stop wasting food store food longer - photo courtesy of USDA - reducing food waste, saving money.

How to stop wasting food and start saving money!

Cheap Food / on a Budget, Sustainability, Thrifty

How to stop wasting food

Stop wasting food store food longer - photo by USDA Flickr

Stop wasting food and start saving money!  – (photo by USDA Flickr)

There are lots of things that we can do to stop wasting food.

By looking at the way that we buy, store and use ingredients, we can reduce food waste and save money!

Plan before you shop

Before you shop, take a look in the fridge, freezer and cupboards. Do you really know what you have already?

A lot of the time we go into autopilot mode when shopping, we pick up the ingredients and items that we know we eat regularly. By shopping this way, we may accidentally buy something that we already have at home. This is fine for food with a long shelf life, such as tinned food, but may otherwise lead to waste.

Knowing what you already have to use up at home is a great starting point! See what needs to be used up in your fridge and freezer and plan your meals around that.

Meal planning

Knowing what you already have to use up, you could create a meal plan for the week. Using up your leftovers and short date food first. Buying additional ingredients for later in the week. This way you will make the most of your leftovers and only buy only what you need.

Make a shopping list

Shopping list, make a shopping list to save money and stop wasting food, thrifty and sustainable

Make and stick to a shopping list to save money

Making a list (and sticking to it!) can really help you to save money and reduce food waste.

Shops are very clever at making their displays deliciously enticing, leading you to impulse-buy food that you might not have intended to buy. These displays are often at the till, on the ends of aisles, or at eye height throughout the shop. Being able to stick to a shopping list can help you to avoid impulse buying.

A carefully thought out shopping list can also help you to stop stocking up on food that you already have at home. How many tins of beans and tomatoes do you really need!

Shopping

As you start to think about what you actually need, rather than shopping on auto pilot, you can stop wasting food and start saving money.

It’s never a great idea to go shopping when you are hungry as you are more likely to be swayed by the impulse buys that the shops have displayed. You are also more likely to opt for snacks and treats that you may otherwise have avoided.

Shops try to encourage you to buy more than you might need with special offers and multi-buys. If you genuinely need and will use the items, this can save you money. If you will not get to use all of the items before the date runs out, can you freeze them? If not, you will have wasted money and food, so it is worth thinking twice before loading up your trolley with these offers. Of course you could go shopping with a friend and share the multi-buy offers between you and save money that way.

When buying fresh food, unless you will be eating it that day, ensure that the ‘best before’ date or ‘use by’ date has enough time left for your needs. Is it suitable for home freezing in case you run out of time to use it?  Do you need to buy all of your fresh food today or can you space out shops to stop wasting food?

Cooking and leftovers

pizza leftovers stop wasting food store food longer thrifty save money sustainability

Pop leftover dinner in the fridge – tomorrow’s lunch sorted

Thinking about portion size can help to reduce leftovers.

Do you often make too much? If you make the same portion size as usual, do you have leftovers? Can you reduce the portion size that you cook, so that there is less leftover? Could you save money by cooking a batch of food and freezing the leftover portions for later use?

If you have leftovers, you can ensure they are not wasted by storing them correctly and labeling them with the date and heating instructions for future reference.

How to store food for longer

Taking a look at how we store the food that we buy, can make a real difference.

Make sure that you take a look at the ‘best before’ or ‘use before’ dates on each item and use the ones with the shortest shelf life first. If you will not be able to use an item before the date runs out, can it be frozen? Can you give it to someone who can use it, such as a neighbour, family member or colleague?

Changing the way that we store some foods can make a big difference to how long it will last and will help us, overall, to stop wasting food.

Fridge / Freezer Temperature

Ensure that your fridge and freezer are set at the optimum temperature. You can take a look in the user manual, or find an online version of the manual if you don’t have one. If you can’t find your specific manual, keep your refrigerator temperature at or below 40° F (4° C). Your freezer temperature should be 0° F (-18° C).  These temperatures will ensure that your food is stored safely and will avoid food spoiling.

Freezing leftovers

When you freeze leftovers or surplus food, ensure that it’s stored in an airtight container, or in a sealed freezer bag with the air squeezed out. Label the container with the date it is frozen and with what the contents are.

Try to use frozen food with fresh ingredients, such as dairy or fish, within a month. Most other foods will keep from 3-6 months before they are past their best. Keep an eye on the dates that you have labelled your frozen food with, what do you need to use up soon?

Getting into the habit of checking which food needs to be used up first, will really help you to stop wasting food and start saving money!

Leftover foods that freeze well

* Soup * stews * curries * baby food * fruit purees * rice * double cream * cheese * mashed potatoes * mashed root veg * un-iced cakes * nuts * a plastic bottle of milk (handy) * egg yolks and whites * raw dough for pastry/bread/biscuits etc * breadcrumbs * ground coffee beans * grated cheese * sliced bread (can go straight to toaster) * whole sandwiches (with no salad) * orange juice * herbs * whole chillies * fresh pasta * raw fish * raw meat * left over stock *

If freezing raw meat such as sausages, split into portions first so that you don’t have to defrost more than you need. Ensure that you defrost frozen meat thoroughly before cooking and then do not refreeze it.

Potatoes and root veg

  • If you have a lot of potatoes, carrots or parsnips that you will not be able to use before they run out of date.. Cook them, mash them, store in an air-tight container and freeze them! Add a ‘made on’ date to the container and use it within 3 months. Great for serving at a later date with your roast dinner
  • If you have lots of potatoes to use up, par-boil them, toss them in oil, then freeze in an air-tight container or sealed bag – ready for your roasting tray at a later date

Freezing fresh fruit and veg

frozen food, freezer food, freezing vegetables, frozen vegetables in containers, how to freeze fresh vegetables, fresh vegetables store

Freeze your excess vegetables – thrifty!

