Home made burgers for meal planning Monday.

Quick and easy tea tonight, burgers in bread. I buy 800g of mince from Lidl which is £2.49.  About 500g makes enough burgers for all of us. Add a couple of finely chopped onions and an egg to bind it all together and fry on a reasonably high temperature. The mince that’s left over will make a second meal later on the week when eeked out with an onion, passata and chopped tomatoes.

So, meal planning.
Monday:burgers in bread. (I did offer beans alongside but no-one wanted them.) Children had corner yogurts for dessert which were on offer at 30p each. Tuesday: sausage, mash and beans or other veg.
Wednesday: fish and chips.
Thursday: home made pizza.
Friday: either spaghetti Bolognese or cottage pie.
Saturday: jacket potatoes (beans, cheese, ham )
Sunday: veg stew.

Fruit bowl is topped up with pears, apples and bananas, must get to grips with the yogurt making instead of buying endless mini tubs of the stuff.

Check out Mrs M for lots more meal suggestions.

Simple money saving gadgets.


I buy decaf teabags from Lidl. £1.50 for 80. And I use them twice. Best way of doing this is to use a pot and a tea cosy. Also saves on power as you’re boiling the kettle once for two drinks.


Cloth nappies. This has been rather a battle this winter. A family of six with two in nappies means the washer is on daily and drying space is at a premium. But I’ve only had the tumbler on twice this year, once for towels and once for bedding, and the first load to get dry outside went out this week. Cloth nappies during the day save 6 to 8p a change. I use disposable wipes and wash them in with the nappies, they last for ages. Not Huggies though, they fall apart. Most of my cloth stash was at least second-hand when it reached me, so definitely reducing environmental impact there and was very cheap or free.


Cloth shopping bags. I have a vast stash of these and try to have at least two with me at all times. Means I don’t have to pay for carrier bags.

What are your favourite easy money saving gadgets or tips?

Meal planning and eating in style.

One of the best ways of controlling the food part of the budget is by meal planning. Cooking from scratch helps too, and I try to do both.

home lentil soup and soda bread

So lunch today was homemade lentil soup and warm soda bread. The soda bread was a bit of a life saver – I ran out of white bread and instead of running to the coop, decided to follow this handy recipe with the small adjustment of having to make a buttermilk alternative from milk and lemon juice, and whipped up six rolls in the space of 30 minutes or so. It went very nicely with my homemade lentil soup (4 portions for around 50p) and makes for what feels like a positively luxurious meal.

I don’t see that budgeting has to make eating painful. And bulk cooking is definitely the way forward. So this was dinner, from the second third of a pack of mince. The pack costs £2.50 and is 800g. I add a tin of tomatoes (31p) and a box of passata (29p) along with a couple of onions. It then feeds us three times – once as spag bol, tonight as cottage pie (about £1 worth of potatoes on the top of that as Tim grabbed them from the Spar) and the third portion is in the freezer and will probably be spag bol again, though you never know.

cottage pie

So that’s Monday’s meals.

Tomorrow I’ll pop to Lidl and do a proper shop – I did a bit on Friday night, spent £20, but need to get for the rest of the week now. I might get a chicken and do it tomorrow night – will be around £4 but will feed Tim for lunch for several days as well. Wednesday, hm. Fish and chip luxury take out for £10.20 is under threat, as last week there was loads of waste. Someone suggested that we buy in, and instead of buying fish and chips, I’m wondering about splurging on something like a frozen selection ribs and so on, so I still get a night off, but will be half the price.

Thursday is always pizza night. I make my own dough in the breadmaker, and use passata with herbs for the topping. Around 250 g of cheddar and a pack of mozzarella are the big ticket items, and even that doesn’t seem extravagant to feed six.

Friday I’ll do either jacket potatoes or veg stew. And the other on Saturday. Sunday might well be freezer food.

And I’ll try to bring the week’s shop in at around £70 again.

