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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DIY gift ideas homemade handmade presents inspriatoin thrifty save money

30 DIY gift ideas

Making & DIY, Sustainability, Thrifty

Christmas is coming, which can be an expensive time of year. Just because it is the season to spend, doesn’t mean you have to! Why not have a go at these thrifty, homemade, DIY gift ideas and save money whilst creating something beautiful.

If the slideshow above is not displaying correctly for you, you can visit it directly here: 30 DIY Gift Ideas slideshow

Enjoy clicking through the 30 DIY gift ideas in the slide show above, for some homemade gift inspiration.

Why make DIY gifts?

Making your own DIY gifts can be a fun and creative project. There is something quite satisfactory about making something yourself. Not only is it good for saving money, it’s also great for your self-esteem! So, go on, have a go!

Repurposing materials that you already have, will save you from buying something new. If we can make what we need, out of what we already have lying around.. we have another way to help the environment by living sustainably.

Getting into a thrifty mindset, it is a good idea to make and prepare DIY Gifts all year round. Why not create a little stockpile of beautifully-made, special presents – ready to give to your loved ones, family and friends.

DIY gift ideas christmas chutney yummy tomato apple diy home made gift gifts thrifty sustainability making relish

Homemade Christmas chutney

Making your own gifts can also save you a small fortune at Christmas. Because of advertising and media pressure, we can get swept up in the commercialism of Christmas and of gift-giving. It’s easy to believe that the more you spend on a present, the more the recipient will feel loved. The truth is, the more thought and time you put into a present, the more your friends and family will KNOW they are loved.

Why not have a go at making some of the DIY gift ideas, in the slide show above, this year. You will probably decide to make homemade presents every year, once you realise how enjoyable it can be. A friend might like to join you for a gift-making evening or perhaps a family craft day might be fun.

Finally, some of the DIY gift ideas show recipes and how-to guides, that have been featured in previous blog articles. Below you will find links to those related articles.

Making and DIY gift ideas:

Sloe Gin, Toffee Vodka, Tomato & Apple Chutney, Caramalised red onion & chilli chutneyDandelion Jam, 3D embellished glass jars, Upcycle inspiration & ideas

 

Enjoy making beautiful homemade gifts this year and please do post any DIY gift ideas that you have in the comments section below.

 

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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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toffee vodka homemade recipe gift idea alcohol

Make it: Homemade Toffee Vodka

Making & DIY, Thrifty

This is a really easy recipe that will produce delicious homemade toffee vodka.

toffee vodka homemade recipe gift idea alcohol

Decorated bottles of delicious toffee vodka

You could make a batch as home-made gifts. Getting into a thrifty mindset, it is a great idea to make and prepare DIY Gifts all year round. Have a little stockpile of beautifully-made, special presents, ready to give loved ones, family and friends. Making your own gifts can also save you a small fortune at Christmas.

It’s easy to believe that the more you spend on a present, the more the recipient will feel loved. The truth is, the more thought and time you put into a present, the more the recipient will KNOW they are loved.

Why not put even more thought into the gift by personalising and decorating the labels for each bottle. You could even decorate the bottles with 3D Embellishing paste – as in this previous article: 3D embellished glass jars

You will need

First off you will need clean, sterilised, small glass bottles with screw top or stoppered lids. You can shop around kitchen stores or supermarkets during the sales to find cheap, empty, glass bottles.

You can save even more money by recycling your empty small glass bottles. Supermarkets sell small wine bottles that you can re-use once you’ve enjoyed the contents.. or try using empty soy-sauce or vinegar bottles.

To recycle your own bottles, ensure you wash each bottle and lid thoroughly.  When you have a good stash, sterilise in bulk, all the bottles and lids using sterilising solution. You can buy a pot of sterilising powder for under £2 which will make a few batches of sterilising solution – available from anywhere that sells home-brewing equipment, or here is one from Amazon – VWP Cleanser and sterilser – 100g

 

toffee vodka recipe homemade gift idea alcohol

Making this Toffee vodka is easy and it is ready within days!

