Keeping track of the grocery spend: August, September, October 2018.

(You can read the Preamble here, which explains all the different categories and how we budget, and what is and isn’t included).

How did our grocery spend look for August, September and October last year?



August 2018.

In August I was still off work for the summer. We were very much under budget that month. We spent £89.59 out of a budgeted £130 this month. So £40.41 under.
Getting food from the reduced aisle (hell-o, 4-pack of bread rolls for 8p!), Foodprint, Olio and Shopmium all played their part in keeping costs down.

food chart aug 18food table aug 18

Our meat spend was low for this month, £6.20. Largely attributed to that we were still eating a lot of the food my sister gave us, and finding reduced food when going grocery shopping. As it was so warm we also at a lot more cold food such as salads, so lowering our spend on meat, while our fruit and vegetable spend was a healthy £12.81. Even more than the snack category, which is a bonus.

Again, diary comes out as the category we spent the most on in August at £19.51. A lot of cereal (with milk), tea-drinking (with milk) and cheese eating is to blame.

August 2018 was a mixed bag for us. We got to travel to Wales and Stonebridge City Farm. But Husband did not feel very well for some of the month. And we got our letter to say that Husband’s PIP hearing would be taking place in the beginning of September.


September 2018
Good grief.

It’s either the famine or the feast.

Even with Skintember going on, we still managed to spend £150.90 on groceries that month. £20.90 over budget! Gah!

So how does it break down?

food bar chart sep 18

food chart sep 18

One glaring category here is the dairy one. Good grief. £26.48. When going through the itemised spreadsheet I can see that a lot of our dairy was bought at full-price with a order I placed through Sainsbury’s as I had a voucher to use up.

Meat was also high at £33.69, again due to buying a large order in from the shops. And we’d finished what my sister and her family had very kindly given us.

We continued to use up and get as much out of the toiletries at home before buying new ones, this meant that we only spent £0.50 on personal care in September. Why yes, I have a huge stash, why do you ask?

I think September went over for a variety of reasons. We’d not spent a huge amount on food the month before, in fact we were £40 below budget that month, so had to stock up on different stuff. Pet care was quite high for September as we had the food order delivered with several bags of cat litter to keep us going.
We attended Husband’s PIP tribunal hearing that month and had an agonising wait for their decision for that, which impacted our mood and what we ate. Note the snacks category:(
Plus even though we were on Skintember, I still had to keep up appearances so as to not worry Husband, and had to buy food.
To help costs I did spend a lot of the Tesco and Sainsbury’s gift cards I have accrued from earning rewards from surveys. Normally I save them for birthdays and Christmas but needs must.


October 2018

 

food bar chart oct 18

food table oct 18

Ah, back to normality. In October 2018 we spent £65.38, so we were £64.62 under budget that month. That’s over half our grocery budget we didn’t spend!

October’s grocery budget spend was sponsored by visiting Foodprint, getting food from Sharing Sherwood, stopping colleagues from throwing food in the bin and volunteering to take it home, and getting reduced bargains and deals from Olio and Shopmium.

October was still a very tight month for us. Austober was in full swing for all four weeks, and we mostly lived on the food we had bought the previous month. This is reflected in our spends for this month. Very little was spent on any of the categories – with the exception of dairy. Of course. Can’t do without milk, now can we?

Bakery is very low this month, but looking at the itemised sheet I can see that we got quite a few loaves for 15p each, which helped bring the cost down.

We did not spend a lot on meat, as we were still using up what I bought the previous month, supplemented by some reduced food. I was hoping to fill our freezer again with the food my sister purchased and gifted us, but that went right out the window when I was forced to throw it away.


Looking at August, September and October combined, it doesn’t look too bad. If you squint. In total we spent £305.85 on groceries those three months, and that equals a very manageable £25.48 a week for us both and the Cat.

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Silver tries the Too Good to Waste box from Lidl.

In 2018, Lidl, a grocery chain here in the UK, announced that they would be trialling a Too Good to Waste scheme at several of their stores.

The premise is that rather than throwing it away, the stores create Too Good to Waste boxes, filled with fruit and vegetables that can still be eaten but just don’t look their best and so wouldn’t be sold in the shop.
Each box weighs about 5 kilos and costs £1.50, and are available for the first hours of the morning when the shops are open.

I went to Lidl on a Sunday morning in December, at about 10.30am to try one of these boxes. There was one left to buy at this stage, as they have proven quite popular.

This is the box of fruit and veg I purchased for £1.50, still at the shop:

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Once home I took it all out to have a closer look at what I had bought.

