July 16

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Blackcurrant Preserves And How To Handle A Glut Of Raspberries

Week 3 – July 16th, 2018

It’s the third week of the month: if you can make the time, Preserve Something and Review Your Spending

I posted last week about getting best value from pick-your-own fruit farms. I am quite canny these days about only visiting farms where the fruit is genuinely cheaper than a supermarket but I still risk stumbling in pursuit of thrifty fruit every time I visit a PYO farm. Why? Because, dear reader, I am greedy. I see fat red strawberries or deep pink raspberries and, like edible pokemon, I gotta catch ’em all. Only at the exit till do I realise I may have picked more than we can either preserve or eat. If, like me, you come home from the fruit farm with too many berries, read What To Do When You Pick Too Many Raspberries for inspiration. And develop some self-control. You can come back and teach me how when you do…

This is also the season for blackcurrants. If you have a source of these little black flavour bombs, take a look at How To Turn A Basket Of Blackcurrants Into A Cupboard Full Of Frugally Fabulous Preserves for some inspiration.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and more advice on how to budget successfully.

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

 

July 13

How To Turn A Basket Of Blackcurrants Into A Cupboard Full Of Frugally Fabulous Preserves

Is The Humble British Blackcurrant The New Superfood?

I lost interest in superfoods several years ago. I am not convinced any food remains super when it has been transported half way round the world. That, and superfoods always seem to be pricey. Nobody ever claims the humble – and cheap – brussels sprout as a superfood, for example. But a source of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants that is still bright green in the dead of winter sounds pretty heroic to me. Superfoods seem less like a health revolution and more like a marketing ploy, yet another way to get us all to buy expensive products when the cheaper, local version is perfectly good. So I am heartened by the more recent move towards embracing the super powers of foods that grow – cheaply – right here in our chilly northern climate.

Our national love affair with all things Scandi has reintroduced the idea that berries might be of benefit – great news in the British summer time when they are abundant. Which brings me to blackcurrants – hailed by one study as the next superfood over a decade ago. Blackcurrants are easy to grow and easy to pick. No bending over (strawberries I am looking at you) and no big prickles lurking on every stem (hello gooseberries and blackberries  and I see you have your slightly kinder friends the raspberries with you.) They grow in gardens, are abundant in PYO farms and make some of the most delicious preserves and desserts known to man. According to The Blackcurrant Foundation, these tiny powerhouses can help with all manner of health issues, from a UTR to Erectile Dysfunction but let’s not pretend I am really eating them for their health benefits. In truth, you have to add so much sugar to the tart little berries that much of the benefit to your body is outweighed by the damage to your teeth.

Got Blackcurrants? Got No Idea What To Do With Them? Look No Further…

No, for me, blackcurrants are not health food; blackcurrants are treat food. Their intense flavour is wasted on Ribena – it deserves to be in artisan jams and jellies gracing elegant cream teas. Or in seriously indulgent deserts. Or liqueurs. The closest I am prepared to go to claiming blackcurrants as health food is as a dressing ingredient in salads. Pam Corbin’s fruit vinegar recipe works beautifully with blackcurrants to make the perfect base for fruity salad dressings – perfect drizzled over rocket, pecan nuts and goat’s cheese. The link also leads you to Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Blackcurrant Ripple Parfait. What better way to enjoy the fruits in season? In fact, if you want to cook with blackcurrants – or eat them in a decadent smoothie or a cool, sharp ice-lolly – look no further than The Blackcurrant Foundation’s own recipe page.

Delicious magazine’s Creme de Cassis recipe requires very little effort but quite a lot of patience. Keep some of your jewel-coloured liqueur until December and you can use it to make BBC Good Food’s simple but impressive Christmas Mess. Or enjoy it mixed with bubbly on Christmas morning.

Blackcurrants are incredibly easy to make into jams and jellies because they have just the right balance of acidity and pectin. It’s the combination of these two ingredients that ensures a good set for jams and jellies and, without it, you have to mix fruits together or add pectin to your mix. With blackcurrants you need sugar and heat and nothing else. The only fiddly bit is removing the stalks from your berries – and you can skip even this stage if you make jelly instead of jam. Simply boil up the fruit, stalks and all, and then strain it through a jelly bag or a clean tea-towel in a sieve. Then add sugar to the resulting juice and boil it up again to  make jars of thick, dark jelly. Try this Blackburrant Jelly recipe from The Irish Times to make an intensely flavoured and elegant preserve. If you are sold on jam, try this simple Blackcurrant Jam recipe with videos of all the important stages, from Farmersgirl Kitchen.

