Friday, 29 August 2014

Approved Food and making plans...

Hi everyone,

I just received an order from Approved Food and I thought you might like to see what bargains I picked up.

I have been shopping with them for many years now and think it's a great way of saving money on store cupboard staples and treats. It's not everyone's cup of tea because some items are past their best before date. As the food isn't fresh anyway, it's down to personal choice. The only problem I've ever had is crisps that have been stale (on one occasion) and have been fine eating other stuff. I am a person who never eats food that's past it's use by date. I do get a bit paranoid about being sick! However, food is either used up by other members of my family or I make sure it's used before it's out of date. I have been working hard to eliminate food wastage in our house.

I haven't ordered from AF for a while because we have been eating so much fresh foods over the summer and my meal planning has meant that I only buy what I need each week. This has now become a habit, but the seasons are changing and I need to prepare for the colder months...

Already we have been suffering with a cold in my house (I'm still ill) and it got me thinking. When I'm ill I really don't feel like cooking and I'm really not prepared for that! Luckily my lovely hubby is perfectly capable and a very good cook, but he has been working hard all day (normally on a roof) and I would like to provide him with a hot meal to come home to. I can cut corners with AF with jar sauces for example. I like to cook from scratch but sometimes life just gets in the way of how we want to live.

The colder weather means that sometimes we want a warm lunch as well as tea and not just a sandwich. Soup or beans are ideal for this and I can find bargains on AF. I picked up some cup-a-soup to have for my lunch. 

Stocking the cupboards ready for bad weather during winter is something I do every year and I'm looking for the cheapest way to do this...supermarket offers will be stocked up on too. 

Finally, life would be boring without a few treats and buying close to a best before date is fine by me...chocolate doesn't hang around long enough here to go bad! 

I really don't like processed foods, but I am saving money now to enable Christmas planning (it's never too early...we know it's coming) and I will be really concentrating on sorting things out over the next few weeks to save and prepare for winter and Christmas. 

So, this is what I got...

 Sorry the photo is dark, but the flash made it worse! It's a dull day here.

There are snacks and goodies to cheer us up after so much illness and a few toiletries and cleaning bits. There's medication (how expensive is baby nurofen and lemsip etc!!) I've been getting through a lot of ibuprofen for my back, so stocked up on the cheaper version. I also got some porridge oats for Daisy and I to eat for breakfast in the chilly mornings. Even the value ones seem to be really expensive now. 

As I spent a certain amount, I was offered a lucky box from AF for 1p. If had no idea what I was getting...

It looked ok for 1p.

There were a few things in date and a few out of date...

The soup will get used for lunches, the noodles I will use as a pad out to a meal and my daughter will use the chewing gum. All in date.

The date here is July 2014. Hubby loves pork scratchings and my daughter will eat the breakfast bars at work.

These are June 2014. They are snacks that I wouldn't buy, but they will be enjoyed I'm sure. 

These are the only packet that will probably be wasted. It's liquorice which I hate and the date is 2013. Unless anyone in the family wants them, they will head for the bin. Not bad for 1p though!

I am not being sponsored by AF. I'm just giving my opinions. My little old blog is not popular enough to be asked! Does anyone else use them to stock up or for treats?

I forgot that I also got some swimming nappies for Daisy because they were heavily reduced. These are not in the photo.

I'm still hoping to get back to normal blogging soon, but illness and being behind with my chores is slowing me down. 

There will be lots of winter money saving ideas to share with you soon. 

It's Daisy's birthday on Monday, so I will be posting up pictures of her cake etc next week.

Thanks for waiting!

Mandy x

Monday, 25 August 2014

Sausage Goulash...a slow cooker recipe

Due to my lack of posts, I thought you may like this recipe as an extra to my meal plan.

Sausage Goulash
1 pack of sausages (chopped)
1tbsp paprika
10 new potatoes (diced but not too small)
Half of each of a red, green and yellow pepper
6 carrots
1 onion (chopped)
1pt beef stock (I used low salt oxo)
1 carton of cheap passata
1tbsp parsley

I put all of the above in my slow cooker at 10am on high to begin with, then turned it down to medium at 1pm. It will be cooked by 6pm. At this time I will dish up with a swirl of soured cream (not Daisy) and serve with homegrown runner beans and broccoli.

You could use whatever meat, or veg that you like really.

Mandy x

Meal Plan Monday...

Sorry I'm not back to normal blogging yet. My back is still recovering but so much better. Now Daisy and I have colds so I'm not up to much.

It's turned really chilly here today, so I'm so grateful for my slow cooker. 

This week we will be eating...

Monday sausage goulash, broccoli and runner beans (homegrown).

