£100 challenge – day four

Still on £3.35 total spend for month so far. Fresh veg now left: still lots of onions, couple of potatoes just beginning to sprout, and a few carrots, and I still have peas and sweetcorn left in the freezer.

I used up the last of my expensive soya sauce today, and am low on mustard, but maybe that means I’ll start flavouring my food with less often used seasonings. I did buy a 300g bag of caraway seeds a while back that I haven’t opened yet…

£100 challenge – day two

Today’s spend: £3.35

Total spend for month so far: £3.35.

You might think that as I decided to do this challenge at least a week ago I’d have sneakily bought things in preparation back in September, but part of my reason for taking this on is that I’m regularly buying things so I’m prepared to withstand going shopless for a good while. Maybe reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter several times in my formative years overly influenced me, or listening to my granny’s stories of wartime rationing? Why else would I have felt the need to buy four heavily-reduced Christmas puddings in January, knowing that since they’re  “eat before” next spring, I could be comfortably confident for months, knowing I had thousands of calories of dense, fruity, cake-like-substance to turn into pudding-and-custard ice-lollies, or chop up and wrap in pastry with some apples to make a sort of strudel, or perhaps crumble into melted chocolate to make easy, rich fruit truffles?

Of course, I haven’t done any of those things. While I like Christmas pudding fine, it’s in strict moderation, and since my cupboards are always well-stocked with lots of things I like more, I just haven’t got around to my grand plans yet.

I really didn’t need to buy food today at all, however I did need washing up liquid, so after work I took a walk across town to the Co-operative supermarket. I will always buy washing up liquid from them for preference, they were the first mainstream shop I was aware of that proudly boasted of not testing their cleaning products on animals, and made it clear when the products didn’t include animal ingredients either. I love that they continue to boldly splash this on the front of their packaging, including the value range, so you don’t have to pay a premium for following your conscience.
bottles of washing up liquid with yellow labels on a shelf.

On my way to the Co-op i had to pass the market. They had HUGE bowls of bananas going for 50p, at least fifteen bananas to a bowl! And bananas are always useful… I only had a pound left in my purse of £3.50 at this point because before that I had passed a Big Issue seller, so £2.50 went to buy a Big Issue. In case you’re from outside the UK, this is our street magazine sold by homeless or precariously-housed people. I can’t deny that it gave me a slight pang to hand over £2.50 for a magazine, but I know times are particularly tough for the vendors at the moment, and in case it sounds like I’m trying to make myself look noble at a relatively small cost, I fully acknowledge I do get a heartwarming glow from things like this which, in however small a way, are giving people a helping hand. So, it was money well spent because I got a glow, a smile from the seller, and a magazine to boot!

The weather in Leicester is dull and gloomy today. At work I ate a handful of hazelnut for breakfast, and when I got back home I wanted something warm and filling, but not too heavy, so I made an experimental banana cake with ginger, cinnamon and cardamom, and an apple-cinnamon sauce to go with it. Apart from a spoonful of molasses, the only sweetness in the cake comes from the bananas. It’s not quite right yet, so I won’t post a recipe. I’ve got plenty more bananas to experiment with though, and at least I’ve made a start on those apples now!



(Oh, and in case my mum is reading this I also did some jacket potatoes, and had some hummus and tomatoes, and I’ll be doing something with those mushrooms and the rest of the runner beans later. Don’t worry, I’m not living on cake!)

£100 challenge – day one

Total spent today = £0

If you divide £100 by 31 you get £3.22, and I thought I’d be generous and put £3.50 into my little purse. I knew I probably wouldn’t need it today though.

Instead, today has been a day of receiving free food. First, the manager at work who grows chillies she can’t eat had been harvesting some more of those plus a handful of runner beans, and this afternoon I received a prize box of goodies, courtesy of a Vegan MoFo competition and Vegusto

I promised to blog about the Vegusto, but I’ve still not decided what to do with most of it. Just to get the ball rolling I made a cheese and tomato sandwich from some of the piquant flavour no-muh cheese.

sliced tomato and shredded vegan cheese in a bread roll on a plate

it’s been a really long time since I ate dairy cheese. I’m not confident I remember what it tastes like, but this does seem to tick a lot of the same boxes. It reminded me of a cross between cheddar and something a bit harder that would have a rind on it. It’s not quite the same consistency if eaten on its own, but it was really nice in a sandwich, where all the textures blend together. What I appreciated about this was that it tastes thoroughly pleasant from start to finish, there’s no unpleasant aftertaste, which I’ve unfortunately noticed with a couple of other brands of vegan cheese sub. It also grated nicely, without leaving smears on the grater or crumbling.

Below is a picture of my total Vegusto haul. If anyone has any interesting recipe ideas please leave a comment, otherwise I’ll probably end up eating everything in sandwiches!

vegusto melty, mild and piquant vegan cheeses, two mushroom burgers and a vegan sausage.

I was going to do a full foodstuffs inventory today, but only got as far as the fresh stuff. At present I have (all weights are estimated):

About 400g carrots
1.7 kilos of potatoes
150g mushrooms
Maybe 5 kilos apples
4 lemons
6.5 kilos onions (I gave some away!)
2 tomatoes
A few runner beans
9 red chilli peppers
Half bulb garlic
Fresh coriander going to seed in a pot
Rosemary in a pot
Mint and bay in the garden.

Tomorrow I’ll make my way through the cupboards and freezer. I suspect it’s about time I overhauled my herbs and spices anyway…

The £100 challenge for October

Every now and then I like to make life more interesting by setting myself a budget challenge.

hand holding bank-notes totalling one hundred pounds.

I’ve done these before, so I know that it’s possible, but also that it’s surprisingly hard. Lucky me that I have some choice though, I do realise that. Now that I work part time at my main job, my basic salary only barely covers my bills, and the extra work I get offered is what pays for food and fun, but I’ve been fortunate enough so far to keep getting that work.

The £100 challenge for the month of October means that I set a limit of that amount of spending money. This includes:

Household goods such as cleaning supplies

It does not include bills which come out via direct debit, e.g. phone and internet, heating and property-related expenses.

At the moment I am supposedly trying to lose weight for a 20lb challenge (everything is easier if you make it into a challenge!), which I totally slacked off of while Vegan MoFo was on, so that’s good in a way, should mean I spend less on food, although salad stuff can be expensive… and I now have a ton of food in the freezer, all those onions, and my boyfriend’s parents sent me a carrier bag full of apples from their tree. Really, I could probably get by not spending much on food at all, but I really like trying new things and buying bargains, so it’s a huge temptation for me.

Tomorrow I’m going to do a cupboard inventory. I’ll be keeping track of my daily spends on here and hopefully posting some frugal and/or low-calorie recipes.

Some friends I mentioned this to are interested in joining. If you are too, please leave me a comment. Misery loves company! 😉