Category Archives: Being Frugal

Saving Money with mySupermarket Companion

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of mySupermarket. So when they contacted me to ask whether I’d like a sneak preview of a new app they’d created called ‘mySupermarket Companion‘, I jumped at the chance to test it out 🙂

The beauty of this new app is that it enables you to shop on your regular supermarket’s website. The app keeps track of your shopping basket, alerting you as to whether your basket is cheaper at one of the other major supermarkets or whether you could swap some items for a different brand or multibuys in order to save money.

I trialled mySupermarket Companion last week whilst I was doing my regular online grocery shop at Tesco. While I was shopping, I kept the app tucked away in the corner of my screen by clicking on the minimise button (‘-‘). Now and then, I maximised the app (clicking on the ‘+’ button) to check my progress.

As I began my shop, it looked like other supermarkets were going to be cheaper…

…. but as I carried on adding items to my basket, Tesco became the cheapest supermarket 🙂

If you want to compare the price of a particular product across the different supermarkets, you simply click on the product’s title. The mySupermarket Companion app instantly pops up in the left-hand corner to show you the price comparison.  In the example below, I could see that there were deals on my favourite pasta sauce in all the supermarkets but, this week, Tesco was the cheapest.

When I’d finished my shop, I clicked on the ‘swap and save’ pink pig to see how I could make further savings on my shop. By clicking on this button, you’re automatically sent to the ‘Saving Centre’ on the mySupermarket website where you can view your ‘swap and save’ options.

On this page you also get to see a comparison of the cost of your shopping basket across the five supermarkets. Incredibly, this week, my basket would have been most expensive at Asda! £14 more expensive! I didn’t expect that!

Once I’d selected my ‘swap and saves’, I clicked on ‘Checkout from Tesco’, then ‘Send Basket to Tesco’ on the next screen.  While the basket was transferring, the Savings Pig totted up the total amount I’d saved on today’s shop… £13.14! Result!

Back on the Tesco site, I booked my delivery slot and paid. Shopping done!

So what do I think of the new my Supermarket app?  Well, I LOVE IT!  It’s such a useful little tool!  It only takes a few seconds to download (even on my ancient laptop!) and doesn’t require any fussy installation. Next time you visit your regular supermarket web page, the mySupermarket Companion automatically appears in the bottom left hand corner. From my ‘walk through’ above, you can see how easy and intuitive it is.  By keeping it minimised while you shop, it’s totally unobtrusive. As well as saving us lots of money on our grocery shopping, the tool itself is FREE to download.

For those of you that already shop online, I definitely recommend downloading mySupermarket Companion. If you do so, I’d love to hear how you get on. Leave me a comment below and let me know how much money you save in your first week!

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Filed under Being Frugal, Living Rich on Less

Saving Money with mySupermarket – Living Rich on Less #2

When mySupermarket asked if I would consider writing a review of their online grocery comparison and shopping site, I was more than happy to oblige. I’d first heard of mySupermarket about a year ago when a friend recommended that I should try it out as a way of saving money on groceries (which I mentioned in this post). I was so impressed with it that I’ve carried on using it ever since. Thanks to its online comparison tools, I’ve saved a small fortune over the past year as well as a huge amount of my time.

Let me show you some of my favourite features on the site.

Speed & ease of comparing individual prices
If I want to look up the best deal on a particular grocery item, I simply type it into the Search box. With one click I can compare the prices of different brands, volumes/weights, multibuy deals and spot the cheapest. I can also click to compare the same grocery item across five different supermarkets.

This week I found that Alpro milks and Seeds of Change Pasta Sauces were on offer at Waitrose, so I made sure I stocked up.