So what was in my Too Good to Waste box?

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900g grapes. Look at them. All juicy and delicious. One box grown in Peru and another in Namibia. To think that they’ve been grown and flown all the way to the UK. And would have ended up in the food waste bin if they hadn’t been put in the Too Good to Waste Box. What a waste of resources and time that would have been.

 

 

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900g of Brussels sprouts.
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A 2.5kg bag of potatoes.
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A butternut squash, 1.4kg.
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Five apples, 750(ish) grams.
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A single pear, 250g.
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A single persimmon fruit, 250g(ish).
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Two courgettes, 650g.
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And finally, 38 (!) clementines, about 2.4kg.  Yes, I counted them all.

We have now eaten almost all the fruit and vegetables in the box, and I can most certainly say we would buy this again.

We had so much fruit and veg from this box, for very little money. I had a good look at it all once I got home. One courgette was slightly bruised as was the persimmon fruit, and one of the clementines had started to go squishy.
Apart from the single clementine, all the fruit and veg was good to eat and has now been eaten. This provided us with a lot of good healthy food for our lunches and dinners. I took a whole bunch of clementines to work, and it provided a substantive amount of my snacks when I travelled down to London to see my family.

One thing to bear in mind is that because these are sold as ‘past best’ they may not stay as fresh as long as other produce would. This didn’t happen in our experience as none of it went off before we had a chance to use it.
Also bear in mind that the boxes are different each day, depending on what they have had to withdraw from the produce section. You never quite know what you might get with these.

But if you are skint/want to save money/want to stop food waste, I can recommend the Too Good to Waste Box from Lidl, without hesitation. I would say to get to the store early, as they have become increasingly more popular. When I bought mine, it was half an hour after the shop had opened, and the one I bought was the last one.

It’s not available in all UK stores as it is still at a trial stage. They have a list of stores where it runs here.

To illustrate how good this box was: I took the grapes to Husband’s family to share on Christmas Day as part of a buffet lunch. Husband’s mother and sister were all very impressed with the box, and both said that if I hadn’t told them it came from the Too Goo to Waste Box, they wouldn’t have known.

I think that sums up our experience of buying this box, really.

The first three weeks in December.

The first three weeks of December just flew by!

A lot of time was spent supporting Husband at home. He had his ingrown toenail out on the 3rd and had a week and three days off as a result.
Clever me ensured the house and laundry was done and food ordered and in the house before he went in for his operation.

The procedure went well and is healing nicely, bar 2 things:
1. So we were sat in the cubicle on the morning of the surgery after Husband had changed into his gown, when a lady (nurse? assistant? admin?magical fairy?) came into the cubicle. I said good morning to her, to which she didn’t respond. She did not look at either of us, but instead looked at Husband’s paperwork and scribbled something on it. And then left, leaving the curtain to the cubicle wide open. 😡 Listen lady, I know time is precious, but please have the courtesy to at least say hello, and your name, and say why you are coming in.
2. Husband asked to be put to sleep with the gas at his pre-operative assessment, due to this pathological fear of needles and injections, rather than using the cannula. When Husband was going to be put under however the anesthetist insisted on that he should have the cannula. Husband protested and said he had asked for the gas only to be told that this was not in the notes and that ‘Husband was making it difficult for everyone.’

I was very thankful that Husband’s parents could sit with him after his operation was done while I worked, as they want people who have had general anesthetic not to be left unattended the first 24 hours after the procedure.

Most of the first week in December was spent working and then returning home after work to check how Husband was.

I still managed to do some Christmas prep.

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I managed to prep some food the first week of December by making the red cabbage for Christmas Eve, and make rice porridge, both to eat and to make rice cream with. A very traditional Norwegian dessert consisting of cold rice porridge mixed with whipped cream and some vanilla sugar. Serve with strawberry jam or sauce.

The first two Wednesdays in December I decided to spend at home with Husband, so managed to decorate the tree as well.
IMG_20181212_144433Our lovely tree. I didn’t put any lights on this year as our lights didn’t work and I didn’t want to traverse a shop to buy some new ones. So I left them in their box out in the front room, while trying to work out where I could send them to be recycled.

