Five fabulously frugal things I did this week (27 Jan)

Pancake made with aquafaba. Looks better than it tasted.

About the best thing that can be said for this week is that it’s been a pretty low spend, apart from the oil delivery (of which more later).
I got poleaxed by a cold half way through, which took me out for a couple of days and means I still don’t feel fab now.
Before coming down with the cold, I recorded a podcast about the blog with Informed Choice Radio, so will let you know when that’s available to hear.
Also, the interview I did about money saving tips and Much More with Less with Georgie Frost at Share Radio was aired, so nip over here if you’d like a listen.

And now here’s my round up of the five frugal (ish) things we managed this week.

No really, chick pea water does whip up like this, honest guv. 


Attempted to use aquafaba as an egg replacement.

I’ve included this as a cautionary tale about attempted frugality.
We always make pancakes on Sunday mornings, but in my attempts to rein in our food spending during January (as blogged here), I hadn’t bought new eggs when we ran out last week.
Instead, I thought I’d have a go at using chickpea water as a substitute. Bear with me here, as this isn’t a completely insane idea but something I’ve read about in vegan recipes.
Anyway it’s true that the water drained from a tin of chickpeas did indeed whip up much like egg whites. However, my family were unconvinced about the taste and voiced their dissatisfaction loudly.
I haven’t included the recipe as I really wouldn’t recommend it, and regretfully I won’t be using aquafaba in pancakes again any time soon.
However, the chick peas did come in handy in some carrot and chickpea soup, using this Jack Monroe recipe that I definitely can recommend.
Has anyone had any more success with aquafaba, maybe in meringues? I’d love to hear.

Plain. Black. Does the job. Perfect.


Saved on wellies

Sometimes I think the Chinese knew a thing or two when it came to foot binding, as my children’s feet grow faster than Jack’s beanstalk.
A regular part of my childhood was an ear-bashing from my mother about the importance of shoes that fit growing feet, delivered at full volume in many shoe shops. This means that at regular intervals I resign myself to taking both children to be measured at Clarks, hoping for well-fitting, long-lasting shoes even if they do cost an arm and a leg.
On Saturday, we went to Ipswich in search of shoes. Joyfully my daughter’s feet stayed the same, but my son had gone up an whole size. This means not just new school shoes, but the whole whack – wellies, trainers for PE lessons at school, trainers for outside school and rugby boots that double up for football too. Whoop whoop. Not.
Anyway, we shelled out at Clarks for the school shoes, trainers and a second pair of trainers that were thankfully in the sale.  However, I then nipped round to Shoe Zone for bargain  black wellies at £7.99. We also threw ethical purchasing to the wind and bought the rugby boots half price from Sports Direct.
Anyone care to bet how long before we’ll be back for replacements, in the next size up?

Pretty in pink – a cold survival kit


Bought own-brand medicine

Goodness I felt rubbish this week, laid low by a nasty cold. On Wednesday I staggered to the chemist after dropping the children at school, and remembered to buy Boots own brand cold and flu sachets, rather than spending a whole extra pound on Lemsip.
Buying generic or own brand medicines can be massively cheaper than buying the branded versions with big advertising budgets to support.
For example, the active ingredient in Nurofen is ibuprofen.
Taking a quick gander at the Boots website, Nurofen 200mg Ibuprofen tablets cost £3.29 for 24 tablets, so 14p each.
Yet if you buy the Value Health 200mg Ibuprofen tablets instead, they only cost 35p for 16 tablets – nearly a tenth of the price, and just 2p per tablet. Bet your headache can’t tell the difference.
I should probably just have popped a paracetamol and made myself some honey and lemon, rather than using the cold and flu sachets, but look how pretty the pink blackcurrant version looks!

Untrammelled growth before…

…and viciously hacked back afterwards.

 

Got out into the garden

I still wasn’t feeling great on Thursday, but knew the garden waste collection was due.
We pay £40 a year to the local council so they will take away a wheelie bin full of garden rubbish once a fortnight.
We’re certainly not lacking in garden waste to remove, so it provides a incentive for me to actually get outside and fill the bin.
Thursday morning found me hacking back the rosa rugosa and tree peony at the corner of the house, and clearing out the assorted weeds and leaves beneath. The cheeky blackbird re-appeared to investigate anything edible, and was joined by a camera-shy robin. I duly filled the bin and will have to hope that the plants survive my attack.
In previous years I pruned them right back in November, so I do hope I haven’t left it too late.
Anyway, it was encouraging to see some green shoots from bulbs starting to break through underneath, so we should see some growth one way or another.

