Jan62 – day six

Ate my packed lunch by 11am (to be fair it was only a smallish bread roll with peanut butter because I was short on time and inspiration this morning), so I bought some blueberry soya yoghurt from Green and Pleasant on Queens Road before I went to my afternoon job. £1.90 for 400g which I felt was rather steep, but it did taste good and wasn’t a bag of chips, which is what I was tempted to get.

I also bought a Big Issue from my usual vendor, who I was surprised to see there as it’s not her usual pitch, but she said this one is better so I was pleased for her, and for me that the cover price has gone back to £2.50 after the hike to £3 over the holiday period.

£4.40 spend today, added to £3.51 comes to £7.91 (goal for day six is a max of £12), so I feel like I’m doing okay so far.

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it’s all over! (for now, anyway…)

So, how did I enjoy my first day of unfettered spending in two months, I hear you ask? Well, I liked it very much!

The day began with a final weigh-in for the 20lb challenge I’ve been taking part in, and I was relieved to see I was still okay, and will not have to pay £100 forfeit.

I also received a lovely surprise Advent House from B yesterday, and he brought it over this morning. Apologies for the terrible picture quality, but hopefully you can still make out how cute this is!

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Perhaps you can see a hint of gold on the left? It’s a chocolate egg filled with fondant that wouldn’t fit in the day 1 cubbyhole!

Then we headed off to Oadby for some grocery shopping. I had earmarked some chocolate-hazelnut spread in Asda as a potential post-challenge treat on my previous visit, so we headed there first. I picked up some mushrooms and peppers (more expensive veg by weight so I haven’t bought in a while, apart from the bargain bowl of peppers from the market) and then made a beeline for the allergy section and popped a jar of spread in my basket. Then I put it back on the shelf. I do still have chocolate-christmas-pudding-with-nuts to eat and actually the thought of eating that spread just didn’t appeal for some reason after all.

After Asda we went to Waitrose, where as luck would have it they were reducing the price on loads of lovely veg! I got organic potatoes, carrots, a big coriander plant, broccoli and ginger, as well as some baked beans and a loaf of bread, spending just over ten pounds in total. I also picked up a membership card and got given a free newspaper as I’d spent over five pounds. The membership cards will also get you free coffee in their coffee shops, so it’s worth getting one if you have a store nearby.

Then we went to Shivalli (South Indian vegetarian restaurant) for the Sunday buffet and I got my deep fried food! I was hoping they would have the spicy gram-flour coated chips they sometimes make, but it was not to be, however the lentil doughnuts, battered aubergines, dosas and puris, with chickpea, potato and spinach curries were all excellent, though we found we couldn’t cram as much in as we used to be able to pre-diet.

We went back to B’s to decorate his Christmas tree, then had a quick look round the Queens Road Christmas Fair, which seemed to be buzzing. I came home and made vegetables in a nutty, garlicky sauce and mustard mashed potatoes for dinner, and am now comfortably full.

People commented yesterday that they’d be interested in a round-up from my challenges, and any tips. I’m not sure I have anything really to add to what I’ve mentioned going along, though. Although it’s not always been enjoyable it’s been useful to limit my spending like this to force me to use up my cupboards, limit food waste and make me appreciate and get creative with what I have. This isn’t the first spending challenge I’ve undertaken (I went over the limit with the first one as the timing was terrible! It was during a month I was at the Edinburgh Festival), but it’s been the most necessary one in terms of my finances, and I think that gave me extra motivation, and committing myself to blogging regularly helped too, because if there was something a bit extravagant in the shops the thought of having to justify the purchase in writing was an excellent check!

Edited to add: one thing I didn’t mention explicitly before, although it’s probably obvious from the first picture for each month, is that I withdrew all the money for the month at the beginning. I put most of it in a wallet which I wrote the name of the challenge on, and tried to keep fairly close to the daily maximum spend in my everyday wallet. I found this helpful as I didn’t have to keep going to the bank or using my debit card, both of which might have tempted me to get out and spend more money.


Leicester Vegan Fair (November ninety, day 23)

I got up nice and early to be there for the start of the Leicester Vegan Fair, which was being held today at Friends Meeting House on Queens Road. It was a sunny morning and I appreciated not having to go to work for the first Saturday in what seems like a long time (I’ve just looked, and I’ve worked the past five, even if just for a couple of hours).

My reasons for getting in at the start were all entirely selfish. I wished to avoid the crowds (fairs tend to get really rammed around lunchtime, in my experience), swipe any limited supplies of hard-to-find goodies before they went, and bag myself (pun intended) a Morsbag full of freebies, as promised to the first 80 attendees. Done and done.

Even right at the beginning there were plenty of visitors, but it wasn’t too hard to navigate the main stall area.

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And being amongst the first 80 arrivals, got some lovely goodies.

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The bag contained a serving of Koko coconut drink (which is my favourite non-dairy milk for drinking!) and 30p voucher off next purchase, sour cherry Goody good stuff jelly sweets (not tried this flavour before), a nakd bar, some yogi tea, a sachet of Green People shampoo, some printed info about various products, and of course the bag itself! I do actually have quite a few reusable shopping bags, so I’ll probably offer it to someone next time I’m at a supermarket. Maybe they’ll get curious and check out Morsbags themselves.

I thought the fair had a good variety of stalls. There was a hall with a mix of local groups, charities and businesses as well as ones from further away. The local veg group were running a tombola with a prize every time. I bought two tickets for a pound each, the first won me a tasty energy drink, and the second won me one of the star prizes! A gift set of fruit cordials.

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In another room there were food stalls, a sample table and acoustic music courtesy of local entertainers. I was impressed at the amount of different samples on offer, including chocolatey wafer sticks! I haven’t seen vegan ones before and used to love them! That’ll be something to keep an eye out once this challenge ends.

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There were also free yoga sessions and talks, but I didn’t go to those. Overall, I was impressed with the amount of hard work that had obviously been put in by the organisers, and how well it paid off. Not only was it an opportunity to get my greedy mitts on things I wanted, and have a chat with a few people, but it was also nice to see the community spirit in action.

In total, I spent £8 on the tombola tickets, a recipe pamphlet and a couple of things which may or may not become presents. Not too bad, as I had up to £10.57 available without going into arrears today. Think I’ll treat myself to some more fresh veg tomorrow as I finished the last market pepper today.


Nearly there… £100 challenge – day thirty

At the start of the day I was feeling pretty smug about where my spend for the month was. At £68.79, I had over £30 left. I planned to buy some cabbage and garlic and that would hopefully still leave me with over £30, and when I was on my way to the extra work I was doing this afternoon I found these hearty-looking specimens.

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They also had tangerines which I really fancied, so I got one of those for 15p, taking total spend up to £69.62. Still fine. Then I passed a second-hand furniture and junk shop.

For ages I’ve been looking out for second-hand bookshelves. At the moment there are books piled up by the stair-rails because there isn’t a proper place to put them, so when I spotted a small set of bookshelves which looked a good fit of course I asked the shop owner how much they were and when he said £8 then of course I had to buy them.

That meant I wasn’t going to be carrying a nice lump sum of thirty pounds over, and since I was luckily getting a lift after work we decided to go shopping and I spent a further £10.40 on various things I was low on, such as loo roll, peanut butter, crispbreads, garlic, and treated myself to some potatoes. It’s definitely potato weather!

So, with only tomorrow left of this month’s challenge, my total is now at £88.02. Don’t think I’ll be getting that toaster oven after all, stove-top cooking will be fine for a while, I’m sure.