The Cat gave me a dreadful fright. Husband was at home with a friend when they heard a crunching sound. They went to the front room and found that the Cat had gotten into the box and chewed two of the glass bulbs from the Christmas lights.
Husband managed to catch her and had a look in her mouth, but couldn’t see any damage or that she’d swallowed any of the glass. They picked up the rest of the pieces, but I kept waking up the following two nights, wondering where she was. The Cat has never been interested in the tree or the lights, so it didn’t even occur to me that she would chew the lights. I could never have forgiven myself if me being careless had caused her to suffer.
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Work also put their Christmas tree up, I especially like these baubles as they remind me of a peacock’s feather.
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I had the most wonderful Christmas present at the beginning of the second week. One of the panels I am a part of doing surveys for drew my number in their monthly draw. I won a £100 PayPal gift card! This was promptly added to our rainy day/Travel somewhere fund.

In-between working I managed to write and send our Christmas cards out.

One afternoon Husband had the dreaded brown envelope through from the DWP through in the post. Feeling my heart beat a bit faster (I swear brown envelope phobia is a thing) I opened it…to find that Husband has been given a £10 Christmas bonus from them. Joy.

I managed to get some freebies on Shopmium.

And some bargains. Of course.

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Saturday the 15th of December I woke up feeling very rubbish.

Oh not again, I thought. I had to fight myself to go to work as I felt so ill, and spent most of the weekend feeling very tired and flat.

I was shelving a book and found this inside one of them:

The last week before Christmas I felt progressively more ill. Finally on the Thursday I caved after much nagging from Husband and called in sick, spending Thursday and Friday in bed. I felt that if I was to have a chance to recover I needed to just rest for a day or two, rather than fighting with myself to go to work.

Saturday the 22nd I felt much better after two days at home. It was the last day of work before Christmas. The university campus was very quiet all day that day.
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All the staff brought some food to share, and there was lots left over from the weekday staff. In addition I also volunteered to clean and sort the work fridge out, to leave it nice and clean in the New Year (and to stop work colleagues throwing the food away). So I came home from work with this:

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All perfectly good food, saved from being thrown away.

Sunday the 23rd was spent with Husband and family, as it was our nephew’s 14th birthday. It’s not the poor soul’s fault he’s born just two days off Christmas Day, so we try hard to make his birthday stand out.

Husband’s SAD light arrived the day before, so he started using it that Sunday. We will have to see how it works out. The manual says he should feel better with 3 to 4 days of use.

All in all it was a good pre-Christmas time. Apart from feeling ill one week, it was quite relaxed. Presents had already been bought or were being bought early, saving me the stress of traversing the heaving town centre. I also had a chance to meet up with my former line manager and head of department, and it was lovely catching up with them both.

 

 

Keeping track of the grocery spend: May, June and July 2018.

(You can read the Preamble here, which explains all the different categories and how we budget, and what is and isn’t included).

How did our grocery spend look for May, June and July this year?



May 2018:

In May we were under budget – out of a £130 grocery budget we spent £121.57.

May graphMay table

Looking at it, I think we did quite well for this month. Though it is important to note that just because the spend for a category is low, it doesn’t necessarily mean we didn’t buy as much stuff for that category.

Bakery for example. It only came to £3.39 that month, which is very low. However looking what I actually bought for that month, we did buy the regular amounts of bread and baked goods we normally buy. It’s because we’ve gotten them very reduced and for a good price that our spend has been very low. You cat get a lot of loaves of bread if they only cost between 15 and 30p!

Our meat spend was also very low, due to us still living on the lovely food my sister and her family sent to us in April.

I set a challenge to not buy any more personal care items until I had used up what I have at home in the New Year, and this is why the personal care category is quite low as well, at only £4.06.

But! Oh my goodness, the snacks category! It’s the third largest category for our household that month, standing at £14.76.

I do think this reflects what was going on in our lives at that point, as we were both feeling low at the time. We were still waiting for a PIP tribunal date, and the students at my previous job were giving the staff including me a lot of grief. Food and mood go together and even though I would always get things as cheaply as possible, it still says something about what was going on at the time. At least we spent more on fruit and vegetables. And dairy. A lot of cheese was consumed that month. Cheese is not cheap.



June 2018

In June we did even better. Our grocery spend was £114.76 out of the £130 I had budgeted for us. This was due to finding reduced food in store, visiting Foodprint, and rescuing food at work from being thrown out by my colleagues.
June graphJune table
So how did we do?

One glaring category here is the dairy one. Good grief. £22.50. Looking at the itemised sheet, this is due to buying a lot of milk, and some cheese. I do wonder if we go through more milk than other households as we drink a lot of it with our tea and have cereal for breakfast. Plus we buy skimmed milk as well, which might be a contributing cause. I have seen milk reduced in the shops in the past but I am a bit wary of buying it, as I have experienced twice that I’ve brought it home to use and found it had curdled.

