Welcome to Frugal Living in the UK!

Frugal Living in the UK - the pink bench!

Frugal Living in the UK went online in 2003 and has gradually grown into quite a collection of advice and articles. You’ll find recipes, food shopping tips, household savings, advice on cheap days out and holidays, ways to make a few pounds, get freebies and even sales and Frugal Christmas 🙂

Whether you want to reduce your debts, save for a holiday, stay at home with your children, live more simply or just beat the system a little and end up with more cash, we hope you find something here to help. Consider yourself as in a clothes shop – look around, try the ideas on for size, take what’s right for you and leave the rest for someone else.

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Latest articles:

Latest links:

  • Low Price Foods – amazing new clearance food outlet with impressive prices across food, drink and household goods.
  • TrustedHousesitters connect pet and home owners with reliable sitters. You can register as a sitter or owner on their site.
  • Everything5Pounds sell unsold stock from top High st. brands, all detagged, and all £5.
  • Swagbucks.com – pays gift cards and cash for things you do online anyway like shopping and taking surveys.
  • Graze are offering a first box free, with no obligation to continue past the first box!

Latest recipes:

frugal living: lavender jam being made
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Frugal Summertime, and the living is… easy?

frugal summertime for the nasturtiums

Summertime…

And the living is easy… That may be the case for the wild nasturtiums above in our home made polytunnel, but for many, today in the UK, it is not so. With prices of basic necessities rising left, right and centre, being frugal has, in itself, become a necessity. Frugal summertime is upon us.

Our Frugal Summertime Basics

Frugal Food Shopping
All our Frugal Recipes
Frugal Living Around the House
Foraging and Gardening
OLIO: download the app, and get or give free food (and other things).

Old Favourites

On Our Site

Make Money, earn a few pounds
The 25p Meal
Frugal Holidays and Days Out

Featured Recipes for an Easy Summertime

Frugal summertime: tattie soup

Tattie Soup (and a wee frugal story)
Tomato Rice Soup
Potato Bake
Banana Peel Pasta Sauce
Mixed Bean Casserole
Flapjacks
Crumble

Featured Site

Join the Bonny Prepping Quine as she takes a woodland walk, foraging on the way, here on YouTube

Hoping things get easier for everyone soon,

All at Frugal Living in the UK
http://www.frugal.org.uk

and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/frugaluk
and now, Facebook!

The Mermaid and the Bear quote
Excerpt

Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

Frugal Garden: recycling, compost, self-seeding

frugal garden - meadow
Ox eye daisies in the meadow

The frugal garden has been somewhat neglected due to health problems here this year. But nature carries on regardless. Things still grow. And now a little catch up is happening, slowly, as can be managed.

Frugal Garden: Polytunnel

Life goes on in the polytunnel. This was built of pallets and food hygiene plastic discarded by a food factory. Cardboard box path.

frugal garden: polytunnel built from recycled materials
Polytunnel interior

You can see nasturtiums which self-seeded from last year and lettuce seedlings from a cheap pack of Lidl seeds which we just scattered onto a layer of homemade compost (see compost post here). Last year’s winter lettuce, kale and cabbage are still providing copious leaves. Some beans have been planted in the gaps. And some things have grown out of the compost by themselves:

A sturdy butternut squash grows among pak choi seedlings. Some tomato plants have come up like this too.

Upcycling

The latest upcycled pallet project, a corner seating unit, just in need of facings:

frugal garden: pallet furniture

Our favourite place to buy seeds (apart from Lidl!)

Thompson and Morgan because the seeds (and plants) are super high quality and always grow.

Other frugal garden posts and pages

Frugal Holidays

House sitting and/or pet sitting can be a simple way to get really cheap holidays or maybe even free ones if you don’t have to travel far. TrustedHousesitters have owners registered in over 130 countries, from townhouses in London to renovated farmhouses in Tuscany, apartments in New York to beach homes in Hawaii. They connect pet and home owners with reliable sitters, saving costs for both home and pet owners, and sitters looking to travel and stay somewhere new. You can register as either a sitter or an owner on their site with a range of membership options available.

Cost of Living Crisis: The 25p Meal

Cost of living crisis: the 25p meal

We want everyone to eat well during the cost of living crisis. We very much hope this article will help with that.

One of the cheapest ways to pare your food budget right back is to find out what time your local supermarket marks down its perishable products and do your shopping then. This makes possible what we call the 25p meal: feeding a family of four for £1, or under, all ingredients.

