Tag Archives: moneysaving

Money-saving tips

9 Jul

The lovely folks at Moneysupermarket.com, one of my favourite money-saving sites, have asked me if they can guest post some of their hottest money-saving tips here. Those of you that know me well, know that I *love* getting a good deal. I like to equate almost every saving going, into the next little treat. A pedi, a bottle of bubbly, a night out with the girls. The savings all add up. My favourite pages on their site, are the shopping page, and the vouchers page which are well worth a look if you get the chance.

Saving moneyinahurry

So, over to Rachael at Moneysupermarket.com.

Being a parent can be very expensive! This is why it’s important for mums and dads to save money where they can. The recession has had a negative impact on many families’ finances, and many of us are finding that we have less and less money to spend on ourselves at the end of the month. We at moneysupermarket.com are experts at saving money and love sharing a few of our ideas to help you make your money go that little bit further…

Food shopping

For many people, the weekly grocery bill is a major expense, especially if you have a large family. Food prices have increased dramatically over the past few years, and with many incomes being squeezed, it’s more important than ever to make savings where you can (a mummyinahurry speciality!). There are the obvious tips like never shop when you’re hungry and always stick to your shopping list, but sometimes that’s just not enough. To make real savings on your weekly shop it’s worth considering shopping in local independent shops, such as the butchers and fruit and veg shops. Meat from the butcher tends to be cheaper (and tastier) than from the supermarket and it is likely to be from a local source. Local suppliers means less food miles too, so great for the environment too. Your butcher is unlikely to use fancy packaging, which means they can pass those cost savings on to you. Greengrocers work on the same principles, so you’re more likely to get more for your money when you shop locally. And if you walk  to the local shops, rather than driving to the local supermarket, you will save on fuel, and get some free exercise (who needs to pay for fancy gym memberships?).

Another option, which is a Mummyinahurry favourite, and the stalwart of many time-pressed parents is to shop for groceries online. Not only is it easier to stay away from those calorie-laden treats and refrain from the smell of freshly baked bread, but there are always an abundance of vouchers and voucher codes available on the internet for most major supermarket chains. An internet shop can also help you stick to budget, as if you overspend, you can simply edit your basket. Much easier than trying to edit a trolley full of groceries at the supermarket!

Utilities
It is shocking how expensive necessities such as gas, electricity and water can be. Rising energy costs have eaten into family budgets everywhere. One quick and easy way to make savings is to  compare energy providers online. Often, switching can save substantial sums, or you can use the threat of a move to get your current provider to give you a better rate. Another way to save money on utilities bills (and gain ‘eco-points’) is to be more aware of the energy you’re using. You can buy an energy monitor which tells you exactly how much energy you’re using in real time, allowing you to see which are the most expensive appliances to run. Even small changes such as turning off all electronic appliances when they’re not being used, can lead to noticeable savings.

Vouchers
Thrift is chic. Money-off vouchers have lost their stigma and have become increasingly popular during the course of the recession. Everyone loves a bargain, and vouchers give you the chance to buy things you may have been looking at anyway at a discounted price. Whether you’re out and about or shopping online, you’ll more than likely be able to find a printable voucher or voucher codes to use on that product. Before purchasing anything, do a quick search on moneysupermarket’s vouchers channel to see if you can get money off, or if not, consider looking for an alternative product or brand who offer discounts on their merchandise. We recommend spending a few moments printing off the vouchers for your regular stores and restaurants and keeping them in your bag or purse in case you need them while you’re out and about, so you never miss out on an opportunity to save some cash, (or treat yourself to a glass of wine or dessert with the savings).

Sell things you don’t need
Ever received a Christmas or Birthday present that you don’t use or like? Dig out all of the items that don’t use/wear anymore and sell them. There are countless online trading stores you can sell items on, such as the online auction house Ebay which allows you to sell or buy items, usually at a much lower price than in the shops. Sell that unused footspa that your aunt bought you for Christmas, along with that dress you’ve never worn and earn yourself some extra cash, for a rainy day treat.

