Monday, 30 April 2012

A new time-saver and waste-saver!

I picked up a new product in Aldi today that I wanted to share.  Well, it may not be a new product; but it's certainly the first of me noticing it when I've been in Aldi.  It's garlic cloves in chilli infused vegetable oil for £1.29 a jar. There were other varieties too - garlic cloves in brine and garlic cloves in vegetable oil with herbs.

I had a go using them today.  Just a simple tea of chicken and salad - spiced up a bit with the garlic cloves.  I chopped up three cloves in my mini garlic chopper, and sprinkled the garlic over some chicken legs and thighs along with some seasoning and a little of the chilli oil from the jar.

I popped the chicken in the oven, boiled some potatoes and prepared the salad.

The result?  A healthy, tasty dinner and relatively inexpensive too.  The chicken pieces were from Tesco's "Everyday Value" range - £1.49 - and the salad and vegetables from Aldi.  I find that Aldi offers the best supermarket price for fruit and veg.

The labelling on the jar advises that this product should be refridgerated after opening, and used within 4 weeks - I suspect this jar will live quite happily in my fridge for much longer than that!  I'd recommend this is a convenient, tasty and waste-free product.  Tomorrow we're having homemade meatballs so I'll try this garlic in those too.

Best Wishes
Frugal Wife

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Weather and Washing!

We've been lucky to escape the rain that seems to have dominated the weather across most of the UK this weekend.  So, after days and days of downpours during the week, I've finally managed to catch up on all my washing and reach the bottom of the laundry basket again!  Everything is ironed too, so that's a big weight off my mind!

I have a curtain pole up at my back door.  During the winter we have a heavy door curtain up; I take this down during the summer months and the curtain pole is used for hanging up clothes as I iron.  I like to bring the washing in whilst ever so slightly damp; I find things so much easier to iron doing it that way (and anything that simplifies the laundry process is a bonus!).  I hang up the ironed clothes at the back door and the sunshine finishes off the drying.  When it's warm enough, I leave the back door open too and the clothes can have a blow about before I put them away.

Now that the clothes are washed and ironed, I'll be tackling towels and bed linen over the next couple of days.  Now that I'm on maternity leave, I'd like to keep things as up-to-date as possible in anticipation of the chaos that will arrive when our newborn is here!

Best Wishes
Frugal Wife

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Waste not, want not!

A friend of mine offered me a bag of perishable food items from her house before she went away on holiday. This bag of goodies consisted of an unopened bag of lettuce leaves, a strawberry yogurt, half a loaf of bread, an apple and a bunch of bananas.  Never one to say no, I gratefully accepted these items and incorporated them into my plan for the week.

I put the half loaf of bread in my freezer as we already had a loaf out.

The apple and yoghurt accompanied my cheese salad to work for lunch on Monday.  The salad was made up with the lettuce leaves and some tomatoes, carrots and cucumber currently on offer as part of Aldi's Super 6 at 59p each, along with some leftover cold boiled potatoes and grated cheese. 

We had side salad with our tea that evening and then I took a prawn salad to work on Tuesday, made up with some pasta spirals, salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, prawns, grated carrot and mayonnaise.

The bananas are over-ripening nicely and are destined for banana cake later in the week!

Much better to be able to put these food items to use, rather than throwing them away.

Best Wishes
Frugal Wife

More baby preparations!

As I reach 30 weeks pregnant, my preparations for the baby's arrival are cranking up a gear.  The Moses basket passed on to me from my sister (used by both her sons) had been up our loft for the past 18 months and needed a bit of freshening up.  So, I scrubbed it with a scrubbing brush and some hot soapy water, then left it out in the sun along with the freshly-washed wooden stand that goes with it.  Having been restored to it's former glory, the Moses basket is tucked away in the cupboard ready for the baby coming.

Last week I also received a parcel from a fellow blogger, Frugal Queen, containing a beautifully soft baby blanket knitted for me.  How kind and generous to send such a thoughtful gift to a complete stranger!  Knitting is a craft I haven't ever managed to master, so I am delighted to have a lovely, handmade knitted blanket ready in anticipation of my little one arriving.  Thank you so much Jane xx

I start maternity leave in a couple of weeks and I am very much looking forward to winding down at work and taking things at a more relaxed pace for a while.  Collecting my daughter from school at 3.15pm, rather than out of school club at 5.45pm, will be such a pleasure and means we can spend some quality time together before the baby comes.  Visits to the park, the library and the swimming pool have all been noted by my daughter as "must-do"s during this time!  We cannot wait...

Best Wishes
Frugal Wife

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Homemade pizza - cheap and tasty!

I often fall back on homemade pizza when planning meals for the week, as it is cheap, easy to make and everyone in this house loves it!

It's also a rare treat for coeliacs like me, as making gluten-free "dough" of any description is a tricky one.

Last night I made pizza for us for tea, along with "chips" made from fried leftover boiled potatoes from the night before.  Only my husband and I for tea last night - so the leftover pizza slices are in the fridge for us to take to work for lunch today.

Gluten-free "flour" mixes are great; but it's definitely a bit more tricky to master the technique, so here's my step-by-step guide to gluten-free pizza!  This is my adaptation of Glutafin's Bite Size Mini Pizzas recipe.

