugs denting the budget in April so far.

I don’t think this governement factored in the cost of being sick if you are on a low income, because even if you get free prescriptions, the cost of over the counter drugs can be very expensive. The form you have to complete to apply for reduced medical costs such as prescriptions is so very long and complicated, it is quite frankly off putting. The threshold for eligibility is relatively low, so I suspect a lot of people don’t bother to apply. Another benefit that potentially thousands of people are not claiming.

Back to the subject of a month of monitoring spending

I am living on water which is keeping my food bill down today. Which is just as well as we did spend rather a lot on Saturday. Then on Sunday the OH announced that he needs a new satnav. His old one (I am guessing it is about 7 years old) finally stopped working. He does a lot of driving in his job and claims he would be lost without one. As he is on a temporary contract and working for a cash strapped library service, this cost has to come out of his own money. We did some cost comparisons and Argos was the best price at £80. It is a local shop within walking distance of home so at least we kept to shopping locally. Yet is was another big chunk out of our limited budget.

We treated ourselves to brunch too

On Sunday we had the not very pleasant task of sorting out the bedroom of my mom who passed away in January. She was, it would be fair to say, a bit of a hoarder. To brace ourselves we went to Warley Woods cafe for a small breakfast each. At £3.99 each including a mug of tea (and the small breakfast is actually quite a big one), so we were working on a full stomach. This cafe is owned by a local person, so not only were we spending our money locally, we were spending it at an independent. There is free wifi there and views of the golf course and the park. A very pleasant place to visit, at any time of the year.

No other spending though

All other food shopping had been completed on Saturday our total spend was £88 on Sunday, which for us is a lot for one day. No shopping today (Monday) as we will have left overs from Sunday Lunch for supper tonight. Lunch today for the rest of the family has been leftovers from Saturday. While the spend on Saturday was well over budget, the food is stretching over a few days. I am hoping this will balance out the budget over the next three weeks. Time will tell.

Budgeting for unexpected purchases

If we were having to live on a restricted budget, we would never have had the spare cash to buy a satnav and the other luxuries such as new clothes and a bottle of wine with supper. And what if a major appliance or the central heating boiler broke down? Where do people who earn the minimum wage or live on benefits find money for such emergencies? They can’t afford to save for a rainy day or a holiday.

Being grateful 

I am lucky as I have a small amount of savings and my husband works so we can, for now, find the money for a sat nav and the occasional brunch. Yet there have been times when we have not been so fortunate. A few years back we lived on what was then Income Support for over a year. We had no car and no holidays. What saved us then was the generosity of our parents. And not everyone has parents who can or would help like that. It was horrible being dependent on hand outs and worrying if we would lose the house. Every day I count my blessings. I am grateful that we can afford to eat well, treat ourselves to a brunch, but I never forget what it was like to have to have no money in the bank and pay for my gas and electric on a pre pay meter. 

And on taking a gamble

On Saturday we frittered away a tenner on some horses. We had some wine with supper. If I was on benefits I am sure someone, somewhere would accuse me of being a typical product of the welfare state, wasting money on booze and bookies. Well, I will let you in on a guilty secret. Many years ago, while being totally dependent on the Welfare State I spent my last pound on a lotto scratch card.

I won £50 and have never bought another scratch card again.

Zumba with Buble and on being judgemental

I have never been to a Zumba class before and noticed there was one in my local church hall. I have put off going because I was worried that I’d be the oldest and fattest and least fit, that it would be full of yummy mummy types fitting in a class while the children were at school and I would feel old. The real reason of course was I was too lazy and full of self-pity to get off my fat arse to go.

Yet I needed to inject something into my routine.  I either seem to cook, clean or post on Facebook, and occasionally blog. Also, it is cold and I can’t afford to heat the house with just me in it, so off to Zumba; ‘Wi’ Kay’ I went. Yes that is what her banner said. Which nearly put me off.

Anyway Kay is a diminutive, slim, fit Scottish lady with loads of energy. The average age of the people in the class is about 65. I was possibly the youngest there. My heart sank, then I thought, even I may be able to keep up with this bunch. How wrong I was.

Most of them were in their beige period, with sensible beige shoes and elasticated trousers in that odd green beige colour that the man on Bearwood Market sells.

Everyone was friendly and came up to me to introduce themselves. Yet, I still thought, what have I done? I used to dance at the Pineapple Studio in Convent Garden. Has my life been reduced to dancing with wannabe Fizzogs in a dusty church hall? I could barely give my name, yet alone maintain eye contact, I didn’t want to engage with old people. Not today.

Then they got out these and tied them round their waist.

bell 2I felt scruffy standing there in my saggy jogging bottoms and trainers. These ladies had transformed into gyrating Golden Girls.

As we started dancing I thankfully recognised some of the steps from my ballroom dancing lessons back in 1967.  When I was 8. I can still Cha Cha Cha you know.

Some of the other moves I recalled from aerobic classes in the 1980’s.  And boy did my hips did ache. I couldn’t co-ordinate my arms and feet and so I looked a bit like Michael Flatley on a bad day, with feet moving madly and arms stiff by my side.  I started counting the steps hoping that would help.

I was used to an aerobic instructor shouting out directions, but Kay danced and we were to follow her. Everyone except me knew the steps and it was all rather flirtatious, with hips a swaying and come zither looks. All I could think was, do they dance for their husband on a Saturday night, and does he notice? Or would he rather watch Match of the Day? These grannies mean business.