Toffee vodka recipe

Ingredients

  • 300g bag of toffee or butterscotch such as Werthers Original
  • 1.5 litres of vodka (two 75cl bottles)

Method

  1. Remove all wrappers and packaging from the toffee and smash it all up into tiny bits with a rolling-pin. If you have a coffee grinder or sturdy food processor, you can use these appliances to get the desired ‘smithereens’ result
  2. If you have two 75cl bottles of vodka, pour about a third of each bottle into a sterilised empty third bottle
  3. Divide the smashed up toffee into three piles and add a pile to each bottle using a funnel
  4. Screw the lids onto each bottle nice and tightly and give each bottle a really good shake
  5. You can now leave the bottles for about two days. Shake the bottles a few times a day, to help the toffee to dissolve into the vodka
  6. After a couple of days the toffee will have completely dissolved. You will have created a creamy and delicious toffee vodka
  7. You can keep the three big bottles as they are, or pour the toffee vodka into smaller gift-sized bottles. You can choose to filter the vodka through a coffee filter at this point if you wish, it can make the vodka taste a little smoother.
  8. Screw the lids tightly on the smaller gift-sized bottles and decorate away

What to do with your toffee vodka

  • This toffee vodka is best served chilled straight from the fridge, or over ice. If it’s too strong, you can add it to milk or coffee to drink it. It’s also delicious poured over ice cream!
  • This toffee vodka should be stored in a cool dark place and will keep for years.. but you know it won’t have a chance to last that long!
  • You can experiment with the amount and types of toffee that you use. Try mixing different types of toffee or butterscotch to make your own special flavour
  • Get creative if you are making little bottles of toffee vodka as gifts, maybe tie a ribbon around the neck. You could decorate the label with glitter, use 3D embelishing paste on the glass, or perhaps tie a parcel label around the neck and write ‘Drink Me’ on it

Enjoy, drink responsibly and get used to being incredibly popular – as you start to give bottles of home-made alcohol as gifts!

You might enjoy these related homemade alcohol recipes…

Home Brew: Elderflower Champagne

Make it: Sloe Gin

 

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chutney recipe jars of caramelised red onion and chilli chutney homemade gift idea

Make it: Caramelised red onion & chilli chutney

Making & DIY, Thrifty

Caramelised red onion and chilli chutney is a great recipe to make this autumn. Once the chutney is sealed in the jars, it will have time to mature to be extra delicious just in time for Christmas.chutney recipe jars of caramelised red onion and chilli chutney homemade gift idea

Getting into a thrifty mindset, it is a great idea to make and prepare DIY Gifts all year round. Have a little stockpile of beautifully-made, special presents, ready to give to your loved ones, family and friends. Making your own gifts can also save you a small fortune at Christmas. It’s easy to believe that the more you spend on a present, the more the recipient will feel loved. The truth is, the more thought and time you put into a present, the more the recipient will KNOW they are loved.

With this gift idea you can put even more thought into the design by personalising and decorating the labels that you stick on each jar.

You will need:

First off you will need clean, sterilised, glass jars with lids. You can shop around kitchen stores or supermarkets during the sales to find cheap, empty jam and preserve jars. You could save even more money by recycling your empty jam and chutney jars.

To recycle your own jars, ensure you wash each jar and lid thoroughly. Then, when you have a good stash, sterilise in bulk, all the jars and lids using sterilising solution. You can buy a pot of sterilising powder for under £2 which will make a few batches of sterilising solution. Available from anywhere that sells home-brewing equipment, or on Amazon – VWP Cleanser and sterilser – 100g

 

Caramelised red onion & chilli chutney recipe:

(this makes about 3 jars so just double up if you’d like to make more)

Ingredients

10/11 red onions (peeled)chutney recipe caramelised red onion chilli chutney homemade gift
1 red chilli  (de-seeded) or 1 tsp of dried chilli flakes
3 bay leaves
25ml olive oil
350g dark muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar
100ml balsamic vinegar
100ml red wine vinegar
2tsp ground ginger
A good sprinkle of salt and pepper

Method
  1. Cut onions and chilli into short strips and place into a large, heavy-based saucepan with the olive oil and bay leaves. Cook on a low heat for 20 mins, stirring occasionally until the onions are darker.
  2. Next, stir in the sugar, both vinegars, ginger, salt and pepper.
  3. Cook on a medium-high heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is very thick, dark and sticky. You can check if the chutney is ready by taking half a teaspoon of the mixture and popping it in the fridge for 5 mins to see if it is thicker when cool.
  4. Once ready, remove saucepan from heat and take out the bay leaves.
  5. Spoon the chutney, whilst still a little warm, into the sterilised jars. At this stage you can add a piece of cling film over the top of the chutney if you like, to help it to keep for longer.
  6. Finally, seal the jars tightly with their lids and add your own labels. The chutney will mature and the flavours will deepen if you can leave it sealed in the jar for a month or two before opening and enjoying.