Don’t forget to check the Olio app for free food being given away in your area too. Food Heroes collect the yellow stickered items that didn’t sell and share them in the community. Desktop version here. People also share things that they can’t use up in time from their fridge, or cupboard items that they no longer want.

Cauliflower in a Cheesy Sauce

Cost of living crisis: a 25p meal

Cauliflower (25p) in a white sauce (milk/marg/flour/water totalling 20p), and 30p worth of leftover rice made into herby tomato rice. We added:  1 onion (7p, not marked down but really cheap in Lidl) a squirt of tomato puree (5p), dried herbs (5p) salt (1p).

Cost of Living Crisis Spaghetti

Cost of living crisis: 25p meal

Above was a nice meal based around getting an organic unsliced wholemeal loaf for 10p. We added marg and garlic to make it into garlic bread. Cheap spaghetti (often around 20p for 500g in value ranges) mixed with a tin of kidney beans at 25p and marked down pepper and courgette, both 10p each. Salad was a 10p lettuce with a squirt of lemon juice. There was a LOT of garlic bread made with that one loaf!

Pizza Bagels or Pittas

A firm favourite now, actually considered a treat in this house, is the meal of pizza bagels, or pittas, or, as pictured below, pizza paninis. Made with 4 Paninis at 19p for 2, then with pizza sauce consisting of an onion fried in a tiny bit of oil, tomato puree, herbs and salt, totalling no more than 10p. They only need a few minutes in the oven or under the grill as the bread bases are already cooked. We paired them with a reduced salad bag at 10p, reduced hummus at 32p and a tub of pasta salad marked down to 26p. Over budget by 6p! If we’d used cheaper bread, such as one pack of bagels reduced to 20p, we would have been under.

It would be cheaper to use the pizzas as a side to homemade soup (see our many soup recipes). Of course, you can add any topping you like to these, but the sauce is delicious in itself.

Cost of living crisis: 25p meal

Porridge: cost of living crisis food

This next one pushes the budget again, though only by 10p. For a luxury breakfast! It’s porridge (20p worth value range oats) made with water, but with a huge box of blueberries (marked down to 75p) and half a bar of Lidl dark chocolate (bar is 30p, so 15p), smashed up. Yum.

Our local Tesco usually does a big mark down around 6pm. The one in the next town is a little later at 6.45pm and its prices go right down to 2p for many items. Asda starts much earlier in the day with its reductions. Lidl has many things, including a basket of bread, reduced to 20p first thing in the morning. Martin Lewis wrote an article on the different supermarkets and their reduction times here.

Unless we’re going to use them that day, we tend to avoid ready chopped things which go off quickly. Whole vegetables and fruit will keep for a few days and bread will be good for a couple of days or can go straight in the freezer. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve filled our freezer with 10p loaves and buns!

Also see:

Our Sourdough bread for pennies post here.

The Free Food section about gardening, giving and foraging.

And check out clearance food sellers like Low Price Foods  and Approved Food for stocking your cupboards with low priced staples.

And all our frugal recipes.

It can be fun to use your imagination and ingenuity to make best use of what’s available on any given day in the reduced section. Please feel free to share your ideas and successes in the comments below. Let’s weather the cost of living crisis healthily together!

Ailish Sinclair‘s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, and featuring the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, is out now. On Amazon and Waterstones or see Author website for more details.

The Mermaid and the Bear Cover

Growing a Food Forest: lawns to food

a herb garden in the food forest
Herb garden of oregano, lemon balm, self-seeded borage, lovage, sage, bronze fennel, chives, parsley, rocket.

Growing your own food forest does not have to be hard work, nor do you have to own a massive garden to achieve it. You work with what space is available – you can even make a mini ‘forest’ of herbs and sprouts on a windowsill – and do what you have time for.

We’re gradually changing the grass/food ratio in our own garden. We built some raised beds out of old roofing tiles.

Sunflowers, kale, turnips, and flat leaf parsley that basically went rogue.

Kale is one tough cookie. It does well here in Northern Scotland and continues to produce leaves for two years.



A cheap packet of lettuce seeds from Lidl was sprinkled all over this (non-raised) new bed this year and two courgette plants were popped in among it. They’re doing really well. We use the lettuce in a ‘cut and come again’ way as you get a higher yield that way. It just keeps going.

bed of lettuce and courgettes (zucchini)
Lettuce, courgettes and nasturtium.

Potatoes are a really easy crop to grow. This year we planted mainly shops ones that had sprouted at the back of the fridge so they really didn’t cost anything and they have produced well. Admittedly, the Pentland Javelins we bought as seed potatoes have been somewhat more abundant.