An oil delivery in happier (read cheaper) times


Bargained when buying oil

This was the big bust-your-wallet, sharp-intake-of-breath, how-much-did-you-say?, purchase of the week.
Yup, it was time to refill the oil tank.
When we moved from London to Suffolk, we swapped a connection to the gas main for a large oil tank squatting in the garden. Our central heating and even our cooking, up until we got the new cooker, all depended on oil.
I’ve written before about oil deliveries, and we’ve actually been pretty lucky since moving in 2014, as the oil price dropped down and down to a six-year low last January.
The bad news is that oil prices have soared since, pushed up by the post-Brexit plummeting pound and OPEC deciding to restrict supply. So cheers for that.
I kept putting off ordering more oil, in the vain hope prices might wobble downwards, but finally had to order some more before our supplies ran out.
My top tips are to sign up for the Oil Club, get several other quotes online when you need oil, and then ring round asking people to beat the lowest quote you have. Ideal world, it also helps if you can wait a couple of weeks for delivery, rather than leaving it to the last minute, as I did this time.
Anyway last Friday the nice man from Goff Oil showed up with a large tanker and a massive hose (no sniggers at the back please) before we actually ran out. He delivered 2,266 litres, which cost a whopping £1,064.74.
Attempting to look on the bright side, it would have cost another £60 if I’d gone for the most expensive quote elsewhere. So there’s that. Sob.
As you might guess, ways to use less oil have been on my mind, so I’m part way through a new blog post on how to save energy. Here’s hoping I can put some of the info to good use…

Does anyone else have any frugal things to celebrate this week? Perhaps more successfully than my attempts at tweaking our Sunday morning pancake recipe? I’d love to hear!

I’m linking up with this CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.

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13 Comments

  1. January 27, 2017 / 7:39 pm

    I've seen lots of aquafaba meringues, as with all baking some are amazing some are not, I've never been brave enough to try it. I stick with flax seeds or apple cider vinegar as egg substitute, much safer for a dodgy baker such as myself.

    • January 28, 2017 / 7:09 am

      Interesting about apple cider vinegar, because I do actually have some of that lurking at the back of the cupboard. However, I fear I may create full-on family mutiny if I tamper with the Sunday morning pancake recipe again, so may need to tread carefully!

  2. January 28, 2017 / 7:37 am

    from saving money by not buying eggs to over a grand on oil, boy you have all the fun in suffolk

    • January 28, 2017 / 7:40 am

      Yup without the money saving we couldn't afford the oil. Now off to find out ways to use less of it!

  3. January 28, 2017 / 2:21 pm

    I have not heard of aquawhatsit before, and I'm not going to knock it without trying it, but it seems a little odd to spend over a grand on oil while attempting to save on the humble egg, a bit sledge-hammer to crack a nut, if I might be so bold as to say, Faith. But if you have oil fired central heating then you will need to spend this kind of money, I'm sure. Our total outlay for gas and electricity in a 4-bedroom detached house comes to less than your one oil delivery, and I don't suppose this is a delivery for a whole year … or is it?
    Margaret P
    http://www.margaretpowling.com

    • January 29, 2017 / 5:49 am

      I suppose we could have ordered less oil, rather than refilling the whole tank, but I suspect oil prices are going to keep on rising so we bit the bullet now rather than pay more later. It will all get used! Part of moving to the country has been adapting our budget to cope with rare but hefty fuel payments, rather than a regular monthly direct debit.

  4. January 28, 2017 / 2:26 pm

    PS Forgot to say we always buy own-brand paracetamol (we try and keep off ibuprofen, it's not good for liver or kidneys … but then, no drugs are) … I thought everyone did?
    You are fortunate that you have a garden waste collection in your area. This isn't available to us (yes, we can phone up and get it collected but their van doesn't come around as a matter of course once a fortnight, even if we paid £40 which I'd be certainly willing to pay for the year.)
    Margaret P
    http://www.margaretpowling.com

    • January 29, 2017 / 5:52 am

      See, for years I bought Nurofen and Lemsip because they were familiar and I trusted them. Took my mother pointing out the 35p version hidden on the bottom shelf, rather than the £3.26 version at the top, to recognise the difference.

    • January 29, 2017 / 9:03 am

      Years ago it was a local pharmacist that pointed out that the own-brand version was exactly the same formula as the much-higher-priced 'brand leaders'! I only take paracetamol because the stronger co-codamol (on prescription) gives me weird dreams (they are a morphine derivative, I believe) even those can greatly reduce my arthritic pain, so I stick with paracetamol.
      Margaret P

  5. January 29, 2017 / 5:18 am

    LOve to hear of your cooking experiments cand so much for linking up to #/5frugalthings

    • January 29, 2017 / 5:53 am

      Thanks Becky! I really enjoy taking part in #5frugalthings

  6. January 29, 2017 / 5:45 am

    How long the oil will last is a real killer question, because we've made a lot of changes to be more energy efficient. Watch this space!

  7. January 29, 2017 / 8:19 pm

    I bought some Ibuprofen this week in Aldi – 25p for 16 tablets ie. 1.56p per tablet. Fantastic value!

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