You can leave the chutney, sealed in its jar, for a year or two in a cool dark store cupboard – it will still be safe to eat. Once opened, keep refrigerated and the chutney will be fine to eat for a good few months… if it lasts that long!

How to thicken runny chutney

Making chutney is not an exact science and sometimes it can take ages to thicken. The runnyness is due to how much liquid is in the onions that you used and there is nothing you can do other than wait it out.

As you simmer your mixture, the liquid evaporating is what makes the chutney thicker, so keep it simmering and eventually it will thicken.

If you would like to speed up the process, transfer your mixture to a couple of wide-based pans – an increased surface area of the mixture will allow for more evaporation.

Decorating your jars of yummy chutney

There are lots of ways to make the label that you put on your chutney special…

  • You could personalise each jar by writing the name of the recipient
  • You could draw a picture of the ingredients on the label
  • You could write serving suggestions, such as: Great with Sausages, Cheese and in Christmas Sandwiches!
  • You could add the date that the chutney was made
  • You could add 3D embellishing paste to the jars as in this previous article: Make it: DIY gift ideas – 3D embellished glass jars
  • You could add stickers, glitter, whatever… get creative!
If you’re a complete chutney nut, you can, of course, keep the whole batch for yourself and scoff the lot! Enjoy!

 

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solar power solar panels powered energy save saving sustainability sun sustainable

Using Solar Power – save money and live sustainably

Sustainability, Thrifty

Solar power is an important natural resource that we can use more often, as we embrace a thrifty and sustainable lifestyle.

solar power solar panels powered energy save saving sustainability sun sustainable

Solar Panels absorbing the sun’s energy

You don’t need to know a lot about solar energy to make the most of it and you don’t need to spend a fortune. There are solar panels for every budget – they sell them in Poundland (yes, they cost £1).

The sun’s energy is unlimited and free to use. Did you know that the amount of solar energy that hits Earth in one hour, is equal to the amount of energy used in one year by our entire planet!

Imagine if we could get better at harnessing all that free, environmentally-friendly energy. We could be using it to power all of our gadgets, to heat our homes, or to fuel our cars. Things would be very different, bills would be much cheaper and our planet would have a healthier environment for longer.

Turning sunshine into electricity

We can collect some of the sun’s energy using PV (Photovoltaic) cells. PV cells allow the photons of light in sunshine, to excite the electrons in the PV cell and cause them to flow – which generates electricity. PV solar panels are the ones that you see used all over the world to help to power homes and communities, they also help to power street lamps and parking meters. Lots of the surplus electricity created by PV solar panels is fed back into the national electricity grid for everybody to use.

Solar panels will soon be much cheaper

There are new developments in solar panel technology which will increase the effectiveness of the panels and also make the panels much cheaper – which is fantastic news.

An Australian company called Dyesol are developing a new version, the Perovskite Solar Cell, which should be available commercially from 2017.

If you would like to read more about this technology, Wikipedia do a great job of explaining it all here: Perovskite Solar Cells

Making money from Solar Panels

You may have noticed that more and more houses in your local area (with a south-facing roof) have solar panels.

roofs with solar panels solar power sustainability energy saving alternative

Households making use of free solar power

These lucky homeowners will not only be benefiting from free, sustainable electricity but they are also able to sell any surplus electricity back to the national grid, for a nice chunk of extra income each year.

The initial set-up can be expensive (£5,000 – £8,000), although there are government schemes in place to help with the cost. Solar Panels should be considered as a long-term investment.

The government have recently reduced the amount of money that you can make by selling your surplus electricity in the UK, but let’s all hope that they see sense and make alternative energy an attractive option for everyone.

There is a really good Money Saving Expert article about making money from Solar Panels here: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/free-solar-panels

Also, Which have a great overall guide which breaks down different Solar Panel options: http://www.which.co.uk/energy/creating-an-energy-saving-home/guides/how-to-buy-solar-panels/

If solar panels on your roof are not an option, why not look into all the other ways that you can use solar power to save money on your energy bill.

Solar Power in the home

There are many ways to use the sun to create free electricity in your home, each way will save you money in the long run and will help the environment. Why not search the internet for a solar-powered phone charger, tablet charger or a laptop charger. Use solar-powered fairy lights around your window or use solar panel garden lamps. There are a few suggestions at the bottom of this post.

