Exasperations, interesting impulses and what’s happening

Jan 21, 2014 | 9 comments


arrgh, I am SO exasperated right now. I have been trying to sort out an energy bill, finally got through last week after waiting on hold for 23 minutes and listening to the SAME SONG all that time, interrupted every few seconds by a recording telling me how sorry they are that I was waiting, spoke to a human being who sorted it all out and re-issued an amended bill. It arrived this morning, and it is just as wrong as it always has been! So now I have to go through the whole saga, again.

While I was busy doing something else, DP went down to Sainsbury’s and helpfully bought 3 chickens as I had mentioned yesterday that next time we buy chicken, we could take advantage of 3 for £10. But I didn’t mean now, we have plenty of meat in the freezer, that I am trying to use up – remember. What meat he said? Cheap pork chops that we tried that aren’t all that good but need using nevertheless, turkey from Christmas that needs using before it tastes more of freezer than turkey, Christmas ham ditto, venison leftover from a WI event. Oh.

Then I thought to check the receipt, as DP has a tendency not to check things like I do. Wish I hadn’t. Please tell me you bought 3 for £10, yes, yes, yes….. he hadn’t. So we have 3 chickens at a total cost of £15.15, 2 were in the deal, one wasn’t.  Gritting my teeth, I read the rest of the receipt.

2 tins of baked beans, which we need, we don’t have any…. reduced sugar ones which are disgustingly over sweet with artificial sweetener, even sweeter than normal ones. Some over priced winter cherry tomatoes and yet another baquette that he will have some of now, with the slices of pepper steak he bought, some at lunchtime and leave the rest for me to use up somehow.

Total of £21.70 on what! Grrr

Rant over, I’ve calmed down now.

Yesterday, we had to go to Northfleet which is 45 miles away. So by the time we got there we both needed the loo, so popped in Morrisons. I had forgotten to bring a bottle of water to drink, so decided to buy one. I couldn’t see any single bottles, and their value brand at 18p comes in a bottle so squishy, I would have fountained it over myself if I tried to drink out of the bottle. So I bought a 6 pk of the cheapest one I could find. Outside, DP pointed out that I could have got a single bottle where they sell the lunchtime sandwiches. Bum.

While we were inside, DP wanted to see if they had got any of a particular type of ground coffee he likes, they hadn’t. But while wandering round the shop looking at this and that to and from the coffee shelves, I experienced an intense pull to buy stuff, it was very weird. We didn’t need anything, and I am trying my best to use larder and freezer stores up before getting more supplies. But I noticed myself thinking, ooh, look, samphire, I’ve never cooked that, I could get some… and drool, those bread and cakes smell lovely, wonder what they’ve got….. and oh just look at that lovely fresh fish, what’s good value today…. and so on and so on. It just goes to show how good the supermarkets are at making us want stuff, so when I do go, armed with cash and ready to buy, just how much more do I buy than I originally intended?

One of the things I try to do is to know what I am going to use in the next week or so and only buy that, if I know I have no gap for cauliflower (Mike!) I won’t buy one. Having a list really does work very well. Do you use one? How helpful do you find it if you do?

Do you experience that pull I noticed? It’s even worse at a foodie type market, all this lovely lovely stuff that I want to try, most of it very expensive. I bought a selection of cheeses for a cheeseboard for a gathering I was hosting once, years ago. I can’t tell you how shocked I was at how much it came too.

While we were parked up at Northfleet, where we needed to be, we got a flippin’ parking ticket. Didn’t even realise it was restricted there, paid it when we got home and am trying to forget about it.

On Friday I shall be doing a demo for a few people of the things we cook here, demonstrating just how you can live on £1 a day, eating tasty food, that is not too many carbs, fat or sugar and has lots of fruit and veg. I have an hour to do it, and at the moment, I am thinking of doing 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners.

Breakfasts, Raisin Pancakes and Jammy Oat Bars. Other breakfasts that we do are things that don’t really need demonstrating, like porridge and various things on toast.

Lunches, Spiced Parsnip Soup with Tomato Scones, and Hoummous with carrot batons

Dinners, I think it’s a good idea to show the oil pastry, so the Bacon and Sweetcorn Pie, and the Spaghetti Carbonara.

I shall need to work out what prep to do beforehand. I did a similar amount in a similar amount of time for a demo a couple of years ago for the cheap family recipes website, so it should be achievable.