Fruit – space out slices of fruit or whole berries over a baking sheet and freeze until solid, then put in a sealed bag, or container, in your freezer.

Vegetables –  boil evenly sized pieces briefly, then cool quickly in iced water, then drain, space out the pieces of veg over a baking sheet and freeze until solid, then put in a sealed bag, or container, in your freezer.

Raw meat and fish

  • Keep raw meat, poultry, and fish refrigerated. They should be stored separately from other foods so that they don’t contaminate them. Many fridges have a meat compartment in the bottom of the fridge or you can store uncooked meat and seafood on the lowest rack in your fridge to prevent their juices from leaking onto the other foods
  • Removing raw meat from its original packaging and re-wrapping in foil, can extend its shelf-life in the fridge
  • Wrapped raw fish can last a little longer in your fridge if you store it on a layer of ice cubes in a bowl (adding fresh ice when necessary)

Dairy products

  • Milk, cream, yogurt, and other dairy products are best stored on the upper shelves of your fridge. The temperature there is the most constant, so they’ll keep longer
  • Keeping milk in your fridge door, whilst convenient, is not the best place for it. The door area is warmer, so your milk will go off more quickly there
  • Mayonnaise will last longer in the fridge door as it is less likely to separate and can last much longer this way
  • Your cheese should be kept wrapped in its original packaging if possible, this will keep it from going mouldy. If this is not possible, wipe excess oil from each face of the cheese, then wrap in waxed paper or parchment paper, to keep it from drying out

Cheese can absorb the flavours and chemicals from plastic wrap, so it’s best to avoid that.

  • Eggs should be kept in a cool dark place, preferably in your fridge. Keep on one of the shelves, rather than in the door of your fridge, and keep separately from other foods. Keeping them in their box is ideal or in an egg tray

Fruit

avocado, keep avocados fresh with lemon juice or oil, stop wasting food, store food for longer, thrifty save money

Keep half an avocado fresh – brush with lemon juice or oil

Some fruits give off a gas that can speed up the ripening of surrounding fruits. These fruits should be kept separate from other fruits and should also be kept out of the fridge. Knowing which fruits give off this ripening gas can really help you to stop wasting food.

Gas releasers: avocados, bananas, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, and tomatoes.

  • Citrus fruit and melons are also best kept out of your fridge. Once citrus fruit is cut, it can however be wrapped and refrigerated to prevent it from drying out
  • Most other fruits will last longer if they are kept in the fridge. Leave some fruits out to ripen, but once ripe, store in your fridge
  • Don’t store fresh fruits and vegetables in their own airtight bags or containers, as this can speed up decay
  • Leftover slices of fresh fruit can be kept a little longer in the fridge if you sprinkle lemon juice over them, this will prevent browning and help to preserve the fruit. Similarly you can brush a left over half of an avocado in lemon juice or oil and wrap in foil to keep it from browning, do not refrigerate it
  • Keep these ethylene-producing fruits away from your vegetables in the fridge: apples, stone fruits, mangoes, passion fruit, pears, and kiwis

Do not wash your fruit until you are ready to eat it, as the excess water can speed up decay.

Vegetables

mushrooms, storing mushrooms paper bag mushroom keep fresh thrifty

Keep mushrooms fresh for longer in a paper bag

Most veg can be kept fresher for longer, if you keep them in the fridge. Remove any traces of mould from your veg to prevent it spreading. Do not wash your vegetables before placing in the fridge, as excess water can speed decay.

  • Potatoes and root veg are best kept in a cool dark place rather than the fridge, this will help them to last much longer. If the potatoes have little sprouts, they have not gone bad, simply rub the sprouts off. Your potato will still be fantastic
  • Onions, garlic and shallots should be kept in a cool, dark place, in a paper bag, rather than your fridge. In the fridge, they will lose much of their flavour and not last as long
  • If you have a bag or container of salad, add a sheet of kitchen towel to absorb moisture, this will help your salad to keep crisp and fresh for longer
  • If you have left over celery, wrapping it in foil can help it to stay crisp and fresh for longer
  • Asparagus can be kept for longer if you trim the end off the stems and place upright in a glass with water in the bottom, cover loosely with a plastic bag, keep on your counter rather than in your fridge. This will keep them fresh and crisp for a week
  • Store-bought mushrooms are best kept in their original packaging in the fridge and wrapped with cling film once opened. If you have loose or wild mushrooms, they last longer if kept in a paper bag in the fridge

Herbs

keep herbs fresh for longer, corriander, herb store, stop wasting food, store food longer, thrifty, sustainability, save money

Keep herbs fresh for longer in a glass of water

Here is a tip for keeping your leafy herbs, such as basil, parsley and coriander, fresher for longer.. Remove the packaging, trim a small amount off the end of each stem, place them in a glass of water on the counter, much like a bunch of flowers. Cover the herbs loosely, with a plastic bag. This will ensure that your herbs stay fresh for at least a week, rather than go slimy after a couple of days in the fridge.

Bread
Help your fresh bread to last longer, by storing it at room temperature, in an airtight container or a paper bag. You could also wrap it in a clean tea towel. Do not store it in your fridge, keep it on the counter. You can also revive almost-stale bread that is on its last day, by warming in your oven.

Nuts

Storing nuts at room temperature, in air-tight containers, will preserve their natural moisture and help them to last longer. Ideally, you should store them in their own shells.