Finally, something a little different. Larder Love’s Blackcurrant And Rosemary Cheese – not an actual cheese, but a very dense, slice-able fruit preserve similar to the spanish dulce de membrillo – is simple to make and perfect to serve with cheese or pate.

Get picking and potting people!

 

July 9

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Pick Your Own Fruit Without Getting Stung

Week 2 – July 9th, 2018

It’s the second week of the month: if you can make the time, Try A New Free Or Cheap Activity and Grow Something.

Preserving something is not one of this week’s habits and yet… It is July – the month when nature bombards you with soft fruit, ripe and ready for eating and preserving. If I only recommended preserving things for one week of the month you might blink and miss it all. So let me just mention that this is the perfect week to take advantage of someone else growing something and try an almost free family activity – visiting a PYO fruit farm.

I have been picking farmed fruit since my own childhood and it tickles me now to watch my own children enjoying the same activity. It also tickles me to see them not staring at screens for a couple of hours. So does seeing them willingly eating several of their five-a-day in one go. And it tickles me to get cheap fruit for preserving. Although this amount of tickling on a tummy full of brightly-coloured fruit is probably asking for trouble.

So – fruit farms are a Thrifty Thing but it is possible to turn them into a waste of money. Read 5 Things I Learned The About Getting Your Money’s Worth At PYO Farms to find out how to make sure you don’t come away with a full tum but empty pockets.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner, ideas for preserving blackcurrants and fingers stained pink from picking too many raspberries.

 

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

 

July 2

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Beremeal Bread In Under An Hour Or A Matter Of Minutes

  1. Week 1 – July 2nd, 2018

It’s the first week of the month: if you can make the time, Put Cash In Marked Purses and Make Something

Bread is my nemesis. Milk and eggs I get delivered. Fruit and veg I keep in the freezer as a back-up to keep us going when the fresh stuff runs out. But I find it almost impossible to predict how much bread we will get through each week (thanks in part to Tartan Boy’s adolescent snacking needs) and even less possible to keep it fresh for seven days.

I don’t want to pop to the shops a couple of times a week to get more bread because, inevitably, I leave with more than the loaf I came for, and spend way more than I intended to. My freezer is too small (and too full of fruit and veg and batch-cooked meals and snacks) to keep a loaf on standby. I manage by stocking up on bread products that last a bit longer – wraps, bagels, bags of croissants – and using these later in the week. If I am organised, we can set the breadmaker to solve the problem for us while we sleep. But sometimes (OK – quite often) we need an extra loaf to keep us going and we need it now.

And that’s where my Beremeal Bread recipe comes in. I can mix this up in minutes and bake it in about half an hour. To the best of my knowledge it doesn’t keep for more than a day (I don’t actually know how long it lasts because we always eat the lot when it is fresh) but when it is this easy to make, it doesn’t need to.

You don’t have to have beremeal to bake it: you can substitute that for regular wholemeal flour to make soda bread. Or with maize meal to make it into delicious, golden cornbread.

Best of all – we recently discovered – you don’t even have to turn on the oven. Using a microwave you can go from storecupboard ingredients to warm loaf in only 15 minutes. Put all the ingredients in a plastic or silicone loaf tin (or cake tin, or muffin tin without the paper cases, or a smallish mixing bowl…) Mix them together and then pop it in the microwave for ten minutes to bake a perfectly edible loaf. It won’t come out with a coloured crust but it will come out with a delicious, moist crumb. We call it Cinderella bread. Like her carriage and gown (but not, mysteriously, her shoes) this bread will not last beyond midnight. The warm, soft bread will shrink and harden over a period of hours because it has been microwaved. All the more reason to eat it at once.

I will be back next week with a fresh thrifty habits planner and advice on picking soft fruit without getting stung. Happy baking!

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

June 25

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Treat Yourself To A Fragrant Summer And A Nostalgic Winter

Week 4 – June 25th, 2018

It’s the fourth week of the month: if you can make the time, Write a Budget and Share Something.

Are you heading off on holiday soon  – or better yet, there already? Take a minute to think about one of our weekly Thrifty Habits – Buy A Little Treat. Here is my tip for using a cheap treat to bring back that holiday feeling in the dead days of winter.

Smell is a powerful trigger of memories – we’ve all experienced that. Maybe you caught a whiff of perfume that took you straight back to sitting on your mother’s knee, or that special cocktail of linoleum polish and antiseptic floor cleaner that took you instantly back to your earliest schooldays. So why not use smell to anchor you to your holiday? Here’s how.