For a very simple way to use the sun’s energy instead of paying for electricity… dry your wet clothes outside in the sunshine, instead of using a tumble dryer.

Sun oven

Solar power cake in a solar oven sun energy solar power powered cooking

Baking a cake in a solar oven

If you fancy a DIY project with a difference, why not have a go at creating a sun oven – a way to cook food using the power of the sun. This is definitely a project for a hot and sunny day!

Here are the step-by-step instructions: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-and-Use-a-Solar-Oven

There are so many ways to use the sun to save money on your energy bill and to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Why not google ‘using solar energy’ or ‘solar power’ or ‘renewable energy’ or ‘alternative energy in the home’ to get more inspiration.

Please feel free to share your solar-powered or alternative energy tips in the comments section below.

 

How will you start using solar power?

Solar powered fairy lights for garden outdoors lighting Solar power motion security sensor light Solar power phone charger laptop charger solar panel devices charge solar power phone charger portable charger
Solar power off grid lighting solution solar panel lighting Solar power garden lights pack of six solar panel lights solar powered fan and desk light solar panel lighting

 

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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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Repair Cafe by Ilvy Njiokiktjien Creative Commons-CC BY-SA 3.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=24316530

What is a Repair Cafe? – Sustainable skills

Free, Making & DIY, Sustainability, Thrifty

What is a Repair Cafe?

A repair cafe is a free meeting place, where people can bring along broken possessions to be fixed by a group of local volunteers. The volunteers have experience in repairing all kinds of items from furniture, clothes and bikes to electrical goods.

Repair Cafe by Ilvy Njiokiktjien - CC BY-SA 3.0 - Regeneration Cafe sustainable skills fixing DIY mending Repairing

Learning how to repair brings communities together

Repair cafes encourage communities to reduce waste and save money by maintaining and repairing, rather than throwing stuff away and buying new.

Many repair cafe initiatives also encourage visitors to work side-by-side with the volunteers to learn how to repair their own possessions. The idea being that the visitor can fix it themselves next time and teach others to do the same, passing on the knowledge and the learning of basic repair jobs.

Repair cafes have lots of useful tools and materials provided and, as well as encouraging a sustainable and thrifty perspective, it is a great way for  communities to get together, over a cuppa, and strengthen bonds.

Why repair?

Lots of items are thrown away needlessly every day, these items are often easily repaired. Sometimes people don’t realise that the item could be repaired, or it may be that the knowledge of how to repair the item has been lost.

By RaMa2016 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46595423 Repair Cafe Repairing sustainable thrifty

Save money – repair rather than replace

Learning how to repair an item yourself is not only a great way to save money and help the environment, but you also gain a real sense of achievement and self-esteem, as you apply a newly learned practical skill to fix your item.

When things are used for longer and are not thrown away, it reduces the amount of raw materials and resources needed to make new items. For example, harmful CO2 emissions are reduced and the energy that it would take to create, transport and sell a new product is saved.

As well as resident repair experts, lots of repair cafes also have books and leaflets available, which detail DIY repairs and tips.

 

A Repair Cafe in Cheltenham

This post has been inspired by the Regeneration Cafe which launches in Cheltenham on Saturday 7th March. Vision 21, University of Gloucestershire Product Design staff and students and the Gloucestershire Joint Waste Team are launching a monthly repair cafe in Cheltenham.

If you live in Cheltenham or nearby, why not pop along to support this fantastic initiative. Do you have something that needs fixing? Do you have skills or repair knowledge that might come in handy? Want to learn more about the project? Why not pop in, all are most welcome.

Launch Event:

The Regeneration Cafe – Saturday 7th May 2016 – 10am – 12.30pm
St Andrews URC, Montpellier Street, Cheltenham GL50 1SP.

For further details about this launch event: https://www.facebook.com/events/972253176162377/

 

Why not get in touch with your local council, or search on Google, to see if there is a repair cafe near you. If there isn’t one… you could start one!

Do you have details of your local repair cafe? Please feel free to share them in the comments section below

 

 

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Dandelion jam jelly honey make home-made thrifty sustainability gift present DIY

Make it: Dandelion Jam

Making & DIY, Thrifty

Dandelion Jam is a really unusual, but delicious treat. It is unlikely to be in your local supermarket or even your local farm shop. The fact that it is hard to Dandelion jam jelly honey make home-made thrifty sustainability gift present DIYget hold of makes this jam a brilliant home-made gift for friends.