Pentland Javelin potatoes freshly dug up
Freshly dug tatties.

Thompson and Morgan offer high quality seed potatoes, often on offer here.

Potatoes can also be grown in containers or even a bag of compost. We know one lady who threw some old sprouted ones into a half used bag of compost and left them all summer to find masses of lovely new tatties in the autumn.

Russian Red Kale – self seeds all over the place once you have it, and produces leaves like crazy.

We like to mix things up and plant a few flowers between. They’re good for attracting bees. Nasturtiums are also edible. Pallet bench in background…

Beets, carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, sprig cabbage, chard, black kale, savoy cabbage growing in the food forest
This thickly planted bed contains beets, carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, spring cabbage, chard, black kale, savoy cabbage (all grown from seed straight in the ground) and even a few strawberries.

Fruit bushes and trees are well worth the initial investment as they go on giving forever more and create shelter and the ‘foresty’ aspect of your food forest. Birds seem quite good at ‘planting’ the blackcurrant seeds; we’ve had some new ones come up in odd corners of the garden. They’re very low maintenance.

Apples and red and black currants in the food forest.
Apples and red and black currants

Latest seeds planted:

Planned next in the garden: a polytunnel to be constructed of recycled pallets and reclaimed plastic, and a big patch of Jerusalem Artichokes!

Also see our articles Free Food for information on foraging and Making Compost, Reducing Waste, Saving Money for more gardening advice.

A Secret Garden

The Secret Gardening Club is a free to join club for seasoned and beginner gardeners alike. They supply a huge range of high-quality plants at up to 70% discount. Subscribers can sign up and subsequently receive notification as soon as new stock is available.

The prices are so low due to their close working relationship with a number of reputable plant nurseries across the UK. They take any over-supply and pass the considerable discounts on to customers.

Recommended reading:

‘How to Grow Your Own Food: A Week-by-week Guide to Wild Life Friendly Fruit and Vegetable Gardening’ by Dirty Nails. This fabulous book takes you through the year, detailing what you can be planting, preparing, harvesting etc. each week. Humorously written, lots of information on wildlife is given throughout such as facts about badgers, woodpeckers and cuckoos. The book is very well indexed and has some lovely fruit and vegetable recipes too. A user-friendly title that’s sure to help you maximise your garden’s food production. Buy UK

Image93

‘Forest Gardening’ by Robert A de J Hart. Here the author details his garden – a miniature forest filled with an abundance of things to eat. This is low maintenance gardening once established with trees, bushes and perennial plants which provide both shelter and food. Included are recommended plants for different regions of the world – this book is a huge resource of information and inspiration. Buy UK

Creating a Forest Garden: Forest gardening is a novel way of growing edible crops – with nature doing most of the work for you. A forest garden is modelled on young natural woodland, with a wide range of crops growing in different vertical layers. Unlike in a conventional garden, there is little need for digging, weeding or pest control. Buy UK


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Is Eating Banana Peels Actually a Thing?

banana peels made into a pasta sauce

To answer our own question: yes, eating banana peels is most definitely a thing. It’s a sustainable, no food waste, frugal and nutritious thing too! See our new pasta sauce recipe here along with more information on eating banana peels.

Potato Milk, another unexpected thing, is the most sustainable of the plant milks. See a recipe for it here.

Popular pages:
Free Food: gardening/foraging/giving
Cheap Holidays and Days Out
Sourdough Bread for Pennies
Healthy Eating and Exercising on a Budget

Bargains:
Everything5Pounds – clothes, accessories.
Low Price Foods
Approved Food

radish top soup

Featured and Seasonal Recipes:
radish top soup
wild garlic pesto
nettle soup
sweet and sour red cabbage
mixed bean casserole
banana raisin flapjacks

It’s almost summery here now. We hope it’s lovely where you are too.

All at Frugal Living in the UK
http://www.frugal.org.uk

and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/frugaluk
and now, Facebook!

forest garden book

Creating a Forest Garden: a great book on this novel way of growing edible crops – with nature doing most of the work for you. A forest garden is modelled on young natural woodland, with a wide range of crops growing in different vertical layers. Unlike in a conventional garden, there is little need for digging, weeding or pest control. Buy UK

Eating Banana Peels: Pasta Sauce Recipe

eating banana peels - a pasta sauce recipe
Banana Peel Pasta Sauce

What’s this about eating banana peels? Is that even a thing?

It’s definitely a thing. Eating banana peels is actually good for you; they’re full of healthy fibre, B vitamins, magnesium and potassium. It cuts down on food waste and can save a bit of money too. Whats not to love? The peels can be added to smoothies and curries, and even made into a bacon substitute.