Buy a perfumed treat to take on holiday – it doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does need to be something you will use every day and it needs to be something you don’t use until you are on holiday. So it could be a bar of soap that you use every time you go to the bathroom, or a new laundry detergent that fragrances your holiday clothes. It could be a scented sachet that you keep tucked in your pillowcase, or the shower gel you use every morning. The choice is yours.

Sleeping-Lady-Retro-Image-GraphicsFairy-320x320Now fast-forward to February. It has been raining for a century, and the sun sets each day before you have fully come to terms with the day’s start. That’s the time to buy yourself the same scented treat and use it. Now you wake to another grey morning and your shower smells of brighter days remembered. Or you go to bed at the end of a wet day and your bed smells of sunshine, You get the idea. It’s a cheap, simple but very effective way of buying a few extra moments of happiness from your holidays. Try it!

I will be back next week with one of Tartan Thrifty’s all time most popular recipes and an emergency version of it as a back-up plan. Apologies for failing to bring you the recipe for Emergency Pudding I promised this week. There are times when life gets in the way of blogging… this week was one of them. I promise to post about pudding soon!

 

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

 

June 17

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Glam Jam And Elegant Gooseberry Cheese

Week 3 – June 18th, 2018

It’s the third week of the month: if you can make the time, Preserve Something and Review Your Spending

One word: berries. Gooseberries are in season right now and strawberries will be joining them any day now. Preserves are a cheap and easy way to throw some sunshine into your cupboards for future rainy days and they require very limited culinary skills. Gooseberries and strawberries make particularly delicious preserves. If you have never tried to make preserves before, this is an ideal time of the year to try it.

Start with the gooseberries already in season. Gooseberries are great in chutney and, if you only have a small amount, that’s perfect for a cheeky Gooseberry and Elderflower Vodka from BBC Good Food’s website. If you have a heftier haul of the berries though (about 1.5 kilos) why not try my Gooseberry Cheese recipe? It is super-simple to make and produces a sophisticated treat to style up your cheeseboard. It is also pretty good just dropped in thin slices onto a scone loaded with clotted cream.

Now is also the time to watch out for pick-your-own farms advertising strawberries (unless you are growing your own). A freshly picked strawberry, still warm from the sun, is about as close to perfect food as you can get, in my opinion but, if you do want to preserve some of their sweet summery deliciousness for darker, drearier months of the year, add a little sparkle and use my Strawberry Glam recipe to create a little jar of jammy joy.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner, a recipe for emergency pudding and the carefree abandon of a woman who is now on her holidays.

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

 

June 11

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Grow Your Own Fairy Strawberries And Get Yourself Outing-Ready

Week 2 – June 11th, 2018

It’s the second week of the month: if you can make the time, Try A New Free Or Cheap Activity and Grow Something.

 

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy free food from your garden because nature seems determined to grow it for you. If you want to find out how to fill any gaps in your garden with plants that will provide you with free food AND reduce the amount of weeding you have to do, read the final instalment of my journey from concrete jungle to tiny forest garden.

Summer is also the perfect time for free fun because if (?) the rain stays off, you can go outside. Somewhere – anywhere – you don’t often go, with a picnic, is a fun family outing. Which is why I am loving this post from Cass at Diary Of A Frugal Family. Cass explains how she keeps a bag in her car all summer filled with the kit she needs to turn any spontaneous detour into a fun outing for the family. I love the idea that a tiny amount of planning at the start of the summer means you are ready for fun whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Five Must-Haves For Thrifty Summer Outings

I am going to do the same – and to keep it thrifty I am going to add the following items to our bag.

  1. A newspaper, a lighter and a bag of marshmallows so we can gather wood, light a fire and toast marshmallows whenever we find ourselves in the woods or on a beach.
  2. A penknife so the kids can learn how to sharpen a stick for their marshmallows and so I can rediscover the pleasure of whittling while I watch the fire die down.
  3. Packaged snacks, because multipack crisps, are much cheaper than trips to a cafe when little tummies start rumbling. Yes, homemade is cheaper still, but it doesn’t sit happily in the boot of the car waiting till you need it.
  4. Cans and cartons of juice – again, less cheap than taking water but much cheaper than a cafe and always fresh.
  5. bathinglady004Baby wipes and a kitchen roll, because wipes are endlessly useful and kitchen roll can mop up more serious spills, wipe runny noses and double up as an emergency plate.