At least the fruit and vegetable spend was sensible at £17.76 – again, thanks to reduced bargains in the shop and Foodprint. The meat category increased in June but this makes sense, as we had finished the food my sister and her family had given us.

Continuing to use up our toiletries at home before buying new ones meant that we only spent £2.50 on personal care in June. And I was pleased to note that the snacks category for June went down to £9.15.

June was an interesting month for us. We’d been given Husband’s first PIP tribunal hearing date, and a change to his medication meant I spent a week at home looking after him.


July 2018

Despite it being very hot and sticky, we came in at £123.12 out of £130 for July. I started getting food from the Olio app, I foraged blackberries and got reduced food in-store and from Foodprint.

July graphJuly table

The frozen category for July was much higher than the two preceding months. This is because I went home to Norway for a week and wanted to leave Husband with quick and simple meals to prepare while I was away. Also, ice cream.
Pet care was quite high for this month. I ordered an online shop in so Husband wouldn’t have to worry about food shopping while I was in Norway. I had several bags of cat litter delivered, which drove that category up for that month. Sure, I ordered six bags of cat litter, but that would keep us going for a while.

We also spent more on drinks than we normally do, because it was just very hot that month.
The spend for personal care was also low for July, £2.40, as I was continuing to use up the toiletries we have at home.

July was a very mixed month for us. The weather was lovely and warm but we also had to content with Husband’s first PIP tribunal hearing.


All in all we spent £359.45 on groceries for May, June and July 2018, which comes down to £29.59 a week for us and the Cat.

A Nice November.

December is officially upon us, for better or for worse – so how was November?

Nearly-There November was nice for a variety of reasons:

  • We were under budget for the food shop this month. Largely thanks to reduced bargains and Foodprint. And Olio.
  • Despite it being officially winter, I was still able to peg the washing out several days this month, and for it to be nearly dry on my return from work. This is such a help for me, as it means I don’t have to have lots of damp washing hanging around (only slightly damp washing that smells wonderfully of having hung outside).
  • Husband was awarded his Mobility Travel Card. This means he can travel in the community on buses and the tram without having to worry about the cost, I am hoping he will use it to see his family more, to make him feel less lonely.
  • Had a friend visit; we hit the charity shops and ate a lovely lunch at home. Also enjoyed seeing my former manager and having a good chat.
  • I got a £30 giftcard from one of the panels I contribute to. And £15 in vouchers for doing a product test.
  • Managed to get some lovely new towels for very little money, and got £35 cashback on our contents insurance.

Things that could have been improved about November were:

  • Based on Husband’s mood and what he was like last year, I am quite confident Husband has SAD. His mood has become more subdued the darker it has become. Will investigate light therapy and buy him a light therapy lamp. Thank goodness for his PIP as those lamps are not cheap!
  • Had two days off work as feeling blergh.

 

The end of Nearly-There November.

(You can read about last week here, if you feel so inclined.)

Monday, 26th of November.
Walked to and from work today, despite the cold.
Spent some of my time at home this evening making a second Shepherd’s pie for next week to go in the freezer.

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My lovely ‘pie’ filling, before the ‘crust’ of mashed potato went on.

Tuesday, 27th of November.
I decided to take the bus to work today as the forecast said heavy rain.
After work I went and got some free food listed on Olio, and I also went by the convenience store down the street, where they had some reduced bargains.

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How lovely are these! We had these this week while watching TV.
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Husband was so pleased with the black puddings ^_^

Husband was feeling quite deflated today. Believe quite strongly he is experiencing SAD, based on pas experience as he started feeling the same way around this time last year. It did improve as spring came.
Have asked him to discuss this and maybe some options at therapy.

Wednesday, 28th of November.
Day off today, or something.

After Husband had his therapy session, I accompanied Husband to his medical assessment, to check his eligibility for a mobility travel card (awarded to people who have a disability and who are eligible). The doctor assessing him was surprised he was asked to attend, given his epilepsy, but filled the form in and sent it off. We should hear within 2 week if he has been accepted or not.
Then went with him to his appointment with the epilepsy consultant, who commented on how subdued he seemed. She queried if the change in his medicines is having a depressive effect, but Husband seemed confident that he was feeling the way he was due to SAD.
I then went along to a product development session at one of the local consumer groups I am part of, and earnt £15 in Love2Shop vouchers for my time. They are now safely stashed away in the Christmas/Present Fund.