Prior to using mySupermarket, I used to walk up and down the aisles of supermarkets trying to remember prices in order to compare them. Sometimes I found that certain items appeared on three different aisles. One such example is nuts. These often appear on the wholefood aisle, baking aisle and Asian/World foods aisle. By typing the item into the Search box on mySupermarket, I can find out in seconds which brand/volume/weight is the best value for money. This has saved me a huge amount of time and money over the past year (and oh do I hate traipsing round the aisles of supermarkets! 😉 )

If you already shop online and have your groceries delivered (like I do), you can click on the ‘Options’ tab and import your regular shopping list into your mySupermarket favourites. Each time you shop you can easily amend the basket, adding and deleting food items. If it’s your first time grocery shopping online, it’s very easy to set up your shopping basket from scratch.

On the right hand side of the webpage, you see the price of your shopping basket across the five supermarkets. The price comparison automatically adjusts every time you add a new item to the basket.

Once you’ve finished shopping, you can select your preferred supermarket and your basket will automatically be sent to the supermarket’s website where you pay and select your preferred delivery date. It’s as simple as that! 🙂

‘Swap and Save’ Function
Once you’ve finished adding items to your shopping basket, you can click on the ‘Saving Centre’ in the bottom right-hand corner of the webpage. This shows you how you can save money by swapping items in your basket to cheaper items (either cheaper brands, larger volumes/weights or multibuy deals). You simply click to swap and your basket is automatically amended.

There are a multitude of money-saving features on mySupermarket and I’ve only explored a fraction of them so far. At the bottom right-hand corner of the home page, there’s a ‘Quick Tour’ link which gives a useful overview of all the site’s features.

Thanks to mySupermarket, I’ve saved hundreds of pounds over the past year, as well as countless hours of my time. So I’d like to say a big “thank you” to the “genius” that came up with the idea for this site. It’s brilliant! 🙂

– UK friends, have you heard of mySupermarket? If so, have you ever used it?

 – Friends outside the UK, do you have something similar to mySupermarket in your country? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

Have a great week everyone! xx

 

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Budget Busting Meals – Roasted Vegetable Ciabatta

Here’s today’s budget busting lunch:

Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F

Take one seeded ciabatta (£1 for a pack of 4 in Tesco)

Mix a little olive oil with 1 clove of crushed garlic.  Cut the ciabatta in half and brush with the oil.

Finely chop a mix of veggies (I use red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, courgette (zucchini), mushrooms).  Tip the vegetables into a roasting pan.  Add a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of olive oil.  Mix to coat the veggies in the oil.

Aren’t they beautiful?

After the veggies have been in the oven for 10 minutes, add the ciabatta (cut side up).  Cook on for a further 5 minutes then remove from the oven and assemble.

Voila!  A super quick, cheap, delicious lunch 🙂

This ciabatta could easily be elevated to ‘dinner’ status by adding a little pesto, and a nice salad side dish or bowl of crispy kale 🙂

For more budget busting meals, check out my Recipe section.  All the dinners are super cheap to make, costing pence rather than pounds per portion (even using organic ingredients!)

My favourite budget-busting meal has got to be dhal and chapatis.  It’s so cheap to make and so tasty!  It’s one of the family’s all-time favourite meals.  What’s your favourite budget busting meal? 

 

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Big Budget Challenge – Weeks V & VI

I’m now into my sixth week of the Big Budget Challenge, hosted by the lovely Laura @ KeepingHealthyGettingStylish.  I’m still really enjoying this challenge, largely due to the fact that I’m finding ways to make lots of savings without feeling that I’m depriving the family or compromising on the quality of the goods I’m buying.  That’s the way to do it! 😉

Here’s a rundown of my money saving attempts over the past two weeks:

1. Avoid waste.  Still haven’t thrown away any food!  In the past, I would often end up throwing away half-used pots of hummus that were hiding at the back of the fridge.  Since taking on the B.B.C. challenge, I’ve made sure that I make regular checks of what’s in the fridge and use up everything before it starts to grow fur. 

Last week, I found myself with a large bag of organic carrots that would soon be past their best, so I decided to make some carrot and coriander soup.  I asked M to stop at the supermarket on the way home from work and buy some speciality bread to make the meal a touch more special.  By the time he arrived there, all the freshly made bread was being sold off at a fraction of the original price so he picked up some fantastic bargains, including some carrot and pumpkin seed bread for 50p a loaf!