Tuesday new potatoes with bacon and onion and poached eggs and beans.

Wednesday devilled chicken drumsticks, onion rice and corn-on-the-cob.

Thursday spaghetti bolognese.

Friday potato and cheese baked eggs and peas.

Saturday  Southern fried chicken, homemade wedges, cornbread and coleslaw.

Sunday roast chicken etc.

Mandy x

Monday, 18 August 2014

Meal Plan Monday...


This is what we'll be eating this week...

Monday beef casserole (slow cooker) and dumplings.

Tuesday cottage pie, savoy cabbage, carrots and peas.

Wednesday sausage, mash and beans.

Thursday pork chops, roast potatoes, stuffing, broccoli, carrots and peas.

Friday meatballs in a tomato sauce and pasta.

Saturday chicken curry, rice, naan bread.

Sunday toad in the hole, mash, carrots and broccoli.

As you may notice, this week is full of meat! Last week we didn't eat as well as we normally do and this week I need to make up for that. I feel ill if I don't eat enough iron rich foods and this has happened as expected. 

Obviously the food shop this week was more expensive, but I did look for deals (3 for £10) plus I have split the meat packs and frozen the other half, so those meats will take me into next week. 

Even though the weather is still good here, I feel like I should start planning and getting ready for the autumn months. The slow cooker is out today for my beef casserole and I will be using this more as time goes on. We've been craving casseroles here! 

I'm not going to promise to blog everyday at the moment while I'm trying to catch up with things, but I will tell you about my autumn plans and how I do this   on a budget. 

In other news, my lovely husband has been working hard in the to follow. 

Daisy turns two in a couple of weeks, so I will have some toddler birthday tea party ideas for you too (if anyone is interested).

I'm still working at a slower pace at the moment, so please bear with me. Thank you so much for the kind wishes xx

Thanks for reading,

Mandy x

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Taking time out for me...

Sorry I've been away from my blog for so long. Sometimes life gets in the way.

Seven years ago I injured my back quite badly. My recovery was slow and my physiotherapist warned me that my back muscles would continue to think that they need to protect the damaged facet joints.  The bones healed many years ago but my back muscles are still being fooled! Thankfully this happens rarely now (almost a year since the last time) but sometimes I will try to do something that hurts my back and if goes into protection mode again. This time was really stupid of me...I carried the Hoover upstairs. I normally ask for help but decided not to this time :-(

I hate having to rely on my family to lift heavy objects etc but I have definitely accepted I have to now. 

My lovely husband and daughter have been wonderful. Hubby even kept to my meal plan! He followed recipes and made some delicious homemade food. He did the housework after he finished work too.  In the early stages if was difficult for me to stand for long periods of time, although I do have to walk around every half an hour to prevent my muscles from seizing up. For example...standing up and preparing veg is painful. I have worked through the pain as best I can. I have medication and I use a TENS machine too. These aid my recovery.

My mobility is affected , but between us things are getting done.

My blog has been neglected. Not because of lack of time, I am sitting down more than I normally do and Daisy is benefitting from this...loads more stories and colouring together etc, but because I am not doing my normal thrifty routines. 

I am back cooking and doing basic chores, but my online shop last Sunday was not particularly thrifty or money saving! I'm not proud of this but I'm also not hiding it from you...this is real life and we are fortunate enough to be able to afford it if necessary. 

My meal plan is not very exciting or completely homemade. We are eating fruit and veg etc, just not a lot of meaty, cook from scratch 'gravy dinners' as we call them. Meals have been simple but not as cheap as they could be and this is a thrifty blog! I'm perfectly capable of making a steak pie, but I bought one. 

Yesterday I did roast chicken and this morning I have prepared tea using the leftover chicken. I'm getting there.

Next week I will hopefully be back on my blogging track. In the meantime, here's a few photos for you...

Daisy had some post! She eats very healthily and the organix range are perfect for the occasional snack. They are sweetened with grape juice and contain no rubbish. I collected some codes from the wrappers and entered online. This package was free! Inside was a badge, fruity snacks, carrot seeds and loads of ideas for activities to do with nature. We will start collecting the bits and bobs we need to make a bug house etc...right up Daisy's street! I'll let you know how we get on.

I've been doing a bit of mending...

...and I've started a patchwork project. 

We were given these runner beans...they are perfect! Not tough or tasty. We ate some with our roast yesterday...

Finally, I have had time to read while Daisy is having her nap and have finished this book... 

...and started another...

I know that I have some outstanding recipes to post up for those of you  that have requested them...I haven't forgotten! Also, thank you to those of you that have shown concern for me, I took comfort from that...thank you xx

Mandy x

Wednesday, 6 August 2014