Try Dandelion Jam on toast or scones, pair it with cream cheese, use it as a glaze or salad dressing… think of how you might use honey and try using Dandelion Jam instead. It’s tasty!

Getting into a thrifty mindset, it is a good idea to make and prepare DIY Gifts all year round so that you have a little stockpile of beautifully-made, special presents – ready to give to your loved ones, family and friends. With this gift idea you can put even more thought into the design by personalising and decorating the labels that you stick on each jar.

Foraging Dandelions

Dandelion jam jelly honey make home-made thrifty sustainability gift present DIY dandelions

Dandelions flower in the Spring and in Autumn too, so you have two chances to forage for this recipe.

When picking your Dandelion flowers, make sure that you are picking them from an area that has not been sprayed with weed killers or insecticides, you don’t want that stuff in your yummy jam.

If you pick too many dandelions, you can freeze the leftover flowers for a later date.

You will need:

First off you will need clean, sterilised, glass jars with lids. You can shop around kitchen stores or supermarkets during the sales to find cheap, empty jam and preserve jars, or you can save even more money by recycling your empty jam and chutney jars.

To recycle your own jars, ensure you wash each jar and lid thoroughly then when you have a good stash, sterilise in bulk, all the jars and lids using sterilising solution. You can buy a pot of sterilising powder for under £2 which will make a few batches of sterilising solution – available from anywhere that sells home-brewing equipment, or here is one from Amazon – VWP Cleanser and sterilser – 100g

 

Dandelion Jam Recipe

Ingredients:
  • 300 yellow dandelion flower heads
  • 1kg sugar
  • 1000 ml water (about a pint and 3/4)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1x sachet of fruit pectin – or if you have a box of pectin powder follow
    instructions on the box (you can add more pectin for a thicker jam)
Method:

Dandelion jam jelly honey make home-made thrifty sustainability gift present DIY dandelions

  1. Wash the flower heads throughly in cold water
  2. Pluck or cut the yellow flower from the small green leaves that hold it, it’s ok if a few small green bits are still in the mix, but ideally you just want the yellow flower for this jam. The small green leaves have a bitter taste and can turn the jam a light green, so it is worth the extra effort. Prepare yourself for sticky yellow fingers during this bit
  3. Mix water with sugar and bring to boil in a pan
  4. Add the flower heads to the mix, Bring to the boil and simmer for 20mins
  5. 2-3 mins before the 20mins is up add the lemon juice
  6. Remove pan from heat and allow to stand for 24hrs
  7. Dandelion jam jelly honey make home-made thrifty sustainability gift present DIYPour mixture through a sieve into a new pan to remove the flower heads (you can leave some of the petals in the mix if you like, they are edible and look really great in the finished jam – a bit like yellow marmalade)
  8. Simmer mixture on a low heat for 20 mins
  9. Add pectin 3-4 mins before the end, bring to boil and then boil for a further 5 mins
  10. When finished, you should have a clear yellowish jam that smells like honey and tastes absolutely delicious! Pour the warm jam into warm, sterilised, dry jam jars. Pop on the lids, then label and date

If you would prefer to make dandelion syrup, just leave out the pectin.

 

Did you know?
  • Dandelion flowers have antioxidant properties
  • Don’t waste the Dandelion greens either, they can be eaten raw as salad or cooked like spinach. Dandelion greens contain vitamins A, B and C, along with potassium and iron

 

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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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lemon lemons healthy thrifty cheap versatile sustainable saving money

Lemons – multi-talented, powerful… cheap!

Making & DIY, Sustainability, Thrifty
lemon lemons healthy thrifty cheap versatile sustainable saving money

Lemons – not just for gin!

Lemons, often only chosen in the supermarket as a companion to gin & tonic or perhaps for squeezing over a piece of fish, but this cheeky little fruit has so much more to offer as you embrace a thrifty and sustainable lifestyle.

Ahh, the humble lemon, look closer and you will discover, not only that it is cheap and tasty, but that it has many other uses for the house, garden, health, beauty and cleaning, uses that can save you money whilst helping the environment.

