Thursday, 27 February 2014

Eight weeks down the line ................

I was having a bit of a spring clean and tidy up this week ......... only because I was trying to avoid doing the accounts and vat return. In one massive pile on a shelf was my credit card bills going back .... erm several years, (yes I'm a slovern!!!)

I couldn't do a proper comparison as to our spending in Waitrose because clearly some weeks Chris paid for the shopping, however I saw that not only was there the weekly shop bill but also quite a few mid week ones ....... I'd forgotten about these, you know the 'I'll just pop in for some milk' type ones?

At £25, £34, £14  just to mention a few figures I clearly bought more than milk!

One monthly bill was for £588 ...... quite shocking!
In other bills no week was below £70 and the majority were over £100. As I mentioned at the start of this challenge wine and beer was included in our supermarket shopping bill so this explains some of it, although I also saw that we'd had quite alot of wine delivered direct.

Its amazing how much we've cut down on our alcohol consumption since January, now that we can't just go and fill a trolley ................

Today is the end of week eight .... on Friday as you know we spent £46.78 and then on Tuesday we had a top up fruit and veg order of £5.26. Along with loo rolls, milk and teabags it bought the weekly total to £59.88.

In eight weeks we have spent £398.84 and all of it locally!

At the start we were perhaps a bit naive thinking that £50 a week was a suitable budget. As we have found some weeks the spend is higher than others due to the outlay for washing powder etc. and although I then divided the price out over two months (the time it would last) it all just gets rather confusing, therefore we have concluded that working with the months budget of £200 may be easier ................... I'll let you know on 27th March!!!

What we also need to remember is that this challenge is for a year .......................

Friday, 21 February 2014


Fabulous colours in this weeks shopping

We had to go into Waitrose again today to buy milk for tomorrows cheese making workshop and I have to say like last week I didn't have any urge to wander around the store. I went straight to the milk section, picked up what I needed, and left (via the checkout of course). I'm not sure whether I should have an urge .... is it natural after only seven weeks not to want to look at supermarket stuff? Discuss!!
I popped into see Mr. Dynamic for the Doves yeast and cardamoms ........ as I marched into the shop I immediately spotted the yeast. Brilliant! and at £1.09 seemed to be competitive. I asked for the cardamoms. Aaaahhhhh slight problem he hadn't ordered them as he didn't have enough money this week as it had been his worst week ever especially as the Wednesday market didn't happen due to the wind. Ok so the weather is playing a part in poor sales for a lot of traders .... we've found this out too but perleeeeese ................

In a previous life I used to be a manager in the retail sector for various people who had cash flow problems (yes I should have learnt the first time around) so I understand about ordering or not and how you can't please all of the people all of the time but ...................

I also wonder whether Mr. Dynamic is struggling because most of Holsworthy consists of charity shops and hairdressers as well as Waitrose stocking most of what he does. I have only really ever shopped at his gaff for herbs and spices which are so much cheaper than the pre-packed supermarket ones and for chickpea and buckwheat flour. I'm no doubt as guilty as everyone else for not supporting him except in an hour of need, so is it now all a little too late??? When Tesco arrives will it be curtains for him?

The only other food purchase in Holsworthy was frozen peas from Mole Valley Farmers for £1.91 (with our discount - all 4p of it) .... discount you ask??? Yes its a farmers co-operative and we have shares! They didn't have frozen green beans though.

Back to South View stores in sunny Shebbear for our fabulous coloured fruit and veg box order and our usual staples. I know I mentioned it before but I can't get over how beautiful it all looks.
The colours are so vibrant and there isn't all the bloody awful packaging that you get with the supermarket stuff. I also need to show you the amazingly large bunch of flat leaf parsley ..........

The last time I bought a bunch that size was from a continental shop in Cambridge 18 years ago!!
Soooooooooooo with the three tins of dog meat and frozen green beans and peas not in the picture the Shebshop Global bill was £39.92. With the peas and yeast spend of £3 plus before I forget the addition of the washing budget of £3.86, we are up to £46.78.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

We need to meal plan!

Hands up who thought we'd get through everything we bought last Friday!

Yes, I've got my hand up too!!

If I told you that we were away running workshops on Saturday and Tuesday and at a market on Sunday then you may want to put your hand down!

I actually hadn't taken these abscences into account when I placed the fruit and veg order, and only had a vague notion of what meals we'd eat.
We didn't need a fruit and veg order on Tuesday and the only additions were milk, tin tomatoes, and an onion all for £1.45

Adding £3.86 for the weekly washing tablets means that we spent £50.06

We really need to be more disciplined and plan our meals instead of having a vague idea, however its hard to get out of my 'Ready Steady Cook' method i.e. Whats in the fridge/cupboard?
Ta dah! here's supper sort of thing!

