July 15

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

Week 3 – July 15th, 2019

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 10

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

  1. Week 1 – July 1st, 2019

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 17

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

Week 3 – June 17th, 2019

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.

May 20

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

Week 3 – May 20th, 2019

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.

May 6

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Gooey Deliciousness And Easy DIY

Week 1 – May 6th, 2019

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

Are you, like me, a person who likes a little creative project but has only a little creative talent to throw at it? Or do find yourself driven to DIY by financial need rather than by creative inspiration? Well, breathe easy – there is a website almost custom-made for us. It’s called The Graphics Fairy and you can read all about why it’s the perfect site here.

If you have a few minutes to spare, mix up a batch of My Big Fat Chocolate, Ginger And Prune Cookies. They take almost no time to make, freeze beautifully and defrost by morning break-time tucked in a school bag. They also taste delicious. And they contain prunes, which pretty much makes them health food, right?

I will be back next week with a fresh thrifty habits planner and some suggestions for watching movies on the cheap.

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.

April 1

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Make Or Bake?

Week 1 – April 2nd, 2019

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

How does making something help you stay in control of your spending? Two reasons – one obvious, one less so. The obvious one is that making things yourself will allow you to get them without paying so much. The less obvious one is that it is fulfilling – and people who feel fulfilled are less likely to try to make themselves feel good with purchases.

In that sense, it doesn’t really matter what you make as long as you enjoy doing it – because just stopping yourself from “comfort shopping” is already saving you money. The important thing is to have a creative project of some sort on the go that you can dip in and out of through the month whenever time allows. The other important thing is to make sure that time does allow – so pick a project and then plan when you going to work on it. You can find lots of great ideas for crafty projects in It’s Always Autumn’s lovely list of 25 Amazing DIY Gifts People Will Actually Want.  Nobody will be checking to make sure you give your makes away though so why not take the chance to treat yourself for next to nothing?

(Disclaimer: I won’t be making any of these 25 makes this month. I will be building a fire-surround. I have never built a fire-surround before. I am not entirely sure that I actually can. This will either save me the cost of fitting a brand new (entirely off-budget) fireplace or drive me to comfort-shop to soothe myself after I fail to successfully build a fire-surround. I will, however, have fun trying – and that’s a good enough reason to Make Something.)

If you want a really quick make, though, you can’t beat a little simple home-baking. In the time it takes you to put on your shoes and head to a cafe you could knock together a whole batch of scones, for example. Making your own means you can enjoy them straight from the oven, warm and dripping with melted butter, for just a few pence. And you will still have some left to freeze and use for snacks later. Try the Tartan Family’s favourite recipe for Humiliating Scones. It makes a light, intensely cheesy scone that is delicious hot or cold. They were christened as Humiliating Scones when a very young Tartan Boy decided that scones, lovingly cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutter by his mum, were a little beneath his dignity. The heart-shaped cutter got the heave but the scones have remained a family favourite.

I will be back next week with a fresh thrifty habits planner and some ideas for springtime family outings.

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.

March 18

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Make Your Own Rhubarb Gin

Week 3 – March 18th, 2019

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

In fact, this is as good a time as any to remind yourself why you are reviewing your spending at all – and why storing all your receipts is a vital part of that process. Click here for more information. It is impossible to be truly in control of your own money if you don’t actually know where it is going so I consider these to be two of the most vital thrifty habits. At one point we even had a counter-top device for storing ours, split into categories. To be fair, this was not so much because we needed to be that thorough, as because we had found an old theatre ticket dispenser and needed an excuse to use it. The old ticket holders were just the right size for receipts and it looked lovely sitting in our kitchen. These days I keep them rammed into an old pencil case in a kitchen cupboard. And – quite honestly – some months I don’t even do that. I have been at this for so long that I can get through a month or two without watching it too tightly. If something changes in our circumstances though (moving house, changing job, major illness, going on holiday…) I get right back on it, because those are the times when our regular spending habits drift. When I find that our spending is unaccountably high one month I go right back to storing every receipt and reviewing our spending to pinpoint where our money is leaking from. If you are just setting out on your journey towards being thoroughly thrifty, don’t skip these ones!