How does your budget look? Got any hints and tips to share? You can check out the other #mealplanningmonday entries with Madam Ding.

274 pounds.

Our estimate of what we need for the building work is £100,000. That’s quite a big number. So big that it’s difficult to know where to start to raise it. But really, it’s just £1 lots and lots of times, and there are lots of ways to raise that. (While cutting down what we spend will help us reach the target faster, what we need to do is actually make the money.) But, and it’s a big but, if I concentrate on raising the money £1 at a time, it’s likely to be a very long time before we get there.

So, I need to make it into manageable chunks that are worthwhile. 100,000/365 is 274, give or take a few pence, so that’s what I’m going to think in terms of. If I could raise that every day, then we’d have the money in a year.

Well, that’s less than two of the website packages we sell on our business site. We could do two of those a day. (Every day, including weekends, no holidays. Or maybe not. ) If you fancy having a website/blog set up, do give us a yell.

There’s probably at least enough stuff in just this one room that could be sold on ebay to raise a day’s worth, but I bet it would take me a lot longer than a day to list it all. I’m sure there’s a knack to ebay. I’m equally sure I don’t have it. The last time I was pleased with the price of something I sold the seller didn’t bother picking it up from the post office and I ended up having to refund him and being out of pocket on the postage. It’s not just me that sort of thing happens to, is it?

Tonight, while hunting (unsuccessfully) for a photo to accompany this post, I started to consider taking pictures and selling them. I’m told though that it’s very difficult to get your photos accepted by istockphoto, so that may be a washout too.

What else can I sell? There are these words of course, but as they’re available free via wordpress I’m not sure why anyone would pay to receive them on a Kindle. I’m going to set it up though, just in case.

So, it doesn’t look like I’ve found the easy answer yet. Back to the drawing board for the time being then.

The (recycled) envelope cash budgeting system.


There’s no point in setting out to raise extra money without a firm grasp on where your current cash is going to. After years of trying to keep track in a variety of different ways I’ve opted for a concrete system that I can easily keep an eye on. I give you the recycled envelope cash budgeting system.

(You’re welcome).

At the moment I’ve got six envelopes. They are marked food, fuel, bills, clubs (lessons, subscriptions), luxuries. That last one is important. I think it was Heinlein who said “budget the luxuries first”. He may have got an awful lot of other stuff wrong, but in this instance I think he was pretty near the mark. If you can see that you’re getting near to the money you need for a particular treat it adds impetus to the budgeting.

So what I do is get cash out weekly and then split it up between the various envelopes. I’m allowing £100 a week for food and toiletries for the six of us, although I’m hoping I’ll be able to trim that down, particularly if I can get the cloth nappies going again. Clubs and so have got £40 a week set aside, though I need to check the prices of the various organisations. I’m putting £20 a week into the fuel envelope and hoping that this year is the year I finally sort out bikes for us all and cut out lots of the little journeys that end up costing the most.

Bills are the one that I need to look into. I need to check what we’re currently paying and see if there are any cheaper alternatives. I know direct debits are often cheaper, but if you ever miss a payment through not having enough in your account, then you can often get penalised both by your bank and the company concerned. Not good.

So there you have it, our fledgling budgeting system. Would love to hear your suggestions for improvements.

I’ve submitted this post to the Thrifty families february blog carnival. Do pop over and check out the other entries.

The challenge.

The problem: we love our house. It’s in a fabulous place, just on the edge of a great town, with everything we need, countryside and allotments ten minutes walk one direction, the beach fifteen minutes in the other. But it’s a bungalow and really on the small side for the family of four who moved in, and now straining at the seams to fit in a family of six.

The solution: raising the roof to add another floor. We could put in four decent bedrooms with two bathrooms and we’d be set.

But that is going to cost. Probably around £100,000. This blog is to document how we raise the money without radically changing our home educating, work from home lifestyle.

I hope you enjoy the ride.