The riper the banana, the sweeter the peel. If using in a savoury recipe like this one either use less ripe peels or scrape the white pith bit away as it’s the sweetest part. We were a bit worried that it might make the sauce taste all banana-y and strange. It didn’t at all. The peels have only a subtle flavour.

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Banana Peel Pasta Sauce Ingredients (serves 4)

  • the peels of three bananas, washed well and diced small, hard ends cut off
  • vegetables of your choice. We used a diced green pepper, 3 diced celery stalks, half a diced courgette and a sweet potato cut into larger chunks.
  • herbs of your choice, a teaspoon of dried or a small bunch of fresh. Oregano is traditional. We used fresh parsley and lovage from the garden.
  • a tube of tomato puree
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Method

We made a a really simple oil free dish. For a more traditional approach you could fry some onions and garlic in a little oil first.

Place your banana peels, vegetables and herbs in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook until the veg and peels are tender. Stir in the tomato puree and season with salt and pepper.

Serve over pasta of your choice.

Other no waste recipes on site:


FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen.

Set in a castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations and a love story.

Paperbacks and kindle on Amazon UK and  Amazon Worldwide. Also on Kindle Unlimited and at all good book shops and even available in the library!

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

Frugal Spring: wild food, gardening, slippers…

Frugal Spring

Frugal Spring. We’re saying it’s spring because we’re so desperate for it to be so, and it may still feel like winter, but it WILL be spring VERY soon!

Wild garlic and nettles are already starting to grow in the garden and woods, great for recipes such as wild garlic pesto and nettle soup.

We’ve been doing a little bit of early gardening. In the pots pictured above are: red chilli seeds bought for 10p last autumn from Asda, coriander seeds from a Thompson and Morgan sale (their special offers are always worth checking out though we also saved the seeds from last year’s coriander and will be doing later plantings with them), rosemary that we grew from cuttings (so easy, just snip healthy looking bits and stick them in pots or the ground), and some thyme that was reduced to 30p in Tesco last year. These herbs have survived the winter well.

See our gardening/foraging/free food section here for more information.

The Cheap Slippers (and other clothes/shoes):
Everything5Pounds have their last winter sale on here with lots of things at £2.50 including some sweet slippers, unicorn style or Fairislse patterned!

Popular pages:
Cheap Holidays and Days Out
The 25p Meal
Make Money, Earn a Few Pounds

Bargain Food:
Low Price Foods
Approved Food

Frugal Spring

Featured Recipes:
Tomato Rice Soup
Leek and Potato Soup
Singapore Noodles
Beer Battered Onion Rings
Chocolate Cake

Wishing you all some lovely spring sunshine soon!

All at Frugal Living in the UK
http://www.frugal.org.uk

and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/frugaluk
and now, Facebook!

Aberdeen’s 1597 witchcraft panic (mermaid) and 18th century kidnappings (fireflies) combine with love and hope in THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR & FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE.

Both books are available on Kindle Unlimited and from the library!

Potato Broccoli Croquettes, a #nowaste recipe

potato broccoli croquettes, a no waste recipe

These potato broccoli croquettes are absolutely delicious, frugal and a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes.

The Frugal Story of the Plate

The mashed potato we’ve mentioned, but the broccoli came from an Olio Food Hero who had been given 78 heads of the stuff by Tesco. (Olio is a food sharing app, search for it on your phone or it’s on the web here). We took a box from her for the compost (compost post here) as there was no way she could give all that away, but we used as much broccoli as possible in our meals during that week! The cornbread in the picture also came from Olio; the food heroes always have LOTS of bread, much of which gets binned if it doesn’t get requested quickly enough.

The hummus on the bread, we won in an Instagram competition. See our sister site’s account here where we share a lot of these tag and like competitions on the story. Feel free to tag us if you want! The chilli contained 2 peppers from one of those £1.50 big veg boxes Lidl sometimes put together. They usually contain at least £10 of food. In our local Lidl they seem to only appear early in the morning at weekends. The chilli also had a tin of mixed beans from Lidl and we used the water from the can as well as the cooking water from the broccoli earlier. There’s nothing particularly frugal about the salad…

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Potato Broccoli Croquettes Ingredients