Those are my five must-haves for thrifty summer outings – what are yours?

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and two easy and essential summer preserves.

 

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

 

June 7

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Lemon And Poppy Seed Muffins And New Uses For Old Jeans

Week 1 – June 4th, 2018

It’s the first week of the month: if you can make the time, Put Cash In Marked Purses and Make Something

A beach-ready tote made from the legs of old jeans from Christie Chase Blogs

I blame my mother. When I was 7 she turned a pair of my outgrown jeans into a cute little duffel bag for me. I was hugely impressed by this transformation – how could my trousers also be a bag? When Tiny Tartan outgrew his first pair of jeans, some forgotten bit of my memory kicked in and I decided to turn them into a tiny toddler tote and some matching bean bags. He carried the tote, filled with little toys, crayons and colouring books everywhere we went for three years and was always able to entertain himself with the contents.

This got me thinking. I would have paid several pounds for a little backpack in a shop for Tiny Tartan but jeans you are about to bin are FREE! Up-cycling his jeans was not just a satisfying way to hold onto a particularly cute garment, it was a way to save money. What’s not to love about that? Several years down the line I now have a whole box full of baby and toddler jeans that were too cute not to keep. Which is, basically an excuse to spend hours on Pinterest deciding what to make with them. If you want some up-cycling inspiration for your own jeans-stack, have a look at my Make Something board on Pinterest. Or take a look at So Sew Easy’s collection of 101 (count ’em) inspiring ideas for up-cycled denim – everything from cute purses to re-upholstering a sofa. All with fabric you were going to throw away.

When you have finished turning a pair of adult jeans into a cute apron (ok – it’s not compulsory) get in the kitchen and make a batch of Lemon And Poppy Seed Muffins. No weighing, no beating, just fragrant and freezable little snacks for the kids. Or you. You could pop some in a lunch bag made of recycled jeans…

I will be back next week with a fresh thrifty habits planner and some suggestions for making the most of the sunshine without ripping through your summer budget.

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

May 28

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Budget For The Real World

Week 4 – May 28th, 2018

It’s the fourth week of the month: if you can make the time, Write a Budget and Share Something.

Last month I invited you to get your own values clear in your head before you start planning how to spend your money. This month it’s time to get your own spending limits clear in your head before you start spending. Why does that matter? Let me tell you a story.

It’s a story about me – an accidental (that part is another story) stay-at-home mum who had lots of time with her kids but very little money in her purse. In spite of my limited spending power I went ahead and spent. And then, to my great surprise, discovered half-way through the month that we had zilch left. I spent only on things we valued, things that were important to me and my family – there was nothing wrong with what I was spending money on. I bought in sales, shopped around for bargains, bought materials to make things myself… there was nothing wrong with where I spent my money. But there was a gap between what I wanted to spend our money on and the amount of money we actually had to spend. And our financial security was dropping down into that reality gap and disappearing every month.

Budgeting saved me and it can save you too but only if you get in there and do it at the start of every month. And only if you work with the real not the ideal – planning to spend what you have and not what you wish you had.

So this month I invite you to think about how to draw up a budget that fits your values but also fits your reality. In How To Budget, Part 2  you can learn how to spend in the real world not just in your ideal world. Good luck!

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner, some creative inspiration for free DIY projects and a recipe for Lemon And Poppy Seed Muffins.

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

 

May 21

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Preserve Some Elderflowers And Make The Perfect Tomato Sauce

Week 3 – May 21st, 2018

It’s the third week of the month: if you can make the time, Preserve Something and Review Your Spending

Elderflowers are everywhere. Tree-sized weeds, squeezing themselves into parks, canal banks, wasteground, and anywhere else they can find a tiny space to send down roots – have you spotted any of their dinner-plate-sized frothy white heads getting ready to open? You probably have without even registering it, because they are so common. And right now they are getting ready to produce thousands of entirely free flowers somewhere near you – it would be a shame not to use some. All that’s required from your purse is the cost of a bag of sugar. Read Elderflower Preserves – Food For Free to find out how to use them to create jars of genteel jelly and bottles of boisterous bubbly.

While you are in the kitchen, why not batch-cook enough delicious Bacon And Tomato Sauce for a month without doing more than 5 minutes actual cooking? Follow the link for the recipe (does it count as a recipe when it barely involves any cooking?) and a bunch of ideas for using the sauce.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and more advice on budgeting.

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.