Sunday 25 January 2015

Must do better!

Looking back on last week I've realised that I must do better on the money front.  Our forward plans were due in on Friday so every night I was late home from school as I was working on my plans with my stage partner.  Tiredness plus lack of planning always leads to bad food choices and I must confess to one extra late night phoning for pizza despite having food in the fridge that I then threw out yesterday as it had gone off.  And to add insult to injury I dropped a piece of my GF pizza down my only good work skirt.  Despite a quick reaction on my part I haven't been able to remove the big grease stain :-(  So £20 for pizza, good food going to waste and the loss of a good work skirt is just not good enough. 
So, with my frugal head well and truly back on, I did a quick pop into Lidl and scored some GF cereal and pasta.  The flakes cost £1.49.  According to they can be up £3.52 elsewhere.  The spaghetti was £1.29

A late Sainsbury's visit to the autobank on Thursday night (see told you I was disorganised last week!!) resulted in these lovely bargains.  3 punnets of plums, a bag of lemons and a dozen larger Scottish free range eggs.  We ate a few plums and the rest are now in the freezer for later use.

I made a few quiches with the eggs for the Teenager.  He's now on study leave so these have been sliced and frozen for him to have for lunch.

Last night I whipped up a quick GF and dairy free chocolate cake.  Last time I made it I thought it was too big so instead of sandwiching the 2 layers together I sliced and froze one of them.  I'll report back on how well it survives.  I also substituted coconut milk for the soya milk as I didn't have any.  It worked out just as well!
I'm hoping that work will be less frantic now that all our planning is complete.  It would be nice to come from work at a sensible time and be able to spend some time on my hobbies.  I have lots of fabric (somewhere in the depths of a cupboard!!) so maybe I could make myself a new skirt for work.
I'm also spending some time on meal planning today so hopefully a week of better eating and not wasting food or money!!

Sunday 18 January 2015


I've started my 2015 Clothing Challenge by purchasing 2 waterfall style cardigans on eBay. Total cost £20.94.  The only problem buying online is you can't assess the quality.  The purple one is a decent quality and so far has proven cosy and warm when I wore it to work this week as the school, like our weather, is rather frozen at the moment.  The red lacy one however has already unravelled, I fear it may not last as long. I need to find a create way to rescue it.
I managed to stay within my £120 budget for clothes last year.  I did however have to buy a new pair of boots for work as my old ones had split.  I didn't buy any running/exercise shoes as I had stocked up the previous year during a Sportsshoes sale.  It will be a big challenge to stay in budget needing to buy specialist shoes but I will hunt for a bargain pair!
Yesterday's supermarket shopping scored a gourmet yellow stickered treat.  A very tasty piece of premium rump steak.  I've popped it in the freezer for now.  If I don't find a similar bargain for OH and I to have a steak dinner, I'll slice this one thinly for a special stir fry for 2.
I had originally picked up 3 x 500g packs of beef mince at £3.35.  Total 1.5kg for £10.05.  However a quick browse in the meat section of the freezers revealed a good deal on frozen mince (and it was Scottish!!) at 2 x 500g for £5.  So I bought 4 packs.  Total 2kg for £10!
I cooked 2 packs with red wine, onions, carrots and chopped tomatoes and used half of it to make another lasagne.  A big one!!  So far it's done 3 generous portions with 2 leftover portions that will be 2 lunches this week.  And I've found NO DIFFERENCE in taste between the fresh or frozen mince lasagne! :-)
I've already switched to using frozen chicken fillets instead of fresh and now I'll be using the frozen mince.  And I'll definitely be investigating other frozen meats in the future to save money.

Saturday 17 January 2015

Does this look like cardboard food?

A few of my friends on FB were having a debate re tasteless GF food.  I think they were mainly talking about convenience foods that taste like cardboard.  But my efforts to try to convince them that GF and dairy free food can be tasty fell on deaf ears.  Here's my home made lasagne.  Hand on heart it didn't taste or look that different from my old traditional one.  The beef mince was cooked with onions and carrots in tomatoes, red wine and herbs.  (I added some leftover roasted veg to it too). I made my cauliflower based white sauce, the lasagne sheets were made from corn and rice and I sprinkled grated goats cheese on the top.  It hasn't photographed well but it was really tasty!

An unplanned late night shopping trip with OH scored these yellow stickered bargains!  The salmon was put in the freezer straight away.


I cooked them and served them with some GF red onion gravy I got from Approved Food for pennies.

Another GF and dairy free meal that DIDN'T taste of cardboard!
With some planning and good bargain hunting you can eat very well for less on a restricted diet.  I do not feel deprived in any way and my stomach appreciates not being continually in distress.