Organise your direct debits
Keeping track of your bank account can be tricky, especially if you’re always on the go and buying things for the house or the kids. Its may be worth considering altering your organising all of your direct debits so they come out of your account around the date that you get paid, then after they’ve been taken out you will know that the money left is yours to spend. It may not be possible to get all direct debits to come out on the same day, but aim to get them taken out of your account within one week. Alternatively, set up a second account. Have your salary paid in to the account that your bills get paid from, then transfer a set amount into your spending account, operated on a debit card. Then when you check your balance, you will always know where you stand.
For many ‘mummysinahurry’, 24 hour online banking is the answer to that ‘can’t get to the bank in time’ dilemma. You can post/email/phone and fit your banking around your busy life. As mummyinahurry would say, whats not to love?!

Advertisements

Happy Eggs and Fabulous Fishcakes (Day 3 of The spendthrift’s challenge)

20 May

Keeping a close and slightly anxious eye on the challenge budget, last night I decided to bring the bread maker out of retirement, and before I went to bed put in the usual flour, yeast and water and left it to work its magic while I dreamed of a night of unbroken sleep. It was just a dream!  

This morning I descended the stairs, half asleep, nose in the air like the bisto kid,  inhaling the irresistable aroma of freshly baked bread. Every time I use the bread maker I am struck by its genius, and wonder why I don’t use it all the time.  

Breadmaker Bread

 

Dippy Egg and Soldiers

 

LUNCH – Dippy Eggs and Soldiers  

The fresh bread was a helpful head start to our quick and thrifty lunch of ‘dippy eggs’ (soft-boiled eggs to the uninitiated). This is one of my favourite midweek lunches with the children and is on our menu at least twice a week. Quick, easy, nutritious. A sure-fire winner for any busy person.  

The Egg Cooker

 

I am, I confess, a bit of a kitchen gadget collector, but in my defence, I only keep the things I use. One of my favourite and most used pieces of kit is the egg cooker that I bought from Lakeland last year. I am eggstatic about it! While I know that in theory, it doesnt take a genius to boil an egg, I used to always get distracted and get the timings wrong. Since the egg cooker found a home here we always have perfectly cooked eggs.  

Now for a little word about the eggs. For eggs that I am poaching, or soft boiling, or putting in a salad, I favour those from Clarence Court above all others. We usually have their pretty pastel coloured Cotswold Legbar eggs, or alternatively Burford Browns. They are unrivalled by any other brand I have tried. They have the most incredible deep orangey yellow yolk. They tend to induce a fit of nostalgia, reminding me of the eggs my Gran used to serve up in my childhood.  

I prefer to use freshly baked bread (from a bakery or the breadmaker) for the ‘soldiers’. With butter. Lots of butter.  

Smoked Mackerel Fishcakes

 

   

DINNER – Smoked mackerel fishcakes  

My fridge was looking very bare this morning, and I was starting to suffer from ‘almost empty fridge’ anxiety. A quick chat with a good friend, Rita, gave me the inspiration for using up the half  bowl of mash left over from Monday. Smoked mackerel fishcakes. Cheap, tasty, and full of good stuff.  

A quick dash up to Sainsburys after lunch found me in possession of 252g of mackerel for only £1.87. Could I be any more thrifty?!!  

I can honestly say I have never made these before. I had gained a rough idea of the framework for Rita’s recipe, then adapted that to suit the fridge contents. It took about 10 minutes in total to make them, then probably another 10 minutes or so to fry them in the pan.  

INGREDIENTS  

Fishcake Ingredients

 

  • 560g cooked mash
  • 250g smoked mackerel
  • 10g wilting chopped parsley (the fresh unwilting kind will do just as well!)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 dessert spoons chopped chives
  • 2 dessert spoons crème fraîche
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • breadcrumbs (from freezer). If you don’t have any, or are short of time, you can miss these out
  • 1 egg, beaten with a dash of milk
  • I almost forgot. I had half a cooked salmon fillet from yesterday left over so I added that in too)

METHOD  

I get the kids to wash their hands while I am gathering the ingredients together. They take a while and it gives me a chance to get everything out before they start bickering!  

The mix

 

  1. Take skin off fish, and using fingers check for bones. Then rub the fish between your fingers until it flakes.
  2. Put fish in large bowl with mash (or split between 2 bowls if you have 2 kids to save arguments)
  3. Mix the mustard with the crème fraîche, then add and mix to the potato/fish mixture
  4. Combine all the additional ingredients, tasting as you go
  5. Shape into patties, then dip in egg and coat with breadcrumbs
  6. Fry in a little oil and butter on a gentle/medium heat for 5 mins each side.