Other

You will find that refrigerating your soy sauce, can help it to maintain its flavour and last for up to two years.

There are lots of other fantastic food storage tips out there. Search the internet for terms like: clever food storage, food storage hacks, storing food for longer, make food last longer, stop wasting food, storing food correctly etc.. Or feel free to post your own tips and tricks in the comments section below.

 

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Homemade raw bars recipe nutrition bar energy bar healthy pecan nuts raw food

Homemade raw bars – no bake recipe!

Cheap Food / on a Budget, Making & DIY, Thrifty

Try making these delicious homemade raw bars, with no baking required.

Homemade raw bars recipe energy bar nutrition bar recipesBuying raw bars, nutrition bars or energy bars can be very expensive, but if you buy the ingredients in bulk and make them at home, they are actually pretty cheap.

Have a go at making this easy recipe to ensure that you have tasty, healthy snacks, to keep you going this January.

These raw bars are nutritious, packed full of protein and will help to give your body slow-release energy.

Why not try them as a healthy alternative to chocolate bars. These homemade raw bars are also gluten-free, great for vegans and perfect for those who follow a raw food diet.

Homemade Raw Bars Recipe

Ingredients – (makes 16 squares)

Homemade raw bars recipe nutrition bar energy bar healthy pecan nuts raw food

Pecan nuts – rich in vitamin E, B vitamins and antioxidants

  • Pecan nuts 50g
  • Walnuts 50g
  • Cashew nuts (raw unsalted) 50g
  • Ground Almonds 55g
  • Raisins 30g
  • Stoned Dates 80g
  • Cocoa Powder (you can also use raw cocoa powder or vegan chocolate powder) 30g

Method

  1. Add all the ingredients together in a bender and mix for about a minute. It’s ready when the nuts are in small chips and everything is stuck together with the dates and raisins – you can add a teaspoon or two of water to help the mixture to blend if it gets stuck
  2. Form into squares or bars or roll into balls and refrigerate for an hour to set
  3. If you like, you can roll the raw bar or ball in desiccated coconut or ground almonds for a different texture
  4. Once made, you can keep them refrigerated for up to 2 weeks

Try making these tasty, nutritious homemade raw bars for your breakfast, or as a healthy snack. Maybe take some to share at work, as an alternative to the usual cakes and sweets – Enjoy!

 

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Home Remedies natural remedy alternative medicine herbal remedy herbs tea tree lemon eucalyptus oil

Natural home remedies – prevent a cold & boost your immune system

Cheap Food / on a Budget, Making & DIY, Thrifty
home remedies alternative medicine herbal remedy thrifty health tea tree eucalyptus oil

Natural home remedies can save you money and boost your immune system

Try these natural home remedies this winter, they may help to boost your immune system, or help you to recover faster from colds and flu. Traditional over-the-counter treatments and medicine can be quite expensive. You can often achieve the same results for a fraction of the cost by making your own alternative natural remedies.

Obviously, these are alternative, natural, home remedies, but if you are feeling unwell, use common sense to determine if you need to visit the doctor also.

If you are feeling unwell or have a fever, give your body the best chance of recovery by resting, staying warm and keeping hydrated.

Drinking warm drinks will help to hydrate you. Breathing in the steam will also help to relieve congestion. Some herbal teas have additional benefits, which you might be quite surprised to discover. You can buy herbal teas, but why not get thrifty and make your own – just steep fresh herbs in warm water and drink!

 

Herbal Tea & Warm Drink Home Remedies:

Echinacea – a natural antibiotic, immune stimulant, anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory. Taking echinacea as a tea, or in tablet form, can help to boost the immune system and also prevent recurrent infections.

Peppermint – to help the digestive process and relieve stomach ache, the menthol released in the steam can help to clear a stuffy head and also loosen catarrh.

Ginger tea – is an aromatic, spicy tea that helps to combat nausea, sooth the digestive system as well as warming the body. Ginger is a natural antiseptic, circulation stimulant, and can also help the body to expel catarrh. Breathing in the steam from the tea will help if you have a blocked or sore nose. To make your own, buy a piece of ginger root from the supermarket, slice off a few chunks, pop it in a mug and top up with hot water.. leave it to steep for a couple of minutes then enjoy. If this is too spicy for you, simply add a teaspoon of honey.

Honey lemon ginger herbal tea home remedy remedies boost immune system thrifty

Home remedies can be rather tasty! Honey, lemon & ginger.

Honey and Lemon – a teaspoon of honey and a couple of slices of fresh lemon in a mug with warm water… soothing and wonderful at relieving cold symptoms. Lemon is great for the immune system as it is naturally antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, an antihistamine, antiviral and antioxidant. It can also help to reduce a fever.

Honey, lemon and turmeric -To make a more medicinal honey and lemon tea, why not try adding a teaspoon of turmeric. Turmeric is anti-bacterial and anti-viral.

Honey, lemon and ginger – Another more medicinal honey and lemon tea, adding fresh ginger as it is an antiseptic, circulation stimulant, and can help the body to expel catarrh.

Lemon and Basil tea – Basil leaves can really help to relieve a sore throat as well as lift your spirits. Basil is a natural antidepressant, antiseptic, can relieve bloating and can help to clear catarrh naturally.

Honey and cinnamon tea – Cinnamon is an effective antiviral and antibiotic. Add a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of honey to warm water and drink. Cinnamon can also help to lower a fever.

Cider vinegar – drink a couple of teaspoons mixed with a teaspoon of honey in a mug of warm water. You can also use cider vinegar as a gargle if you have a cold or sore throat. Cider vinegar has quite a strong taste so the honey really helps! The Cider vinegar is antibacterial and anti-viral.

