Friday, 13 November 2020

Money diary // building works and life without a kitchen

MONDAY

Building works have started after months of waiting. The main annoyance is that because our charming neighbours got party wall surveyors involved, the foundations of the build have had to be changed which meant we lost our kitchen immediately rather than later down the line. I wouldn't recommend living without a kitchen to anyone. I really miss having an oven. It means things like pies are out of the question. Which is ludricious during the autumn winter months, if you ask me.

Sure, I could buy ready meals and takeaways during this time, but I really want to limit doing this. Ready meals can be full of salt and sugar, plus I question the nutritional value of say the Hearty Food Co. range at Tesco which costs a tiny 69p. How much meat is that spaghetti bolognese actually going to contain?! And takeaways can really add up. As much as I love pizza, I'd much rather make my own as takeaway pizza is extortionate and is it just me, but are they getting more and more stingy with toppings? If I pay for toppings, I want toppings damnit!

So for the last month or so, we made use of our kitchen whilst we had it, and made meals in bulk which went straight into the freezer. This gives us easy meals, saves a bit of money and unlike ready meals, we know exactly what went into each meal. A fully extensive list of what we made:

  • x8 portions of lentil ragu
  • x6 portions of veggie lasagne
  • x2 portions of veggie bolognese
  • x6 portions of cottage pie
  • x6 portions of gnocchi bake

... and then we ran out of space in our freezer! It won't last us for the entire 3-4 months, but it's a start.

We also cooked up a cauliflower curry and a potato and black eyed bean stew which we had to keep in the fridge because the freezer wasn't having it. Other than that, we also have leftover stirfry and leftover fish stew. Organised much?

We have some of the black eyed bean stew today for lunch. It doesn't taste anywhere near as good as my Mum's even though I followed the recipe. But nothing that some seasoning can't fix. For dinner we have the leftover beef stir fry with rice. 

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TOTAL
£0.00
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TUESDAY

Today the back of the house has come off and the house is starting to feel draughty. I find an old tin of ratatouille which is best before August 2020 but I find that tins last forever. It's a cold day so the soup-like consistency works a treat for lunch, although saying that, the ratatouille is nowhere near as good as the homemade one I attempted here. I serve with cous cous which may become one of our staples because all you need is a kettle. 

The only expense I had today was my monthly phone bill. Just £6 with GiffGaff (sign up here and receive free £5 credit when you activate your SIM). The beauty of being based at home for most of this year has been that I haven't used any data and constantly connect to the home wifi. And rather than making phone calls, I'm mostly using Zoom, Microsoft Teams and all manner of vid tech, all through my laptop rather than my phone. These changes have allowed me to slash my phone bill to the cheapest possible monthly tarif. 

Cauliflower curry for dinner. The recipe has spinach in it but we're all out of spinach so this time we use the cauliflower leaves instead and it's a revelation. Never throw out your cauliflower leaves - they're the best bit! The disadvantage of cooking in the lounge is the smell. Now the whole room smells of curry. 

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GiffGaff - £6.00
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TOTAL
£6.00
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WEDNESDAY

We have leftover fish stew for lunch with our own home grown tomatoes and if you thought the curry smell last night was bad... Come evening I've lit an autumnal apple and cinnamon candle to drive the smell away. Or mask it at least. 

Later we have gnocchi bake for dinner. Obviously the cheese isn't crispy because of the freezing process, but all the flavours are still there. I'd usually use mozzarella but I was all out so I used extra mature cheddar instead and it added some much more flavour. Definitely a keeper. 

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TOTAL
£0.00
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THURSDAY

We order an extension lead for our makeshift kitchen and a shelving unit as everything we need to cook with is currently in a sea of boxes and it's not an ideal arrangement. The shelving unit will be a makeshift larder for now and later moved to the office. We were always planning on ordering a shelving unit for the office, but it means it gets an added use now.

We have the last of the potato and black eyed bean stew for lunch. And with that, our fridge is looking decidedly empty. For dinner it's a game of freezer lottery and we end up having cottage pie. 

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Extension lead - £13.99
Shelving unit - £52.26
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TOTAL
£66.25
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FRIDAY

I get paid weekly and wake up to find the money in my account. It feels like more money leaves your account than goes in during building works so this is a nice change!

Today the shelving and extension lead arrive. Our hallway is now 50% fridge freezer and 50% cardboard boxes. 

We both have a defrosted roll from the freezer for lunch today with the last of our sandwich meat as we're both working through lunch today so it's a grab and go affair. For dinner it's another day of freezer lottery (veggie lasagne this time).

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TOTAL
£0.00
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SATURDAY

Our next shop is coming next week and we're getting really low on supplies. We use the last of our bread from the freezer for toasted cheese sandwiches and watch a scary movie over lunch. Because it'd be criminal not to on Halloween!

Today we build the shelving unit and it makes a world of difference. Now we can physically see all our plates and cups and ingredients. No more guessing which box contains the herbs and spices! 

We have a little table top hob for these next few months as we didn't want to be eating microwave meals for 3 months. Tonight is our first experiment with it so have something super lazy just so we can test that it's working. We heat up a Pataks curry sauce and add white fish and serve with naan bread. Simple but does the job.

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TOTAL
£0.00
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SUNDAY

Feeling a little more confident with the hob, we attempt an omelette for breakfast using black olives and extra mature cheddar cheese. We're out of milk and bread so we're having to be a little more creative with our breakfasts until we get our next shop. Eggs are a blessing at times like these. 

As we're out of bread, we have cheese and biscuits for lunch. I alternate between sundried tomato & balsamic chutney and a mild chilli chutney, both of which I find in the back of the fridge and are still well within date (expiry 2021).

For dinner we brave the portable hob again and try our first properly from scratch meal (fajitas). I have frozen peppers in the freezer from when Tesco made a mistake with an order, so it gives me an excuse to use those up finally, and I defrost some wraps I have in the freezer. The meal works a treat and we portion off some of our homemade spice mix to use next week for tacos.

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TOTAL
£0.00
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TOTAL FOR THE WEEK
£72.25
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A big part of saving lately has been:

  • planning meals in advance and bulk cooking
  • avoiding takeaways and over-priced ready meals
  • rummaging through cupboards and the freezer for veg and pulses to bulk out meals
  • striving for zero waste and using everything up before buying new
  • being based at home resulting in a reduced phone bill and zero commuting costs


Writing it all out like this does make the little things hit home. 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


Photo by Janine Meuche on Unsplash

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