In my defence it is also difficult to plan when we don't know quite what will be on the menu at workshops and markets! Will we need a full meal or just a snack back at home?

Alright I'm making excuses!!!

At lunchtime today Chris and I discussed what the fruit and veg order should be but didn't do more than plan a stir fry tomorrow to use up the last of this weeks pak choi and agree that he'll make curries out of his Rick Stein's India book for a couple of meals. Ok so thats three down and we are 'workshopping' again on Saturday so only three more to sort out .....................................

Friday, 14 February 2014

Today we went into Waitrose

Today we went into Waitrose ............
Ha! Thought that would get your attention .........
However, before you start saying 'it didn't take you long to give in', I have to clarify that it was for business purposes only!!
Yes as stated in the 'rules' we are allowed to buy the non homogenised milk from there for cheese making workshops, and tomorrow we have a workshop!
How did it feel?
Well I had no desire to start looking around and went straight to the milk section, picked up what I needed, nipped to the kitchen roll section (I need smaller rolls for workshops - take my word for it) and then queued up to pay.
Oh I'd forgotten about queueing and people faffing!
Then we drove back to the grand metropolis of Shebbear and purchased this weeks goodies which you can see in the photo below! Missing are the three tins of dogmeat which were left in the car and you'll see miso, coriander seed and ground coriander which came from Mr. Dynamic in Holsworthy. He was quite animated again today so I think I shall have to rename him............... Mr. I can order that for you!
Yup cardamoms and Doves yeast were on my list but not in stock!

So at ShebShop Global we collected our fabulous looking fruit and veg order and the usual staples. The Twinings 100 Earl Grey teabags were in and at £5.35, not a bad price ........ ssshhhhhh don't tell Keith I said that!

I asked Keith whether he would be giving me a loyalty card as I'd been spending so much over the last few weeks ............................. the look said it all and his reply 'I've been serving peole for thirteen years and I don't have a loyalty card'

I take it thats a no then!

Todays spend was £44.75

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Are we being over optimistic with our £50 budget?

When we couldn't get crème fraiche a couple of weeks ago for the mushroom stroganoff I had to change the menu .................. well with pak choi, ginger, garlic, and carrots along with my need for brown rice, stir fry seemed the obvious answer. In the cupboard there's a selection of soy sauce, rice wine, rice vinegar and sesame oil so a good slosh of each makes an amazing vegetable stir fry.
This has now become a twice a week meal....................
Who needs mushroom stroganoff anyway?

Talking about pak choi and carrots ...............we've noticed the pak choi seems to be larger and have a stronger flavour and stay far crunchier in a stir fry and the carrots are a lot smaller than the horse size ones we bought in Waitrose. Different varieties? Probably! Different growers? Undoubtably! Fresher? Definately!

Saturday was Bideford Farmers Market and in between kite surfing up and down Jubilee Sq. on the end of a gazebo (it was a tad windy!)
I purchased a few things in the local shops - milk 80p and purple sprouting broccoli £1.04 I asked about hispi/pointy/spring cabbage as we couldn't get it this week on our veg order. The guy said that the weather had spoilt them so they didn't buy them. Explains that one then!
Smoked streaky bacon from the butcher for celariac soup and Sunday brunch toasted bacon sandwich was £1.57.

On Tuesday when I filled up with petrol in Holsworthy Texaco I bought 50 Twinings teabags £2.85 and then after working near Bude popped into Lansdowne Dairy for butter £1.69

Wednesdays only purchase was milk for 50p

Total this week £50.72

We are now wondering whether perhaps we were rather optimistic setting our budget at £50 per week.
Should we have put it at £75 which was the average we spent in Waitrose?
Or should we have a budget at all? ........ there was never a budget before we just whipped out a credit card!
Now its all cash!

We're not doing this to skimp on things , just to see if we can shop local, support local and do it without supermarkets. As well as seeing if its more or less expensive and if there is a difference in quality, taste and availability.

The jury is out!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Week six

In case you can't identify all the fruit and veg in the box which we picked up from South View Stores, Shebbear today -  here's the list ....... the crossing out is the spring cabbage which wasn't available!Total £23

Whilst there we also purchased three tins dog meat, the first in two weeks as the lucky girls have had giblets and lamb breast to eat from the freezer mountain!

Greek yogurt, red lentils, brown rice, bread flour, three tins chopped tomatoes (still on offer) and firelighters. Final total £34.43

So where's the unsalted butter I hear you ask? Surely you've nearly run out................