Jo, the food bank lady, is also trying to get a bigger demo set up at another venue. She collects for the Eastbourne bank at the moment, but is hoping to get a distribution point set up here in Heathfield. Jo had arranged a collection outside Sainsbury’s last Saturday and I helped out for an hour. During that time we met someone who came up to us and had used the bank recently. Our nearest banks are both quite a few miles away, so I was interested how she had picked up the food. She said that someone had done it for her, so she had not actually been to the actual bank herself, and was missing out on ancilliary things offered by banks, and didn’t know if she was allowed any more. I have wondered about the distance for our local people before. I know when I was that broke, I used to walk the 2 miles into Tonbridge to the shops and catch the bus back with the weeks shopping as I just couldn’t carry it that far, and certainly couldn’t afford the bus both ways. Tough in wet weather.  It will be more interesting for my WI, who collect every month, if we can collect for local people. This lady was having trouble with her car, it hadn’t passed the MoT and she was on one of those awful zero hours contracts and needed her car to do her job. So she was struggling to work, and her 16 year old son had left school, so she had lost the family allowance for him.

Also during that hour, the shop manager came down as we weren’t in his diary and we had a bit of a chat. Jo asked if he had any jobs, and one of the night workers had just resigned, so there was a vacancy due to go up on their website. We were both quite excited about this and felt that we had winkled out an opportunity. Fortunately, Jo had thought to take the woman’s telephone number, so she could pass on the opportunity to her, either for herself or her son.  Serendipity or what!

And then last night, I spoke to a journalist  who is interested in ThriftyLesley and wants to write about it and see who he can sell the story too, sharing the proceeds 50:50. Depending on who is interested in publishing it, there could be a few quid in it. He is coming here on 3rd February and wants to take some pictures… eeeeek, anyone know how to lose several stone by then… I hate having my picture taken, I’m nowhere near as photogenic as Jack Monroe!  That picture on the About Me page is several years old now, and one of a very few that I actually like.

Right, I’m off to joint a chicken!



  1. Lesley

    They’d put you in the spam folder Sue, how very dare they!
    Haha to the cabbage suggestion, I could suggest it!

  2. Rita

    The things that have helped me most are pricing up meals as you and Jack do, at first a total faff, but once I’d got into it, much easier; realising that if I have planned a menu for the week I can swap things around and don’t have to have the meals on the days listed (I don’t know why it took me so long to realise this!); learning how to adapt recipes to fit the ingredients I actually have.
    I had a similar problem to you with my OH, and eventually I told him that I’d stop reimbursing him from the housekeeping. It took a while, but it worked.

  3. Lesley

    Yes, my hands will be doing the demo, while my mouth is waffling on about anything that I can think of that might be useful. Hopefully the audience will engage and there will be a conversation and not too much of a monologue. I have done bits and pieces of public speaking and learn a bit more about it each time
    I will be taking two of the meal plans, with shopping list, as I think specifics enable people to see exactly how something works. Do this, and this would be the result, what do you want to change? Does this work for you?

    Talking about pricing up meals and how that can surprise you and reveal info about how to eat cheaper. About meal planning for a week, two weeks or a month and how that enables you to buy only what you need and how that is invariably less than you think it is etc etc

    Well done with your spending, I would be doing a lot better if I could keep DP out of the flippin’ shop!

  4. Rita

    Oh I can identify with much of what you write about here! I really struggle not to buy food which is why I have so much in store. As you know I am trying the £365 challenge and the fact that I am putting only £1 a day into my purse is really helping me to curb my spending. So far this year I have spent £2.44 and, thanks to the yellow labels, I bought the makings of 6 meals for both of us, 3 loaves and 1.5kg of potatoes.

    I think the breakfasts you are making are a great idea because extra can be made and put aside for snacks. Are you planning to include some general tips about making the food and the money stretch further?

    I have volunteered at food bank collections at Tesco and was overwhelmed by the generosity of some people. Often those who seemed to have least gave most.
    Good luck with the demonstration, I am sure it will go well, and let us know how the interview goes.

  5. Lesley

    Wow, how organised are YOU! I don’t think I could do a months shop in 20 mins!

  6. Pat

    I’ve shopped from a list for over 41 years now. To begin with out of necessity – we lived 21 miles out and only made one trip a month and forgetting the coffee or yeast could make for a very long month! I also kept a master list, with columns for all four markets we could use, and the ‘regular price’ of standard items we used. When I took care of my mother thru alzheimer’s, I was shopping for two households so lists were even more important as my shopping window was about 20 minutes – my husband would meet me at the store with his list and take home the groceries while I headed to mother’s with hers. Am seldom tempted by fancy products – just buy what I need and get out!

  7. Lesley

    That’s a good way of tackling it, using the handhelds, you would know exactly how much you’ve spent at any one time

  8. Jo aka Kiwijo

    I know exactly what you mean about Supermarkets sucking you in. Luckily our local Tesco has handheld scanners, (and we are on a very tight budget at the moment) so I can go armed with my shopping list and see exactly what Im paying and stick within my budget. Im hoping more Supermarkets will do them in the future, Id be very happy if Lidl bought them in as there is one at the end of our road.

  9. Sue

    Try doing for your photograph what I do, hide behind a cabbage!!

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