Sunday 14 April 2024

A Shocking Stocktake


It all started with me using the last of  the penne in the large pasta jar last night and needing to refill it.

Realising it was what I thought were the last two bags of pasta being tipped into it, I added pasta to my shopping list.  Then I remembered that I also had lots of spaghetti and thought I would check how much, perhaps I could just use that instead.

It turned into a full scale pasta and rice stocktake, with me sat on the floor and things being pulled out of the cupboard left, right and centre.

After half an hour I had written out the top half of this stock take, and then I remembered another stash of assorted pastas in one of my basket drawers.  I seems that I have more than enough pasta.

I added together all the various pastas and rice's ... and I have the grand total of over eight and a half kilos of each.  That's a combined total of over one hundred and seventy portions of carbohydrates to go with my meals.  

At the rate of two portions of each per week that's the rest of this year sorted out then!!

Needless to say I have now crossed pasta off my shopping list. 😁

Perhaps I should stocktake my tins of tomatoes after buying another eight last week ... I don't know if I dare!

Sue xx

Friday 12 April 2024

Renaming it 'The Freebies Blog' ...


I laughed this morning when I saw all my freebies once again, and thought very briefly about renaming this blog 'The Freebies Blog'.

On Wednesday I phoned Mum as I usually do before we visit, to see if she needed us to bring her anything or if she just fancied something.  She's been off her food since being in hospital, so temptation is the name of the game at the moment.  This week she asked for some milk and some scones.  As I was sat in the Booths carpark ready to go in and get this week's freebie ... a packet of Warburtons Soft Naans ... and we were due to set off for Manchester in half an hour there would be no time to make some.

Happily there was a choice of nice fresh scones to choose from, so I chose a pack of tiny sultana ones, there were lots in the pack but I knew Alan would be pleased to help her eat a couple after our lunchtime sandwiches.

I decided that while I was there I would use my quarterly Booths voucher, this time a massive £20 one and stock myself up on the Mutti tomato products that were on a generous offer.  They are not the cheapest of tomato products, but they are among the tastiest.

As you can see from the top photo I managed to get two four packs of tinned tomatoes, some just peeled and some finely chopped, along with three jars of tomato sauces, two vegan Bolognese style and one with basil.  Along with some eggs for me and some cherry tomatoes to have with our sandwiches at Mum's.

My freebie this week was worth £1.60, not to be sniffed at.  

It's a good job I went in nice and early to claim these as they were very popular, everyone at the checkouts had a pack either on the conveyor belt or still in their baskets, and the large wicker basket at the front of the store was already half empty ... and this was still before 9am.

My receipt, showing all my tomatoey bargains and the freebie and the grand total that I had to hand over in cash for everything in the top photo.

Total Spend - £2.21

Last night while we were chatting Alan asked if I fancied a cooked breakfast at Booths, of course I said yes.  😁

So this morning as soon as Alan got back from walking Mavis, we went to Booths.  Even though it was market day our little town is always slow to come to life, and at 8.45am the café was still lovely and quiet, the few folk that were there were mostly men eating bacon butties and reading their papers.

A picture of tray-carrying concentration.

Before we left the store Alan picked up some bread for himself and a naughty pack of Caramel KitKats and asked me if there was anything that I fancied.  When I saw the yearly edition of Gardeners world magazine at the checkout I said 'yes I fancy that' ... so he bought it for me.  

I buy this one every year as it contains the '2 for 1 Gardens Pass', usually along with a free gift, which this year was four packets of seeds.  Using the gardens pass just once gets you back the cost of the magazine so it is really worth having.

So I got a magazine with it's offer and seeds bought for me and I came away from the café with even more sachets than usual ... and look, they've upgraded their sachets to the posher 'Stokes' ones.  We sampled half each of the other brown sauce one with our breakfasts and it was very nice.

I was pleased to see that inside the magazine there is a feature with Gaz Oakley, one of my favourite vegan chefs who is now living a very sustainable life on a Welsh hillside, just like we did.

So it was a good and very cheap shopping trip for me on Wednesday, and then a very tasty and completely freebie filled outing on Thursday morning.  And we were both back at our desks and working away well before ten o'clock.

Sue xx

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Meat-Free Sausage Rolls


Last month I bought a packet of these meat-free sausage rolls from Sainsbury's, they were price matched to my favourite frozen sausage rolls from Aldi, but would they be as good?

In a word - NO!!

Although they are supposed to be the same weight as each Aldi sausage roll, the filling to pastry ratio seemed a lot different.  Much more pasty on these and not even a delicious enough pastry to make this acceptable. 

Strangely, even though the Aldi ones are higher in fat they are lower in calories so of course I had to check this out.  It turns out that the Sainsbury's version are higher in sugar and overall higher in carbohydrates by quite a bit.  They are also higher in protein but strangely left me much less satisfied than the Aldi ones usually do.

Why this obsession with sausage rolls you may be wondering ... well when we were up and down the motorway visiting Mum in hospital we made a few stops at Rivington service station, which is one of the services that has a Greggs Bakery and I may have partaken of a few of their famous vegan sausage rolls.  😀

Now Greggs make delicious meat-free sausage rolls, even loved and purchased by meat eaters as the spicy mixture they contain is delicious.  They are more expensive than either Aldi or the price-matched Sainsbury's versions, as you would expect a product cooked for you and ready to eat would be, but they are still relatively cheap at £1.50 each or 4 for £4, which is an ongoing offer.