Husband’s therapist seemed to concur with my suspicions and have recommended different strategies to deal with SAD. One of these is to use light therapy, but a cursory search brought up that one of these lamps can cost from £75(!). Contemplating sending out a Facebook message asking if anyone has one spare we can borrow….

Thursday, 29th of November.
In a bid to use up what we have in our cupboards, I got up extra early to make up a packet soup and take it to work. It was nice enough with some bread, but incredibly salty! So will either add some milk or cream to the next batch before I take it in.
Did some life admin at home this evening, just paying two bills and researching some Christmas presents.

Friday, 30th of November.
Had a lovely surprise in the mail when I got in from work, as Husband has been approved for a mobility travel card. Using this card he can travel on local public transport for free off-peak, Monday to Friday, and all day Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays. It is valid until 2023.

This is such a boon to us, as it means Husband can access places in the community and not worry about the cost. It is also valid beyond the city boundary so I am secretly hoping he will use it to see his parents more and his sister more.
It might make him feel less lonely and isolated.

I explained to Husband that he could use it both for the bus and the tram, to which Husband said he preferred the bus. When I asked why, he explained that on the tram, there isn’t anyone you can ask for help – you have to get off and press the assistance button to speak to someone. On the bus you can always go and ask the driver if you are unsure of where you need to get off, or if you’re going the right way.
Even though Husband and I have been together for 12 years and married for 8, I still learn new things about him and how he navigates the world, even now.

Saturday, 1st of December.
First day of December!
Blergh. Did not feel unwell as such this morning, but very flat and tired. Had to fight with myself to even get out of bed. Don’t think that it helped that today was a very gray and drizzly day. It got better once I got to work and could have something hot to drink.
Today we had an open day, meaning there were lots of leftovers for the staff to take home at the end of the day. They even had a large cauldron of vegetable soup, and we were encouraged to take seconds.
Taking these sandwiches home brought me back to my first week of my Living Below The Line challenge last year. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I did those two weeks for charity.

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Lovely sandwiches. This will keep me going at work next week. Hard to imagine that if we had not collected them, Catering would have thrown them away:(

My nice colleague was once again taking a taxi back after work and invited me to join, which saved me lots of time in getting home.

As I don’t want to have to go to the shops next week if it can be helped to be able to stay at home with Husband as much as possible, I had an online shop delivered in the evening.
Now, I get that they don’t always have the things I have ordered in, and so have to substitute them. But some of the substitutes I have had through the years have just baffled me.
This time for instance, I bought two 2.5kg bags of frozen chicken portions (legs, wings, thighs). Which they could not supply, and they had substituted 5 kilos of chicken with a single 750g bag of frozen chicken breast (???). I said politely no thank you, and sent it back once it arrived.
One of the bags of cat litter I ordered had burst at the bottom, and so I said I wanted to send it back. The driver then said he would get me the money refunded, but he would have to damage it anyway, so did I want to keep the bag? ^_^
Naturally, as we discovered while putting the food away, I’d only gone and forgotten to buy teabags…

Sunday, 2nd of December.
Feeling more human today. Had a relaxing morning at home before going to the shops before work.
We drew our Secret Santa at work today, Keeping up Appearances meant that I took part. Have £5 budget to spend which is not too excessive. Just need to work out what to buy now…
Found some lovely food at Foodprint – they were busy setting up their decorations, ad they were celebrating the first year of the store. What an achievement, and long may it continue.

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This food cost us £3.65. Husband was very pleased I managed to get mushrooms.

My lovely colleague once again offered me a ride in the taxi he was taking after work, meaning I could swing by the Co-Op on my way down the street to get these:

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Got a whole fresh chicken for £1.13 from the Co-Op. Went right into the freezer for another day. Take that, nonsensical chicken substitutes! (and also got a bag of sausage rolls and cheese and onion rolls, 34p each.)

My evening was spent preparing for tomorrow, including tidying and cleaning the house. Husband’s parents will be staying with him while he is recovering from the general anesthetic he will be receiving.

Keeping track of the grocery spend: The Preamble.

I decided in April this year to start keeping an eye on how much we were spending on groceries – more specifically, what we were buying, and how much it was costing us a month.
Mainly out of interest, but also to see what we were spending on which foods and products, and where we could cut back. If having a bad month emotionally affected what we bought to eat.
With bills being like they are, as in, you can change provider, sure, but you can’t not pay for stuff you use. Gas and electric, mortgage, water bills, council tax, internet…the list goes on. I have often found that it’s the food budget that you can slash the most, or make the most of. Or change to adapt to your circumstances, if need be.

