Tag Archives: saving money

Cheap meal ideas to get you through the week

cheap-meal-ideas

For the last few weeks, I’ve been following strict meal plans. It’s been bloody brilliant. Not only has it meant that I’ve had to become super organised and P and I know exactly what we’re having to eat each night, but we’ve also saved a fortune. I’ve also been getting this strange pleasure from using up what’s in the freezer and bagging up and freezing meals to have at a later date. Have I become boring and old??? Who cares if it means my healthy bank balance of early 2016 is restored!

Anyhoo, where am I getting the cheap meal ideas from in order to build meal plans? How am I saving money on my food shop? Well, if you need an answer to my second question then you haven’t signed up for my financial e-course yet. That has a WHOLE DAY dedicated to saving on your food bills so sign up now. It’s free after all.

To answer the first question, I thought I’d share a few links I use which have helped me A LOT. You see, I don’t follow the prescribed meal plans you’ll find online on sites such as Tesco because they make assumptions about what you do and don’t like to eat and they assume that there will be 4 of you eating in every single night. That’s not a true reflection of every household is it?

As long as you follow some simple rules, meal planning can be so. much. easier.

How to build your own cheap meal ideas

  • Cut out expensive meats and seafood for a while. This means chicken breasts are a no-no (go for thighs or turkey instead) and prawns and scallops are also to be avoided.
  • Sausages are great provided you stick to the rule of two per portion, and if there’s two of you to feed, you freeze or refrigerate the remaining two for a future meal.
  • Mince is a great buy. If you add a whole lot of diced onion, carrot and celery to the mix when making a ragu, you can squeeze out a lot of portions and then it can be used as a base for a multitude of meal options. Check out my recipe here.
  • If you love fish, try frozen. You can buy bags of frozen cod, salmon, pollock and smoked haddock and all can be cooked really easily in a pot of sauce and served with rice and veg.
  • Don’t buy ready prepared fresh veg. Work out how many ‘portions’ of veg you need and buy only that, or buy frozen.
  • Don’t buy pasta sauce – instead buy a tin of tomatoes, season and cook slowly. Done.
  • Eat one of the following meals once a week. It won’t kill you and it’s so cheap (this is a post on cheap meal ideas, after all):
    • Scrambled egg on toast
    • Jacket potato and beans
    • Omelette
    • Soup
    • Homemade cheese scones (see recipe here) or homemade soda bread (Be Clever With Your Cash), ham and pickles
  • Embrace the wonder of chorizo. I think it is possibly the most wonderful and versatile ingredient there is and it can work in soups, pastas, omelettes and fish dishes and it will keep for weeks in the fridge too.
  • Finally invest in a cheap blender and some vegetable stock and when ever you have ANY leftover meat or veg, chop, bring together in a pot with the stock and seasoning, blend and freeze. And voila….homemade soup.

The above should give you a good few cheap meal ideas but if you want to get a little more creative (without spending a fortune), further help is at hand.

Cheap meal ideas in recipe form

So, without further ado, here are some meal options (and links) to help you plan weeks’ worth of interesting and tasty meals and save some money:

  • Sausage and bean casserole (BBC Good Food)
  • Sausages with mustard mash and red onion gravy (Good Housekeeping)
  • Vegetable Crumble, just 25p a portion! (Thrifty Lesley)
  • Pasta, chorizo, homemade pasta sauce, red peppers. (Chop up the peppers and chorizo and fry. Cook the tinned tomatoes slowly in a pan and season. Boil the pasta and mix altogether. Simple but delicious.)
  • Leftover roast dinner hash with poached eggs (Tesco Real Food)
  • Easy mac and cheese
  • Sausage/leftover roast chicken risotto (my recipe here on my old blog)
  • Leftover turkey and potato curry (Savings 4 Savvy Mums) and keema naan (Reduced Grub)
  • Creamy fish curry (a good recipe for the frozen fish) (BBC Good Food)
  • Sticky hoisin pork stir fry – you’ll never buy bottled hoisin sauce again! (Skint Dad)
  • Chorizo, chickpea and tomato flatbreads (Thrifty Lesley)

And for the sweet treats, you have to try my shortbread and Miss Thrifty’s FABULOUS Chocolate Orange cake which costs only £1.44 to make!!!

I really hope this helps you. Do you have any cheap meal ideas or recipes of your own you can share with me?

