Wednesday 25 May 2022

10 Slightly Unusual Ways To Save On Electricity.

 The cost of living is going up everywhere and it feels like we are being squeezed from all directions.  Residents in the UK are facing electricity increases of 54% with people choosing to heat or eat.

Here are 10 slightly unusual ways you can save a little bit more on your electricity bill

*  Cook with lids on your saucepans.  If you do this you might not need to use the exhaust fan.  I've tried this and it works.

*  Ditch the electric clock radio and use a battery operated one.  If you need an alarm,  use your phone for this function.

*  Use solar garden lights as night lights,  to light a dinner table or to give enough light to safely move around a room.

*  Use a timer to cook rice and pasta.  Don't rely on your memory.  You might get side tracked with other cooking tasks.

*  Wash your clothes on the quick cycle function on the washing machine.  Generally this is only for small loads but sometimes you can't wait until the machine is full ( especially if the clothes are wet or smelly ).  The quick wash on my machine is 20 minutes.  The next quickest cycle is 47 minutes.  Some loads go for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

*  Use the quick wash cycle on your dishwasher.  Mine goes for 30 minutes and washes the dishes really well.  If you do have baked on food then either soak before washing or handwash.

*  Don't leave your front porch light on automatic ( or on at all if you are not expecting anyone ).  It uses power even when it's idle and trees blowing in the wind can also activate it.

*  Unplug the drinks fridge.  Give your regular fridge a good clean out and store your drinks in there.  If you have too many drinks on hand,  only refrigerate a few at a time.

*  Unplug / turn off your doorbell at night.  No one wants to be disturbed when sleeping.

*  When going on holidays,  turn off everything at the wall except the fridge and freezer.  I go around our home and systematically turn everything off in each room.

Old school clocks

Use the quick wash cycle

Have you used any of these tips ?

 Here are links to a few articles I wrote about saving on heating bills. -

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Bulk Cooking - The Easy Way.

There are plenty of cook books,  YouTube videos and blogs dedicated to cooking lots of meals in one day.  Have you watched / read them ?  Although I love a good bulk cooking video I feel exhausted just watching them.

I have to ask though,  who has time  to set aside a whole day or weekend to cook meal after meal ?  Then there's all the dirty dishes to clean up.

There is lots and lots of planning,  shopping and food prep that goes into a bulk cooking day.  Not forgetting you need to have a decent amount of freezer space available to store all these meals at the same time. . 

Bulk cooking really does sound like a good idea but might not be practical for many people.

I've been bulk cooking for many years but my way is much different to the usual method.  My method takes far less time,  uses less gas / electricity and still provides a dinner to eat that night as well as meals for the freezer.

Here's how I bulk cook -

*  Each night that I'm cooking a meal,  I cook double,  triple or quadruple the amount of food at the same time.

*  We eat some of the food for dinner that night.

*  After eating dinner,  the rest of the food is portioned out into single,  double or family sized portions.

*  The food is cooled for a few hours in the fridge,  the lids are put on and labelled with names,  dates and serves.

*  The food is then frozen.

It's really is that simple.  Yes it takes a few extra minutes to cut more veggies. . It might take an extra 10 minutes to cook the larger meal,   It takes about 5 minutes to portion out the extra food.  That's it.  

REPEAT this process a few times a week and over time you collect a variety of meals in the freezer.

I have a small 120 litre freezer dedicated to prepared meals that are rotated on a regular basis.  Because I have a good stockpile of meals,  there are some weeks I don't need to cook from scratch at all.  Then perhaps the next week I bulk cook one or two meals to keep the supply going.

Here are a list of meals I've successfully bulk cooked / prepared and frozen -

*  Spag bol meat sauce.  I only need to cook the pasta when we eat this.

*  Lasagne - I cook a large lasagne and portion out.  We add steamed veggies to round out the meal when I pull the frozen lasagne portions out of the freezer.

*  Chicken curry - This is cooked in the slow cooker and portioned out into takeaway containers.  If I have too much rice from dinner that night I portion the curry and rice into complete single serve meals.