The soup was so delicious… really creamy, yet I didn’t put any milk or cream in it!  If anyone’s interested in the recipe, I can post it.

2. Shop around for the cheapest deals. I did another large online grocery shop last week and used www.mysupermarket.co.uk again.  So simple and quick to use (took me less than 20 mins).  Again, the website confirmed that Tesco was the cheapest supermarket for my grocery basket (£127 at Tesco vs £145 at Sainsbury; £147 at Asda; £168 at Waitrose).  I saved £15.85 by multi-buying (2-4-1s, etc) and a further £16.40 by using the website’s ‘Swap & Save’ function.

This week’s top bargains from Tesco:
– 750g Natco Cashew Nuts for £5.00 (compared to £1.99 for 200g in the Tesco own label range)
400g Natco Jeera Ground cumin for £1.99 (compared to 85p for 43g in the Tesco own label range).

3. Make use of home-grown foods.  Still using tons of home-grown apples, stewing them, making puddings, and puree for apple pancakes. 

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes are so delish!

 4. Go foraging! I didn’t go far this week… just into the garden.  With the crazy weather we’re currently experiencing, lots of plants that we normally see in Spring have started shooting up now… including the stinging nettles.  For years I’ve been saying that I’m going to try cooking the nettles and, last Tuesday, I finally got round to doing it!  The Nettle Bhajee (which featured in yesterday’s post) was really tasty and I’ll definitely make it again 🙂

5. Make use of vouchers and deals. This week, I did an online shop at Goodness Direct to stock up on nuts and seeds, as well as buy some delicious healthy organic treats.  There are a few codes available on the web that give you £10 off your order with Goodness Direct, including the one on the right-hand side of Laura’s website. You also get free delivery when you spend over £35. 

It felt like Christmas had come early when the box arrived on the door step!  Here’s what I got…

I bulk-purchased some of the foods that we consume a lot, and this saved me a small fortune.  My top two bulk purchases were 3kg of brown linseed for £5.07 (this will keep us going for the next year!) and 500g pitted dates for £1.55 (I bought 2 bags).  These prices are way cheaper than anything I’ve ever found in the supermarkets or local health food stores.

Another tip… if you buy broken Brazil nuts, they are much cheaper than whole Brazil nuts.  For ages, I’ve been buying whole Brazil nuts then spend ages chopping them up!  At Goodness Direct, 250g of broken Brazil nuts are £1.99 compared to £3.33 for the whole nuts!

So, with all these savings on bulk purchases, free delivery, £10 off, I felt I deserved a few delicious organic treats (even if I am in the midst of the Big Budget Challenge 😉 )  At the moment, I am absolutely loving Meridian’s organic wild blueberry and cherry & berry spreads, and their Green Pesto (in the ‘Free From’ range).  Regardless of the fact that it’s vegan, I think this is the best pesto out there!  Not only does it taste great, but it’s also got an amazing texture (little bit crunchy, just how I like it 🙂 )

I’m definitely going to explore bulk purchasing more.  Do you bulk buy any grocery items?  If so, what’s your top bulk purchase items and where do you buy them?

 

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Filed under Being Frugal, Breakfast & Elevenses, Dinners, Growing Fruit & Veggies

WIAW – Guess what I ate!

Hello everybody!  Hope you’re having a great Wednesday!

Lil’ L was jumping up and down with excitement this morning when he realised that it was Wednesday.  Apparently, it’s the best school day ever! 🙂  It begins with a computer session in the morning; followed by pizza for lunch (with some vegetables on the side, he tells me 😉 ), and an afternoon of Wednesday Workshops.  This term he’s got table tennis, followed by my Buddhist meditation, story and art workshop.  Doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend a Wednesday does it?

