|Apple and marmalade tart, when entertaining on a budget|
It’s been a heads-down, hard-working week, from one extreme to another.
On Wednesday I went for a whistle-stop trip to London for work, but then spent Thursday afternoon as a parent volunteer helping six-year-olds sew hand puppets. Never have I threaded so many needles in so little time.
Here’s my round up of the frugal and thrifty highlights!
Unusual peppers at the revampled Hadleigh market
Searching the stalls at Hadleigh Market
There’s been a market in Hadleigh for more than 750 years, so I suppose it was about due for a relaunch.
Last December, I was concerned that the market was dwindling, but more recently a new market manager has reinvigorated Friday mornings.
New stalls have been encouraged to set up alongside the greengrocer, fish van and the Cheese & Pie Man, a fine purveyor of Bob’s Knobs.
The newly arrived Wooster’s bread stall even sold out one week. The stalls do seem to vary, but when I nipped along last Friday I admired the cake-selling ladies, local honey from Beehouse Honey and Mena’s amazing Indian food and spice mixes.
I came away with a couple of unusual coloured peppers – pale green and purple – for 50p, and a big box of 18 satsumas for £1.50.
It must be autumn, the hotties are back.
Hugging hot water bottles
The nights are drawing in, and the weather is turning chillier. Rather than rushing straight for the central heating and associated energy bills, we’ve been looking for more frugal ways to stay warm.
I’ve dug my mammoth fleece out of the wardrobe, the Morrocan blanket has reappeared on the back of the sofa, and my husband has been indulging his inner arsonist by lighting the woodburner.
Now that we’ve unearthed the hot water bottles to take to bed at night, I declare it is officially autumn.
Ingredients for game casserole. I meant to take a photo
Entertaining on a budget
On Sunday, we were delighted that a couple of friends from my husband’s old job were able to come for lunch (Hi Vic and Pauley!).
Originally, I’d planned to roast a leg of lamb hoarded in the freezer since Easter, but when I discovered lamb wouldn’t go down well I had to find a plan B.
Luckily I’d also been hanging on to some yellow-stickered packs of diced mixed game, picked up at the Co-op in a fit of enthusiasm for trying something new.
The packs were reduced to £5.26 for 700g of venison, wild boar, pheasant and pigeon, and seemed suitably autumnal.
Having never attempted cooking game before, I turned to Mr Google for help.
Much to my delight, the recipes I found for game casserole or game pie used loads of ingredients we already had – the half pack of bacon remaining from the night before, bay leaves and thyme from the garden, chicken stock made after last week’s roast meal, some yellow-stickered chestnut mushrooms and storecupboard staples of an onion, flour and Worcestershire sauce.
I substituted a satsuma from the market for an orange, replaced port with the end of a bottle of red wine, and switched redcurrant jelly for some cranberry sauce made for Christmas.
The casserole simmered away for a couple of hours, and made a really meaty stew. We ate it with mashed potato from the big sack from Morrisons (£3 for 12.5kg) and steamed carrots and broccoli (39p each on offer at the Co-op).
For pudding I did apple tart with yellow-stickered apples (pic at the top, rough recipe here, although I made pastry this time and used home-made marmalade instead of apricot jam) and toffee sauce.
Charity shops came up trumps for a work outfit
Checking out charity shops for work clothes
I work from home, so rarely need to get gussied up for my job.
No-one can tell if I’m wearing jeans and multiple jumpers from the other end of a phone line (I hope).
However, this week I headed off for a meeting in London where I needed to look slightly smarter.
Unfortunately, I only remembered to take my work dress to the dry cleaners on Monday. Bad plan. Turns out Hadleigh doesn’t stretch to same day or next day dry cleaning. Monday morning drop off meant I would only get the dress back on Friday – not ideal for a Wednesday meeting.
So on the way home I dived into an assortment of Hadleigh’s charity shops.
Charity shops might not seem an obvious choice for smart work clothes, but a lot depends on the local area. Stoke Newington was good for vintage clothes, while Hadleigh does a fine line in mother-of-the-bride outfits.
I ended up with a smart black dress with contrast chrome zip, livened up with a red and black bamboo patterned jacket, from the East Anglian Children’s Hospice shop.
It cost more than I would normally spend on charity shop clothes, at £36, but I suspect a Gerard Darel dress and Caroline Charles jacket would have cost distinctly more brand new.
Squeezing savings out of tight spaces.
Continuing the October savings challenge
I’m still plugging away at the October savings challenge, to spend less, earn more and save a chunk of cash for Christmas.
I’ve also been beavering away behind the scenes, negotiating some giveaways if anyone would like to share in the October savings challenge, so do watch this space!
Anyone else have any frugal triumphs to report? Or brilliant buys from charity shops? I’d love to hear!
I’m joining in with the #5frugalthings blog linky. If you’d like to join, or just want to check out other thrifty suggestions, hop on over to visit Cass at Diary of a Frugal Family, Becky at Family Budgeting and Emma at Emma’s Savvy Savings.