Thursday, 30 January 2020

Money diary // Chinese New Year and mattress shopping


MONDAY

Morning trains were screwed due to a signalling failure (another great start to the week). The boards at the station were blank so I literally had no clue when a train was going to materialise. I ended up waiting for over an hour on the platform. In that time I could have walked home TWICE and logged on from home (a much more efficient use of time). I did contact my boss to say there was no telling what time train I'd get on and it'd perhaps be a better use of time if I could work from home. But I never heard back from him. Instead of gaining an extra 30-45 minutes of work from me that day (if I'd worked from home), he instead lost out on almost an hour's worth of work from me that day. There are no words.

When I finally got onto a train I was shivering like mad with icy fingers (despite having worn gloves). When I got into London I was shivering even more furiously. As luck may it, I had a fully stamped Caffe Nero loyalty card which entitled me to a free hot drink. This helped defrost my fingers but I did have to keep my coat on at work for a while until I stopped shaking. If I get ill from the whole experience, I will take great delight in phoning in sick.

That afternoon I watched trainline.com like a hawk. Any sniff of train problems and I would be off, giving zero fucks.

The silver lining? I should get a bloomin' marvelous claim back from the train company at some point.

For Monday night dinners, I've started cooking extra meals at the weekend so it's an easy re-heat jobby on Monday night. Things like veggie lasagna, chilli, etc. I recently found a lovely sounding Sri Lankan cauliflower curry recipe in the Aldi mag (also here) which I cooked up on Sunday. We reheated on Monday night and it was GLORIOUS. Plus it provided all the leftovers (x5 pots of it to be precise)


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Hot drink - FREE
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TOTAL
£0.00
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TUESDAY

I went for a lunch time walk to return a previous New Look purchase (a long story but we have time).

I'd bought some bits in the sale which were reduced even further at checkout (£17 total for pyjamas and ankle boots...not bad eh?). But probably reduced for good reason though, as the boots pinched like hell and the pyjamas weren't the greatest.

When I went to return these items, my local New Look store said they didn't accept returns on sale items = exchange only. Whereas my colleague ordered things from their online sale and they were more than happy to accept returns via return post. Go figure.

I obviously didn't want to spend any more in-store, so sought out the ugliest thing I could so I knew I wouldn't get attached and wouldn't be tempted to keep it. The closest thing I could find for the same cost was £17.99 so I had to shell out an extra 99p.

Fast forward to today, I went back and returned the unwanted £17.99 piece of clothing with no objections and no questions asked. So what pray tell is the point of 'exchange only' policies on sale items? Lesson learnt: there are always ways around red tape. It's annoying and a bloody waste of time for all parties, but at least the money is back in my account.

Whilst I recuperated the £17.99, some of it immediately left my account after I treated Mr Curiouser and Curiouser to some of his favourite chocolate treats. I went a little overboard but things like the biscuits and the chocolate honeycomb we can't get locally.

I also had to grab some peppers since the pepper I'd been saving for a recipe had sadly withered and died a sad death. I was already at the mercy of stupid Central London prices (£1 for a pack of peppers... ouch), but when I got to self checkout, they rang up a lot higher. I pointed out the shelf to in-store staff and asked why said item was ringing up higher than the shelf price. They were quick to apologise and refunded me the difference. Little victories and all that.

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Pack of peppers - £1.00
Snacks - £4.55
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TOTAL
£5.55
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WEDNESDAY

Following the success of the African and Caribbean cook off at work, there was another one for Chinese New Year. I didn't have a whole lot of time to cook this time round, so went fairly simple with more of a snack / side dish. I picked up ingredients for crispy kale and also had a heart attack over the cost of Waitrose sesame oil compared to the Asda / Tesco ones I usually buy. But hey, that's central London prices for you... At least the oil will last for several other meals


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Ingredients for food event - £4.21
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TOTAL
£4.21
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THURSDAY

The Chinese New Year work lunch event is today which means only one thing: FREE LUNCH.
Mine isn't quite free as I volunteered to make something for it (costings in yesterday's entry)

We didn't have as many volunteers to cook this time around, so food offerings were a little sparse. Saying that, we have a lot less people in the office at the moment, so it worked out ok.

