June 29

Thrifty Things To Do This Summer

Getting Into The Habit Of Being Thrifty

Tartan Thrifty is all about getting into the habit of spending less without living less well. Some habits need to be carried out every day, some every week. Some only need to be carried out once a month – and, surprise, surprise, they are the hardest ones to keep up. To help with that you can find a wall-planner to help you keep on top of this week’s Thrifty Habits – the dailies, the weeklies and the ones that only come round once a month – here. Use it to plan when exactly you are going to carry out the Weekly and Monthly Habits.

Thrifty Things To Do This Summer

Thrifty Habits Planner April Week 1 - New PageThe Tartan Family are off on holiday for two weeks and I am taking the chance to have a wee holiday from Tartan Thrifty for the whole summer. Our builders moved out just before last Christmas, I went back to work just after Christmas, after 7 years of stay-at-home-parenting. Which means I now have a six-month backlog of DIY tasks to finish off the building project. Much as I would prefer to spend my summer tapping on my keyboard, I will be spending it sanding, painting, digging and tiling. Which isn’t such a bad swap, really.

I will be back in the autumn though, and I will still be updating the Thrifty Habits Planner each week. In the meantime, here are some ideas for a thrifty summer. Enjoy – the links and your summer! See you in August.

If You Only Do One Thrifty Thing This Summer…

Jam jars at the ready – this is THE time of the year to preserve something. A cupboard full of frugal jams means that snacks through the rest of the year can be as simple as toast or a pancake or a scone with jam. You can pimp it with clotted cream for the grown-ups, or you can leave the kids and their friends to help themselves to a round of toast with melted butter and sticky jam. Either way, it will be cheaper than buying pre-packaged sweet snacks.

Summer wouldn’t be summer without a visit to a pick-your-own fruit farm for cheap and fresh soft fruit. It ticks two thrifty boxes in one go – a free outdoor activity for the whole family and a cheap source of treats to see you through the winter. That and it’s a guaranteed way to get everyone to eat at least one of their five-a-day, for one day at least.

If you have a glut of home-grown soft fruit – or a generous friend with one – then your jam will be even cheaper. Just remember The Thrifty Preserving Rules to make sure your cheap treats stay that way.

What To Preserve This Summer

Gooseberries have been in full swing for a few weeks now but it’s not too late make some elegant Gooseberry Cheese. You could also try some Gooseberry Jam. It combines sharp flavour with deep sweetness and – for me – is second in the world of jammy things only to lemon curd. Use The Jam Labelizer to glam your jam with a designer label.

Strawberries are just coming into season, making this the perfect time to knock up a few jars of Strawberry Glam – a sweet, sparkly treat for the winter months. Then there are raspberries – perfect for jam but even better for Larder Love’s Raspberry And Chocolate Jam.

A little later in the summer you can pick blackcurrants and make a jam that tastes like Ribena and is delicious with scones and cream. But then, what isn’t?

If you really get into making preserves, you are going to need a reliable recipe book that will tell you immediately what to do with your freshly picked fruit. You can’t go wrong with Pam Corbin’s River Cottage Preserves. A wide variety of recipes, accurate and easy-to-follow instructions and a really useful introduction that tells you when all the fruits you might care to preserve are likely to be ripe – I wouldn’t be without it.

Whatever you preserve – hide it away for a bit. The flavour is better after a couple of months. Happy preserving!

 

 

June 21

What To Do When The Kids Want Branded Shoes And You Want To Stay On Budget

Getting Into The Habit Of Being Thrifty

Tartan Thrifty is all about getting into the habit of spending less without living less well. Some habits need to be carried out every day, some every week. Some only need to be carried out once a month – and, surprise, surprise, they are the hardest ones to keep up. To help with that you can find a wall-planner to help you keep on top of this week’s Thrifty Habits – the dailies, the weeklies and the ones that only come round once a month – here. Use it to plan when exactly you are going to carry out the Weekly and Monthly Habits.

Thrifty Things To Do This Week

Thrifty Habits Planner April Week 1 - New PageIt’s the third week of the month – time to Review Your Spending and to Preserve Something. Gooseberries should be about ready now, so why not try some (very easy) Gooseberry Cheese?

I am gearing up to do Shoe Battle with Tartan Boy again. Inconveniently, his feet keep growing and every time they do, we have a fight over whether or not shoes that are not the “right” brand will do. What can you do, when your kid wants branded shoes and you want to stay on budget?

What To Do When The Kids Want Branded Shoes And You Want To Stay On Budget

Tartan Boy and I are both – in different ways – fussy about shoes. I think it’s important that shoes look good AND feel good and don’t like paying for shoes that don’t tick both boxes. But my definition of good is based on how they look and feel to me. If the nice, comfortable shoe is also an Asda bargain I will have no qualms about buying it.

Tartan Boy also wants his shoes to look and feel good. He believes he looks good (and he feels good about this) when he is wearing one of the brands he and his peers have deemed acceptable. His definition of good is based on what he believes other people will think of his shoes. I have not read the minutes of the Teen Footwear Advisory Committee, or whichever secret adolescent agency it is makes these decisions, so I can’t see why Nikes are better than New Balance.

So we will set off to buy him new shoes. I will have every intention of insisting that we stick to a sensible budget for shoes that will be outgrown before they are worn out. He will have every intention of getting a cool brand. And we will reach a stalemate. Because he is not paying, and I am not getting it.

I Don’t Get The Whole Branded Shoes Thing

Nike astro-boots are a perfect example. They are made of sweat-inducing plastic, provide no support in the sole and yet cost as much as a quality school shoe because only Nike will do. (Allegedly.) I think a regular trainer supports his feet far better for sport and would not dream of running around in a shoe with so little cushioning myself. But a little bit of him dies inside when he has to play in anything other than ‘proper football shoes’.

And in spite of all my thrifty principles… I do understand. In a previous century, I too was a teenager and bound by the Geneva Convention On Cool Shoes to wear only what “people” thought were cool at the time. But I also get that this is a mug’s game – and that I am setting him up for a lifetime of slavishly buying brands just because”‘people” say they are better. Then again, I also think wearing the right gear boosts his confidence in himself as a ‘real’ footballer and improves his enjoyment of his sport. So where can we compromise?

My Three Secrets Of Sane Shoe Shopping

Over the past year we have – finally – come to an understanding on shoe shopping.

  1. I stick to my guns about quality – if the shoe is badly constructed and is not going to protect his feet I don’t care what label is on it. He has, over the years, accepted defeat on this.
  2. I, likewise, have accepted defeat in his love of brands but I have not accepted that this should be at my expense. I set a realistic budget and if his choice of shoe is more than this he makes up the difference from his own money. I am counting on this eventually making him wonder if he couldn’t be getting something better for that money than a production-line logo on his shoes. In the meantime, he feels like he has some control over what he wears and I am relieved of the burden of putting my (non-branded) foot down.
  3. I have taught him to check budget outlets for big brands at bargain prices. It’s amazing how much less a shoe in last season’s colours costs than the same shoe in this season’s  new hues.

I have failed completely to teach him that slavish brand-buying is a mug’s game but I am delighted to say he has learned how to get what he wants without paying more than he has to. He is becoming pretty skilled at finding the design he wants at the price he can afford. I am happy that he is wearing a supportive shoe on my budget. He is happy that he has shoes he considers cool – even if he had to chip in to the cost, or put in time shopping around for a bargain.

But, still, every time he tells me his shoes are getting too small I gear myself up for a fight… Old habits, like old shoes, die hard.

May 29

How To Budget, Part 2

Getting Into The Habit Of Being Thrifty

Tartan Thrifty is all about getting into the habit of spending less without living less well. Some habits need to be carried out every day, some every week. Some only need to be carried out once a month – and, surprise, surprise, they are the hardest ones to keep up. To help with that you can find a wall-planner to help you keep on top of this week’s Thrifty Habits – the dailies, the weeklies and the ones that only come round once a month – here. Use it to plan when exactly you are going to carry out the Weekly and Monthly Habits.

Thrifty Things To Do This Week

Thrifty Habits Planner April Week 1 - New PageIt’s the final week of the month – time to Make A Budget for next month and to Share Something. Last month I wrote about how to clarify your values before you even start deciding how to spend your money. This month it’s time to look at how to go about drawing up your budget.

Last year I had a moment of clarity while watching Downton Abbey… I realised that you don’t need fancy tech to help you manage your budget: you need honesty. Honesty and simple arithmetic are the keys that let you lock down your budget.

The arithmetic part is easiest – add up what you need to spend, subtract it from what you have to spend and, if there is anything left over, spend it on what you want to buy. Simple. The honesty part is trickier – we all struggle to work with the real sometimes. But it is important to train yourself to be honest because, if you don’t, your finances will spiral out of control, leaving you wondering where you went wrong.

 

How To Write An Honest Budget

  1. Work out exactly how much you have to spend this month – don’t settle for a ballpark figure or an optomistic guess!
  2. Make two lists: a list of all the things you want to spend money on and a list of all the things you need to spend money on. Be honest about how necessary each item on this list is. Does it fit with your values? Does it have to be paid this month or can it wait? Will there be dire consequences (like having no food, or your electricity being cut off, or your credit rating plummeting) if you don’t pay it? Push yourself to be honest about the difference between needing and wanting to spend money. When you are done, look again at your values and check there is nothing that matters to you missing from either of your lists.
  3. Now try to get as accurate a figure as you can of how much each item on each list will cost you. Add up the Needs. Subtract the total cost of your Needs from the amount you have to spend this month. If you have enough to pay for your Needs – breathe a sigh of relief. If you have more than enough to cover your Needs – do a little dance to celebrate because that means you can also spend on some of the things on your Want list. Don’t have enough to cover your Needs? Well…

What To Do When The Numbers Don’t Add Up

First of all, congratulate yourself – you have found out now, before you spent anything, rather than at the end of the month when you have already overspent. You are ahead of the game. Don’t waste that by burying your head in the sand and telling yourself it will all work out somehow. Go back to your Needs list and start shopping around to see if you can get anything on that list for less. For example, could you get a cheaper tariff from your energy supplier? Could you reduce your supermarket spend by shopping in a cheaper supermarket or buying only own-brand? Could you take the kids on free outings this month instead of spending on softplay/cinema trips/etc.? Will second hand or borrowed do for some items on your list?

If that’s not enough to bring your Needs in line with your income, prioritise your list – what items are most urgent? Shift anything that does not have to be paid this month to the top of your Wants list.

If that still doesn’t bring your Needs in line with your income, consider adjusting your income – can you sell anything on Ebay or at a car boot sale to raise a little extra money? Have you got savings you can dip into this month? Does anyone owe you money?

What To Do When Drawing Up A Budget Seems Too Miserable An Experience

I have been there, and I know the stomach-churning feeling of seeing how little of your Needs will be covered by your income. But I also know that facing up to that, honestly, is the first step towards changing it. Do your budget in short, 15 minute bursts if that is all you can bear. Stick on music, do it in the advert breaks of your favourite show, promise yourself a (cheap!) treat at the end of it. Do whatever it takes to get it done – but do get it done.

May 22

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – School Uniforms On The Cheap

Getting Into The Habit Of Being Thrifty

Tartan Thrifty is all about getting into the habit of spending less without living less well. Some habits need to be carried out every day, some every week. Some only need to be carried out once a month – and, surprise, surprise, they are the hardest ones to keep up. To help with that you can find a wall-planner to help you keep on top of this week’s Thrifty Habits – the dailies, the weeklies and the ones that only come round once a month – here. Use it to plan when exactly you are going to carry out the Weekly and Monthly Habits.

 

Thrifty Things To Do This Week

It’s a five-week month, which means we get to slip in an extra week of thrifty habits – so this is the week to Tackle One Big Spend or Take Stock. How about doing both? If you take stock of kids’ school supplies now it will allow you to start tackling the Big Spend of kitting them out next session while you still have time to shop around for the best deals. You can find out how to do a school uniform audit here and how to take advantage of summer fayre uniform stalls to bag a bargain blazer here. Don’t forget to think about stationery, lunch boxes, etc. too.

May 17

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Elderflower Preserves

Getting Into The Habit Of Being Thrifty

Tartan Thrifty is all about getting into the habit of spending less without living less well. Some habits need to be carried out every day, some every week. Some only need to be carried out once a month – and, surprise, surprise, they are the hardest ones to keep up. To help with that you can find a wall-planner to help you keep on top of this week’s Thrifty Habits – the dailies, the weeklies and the ones that only come round once a month – here. Use it to plan when exactly you are going to carry out the Weekly and Monthly Habits.

Thrifty Things To Do This Week

Thrifty Habits Planner April Week 1 - New PageIt’s the third week of the month, which means it’s time to Preserve Something and to Review Spending. When you dig out your receipts and/or delve into your bank statements for the last three weeks, think back to this month’s post on clarifying your values before you draw up a budget. Are the things your money has been spent on in line with the things that really matter to you? Are there areas you are spending on that are not really worth the money to you? And are there areas you want to spend money on but don’t?

As for preserving something…

Elderflower Preserves

I think they smell of sherbet; Tartan Dad thinks they smell of cat pee. We both agree that elderflowers make their presence felt – and they are present everywhere from rural hedgerow to urban wasteland. So why not make something for (almost) nothing with the frothy, fragrant (?) flowers bursting out in parks, gardens and railway banks all around you this month and next?

British Larder has a lovely recipe for elderflower and strawberry cordial or you can find a plain cordial recipe here. You can dilute it with cheap carbonated water as an occasional drink (it is mostly sugar so not for everyday glugging) or pep that up with a splash of vodka if you want a sparkling drink with a kick. Or you could use it to flavour Eton Mess or fold into gooseberry fools or make delicious. magazine’s elderflower jellies

And if you still have blossom to spare, try a batch of classic elderflower champagne for a sparking wine that is ready in weeks. Nearly-free fizz – what’s not to love?

May 1

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Make Something New With Old Jeans

Getting Into The Habit Of Being Thrifty

Tartan Thrifty is all about getting into the habit of spending less without living less well. Some habits need to be carried out every day, some every week. Some only need to be carried out once a month – and, surprise, surprise, they are the hardest ones to keep up. To help with that you can find a wall-planner to help you keep on top of this week’s Thrifty Habits – the dailies, the weeklies and the ones that only come round once a month – here. Use it to plan when exactly you are going to carry out the Weekly and Monthly Habits.

Thrifty Things To Do This Week

Thrifty Habits Planner April Week 1 - New PageIt’s the first week of a new month – time to Put Cash In Purses before you start spending, and to Make Something. This month I am planning to make something new with old jeans. Why? Firstly because it will justify the big stack of little pairs of denim trousers I have failed to throw out over 13 years of motherhood. Somehow I managed to discard most of my babies’ clothing, but the jeans… ah, the jeans were too cute not to keep.

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 and used it with pride for several years. When Tiny Tartan outgrew his first pair of jeans, some forgotten bit of my brain kicked in and 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.

Another bit of my brain kicked in too – the thrifty bit. I would have paid 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? And so here I am, 5 years and many saved jeans later and I finally have time to do something with them. Which is, basically an excuse to spend hours on Pinterest. If there’s one thing I love more than actually getting on with making something, it’s trawling through pictures of things I might make. If you want some up-cycling inspiration for your own jeans-stack, have a look at my Make Something board on Pinterest. Enjoy!

 

April 24

How To Budget, Part 1

Getting Into The Habit Of Being Thrifty

Tartan Thrifty is all about getting into the habit of spending less without living less well. Some habits need to be carried out every day, some every week. Some only need to be carried out once a month – and, surprise, surprise, they are the hardest ones to keep up. To help with that you can find a wall-planner to help you keep on top of this week’s Thrifty Habits – the dailies, the weeklies and the ones that only come round once a month – here. Use it to plan when exactly you are going to carry out the Weekly and Monthly Habits.

Thrifty Things To Do This Week

Thrifty Habits Planner April Week 1 - New PageIt’s the final week of the month – time to Share Something and time to Budget before your pay comes in and you start spending without a plan. Over the next few months I am going to go into more detail about exactly how you draw up a budget.

How To Budget – Laying Your Foundations

Budgeting is about making sure your money covers the things you really want it to cover, juggling various needs to make sure the things that really matter to you don’t get left out in the cold. So before you even begin to crunch the numbers, it is vital that you clarify what you really value.
One reason budgets so often fall by the wayside is that they aren’t a true reflection of what we really want and need. We only really get behind something if it really matters to us.
Imagine, for example, that you are budgeting for huge mortgage payments towards a beautiful home when what you really value is time with friends and family. Over time you find that coffees, meals out, weekends away, gifts, phone bills, and a whole heap of other “keeping in touch” costs eat into the money you budgeted for you mortgage.

Does that mean you are bad at sticking to a budget? Or does it mean that your budget did not reflect your real values? Remember that one of the Principles Of Thrifty Living is to Work With The Real Not The Ideal

A budget that reflects your true values is going to be a lot easier to stick with in the long run so it pays to start off by looking – realistically – at what your values are.

Getting Real Value For Money – Finding Out What Matters Most To You

Take time to sit with a pen and paper and list the things that matter most to you. Remember that values are ideas not items or spending areas. So don’t just list what you want/need to spend money on – for example, ‘rent’. Instead list what matters to you in life – for example, ‘freedom’, ‘family’, ‘flexibility’, ‘security’…  Any of these values might be met by paying rent but paying rent is not, in itself, of value to you. Ask yourself whether the thing you are about to write down serves a purpose or is an end in itself. For example, you might realise that ‘career success’ is not intrinsically valuable to you, but helps you get ‘social status’. In that case, ‘social status’ is what you really value – so that’s what you write down.

You can get more advice about discovering what you really value at www.mindtools.com and download a free Core Values Workbook at www.dawnbarclay.com. Once you know what you really value, keep thinking about whether you are really getting value – your value – for money as you draw up next month’s budget.

April 3

Feed Your Family For Free In Ikea This Easter

Getting Into The Habit Of Being Thrifty

Tartan Thrifty is all about getting into the habit of spending less without living less well. Some habits need to be carried out every day, some every week. Some only need to be carried out once a month – and, surprise, surprise, they are the hardest ones to keep up. To help with that you can find a wall-planner to help you keep on top of this week’s Thrifty Habits – the dailies, the weeklies and the ones that only come round once a month – here. Use it to plan when exactly you are going to carry out the Weekly and Monthly Habits.

Thrifty Things To Do This Week

Thrifty Habits Planner April Week 1 - New PageIt’s the first week of a new month which makes it the best time to put all the cash you are going to spend this month into individual, clearly marked purses/wallets before you start spending it. It’s also the perfect time to Make Something. What I am making, mainly, is a mess. We had builders in for major moving around of walls last winter and we are still finishing the place off. This weekend’s project was fitting out our newly built-in wardrobe. At the moment, this means having all the boxes that were ine the wardrobe, out of the wardrobe and all over everything. In spite of the mess, after months of dressing out of an assortment of boxes and a rickety rail, I am very very excited. As I type this, Tartan Dad is in Ikea buying more Algot brackets.

Speaking of Ikea…

Free Food In Ikea

Ikea are running their “All The Furniture You Can Eat” deal over the next couple of weeks in selected stores. You don’t actually have to eat any furniture (phew!). But if you and yours eat heartily in the restaurant, on a weekday, after 4:30pm and then buy furnishings in store, flashing your Family Card as you do and handing over your restaurant receipt, Ikea will deduct your entire cafe bill from the price of your furnishings. Yes, you read that right. Mountains of meatballs for free.

Obviously, this is only worth doing if you have already budgeted to spend money on furnishings. Furnishings, by the way, does not apply solely to actual furniture. And if your food bill comes to more than your furnishings bill it’s not such a bargain – so do your homework first and work out how much you are going to spend. It’s also worth checking your items are in-stock when you arrive so you don’t get a nasty surprise after eating.

If you were planning to buy some cushions anyway, and it’s pouring, and you want to get the kids out the house, take them to your nearest Ikea Restaurant, let them have a bit of fun in the play area there, then go do your shopping and get the cost of their dinner deducted. They get meatballs, you get a night off from cooking – everybody goes home happy.

Check that your local store is participating –  click here for terms and conditions and a list of stores that are not participating. And note that this offer is only available to Ikea Family Card holders. The card is free. You can sign up in-store or online, and it’s well worth having – free coffees, cheap meal deals all year, money off everything from cushions to candelabras, and the free-gift-receipt-swipe, which is coming back at the end of the month.

I would be failing in my thrifty mission if I didn’t remind you – sternly – that this is only a good deal if you actually need to spend more than the cost of a meal on furnishings. And if you I didn’t urge you to take a list to avoid getting sucked into extra purchases (been there, many times…) The deal is on until April 14th. Happy eating!

UPDATE – I have now tried this for myself and it worked! Four of us had a filling meal each and got £25 off our purchases. Which went down very nicely, thank-you.

March 22

How To Get A £100 School Blazer For Only £10

How Much Is Too Much For A School Blazer?

How much do you spend on school uniform? When the Tartan Kids both started at a new school last year I was taken aback to find that their blazers alone were going to cost from £65 to £100 each. Too much for a thrifty mama – even if both boys would get the use of some of them eventually.

 

So we explored second hand blazers and found that it was entirely possible to get a £100 blazer for under £10. I have been picking them up in different sizes whenever I see them and now have ten (and counting) good-as-new blazers ready for wear as the boys grow. The best part? Each blazer cost me no more than a tenner. Interested? Here’s how you do it.

Ten Pound Blazer, Five Easy Steps

  1. Pick your second hand outlet. There are many online sources but I have found it much cheaper to use local jumble sales and school fayres/uniform sales. These need to sell everything in a matter of hours so prices are low, making it easy to pick up blazers for under a fiver. The downside? They usually look pretty tatty – which is why the next step is important.
  2. It’s easy to pick up blazers for under a fiver

    Check each blazer over to decide if it’s worth buying. Are stains on the surface or soaked in? Soaked-in stains are unlikely to shift but surface ones can be easily removed by dry cleaning. Are the button holes unravelling;  cuffs fraying;  collars and elbows wearing thin? If the answer to any of these is yes, put the blazer down and move onto the next one.  Are the pockets coming adrift? If you are confident of your hand-sewing, (and can find the time) you may be able to mend these – if not, put that blazer down.
  3. Take your blazers to the dry cleaner. If you wait until you have several, you may get a cheaper deal.
  4. Brand new buttons create a good-as-new blazer from a second-hand bargain

    Replace the buttons – this is the only laborious part of the process, but it is essential because dry cleaning makes buttons look worn. Brand new buttons create a good-as-new blazer from a second-hand bargain. It’s worth bulk-buying replacement buttons – I got mine from Amazon – so you always have enough to make a freshly purchased blazer look good as new. Measure the diameter of the existing buttons to work out which size of button to order.
  5. Remove or cover up any name tags so that the blazer doesn’t return to it’s previous owner by mistake. Add your own. If you are planning to hand blazers down to younger children, get name tapes made up by your surname – that way the tag will be right for whichever one of your children is currently wearing the blazer.

If you have a good memory, you are done. Store your blazers until they are needed. If (like me) you have a memory like a sieve, keep a list somewhere of the sizes you have and the sizes you need. That way you will always know, when you spot a second-hand blazer, whether it’s a bargain you need or an expense you don’t.

 

 

March 13

Artisanal Preserves At Aldi Prices

Getting Into The Habit Of Being Thrifty

Tartan Thrifty is all about getting into the habit of spending less without living less well. Some habits need to be carried out every day, some every week. Some only need to be carried out once a month – and, surprise, surprise, they are the hardest ones to keep up. To help with that you can find a wall-planner to help you keep on top of this week’s Thrifty Habits – the dailies, the weeklies and the ones that only come round once a month – here. Use it to plan when exactly you are going to carry out the Weekly and Monthly Habits.

Thrifty Things To Do This Week

It’s the third week of the month – time to Review Your Spending and to Preserve Something.  Have you ever made jam, or jelly? Chucked together a chutney? Slung sloes and sugar into gin? Or can you see no reason to bother? Traditionally, preserving was about making a seasonal glut last through leaner times without a fridge or freezer. Today, preserving is still about taking advantage of things when they are freely available – or even available free. What could be more thrifty than that?

strawberry glam jarsIn my case, I got into the habit of preserving as an attempt to supply Tartan Towers with frugal treats – artisanal preserves at Aldi prices. Something nice for (almost) nothing. I figured that, if life gives you lemons, you might as well make lemon curd. And, in a year of trying to preserve some cheap fruit and veg each month I learned that, as long as I followed The Thrifty Preserving Rules, I could have jam tomorrow for pennies today.

 
Want to try it for yourself? This is the perfect time to start thinking about it. Granted, there is not much freely available at the very end of winter/start of spring, but that makes this the perfect time to get all your supplies ready for a year of frugal preserving. That way, when you get cheap strawberries at a pick-your-own farm you can turn them into Strawberry Glam right away.

 
I have been known in the past to throw fruit out, mouldy and un-preserved, because I never did source enough jam jars. Don’t be like me: be organised instead, and start stock-piling jars now for re-use. A good wash in hot soapy water disinfects them thoroughly enough but it’s best to use fresh lids. These are usually a standard size and easy to buy. Alternatively, use wax disks and cellophane tops fastened with a rubber band. These form an airtight seal which stops your preserves going off and are much cheaper than buying new lids. Once you open them, though, you can’t reseal the jar.

Whichever you choose, the time to buy them is now. That way, you won’t have to dash out to the nearest (and inevitably most expensive) supplier mid-jam-session next July.The Thrifty Preserving Rules