Sunday, 31 January 2016

Week 3: Feeding a family of 4, for 6 weeks - £170! Plus recipes

Apologies for the delay in posting this weeks meal plan. We have had a couple of bereavements in the family and have been pre occupied. 

I have not made recipe cards to go with this weeks meal plans as i have the websites i found the recipes on, bookmarked. 

The shopping list for the whole 6 weeks will be live tomorrow too if you would like to look at that :)

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

#WeEatWednesday: Bliss ball recipes

I've mentioned Bliss balls a couple of times in my Feeding a family of 4, for 6 weeks - £170 posts, I love how versatile they are, how yummy they are and how cheap they are to make.

They can be made in huge batches, frozen, stored in airtight containers in the fridge and are handy for healthy snacking, lunch boxes, parties or just as a treat.

Week 2: Feeding a family of 4, for 6 weeks - £170! Plus recipes.

As promised, here is part 2 of my 6 week meal plan. 

If you would like to see what i done on week 1 you can check out my post by clicking here 

Week 2 is pretty similar. As mentioned in week 1, i'm using a 3 week rotation, so some of these meals will be batch cooked for use in weeks 4, 5 or 6. 

This post includes, week 2's meal plan and recipes. Week 3 will be live on Friday and the shopping list and some meal planning tips will be live on 31st Jan. 

Week 2

Monday, 25 January 2016

Meal plan monday: Feeding a family of 4, for 6 weeks -£170! Plus recipes.

The leftover Christmas shop has finally run out, so i am back to meal planning. Like most of us, i need to watch the pennies so my shop has to come in as cheap as possible. 

I had a £200 budget this month to feed 4 people, 2 cats, including 3 packed lunches a day, breakfasts, cleaning products and treats. I managed to do the biggest shop for under this and have some left over to top up the perishables towards the end of the month. 

Ill explain how i have done this and provide a shopping list and recipes. This of course will not work for everyone, this works personally for my family. But do feel free to take bits and pieces if it helps you to make you're own food plan. 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Waitrose online deals: Saving money on your food shop.

Right after Christmas, i like many, many others, is poor! It is this time of year i look for the best deals food wise and try stock my cupboards up a little. 

Friday, 8 January 2016

Stop paying to see your credit report. Try this for free

Since working on my debts, ive been keeping an eye on my credit score. Its not gone up much but it is nice to see it when it does. 

I used to pay Experian £15 a month, as they were recommended as the best credit report checker. Then it struck me that i was trying to save money, and paying someone that amount of money for something as simple as a credit report, seemed ridiculous. At the time step change were dealing with my debts and when i told my adviser that £15 a month was being spent on Experian, she said the same thing i am saying now.... Why? I told her i wanted to keep reviewing it, it made me feel in control of my finances as well as being pleased and giving me a boost when i saw the figure go up. That is when she advised me to cancel Experian and sign up for Noddle, 

Frugal Friday : How to store veggies to keep them fresh for longer

I saw this over on Door to door organics and thought it would be a great tip for the start of the new year. 

I usually chop up veg to freeze it before it goes bad but this could save alot of hassle. 

Thursday, 7 January 2016

365 day penny challenge - UPDATE

Last year i posted about doing a penny a day challenge. The aim was to save up all the money for Christmas in one go without the need to stress about it. It worked out so well that i thought i would do an update and show you all how it went.

Firstly lets go back to the beginning. What is the 365 day penny challenge?

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Welcome 2016! Our 2015 update.

After a long holiday with family i decided now was the time to pop on here and say a big welcome to 2016! I hope you all enjoyed seeing the new year in as much as i did. 

2015 was a hard year for us. The first 6 months was as good as it usually is but the last 6 months was hard. 

Here is an update of our 2015 and a look back on last years resolutions. 

New years resolutions 2015 

I did make this post with good intentions (dont we all?) But as usual, i didn't stick to them all. You can see all my resolutions in Welcome 2015!  

Giving up smoking - I did give up smoking - for 7 months. When we went through a rough patch i started back up again. I have however cut right down and will be back to vaping again in February. 

Reducing waste - I did reduce our waste. It is a work in progress but i got more crafty, more imaginative and had some fun along the way. I plan to work on this more in 2016. 