Sunday 11 January 2015

Books, budget and Bambi

Now that I have some job security I can start making plans for this year and get some sort of budget in place.  I've been making lists and sorting them into needs and wants.  Sadly, the recent spell of high winds and stormy weather has left me needing to replace my back door a little earlier than I wanted.  Hopefully it shouldn't be too expensive and will improve heat retention. As far as my wee house is concerned, most of what I have planned are wants eg a dishwasher!  Luckily OH is fairly handy so he fit a dishwasher into my small kitchen without much cost.  I just need to do my research on prices.

Flowers from my colleagues on getting the temp job. Thanks for your lovely comments on my previous post :-)

Now for the Bambi bit!  Anyone eat venison?  It's lower in cholesterol than beef and just as tasty, maybe even better.  But some people can't get past the Bambi connection!!  OH bought this large haunch on impulse in our local butcher before Christmas.  It cost £30 (eek!!) and weighed 2.3kg.  It's wild venison and came from an estate in Perthshire 10 miles from here, very near where I used to live.  It was bought frozen so I kept it in the freezer.  I defrosted it and roasted it with just salt and pepper last night and made a simple gravy from the juices.  It was delicious! I can honestly say it's the best roast joint I've ever cooked :-) It's already generously fed 3 of us (OH went back for thirds!!) I sliced it and removed all fat and sinewy bits and filled 2 casserole dishes.  I reckon there are at least another 10 servings to be had from it.

I then took all those fatty sinewy bits and simmered them in a little red wine and water to make more gravy.  Waste not, want not!!

This is the smaller dish of meat I kept for myself.  It's just melt in the mouth tender.
Now for the book bit of my title.  Like most people I also started the new year by saying I must read more books.  In my internet travels I came across a reading challenge I rather liked.  I've set up a page (see bar across top) to record the books I read.  I think this list will challenge me to read books I wouldn't even have considered reading.  I know a few folks who are giving it a go too.  Have a look at some of the suggested categories :-)

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Job update

Quick post to say I had a good interview, really couldn't have done much more.  I was offered the temporary post covering another maternity leave within the school.

It's not the perfect outcome but I have job security for another year being paid at the full rate for my years of service.  So I'm being positive.  I haven't had specific feedback yet so will find out soon where I need to improve.

I'm looking at it as winning the silver medal rather than the gold.

Tuesday 6 January 2015


I've spent this evening going over my interview preparations for tomorrow.  Right now I don't feel very brave.  The very thought of it makes me feel queasy.  But a permanent job will give me the financial security I've never had so I have to be brave.  Gulp!

Please spare a positive thought for me tomorrow morning at 11.15am.  Ta muchly xxx

Monday 5 January 2015

Back to work

So now it's back to work and back to our normal routines (although The Teenager still has another week before returning to school!!)  The dogs seemed to like having us around but tonight when I got home from work they were very happy and content after a long walk and swim in the loch with my dog walker.

During the holidays I was in the mood for a good clear out of clutter.  I then moved some furniture around between a couple of rooms, acquired an old office desk from OH's office, rescued an old world map from school that was being dumped and created a rather decent study for myself.  No cost at all!  I've still got to sort the books on my 3 bookcases and move a wee chest freezer then I'll do a reveal.  My kitchen is nearly done so will reveal that too!!

The Teenager and my mum helped me get started on curtains with the fabric I got on eBay.  The roll was heavier than I thought so the extra pairs of hands were needed!

On the food front I discovered a recipe on Pinterest for a non dairy 'white' sauce.  It's based on cauliflower.  Didn't look too promising in the pan!

I tested it with some spag bol sauce I had in the freezer and some veggie  rice.  Huge success!!! I'm planning to use this sauce in so many ways starting with a lasagne (using GF lasagne sheets!)

'White' sauce  (based on this recipe )

500g frozen cauliflower
25g goats butter
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 litre boiling water
3 tsp Marigold stock powder
125mls Alpro soya cream

Melt butter in pan and gently fry garlic until it smells yummy!
Add cauliflower, water and stock powder.
Bring to the boil and simmer until cauliflower is soft (about 8 mins)
Blitz with a stick blender and add cream.

Voila! White sauce :-)

Apparently it freezes well so this is going to be a very useful sauce. 

I hadn't tried goats butter before.  My lovely mum saw it in her supermarket and got some for me to try.  It's really rather nice, very similar taste to Lurpak style butter.  I do like my Pure spread but I'm already dreaming about this butter on my GF bread :-)