Friday, 23 September 2016

Frugal Friday...

The summer is such a difficult time of year for me to even attempt to keep up the frugal thing. In everyday life we still carry on as normal - using the washing machine and dishwasher overnight, and showering when we first get up to make use of the night-rate on the electric. Buying basic or budget brands where they are are good as branded. Driving economically. Shopping around for things. All that and more. BUT at that time of year I'm away almost every weekend photographing those Little Red Jets, and that always involves a lot of driving, and often an overnight stay, and buying food while I'm away...However it also involves a lot of fun, and some huge laughs, and so it's well worth (for me) me spending pretty much all my disposable income on it, during these few months!

As ever, there are ways and means of cutting the cost down a bit, too. Hotels generally get booked as soon as we have even an inkling of which shows we're likely to want to do - booked through one of the booking websites via Topcashback on a "cancellable" basis, and pricechecked through a site like Trivago as well. If I'm booking for myself alone I'll also often look at booking a little further out, and travelling in to the show as this can often save a fortune. If there is an option to use public transport then I always see if that will work out economically if it's practical to do so. For group meals out in the evenings after some of the shows we tend to default to Wetherspoons pubs if there is one - the food is reliable even if not gourmet standard, and in a group which generally includes a couple of real ale drinkers, a Guinness fan, a gin queen and a wine-a-holic, it's great to be able to go somewhere that we know we'll each be able to get our tipple of choice without being charged through the nose for it. We're all in the same boat mostly as far as needing to keep costs sensible, so these measures mean we can have more fun, for less dosh - a no-brainer! I set aside money through the winter months to cover the cost of my summer entertainment, and this works well for me - I can't justify running up costs on credit cards etc - I'm just not comfortable doing that as the shadow of "what happens if I can't pay it back" would always be hanging over me spoiling the fun.

The things that tend to slip by me during the busy time of year are things like meal-planning - I have a basic fund of meals that can be rustled up very quickly indeed, but that are still healthy and above all tasty. On the day of writing for example dinner will be some delicious Norfolk Pink new potatoes, boiled to tender and then gently tossed in a pan with chunks of bacon and courgette, a drizzlwe of good rapeseed oil, and served up with some fresh sweetcorn bought in Norfolk over the weekend. It'll be delicious, plates will be cleared, but it doesn't appear on ANY meal plan, anywhere! Those same potatoes (I bought a 5kg sack from our favourite campsite at the weekend) will feature a lot over the next few weeks - and at a cost of £3 for that 5kg sack that's unquestionably a frugal way of eating!

I've got a few ideas that I may try to put in place over the winter to see if next summer can be just a bit more organised on this front. The first of these is a rotating 3 or 4 week meal plan - not necessarily something rigid with "this meal on that day" but more a rough weekly "fund" of recipes - some quick to prepare, others a little more time-consuming. So as a rough guideline, a salad day, a pasta day, an egg day, a veggie day, plus options like stews or soups. The first step top this is going to be to go back over old meal plans I think and get together a full list of the sorts of meals we're happy to eat in each category - then from there work them into rough sets of 5 days. 2 days a week are complicated by MrEH having rugby training - meals need to either be very quick for him to prep when he gets in (omelettes for example), or something that I can prep and just leave in the fridge for him (salads fit this category brilliantly!). This is going to need a lot of planning and thinking about I guess - and at the moment I'm finding it slightly daunting. I'll keep you posted!


No comments: