So, that's it - this is the very last day of Frugal February, and hasn't it just flown by? I know it's a shorter month than some, but still, it really does seem to have gone almost without me noticing it.
So - how did things work out? Well, the second freezer is now turned off - admittedly there's not much space in the first one, but everything did fit - just - and the second one is now defrosted and wiped out ready to switch on when we next need it. So that's one saving being made - the electricity which was running it! Another saving has been made by not buying odds and ends on impulse - yes in some cases it's meant going without things, or making do with what we have, but as most of the going without has been those little treaty things that you suddenly find you're eating more of than you probably should (crisps, anyone?) that's probably not such a bad thing...
The meal-plan this week took a bit of a battering again. It was partly poor planning - I took my eye off the ball over the weekend (and we were out all day on Sunday in the end, not getting back until nearly 7pm, so not much time there for any cooking) and partly lack of organisation and enthusiasm, but all wasn't lost as we still ate from what we had, and nothing went to waste - things just got eaten in a slightly different order to that planned, and some sausages snuck (sneaked? snook?) in there in place of the lasagne which really needed making several days ahead to give those dried sheets time to soften. (And also really needed the leftover meat from a roast dinner which we didn't cook due to choosing to go out instead!). I got my act together on Tuesday making the pork, onion & tomato stew ready for the following night - this is a simple dish but one that definitely tastes better for a bit of time for the flavours to develop. It's a great way of making a small amount of pork shoulder (cheap cut) stretch a long way, and the acidity in the tomato helps to break down any possible toughness in the pork. I start by slicing an onion - medium thickness as you want them to retain their shape. Cook gently in a slug of oil until they've gone translucent and have just started to pick up some colour, then add the diced pork and cook until that's beginning to brown. You can also add any other veg you fancy at this stage - it works well with sliced peppers, in particular. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes, and a tin of beans of your choice (or you could use a couple of handfuls of dried ones, soaked and cooked) plus a teaspoon of smoked paprika if you have it, and half a teaspoon of sugar. (I always add a tiny bit of sugar to tinned tomatoes for sauces as they can be ever so slightly bitter - this cancels that out and lets the flavour come through). Salt and pepper to taste, and a dash of tabasco if you want to spice things up a bit, and just let the whole lot simmer for an hour or so, or you could give it a longer cooking time in the slow cooker. We had ours with rice as we have LOTS of rice thanks to an Approved Food order but it would work with almost any starchy carb I should think. No pictures as there wasn't enough light - sorry!
Shopping went nicely to plan again - £5 of nectar points got spent in Sainsbugs and I bought both a big pack of smoked mackerel and a pack of their smoked salmon trimmings as part of that spend - both went to making pate for lunches. I did the balance in ThaT supermarkeT spending the rest of the luncheon vouchers and my free cheese voucher - and arrived at the deli counter JUST in time for the "ham ends" to be being put out - brilliant! 300g of those cost me £1.50 and gave us enough ham for a shared omlette, 2 "tartiflette jackets" (Sunday nights thrown together dinner when we got home) and 4 days lunches for the two of us. I spent 41p cash over the nectar points in Sainsbugs, and 38p cash in Tesco, making the final state of play like this:
Current state of play for the month:
Total spend on groceries: £49.70
Of which cash: £12.76
So under £50 for a month of groceries for two people, of which under £13 was actually spent in cash. Due to the nature of the way we shopped across the Farm Shop, Morrisons, Sainsbugs and Tesco this month the £150 monthly deposit into our Clubcard Plus account has been almost untouched, meaning that our holiday spending money fund has had a nice little boost. Add to that the freezer use being halved, and the items used from the storecupboard, larder, fridge etc and we're really pleased with the way things have gone. My intention now is to try to carry on on a slightly more relaxed scale for the next month - aiming to get yet more of the freezer goods used, and more of a dent made in the storecupboard too. Part used jars from the fridge are a real target for me now too.
From the vouchers we started with, we still have the following:
£5 Morrisons voucher
£10 M&S voucher - which will probably get used on one of their "Meal for 2 for £10" deals as a treat
£2.50 in spendable Nectar points
I'll definitely try the occasional month through the year where I try to keep spends down to rock bottom I think, as much as anything in order to really focus on the things that need using, and making the most of what we have rather than the temptation to let the less interesting or easy to use stuff sit neglected. Oh, and those dried lasagne sheets (best before 2010, if I remember rightly) - they will definitely get used next week - I promise!
Thanks to those who've joined in whether publicly via their blogs, or privately, and I hope you found it a fun and useful exercise too. We'll enjoy spending our savings while we're on holiday, on meals out, beer in the pub, and tea & cake!