So in order of superiority of taste and satisfaction my ranking is:

Aldi Plant Menu
and if I really, really have to ... Sainsbury's Plant Pioneers.

Now usually of course I don't live on a diet of sausage rolls every day, or even every week for that matter, but when I do decide on a pastry treat it's nice to know which are the best isn't it.

Have you taste tasted any different versions of your favourite foods recently?

Sue xx

Monday 8 April 2024

Last Week's Shopping, Freebies and Flowers

Last weeks only shopping trip was a little different than normal.  

I literally only bought one food item and that was from our local garden centre where we went for a coffee.  I bought the bread rolls off the food display as we walked out, as they looked (and were) so tasty and fresh, along with a couple of sprays of silk flowers to dot around the Lodge.  The book came from Amazon, as I had read some good reviews about it online and was tempted, it was there waiting for me when we got home.

Bread Rolls - £1.80
Flowers - £5.65
Flowers - £ 6.25
Book - £11.99

Total Spend - £ 25.69

The little yellow flowers were to go in my Pug jug, which currently has my first birthday card/freebie stood next to it.  I think they add a nice little bit of Spring colour to the shelf.

The birthday card is telling me that I have two free coffees and cakes or scones to enjoy at our local Dobbies.  That will be a nice afternoon out sometime this month at no cost to us.

Later the same day I got an email from Booths telling me that I could pick up a free slice of cake from the café to go with a paid for cup of coffee at anytime during my birthday month.  They rarely have any dairy-free options there, but if Alan buys me the coffee he can have the cake.  😁

The blue coloured flowers were added to this jug to refresh the ones that have been in there for the last couple of years.

It was hard to get a good photo in this light but you get the idea.

A final freebie that came last week were the three packs of seeds on my last subscription copy of Kitchen Garden magazine.  It's been a good year of gardening magazines, but to be honest with me wanting to read more of my books I was struggling to find the time to read through it, so I won't be renewing my gift subscription. 

It has reminded me though, that it's time for me to sow a few seeds to pop on the windowsill.  For now I'll just be sowing some courgette, spinach and kale seeds to be getting on with, as I only have half of my smaller raised bed available for planting in.  The onions are nowhere near ready for harvesting yet, although the garlic won't be far off.

Sue xx

Saturday 6 April 2024

Freebies ... and Dahl Ingredients (Recipe Edited)


I was thinking about the freebies that I have acquired up to now during this year of eating cheaply but well, and decided to start listing them at the back of my diary so that at the end of the year I will be able to see how I benefited from them.

Obviously most of them up to now have come from cashing in my Nectar points and using my M&S vouchers, but some have been the Booths card holder offers that give you a free product or a sample of a 'new to you' product.

But I also still pick up the sachets and various items that you get given when you eat out, and Alan does like to go out for a bacon butty at Booths at least once a week and for a coffee somewhere else on another day,.  While I rarely eat out now, I would never turn down the offer of having a nice coffee bought for me, so I usually accompany him.

This week after a tough couple of days away and a nightmare of a drive back from Berkshire late on Tuesday night he wanted to go out for breakfast on Wednesday.  This time I did join him in having some food, and I had a toasted teacake while he munched on a very full bacon bun.

Usually when he has this at Booths they automatically give him two brown sauce sachets and I bring them home, as he's not that keen.  As you can see from my little 'freebie pot' in the first photo the brown sauces were building up nicely, so I told him to start asking for tomato ketchup instead when they went to put the sachets on his tray.  They had already given me two little pots of Flora for my teacake when we placed the order, so when the teacake arrived with three more my eyes lit up and I didn't send them back.

As you can see from this photo I also bring home any unused napkins that we have, and have recently started picking up any I see on the other tables on our way out.  Waste not want not, I usually use them for things like catching potato peelings or wiping up doggy dribbles off the floor ... Suky is a very messy drinker, and this means that my paper towels last so much longer than they used to.

I just hate the though of unused items being thrown away, as they are when they are left on tables.

When we got home my Booths quarterly voucher was lying on the doormat, the highest one I have ever had.  Twenty whole pounds to spend before the end of the month on anything I need or want.  There was also a little list of the freebies that are available this month and next.

It all adds up to me not having to spend money on a couple of things, although Alan will benefit from the teabags as I don't drink tea.  It's only fair to share some freebies with the man who buys me coffees.  😄

I was asked via email for the recipe I used for the large pan of dahl I made the other day, and this photo shows the ingredients that I used this time.  Dahl is very forgiving and you can play around with amounts and alter the ingredients to suit the flavours that you like.

This time I simply used one and half onions, two tomatoes, three cloves of garlic, a couple of heaped teaspoons of cumin along with red lentils.  I topped the pan up with enough water to cover everything, and once it was hot I dropped in a couple of spinach pellets from the freezer (not shown in the photo) and gave it all a good stir.  I added more water later to stop the lentils from drying out.  Once it was cooked I seasoned with salt and black pepper until it tasted just right for me.

Now I have to get one of the tubs out of the freezer to thaw in time for my tea, as just writing about it has made me want to have some more.  It's very handy to have a ready made stash.  😀

Sue xx