Thursday, 24 November 2011

Thursday 24th November 2011

Well benefits advisor came to fill in dreaded ESA form.  He took all my details and what I could and couldn't do and took it away to fill in.  He told me that the form is a laugh really as they do not bother reading them, its all on the medical whether I will receive ESA or not, and he admitted unlikely and so will have to appeal but if so I will stay on lowest level of ESA until appeal so at least that means I have a bit longer before its likely we will be living on just hubby's wages even if money will be £40 a week less, better than nothing.

Today all the drivers at hubby's work were called into a meeting, with all the cuts they are looking for 8 redundancies at least and if there are not enough people coming forward to take up redundancy they will choose so now we wait.

Have put a roast chicken in oven with potatoes for tonight.  Went mad and covered it with lemon juice as had some lemons that had to be used up and brushed honey over it.  Just checked it and top is browning nicely and almost cooked.

Porridge of course started the day with the honey, then I actually had a pear - managed to buy a bag that was reduced to 50p and 9 pears in it on Tuesday along with a few bags of apples costing 40 each and 12 in each.  I have to give these hands of mine a good talking to so that I can get them peeled and cooked before they go off, but they are tasty to eat but will never eat them all in time.

Wednesday 23rd November 2011

Well started with the old porridge again - although hubby still having cornflakes, maybe if winter ever arrives he will want some instead.

I had bought a lamb breast - well bought two so one in freezer - and cooked it in the slow cooker with sweet and sour sauce and no did not make it myself, I am afraid I bought Sainsburys Basic Sweet and Sour sauce and just poured it over and left it to cook, at 45p for a jar ( so sad it was 29p up till a few months ago) I cannot see me being able to make it that cheaply and hands were to sore to be fiddling around.

Did make a coffee cake out of one of the war time books  - ahem you say what about the rest of the Bakewell tart, well I threw it in the freezer, fed up with it.  So make up some butter icing ( I just grind granulated sugar until it turns to powder).

So a very boring entry.

Didn't do much else I am afraid as rather a pain day.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Tuesday 22nd Nov 2011

Well today as usual started with porridge with honey its funny how I enjoy that so much now, could not go back to sugar.

Lunch was believe it or not some bakewell tart - made on Saturday its amazing how big it was and how filling and it has to be used up.  Will add the recipe for it to Saturdays blog.

Dinner was stewing steak cooked in slow cooker served with Veg suet dumplings.

Stew and Dumplings - for two in Slow Cooker

250g Stewing Steak
1 tin tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1 large or two small onions cut up small
Gravy Powder or granules made up with a bit more of them to the water as in directions as you have the liquid from the tomatoes.

Put all in slow cook and cook on high for about 6hrs or low for 8 - 10 hrs


400 g Self Raising Flour
100g  Vegetable or Beef Suet
Pinch of Salt
Water to make into soft dough

90 mins before end of cooking make dough into balls and add to slow cooker.  I know many books says and hour or less but I find they are not cooked fully and have not absorbed enough of the liquid with less.

We had a bit later a whoopsie buy - 2 bain maries for 54p, handy for the ramikins they were in as I have a habit of dropping and smashing them.

Belated Monday 21st Nov 2011

Well I never got round to putting anything on here yesterday, not as if didn't have the time, but day just seemed to zoom.

Anyway yesterday started with usual porridge but I had mine late, around lunch time and hubby didn't have his breakfast till about then as he was delayed in work so home late ( he doesn't eat before he leaves in morning its to early for him, just before 6am).

Main meal was Spag Bol  for him and Mince and Pasta for me.  I cooked the mince for both of us together but then separated it and made the tomato sauce for him and just added gravy for me.

Some asked if I could put my recipes so I will do that now - will put this one on here and go back and put the others on relevant pages.

Spag Bol and Mince with pasta

For Both

250g Mince
Onion Salt - hubby does not like chunks of onion in this meal only
1 Veg Stock Cube
1 Beef Stock Cube
Water to cover

For variety I add different herbs each time I make this like Oregano

Bring to boil and simmer for 20 mins

Then put have the mince in another pan with a bit of the gravy

In first pan make up gravy powder ( I use Bisto) and bring back to boil and add pasta to it, simmer for 5 mins

For the Spag Bol

Tomato Puree ( I put in 100g can)
Sugar to taste

Add the tomato puree and sugar to the mince with only a little gravy, add water but keep stirring as you put it in as you want the sauce to be thick but not to thick, to be like a very thick soup.  Bring to boil and simmer for about 10 mins.  Add Pasta, simmer for 5 mins stirring to ensure all pasta is covered by the sauce.

Pasta - 200gs per person, less for a child - put in pan cover with water and bring to boil, simmer until as tender as you wish.  Drain and add to the mince

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Sunday 20th Nov 2011

Well another day of food to make.

I got up late so ended up have just HM bread for brunch with marg and anchovy paste on it ( yes I love them, so many don't).  Hubby also got up late but had his breakfast.