To do this, I created a spreadsheet, giving each month a tab in the spreadsheet, and added in anything we spent for groceries for myself, Husband and the Cat.

After a bit of experimenting, I have come to that our budget for the month ought to be £130, so £32.50 per week for us. This covers food, household stuff, toiletries and anything the Cat needs. Naturally being below budget at the end of the month is always good!

I don’t have a set budget for each category as such, but if some categories are a bit excessive, then I will try and rein it in for the following month.

I have separated our grocery spending into the following categories:

  • Fruit and Vegetables: Fresh fruit and vegetables, includes potatoes.
  • Snacks: Biscuits, donuts, crisps, nuts, anything that’s a treat goes in here.
  • Bakery: Bread, rolls, bagels, buns, thins, naan bread, pitta bread, wraps, baguettes.
  • Dairy: Milk, cheeses, butter, spreads.
  • Household: Toilet and kitchen roll, cleaning fluids and cloths, washing up liquid, scourers, matches, aluminium foil, bin liners – things for the house.
  • Drinks: Tea and coffee, squash, juices, fizzy drinks.
  • Pet Care: Food for the Cat, her cat litter, treats.
  • Eggs: Just eggs.
  • Cupboard Staples: Dried and tinned goods, such as pasta, rice, ready sauces, tinned tomatoes, spices, tinned pies and tinned fruit and veg.
  • Meat: Fresh and frozen meat of any variety, including sausages, bacon and minced meat. Includes cooked meats such as corned beef and ham.
  • Personal Care: Our toiletries, so shower gels, toothpaste, lotions, shampoo, etc. 
  • Frozen Food: Frozen veg, potatoes, pizzas and pies, and so forth.
  • Chilled Food: Food that could be described as deli style, so for instance pork pies, olives, coleslaw, potato salad.

I’ve made the decision not to include the following in our grocery budget.

  • Medicines and health care products: This includes both over the counter stuff and prescriptions. Health and looking after it is important and I feel it’s something we need to spend what is necessary on, without skimping. You can still be thrifty and buy own-brand products though!
    I am grateful that Husband has a medical exemption card provided by the state, which means he does not pay a prescription fee for his medicines. Thank goodness.
  • Makeup and beauty products: I buy these with my gift cards or get them as presents, so do not come out of the grocery budget as such.
  • Delivery charges for online shopping. I shop online very rarely, preferring to shop for groceries in-store as it often has a reduced section I check out. So on the rare occasions I get a shop delivered, I try to have it done at a cheap time/day anyway. In our experience, very late slots or the latest slots in the day are the cheapest. I have had our shop delivered for £1/£2 that way – it would have cost me more to go to the shop in bus fare, so it’s a saving, I guess?

My post about May, June and July are in progress, so we will see soon how we did for those three months.

 

Nearly-There November, week 3.

If you want to, you can read about the previous week of Nearly-There November here.

Monday, 19th of November.
Blergh. One of the people I work with must have passed something to me, as I woke up feeling really hot and feverish. My voice was reduced to a croak, so I spent most of today sitting very still or doing stuff in short bursts before having to rest. I made the decision not to go to work, as I a. felt rubbish and b. did not inadvertently want to pass my bug to any patient-facing staff.
I decided to roast the pumpkins I got for free from Olio – it seemed to be the easiest way to prepare them, with a minimum of effort involved.

 

This will make a lovely and colourful part of our dinners for the next week or so. So pleased I managed to help save them from going in the bin. I cut them into wedges, drizzled them with oil and salted and peppered them, and just cooked them in the oven on 180 degrees until soft.

Last weekend I got an email from eBay with a £10 off any spend in their homewares section. My mother has gifted us some money for new towels for the new bathroom (some of our cloths and towels are now so worn, you can see through them). I got a bundle of cloths, hand towels and bath towels for £.98, as shipping was free.

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My lovely new towels. Glad I washed them separately though, as I could see the water in the drum changing colour to turquoise during the wash…

Tuesday, 20th of November.
Still feeling very blergh. Spent the day indoors, resting and staying warm.
Tried to still be productive and do things. Ordered a big shop from Sainsbury’s so that I won’t have to go shopping for some time after Husband’s had his operation. It also means I can order a lot of big and bulky stuff I would normally struggle to carry with me. Five bags of cat litter? Certainly. Six tins of baked beans? Why not. It should keep us going for some time through December.
Paid some bills off, and also had an email through to say I have received my Amazon voucher for the payment study I did. That will go in the Christmas stash when it arrives, alongside the Inboxpounds voucher I requested.

