Three full weeks down and another half to go - and sorry to disappoint anyone who is waiting for me to trip up here but nope, still going to plan!
Shopping last week was done as a spur of the moment decision in Morrisons after MrEH came home from putting fuel in his car with a voucher for 2000 extra "Morrisons More" points on a £20 shop. This is worth £2 so is a decent saving on a shop of that level - it's nice to find a supermarket that are happy to reward those of us who don't spend £40 - £50 every week! As I think I've mentioned before I'm quite a fan of Morrisons and would very much like to have one more locally to us - their quality is good, I like their ethics regarding stocking British meat, and also the less popular cuts. They also make a point of trying to sell off as many parts of the animals as they can with things like Pork Cheeks and lamb bones that you don't always find the other mainstream supermarkets offering. The sustainability of this really appeals to me. Our shopping list and meal plan was all in place and the shopping came to £20.38. The usual weekly visit to Aldi was also made - £2.54 in there, and unusually a second visit there the following day when I remembered that we needed bread flour - well worth making a special trip as they sell for 65p a bag while ThaT supermarkeT want £1 a bag for the same amount! So an additional £1.95 for the three bags I bought, making our full weekly shopping bill £24.87 - not bad at all! I suspect we will be using Morrisons next week also as I got given a till-spit for a further 2000 extra points so am keen to use that!
The weekend was a quiet and low-spend one for us aside from the shopping. I went for a run on Saturday afternoon but then spent the rest of the day at home, and after a delicious roast dinner on Sunday we headed out on foot for a walk across country to a local pub for just a couple of beers each. it was a lovely if slightly muddy walk exploring a few places locally that we'd heard about but never seen on the way, and we walked back round the road as it was dark by the time we left the pub! It was really nice to have a day where we didn't use either car at all!
I mentioned the roast dinner - this used the Pork Loin Joint from the "Heartier" meat box I bought a few weeks ago. I'm happy to recommend Heartier to anyone - so far the stuff we've had from them has always been great quality and a not at all unreasonable price for the products too. The loin also gave us enough leftovers that we had a tasty stir-fry from it on Wednesday evening - I just tear the cold meat into chunks or strips and then cook off lightly in a wok before adding the veggies and some cooked noodles. The other really tasty meal we had over the weekend was home made pizzas - and these are incredibly frugal as well! I use the bread machine for the dough as it does a far better job of kneading than I ever will. For variation this time I used garlic infused rapeseed oil in the mix and also threw in some dried basil as well - the small as it was rising was heavenly! I then flipped the risen dough out, knocked it back lightly and divided it into two, then each piece into 2 again. 2 portions were popped into bags to go into the freezer and the other two were pressed out to form nice thin bases which crisp up beautifully. For the sauce I use a mixture of 50% ketchup with 50% tomato puree which gives a nice mix of sweetness and tomatoeyness (is that a word?) and also spreads easily onto the uncooked bases. From there it's as simple as choosing your toppings - this time we went for a few thinly sliced mushrooms, the remains of a pack of bacon from the freezer and also from the freezer some of the slices of pepperoni that were given to me when we had toasties for lunch in the office a few weeks back. I then scattered the tops with a ripped up ball of T's value mozzarella (always rip, never slice, as that way you get a great variation in thickness on the pieces and it goes far further across your pizza too!) The pizzas were then popped into a moderately hot oven along with a pack of Aldi Garlic butter doughballs (I *think* I paid 69p for these and they were every bit as tasty as the more premium brands!) and taken out when the bases were crisp on the edges and the cheese had started to bubble and brown. Gorgeous!
Spending review for this week then:
- Accommodation booked for a planned few days away later in the year. We weighed up a holiday-let -v- a budget hotel and in the end found a holiday let for the same price - this will save us money as it's got its own parking (Hotel would have meant another £22 in parking costs) AND will mean that we can prepare our own breakfasts and packed lunches for the days we're there rather than having to rely on eating out for all our meals.
- £7 for the gym for me on Wednesday
- I topped up my car with fuel when I saw it at a good price in Lincoln last Friday
The beers on Sunday afternoon
I mentioned that trip away above - and this has been the main thrust of our financial planning this week, in fact. We have a bit of a plan to try to visit as many RSPB reserves across the country as we can manage, and there were a couple up north that have been fixtures on our "to do" list for a while now - Bempton Cliffs and Blacktoft Sands. We've found accommodation a short drive from both reserves, and are planning to loop in catching up with a friend while up there as well as visiting a favourite pub which I've used a lot but MrEH has not yet made it to, on the way. We're fans of having our own space when we're away for more than a couple of nights, as we've found that often it costs little more than a budget hotel while giving us a lot more freedom, and saving us money as mentioned above as we're not forced into cafe breakfasts every day of a stay and also have easy options to throw together packed lunches to take out, and to bring back a takeaway or cook something tasty and local that we've bought on our travels rather than eating out each evening. It also means that in the event of a day where the weather is simply too poor to do much we can more comfortably decide to just stay in, and more easily dry wet clothes if we decide to brave it and go out! We're RSPB Members so entry to & parking at the reserves will be free to us, and we also plan to do some exploring around the market town that we're staying in, including the market itself which apparently happens every Saturday. There's also some lovely (and some very cheesy!) seaside within a short distance that we'll try to get to. Food will be our main spend and we're planning to eat out in the evenings in some of the town's excellent pubs - this will be budgeted from our personal spending money, and our "fun" budget while the cost of the accommodation is covered by the money that doesn't get spent in March on Council Tax & Water rates. Diesel will come from our regular monthly fuel budget. I will set aside any Morrisons vouchers we acquire ahead of the trip to cover some of the spend for breakfast goods and lunches. There will no doubt be some tea & cake incidents...again from our personal spending money. It won't be a cheap weekend, but it will be planned for and within a budget, and thanks to the work we put in in years gone by on clearing our mortgage and paying off all debt, the ability to do stuff like this is there for us. It's one of the good things when life becomes more about "experiences" than "stuff"!