Lavender tea – As well as having antibacterial properties, to treat your cold symptoms, this is a soothing tea that can help if you suffer from anxiety or insomnia. Why not save money and make your own. Just add a few heads of lavender to warm water in a mug and leave it to steep for a few minutes. It tastes delicious and is very relaxing.

Lavender and Lemon balm – For a truly delicious tea, try adding lavender heads and lemon balm leaves, the combination is fantastic. Lemon balm is a naturally uplifting herb so works very well for those who are feeling a little low as well as anxious. Lemon balm is sedative, antidepressant, antiviral, antibacterial, relaxant for the nervous system and a digestive stimulant. It can also be used to treat tension headaches.

 

Food Home Remedies

garlic onlin bulbs home remedy food remedies thrifty wellness

Cheap and effective remedy for fighting colds & flu

Onions  – are anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. A great natural remedy if you have a persistent cold. Try adding onions to meals or eating raw in a salad.

Garlic – the king of home remedies, is a natural antibiotic, packed with antioxidants. It is a real all-rounder, especially good at helping to prevent coughs and colds. Garlic is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antihistamine and anti-fungal. Garlic is also an expectorant, so can help your body to naturally get rid of catarrh. Add it to your meals often or, if you are feeling brave, eat raw garlic for maximum benefit.

Chilli – Spicy food is a tasty way of clearing congestion and helping the body to expel infection by loosening mucus. Chillies are wonderful for this and simply adding a chopped chilli or two to any soup, stew or curry will certainly do the job.
Chillies are a natural antiseptic, antibacterial, digestive stimulant and circulation stimulant. Again, if you are feeling brave.. just eat one raw!

 

Home-made Syrups

Both Elderberry and Rose Hip syrups are traditionally taken to help prevent and combat cold and flu symptoms.

Rose hips – also known as the fruits of the wild or dog rose, are absolutely packed with vitamin C.. 20x as much as oranges! Can be foraged in the late summer and early autumn.

Elderberries – are also packed with vitamins A, B & C, they are anti-inflammatory, help to boost the immune system and can help to prevent recurrent infections. Can be foraged in the late summer and early autumn.

There is a recipe for each at the bottom of this article, or you can jump straight to each:

Rose hip Syrup recipe

Elderberry Syrup recipe

 

Home-made Ointment

Inhaling Eucalyptus or peppermint oil can help to decongest a stuffy nose.
Mix 5 drops of oil with 2 teaspoons of Vaseline and apply the ointment – either a little under the nose, or rub into the chest for best effect. This can also help to warm you and boost circulation. If you don’t fancy walking around smelling of eucalyptus or mint, simply apply a few drops of the oil to a tissue and inhale.

 

Steam Home Remedies

You can breathe in your favourite essential oils and fresh herbs using a home-made steamer. Breathing them in via steam will really help to clear a stuffy head. It can loosen congestion whilst killing viruses and bacteria in the lungs, bronchials or sinuses.

steam inhale home remedy inhalation of herbs cold and flu remedies thrifty health

Inhaling herbal steam to help fight a cold

Get a large mixing bowl and carefully fill it with boiling water. Add a few drops of essential oil or a handful of herbs. Lean over the bowl so that the steam is rising into your face. Place a towel over your head covering both your head and the bowl, so that the steam does not escape, and breath deeply for a few minutes.

The steam will not only help to open your pores and cleanse the skin but the essential oil or herbs will have a chance to enter your respiratory system via the steam.

Herbs such as mint, oregano and rosemary and oils such as Eucalyptus, and Tea-tree will help if you have a cold.

Eucalyptus – is a natural antiseptic, antiviral and antifungal.

tee tree essential oil herbal home remedy for colds and flu healing steam

Worried that essential oils are expensive? This tea tree oil was £1 in Poundworld.

Rosemary – is a natural antiseptic, antidepressant, circulation stimulant, bile stimulant and digestive remedy.

Tea-tree – is a natural antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral and immune stimulant.

Peppermint – is a natural antiviral, bile stimulant, and can relieve bloating and calm the digestive system. Additionally, the menthol released from peppermint can help to clear catarrh.

Oregano – is a natural antibiotic and antiviral and is often used to treat infections of the respiratory system and digestive discomfort.

Lavender – If you also suffer from anxiety or insomnia, breathing in Lavender oil, either directly or as a steam, can really help to ease and sooth a busy mind. As well as having antibacterial properties, to treat your cold symptoms, it is also very calming and is often used to treat tension headaches. Lavender is a natural antiseptic, antibacterial, antidepressant, relaxant and can also help to stimulate circulation.

 

Enjoy the benefits of naturally boosting your immune system with these delicious home remedies:

 

Rose Hip Syrup Recipe

rose hip syrup recipe rosehips home remedies home remedy thrifty

Rose hips

Ingredients

  • 1kg rose hips
  • 3 litres of water
  • 500g dark brown soft sugar

Method

1. Bring to the boil 2 litres of water.
2. Mash rose hips by hand or in a food processor, then add to the boiling water.
3. Bring water back to the boil, then remove from heat and allow to steep for 20 minutes.
4. Strain the rose hips and liquid through a cheesecloth or jelly bag into the sink.
5. Take the separated rose hip pulp add it to the saucepan add 1 litre of water and bring back to the boil. Then remove from heat and allow the contents to steep for another 20 minutes before straining through the cheesecloth or jelly bag once more, this time keeping the strained liquid and pouring into a saucepan.
6. Add sugar to the strained rose hip liquid and dissolve, allow to simmer for five minutes, then pour into hot, sterilised bottles.