  • 9oz gluten-free white mix
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp milk powder
  • 185ml hand hot water
  • 1 tblsp oil
The base is made of a smooth batter, as per the picture above.  Not a dough as with traditional pizza!  So, mix all the dry ingredients together and add the water and oil, mixing with a fork until it is a smooth, runny consistency.  Then spread out on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

Add your tomato sauce.  Usually I make this with tinned tomatoes, herbs, garlic and seasoning.  But it could be leftover bolognese sauce, tomato ketchup, tomato puree - or a combination of any of the above!  What ever you have left over and tomato-ey!

Spread the tomato sauce gently over the base and leave to prove for 45 minutes.

Then, the base is pre-cooked in the oven for 10 minutes before adding toppings.  I use 200C in my fan-assisted oven - but you don't want the oven too hot, or the edges will burn!

Ten minutes later and you can add your topping to the part-cooked base.

We had mushrooms, sweetcorn and peppers with mozzerella cheese.  Another ten minutes or so in the oven until the cheese has melted.

In my enthusiasm to eat my dinner I nearly forgot to take a photograph of the finished product!

The "chips" on the side went down a treat too.

Not one of my healthiest creations - but we all need a treat now and again!  Surely the vegetables count towards your 5 a day...

Best Wishes
Frugal Wife

Sunday, 8 April 2012

M&S food... made as frugal as possible!

Every now and again I treat myself to some bits and pieces from Marks and Spencer.  Now, I know you may be thinking that this doesn't exactly count as frugal - but, here's how I make it more so!

M&S have a fantastic range of foods that are gluten-free - excellent if you are Coeliac like me and need to follow a strict gluten-free diet.  Their food is also very yummy and breaded products in particular are a rare treat for Coeliacs!

Unfortunately for my family, I cannot afford for us all to have M&S food - so what I buy, I portion up and freeze - and make my meals the M&S versions, whilst they enjoy their cheaper gluten-containing versions!  Bangers and mash and fish and chips will appear in my meal plans over the coming weeks!

I spent just under £10 on two 8-packs of sausages, two 2-packs of chicken and mushroom crispbakes, and a 2-pack of fish in breadcrumbs.  Portioned up in freezer bags, this little lot will do 14 meals for me - not too bad for £10.

Once I start maternity leave I look forward to trying homemade gluten-free versions of these, as I'll have more time on my hands - until the baby arrives, at least!

Best Wishes
Frugal Wife

My newest hobby... quilting!

I cannot knit.  I have tried - and failed - on many occasions over the years.  Perhaps it's because I am left handed; but I always struggle to get to grips with it and end up giving up.  My baby is due in June and I really wanted to make something special for the arrival.  As knitting was out, I decided to give quilting a go.  Now, I am completely addicted and have spent many a happy hour pouring over quilting books from the library and getting to grips with my sewing machine!

My 6-year-old daughter has been asking for me to make a quilt for her bed.  As she is on holiday with her Granny for the Easter holidays, I decided to give this quilt a go whilst she's away and I'm aiming to have it ready for her return.

Now, I am definitely not an expert by any means when it comes to quilting!  I have pretty much been making it up as I go along and taking tips I've picked up from books, blogs and searches on the internet. 

I'm making this girly quilt out of old pillowcases.  These pillowcases have particular sentimental value to me as I recovered them all from my mum's "dustsheets" collection - they were all from bed sets that were on my bed over the years as I was growing up.  This one in particular was from my first bed - some 30 years ago!

We could be fashionable and call it "vintage" fabric!

Once the seams along the long edges of a pillowcase are removed, there's a surprising amount of fabric in a pillowcase.  I used five different pillowcases in total, and cut them up into 20cm squares.  These squares are making up my patchwork quilt.  I'm not quite at the fancy quilting pattern stage - yet!  Time is also of the essence as I need to have this finished by Friday in time for my little lady coming home!

I'm off work tomorrow and my plan is to have a day of quilting in the peace and quiet, since I will have the house to myself.  I have three other quilts on the go as well, all of which are at various stages of being finished - all being well I'm hoping to have this one plus one other completely finished by the end of the day!

The quilt top is finished and the binding is cut and ready, so there's every hope that tomorrow will be a productive quilting day!

Best Wishes
Frugal Wife

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Busy bees!

There's been so much happening of late - but not so much time to blog about it!

I resolved the issue with the mould-stained fabric.  Thanks for all your advice!  I sprayed oxy stain remover directly on to the mouldy patches, gave them a scrub with a scrubbing brush and a thorough rinse, then left the buggy and car seat out in the sunshine all day to dry.  The sunlight and fresh air worked wonders at restoring the fabric.  The result isn't completely perfect - but so insignificant, I very much doubt anyone will notice!

The next step is freshening up the moses basket that my sister gave us.  She used it for her two children and it's been in our loft for the last 18 months.  Still, it will be perfectly useable after a good clean!  I'm hoping to give this a scrub and get it outside to dry tomorrow!  Then I'll just need to buy a new mattress for it and it's good to go... ready in plenty of time for the baby's arrival!

With the power washer still on loan from my mum, we took advantage and used this (along with our little helpers) to wash our cars.  Long overdue - and the children loved splashing in the puddles...

The kids helped me plant some flowers in pots for the garden...

Work started on preparing the vegetable garden for this year...

And we even dined al fresco for the first time in 2012!

Then of course the temperature dropped and we've had a few chilly days - even snow!  Here's hoping it warms up again over the long weekend!

PS - my eBay listings generated about £90 profit - I was pleased with that!

Best Wishes
Frugal Wife