For main meal tonight I will serve what is left of the chicken soup with HM bread I think, then for main course I will serve the breasts I made the soup with.  Its gone 4pm and not yet decided what to do with them.  I will just get them out and basically make up something as I go.  I know I will do them in a gravy, if not they will be very dry when reheated and hubby will not eat them cold.  I might throw some rice in steamer and make a chilli with the chicken, but might change my mind when I get down there.

For afters I still have half the HM Bakewell Tart I make for afters yesterday so we will have that, no doubt hubby will want his with custard as he did yesterday:)

Update:  I just threw the chicken in the oven with potatoes, tin of tomatoes, some bisto gravy powder, onions and salt and pepper.

Saturday 19th Nov 2011

Well might as well get it over with, the first meals following my frugal, menu - not that I have actually written out a menu, they never work with me, but I will work out a meal plan so I have enough in to feed us for a week or so.

Breakfast - Porridge 40gs with water but sweetened with honey ( I do not add salt to anything except actual cooking food like soups. stews etc.,)

Lunch Tin of Tomato soup - it was in and cheaper than making it and no not the H brand, do love it but to expensive.

Evening Meal - HM Chicken soup made with lots of vegetables,  blitzed with a hand blender and served with Home Made bread 

Pudding - Bakewell Tart taking from We'll Eat Again - only as I had almonds in I blitzed them in grinder and added them instead of the breadcrumbs that were used instead also had no soya flour in ( must check the recipes and see if its used a lot and if so buy some in) used plain flour.  Apart from them stuck to the rest of the recipe and boy did it raise and next time I will make far less shortcrust pastry as to much, about half should do us.  I think back then they liked thick pastry as it helped fill them up.

So that is it for today.  Not quite 1940's but then could have been if you had a chicken that was past laying so better in pot than eating precious food that could be given to layers - I wonder if I kept chickens if I could have done that, easy to pretend but could I do it for real.


Well not actually done any menu planning yet although made sure I have the right food in, but I could not resist some whoopsies ( reduced items) and so tonight's meal is Chicken soup made with lots of Vegetables ( frozen I admit as its cheaper than fresh until I can grow my own) as the chicken was a whoopsie.  So soup will be served with home made bread - I make 3 x  500g  ( 18ozs)  loaves a week for us that is equal to one days supply of flour for both of us, so that still leave plenty, we never go through that much flour in a week, but then of course we will fill up with other things, now this will stop ( I hope).  The chicken that made the soup will be used in another meal tomorrow, as yet not sure what that will be.

A Bit More

A bit more about my plans to try and save m0ney.

I have a very small steep back garden, when I dug up the grass and planted vegetables in it all that happened was the plants and soil ended up down by the back door on the patio ( I call it a patio, makes me feel posh but its only two flags stones width between house and start of garden.  So I gave up that idea and grew flowers, vegetables, fruit and herbs in containers.  This worked well but lack of space meant I could not grow many.  

So the plan is to turn the side garden into a vegetable garden.  The big problem there is I am on a main road into the city and so plenty of people, ok in cars, going past as well as well as those on foot going to bus stops, local shops or elsewhere.  We live in a conservation area which has the most rediculous rules so garden fence can be only 3ft high, very easy for anyone nimble person to hop over it and help themselves to what I grow.  In past just before Mothers Day my daffodil population has usually gone down rather a lot with people helping themselves.  So to use the side garden means spending money.  So have just had put in in 100 Hawthorn mainly mixed hedges in the hope that in a few years they will deter anyone wanting to hop over, rather prickly Hawthorns.  Until they grow they I will just have to hope most if not all my vegetables survive as I do not want to wait until hedges are grown.

So with this in mind I planted in September some vegetables all hidden under fleece tunnels.  So far now have gone walkies, but then none are doing that well either.  My leeks are very thing and cauliflower consists of leaves only, no sign of any white in middle.  Lettuce only has about 6 leaves.  I am not sure what is going wrong - side garden faces south, all planted in good compost and fed but alas it looks like my green fingers that I seemed to have when growing in pots seems to have turned black.  They are all plants suitable to be planted in Autumn, but it has been so mild maybe that is what is holding them up. So all I can do is leave them and hope for a sudden growth spurt.

T'is Me

Aside - Why have I decided to do a site?

I hope by going public and putting down here my successes and failures  I will suceed.

Who am I, just a 55 year oldie who is stuck at home.

I have never been a good manager, I spend to the limit but this does mean if I have £20 to buy a weeks food I will manage to buy enough to eat well with it but also means if I have £100 to buy a weeks food I will spend that on food.  I have never been a saver, to me having food in means more than money in the bank.  Blame my childhood we always had empty cupboards at end of day and had to go and buy next day - Dad gave Mum house keeping daily.  

So all this has meant we bob along until some bill appears and hey pesto I am in debt.  No more this has got to stop.  

I cannot go out to work ( how I wish I could) as I am stuck in bed a lot of the time thanks to darling Fibromyalgia.  

There are days I cannot get downstairs - I spend most of my time sitting in or on top of my bed, using a laptop on an over bed table.  Sitting on an ordinary chair or couch hurts to much.  I have now bought a Teasmade as there were days hubby would be out at work and I would be stuck upstairs unable to make myself a hot drink.