Use the syrup as a drink made up with water, or serve on pancakes, or with thick yogurt, or ice cream. Alternatively, just take a spoonful when you need a vitamin C boost because it is a delicious way to help your immune system.

 

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Elderberry syrup recipe elderberries home remedy home remedies thrifty

Elderberries

Ingredients

  • 1 part fresh elderberries (or ½ part if using dried elderberries)
  • 2 parts water
  • 1 part honey (you may like to use raw honey for its antiviral properties)
  • optional – you can add a little raw ginger, cloves or a cinamon stick to taste

**please be sure to remove all of the stems from the elderberries before adding the fruit to the recipe, because they can contain toxins and are not good for you**

Method

1. Pour water into a saucepan and add the elderberries (and ginger, cinnamon and cloves if you are adding these)
2. Bring to a boil, cover and then simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. Then remove from heat and let it cool. Mash the elderberries, then pour the mixture through a strainer/cheesecloth into a glass jar or bowl.
3. Discard the elderberries and let the liquid cool to lukewarm, then add the honey to the liquid and stir well.
4. Once well mixed, pour the syrup into a pint sized, sterilised jar or bottles.
5. Store in the fridge and take a tablespoon or two a day for its immune system boosting properties.

 

There are many more natural home remedies out there. Why not do a little research on google, or at your local library, or ask family and friends if they’ve tried anything that has worked for them.

 

Enjoy naturally good health!

 

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Elderflower Champagne recipe home brew sparkling wine delicous alcohol forage foraged forager foraging bushcraft wildfood cheap thrifty

Home Brew: Elderflower Champagne

Cheap Food / on a Budget, Making & DIY, Thrifty

Making Elderflower Champagne is a fantastic way of turning free, foraged ingredients and low-cost store cupboard ingredients, into a few large bottles of actual alcohol. If you are new to making home brew, Elderflower Champagne is a great place to start.

Elderflower champagne recipe home brew for foragers foraging forager foraged

Elderflowers in bloom

This drink is so cheap and easy to make. The result is a delicious, elegant drink that you can take to a picnic or BBQ and share with friends, or just enjoy at home on a summer’s evening when you fancy something refreshing.

Foraging for Elderflower is pretty simple and the flowers are easy to spot. They have a creamy white colour with a very distinctive smell. They appear in large, flat heads in early summer, usually at the end of May and beginning of June. Elderflower heads should be picked as they are just coming into flower. You can read more about Elderflower varieties on Wikipedia here: Elderflower

Elderflower Champagne Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 large heads of Elderflower (gently shake the heads to remove any insects but do not wash them as you will need all the blossom to ferment your brew!)
  • 4 ½ Litres of water
  • 2 sliced lemons
  • 450g granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar

Make it:

Elderflower champagne recipe home brew lemons sugar bowl brewing

Leave to steep in water for up to 36 hours

  1. Add the 6 heads of Elderflower, and the sliced lemons to the 4 ½ litres of water in a large bowl. You can split between a couple of bowls if you like. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel to keep insects away and Leave the mixture to steep for 24-36 hours
  2. Strain your mixture through a sieve into another bowl – you can now discard the Elderflower and lemon slices
  3. Add the 450g of sugar and the 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar and give it a good stir
  4. Pour into clean plastic bottles with screw top lids – close the lid but not tightly. As the mixture ferments the pressure will build in the bottles and you will need to release the pressure every couple of days. Releasing the pressure
    Elderflower champagne recipe home brew sparkling wine delicous home brew brewing foraged foraging forage forager elderflowers

    Serve chilled and enjoy!

    avoids an exploding bottle and an Elderflower-flavoured kitchen

  5. Keep releasing the pressure every couple of days for 4-5 weeks. If you like you can do the occasional taste test during this time, as the longer you leave it, the drier (and stronger) the drink gets
  6. After the above fermentation time of about 5 weeks, firmly close each bottle and store in a cool dark place, until you are ready to drink!
  7. This drink will keep for months in the cupboard… but it doesn’t usually get a chance to! Tastes best if it has been chilled in the fridge for a couple of hours

 

Enjoy home brewing!

You might also enjoy this earlier post with a home brew Sloe Gin recipe: Make it: Sloe Gin

 

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Grow your own vegetables cheat sheet infographic planting calendar

Grow your own – Planting & Picking calendar

Cheap Food / on a Budget, Sustainability, Thrifty

Growing your own fruit and vegetables can be so rewarding, as we discovered in this previous post – Why grow your own fruit and vegetables.

Different vegetables need to be planted and picked at different times throughout the year. Planting at the correct time ensures that you get the best quality and quantity of veg from the seeds that you use.

Whether you are growing vegetables in a garden, an allotment, a patio or in a window box – this brilliant grow your own ‘cheat sheet’, has lots of useful information to help you get started.

This infographic will help you to know:

  • when to plant each type of vegetable
  • how far apart to plant the seeds
  • which garden pests to look out for
  • how to stop pests from targeting your veg
  • which vegetables grow well when planted together
  • and the best bit… when to pick them!

Grow your own vegetables – cheat sheet:

Grow your own vegetables cheat sheet infographic planting calendar

Here is a downloadable version of the grow your own vegetables cheat sheet.

Feeling inspired? Get muddy fingers, grow tasty veg and enjoy!

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grow your own zucchini courgette plant vegetables self-sufficient lifestyle thrifty sustainability

Why grow your own fruit and vegetables?

Cheap Food / on a Budget, Sustainability, Thrifty

thrifty sustainability affordable cheap food grow your own vegetables allotmentGrow your own

If you are looking for ways to save money and to live a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle, why not grow your own food, it’s a great place to start.