Ditch the gym – how to keep fit for free

I’ve put this post in ‘Life’, ‘Style’ and ‘Finance’ because it applies to all. You see, as part of my mission to save money, I decided about two years ago to shun gyms and try to keep fit for free.  I was getting fed up with the fact that £65 was being sucked out of my bank account every month regardless of how often I went for a work out. £65 a MONTH! Over a year – because many gyms shamelessly lock you in for minimum contracts of about 12-18 months – this is £780! THINK what you could do with that money! Shall I help?  See below:

TWO pairs of Jimmy Choos (Romy 85 Pumps £425 and Miami trainers £350) and CHANGE!

jimmychootrainers

 

A Mulberry handbag (Lily £750)!

MULBERRY

Or a holiday!

No brainer, huh?

Anyway, by quitting the gym, I didn’t stop exercising, I just found ways to keep fit for free. Conveniently, most of my methods sit on my phone!

Running

My main form of exercise is running. With the right music playlist and an interesting running route, it can do wonders for your mood, health and bum.

So if you are already a keen runner like me, I’d recommend this:

mapmyrunMap my run (on iOS and Android) – I have a heart rate monitor but I use this beauty of an app to track my distance, time and therefore speed.  It updates you every mile  on time and speed and you can play your music over the top which means the time flies when you’re running.  Your runs can also be logged so that you can monitor your progress over time. And if you’re sadistic or a show off, you can also share your times online with complete strangers. Yeah right.

Now if you don’t really enjoy running because you find it quite boring, this is the app for you:

zombiesrunZombies, Run! (on iOS and Android) If you like to add a little excitement to your run and don’t suffer too much from nightmares, try this.  Open the app and start running.  You’ll be running along and then suddenly you hear heavy breathing and weird animal like groaning.  Then a shout that you must hurry up as the Zombies are coming!  It will absolutely make you run faster and push you to  get more from your workout but just be careful not to run though a wood or quiet street when you’re using it as it may feel a little too real and freak you out completely.

Circuits and mat work

If running is not for you or you want more of an all body personal training kind of experience, I recommend:

nike training clubNike Training App (on iOS and Android) This is a personal trainer in your phone. It’s brilliant. You pay pennies to download the app and then have access to hundreds of 30 and 45 minute workouts focused on tightening, toning or strengthening whether you’re a beginner or an enthusiast.  You have access to demonstrations of each exercise so you can make sure you’re doing each step correctly and the trainer calls out words of encouragement throughout.  I cannot recommend this app highly enough.

510QAa9l1+LSworkit (on iOS and Android) – This is great for people who blame a lack of free time for not exercising. With this app, you can do as little as 5 minute workouts of strength, cardio, yoga or stretching.  It’s really good if you’re injured as you can focus on particular parts of the body.

Yoga

If Yoga is more your bag, then you need to check out Yoga with Adriene. You will not find a nicer, cuter, more qualified yoga teacher anywhere on the web and her tutorials are addictive.

Team activities

Moving away from technology, there are plenty of activities you can do with other people, for free!

You’ve heard of army bootcamps right? You head to the park, get shouted at and do circuits until all the fluid in your body has been sweated out. Amazing exercise but hard work.  Well, British Military Fitness run free trials of their bootcamps – if you’re brave enough!

Alternatively, if you like a friendlier sort of exercise class, there’s a fairly new local council initiative whereby qualified fitness instructors teach exercise classes for free in parks! It looks like it’s currently just a London-based scheme at the moment but if it gets enough interest, it may go nationwide! Details can be found at Our Parks.

So, short of some kit and trainers, what more do you need??? Follow my tips to keep fit for free and start sweating AND saving!!

Money saving tips you shouldn’t ignore when moving house

Moving home is an expensive business. Pulling together a deposit is no longer enough. From stamp duty to removal costs, set up costs and Estate agent fees… everyone you come into contact with will be trying to dip their sticky fingers into your pockets./div>

