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!).
Travelling over the festive period?
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
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. 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.
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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Well, lots has happened here in Frugal Towers since we last wrote. There’s been hospitalisations, there’s been strange symptoms… now there’s bandages and medicine. But the frugal life goes on, as does this peculiar year!
See our Frugal Christmas section on how to minimise the cost and stress that can occur at this time. Some festive recipes too.
If you want to stock those cupboards up, Approved Food is the place to do it, selling soap and cleaning products too. Their stock changes daily.
Everything5pounds is the place to get cheap winter woolies for the approaching season. Also good for festive gifts.
Our founder’s debut novel is still available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited (they do a free trial which is a good way to stock up on some autumn reading). 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. Libraries can get it too.