Planting, nurturing, growing, picking, preparing and then eating your own food can be an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding experience.

Whether you are growing food in an allotment, community garden project, your home garden or even in your window box, there is a way for everyone to have a go and have a grow!

Saving Money

The price of food shopping is always increasing and growing your own food can help to cut food bills considerably.

As an example: You can buy a packet of courgette seeds for 70p and just one courgette plant can yield 10 courgettes or more! Compare that to a pack of 2 courgettes costing £1.30 in a supermarket and you can see how the savings will soon pile up.

grow your own zucchini courgette plant vegetables self sufficient lifestyle thrifty sustainability

Just one courgette plant can yield 10 courgettes or more!

You can save even more money buy bulk-buying packets of seeds online. Ebay has lots of these and you can often buy a set of 50 varied seed packets for about £10.

If money is tight you can also swap your extra fresh fruit and veg with neighbours for other items that you need.

Rather than buying an expensive gift, freshly picked fruit and veg makes an excellent present for a friend or relative. It’s a really thoughtful gift because you’ve put your time and energy into making it for them. You could make a fresh veg hamper or give a bag of fresh veg with a recipe for a soup that they can make with the vegetables.

Helping the environment

pesticides food production industry sustainability grow your own vegetables

Pesticides can pollute the soil and our rivers

If you grow your own food, you are helping the environment. You dramatically cut your food’s carbon footprint, by cutting down on the energy use, waste and emissions that the food industry production, refrigeration and transportation requires.

Your home-grown food will also not have used chemical fertilisers or pesticides which are harmful for local wildlife, such as bees and birds, and the environment. Pesticides used in growing food on a mass-scale can pollute the soil and as rain water drains through the soil and finds its way to streams an rivers, our waterways can become polluted and harm fish and river wildlife also.

Health Benefits

This new hobby can benefit your health also. You will discover a sense of wellbeing and connectedness to nature, as you work in harmony with your environment and enjoy fresh, seasonal, organic fruit and veg. Harvesting and preparing food that you’ve grown yourself, from scratch, can also give your self-esteem a really great boost.

By consuming your produce within a few hours of picking, you enjoy the full, fresh, nutritional benefit of that food. If it is freshly-picked the vitamin content of the food is at its highest. Eating lots of fresh fruit and veg can really help you to absorb all the vitamins and minerals that you need as part of a healthy balanced diet and that helps to strengthen your body’s immune system.

Of course, gardening is also great exercise! All that time out in the fresh air, moving around, getting your heart pumping, using your muscles and even boosting your mood with all that natural light and the feeling of vitality that comes from working up a sweat!

Anyone who has ever tasted a freshly-picked, home-grown, organic, ripe, plump and juicy tomato, bursting with flavour…will tell you that freshly picked food tastes so much better! So start enjoying your food even more by really tasting it. Food that is a joy to eat can make anyone smile.

Community

When we work together and share the results, we build and strengthen a community.

veg gift basket grow your own vegetables self sufficient lifestyle thrifty sustainability

Share your home-grown veg with friends

As you grow your own food, you will find that sometimes you get a glut of a particular fruit or vegetable, as the weather and growing conditions have produced an abundance of growth. This is a fantastic opportunity to share your home-grown food with friends, family, neighbours and fellow food growers!

If you grow on an allotment, perhaps you can leave spare food near the gate with a sign saying – free, please take what you need. If you grow in your garden at home and have a glut, why not take your spare food to a neighbour or friends. You may even find that your friends, neighbours and fellow growers are inspired to do the same.

Talk to fellow food growers, share tips and success stories, share food and left over seeds. Not only might you make someone’s day, but you just might learn something and make a new friend too!

More articles about growing and preserving your own food coming soon.

Similar posts: Grow your own – Planting & Picking Calendar

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making a budget working out budget budgeting saving money finaces budgets

How to make a budget & save money

Cheap Food / on a Budget, Thrifty

Making a budget gives you a clear understanding of your finances. Some people get into all sorts of trouble with debt, simply because they spend more than they earn. Working out exactly how much money you have coming in and how much is going out each month, will give you control over your finances. Once you know the facts, you can see where you are wasting money or overspending without realising.

Understanding and having control over your finances will not only help you to steer clear of debt, but it will empower you and give you an extra boost of self-confidence.

If you are already in debt, taking a good honest look at your spending habits and working out a plan of action to change those habits, is a strong first step in getting out of debt.

If you have tried working out a budget before and found it unsuccessful, it may be because you were purely focusing on the monthly spend and forgetting to look at the big yearly picture also.

making a budget working out budget budgeting saving money finaces budgets

Grab a cuppa and a calculator…

Often there are things we spend money on which happen at different times throughout the year and not in any set month, for example, holidays, dentist appointments, gifts for friends and family, house or car repairs etc… and whilst you cannot always know how much these extras may cost, you can at least allow a portion of your monthly spend to go into a saving pot, which can help to pay for those events throughout the year.

Life is full of surprises and if you need to pay for an unexpected repair, or move home in a hurry, having savings put by for an emergency can make all the difference between getting things sorted or getting into debt. I know that building up savings is way easier said than done, but using the strategy below is a good solid start.

It’s going to take a while, but it is worth your time. Grab a cuppa, grab a calculator and start on the first step to taking control of your finances.

Making a budget:

1) To start off on the right foot, it is really worth being as thorough as possible. Collect as much information about your finances as possible. Gather at least three months of recent bank statements, or even take a look over the past year’s spending to see where the unexpected spends occurred. If you have credit cards or store cards, collect the statements for those to see how much you are spending there. Collect your payslips and information of any money that is coming in. Gather all the details that you have of household bills, council tax, tv licence etc. Gather any receipts that you find lying around too, as these may help you to break down further how you are spending your money when shopping.