Wednesday, 21st of November.
Had a friend visit for the day. Felt more human, so we bought cheeses and treats to have for lunch – we can choose what we want to have, it’s cheaper then the three of us going out to eat, plus it meant we could use stuff we already had at home.
Exchanged Christmas presents and then spent some time perusing the charity shops by our house. I found two smart cardigans and a pretty dress for work. We also had time for a card game which is always fun.

Thursday, 22nd of November.
Back to work today. Made the decision to take the bus there and back again to not strain myself too hard, so could leave the house a bit later than normal. Neighbour’s birthday today, so we decided to treat her to a meal out at a restaurant up the road. Keeping Up Appearances meant we paid, but we managed to get in on an earlybird deal which meant it was not unreasonable in price.
Before going out, I sat and bought our contents insurance as ours lapsed yesterday and I did not want to auto renew. Got us insured for a reasonable price and we will also get £35 cashback for our purchase.

Friday, 23rd of November.
Walked to and from work today in the fog, just taking my time. A very quiet day at work, so did some documenting towards my appraisal. We don’t have probation periods at weekday workplace, but if you don’t meet your objectives without good reason, you then don’t get the incremental payrise at the start of every new financial year. So very important to document everything, to show you are meeting or, preferably, exceeding your objectives.

Saturday, 24th of November.
Very quiet at weekend job this morning, which is just what I needed. Husband was very kind and helpful, doing stuff around the house, going shopping up the road as we needed some food, and starting dinner for when I got back. Colleague very kindly gave me a lift back from work.
I was nevertheless worn out and went to bed at 10pm – not like me at all for a Saturday.

Sunday, 25th of November.
Had a lovely quiet morning at home with Husband before heading out to work today. We had a nice breakfast together after lying in bed for a while drinking a cup of tea.
It was a bit warmer and sunnier today than it has been this week, so took a chance and pegged the washing out before work.
I managed to get to Foodprint before work. I am so thankful it exists. It has been such a boon to us, and provided us with so much lovely and different food, for very little money.

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Saving food from being thrown in the bin and saving money, with Foodprint. This shop cost me £3.10.

My colleague was again getting a taxi back home and offered me a ride, which meant I could get home right away, rather than having to hang about waiting for a bus. I even had time to swing by the Co-Op to see if there were any bargains to be had.

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Got a large pot of vanilla yogurt, 25p and a fresh baguette, 14p, from the Co-Op.

Came home and wanted to fill the kettle up, and noticed to my surprise that the water pressure was significantly lower than normal. Neighbour down the path said it was affecting her, as well as her neighbours either side. Thankfully it came out as normal again about two hours later.
Spent the evening relaxing at home, but also had time to change the Cat’s tray and hoover, make our lunches for tomorrow and fold the laundry. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was dry for when I got in, not bad for almost December!
Had 100 free listings to use for eBay so relisted some of our unsold things. Think this might be the last time before Christmas I do it, as I don’t want any sales to now get caught in the Christmas post.

Speaking of which, it’s precisely a month to Christmas from today’s date….

(You can read about next week here, if you wish.)

Nearly-There November, Week 1.

Monday, 5th of November.
Walked to and from work today, as the weather was nice and bright. I have begun to realise that it now gets dark here earlier and that by 5pm it is dark. It is not as nice to walk in the dark, to be honest, but I will carry on with it as it’s good for me to move about.

Tuesday, 6th of November.
Learning new procedures today at work – feeling very self-conscious of being the new hire. I hope I won’t disappoint.
Husband has had to take some leave this week to get used to a reduction in his meds, so he very kindly made dinner as he was home. Nothing like coming home to dinner being ready and waiting for you.

Wednesday, 7th of November.
Day off today.
Spent a good two hours catching up with my lovely line manager from my previous job. We went to M and S, and using my M and S gift card from when I switched bank to them, it meant I could buy us a lovely drink and a piece of cake each from the cafe for no money.
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I then attended a meeting at my weekend workplace regarding the settlement programme the government is piloting for EU residents. As someone from the EEA I am not eligible to take part at this time, but it was still informative and useful to attend. The weekend workplace have stated they will pay the fee for applying for settlement status, £65, so as soon as I find out what the procedure is for EEA nationals I will apply to ensure I get the money reimbursed.

After the meeting, I went and did a bit of self-employed work for one the the firms I do work in Norwegian for. Nice to have some extra money coming in for next month. And it didn’t take all that long either.
We decided to have fast food as a treat for an early dinner, before I parceled up and went to post some eBay sales we’ve had.

