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!


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


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.


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


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.

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.


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.


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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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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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:

Also, Which have a great overall guide which breaks down different Solar Panel options:

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:

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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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, 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:


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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upcycle upcycling reuse repurpose reusing repurposing recycle recycling sustainability slideshow presentation

Upcycle, reuse & repurpose – Inspirational ideas

Making & DIY, Sustainability

Upcycle, reuse and repurpose unwanted items. Make the most of your rubbish and maybe even make something beautiful.

Take a look at these weird and wonderful ideas. Hopefully they will inspire you and help you to look at your rubbish in a whole new light.

Just click through each slide using the yellow boxes at the bottom of the pictures, or by clicking on the actual pictures. Enjoy!

Upcycling – by – Created with Haiku Deck

Why Upcycle?

Upcycling unwanted materials helps our environment, one repurposed item at a time. Creating something from our waste will save that waste from going into a landfill site. It will save the energy and transportation that would have been used to process the waste.

Repurposing can also save us from buying something new, if we can make what we need, out of what we already have lying around… we can save money as well as live sustainably.

Upcycled items can also make fantastic gifts, just take a look through the slides above for some great thrifty and sustainable DIY gift ideas. Or take a look at this previous post for another upcycling idea: DIY gift idea

Some of the most inspirational upcycling ideas are those which use our rubbish to create something beautiful and that puts something in the world that will cheer people up a little when they see it. That’s got to be worth the effort!

What will you upcycle? Do you have any upcycling ideas? Please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Happy Upcycling!
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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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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
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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

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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.
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

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    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.
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
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.
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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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.


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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Why are carrier bags 5p now? – Explanation & alternatives to save you money

Sustainability, Thrifty

You have probably noticed by now, that most shops in the UK are charging 5p per carrier bag at the checkouts. It’s caused some confusion and has caused more than a few cross words over the last couple of weeks, at tills across the country. Lets take a look at why carrier bags now cost you money, and the thinking behind this new cost.

Why shops started to charge 5p per carrier bag:

On the 5th October 2015 the Law in the UK changed making it compulsory for larger shops to charge for every ‘single use’ carrier bag. This law affects all of the shops and supermarket chains with over 250 employees. This law does not affect the smaller shops at the moment, but they can choose to charge 5p per bag as well, if they wish to, on a voluntary basis.

When carrier bags are free:
Some items are allowed a free carrier bag, often due to health and safety reasons. Free carrier bag items are as follows: unwrapped food, raw meat and fish where there is a food safety risk, prescription medicines, uncovered blades, seeds, bulbs and flowers, or live fish.

You can read the full terms and conditions set out for retailers on this government web page about the carrier bag charge.

Landfill land fill environment eco friendly sustainable carrier bags carrier bag charge 5p sustainability

61,000 tonnes of carrier bag waste in 2014

Why the government want us to re-use or use less carrier bags:
Single use carrier bags cause lots and lots of litter (at least 61,000 tonnes of litter in 2014). Because they are currently thought of as quite a disposable item, many are thrown away in the rubbish bin, or discarded in the street, the average person uses 140 single use carrier bags per year! UK landfills are full of all of our old carrier bags. As well as causing lots of litter, discarded carrier bags are dangerous and destructive for wildlife in the town and country. And, lets face it, tumble-weed carrier bags blowing in the breeze are not such a pretty sight.

Reducing the amount of ‘single use’ carrier bags will really help our environment and ensure that our shopping habits are as sustainable as possible in the long term.

Where does the money go:
The 5p charge is not a government tax and they do not get the money raised from the carrier bags. The money goes to the supermarkets and shops directly, the shops have to keep track of their carrier bag income and it is hoped that the majority will put the 5p charge to good causes and charities. The 5p charge is already in place in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The charge in Wales has, so far, generated millions of pounds for good causes, so the government’s hopes were well-placed.

The government estimate that the 5p charge will have the following benefits over the next 10 years:

  • an expected overall benefit of over £780 million to the UK economy
  • up to £730 million raised for good causes
  • £60 million savings in litter clean-up costs
  • carbon savings of £13 million

You can read a full breakdown of the government’s explanation for the 5p carrier bag charge on their website.

Alternatives to carrier bags:

Shopping bags eco friendly sustainable recycled materiel weave carrier bags carrier bag charge 5p sustainability

Recycled material shopping bags

I’m sure that we’ve all seen some interesting, creative alternatives for carrier bags over the last couple of weeks. As a few irate customers discover the 5p charge at the checkout and decide not to pay it, they invent new ways to carry their shopping home.

Some of the funnier scenes have included an angry chap in Iceland turning up the bottom of his jumper to make a kind of bulky kangaroo pouch to pile his shopping into – A few pedantic patrons marching out of supermarkets with arms full of shopping balanced here there and everywhere, apart from in a carrier bag. Some supermarkets have even trained their till staff to resolve the arguments that the 5p charge might provoke.

Save yourself from feeling miffed, save a stranger from feeling miffed – carry these alternatives to the carrier bag around with you…

    • Bag for Life – often costs 10p-£1 at the checkout, is supermarket branded, thicker and much sturdier than a ‘single use’ carrier bag and lasts for lots of shopping trips and often the supermarket will replace a worn out bag with a new one for free! This saves you lots of money in the long run
    • A fabric tote bag, made from recycled material – they fold, or roll up, small enough to fit into a handbag or pocket, and they are very strong
    • If you have driven to the supermarket – re-use a cardboard box to carry your groceries. Just pack loose shopping from the shopping trolley into the cardboard box in your car boot
    • Similarly, you could re-use stackable, plastic storage boxes from your home, keeping them in your car boot
    • Start wearing a backpack or carrying a large shoulder bag, such as a messenger bag
Shopping trolley cart eco friendly sustainable carrier bag carrier bags charge 5p sustainability

Shopping trolleys – not just for pensioners!