A few ideas for using lemons

spray bottle lemon cleaner thrifty sustainable cheap save money clean
Air freshener –
mix equal amounts of water and lemon juice into a spray bottle. You can re-use the bottle as many times as you like and the spray will last for ages. The lemon smell is fresh, disguises odours and you can rest assured that you will not be breathing in lots of the chemicals that you find in regular air fresheners. Not only does this air freshener only cost pence but it also cuts down on the amount of aerosols and packaging that you may use – this helps the environment.

 

Sink/bath cleaner – Lemons are a natural bleaching agent and can dissolve soap scum and limescale on baths and sinks. As the acidic lemon is also antibacterial and antiseptic, it disinfects as it cleans too! You can apply neat lemon juice on problem areas, using a sponge, leave for a few hours and then rinse off. If it’s only a light scum, you only need to leave the lemon juice to do its lemony magic for 10mins.

 

All-purpose cleaner – If you want an amazing all-rounder, look no further than this powerful cleaning solution: Mix together some bicarbonate of soda with lemon juice and some warm water to make a paste. This powerful cleaning paste will clean the oven, hob, microwave… any tough, grimy, greasy, built-up, caked-in dirt. The bicarbonate of soda (also known as baking soda) is an abrasive, the lemon juice has fabulous de-greasing properties and together they are a force to be reckoned with! Rinse the surface well after using, to remove any of the powdery residue.

 

lemons lemon natural stain remover clean clothes thrifty sustainability sustainable effective

A natural, effective stain remover

Stain-remover – If you suffer from sweat stains on shirts or tops, mix together half lemon juice and half water and scrub the stain gently to remove the marks before putting the shirt or top in the wash. This will also work for stains caused by fruit juice, tea, ink etc… if it’s a really bad stain, add a little salt into the mix as an abrasive. You can also add lemon juice to your wash if you are washing white clothes as the slight, natural bleaching properties of the lemon will keep your whites whiter for longer… at a fraction of the price of the branded whiteners… and using zero harmful chemicals.

 

Disinfectant – Pour the juice of a couple of lemons down the kitchen or bathroom sinks or drains to disinfect them and to remove odours. You can also spray a mix of lemon juice and water over kitchen work surfaces as the lemon has antibacterial and antiseptic properties that will keep your kitchen germ-free. The lemonine in the lemon is also toxic to insects so will help to keep flies from having a fly party in your food preparation area.

 

Natural insect deterrent – If you want to keep insects away from your plants, or from entering your home. Try leaving strips of lemon peel dotted around as insects can’t stand the smell of lemon. Try squeezing lots of lemon juice onto doorsteps or windowsills to keep insects at bay. Ants, flies, fleas and cockroaches all hate the smell of lemon.

 

natural weed killer lemon juice thrifty sustainable environmentally friendly

A natural weed killer

Natural weed killer – Soil becomes polluted with the harmful chemicals used in commercial weed-killers. Why not try using lemon juice directly on the weeds instead. Pouring lemon juice between paving cracks will prevent the weeds from growing. It’s a much cheaper solution and much kinder to our environment.

 

Skincare – Fill a bowl with boiling hot water, add the peel of half a lemon, put your head over the bowl, put a towel over your head to cover your head and the bowl, and allow the steam from the bowl to cover and clean your face. The lemony steam will help to clean out pores at a very deep level. This is especially good for greasy skin. It feels amazingly fresh and energising too. Afterwards you can tone the skin and close the pores by dabbing a mix of two parts cold water to one part lemon juice on the skin and allowing it to dry naturally, then wash off with tap water. You can even apply sliced lemons directly to the face as lemon acids are smoothing and moisturising for even the driest skin types. Lemons – Who knew?!

 

lemons lemon juice hair rinse haircare healthy shiny cheap thrifty sustainability

Shiny, healthy, natural haircare

Haircare – To treat damaged hair or to give healthy hair a fantastic shine: Rinse hair with water and the juice of half a lemon. The lemon juice cleans out any residual soaps or shampoos, encourages natural proteins in the hair which can repair hair damage and creates fatty acids which give your hair a natural shine. All for the cost of half a lemon!

 

lemon juice in water hangover cure thrifty health healthy vitamin c

A hangover cure! – You’re welcome

Health – Lemons are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin C encourages the body to make collagen. Having lemons in your daily diet will help your body to repair muscles and skin and will help you to enjoy the humble lemon’s amazing anti-ageing properties. Lemon can also help reduce the amount of cholesterol that we take in from food.