Budgeting better - I did manage this one! We are much more in control of our money than we ever have been. We are by no means perfect but we now have spare money and we can now save for the things 2016 has in store (like getting married) 

Making handmade gifts - I did manage this too. It made Christmas alot easier (and cheaper) and meant that some members of the family got a gift that they usually wouldn't get if we had to pay for them. Check out the 50 gifts i made for £25 i made for Christmas. 

Losing weight - As with most people, this was one i didn't achieve. Keep an eye out for a post later today to find out why. I started the year off great but then i found out something which turned all the hard work i had done, upside down and forced me to reassess and restart a diet. 

2015 Highlights 

Not too much happened last year that was worth raving about. 5 things really stood out and made 2015 much better than most and has set the path for 2016 to be potentially much better than any other year. 

We had our first family holiday 

To Cancun of all places! It was wonderfully relaxing and very much a once in a lifetime experience. 

You can read all about it in Cancun Review 

While it wont be a holiday we could ever afford to go on again, it did make us realise that we need to go away as a family. We try to make as many memories as we can for the kids but after this holiday i feel that we should make more of an effort to go to different places and experience different things. 

I started a degree 

This is something i have wanted to do for a while but was unsure how to go about it. I had studied previously with The Open University, but life got in the way and i had to defer. This time i am much more determined. I know a degree will put us in a position where we can leave living below the breadline and even though it is 6 years away it is making out future look much more brighter. 

As an added bonus, me starting a degree has encouraged, not 1 but 3 members of my family to also study towards one. My mum is joining me doing a Psychology degree, my sister is further her studies in Health and Social Care and my hubby has taken the plunge to study for his dream job in Environmental Health. The support between us all is fantastic and 3 members of my family are finally working towards something they would love to do. 

I added some free course options for those who would also like to take the plunge but not sure where to start or if they are ready. There is lots of free course providers out there. 

We are almost debt free! 

This was a long hard process but now it is nearly over we can see the difference it has made. It was by a stroke of luck we were able to do this. We had already budgeted down as much as we could and sacrificed alot in order to keep up with the monthly payments. A family member had some money given to them which they offered us a chunk of. By combining some haggling skills and using the fact that some of the debts were in fact Statute barred, we were able to turn 13k into 4k and clear most of the debt we had. 

This did take alot of haggling. All i did was phone the debt companies which were active and ask them what their best settlement offer was. I had a price in mind that i though was acceptable and was willing to go up to £100 over it. I didn't tell them how much i had, but after each offer i informed them that it was too high but if they have a lower offer at any time i would be willing to consider immediate payment. 10 of of the 12 of my creditors ( 8 of which were not statute barred) were willing to accept 75% off settlement meaning that i could pay all 8 of them. 

I did request a letter or email prior to paying this so i had a copy of the settlement offer and did request a letter to say that the debt had been settled after i had paid. The 2 which were active and refused to offer a settlement offer under 25% are now being paid at £10 per month. A much more manageable figure. I hope to have these paid by the end of 2016. 

We set a date to get married! 

When we paid our debts off we started to plan what we would like to save up for. We have been engaged for over 5 years and decided that we would start plans to get married. We have set a date for 2 years time giving up plenty of time to save up. Of course, it will be a frugal wedding so hopefully i can share some of the things i make if i make anything. 

We moved house. 

This wasn't planned but ultimately turned out to be a fantastic idea. We were given notice to leave in June and after 2 months of messing about with the council (who ultimately couldn't help us), we were offered a house with a housing association 2 days before our notice was up! We had to move out of the area and the kids needed to start new schools but as it turned out, the house is much cheaper in rent, much warmer so our gas usage is low and its stable. We wont be kicked out unless we do something wrong. We have had to fork out for carpet and white goods due to it being gutted prior to moving in but that was just a small price to pay for the stability of the tenancy. 

2016 Resolutions 

This year i have not set up a plan to do anything important. As mentioned we moved home and are planning to get married so that is pretty much taking up my planning. I shall lose weight again and will give up smoking for good. However this year i will not be stressing myself out trying to keep up a years worth of personal goals and just enjoy whatever 2016 throws at me :) 

Did you plan any new years resolutions?