I enjoy a big plate of chicken chow mein, crispy kale, lime fried greens, pork belly, a veggie rice noodle dish, aubergine, kale and chilli in black bean sauce and pineapple fried rice (the latter two being the MVPs). The company all sat together in the kitchen and it was a lovely social event with prawn crackers and fortune cookies laid out on the tables.


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TOTAL
£0.00
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FRIDAY

Some of us from work go out for lunch. We do a spot of shopping first, then it's 50/50 between Wasabi and Tortilla. As I had the Wasabi pumpkin katsu fairly recently, I opt for a burrito. It's good, but I can't ever remember Tortilla being that expensive?? It does the job for meh Fridays, but I do feel myself falling into a food coma later that afternoon.
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Burrito - £5.80
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TOTAL
£5.80
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SATURDAY

We pop out to do our weekly food shop and as ever, we shop around. Most of our food comes from Aldi as it's such great value, however there are few items I can't get, like chickpeas, which I need Asda for. We have leftover crisps, sandwich fillings and hummus from when the family visited last weekend, so we pick up a baguette for an easy lunch. 

I was originally intending on making a beef dish that night but completely under-estimated how long it would take to prepare and cook. It was too last minute to defrost anything else we'd bought and stashed in the freezer, so we ended up cooking some duck we'd got in Aldi's special buy of the week and then had to improvise as I'd forgotten to pick up any potatoes. We feebly had one large carrot and one large parsnip each(!) which we cut into chips and oven roasted, and cooked up a big batch of French beans. It was a fairly small dinner, but it did the job.

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Aldi - £23.17
Asda - £8.56
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TOTAL
£31.73
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SUNDAY

I bought a beautiful rose gold table lamp in the Argos sale, however it is crazy bright and not at all suited for the ambient lounge lighting scheme I was going for. Plus it glares off the TV making watching anything nigh on impossible. We have an early morning trip to Argos to return said lamp before the crowds. So that's £30-something back in the bank. RESULT

Whilst at the industrial park, we look at kitchens (we are getting a kitchen extension done this year) and beds (our mattress has died and who can blame it? It's a 13 year old mattress). We get lots of kitchen inspiration and decide a 'mattress in a box' dealio like Simba / Eve / Leesa / Emma / Casper is the only way we are going to get a mattress up our impossibly tight stairs to our loft conversion.

For lunch we head to Subway as we had some vouchers through our door and thought it may be a good way of trying out the new vegan meatless meatball sub. We both LOVED it. Plus £3.99 isn't bad at all for lunch for two people (two 6 inch subs with a drink).


We have a chilled movie afternoon and then for dinner we FINALLY cook that beef dish we had an #EpicFail on the day before. It largely uses ingredients you typically already have in the house, so I only needed to buy the beef on Saturday. I also have a little bit of kale left from earlier in the week.

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Subway - £3.99
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TOTAL
£3.99
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TOTAL FOR THE WEEK
£51.28
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Highlights this week:

  • a free hot drink can turn a day from shitty to fab
  • stupid sales return policies don't actually work
  • the cauliflower curry of dreams which was as fruitful in leftovers as it was cheap to make
  • improvising with leftover ingredients can sometimes result in the best meals 
  • Continuing to use vouchers and discount codes to make my money stretch further (a £3.99 Subway lunch for two people was a great result)
  • not standing for over-priced items. Remember it is your consumer right to pay the advertised price, no more 

If you decide to give this money diary a go yourself - or have any money saving tips - do let me know in the comments below!

MY PREVIOUS MONEY SAVING DIARIES

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