 

Hangover prevention – If you’ve had a heavy night of drinking and suffer from hangovers, try drinking a glass of water with the juice of a lemon squeezed into it before you go to bed… the lemon will help the liver to process the alcohol and will give you a dose of Vitamin C at the same time… you will have a much better time when you wake up – you’re welcome!

 

There are hundreds of similarly amazing uses for lemons and you can discover more by google-ing ‘household uses for lemons’ ‘uses for lemons’ ‘lemon uses’ ‘lemon benefits’ etc

You can, of course, also use the lemon in lots of delicious recipes such as lemon drizzle cake, lemon cheesecake or lemon and ginger tea.

If you discover a great use for lemons, please let us know in the comments section below.
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learn for free education e-learning thrifty saving money sustainability university

Free education – learn for free

Free, Sustainability, Thrifty

Reasons to learn for free

What will inspire you to learn for free? Here are just a few suggestions:

    • If you are unemployed and want to make your CV stand out from the crowd – taking a free online course will give you an edge, it will make employers notice you. It will also boost your self-esteem as you realise how much you are capable of
learn for free education e-learning thrifty saving money sustainability university

Add valuable skills to your CV for free

  • If you are employed but looking to develop your career, get a promotion or pay rise, taking a free online course will give you new skills, experience and ideas. Your employer will take your new skills and qualifications into account should you approach them for a promotion, or improved salary
  • If you are employed but feel that you have chosen the wrong profession, if you are unhappy or think that there is something else that you would be better suited for… why not browse the thousands of free online courses to see if there is something you could learn which would inspire you, give your life purpose and start you in an exciting new direction. For example, below are links to free courses which cover sustainability and the environment
  • If you are retired but would like a project – learn for free! Keep your busy and hungry brain fed with fascinating information from all over the world. Take a course with a friend or a group of friends. As an example, you could take a foreign language introduction course, or a course about a country’s culture and then visit that country
  • University education in parts of the UK now costs thousands of pounds. Many can no longer afford to go. You can get the same quality of education online for free and save yourself a fortune in student accommodation bills too. You can learn from home, and in your pajamas if you feel like it. Many of the free courses offer certificates of the qualification at the end of the course. All further education will help you to find your place in the world
  • Here’s a crazy idea… Learn for fun! It’s free and there is a whole world of information out there just waiting for you. Cut out an hour of TV each night and learn in that hour instead. Learning something new can expand your horizons, open your mind to new possibilities and introduce you to new circles of friends who share similar interests. You may also find yourself extremely popular when there is a pub quiz

 

Places where online learning is free

learn for free education e-learning thrifty save money sustainability

What will you choose to learn about for free?

You do not need spend lots of money to get a great quality education. There are many resources available online for anyone who would like to learn for free. Take a look through the thousands of courses available from the suggestions below, or try google-ing ‘free education online’ or ‘free university courses online’ etc for many more choices.

http://www.open.edu/openlearn/free-courses
The Open University provide hundreds of their courses for free. All can be done completely online. Some of their popular free courses include:

  • introduction to bookkeeping and accounting
  • managing my money
  • start writing fiction
  • introduction to cyber security
  • forensic psychology

    globe world sustainability education sustainable learning for free thrifty

    You could learn about sustainability

If you are interested in sustainability and the environment, here is a link to the Open University’s free Environment & Sustainability courses.

 

https://alison.com/
Scroll down on the Alison home page to the popular free courses section. Courses are completely free and can be done online. Popular free courses include:

  • Diploma in Psychology
  • Diploma of Business Management and Entrepreneurship
  • Diploma in Project Management
  • Diploma in Workplace safety and health
  • Diploma in Operations Management
  • Diploma in Human Resources

 

http://www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses
Open Culture give you access to 1,150 free online courses from the world’s leading universities – lots of video and podcast lectures available for bite-sized learning too. A chance to enjoy a university-standard, free education. All online, all free. This site also has a wealth of free text books and audio books available to support your learning.

 

https://www.apple.com/uk/support/itunes-u/using/
iTunes U is an Apple iTunes application which allows the world’s leading universities to provide some of their courses completely free online. There are also many free video and podcast lectures and presentations to dip in and out of. Using the information in the link above, you need to download the iTunes U application to your computer (pc & mac are supported as are ipads) then just browse the wealth of free learning opportunities. Universities that contribute include: Oxford, Harvard, Yale and MIT.

