So I bet you’re wondering where all my money went? So am I! I’ve learnt a good lesson this month, which is to not carry the whole month’s allowance around in my wallet (probably kind of obvious, but it was interesting to try a different way from October & November).
I do at least know where some of it went, and that’s the £2.80 I spent on 3 kg strong organic bread flour. It was on special offer at Waitrose when I went with my friends on Saturday to get the free coffees they offer to membership card holders. Ooh, they’re crafty alright! Come for the free coffee and newspapers, leave with a load of stuff you didn’t know you wanted until it beguiled you! I didn’t mean to buy anything after necking the coffee, apart from some potatoes, but my friends were going round the shop and I made the fatal mistake of looking down other aisles besides the produce section. Still, I do feel particularly naked in the cupboard area when there’s no strong wheat flour in there, and I’ve been able to make lots of breadly goodness, including these.
I made dough using about 850g flour, a heaped teaspoon yeast, a teaspoon of salt and about 3/4 pint of lukewarm water. I used about a third of the dough to make these rolls (then the rest to make plain rolls and garlic bread to go with dinner tonight), so there’s only a very rough and ready recipe. I rolled out the dough into an oblong, mixed a heaped teaspoon of powdered cinnamon with about 5 tablespoons of marmalade, then because this is value marmalade they seem to have compensated for the low amount of fruit by using a lot of pectin, making it quite dificult to spread, so I added a squirt of golden syrup. Spread the sweet goop onto the dough, rolled it up, cut it into 8 pieces and squished each one slightly between my palms before putting them on a greased Pyrex dish and leaving them to prove for about 90 minutes. Then I baked them for twenty minutes in a fairly hot oven around 180/350.
We had these for pudding, and I heated them up for around 3 minutes again just to loosen up the sticky bottoms. I made a simple drizzle out of icing sugar and water to go over the top, but they were pretty gooey and delicious even without it. The value marmalade works really well precisely because they’ve been quite stingy with the fruit so it compliments rather than overwhelms the cinnamon. I would make these again, although maybe not at the same time as a load of other bready stuff! I’m going to see how they freeze…
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!
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.