2) Often, just looking at where you are actually spending money will be a real eye-opener. You will probably be surprised at just how much money is being spent on impulse buys, a coffee in town, a quick supermarket trip where you went in to buy one thing but came out with a basket full, a night out, energy bills at different times of year etc.. These things all add up over time and starting to have a conscious awareness of where and how you spend your money will really help you to get into a money-saving, low-cost, thrifty lifestyle mindset.

Once you stop spending so much on things that you don’t need or use, you can start to put your money towards things which make your life more worthwhile.

make making a budget working out budget budgeting saving money finaces budgets

Work out where you are overspending

It can be quite upsetting when you see, for the first time, where you are overspending. You may be tempted to ignore certain areas, like credit card spend or how much you spend on alcohol and luxuries. It is really important to be totally honest with yourself when creating your budget. If it helps, just keep it to yourself and remind yourself that no one will read it but you. It may help to create it on the computer and make a password-protected file. Do not be ashamed of where you are overspending, just be aware of it and make the decision that you will now be in control of how you spend and that in a year’s time your finances will be in a much better state.

3) To build a picture of monthly spend, make a list of all the regular, known outgoings that you have, such as rent/mortgage, council tax, contact lenses, any debt repayments etc. Work out the average monthly energy bill – do this by adding the last 12 months of energy bills together and dividing by 12 to get an average monthly bill – Do the same thing for your food shopping as well. Keep working out and adding the average monthly spend for things like gifts, christmas, clothes, holidays, car tax etc.

There are many templates for creating a budget online if you do not want to make your own – here is a good tool from the money-saving expert website: https://budgetbrain.moneysavingexpert.com/budgetplanner or simply Google ‘Budget Template’ to find something to suit your needs.

Now add up all the monthly outgoings and put it at the bottom of the list as your outgoings total. Finally take a look at all your income from employment, benefits, selling online etc, put that total on the budget aswell.

If your outgoings are more than your income… don’t worry, don’t feel ashamed, it’s completely normal and completely fixable. You’ve taken the first step, discovered that there is a problem and now you can take positive steps to fix that problem over time. Keep reading for a few ideas to get your outgoing spend right down.

If your outgoings are less than your income, well done indeed! Perhaps your next step would be to look at where you are overspending so that you may put more of your income into savings and into enjoying new life experiences.

4) Now that you have your budget list of exactly how much you are spending each month on average, it’s time to go through each item on the list and consider if you can make a saving.

make making a budget working out budget budgeting saving money finaces budgets save pounds

Each small monthly saving adds up over a year

Examples of where you might save:

  • could you live somewhere cheaper or move in with someone to split bills?
  • If you own your home, could you get a lodger to help boost income?
  • If you buy contact lenses and pay monthly, could you make significant savings by purchasing them, in bulk, online, or wearing glasses for half the week and buying half as many contact lenses? If you pay £30 per month and reduce this to £15 per month, that’s a yearly saving of £180
  • Could you set yourself a lower allowance for monthly food shopping, and stick to it? If you can cut down on your food shopping bill by £30 a month… that’s a yearly saving of £360 – You could cut down much further by bulk buying approved clearance food or by switching from brands to non-brands
  • Could you cut out one of your morning coffees on the way to work and make a free one when you get to work instead? If you cut out one £2.30 coffee per week, that’s a yearly save of £119.60
  • Could you switch energy providers and save money there?
  • Are you on the cheapest phone tariff for your mobile?
  • If you pay for a gym subscription but rarely go, could you cancel it and exercise by going for brisk walks and practising yoga or weight training in your living room instead? Cutting back on the average gym membership of £20 per month, could be a yearly saving of £240
  • Can you cut back a little on spends such as cigarettes, beauty products, magazines, take aways, nights out, cinema trips, extravagant gifts etc.
  • Can you reduce the cost of your fuel bill by switching appliances off and wearing a jumper? Check out the article Switch it off: Smarter use of energy for ways to save on household bills


Every little saving that you can make will add up significantly over time.

5) Keeping the achievable cut-backs in mind, draw up a new budget plan that you will do your best to stick to. Keep going back to it every week to make sure that you are sticking to it and to consider where there may be potential to cut back further, or to switch provider and save.

make making a budget working out budget budgeting saving money finaces budgets piggy bank-savings

Take control of your spending & start saving

Once you have a budget to follow, and when you are honest about where you are spending your money, you have control over your finances and can start to steer them in the right direction.

If you have trouble sticking to a food shopping budget, it may be because you are paying for food, as and when, on your card, and not realising that you are overspending. At the beginning of the month, take out the allotted amount for the month’s food shopping in cash. Divide it between 4 envelopes, one for each week, and don’t spend more than you have in the envelopes!

6) If you have a low income and the money going out is way more than the money coming in, it’s time to start thinking about ways to change that. As well as saving on the amount that you spend, there are lots of positive steps that you can take to increase your income.

Long-term financial security and peace of mind is achievable if you can just get a handle on your budget. Each time you go to spend money, check-in with yourself – do I really need it? Can I find it cheaper elsewhere?

Making a budget and sticking to it, is well worth the effort. Over time, having conscious control over what you are spending will change your life for the better.

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approved food clearance food cheap food breakfast cereals thrifty sustainability shopping cheaper save money

Cheap food – approved clearance food

Cheap Food / on a Budget, Sustainability, Thrifty

approved food clearance food cheap food breakfast cereals thrifty sustainability shopping cheaper save moneyHow can we save up to 70% on the weekly shop & help the environment at the same time? Make use of the cheap food that is available for everyone, if you only know where to buy it.