  • a small fabric shopping trolley with wheels. Once the favourite of pensioners across the UK, these useful carryalls are making a comeback for all ages, thanks to how much you can cram into them and the fact that you don’t need to carry the weight of the shopping – the wheels do that for you
  • A fold up, into a little pouch with a clip, fabric shopping bag – these can be found in any pound shop and in some charity shops and are usually water-resistant too
  • According to government research, the average household is supposed to have about 40 carrier bags stuffed around the house – Go through your cupboards at home and find all of those unloved old carrier bags that may be lurking. Grab a handful and keep them in your bag or pockets for reusing at the checkout. You could do a frustrated stranger a favour by ensuring you have enough for them also at the checkout.

Feel free to share your ideas for carrier bag alternatives, or amusing checkout stories, in the comments section below.


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carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability carrier bag environment eco-friendly save 5p sustainability

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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!

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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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Switch it off / Smarter use of energy

Sustainability, Thrifty
thrifty sustainability energy saving switch off standby appliance low energy sustainable cheap low cost

Don’t leave gadgets on standby, it wastes energy – switch them off when not in use

Did you know that appliances still eat up power when they’re on standby and every time you remember to switch them off, you save pennies on your electricity bill, which over the year will add up to pounds. If you are not using your TV, Laptop, Cooker, phone charger etc – don’t leave them plugged in and on standby with the little red light showing – switch them off or unplug them until you do need to use them.

The same goes for light bulbs, do you need every light in the house on if you are only using one room? For an added bonus, instead of using regular light bulbs, switch to energy-efficient light bulbs or LED lighting which drains less power, costing you less money and they’re better for the environment too. If you want to

thrifty sustainability energy saving lightbulb light bulb low energy sustainable cheap low cost

Energy saving light bulbs – conserve energy and save you money

get into super-thrifty mode, use all those candles that you’ve been given as gifts to light your home for a few nights – cosy ambience and zero energy cost.

You might like to consider your water usage, aside from a small cost saving when we reduce the amount of water that we use, we also help the environment by conserving our water. A few ways to reduce your water use… a quick shower rather than a fill a bath tub… don’t leave the tap running whilst brushing your teeth… if you have a garden that needs watering, consider getting a water-butt so that you can use the rainwater that is collected instead of tap water.

Heating the home is usually the largest chunk of our energy bill so this is where you can really save some money whilst reducing your carbon footprint. If you are feeling a bit nippy, rather than reach to turn up the thermostat or to put on an electric heater, why not add another layer of clothes, a hat and a pair of socks does wonders to keep you warm as does a onesie.. or add an extra blanket to your bed. Even if you just do this for a couple of hours before putting the heating on, over the year, you will save pounds. You will also be conserving energy.. another eco win! If you do need to have the heating on, try turning the thermostat down a little, and for the hot water too – again, this will save you money.

thrifty sustainability affordable saving energy bills save heating hat jumper conserve energy

Stay toasty! – Wear a hat and a jumper – to save money on your heating bills

Just as popping a hat on your head keeps you nice and toasty and keeps your body heat from escaping quite so quickly, you can insulate your home to ensure that heat (and the energy that you pay for) does not escape willy nilly. If you have a loft, lay down thick insulation up there (a nice warm hat for your home). Check windows and doors to ensure that no draughts are coming in, if they are this is where heat can escape, so apply foam insulation tape to plug the leaks or use draught excluders to reduce heat-loss in the home. It’s worth being thorough because every thing you do to reduce heat loss in the home will save you money when it comes to the heating bill, and every energy conservation step that you take will help the environment too.

If you have central heating and do not need to heat every room in the house, turn the radiator right down, or off, in those unused rooms. If you find you have a radiator positioned directly under a window, this can be pretty ineffective and a big energy-loss. If this radiator is being used, close the curtains and tuck them in behind the radiator to push the heat back out into the room, there are also heat-reflecting panels which you can put behind and above radiators to produce the same result. Or simply fit a shelf above the radiator and below the window.

Being thrifty is all about looking for those small opportunities – When cooking, if you are going to be using the oven to bake something, what else could you bake at the same time to save using the oven for twice as long? If cooking potatoes and vegetables on the hob, why not get a stacked saucepan/steamer and cook both on the same ring to save using two – and save yourself from using twice as much electricity or gas.

If you have a washing machine and tumble dryer, these are both big energy users – consider hand-washing every once in a while, or drying your clothes on a washing line or dryer frame. Try washing your clothes with a 30 degrees setting instead of 60 or 90 degrees, that alone could halve the cost and amount of energy used! The same goes for dishwashers, if you use one, try to cut back on using it every time you have had a meal and wait until you have a full load or wash by hand instead, every little change helps you to save money and to conserve energy.

If you need to buy a new appliance, you can compare the energy ratings of each appliance to see which will be the most energy-efficient and cost-effective for your needs.

You may also be eligible for an energy-saving grant from the government – check here to see if this applies to you – – the Energy Saving Trust website also has plenty of advice for those wishing to conserve energy use in the home.

Do you have any tips to share, that will save money on household bills? Please feel free to share them in the comments section below. Thank you.
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