February 17

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

Week 3 – February 17th, 2020

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 10

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

Week 2 – February 10th, 2020

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 20

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – We’re Jamming

Week 3 – January 20th, 2020

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.

October 14

Thrifty Things To Do This Week: Whisky Marmalade and Money For Nothing

Week 3 – October 14th, 2019

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

It is the week to Preserve Something. Nature is shutting up shop for winter but Mamade prepared fruit knows no seasonal limits and makes tasty marmalade with none of the faff. (Actually, I am not opposed to the faff because it makes the place smell amazing for hours. but, honestly, I think the end product is just as good with a tin of Mamade.) If you pot up a few jars of marmalade now they should have matured nicely by Christmas, ready for gifting or for guzzling on Christmas morning. You know, to offset the chocolate.

You can up the gourmet factor considerably if you buy a cheap bottle of whisky and add a splash to your marmalade just before you pot it. And if you need further inspiration for using the rest of your whisky (beyond the obvious…) then take a look at How To Turn A Ten Pound Bottle Of Aldi Whisky Into A Hamperful Of Tasty Treats.

Since it is also the week to Review Your Spending, take a look at Money For Nothing to see if you could get more for your money with loyalty cards.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and a plan for a frugal but fabulous festive period.

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.

September 16

Thrifty Things To Do This Week: Free Food From The Urban Hedgerow

Week 3 – September 16th, 2019

It’s the third week of the month: if you can make the time, Preserve Something and Review Your Spending. If you only preserve one thing this month, make it Mulled Apple Jelly – sweet, sharp and spicy, it is delicious with sweet and savoury food, making it the perfect all-rounder.

Product DetailsI bought this beautiful book (full price – my secret shame) when I was a student. It took me to a time when ladies kept house with an iron hand. A time when herbal remedies and secret recipes were passed from mother to daughter like family heirlooms. A time when still-rooms and store-cupboards secured survival and pleasure for whole households. A kind of Poldark of the kitchen.

An odd choice for a twentieth-century twenty-something, studying at a city-centre university, don’t you think? Nowadays we don’t need home remedies, hand-made preserves, or DIY cleaning products anymore – we have supermarkets not still-rooms for all that. And – romantic as the notion of gathering in and storing the harvest seemed as I read the book – it was hardly something a city girl like me had the option of doing. Cities don’t have hedgerows bursting with free fruit, do they? Cities have shops.

Sloe Gin And Beeswax” is still on my bookshelves, and I still dip into it for useful advice and sheer escapism from time to time. It is a lovely book and I would still recommend it if you can find a copy – it has been out of print for a while. But since I first read it I have discovered that cities do, in fact, grow free fruit. I have picked all sorts of fruits, completely free, without leaving the city – sometimes without even leaving my local area. For more information about how to plunder the city’s food supplies, read The Urban Forager.

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.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner, and advice about finding ‘free’ food in your very own kitchen.

September 9

Thrifty Things To Do This Week: Digging Some Spring Colour And Dogs In Duvets

Week 2 – September 9th, 2019

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

Yes, it is Autumn – a time for picking, not for planting. (On that note, free outings don’t come more wholesome than foraging in the fresh outdoors for free fruit – take along some Dogs In Duvets for lunch and it’s a picnic too.)

But it’s not too late to plant bulbs – in fact, this is the perfect time to do it. Right now all the usual bargain outlets (Aldi, Lidl, Home Bargains, etc) are stocked with cheap nets of daffodils, tulips, crocuses, etc. Granted, they don’t offer the wide variety you will get in a big nursery or DIY store. But, in my experience, they grow just as reliably as pricier offerings. Check out mail order suppliers too – they often have great bulk offers, handy if you have a lot of ground to cover.

An afternoon digging in the autumn sunshine now could see you enjoying bright colour in the dullest months of the year. And if you plant some indoors you could even have them flowering in time for Christmas for you to enjoy or give away. Pots of colour, for only a couple of pounds.

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.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner, a recipe for Mulled Apple Jelly and some tips on urban foraging. In the meantime, enjoy digging and picking and eating delicious Dogs In Duvets.

September 2

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Make Candles And Cake

Week 1 – September 2nd, 2019

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

I love September And October. They are new pencils and new plans. Crisp mornings foraging for free fruit and fragrant afternoons turning them into jams and jellies. Cosy nights indoors, with the slight threat of winter but none of the wet or the chill.

To be honest, I like November too – bonfires and fireworks and making plans for Christmas. And I am fond of December with it’s twinkles and parcels and sociable feasting…

(In the spirit of total honesty I have to point out that the above is a very edited picture of my autumns and early winters. It’s not nearly as calm, ordered, or reflective as that in Tartan Towers. Still, a woman can dream…)

What I love about this time of year is the anticipation of cosy times ahead. So, with that in mind, my Make Something  project this week is going to be Luxury Scented Candles. Something to give away but also something to enjoy at home.

I first made candles when I was about 7 – which tells you how easy they are to make – and can still remember the fascination I felt watching hard wax transform to liquid and back again. So you could treat this as a fun family activity AND a cheap way to treat yourself to a fragrant and twinkly home.

If you want inspiration to batch-cook a freezer-friendly snack try Apple And Custard Cakes. These are so easy a child could make them – no scales or beaters required. I will be back next week with a fresh thrifty habits planner and some suggestions for enjoying time outdoors before winter sets in.

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.

August 12

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Preserve A Plum

Week 3 – August 12th, 2019

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

Are you partial to a plum? It’s not a fruit I have ever heard anyone go into raptures about although it is one that grows well in the UK. I am fairly neutral – I will eat one if it’s there but I won’t hunt one down if it’s not. But I will go to some effort to pick them in quantity because they make all sorts of delicious and cheap preserves. Delicious, cheap and easy.

Plums, damsons and their wild cousin the sloe all contain exactly the right balance of acidity and pectin (a fruit protein) to make it easy to get a set. And the same acidity means that they make sweet preserves that have an interesting flavour rather than a blanketing sugariness. They can stand up well to stronger savoury flavours too, going well with strong cheese and red meat. Plums and damsons should be ripe about now, sloes a little later in the autumn, and if you have a tree you can plunder, or a source of very cheap fruit to buy in quantity, take a look at Plum Preserves – 5 Delicious Things To Do With Free Fruit.

However you preserve your plums, be sure to use The Jam Labelizer to pimp your plum preserves with a free label design. All you have to do is download your label, save it at whatever size your jars need and print a whole sheet of them. Remember only to use the designs that are flagged up as free to print yourself. If that is too much work, try The Graphics Fairy’s Free Printable Jam Labels.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and advice on shopping sanely for kids’ shoes.

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 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.