Once I relaxed, it did get better. No one was watching me or judging me, I could see that the class was well structured, with a warm up, followed with a mixed tempo like interval training. The Tango was interesting as it is a very ‘sensual’ dance and my did those ladies like a bit of sensual.

The music was a mix of upbeat flamenco, pop and Bhangra. And Michael Buble, Save the Last Dance for Me.  I just could not equate all this with the average age of the room. Then it occurred to me, these were children of the sixties, they invented the twist and rock and roll. They were the same age as Paul McCartney and Rod Stewart.

To be honest my feelings were very mixed, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in a class with older people. Yet if it had been all young fitness freaks I would have felt worse, I know. My self-esteem and confidence has taken quite a bit of a bashing and I know that by being Active and Connecting as per the Five Ways to Wellbeing may will help improve my mental health. Being with young skinny girls in leotards may not be what I need to feel better about my body image. Who am I kidding anyway, I meet all the criteria to go on a Saga Holiday!

And you know those grannies rocked with their sparkly belly dancing scarves. They were connecting, being active, taking notice, learning and were giving. They were smiling and laughing, it was me with the long face and slumping shoulders. I was grumpy old women who would not engage.

During a break the only other young person (like my age) came up to me and asked if I had been to a Zumba class before today. She was genuinely surprised when I told her it was my first time. ‘But you have danced before?’ she asked. ‘You know all the steps and everything’. And that was all I needed to start letting go of my inner crap and start enjoying myself.

At the end of the class the grannies  took off the scarves, put their cardies on and wrapped up in their beige coats, went back to being the woman that you would not notice in the supermarket queue. Yet for that hour they had been an exotic dancer and had enjoyed every minute of it.

I was ashamed of myself and my negative attitude and age stereotyping. Who am I to dismiss anyone, make judgement on any person? I hate it when young people only see the old woman in me and here was I, guilty as charged.

Later on that day I happened upon a conversation on twitter commenting on a discussion at #commscamp13.  I was able to contribute to that conversation and I hope,  that to an extent made amends for all the judgemental, depersonalisation I had been guilty of earlier that day.

  1. @dosticen Customers, consumers, service users, stakeholders are all terms being bandied about. Not heard citizen once

  2. @siwhitehouse @dosticen I hate ‘service user’ as used by someone talking about people living with dementia recently #commscamp13

  3. @travellingcoral I’m not surprised. It’s horrible and de-personalising (that’s a word, yeah?) #commscamp13 @dosticen

  4. @GeorgeJulian I assume you meant “What’s wrong with using the word people” & not just “what’s wrong with people” @travellingcoral@dosticen

@siwhitehouse hee hee, I’d read it the latter way first! @georgejulian@travellingcoral

 3:48 p.m. – Feb 26, 2013 · Details

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  1. @dosticen @siwhitehouse @travellingcoral Oops, this cld be why I’m not in comms 😉 I meant what’s wrong w the term ppl, but similarly… 😉

  2. @dosticen @siwhitehouse @GeorgeJulian people that’s the word, whether we are old, young, ill, well, why other words used?

  3. @travellingcoral @dosticen @siwhitehouse Language is chosen for a reason, is powerful stuff. Depends on level of passivity want to encourage

Getting to the airport on time.

Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport
Image via Wikipedia

It is just over two weeks until I embark on the round the world trip with my husband, Phil. I have had two major tasks to complete this week for the trip and they have been most frustrating. One is to book a campervan in New Zealand, (and that’s another blog) the other is to book transportation to the airport.

We are flying from Heathrow (the dreaded T5) at 11.30 am on a Sunday. So decisions had to be made as to the best way to get there in plenty of time for the flight.

The options were:

Go by train: According to  Trainline http://www.thetrainline.com and National Rail Enquiries http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ it will take 9 hours to get there. This is because there are no trains after midnight on Saturday to Euston, and the tube to Heathrow doesn’t start till 8am. Neither site factored in Marylebone to Paddington for The Heathrow Express. No early Sunday trains from Birmingham to London so that was crossed off the list.

Stay with my daughter in Wandsworth: this would involve a train and tube journey on Saturday, getting up crack of dawn to get to Paddington or booking a taxi, lots of modes of transport. I love my daughter, but traipsing across London on a Sunday morning was not ever going to happen.

A Heathrow hotel:hotels at the airport are very expensive and the those a distance away would involve more buses and taxis and are not cheap either. None included breakfast in the price.

National Express http://www.nationalexpress.com : which is what we are doing. This is after two frustrating days to find out how to book a return journey with outward and return more than 3 months apart. I could go on for ages and indeed did on Facebook, however the short version is that you have to book an ‘open jaw‘ ticket, that is not available on their web pages, nor do they tell you about it on their website. You can book singles, two singles an open return or a return, but not an open jaw. Instead you spend 10p a minute on their booking line. Fortunately the lady who took my booking was lovely and very helpful, which meant that I didn’t vent my rage on her. Just on Facebook and Twitter.

This was not necessarily the cheapest option;  indeed internal flights in Australia are cheaper. However, a combination of trains, taxis, tube and buses on a Sunday morning gave me palpitations. This is one bus, early in the morning, there will be no traffic and it drops off at T5. Less to go wrong. I hope.

We have to catch the coach at 4.30 am from Bearwood, to get there in ample time for our flight. I will be in the departure lounge for over 3 hours.  Coming back we have 3 hours at Heathrow as we are due to land at 6am from Bangkok, and there is a coach at 7 am which would be cutting it fine, or 9.30. Hopefully there is free wifi so I can vent my rage on Facebook and update my blog. You have been warned.