In the UK we throw away a tremendous (and disgustingly wasteful) amount of food and drink each year – 7.2m tonnes – most of which could have been consumed. When you think of the energy put into making, packaging and selling that food, you can begin to see why stopping that waste is a sound idea for an eco-freindly, sustainable lifestyle.

One way to cut down on the UK’s food waste whilst also saving yourself a lot of money is to buy Approved Clearance Food.

If you look at food packaging there is usually a ‘use by’ date and a ‘best before’ date to advise us when to eat it by. It is not advisable to eat anything after it’s ‘use by’ date, however, you CAN safely eat food that has passed it’s ‘best before’ date. Best Before dates are only there a guide to advise that  after a best before date the colour or texture might not be immaculate.. but the food is still completely safe to eat and what’s more… it’s a fantastic way to buy very cheap food in bulk and make huge savings on your food bill!

approved food clearance food cheap food save money grocery shopping thrifty sustainability

Visit the Approved Foods website now to discover how you can cut your food shopping bill right down by buying approved clearance foods. You could bulk buy and stock up on store cupboard essentials such as tinned foods, dried foods and cleaning products at a fraction of the price!

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thrifty sustainability make Pizza do it yourself DIY pizza toppings save money on takeaway food cheap

Make it: Home made pizza

Cheap Food / on a Budget, Making & DIY

Let’s face it, pizza is the food of the Gods and you’re thinking… no way can I make a pizza that tastes as sublime as my usual take-away favourite. Well, not only can you make your own perfect, divine, exquisitely delicious pizza, but you’ll have the added satisfaction of knowing that you’ve saved yourself a tenner (this recipe only costs £1.50 – £3 per pizza) and you can be as picky as you like with the toppings.

thrifty sustainability make Pizza do it yourself DIY pizza toppings save money on takeaway food cheap

Save at least £10 – every time you make your own pizza from scratch

If you are interested in healthy eating, making your own pizza allows you to have total control over the ingredients, perhaps use whole-wheat organic flour instead of plain white flour, use gluten-free flour if you are a celiac and choose toppings which are in-line with your dietary requirements. If you are vegan, use vegan cheese or just a tomato sauce based topping and forget the cheese. Further topping suggestions below.

If you are interested in thrifty living because you are trying to clear a debt or save money, this could be an excellent opportunity to do just that. Every time you crave a takeaway pizza, take the time to make your own and put the £10 that you save in a ‘pizza savings’ jar and after 10 home-made pizzas you’ll have £100 to put towards paying off debts or to put into a savings account.

Yes it’s more effort to make it yourself.. but yes, it’s so worth it! Give it a try and have fun with it. If you have children, this can be a fun, messy and creative family activity!

If making your own pizza seems daunting, or a bit complicated, just give it a go, stick with it and after a couple of times you’ll get used to it and… you’ll get to love it.

Simple pizza base ingredients

  • 375g Plain white flour
  • 1 tablespoon of caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 7g of dried active baking yeast (you can buy these in a box of 8 x 7g sachets to save further pennies)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 225ml (8fl oz) of warm water

How to make the simple pizza base

1) put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until you get a dough
2) knead and stretch the dough for a minute or so
3) spread or roll out the dough into a pizza shape on a large pizza pan or baking sheet (avoid a sticking pizza base later by sprinkling a little flour onto the baking tray first)
4) add your pizza topping (details below)
5) put your pizza in a pre-heated oven at 190 degrees or Gas mark 5 and bake for 20-25 mins

If you want to mix it up a bit when you make your base, you can swap whole-wheat flour for the plain flour, you can add herbs such as oregano to the dough and you can get a real take-away pizza style if you roll your dough out for an extra few centimetres and put chopped up mozzarella around the rim and then pull the dough back over the mozzarella to form a stuffed crust. Yum.

Pizza sauce

If you’re in a hurry, you don’t need to make pizza sauce, you can just squeeze tomato purée onto your pizza base and spread it all over before adding your toppings.

But, if you want something a little tastier, here is a really great recipe:

Pizza sauce ingredients:

  • ½ tin tomatoes (or equivalent finely chopped fresh tomatoes)
  • small onion finely chopped
  • thrifty sustainability make Pizza do it yourself DIY pizza square toppings save money on takeaway food cheap

    Get creative! – who says a pizza has to be round

    2 garlic bulbs finely chopped

  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • tomato purée to thicken

How to make the pizza sauce:

1) Fry the onions and garlic until soft
2) Add the tomatoes, sugar and herbs
3) Heat through and simmer for 10 mins to thicken, or add tomato purée to thicken
4) Spread it all over the pizza base

Pizza Topping ideas…

  • mozzarella and spinach or rocket or fresh basil is delicious and simple
  • chopped onions, mushrooms and peppers with grated cheddar cheese and… yes… tinned anchovies!
  • cheddar, mozzarella and red Leicester cheese
  • tinned pineapple pieces with chopped up ham and cheddar cheese
  • mozzarella and pepperoni
  • slices of cooked sausage with red onion chutney and cheddar cheese
  • goats’ cheese with red onion chutney

Be creative with the toppings, this is your chance to put your own stamp on things.. make a pattern, write your name, make a smiley face, or create your own weird concoctions and flavours. No-one said a pizza had to be round..

Have a think about what other favourite takeaway meals you could make for yourself and save yourself a small fortune!

Enjoy!

Have you got a great pizza topping idea or recipe to share? Let everyone know in the comments section below…

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