  • Mashed Potatoes (we used roughly a soup bowl sized amount for four people to have 5 or 6 croquettes each)
  • half a head of broccoli, lightly steamed or boiled
  • a tablespoon of chickpea flour (gram flour). Other flour will do too.
  • optional: other leftovers. We had a small amount of veggie haggis in there too.
  • we also put in a little sourdough starter discard in to save wasting it (sourdough post here) but it’s not actually required.
  • a teaspoon of mustard, but you can use any herbs or spices you like to flavour these up.
  • a little salt and pepper
  • breadcrumbs to coat. Crushed potato crisps also work well.
  • a tablespoon of oil for shallow frying

Method

  • Chop the broccoli into small pieces and mix it into the mash with any other leftovers and mustard/spices/salt you’re using.
  • Prepare some breadcrumbs on a dish for rolling the croquettes in.
  • Form the mixture into small sausage shapes – if it’s too wet and sticky, add more flour.
  • Roll them in the crumbs and lay on a plate ready for frying. These can be prepared earlier and left to sit in the fridge until needed.
  • Shallow fry them, turning at least once during the frying process, until nice and crispy brown.
  • We served them with a homemade garlic mayo dip (recipe here). It went really well with them.

If you liked these potato broccoli croquettes, check out our other frugal recipes here.

Other no waste recipes on site:

In other news, the Jerusalem Artichokes we mentioned in our frugal living basics post finally got planted! Check out our free food and gardening page here.

Jerusalem Artichoke in the ground

The Secret Gardening Club always have great offers of overstock from nurseries:

Books

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen.

Set in a castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations and a love story.

Paperbacks and kindle on Amazon UK and  Amazon Worldwide and all good book shops and even the library!

“Ailish Sinclair spins this Scottish tale filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

Frugal Living Basics and Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem Artichokes and Garlic to be planted

Happy New Year!

It’s wintry here in Scotland. Of course it is. It’s January after all. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have garden plans. Above are Jerusalem Artichokes (like wee nutty potatoes, but plant once and have them forever) and some garlic bulbs that sprouted in the fridge. This is a good time for planting both. We just have to brave the cold and dig them in now! See our gardening/foraging/free food section here and Jerusalem Artichokes here from Thompson and Morgan.

But on to the Frugal Basics, great for a new year and a new start. One of the quickest ways to start reducing your spending is to rein in the food bill. See our food shopping tips here and all our frugal recipes here.

frugal recipes

Also see:
Frugal Living Around the House
Cheap Holidays and Days Out
Healthy Eating on a Budget
The 25p Meal
Sourdough Bread for Pennies

Some cheap places to shop online:

Low Price Foods
Approved Food
Everything5Pounds (clothes etc.)

Featured Recipes:

Wishing you all a happy and fruitful 2022!

All at Frugal Living in the UK
http://www.frugal.org.uk

and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/frugaluk
and now, Facebook!

Golden Soup: Turmeric Quinoa Vegetable

golden soup

This golden soup is light and nutritious and fragrant, the perfect panacea for all the rich food around at this time of year (post written in December). The quinoa is a great source of protein and turmeric is nicely anti-inflammatory for this hectic season. (See Frugal Christmas).

Quinoa has come down in price in recent years and most supermarkets now have it. We found it cheaply at Approved Food recently (also check Low Price Foods). Rice would also work well, as would rice noodles.

Golden Soup Ingredients (serves 4)

  • a handful of quinoa
  • 2 large carrots, cut into thin inch long strips
  • 2 sticks of celery, cut similarly
  • half a leek, ditto
  • 1 small sweet potato, same cutting
  • 1 yellow pepper, thin strips
  • a cup of frozen peas
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek
  • salt to taste

Golden Soup Method

It’s very simple. Place all the ingredients except the salt in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, turn down to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the quinoa has swollen and released its little tail things. Add salt to taste and enjoy!

If you liked this golden soup recipe, check out all our other tasty offerings here

Frugal Gifts

Everything5Pounds have a great range of clothes and homewares. All for £5, sometimes less. Designer items end up in the mix too.
The Works are fantastic for selling sets of books for the price you would normally pay for one, so great if you have lots of kids to buy for (or adults!).

Frugal Holidays

Travelling over the festive period?

Near the Motorways - a book to make holidays and days out cheaper

Near the Motorways: Affordable Alternatives to Service Stations (10th Edition). This book lists places that provide a meal or a quiet rest just five minutes from a motorway junction. The author has personally visited and selected over 200 entries in the guide which are included for their ambiance, friendliness, imaginative menus or peaceful surroundings. They do not pay for inclusion so each is chosen solely on merit. Each entry is illustrated by pen and wash drawing by the author, for ease of recognition. Special mention is made of the welcome for dogs and children and of any places of interest which are nearby. Buy from Amazon.co.uk