This is also a good time to make rhubarb preserves, as pink stems unfurl vivid green leaves in forgotten corners of garden up and down the land. I have an enduring passion for rhubarb. In my childhood it was quite normal in springtime for children to be handed a cup of sugar and a stick of rhubarb as a sweet treat. We would dip the sharp rhubarb sticks in the sugar and then bite off the frosted stem tip – a divine mixture of sour and sweet that was wonderful on the taste-buds but terrible for teeth. It has been almost forty years since I last tried this, and my mouth is still watering just thinking about it. If you want a slightly more sophisticated (and long-lasting) way to enjoy sugary rhubarb, try turning it into jam with the River Cottage rhubarb jam recipe or make your own rhubarb gin with The Craft Gin Club’s recipe. It is incredibly easy to make and requires no cooking or specialist equipment. If you want something more savoury, try Delicious Magazine’s idiot-proof rhubarb chutney recipe.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and advice on how to buy happiness.

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.

February 18

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – The First Preserve Of The Year

Week 3 – February 18th, 2019

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

I truly hate February. I live in Glasgow so the bright skies of a snowy winter happen rarely and are replaced most days with a grey sky so low you almost bump your head on it. By February I am over Cosy and longing for the freshness of spring. So I was delighted last week to see the vivid green and pink of rhubarb shoots flinging off the soil in my garden like a toddler’s duvet in the morning. (For the record, I was usually a lot less cheerful about my toddlers doing the duvet-fling.) Rhubarb shoots don’t just promise the eventual end of winter they offer crumbles and jam in the very near future.

But not now.  Now, if you want to start packing your pantry with thrifty preserves, you are going to have to think beyond fresh seasonal produce, meet February on it’s own terms, and bottle up some Disgracefully Drunken Prunes. Do it now, and they will be perfect for gifting next Christmas, for guzzling by November and for adding gravitas to your gravies and stews by the time spring is giving way to summer.

Take time to make up some labels for them too – read Glam Your Jam for an easy way to label like a pro.

As for the rhubarb… all in good time. Next month I promise to post recipes for rhubarb jam and gin when the first seasonal produce of the year is big enough to pick.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and advice on how to be thrifty when you can’t be bothered.

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.

February 11

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Free Greens On Your Windowsill

Week 2 – February 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.

I loved the Ladybird Rapunzel book as a child but one aspect left me truly bewildered. At the beginning of the story a pregnant woman gazes out of her window, day after day, with a helpless longing for her neighbour’s… salad. Yup – the whole hair-tugging, tower-trapping tale stems from a longing for greens. As a child I found this incomprehensible. The message that lettuce leads to trouble may even have coloured my childhood refusal to eat the stuff. Maybe.

Now I get it though. Late winter sees me longing for crisp green leaves and sharp flavours. Happily I can buy them, bagged, from any supermarket, without having to rob a witch of her rocket. Unhappily, those bags are pricey. So I was pleased to discover that pea-shoots – a favourite of mine – are very easy to grow on your windowsill even in the depths of winter. So easy, a child could do it. And so thrifty it would be nuts not to. Click here for full instructions on how to grow them and how to make Smoked Mackerel And Pea-Shoot Gnocchi once they grow.

If pea shoots whet your appetite for almost free salad, take a look at Frugally Sustainable’s guide to growing greens on your windowsill. A couple of pounds for a packet of seed and some potting compost and you are set to save many times that. And your salads will be fresher. Maybe your neighbours will start to gaze with helpless longing at your greens too…

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and a deliciously decadent preserve.

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.

January 21

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – We’re Jamming

Week 3 – January 21st, 2019

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

Why is preserving one of my regular Thrifty Habits? You can buy preserves in supermarkets so why bother making your own?

I’ll be honest – if you are struggling to find enough time to fit in everything, then dropping Preserve Something will not destroy your finances forever. Jam is not an essential food group – you can live without it. And supermarket cheapest chutney is not the worst thing you could ever put on a cheese sandwich. So shopping value ranges or going without is easily as thrifty as making all your own preserves from scratch.

No, the reason I still try to make most of our preserves is because I like a little treat now and again. And I like my treats to be lovely – but not at luxury prices. I want artisanal preserves at Aldi prices. Making my own is the best way I know of getting that.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that making your own is always cheaper – it is not. Read Making Jam And Saving Money for some thoughts on when it is – and isn’t – worth making your own. And always keep The Thrifty Preserving Rules in mind.

Sadly this is too early in the year to actually start bottling up nature’s bounty. But that makes it the perfect time of year to start day-dreaming about what you are going to make later this year. Try Larder Love for mouth-watering inspiration. And it is never too early to begin saving jam jars.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and some soothing thoughts on budgetting.

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.