Thursday, 8th of November.
I suddenly realized when I went to bed Wednesday night that the 24 hour bus ticket I had purchased through the app, meant that it was in fact valid for 24 hours!
Sorry if it sounds daft, but paper day tickets expire at the end of the day, but these you buy from the app are now valid for 24 hours after activation, until the next day. So as I got the bus before 9am on Wednesday, I decided to use the ticket up to take the bus to work in the morning.
Hey, I’ve bought the ticket, I want to get as much use out of it as humanly possible!

Walked home from work, going by the Co-Op to get milk coming back. Looked for bargains but sadly, there were none. Think 5.30pm is a bit early to look for the magical yellow stickers to appear.

Friday, 9th of November.
Work was very quiet today, so caught up with shelf-tidying.

Had a text from M and S bank to say another £5 has been added to my gift card (you have to have £1000 go in every month, and have two Direct Debits go out, to get the bonus applied). Think I will put it towards Christmas presents for this year.

When I checked my emails that evening, I was pleasantly surprised to find I was one of the ‘posters of the month’ on one of the online boards I am part of, which meant they sent me a £30 Amazon voucher. It was duly stashed in the Christmas/Birthday fund.

Saturday, 10th of November.
A quiet morning at work, meaning we could get on with this year’s stock projects. As usual, I found stuff to borrow.

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Two very interesting items I borrowed. The one on the right is a graphic novel about the experiences of a man who worked as a mental health nurse in a locked ward. The one on the left is a mental health first aid manual, designed for use in remote places of the world where mental health provision may be basic or not even exist.

Tempted to place a borrowing embargo on myself now, got so many books to read, yet keep finding interesting stuff on the shelves! Gah!

Sunday, 11th of November.
Had a quiet morning at home with Husband before going out.
Managed to make breakfast, do the dishes and take down and fold two loads of laundry before I left.
Using Husband’s pass to save on the precious few days of travel I have purchased for myself, using the travel app the bus company has.
We are collecting for three charities as a department this year for Christmas, so went by the shops to get some of the items that have been requested.

I also managed to swing by Foodprint before work. They are celebrating their first anniversary in December; I am so grateful it exists. It has saved so much food from going in the bin, and it’s saved us so much money. Managed to get lots of lovely bread which will make up Husband’s lunches at work over the next few weeks (it will all fit in the freezer, thankfully!).

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Lovely food for our lunches and breakfasts, saved by Foodprint from the bin. This cost me £5.75. It’s been such a boon to us, and has saved us so much money. Mr. Stabby is keeping an close eye on things.

Work was quiet, so managed to catch up on off-desk tasks and emails.
My colleague again offered a ride home as he was getting a taxi anyway, so grateful for this as it saves me so much time travelling home from work on a Sunday night.
This also meant I could go by the local shop and see if there were any bargains, which there were.

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Got these lovely donuts, 16p, and sausage and cheese and onion bakes, 34p a bag.

Husband went to Sharing Sherwood with our neighbour, and brought home some lovely food (and dinner for me).
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Here’s hoping next week will be as frugal.

An Overdue October.

November is now here, and winter is really approaching now, after we have had a lovely warm summer and fall. We caved at the end of October and put the heating on in the evenings.

How did we do for October?

  • Unlike last month, we were below budget for groceries for October. Long may it continue. Olio and Foodprint once again came through and helped us save a lot of money. I also got some good reduced food deals and my Wilkos voucher meant we could buy a lot of toiletries and household stuff for very little money. Old habits die hard.
  • Husband was finally and at long last given his overdue backdated PIP payment. It will pay for everything he needs to be able to function and take part in everyday life.
  • Husband and I have both been paid. Hopefully as we go into the New Year, we will build up our savings again. I will apply the overpayment to the mortgage again when I have some free time next week.
  • Silver had her birthday. I received a lot of good wishes and lovely gifts. And I got to see my sister and spend some quality time with her.
  • Husband is settling in well in his new workplace, doing part-time. I can’t help but feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. I can be sure that he is okay at work and feels safe and appreciated there. He had to have a few days off work due to his foot swelling, and he said to me that he ‘looked forward to going back to work.’
    Be still my heart, be still!
    I know that you can’t expect to always love your job, or like everyone you come across. Life is not like that. However Husband has always had a raw deal with everything, work, school, college. Not really feeling like he fitted in anywhere.

    I think this time, things will be different.