So  when I feel able I have to do what I can, which can be cooking - usually I always cook twice as much as needed so one for that day and one for freezer so when bad all the meal needs is to be heated up.

I up till now have received Incapacity benefit and as hubby is only working Part-Time ( his firm is trying to survive) was overtime when he can get it, my money has helped to keep us afloat.  Now the dreaded ESA form has arrived and from what I have heard it seems chances are I will not get it.  I asked my doctor about my chances of working again and she told me basically nill, she cannot say fully as of course there is always a chance a miracle will happen and either I go into remission and am well again or they find the cause and then a cure for it.

On good days - for me a good day is being able to get downstairs and do some cooking and maybe as well get into garden to sit - I have someone I pay to dig the garden, cut the grass, plant my vegetables I have just started growing, money I cannot really afford but hoping once garden is set up with no dig beds I will be able to get out there at least once a week to remove odd weeds and so he will just cut grass and hedges when needed.  I do not go out and socialise, that is a thing of the past, I find it hard even to get to doctors and hospital appointments.

So if I lose my benefit we will have a very small amount live on as hubby is only on a few pence more than minimum wage and after house and council tax paid we will only have £25 left for everything else ( Gas;Electic;Water;TVL;Internet;Phone;Petrol;Car Ins;House Ins etc ( obviously if this does happen a lot of these things will go, but I hope to try and keep internet as all my friends like in it) as well as food of course) unless he has some over-time.  Even a full war time rationed amount might be beyond our means, but if I can grow some fruit and vegetables I hope to be able to produce at least one meal a day.  I know many, many people are in that situation now and many more will join them in the next year as more and more businesses fail.  We are, we have been told, actually entitled to Council Benefits but our local council has refused our application as hubby's earnings are never usually the same more than 3 weeks and they want 5 weeks all the same, but he cannot afford to turn down overtime for this as if he does his firm will not offer it to him again so we pay everything in full.  We do get a tiny amount of WTC but I have to pay for my prescriptions ( and I get a lot so buy a prepay certificate) and we pay for our dental treatment although are lucky that we do have an NHS Dentist. 

Books and Websites I Am Using

We'll Eat Again Marguerite Patten 
Thrifty Tips From The War Years Jancie Anderson 
Make Do and Mend Reproductions of official WW2 instruction leaflets 
Digging for Victory Mr Middleton 
Make, Mend, Bake, Save & Shine Jo Godfrey 
LIVING FRUGAL TECHNIQUES: Decorating, Pest Control, Recipes, And Cleaning Products On A Dime [Kindle Edition] Pepper Rosanne  
LIVING FRUGALLY: Tips On Saving Money And Living Within Your Means [Kindle Edition] Pepper Rosanne  
The Wartime Kitchen and Garden - The Home Front 1939 - 45 Jennifer Davis 
Good Eating - Suggestions for Wartime Dishes 2'- net A new Selection of Daily Telegraph Readers Tested Recipes

WWII Rations

TypeAmountLength of Time - Every
Meat 100g ( 4ozs) - 200g (8ozs) approx rationed actually by price - 1s -1/2d Weekly 
Butter 59g (2ozs) - 227g (8ozs) Weekly 
Sugar 227g (8zs) - 454g(16 oz) Weekly 
Loose Tea/Teabags 57g (2ozs) - 113 g (4 oz) Weekly 
Cheese 28 g ()28 g - 227g (8 oz) Weekly 
Preserves - Jam/Marmalade 227 g (8 oz) - 0.45 kg (160z) Monthly 
Margarine 113 g (4 oz ) - 340g (12 oz) Weekly 
Lard 57g (2oz) - 85g (3oz)  Weekly 
Sweet 227g (4ozs) - 454g (16ozs) Monthly 
Eggs - Fresh 1  Weekly - usually choice of fresh or dried not both) 
Eggs - Dried Packet - makes 12 eggs Monthy ( usually choice of fresh or dried not both) 
Bread 255g (9ozs) Daily - but this had to include flour used for cakes etc.

Can we live healthily?

Well like so many people nowadays ( Nov 2011) our income is going down and with rising prices across the board making sure we eat healthily yet do not fall into debt is become harder and harder.

So drastic measures are needed.  Its no use just buying less and less as eventually we might eat enough to keep from being hungry, but the diet most likely will not be healthy.  I need to try and ensure we live within budget yet eat healthily.

I am starting by looking in to what was eaten during World War Two.  Its reported that the British people during that time ate healthier than in any other time in known history.

I am do not intend to actually live on only what was available during that time, not unless money becomes so short that, that would be the only things we can afford, but hope to base what we will eat on the restrictions but then add to it.  So whereas the rations allowed 3 pints of milk per person if more is needed I will buy it.  Tinned goods were subject to availability but I will buy what we use and not try and pretend some things were unavailable.

I hope to plan a core menu, one that is based on just the rations, with odd extras that were available at times.  This as stated would only be put into practise if money very tight either due to income going down again, prices rising even more or we need to save up to buy something.