Happy learning! If you have found a really great free learning resource, please feel free to add it in the comments section below

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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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christmas chutney yummy tomato apple diy home made gift gifts thrifty sustainability making relish

Make it for Christmas: Tomato & Apple Chutney

Making & DIY, Thrifty

Tomato & Apple Chutney is a great recipe to have a go at in October/early November as the fruits are in season and once the chutney is sealed in the jars, it will have time to mature to be extra-delicious just in time for Christmas.

tomatoes tomato apple chutney chutny pickle pickles home made preserve thrifty sustainability cheap foodGetting into a thrifty mindset, it is a good idea to make and prepare DIY Gifts all year round so that you have a little stockpile of beautifully-made, special presents – ready to give to your loved ones, family and friends. Making your own gifts can also save you a small fortune at Christmas. If you get swept up in the commercialism of Christmas and of gift-giving, it’s easy to believe that the more you spend on a present, the more the recipient will feel loved. The truth is, the more thought and time you put into a present, the more the recipient will KNOW they are loved.

With this gift idea you can put even more thought into the design by personalising and decorating the labels that you stick on each jar.

Making your own gifts can save you a small fortune at Christmas!

You will need:

First off you will need clean, sterilised, glass jars with lids. You can shop around kitchen stores or supermarkets during the sales to find cheap, empty jam and preserve jars, or you can save even more money by recycling your empty jam and chutney jars.

To recycle your own jars, ensure you wash each jar and lid thoroughly then when you have a good stash, sterilise in bulk, all the jars and lids using sterilising solution. You can buy a pot of sterilising powder for under £2 which will make a few batches of sterilising solution – available from anywhere that sells home-brewing equipment, or here is one from Amazon – VWP Cleanser and sterilser – 100g


Tomato & Apple Chutney Recipe:

(Makes about 6 jars)

Ingredients

  • christmas chutney tomato apple diy home made gift gifts thrifty sustainability making relish450g (1lb) Apples – finely chopped (do not use the core)
  • 450g (1lb) Onions – finely chopped (do not use the peel/skin)
  • 1kg ( 2lb 3oz) Firm, ripe tomatoes – finely chopped
  • 300g (10 ½ oz) Sultanas
  • 450ml (16 fl oz) Vinegar
  • 350g Brown Sugar
  • 1tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1tsp Cinnamon
  • 1tsp Nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

christmas chutney tomato apple diy home made gift gifts thrifty sustainability making relish make

  1. Put all of the ingredients apart from the sultanas, sugar, salt and pepper into a large, heavy-based saucepan – there is no need to add cooking oil. Bring the ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 30 mins, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thicker
  2. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in the sugar, sultanas, salt and pepper
  3. Put saucepan back on a low heat, increase heat to bring the mixture back to a simmer and simmer for a further 30 mins – 2hrs until the mixture is very thick
  4. Remove saucepan from heat and spoon, whilst still warm, into the sterilised jars. Seal the jars and add your own labels – you can add a square of clingfilm across the top of the chutney before you screw on the lid if you wish to help it to keep longer

Storing the chutney

The chutney will mature and the flavours will deepen if you can leave it sealed in the jar for a month or two before opening and enjoying. You can leave the chutney, sealed in its jar, for a year or two in a cool dark store cupboard – it will still be safe to eat. Once opened, keep refrigerated and the chutney will be fine to eat for a good few months… if it lasts that long!

How to thicken runny chutney

Making chutney is not an exact science and sometimes it can take ages to thicken. The runnyness is due to how much liquid was in the fruit that you used and there is nothing you can do other than wait it out.

As you simmer your mixture, the liquid from the fruit evaporating is what makes the chutney thicker, so keep it simmering and eventually it will thicken.

If you would like to speed up the process, transfer your mixture to a couple of wide-based pans – an increased surface area of the mixture will allow for more evaporation.

christmas chutney yummy tomato apple diy home made gift gifts thrifty sustainability making relishDecorating your jars of yummy chutney

There are lots of ways to make the label that you put on your chutney special…

  • You could personalise each jar by writing the name of the recipient
  • You could draw a picture of the ingredients on the label
  • You could write serving suggestions, such as: Great with Sausages, Cheese and in Christmas Sandwiches!
  • You could add the date that the chutney was made
  • You could add stickers, glitter, whatever… get creative!


If you’re a complete chutney nut, you can, of course, keep the whole batch for yourself and scoff the lot! Enjoy!

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