|Appropriate attire for cooking: shirt and tie|
Any week that crams in Pancake Day, World Book Day, a work day in London and a mini rugby match in Bury St Edmunds (which I hasten to add involved my son not me) was always going to be busy.
Here's a selection of five frugal things we did along the way!
Free biscuits? Don't mind if I do.
Nabbed some free biscuits from Shopmium
Normally, I don't buy many biscuits.
The general approach is that if someone wants to eat biscuits, they'll have to make them - and we do enjoy baking family favourites like ginger biscuits, New Zealand biscuits and cookies with raisins or chocolate chips.
However, last week I spotted that Shopmium, a supermarket cashback app, was offering some biscuits free, gratis and for nothing. I like Shopmium because it pays you back any cashback fast, and you don't have to earn a minimum amount before you can claim it.
I duly added some Bahlsen Choco Leibniz and Mikado biscuits to the shopping list, sent in photos of the receipt using the Shopmium app on Saturday, and by Thursday the £2.60 was already back in my account. Super speedy!
The biscuits made a delicious treat during the weekend, especially when we got back from taking the kids on a bike ride along the railway walk.
If you've never used Shopmium before, it's worth giving it a whirl to see if there are any freebies or discounts you'd like to try.
Download the app (it's on Google Play and the App Store) and enter the code KFKKAMKL and you can even claim a free bar of Lindt chocolate too!
Ladling on the lard to make pancakes
Made some pancakes
We didn't quite manage pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, when my son disappeared off to Cubs and my daughter didn't feel well.
Instead, I bowed to popular demand and whipped some up for breakfast the next day. (NB This is not an approach I recommend, on top of the normal school morning chaos plus me heading to London for work. I got suckered by my own offspring. Think big eyes and pleading.)
We make small fat pancakes on Sunday mornings, but for pancake day I went old style with big thin flat ones, accompanied by lashings of lemon and sugar.
I even dug out a retro (by which I mean elderly) children's cook book, to check on the proportions. The big surprise was spotting lard in the 1950s ingredient list. Maybe that's because you can heat it much hotter than ordinary vegetable oil or butter?
Funny how food fashions change - suspect there aren't many references to coconut oil in the Good Housekeeping Children's Cookbook, and I doubt my son would be delighted if I tried to make him wear a tie while cooking (or indeed at all).
Anyway, I gave it a whirl, and the kids wolfed them down.
Some of the supermarkets have pancake mix on sale, which seems a shame for a simple recipe with cheap ingredients. I added up what our pancakes cost us, based on Morrisons as our nearest big supermarket:
112g plain flour for 3.4p (45p for 1.5kg bag of value range plain flour)
1 egg for 13.3p (£2 for a box of 15 mixed weight free range eggs)
1/2 pint of milk for 12.5p (£1 for a 2.27 litre / 4 pint bottle of milk)
10g of lard for 1.6p (39p for 250g value range lard)
Total: 31p, before you add toppings.
Now, I do appreciate that buying these ingredients cost rather more at £3.84.
For me, it's worth shelling out the cash because I'll use them all for other things. Even the lard gets used in pastry and for making Yorkshire puddings, and it lasts in the fridge for months.
As an alternative, I saw the Co-op had small sachets of pancake batter mix for 25p, which only involved adding an egg and water. I can see that would make sense if money was really tight and you still wanted to make pancakes for your kids.
But loads of the other pancake mixes ask you to add eggs and milk - what do they contain? Paying £1 to £2 for a bag of measured flour seems a right rip off to me. Maybe there's something I'm missing - do let me know in the comments!
Your shield handle worries, sorted.
Survived World Book Day with the aid of wine (carrier)
Much as I love books, I do not love World Book Day.
Apart from anything else, it seems to contribute far more to the sales of polyester fancy dress than anything to do with reading. I will save you the full auto rant on this occasion, but suffice to say my preferred Twitter hastag for World Book Day was actually #WorldofPain.
(Just to clarify for those who are not parents, and may live in blissful ignorance, it's an annual event when children are encouraged to go to school or nursery dressed as a character from their favourite book)
This year, my son was determined to go as Tom from Beast Quest, mainly I suspect because it involved taking a sword into school. Good luck with that, teachers.
Anyway in my frugal attempts to avoid buying an expensive costume, we made a family effort to cobble together a suitable shield. In true Blue Peter style, this involved much cardboard, parcel tape, felt tips, scissors, glue, searching on Google images, and only a small amount of swearing.
My top tip for future shield making was hacking apart a cardboard wine carrier to make a handle. Worked a treat. You can thank me later.
Just waiting for my turn to read it
Sent a free children's book by Mumsnet book club
I may not be the biggest fan of World Book Day, but I do love free books.
I was therefore particularly grateful when a parcel arrived from Mumsnet Book Club. I'd entered a book giveaway competion for a copy of "The Painted Dragon"* by Katherine Woodfine.
This time, it was a book for my daughter, rather than for me, and she's already got stuck in. It's a detective story for readers aged 9+, where the heroines, Sophie and Lil, face "forgery, trickery and deceit" on all sides in their search for a stolen painting.
The quido pro quo is that we have to write a quick book review on Mumsnet, but there's even a chance of winning a £100 Love2Shop voucher if we do.
Appears piggy banks are old hat. Apps are where it's at.
Downloaded the Chip savings app
Hark at me. A year ago, I didn't even have a smartphone, and now here I am downloading a savings app.
I'd like to do a proper post on Chip, but it's meant to help you save money by studying your current account, and then siphoning off cash it reckons you can afford into a savings account with Barclays. You are notified of any potential transfers, and can stop them if you want.
The part that made me think "kerching" was that you can earn up to 5% interest by inviting your nearest and dearest to download the app too. Given how rubbish most savings rates are right now, that's pretty good.
Chip also lets you shovel across up to £100 a day yourself, which means that potentially you could end up with a bigger balance earning 5% than using one of the high interest current accounts.
I'll let you know how it goes, but if you did want to try Chip and plug in my code 4T0C9I you'll get the choice of earning 2% interest, or 1% and a free tenner. Pass on your own code, and you can add extra interest. (Chip is on Google Play here and iTunes here)
In exchange you do have to bear with the gifs and bad puns, but every little helps in making the most of your money!
Now over to you - any frugal successes to celebrate? Do share in the comments, as I'd love to hear.
I’m linking up with this Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.
Disclaimer: no-one has sponsored me to write this post (sob), it's just me banging on about some of the things I do to stretch our family budget.
If you're kind enough to use the referral codes, then I'll get a few pounds, and you'll get chocolate, interest or cash, but you can also download the apps without using any codes at all.