This made 11 medium-sized patties. Enough to fill a few hungry stomachs.  

I served this with broccoli and cucumber for the kids. Mr Mummyinahurry and I ate ours with the remains of the spinach and beans from Monday, some beetroot (the vacuum packed kind) , a couple of lemon wedges and a generous dollop of mayo.  These freeze well so you can always make a double batch and freeze them ready for a quick supper another day.  

Fishcakes, bean salad and beetroot

 

The children loved making these, and despite my reservations about the overly fishy taste, they literally licked their bowls clean when we had finished the prep, then ate all their dinner and asked for seconds.  

So, day 3, a great success. But the kitty is not looking so good, and I am wondering if I can really do this….  

  

 

Supermarket Sweep 4 May 2010

4 May

Where did the last week go?  Here it is then, my weekly round-up of  supermarket best buys.

Starting in alphabetical order with Asda. This week you can stock up on your breakfast basics at bargain basement prices.  Activia yoghurts, 4 for £1, Tropicana Smoothie – mango, passionfruit & pineapple £1 for 750ml, and 2 for £3 on weetabix cereals, and 2 packets for £1 on Warburtons crumpets. They are also offering lunchtime deli wraps for £1 a packet.

Lidl.  Love it or loathe it you can’t knock their prices. This week there are the usual unbelievably low prices on a range of vegetables, the best one being cauliflowers at only 49p each. Add some cut price cheddar and you are halfway there to a cauliflower cheese, 500g Pilgrims Choice extra mature cheddar is only £2.99. Childrens favourite spread, Nutella is down to £1.25 a jar, and if you fancy a warm weather treat for the freezer, they are offering Bounty, Mars and Snickers Ice Creams at an ice cool £2 for a packet of 8.

Morrisons, are offering every mums’ emergency staple, Birds Eye fishfingers, at £1 for a packet of 8 and the obligatory (in this house at least) Heinz Ketchup for £1 (570g squeezy size). They also have lunchbox fillers Petit Filous Frubes down to £1 for a packet of 9, and emergency child bribe of choice for many, cadburys chocolate fingers at 74p a packet (these have also been found to work well on grown-ups).

If you are shopping at Sainsburys this week, take advantage of this weeks deals and invite a friend for lunch. Serve one of a selection of Sainsburys own brand soups at only £1 for a 600g carton, complemented with the Taste the Difference Gruyere and Garlic Fougasse, half price at £1.09. While you finish up with a home made cappuccino, and a selection of Lindt Chocolate bars (only £1 for 100g) the dishwasher can clean up for you with Finish all in one lemon tablets  down to £4.49 for 45 (10p a wash…..come on, at that price who wouldnt use a dishwasher?).

Tescos are also offering half price Finish dishwasher tabs, and Jacquart Champagne for only £13.49 a bottle. They have also added their Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne at £25 for 2. I haven’t tried their bubbles recently, but it usually attracts favourable reviews in the press. They also have some fantastic offers on a wide range of fruit and veg, the best ones in my book being vine ripened tomatoes at 99p a pack or satsumas at 99p a pack.

Last but by no means least, is Waitrose. Aside from 1/3 off Sirloin and Rump Steak there is no change from last weeks best buys, so I have included a link back to that post here.

Happy Shopping!

Cut price champers…offer ends 4 May

28 Apr

Although the recent sunshine has put a spring in my step the past week or so, as with life, the British Summer is bound to be unpredictable.

There is however, one thing that always brightens my mood. A glass of perfectly chilled, crisp dry champagne. Now couple that with cut-price bargain and I am halfway to heaven! Imagine my delight when I walked into Sainsbury’s this afternoon and discovered they are doing one of their fabulous 25% off all wine and champagne offers. The only catch is that you have to buy a minimum of 6. Oh, the hardship. I sometimes like to buy a few half bottles when they are on discount, as it doesn’t feel quite as decadent for a midweek treat.

The best deal on budget bubbly is the Sainburys own brand extra dry champers (already down to £14), and with the discount ends up at £10.50 a bottle. If you are happy with New World bubbles there is Jacob’s Creek , or Valdo Prosecco which you can pick up for £5.25 a bottle including the discount.