So if someone challenged you to find a way of saving money when moving house, you would be forgiven for laughing out loud! But it is possible! Here’s the FeastStyleThrive guide on how to do it.
MOney saving guide
1: Compare Estate Agents
The cheapest agent isn’t always the best value and the most expensive isn’t always the best agent.
It’s vital that you do your research before committing to any company and the good news is that a company called www.GetAgent.co.uk makes this very easy to do. It will show you a list of the six best agents in your area, how quickly each agent sells, the percentage of asking price they achieve and how many properties they have listed around your area. This coupled with a list of each agent’s fees means you can compare the best agents quickly and easily – possibly saving you time AND money when selling your house!
2: Book Early!
Chasing the conveyance and following up with the estate agent is not a fun game… everyone is waiting to know that magical date that you will complete on your property purchase and moving can commence…
As soon as you know that date, BOOK your removals company, sky engineer and every other workman you may want to fix up the old place and sort the new place.
Did you know that by booking early, you can save up to 25% of the cost with removal firms? That’s one hell of an incentive to get organised!
Additionally, if you are using large companies ensure you look for deals and discount codes.
And if you’re super thrifty, hire your own van, recruit your family and friends get as many hands as possible helping you move!
3: £500 Challenge
Picture this: You’re taking the rubbish out and someone comes up to you outside your house and offers you £500, would you take it? Silly question. Of course you would!
So when you are waiting for your legals to go through take time to completely clear your house of unwanted items. Use Facebook Sale groups, Gumtree, Ebay, Friday Ad, Auction Houses and Car Boot Sales to sell all your unwanted items. I challenge you to raise £500 out of the items you would usually throw away… Forget saving money when moving house, earn it!
4: Use free boxes
Did you know that your local Homebase has a crate of free boxes you can help yourself to at its exit? Head down there on a frequent basis to pick up large moving boxes completely free! This could save you around £150!
5: Negotiate
With the agent, the vendor, removals company, utilities companies, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker… whoever it is, negotiate the pants off them! Maybe not the tax man though… Stamp Duty is non-negotiable (unfortunately!).
6: Avoid Mail Forwarding Costs
Two months before you move, start changing your address to a friend or family member’s address. This way, as post arrives over the two months it reminds you to keep changing your address. When you finally move into your home, make sure you take all that mail (if it’s anything like mine, it’s unopened!) and tell them of your new abode!
I hope this helps and takes some of the stress out of the process! Any other tips that I’ve missed, please add them below in a comment.
And a special thanks to Chelsea from GetAgent.co.uk for her huge help in pulling this piece together!

The best phone apps – for saving money

I’ve mentioned before how important my phone is to me. I carry it around with me all day, even if it’s just from room to room at home! And as being smart with money is such a big passion of mine, it’s only natural that I’d have a ton of money saving apps on my mobile.

Why? Well, not only does it make banking online much easier but I can also track my spending, EARN MONEY while out and about, keep a budget, and compare shopping deals on the go. It’s a no brainer!

Just who wouldn’t want to grow their bank balance with their phone?!

So here’s a round up of some of the best money saving apps out there BUT before you get any of them, make sure you have a pin code or fingerprint lock on your phone to keep your money safe!

Let’s start with banking.

rbsapp fdapp hsbcappbarclaysapp natwestapp

If you bank with any of these boys, then you’re in good hands as all have apps which are known to be very safe and have great functionality. By having your bank’s app on your phone, you can easily check your balance (to see if you can afford what you’re about to buy!), transfer money or set up any payments you require, while on the move. Easy!

If you don’t bank with the ones mentioned above, you can go ahead and get your bank’s app but it might not be the easiest thing to use just yet. Don’t worry though, they’re all working on improving their apps all the time.

Next, let’s look at tracking your spending.

wallyappIn my opinion, the best app available for this is Wally. Why? Well, not only is it free but it’s also very simple – you record your disposable income at the start of the month and then you track your spending each day, and the app lets you see where you stand in terms of remaining income.

It also shows you your spending habits i.e. how much you spend on clothing or food versus other items.

This feature is very handy if you want to set yourself some saving goals.

goodbudgetappTo go one step further and manage your money through budgeting, I’d recommend GoodBudget. It allows you to set spending limits for different things i.e. clothing spend (eeeek!), and lets you see when you’re close to overspending.

The best feature is that it can be synced with multiple devices which is great if you’re doing the budget for the whole household. You can keep an eye on your other half’s spending mwah ha ha!

 

What about earning money?

There are a few apps for this.

Starting with cashback:

quidcoappclicksnap Quidco, one of the UK’s leading cashback sites, has two apps.

The first (Quidco) shows you cashback offers available in shops, coffee shops and restaurants in the local area so you can make savings while you’re out and about, and the second app (ClickSnap) gives you cashback on your food at the supermarket. All you do is buy any of the items listed here and you’ll get cashback when you submit your receipt.

topcashbackapp Topcashback, the other leading cashback site, does the same as Quidco’s two apps but in one. I would recommend getting all three though as they don’t always have the same offers.

 

 

 

You can also do a little work for some cash:

clicandwalkappClic and Walk offers you cash in return for completing missions whereby you take photos or videos or nearby sites or buildings and send them in.

The downside is that the payments are very small but if you get a mission to go somewhere you’re heading to anyway, what’s the harm in taking part?

 

 

ipollappThere’s also iPoll which rewards you for completing surveys. I figure that if you’re half-watching something on the TV or are sitting waiting for a bus, you might as well earn something back at the same time!

