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.
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.
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
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
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!).
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This tattie soup is so basic it hardly constitutes a ‘recipe’! Simple and traditional Scottish fare – children love it.
A Frugal Story
The full frugal story of the plate above: we lucked out with one of the £1.50 cheap veg boxes in Lidl. It contained about 10 onions, a burst bag of baby plum tomatoes, 3 lettuces, a pack of leeks, 5 oranges, 3 lemons, 3 apples and a wee box of chilli peppers. It was so impressive we wish we’d taken a picture of it, but it was unpacked and torn into the compost too quickly!
We used one of the leeks in the soup and those are the tomatoes. The hummus was one of a set of flavoured pots reduced to 20p, also in Lidl, and that’s homemade sourdough bread. Carrots, potatoes, parsnips and herbs were from the garden. If it weren’t for the olives (yellow stickered in Asda but still the most expensive item pictured) the plate would have qualified as a 25p meal.
Fry the onion in the sunflower oil for a few minutes to seal the flavour, then place all the other ingredients except the kale in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are cooked (15 – 20 minutes). Add the green vegetables 5 minutes before cooking is finished to prevent them being over-done. Mash.
The quantities given make quite a large pan of soup – we eat half one day and store the rest in the fridge until the next day – you may wish to change the quantities to suit your needs. It also freezes well.
This carrot and butterbean soup is thick and nutrifying, just perfect for a cold day!
These quantities make about 6 bowls, adjust as needed.
Carrot and Butterbean Soup Ingredients
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
about 8 large to medium carrots, scraped and cut up into chunks
1 tin of cooked butter beans (large limas), about 400g
2 pints/4 cups/1200ml of water approx
a little salt as desired
Fry the onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes and then add the carrot and stir well. Add water and bring to the boil – turn down to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until the carrot is cooked through. Add the beans and cook for a further 5 minutes or so until they are properly heated through. Season and blend. Was nice left a little rough but you might prefer to keep going until smooth.
£10 off with code FREE10 when shopping with Flava Buy Now Pay Later Supermarket (not a discount store but they do always have some short dated items for pennies). Offer valid from 27/09/2021 until further notice.
Food glorious food. We want it. Nay, we need it. And obtaining our food has all gone a little bit strange in the last couple of years, from only being allowed out to buy essentials during lockdown to facing empty shelves in the supermarkets in 2021.
It’s good to keep abreast of changing ideas and new concepts as they pop up in these strange times.
This is our wee rundown of alternative food purchasing/obtaining methods from a buy now pay later supermarket to groceries on bikes, short dated shops and a free food app.
Buy Now Pay Later
Flava is the UK’s first and only Buy Now Pay Later Supermarket. Everyone gets £100 credit and there are no fees, no credit checks and 0% interest is charged. This is not a discount store but there are always some special offers available for pennies. Well worth a check!
£10 off your shop with code FREE10!
Cheapest: Short Dated Food
Old favourites of ours, Low Price Foods and Approved Foods sell clearance and short dated food and household products. Many items do actually have quite a long date on them. This is a great way to stock up the cupboards.
Fastest: Gorillas on Bikes!
If you live in one of the areas Gorillas cover (at the time of writing: London, Manchester, Nottingham, Reading, Southampton and Cambridge), you can get a grocery delivery bicycled to you in 10 minutes! Standard retail prices.
SAS sell direct to the public in packs of 6. Prices offered are at discounts of up to 50% off either price marked products or RRP. SAS stands for Share and Save, encouraging customers to work with family, friends, neighbours and colleagues to save money together.
Food Glorious Food for Free: Olio
Olio is an app that you can download to your phone to share food in your local area. It does have a desktop version too. People share things that they can’t use up in time from their fridge, or cupboard items that they no longer want. Food Waste Heroes (which you can volunteer to be) collect yellow stickered or surplus food from businesses and then share it on the app.
A new bulk food ordering website – SAS – has launched. This on-line Grocery Wholesaler deals in food, non-food, health and hygiene products and soft drinks. They sell direct to the general public in packs of 6. Prices offered are at discounts of up to 50% off either price marked products or RRP. SAS stands for Share and Save, encouraging customers to work with family, friends, neighbours and colleagues to save money together.
In these changing times of supply issues and food shortages, it’s good to know of many different places and ways to shop such as bulk food ordering.
There is a £50 minimum charge with free delivery on orders over £75.
At the moment there’s a free gift of 3 bottles of Heinz Tomato Ketchup 570g valued at £6 for every new customer.
Olio is a food sharing app that you can download to your phone to give or receive food in your local area. It does have a desktop version too. People share things that they can’t use up in time, while farmers and gardeners sometimes offer produce that they have too much of. We’ve added this information to our free food section but you can just search for the app!
Thompson and Morgan have an amazing seed deal on: 10 packs for £10. Go here for the seed selection which contains over 300 types of fruit and vegetables, many usually costing £3.99 each. Offer ends midnight 25th of August 2021 or as long as stock lasts.
Use code TM_TAW61W at checkout to make sure you get the offer price for the seeds.
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These are cheap seeds from Thompson and Morgan, who have been selling plants and seeds since 1855. The quality is high, no dud seeds like occasionally happens with discount varieties. Go here for the seed selection which contains over 300 types of fruit and vegetables which should all be good for next year too.
Get packets of seeds for £1 each when you buy ten. Offer ends midnight 25th of August 2021 or until stock lasts.
Use code TM_TAW61W at checkout to make sure you get the offer price for the seeds. We did!