If you want to order online, or just to have a look at what’s on offer, you can look online at

http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/sol/index.jsp

À votre santé

Pesto Presto

27 Apr

Hands up those of you that get your pesto out of a jar? For years I used to buy the slightly muddy green coloured stuff that’s sold in the supermarket for less than a cappuccino. It’s quite nice, if you haven’t tasted the real deal. But once I had tried the delicious fresh version sold in deli’s there was no going back. There is only one snag, which now I am not working is quite a big one. It’s very expensive. At the place I used to go to it now costs £4.50 for a tiny container which I think is about 150g worth. Now I may have champagne tastes, but at the moment I am definitely living on a Cava income.

I have to confess that I might be slightly keener on Pesto than most. In fact, when my son David’s gorgeous Australian godmother stayed with us in spring 2007, at the end of the trip she remarked ‘if there is one thing that I’ve learned on this trip, it’s that I didn’t know you could use pesto in so many different ways! Ok ok. At the time I was working. I had 3 different varieties in the fridge and it was a great and quick way to add flavour to a dish. So we had, various types of fish with pesto, chicken with pesto, pasta with pesto, quick home-made bruschetta with pesto…you get the idea.

A few months ago, when I wandered past a couple of large bags of basil going cheap, I decided to take the plunge and make my own. It is amazing. And for the same price as a small pat of the fancy stuff from the deli, I can make a large jar at least 3 times the size. It takes less than 5 minutes. So what are you waiting for?

Don’t be too worried if you don’t have the exact amounts of all the ingredients here. I vary the combinations depending on what I happen to have to hand. Sometimes a few less pine nuts or a bit less cheese. It still works.

Method

Approx 1/2 packet pine nuts (around 50g). I toast them by dry frying them in a pan, but if you don’t have time then miss out this step.

150ml extra virgin olive oil

1 dessertspoon of ready chopped fresh garlic (I buy it frozen)

80g basil (this just happens to be the amount in a packet sold at the supermarket). Wash. Give a quick twist to the bunched stalks and remove the majority of stalks in the middle.

teaspoon natural sea salt flakes

approx 50g hard cheese like parmesan, finely grated. I use a variation of any of the following, parmesan, pecorino,grana padano

Put all ingredients in a food processor and blitz (by pulsing). Be careful not to over process.

Place in sterilized jar and cover with a layer of extra virgin olive oil. This should last for at least a week in the fridge.

Tips

Make sure that the jar you use is clean and sterilized. On one occasion I didn’t bother to sterilize the jar and had mould growing within days. What a waste!

Once you have put it in a jar, cover it with a layer of oil to stop the top of it oxidising and going brown.

If you are not sure how quickly you will use it and worry about it going off, then freeze it in an ice-cube tray. It freezes brilliantly and then you can just get a small amount out at a time.

If I don’t have fresh garlic (or I cannot be bothered to peel and chop it) I reach for the bag of helpfully, peeled and chopped frozen garlic in the freezer (most supermarkets sell this).

Money savers

Basil can be quite expensive, as can pine nuts, so for a bit of a change make a rocket pesto. Replace the basil with rocket leaves (I still add a little basil for flavour), and use walnuts instead of pine nuts.

If you like something a little fiery  instead of basil use sun-dried tomatoes with a sprinkle of chillies (again I buy the frozen jalapenos)

Pesto Ingredients

The finished product. My home-made pesto

Supermarket Sweep 25/4/10

25 Apr

For those of you that have missed the ad campaign, Waitrose are trying to woo you with Delia and Heston. They have introduced a weekly free paper, available in store, with recipes, offers etc. This week they seem to be concentrating on all things Italian. Storecupboard staples, including their own brand risotto rice, pasta sauce and pasta, mini mozzarella and frozen pizzas are all 1/3 off. If you fancy a treat the frozen fruits de mer are also 1/3 off so stock up now.

They are also offering some great BOGOF’s (buy one get one free) deals.) Pampers wipes, Nivea sunscreen and fairy dishwasher tabs are all on BOGOF this week.

Morrisons are continuing with the baby specials that were on offer last week, the best buy being 9 Pampers wipes for £7.