Oh yes!
It was on the list but quelle surprise ........ none to be found in Ye Olde Village Shoppe chiller.

After giving Keith the third degree, it would seem that there are others in the village that like unsalted butter and he has sold out. We had a discussion about the price of the unsalted butter that he gets and the one I've seen in Lansdown Dairy which is from a Cornish dairy and far cheaper ........ he's going to mention it to the butter salesman when he's next in. Anyway I've asked him not to order any more in on our account!
Eeking out required then until Tuesday when I'm working near Bude and can pop into Lansdown Dairy for some.

More news for you ..................

................... prior to our trip to the village we popped into Holsworthy to do a few bits and bobs including a visit to Mr. Dynamic ........ blimey has he read my blog or has someone told him about it?
He was positively alive and asked if I'd managed to get asafoetida (yes thank you via mail order)  and if there was anything we wanted then to ask him and it would probably take about a week to get!
Ok so today it was just chickpeas and chickpea flour (£3.08) but as you gather I love a challenge and so I will think of something to put him to the test!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

We almost fell at the first hurdle!

Thursdays seem to come around rather quickly since we started this challenge.
Is that a good thing? I'm not sure but it does mean I get to practise my maths!!

On Saturday our running total for week five was £47.26.

We had a small order for clementines, kiwi fruit, cauliflower and garlic on Tuesday which came to £4.93.
Yesterday we bought milk - 92p and then today we ran out of teabags. Not a problem as we knew Keith at the village shop had ordered them and they were due in this morning. Oh guess what? The supplier sent organic ones again. We aren't buying them, not only do they taste different to the normal ones but they are far too expensive! Well we can't wait a week to see if the normal ones come in.

What to do?

At this point Chris had a sense of humour bypass and decided that as he needed diesel he'd go and get it there and then and then drive to Waitrose for said teabags.

Oh no, only five weeks in and we were falling at the first hurdle, a supermarket visit was imminent ...............

I was making cheese and had to concentrate on the task in hand so luckly I didn't have the chance to dwell on it.

On his return, he was clutching 50 Twinings Earl Grey teabags, much to my surprise as I thought he'd buy a box of 200 .......... if we were going to break the rules then at least we may as well make the most of it!

He returned with glad tidings, the garage had saved the day - no I wouldn't have expected to buy them with my fuel either..................... and they are the cheapest so far. Just £2.85

This weeks total is £55.96

£5.96 over but if you bear in mind that the washing tablets, loo rolls and soap were on the list I think we've done alright.

Several people have asked and for those of you wondering, yes there are only two of us and yes we do eat all the fruit and veg in a week (give or take a couple of kiwi fruit) Tonight all that is left in the salad drawer in the fridge is a piece of root ginger and a slice of lemon (in case an emergency G&T is required!!) The fruit bowl has a banana, two clementines and four kiwi fruit in it. Once I've had my breakfast tomorrow there will be just two kiwi fruit left.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

I've had to fiddle the books!

Extra stuff this week

It was just a quick trip to Mole Valley farmers on our way back from Bude as Chris wanted coal and I thought that they were probably the best place for larger packs of dishwasher tablets and washing powder tablets!

I assumed that this was the best place to get them from but looking at the price I'm not so sure - £30.89 for the two packs. It was only when we got home that Chris pointed out that they were a professional range!! Note to self  - shop around before we run out again.

When setting the weekly budget at the start of this challenge I hadn't really considered that there would be purchases like this so maybe £50 a week isn't that realistic as it means that a large chunk of our weeks budget has gone on them alone. Bearing in mind that they will both last us about two months I think I need to fiddle the books...................

By my maths (which isn't my strong point) it works out at £3.86 a week so this is what will come out of this weeks budget and for the next eight weeks!

Frozen peas at £1.95 was my other purchase.

Next stop South View Stores, Shebbear ...................

Clearly my challenge for the shopkeeper was too easy - he had got the shelves stocked with split red lentils, brown rice and tahini paste ......... take note Mr. Dynamic in Holsworthy!

Along with these items we relieved the shop of firelighters, three tins tomatoes, ground coffee, sunflower oil and two pints of milk total £13.51

The fruit and veg order consisted of 2 lemons, cauliflower, celeriac, 1kg carrots, 4 each of red and white onions, pointed cabbage, 1kg clementines 6 kiwi fruit, 4 cox apples and 4 bananas total £10.72

I've worked my way through all the out of date  bread flour in my food mountain except for some rye flour so this morning 1.5kg bread flour was purchased for £2.15. Well in date and without weevils!!
It has now become two loaves of bread!

Total spend so far this week £47.26