Wednesdays are special for me too, as I get to spend the afternoon with an amazing group of children, doing something that I love doing 🙂

For this Wednesday’s WIAW party, I thought I would share what I ate yesterday.  It was quite an unusual day of eats, involving a plant that I’ve never eaten before in my life and cooking a dinner that I never actually got round to eating. 🙁  Before I begin, I’d like to send a big ‘thank  you’ to our lovely host, Jenn @ Peas&Crayons.  I can’t wait to see what she’s bringing to the party this week. 🙂

So, here’s what I ate yesterday…

Breakfast
Hot lemon and water gulped down quickly before the school run.
On my return home, I had a cup of nettle tea and a huge bowl of cocoa porridge made with Flahavan’s organic jumbo oats.  Into the porridge, I added some chopped brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds, goji berries, ground linseed, a teaspoon of raw cocoa powder and some organic cherry & berry spread as a sweetener.  It was totally delish!  I am so loving cocoa porridge at the moment!

Lunch
For lunch today, I decided to make an Indian-style Bhajee… with a twist.  Guess what I decided to use as the main ingredient….

Here’s a clue…

Yep, it was stinging nettles from the garden!!  I’ve been meaning to try nettles for ages and yesterday I finally did it!  I loved the taste and texture of this dish.  After eating it, I felt like I was “zinging” with vitamins 🙂  I also found it incredibly filling.

Here’s how I made the Bhajee:

Ingredients
1 carrier bag of nettles (approx 300g)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 piece fresh or frozen root ginger, grated
spices – 2tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric
1  can chopped tomatoes
5 mushrooms, chopped
1 cup vegetable stock
handful each of almonds (lightly toasted) and hempseeds

Method

  1. Wearing rubber gloves, pull the nettle leaves off the main stalk.  Carefully remove any insects, rinse the leaves under the tap, then roughly chop.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions for 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic, ginger and spices and gently fry for a further 2 minutes.  Stir in the vegetable stock.  Add the tomatoes, mushrooms and nettle leaves.  Cover with a lid and gently simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Allow to cool slightly then stir in the hempseeds and toasted almonds.
  4. Serve with chapattis and/or rice.

I estimate that this recipe would serve 3-4 people.  I don’t think this Bhajee is going to appeal to Lil’ L so I might experiment with half the batch and see if I can turn it into a nettle soup that’s super delicious.   I’ll keep you posted 😉

Snacks and Drinks
Piece of Date & Zucchini Brownie (I made a large tray to take to my evening study class)
1 black coffee
1 soy latte
1 cup peppermint & nettle tea
lots of water with lemon

Evening Meal
For my main meal, I made one of our all-time favourite stir fries…. braised aubergine and tofu with pak choi.  Lil L’ absolutely loves this meal!  (I’ll post the recipe tomorrow)

Though this meal only takes 20 mins to make, I didn’t get time to eat it!  M rang at 5pm to say that he wasn’t going to be home in time to look after Lil’ L, so I quickly grabbed my coat and bag, dropped Lil’ L round at a friend’s house and dashed to the bus stop.  Luckily, all the stars were aligned for me yesterday and the bus turned up in perfect time (this RARELY happens) and I made it to my class on time (EVEN RARER!).

M and Lil’ L informed me that the stir fry was delish, so I’m looking forward to trying it for myself tonight 🙂

Supper
Fortunately, the nettle bhajee was so filling that I didn’t feel any hunger pangs all afternoon or evening!  When I got home at 10.30pm, I did have a small bowl of muesli and Shreddies, just to make sure that I didn’t wake up hungry.

Those nettles really did pack some power…  I felt like I was buzzing with energy all afternoon and night!  If I can find some delicious ways of cooking them, then I’ll be onto a winner.  Forget growing tomatoes and squashes, I’ll be filling the veggie patch with nettles instead 😉

What’s the most unlikely food that you’ve eaten?

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If you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win a signed copy of NAKED chocolate.  The closing date is Monday, 21st November.

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