 

 

 

For saving money while shopping:

vouchercodesapp Vouchercodes.co.uk is highly rated as it lists voucher codes, printable vouchers and lots of other types of discounts and deals in your local area or available online.

Handily segmented by activity, the offers are really easy to find and it makes eating out a LOT cheaper.

 

 

mysupermarketappThe Mysupermarket app will ensure you pay the best price at the supermarket. Input your shopping list and it’ll tell you which supermarket will give you the cheapest bill, or scan items in-store and it will tell you if the item is cheaper elsewhere.

I use the website when planning my main food shop for the week and the first time I did it, I saved £20!

 

 
tastecardappIf you fancy dining somewhere other than a chain restaurant, you might have luck finding a deal with the Tastecard app. With over 7,000 restaurants listed, you’re bound to find somewhere in your area offering a fab deal.

And to finish off, while we’re on the subject of food, to avoid opting for an expensive ready meal at the supermarket….

 
bigovenappTry BigOven. It will revolutionalise the way you do your food shopping. Planning ahead is the only way to make big savings on your grocery bills and this app lets you build a meal planner using its massive database of recipes. There is also the option of finding recipes which use up your leftovers to ensure you’re making your food shopping go as fas as possible.  And with so much lovely inspiration, you may end up cutting your dining out bills too!

 

And on that note, have you signed up for the FeastStyleThrive finance boot camp yet? It’s a free 5 day e-course which will take your finances from shabby to shockingly brilliant! So, stop unknowingly throwing your money away, and start building a hefty pot of cash to spend on the finer things in life!

Sign up for the free financial boot camp

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Thanks for reading!

How to get some Jimmy Choos or £575 in two months

I want these Jimmy Choos:

Jimmy Choo Lucy 85 £525
Jimmy Choo Lucy 85 £525

and I want these Louboutins:

Christian Louboutin Pigalle 100 £455

So the way I see it, I can do one of two things.  I can either do nothing about trying to get them and simply moan that I’m too poor to ever be able to own something as lovely as those shoes….OR I can take steps to gather the money to afford them.

You can too!

Set yourself a target (like the shoes above) and then start saving. And I wouldn’t be a money blogger if I didn’t tell you how to do it. So here’s your Jimmy Choo ownership guide!

1. Start making packed lunches.  Swap your high street cafes or takeaway shop meals for home-prepared grub for two months and instead of spending £7-8 every week day (that’s 40 days), you’ll spend only a tenner a week (or less) and save yourself approx. £220!  Heck you’ll be nearly halfway there!

2. Switch your utility provider and telecom provider via a cashback site like Quidco or Topcashback.  How does it work?  Well click on the links to sign up and then search through the utility providers to find the deal offering the most cashback. As an example, at the time of writing this, Topcashback was offering £126 cashback – that’s £126 cash to you in your account – if you sign up to SSE’s New Customer Superfast Fibre Broadband + Talk Anytime by clicking through its site.  There’s nothing to pay (apart from your bills) and you should expect your £126 in your account within a few months!  With Quidco you can earn £38 in cashback just by using Simply Switch to change your gas and electricity provider. For more details on how cashback sites work, click here.

Right, so where are we….. £220 + £126 + £38 = £384 in two months.  Still some way to go. So….

3. Have a clear out.  Go through all your old dvds, cds and books and for all of those still in good nick, sell them to a site like Zapper at about 35p each (although some will be worth more than that).  It doesn’t seem like much but they cover your postage and if you can get hold of about 100 items – actually quite easy once you have a proper look through all your old collections – you could earn £35.

4. If you’re going to start saving money thanks to this blog(!) then you need to ensure you have a good savings account. Sign up for an ISA with Standard Life via Quidco and earn £50 cashback. For info on the new limit for ISA saving, check out my article on the recent Budget.  You might as well review your current account provider too. If you open a Nationwide FlexDirect current account via Topcashback, you’ll earn £36.75. Again, for more details on how cashback sites work, click here.

So, £384 + £35 + £50 + £36.75 = £505.75. Hurrah! Enough for the Louboutins! But not quite enough for the Jimmy Choos, so….

4. Finally, to get to £525 and reach the Louboutin mark, we turn to the trusty mobile phone. A new smartphone is released almost every month so we’re not committed to such long contracts as we used to be.  And that’s a good thing as phone contracts can be expensive! I used to pay £49.50 per month for the same number of texts and calls that I get now through Giffgaff for £10 a month.  Yep, £10 a month.  Switch now and in two months, you’ll save yourself £80.

That gets you to £585.50 in two months (ish).  So you can get the Jimmy Choos!

Get ready to treat yourselves!