*  Chop suey -  I portion out the chop suey and freeze.  I cook mashed potato or rice on the night we eat it.

*  Beef stew ( or any stew ) -  Is cooked,   portioned and frozen as is.  I cook mashed potato on the night we eat it.

*  Massaman beef curry - I portion the curry and any leftover rice into individual meals.  If there is no leftover rice the curry is frozen by itself.  Rice and poppadums are served with the curry. 

*  Salmon patties -  These can be quite messy and time consuming to make.  I open 3 - 4 tins of salmon at a time,  add mash and veggies to stretch the salmon out.  This can make about 60 patties at a time.  If I'm making a mess,  I do it once and make many meals.  The patties are frozen into meal sized packages and any odd patties are frozen for lunches or single serves.

*  Hamburger patties -  I season bulk amounts of fresh beef mince and use a hamburger press to portion the patties out.  Some are eaten that night and the rest of the raw patties are frozen with plastic cereal packet squares in between to make them easy to separate.

*  Tuna pasta bake - I cook up all the ingredients and assemble it in casserole dishes.  Add the cheese on top.  One is baked in the oven to eat that night and the others are frozen to be baked at a later date.

*  Sausage casserole - I cook it in bulk in 1 or 2 slow cookers ( at a time ).  It is portioned into casserole dishes and frozen.  When we eat it I cook mash or rice to serve on the side.

*  Soups - This is an easy one to bulk cook.  Just keep adding lots of veggies to the pot.  We eat it for dinner that night and freeze the rest into family and single sized portions.

*  Zucchini slice - Just cook large slabs of it and cut into squares to freeze.  This is great to add to salad in Summer or meat and veg in Winter.

*  Meatloaf -  Prepare the raw mince as per recipe and portion into meal sized tins and cook.  Cool the meatloaf and take out of the tin.  Slice and double wrap in plastic / foil and freeze  


Chunky chicken and veg soup

Beef stew and soup

Sausage casserole portioned to freeze

Slabs of zucchini slice

Cooking sausage casserole in bulk

Hamburger patties

Chicken curry meals

What meals do you bulk cook ?

Wednesday 11 May 2022

20 Groceries We Don't Buy And The Cheap / Free Alternatives - Part 2

 The supermarket is filled with brightly colored packaging,  designed to catch your eye.  Before you know it that grocery item is in your trolley and you wondered how you ever lived without it.   Chances are your parents and grandparents managed just fine without it .

The next time you go shopping,  have a look at what you are buying.  Are you buying mostly whole foods or processed foods ?  Are you working long hours to pay for your expensive grocery bill ?

Here are another 20 grocery items we DON'T buy and how to save money on them -

Microwave rice pouches -  They are so expensive compared to buying a bag of rice.  Some are flavoured but I don't need flavoured rice when the rest of the meal is tasty.  I cook extra rice and freeze.

Creamy pasta packets - I've make my own with pasta,  milk,  butter,  flour and seasonings.

Marinated meat.-  It never tastes as good as it looks. I use ingredients like soy,  honey,  garlic and herbs.

Herbs and spices in little jars - I buy in bulk from a herb and spice wholesaler.  Extremely cheap.

Sweetened condensed milk - I make my own from butter,  sugar,  water and milk powder.  The recipe I use makes 2 tins worth for less than the price of one.

Evaporated milk - I don't have recipes that use it.  If I did I'd make it from milk powder and water.

Fresh herbs in plant form or pastes -  I use dried or grow a few.

Iced tea - If I wanted it I would make it from a teabag,  water,  sugar and a squeeze of fruit.

Porridge sachets - I make porridge from quick oats.  If I need flavour I can add cinnamon,  brown sugar,  maple syrup or dried / tinned fruit.

Avocado / grapeseed / almond / peanut / coconut oil etc etc - I use rice bran oil for cooking and baking.  It's cheap compared to the fancy oils.

Bread flour - I use plain generic flour.

Salad dressings - I only buy balsamic glaze.  A little bit goes a long,  long way.

