The Big Budget Challenge – week I

With lots of fairly large expenses looming over the next 3 months, last Friday I decided to join ‘The Big Budget Challenge’ hosted by the lovely Laura @ Keeping Healthy Getting Stylish.  We set our own budgeting rules (mine are here) and, for the next 2 months, we’ll post a weekly progress update on how we’re doing on our budgeting adventure. 

It’s my first week into the challenge and I’ve been filled with enthusiasm about finding ways to cut our household food-related costs.  Here’s a summary of what I managed to achieve in the past week:

1. Avoid Waste.  I’m pleased to say that I’ve used up all fruits and veggies before they went brown, turned to liquid or grew fur. 😉  I also rummaged around in the kitchen cupboards and used up anything that was past its sell-by date, including 2 packs of ground almonds:

I was in foodie heaven when I saw these almonds on special offer. Please don't look at the BB date! They were fine, honest!

With these almonds, I made some vegan cocoa fudge (featured in yesterday’s post) and 4 fruit puddings made with home-grown apples, foraged blackberries, and an oaty-almond topping.  They were totally delish… although Lil’ L freaked at the purple coloured apple and said the dessert wasn’t attractive enough to eat! The cheek of it!

The idea was to freeze 3 puddings and eat 1 this week.  Instead, 1 found its way into the freezer, and 3 got eaten in less than a week!  Aren’t we a greedy bunch?

2. Shop around for the cheapest deals. I haven’t done an internet shop this week, so I’ll try www.mysupermarket.co.uk for price comparisons next week.

3. Make use of home-grown foods. On Saturday, we picked apples off our cooking apple tree.  M and Lil’ L had loads of fun, with M balanced up the tree throwing apples down to Lil’ L.  The idea was to carefully catch them and place them in the box, so we can overwinter them.  Unfortunately, most got dropped, some bounced off his head, and the picked apples definitely got mixed in with the windfalls!  I’m not holding out much hope for the overwintering now. 🙁

 

We filled up 3 boxes and there’s still hundreds of apples up the tree.  If anyone that lives near me would like some apples, please give me a shout as we have way too many for a family of 3.

So far, I’ve made all the puddings mentioned above, plus lots of apple sauce, which I’ve been using to make apple cinnamon breakfast pancakes. 

I normally buy at least one bag of organic apples a week and a couple of jars of organic apple sauce per month, so this little harvest is going to save us a fair fortune!

4. Go Foraging! I couldn’t wait to go foraging, so straight after school last Friday, Lil’ L and I put on our wellies and went to see what we could find.  Just a short distance from our house, we found a small strip of land literally covered with cob nuts!  We gathered them up, brought them home and weighed them.  In total, we had 2 kilos’ worth of nuts!  In Waitrose, cob nuts are currently selling for £3.99 a kilo!

 

Fortunately, I know someone who absolutely loves cracking nuts. 😉

So far, I’ve used the nuts to make veggie burgers.  This weekend I’m going to try roasting them with a little sea salt.  Again, if anyone living near me would like some cob nuts please let me know as we have way too many.

Last weekend, we also combined a bike ride along the Bath-Bristol cycle route with a foraging trip to gather blackberries.  We managed to gather 3 containers’ worth.  Some went in the puddings, the rest I stewed.  I adore stewed blackberries and ate 2 bowlfuls today.  I should be zinging with nutrients now! 🙂

5. Make use of vouchers and deals.  This is where we made a huge saving.  In preparation for our Friday night out, I exchanged some Tesco vouchers for reward tokens and we went to Pizza Express.  We asked for the £10 for 2 course menu (in our local P.E. you don’t get this menu unless you ask for it!) and Lil’ L had the children’s menu.  For drinks we had tap water (P.E. must hate people like us 😉 ).  The bill came to £27, which was paid for in tokens… thus FREE!  Normally we spend £35-£40 on a night out, so a bargain all round!

Outside of my 5 rules, we also came up with another way to save significant amounts of money… by parking 10 mins out of the city centre and walking in.  This week, we’ve needed to go into the city twice by car (normally we cycle).  By parking a little out of the centre, we saved £10 in parking charges!  I also enjoyed walking through parts of Bath that I never normally visit.  I especially enjoyed stomping through the crunchy leaves. 🙂

It’s amazing how many ways you can save money with a little bit of thought.  I’m going to pop over to Laura’s now and see how everyone else is doing on The Big Budget Challenge.

What’s your favourite money-saving tip?  I’d love to hear it! 

 

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10 Comments

Filed under Being Frugal, Growing Fruit & Veggies

10 Responses to The Big Budget Challenge – week I

  1. Wow you are doing so well! I wish you lived near me as I would have those apples off you in a flash, I’m addicted to them at the moment 🙂 I’ll post this update in next weeks round up post if that’s ok, thanks again for taking part!

    • Thanks Laura! I’m just sorry I posted so late. Tardiness has definitely been the theme of my week. 🙁 I’ll make sure I do better next week.
      Have a great weekend! xx

  2. What a great idea and looks like you are off to a good start! All those apples are amazing, the organic apples in the stores here are $6.99 for 1 bag which holds about 7-8 apples. Crazy! And the foraging for all those nuts, what a find!! Awesome! 🙂

    • OMG your apples are so expensive! We obviously have the right conditions for growing them round here. In our village, people are leaving buckets of them outside their houses saying ‘free apples, please help yourself!’ I’ve had no local takers for my surplus yet. Shame all you guys live so far way! 😉

  3. I am quite jealous that you have so many great places to forage…not a thing like that around me. That apple tree is fantastic…I could save tons of money if I had a tree that produced like yours (as I think apples might be the most favorite fruit at my house).
    Also good to see you have an accomplished nut cracker on hand who is so handsome.
    Can’t wait to see how next week goes!

    • We’ve had a wonderful year for fruit and nut trees, and I’m guessing it’s due to the unusual weather conditions we had (very cold winter, followed by very hot spring). I’ve never seen such a huge amount of free produce around! Gotta make the most of it! 🙂
      Have a great weekend! xx

  4. You are doing great!!
    I would love some of those nuts, but I obviously live too far away 😛
    Have a lovely weekend 🙂

    • Thanks Ragnhild! 🙂
      The nut trees have gone crazy in our village this year. The streets are literally covered in them! Shame I can’t share them with you!
      Have a great weekend too xx

  5. I haven’t heard of this challenge yet, but excited to start thinking about how to save a little and still eat healthy!!! THANKS!

  6. I’m loving being involved with Laura’s BBC – it’s teaching me loads about my spending habits! I have been loving wild hazelnuts and wild apples too… so tasty ♥

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