In addition they have lunchbox favourites Petit Filous at 75p for 6, Ben and Jerrys at 2 for £5 and both Cornettos and Del Monte Mango Smoothies both half price so stock up now for the summer.

Supermarket stalwart Sainsburys are also offering big discounts on Nivea Sunscreen at 50% off. If you are looking for a cosy night in, without breaking the bank then why not try Cordiniu Brut, the classic spanish cava, on offer at £5.99.Wild Salmon Fillets are also half price at £2.99, as are Fresh King Prawns, and Taste the Difference free range whole chicken is down 50p a kilo (so probably £1 saving on a large chicken).

Asda are continuing with their big discounts on all things baby. So stock up on the cut price nappies and smuggle a bottle of bubbles in with your weekly shop.

Now for the marmite of supermarkets, Tesco. Stock up on the Finish dishwasher tabs a box of 60 half price at £6.65. In fact buy 2 and you will have  saved enough to justify a splurge on this weeks best offer, (in my opinion of course), the Jacquart Champagne which is being offered at better than half price £13.49. It’s a great champagne that I have tried before. For quality control purposes I feel obliged to try some more, just to ensure standards are being maintained! Tesco finest cooked and peeled Canadian Prawns are also half price at £3 for 300g, and Haagen-Dazs is on offer at a fairly unbelievable £1.99. So next weeks Saturday evening dinner sorted. Lime and ginger prawns, champagne, Haagen-Dazs and the dishwasher can do the cleaning assisted by the half price  dishwasher tabs. Result.

Speedy Smoked Salmon Fishcakes

20 Apr

Can I just first set the record straight, before you get the idea that I am living some ridiculously luxe lifestyle eating smoked salmon and drinking pink champagne (if only…)I am not in the habit of feeding smoked salmon to the toddlers.

My inspiration for this particular ‘recipe’ came quite by chance. On this particular occasion last year we had stayed late at the park and suddenly realising that it was way past tea time, and that the fridge was almost bare, I stopped in the small local supermarket on the way hoping for something halfway healthy that could be served up in under 15 minutes.

I had a vague recollection of some leftover mash back in the fridge and set out on the hunt for some half decent sausages. Always popular with the toddlers, (and Mr Mummyinahurry come to that). It was at that moment that the smoked salmon leapt (metaphorically of course) from the shelf. The fact that the smoked salmon ‘trimmings’ were on offer and less than a quid had absolutely no bearing on my decision. Really.

Back home a further rummage in the fridge revealed a ‘not long for this world’ lemon, and some spring onions that had seen better days. The joy of a packet of smoked salmon trimmings (other than the price of course) is that you don’t even have to do any chopping. So a quick mix around in a bowl, a few minutes in the frying pan, and dinner on the table before the complaints got too loud. I was quite astonished that my little fussy eaters wolfed the lot down. My son thinks that the smoked salmon is just another form of salami.I have yet to put him right on that one.

That was several months ago. Now these little money-saving beauties have become a regular feature of our mealtimes, for all the family, so only one meal to cook for all of us. Result.

I have more recently been known to turn the making of them into a home ‘we can cook’ * episode for Annabel and David. They love it, and I tend to find that they actually eat their dinner having made it themselves. The other hidden bonus of this recipe, is that they freeze really well, so I tend to make a larger batch and have a few tucked away in the freezer for those days when there really is no time to cook.

METHOD

The way that I make these varies every time, depending on what is left in the fridge, but here is a rough guide.

500g cooked mash

100g smoked salmon trimmings

rind and juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon

spring onions chopped (usually with scissors by me), or pre chopped shallots or chives that I tend to buy ready prepared and frozen

parsley (if i have it) chopped (or more likely, scissored) into the mix

an egg (to bind, but not essential)

Mix together.Form into patties. Fry on a medium heat for 3/4 mins each side.

I have from time to time coated these in breadcrumbs. In my opinion it helps to keep them together when frying but it’s not essential. If you chill the patties before cooking that also helps them to stay in one piece too.

*for those of you unfamiliar with cbeebies , ‘we can cook’ is a programme of great educational importance for young children under 5, keeping them informed and up to date with the latest developments in diet and nutrition, allowing Mummy to get on with very important ‘work’ like updating her Facebook page.

Smoked Salmon Fishcakes