Friday, August 30, 2013

Pleasing Ourselves

Saw Jamie Oliver on TV (The One Show) yesterday and hadn't realised what effect his words have had over the nation.  Seems that half are for what he said, the other half ain't!  But he said it as it is, whether we like it or not,  it still remains that a great many youngsters don't know the meaning of hard work, and many people do prefer to spend money on plasma TV's and ready-meals to sit and eat in front of the screen as they watch. 

In the Daily Mail yesterday (read later) there was also a page re J.O's words, and it did say there was some understanding of why strapped-for-cash people need a TV to give them something to sit and enjoy.  True I suppose, but our children were school age before we got TV and we never seemed to be without anything interesting to do in their free time.  What's wrong with board games, card games, any old games?  Long walks looking for 'nature', much of which can be found in the town as well as the country.  What would we have done without the Observer books to help with this?

Was a bit surprised to hear that Jamie's new series on budget meals worked out at an average of £1.36p a head (think I got the 6p right).  To me that is not food on a 'budget'.  Strictly speaking, a budget is a set amount we allow ourselves to work with and would depend a great deal on how much the food budget is per family.  For some it could be £100 a week/  To cut this down it then becomes a 'reduced budget' (but still could be plenty).  Perhaps nowadays cooking on a budget means spending a lot less than normal.  Even so, 50p - £1 a portion seems not too frugal. 

It could be that I'm working with food prices that are lower than Jamie might use.  Even the lower priced foods (stewing meats etc), would be considerably higher in London than north of Watford. It will be interesting to watch Jamie's series and I hope we will all be able to find some ways of making his suggestions even cheaper.  Well, this could be another challenge?

One good thing is that Jamie said that they have arranged that his book would be in every library of the country (so that people who can't afford to buy will still be able to read it).  Cynically I thought that he wouldn't lose out even doing that for he will get Public Lending Rights on the books taken out (a few pence each time).  I didn't discover the PLR until my books had been on sale for about 10 years, then applied and so got several £££s a year 'library royalties' (my books weren't in every library), but there had to be a set number taken out before they paid any money on the rest.  I forgot to send them my change of address when we moved, but by then the books didn't reach the number they should have, so no money was sent.

Thanks Sarina for your comment.  My B discovered a blackberry bush hidden in a corner of our front garden this week, and it was covered in berries, so he picked what he could reach.  In the sailing club compound is a HUGE bush, and he went and filled several more tubs with berries from there, and still a lot more to pick (no-one else seems to want them and the compound is not open to the public). Lucky me!! 
Elderberries start of by their clusters facing upwards (like the flowers) and when the clusters turn and hang face down, this is when the berries are ripe and ready to gather.  Not a lot of people know this (or perhaps they do).

Thanks Eileen for your tips about Aldi and low cost veggies.  B went to M's yesterday and brought me back a bag of carrots and a white cabbage but haven't yet seen the check-out bill to find out the cost, but considering that is all that I (really) needed, then am still managing to make meals with what we already have.  Oh yes, have to admit that I did ask for B to bring in a bottle of Worcestershire sauce (as had run out) and a Tabasco with chipoltle (as I need my daily 'kick')'

Yesterday was able to use fallen apples and some 'free' blackberries to make a crumble for B's pudding (enough for two helpings).  For his supper he had chosen home-cooked ham (I had thawed/cooked a gammon a couple of days previously), with egg and oven-chips.
Myself had a salad of lettuce, mixed salad leaves, home-grown tomato, the end of a cucumber, with a can of tuna, with mayo (from the larder) and a dash of Tabasco/chipotle to make a sort of Marie Rose sauce for the fish. 

We have three new readers to welcome. Joy, an Anonymous, and another Eileen (myshabbychic). Look forward to hearing from them again. 

We are definitely in for a cooler spell of weather over the weekend, but hopefully still fairly dry. Not that I mind if it is chillier, as I find I feel as though I have more energy the colder it gets (as long as I can keep warm within myself).  I'll be looking forward to cooking more casseroles and stews and the gorgeous smell wafting around when baking things like Sticky Toffee Pudding (freezes well).

Still having problems reaching the blogger page, and the publishing.  Steve is planning to be here tomorrow to fix the new router and iron out any creases, so - depending on how things go - I will not be blogging again until Sunday (more likely Monday), but only then if the computer works without Steve standing at my side.  He knows how to sort out things like 'this page cannot be displayed' - which happens a lot now, but I can't.  Have to take a scenic route to even reach blogger at the moment.

Once things get back to normal (and I'm crossing my fingers we'll be able to get the comp to receive photos from my camera again), I'll be giving a lot more cost-cutting recipes.  Suffice to say, if we all decide NOW (as I'm doing) and stop going to the supermarket for a 'big shop' (use local stores for the necessary even if it does cost a few pence more) then we are bound to end up with more in our purse at the end of each week.   

We began the recent challenge by spending only £10 a week, this still being enough to buy the essentials (which doesn't mean tea, coffee for always have water to drink), leaving just enough money left over for the longer-lasting store-cupboard foods (pasta, rice, flour).  So - jumping forward several weeks/months,  we should then have built up a fairly healthy store-cupboard, and so from then on be able to manage on £10 a week to 'topping up'.

Having steadily 'built' up stores since we moved here 4 years ago, have been able to manage to do this without ever going over my ordinary budget.  Regular readers will know that I deliberately 'save' (by aiming not to spend any money at all for a week, or even month, making good use of what I already have, wasting nothing, and this money is then used to buy quality meat/fish.  I like to think of this as 'free' as I (sort of) worked hard to save the money and make rather than take the easy road and buy something.  I now have a good supply of frozen food, vegetables that have a good shelf life (onions, carrots, cabbage, celery, potatoes....) so all I need to buy regularly are the milk, eggs, butter, margarine.  Cheese keeps well so I buy this when on offer and freeze some (usually grated).

Canned foods I buy when at the right price (and beware, sometimes they work out cheaper per can than the same thin in 4 or 6 packs so always check the price per 100g).  Also like to keep a stock of tuna, baked beans, sardines and chopped tomatoes in my larder, also the cheaper cans of red beans. But all these 'necessaries' are able to be bought within a £10 weekly budget. 
I'm not saying we should always live like this, but it is a good way to focus our thoughts on what we have, and the best way to say (and eat healthily) is to buy only what we NEED, not what we WANT. I want a bar of chocolate (desperately), but as I can't (at the moment) order online due to comp probs, then I have to do without choc and a whole host of other things that I'd written up on the order that wouldn't go through 'check-out' and apart from the carrots and cabbage have to ask myself "did I really NEED any of the other foods"?  The answer has to be "NO"!   Lesson learnt.

So now you will be hearing from a very frugal Shirley as she happily (and I do mean happily - I can get enjoyment from the strangest things) manages to serve up - hopefully - good meals and still keep away from the shops.  From now on will let you know how much I spend on 'topping up' each week, and what has been bought (and why).

Will be back again as soon as poss, so watch this space.  Enjoy your weekend and the beginning of autumn. TTFN.