Monday, 2 November 2020

Money diary // home-grown vegetables and a largely vegetarian week

MONDAY

One of my biggest annoyances is food waste. People who buy more food than they need. People who bin uneaten food when leftovers can form other meals. A large basis of my meal planning revolves around use of my zero waste spreadsheet where I examine what has expired or is expiring soon. My spreadsheet flags sweet potato, spinach and butternut squash. As the spinach is still in good condition and hasn't wilted too much, I decide this would be a good basis for a vegetarian salad. I find some lentils in the cupboard and we always have a variety of cheeses in the fridge, so locate some feta cheese. I chop the sweet potato and butternut squash into cubes and roast for 45 minutes, turning them often. Once cooked I stir these into the raw spinach, feta cheese and cooked lentils and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Simple but delicious!

Butternut squash, sweet potato, lentil and feta salad
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TOTAL
£0.00
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TUESDAY

I love ratatouille but I've never made my own before which is criminal now I've learnt how easy it is! We had an accumulation of home-grown produce which screamed ratatouille. Tomatoes from our garden and a huge rounded courgette from my parent's garden. Our pepper plant, although growing, only has little miniature peppers on it at the moment, so I had to use shop bought peppers for now. I roasted the vegetables in olive oil and oregano for almost a hour, regularly turning. I then pan fried some garlic, added tinned tomatoes and incorporated the cooked veg and heated through. It's a relatively low effort meal but also cheap and healthy! 

Roasted mediterranean vegetables

Ratatouille from scratch!
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TOTAL
£0.00
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WEDNESDAY

As we prepare for building works to start, the initial plan was to have the extension built up with the knock through being relatively last minute so we could keep use of our kitchen. Due to party wall difficulties and nightmare neighbours, the foundations for our extension have had to be tweaked and with that, it means that the old and new floors will have to be done in one - meaning we will lose access to a kitchen right from the start. This has been a massive blow as this means we will be entering the colder months without a kitchen. As of now, I am starting to make and freeze meals ready like lasagne, bolognese, pies and curries that can easily be defrosted and warmed through in the microwave. 

I've been incredily behaved with clothes shopping this year as I don't fancy the faff with returns. I try to talk myself out of most things and then only proceed if it's a 'safe' buy (in other words guaranteed to fit). One thing I've been obsessing over lately is a beautiful autumnal mustard coloured sweater from Tu at Sainsburys. It was only £18 which is pretty good going considering that a similar item at ASOS or Topshop would set you back £30+. I resisted, telling myself I didn't need it. Then one day it was on sale and I knew how gutted I would be if I logged on the next day and it was gone. So I took a gamble and the sizing is perfect. It's slouchy, comfortable and an absolute dream to work from home in. 

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Knitwear - £13.50
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TOTAL
£13.50
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THURSDAY

My money diary I did in association with The Nottingham has gone live and you can read this here. I really recommend writing a money diary yourself, even if it's in a notebook and kept private. I find that writing it all down helps rein me in. Mind you, being home so much since the COVID-19 outbreak has really helped with expenditure as I'm no longer doing the commute and am avoiding the usual temptations.

Tonight we have bolognese with courgetti using courgettes grown from our own garden. It's so much ligher than spaghetti and a great way to get more of your five-a-day.

Courgetti using our home-grown courgettes

The size of this courgette!!
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TOTAL
£0.00
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FRIDAY

I've started at a new job lately and come 5.30pm I don't have the enthusiasm to cook anything too complicated which is where the slow cooker has come into its own. As we are facing a future without an oven once the building works start, I have grabbed a large sharing pizza from Tesco. I usually buy a cheaper pizza from Tesco but as it's our last home cooked pizza for some months, I choose one from the Finest range. It's still a lot cheaper than Pizza Hut or Dominos. We wouldn't usually buy sides but they currently have a meal deal where you can get pesto flatbread thrown in for not much more. Even though the pizza is vegetarian and minimalist, it's packed with flavour. In all honesty, I probably wouldn't bother with the flatbread again - garlic bread for the win! With that we have a movie night and watch Enola Holmes on Netflix (recommend!)

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Pizza meal deal - £5.00
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TOTAL
£5.00
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SATURDAY

I see a recipe in an interiors magazine for frittata muffins which sound amazing. I don't have any spring greens or peas like the suggested recipe, but you can use any vegetables in a recipe like this. I don't have a whole lot of veg left as we are due a shop next week, so I use spinach and mushrooms which I cook up with garlic in a pan. I then mix in a bowl with 4 eggs and some grated cheddar cheese. I pour into a greased muffin tin and bake. It takes a lot longer than the recipe says it will, so I watch it like a hawk and prod with a metal skewer until I'm happy it's cooked through. And the result? SO SO GOOD. Perfect for picnics, breakfast and lunch boxes.

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TOTAL
£0.00
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SUNDAY

The clearing of the kitchen and prep work for the extension has officially begun. And with that, we've started ordering bits and pieces to help us survive in a world without a kitchen and more specifically a sink, dishwasher and oven. For now we've ordered a washing up bowl and a drying rack. My husband is all about Joseph Joseph so ordered this washing up bowl (yes my eyes are watering too). I was adament I didn't want some white plastic coated monstrosity for the drying rack and found this copper drying up rack which is supposedly anti-rust. 

"Do we need a copper drying up rack?", my husband asks.

"Do we need a £36 washing up bowl?" I fire back at him

And with that, nothing more was said about the copper drying up rack.

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Washing up bowl - £36.00
Drying rack - £15.99
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TOTAL
£51.99
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TOTAL FOR THE WEEK
£70.49
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It's been weird seeing my outgoings shrink, but then again, I guess it makes sense. I no longer have commuting costs or naughty station purchases like breakfast or hot drinks. I'm spending a lot less on clothes than I usually would. It's become an occasional treat once every few months. Some days I feel down and in need a little pick me up, but I'm trying to get out of this mindset. I've been growing my own veg this year and you can really taste the difference, particularly with the ratatouille this week. Still not sure how I feel about the washing up bowl purchase, but one word comes to mind. Ouch.

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!

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