Tinned veggies - I only buy corn ( for soup ),  tomatoes ( in case my harvest is poor ) and beetroot.  Fresh is cheaper for other veggies

Salad kits -  We grow some of our own salad ingredients and buy the rest as whole foods and make the salad ourselves.    Cheaper and fresher.

Serviettes -  We just don't eat sloppy food to need serviettes ( except for hamburgers with dripping sauce or tacos ).  The rare times we do eat takeaway we are always given too many serviettes.  Those that are not used are brought home for when we do need them.  It seems like a waste to throw them out.

Pancake shakers -  I make pancakes from scratch using milk,  eggs and flour.  How easy and cheap is that?  I think we've only bought them once or twice as a treat when the girls were little and we were on holidays.

Meal kits - They are just too expensive and you still need to add meat and veg.   Just use the herbs and spices you already have and add your own ingredients.

Rice cream in tins - I make creamed rice with rice,  sugar and milk.  My recipe would make four times the amount in a tin for the same price.

Meals in a can -  If we were camping people we might buy them.  I remember doing a tv story years ago where the husband liked spag bol meat sauce in a tin.  I didn't even know you could buy it in a tin.  I showed the family how to make a big pot of meat sauce for the same price.  All you need is mince,  tinned tomatoes,  Italian herbs and tomato paste

Frozen potato chips -  I never understood their appeal.  I think they have an artificial taste about them and I've been served a variety of brands over the years.  I have a Nicer Dicer and a chip machine ( present ) that makes chips in just a minute or two including seasoning.  Since buying an air fryer this is how we cook them.   They are a healthier option too.


I buy herbs / spices in bulk and fill my own jars

homemade pancakes

Picking our own lettuce

Do you  make and bake from scratch as much as possible ?

How many of these items do you make cheaper ?

Wednesday 4 May 2022

20 Groceries We Don't Buy And The Cheap / Free Alternatives - Part 1

 We are all battling rising grocery prices right now.  In recent years it's never been tougher to feed our families and still keep control of the food budget.

Sometimes we buy certain groceries just because we always have.  Maybe we didn't know we could make them from multipurpose ingredients.

Below are 20 groceries we don't buy either because we don't need them or make them from scratch.  This saves us so much money each month yet we still eat well and don't feel like we are missing out.

Brown sugar - I make my own with white sugar and molasses

Castor sugar - I grind white sugar in the food processor

Bread crumbs - I make my own using bread crusts.  FREE.

Jam - I make my own from fruit we grow.

Recipe bases - I make my own from basic ingredients ( I do buy Massaman beef curry base )

Muffin / cake / biscuit packet mixes - I make my own from flour,  sugar,  milk,  butter,  eggs etc.

Ready made cakes / biscuits / muffins -  Same as above

Grated cheese / slices - I grate and slice my own.  I add corn flour to grated cheese to prevent sticking.

Yoghurt - I make my own in an Easiyo maker.  I do buy natural yoghurt as a starter to portion and freeze.

Custard in box / packet / tub - I make my own from eggs,  milk,  corn flour and sugar or use custard powder.

Cordial - I make my own 50 / 50 cordial in Summer from lemons we grow and oranges bought cheap in Winter and froze.

Soft drink - We just don't need it and drink tea or water

Pasta salad / potato salad - I make my own for a fraction of the price.

Chunky tinned soups -  I make my own.  Here's the recipe   SOUP

Liquid stock - I make my own in the slow cooker with bones.  FREE

Fancy meat rubs / salts - I use the herbs and spices I already have.

Freezer meals - I freeze my own leftovers.

Bottled water - Our tap water is one of the best in the world.  We bottle it ourselves pretty much for free.

Pasta sauce - I use a tin of tomatoes ( the cheapest ) and add my own seasonings and tomato paste.

Chicken sauces like honey mustard etc- I make my own from scratch.  Here's the recipe CHICKEN 


Blueberry muffins

Homemade hot cross buns

choc chip biscuits

Freezer meals ( leftovers )

Making yoghurt

How many of these groceries can you do without or make yourself ?