The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

How to save money in 2008

bechamel sauceI loathe making béchamel sauce.

But it’s delicious and useful and can pull round a flagging handful of dreary ingredients.

So I left work early and immediately began to make six pints of the stuff. Not a sado masochistic culinary whim. I found 6 pints of milk for just 25p on a late night shopping expedition a few days ago and I am on a super cost cutting regime.

Making six pints of béchamel sauce was a doddle. It took about 15 minutes longer than making just one pint and has saved me loads of time. The scary thing is that I hadn’t realised that if you buy 6 pints of milk in one pack/bottle at the normal price you save 30% over three 2-pint bottles. That discovery inspired us to consider buying food in bulk. I knew that packagng was expensive. I had no idea that it could impact so much on the price of milk.

Having survived the 2007 non flower buying challenge I have decided to not buy flowers again. Ever. A chill crept up my back when I typed that. I saw some wonderful tulips today and for a split second prepared to speed into the shop. And then I remembered.

I have set a tough new challenge for 2008 – I want to cut our weekly outgoings by 25%. That’s our food, drink and housekeeping consumables.

I have been working on this for the past year or so, chipping away bit by bit but the boundaries need to be firmed up. I’ve saved nearly £500 by not buying flowers in 2007. I could save substantially more in 2008. It will be a real challenge – I love good food and wine and companionable supermarkets.

Saving money takes time. If I work six days a week, I don’t have time for an extended search of the bargain shops. The warm arms of Waitrose beckon with great food, always fresh and top quality but a bit on the pricey side.

We sat down this evening and planned our tentative campaign. Why visit three supermarkets once a week? With good planning (gulp) the cheaper emporiums could be visited once a month. We are going to withdraw the cash for the shop each week. There is nothing like fingering notes to bring the message home.

Needless to say this discussion developed into bigger plans. These would require military style precision. We need to put feelers out first. Hopefully by next month’s post we will have progressed and have exciting plans to share with you. If not they will be interesting.

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  1. Lois Wakeman

    Sorry – I seem much more frugal than I am – that should of course be 10 weeks, not 100! Please feel free to edit my opist and delete this if you wish.

  2. Lois Wakeman

    I have enjoyed reading your blog very much. But I have to admit I bridled at the thought that you saved £500 not buying flowers. Good grief: that’s about what I spend on groceries for the two of us for 100 weeks. We live in different worlds I guess – I’ve been making do and mending for years now, so I imagine my horizons are a lot more limited than you more affluent folks!

    “Everyone wants to save money, it™s the time factor that stops most of us” – it’s not having money that means you *have* to find the time

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Clare

    I use all of the local (ish) supermarkets. I prefer Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, but I think the Tesco wine and bread is very good. Also I check out Netto, Aldi, Asda if I am passing. Danny and the dogs love sardines and they are generally much cheaper in Netto. Sometimes the ‘cheap’ supermarkets special offers are more expensive than Waitrose!

    The mysupermarket site is clearly the answer!

  4. I’ve just checked out the mysupermarket and am delighted with it so thanks everyone for the tip! I love the way everything’s clearly organised so you can see all the bargains.

    We have an ongoing argument about supermarkets in our household – I was raised on Sainsburys and db comes from a stalwart Tesco family and I’m so pleased to say that Sainsbury’s comes out nearly £10 cheaper! Hurrah!

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Clare

    Thanks for all the tips. Everyone wants to save money, it’s the time factor that stops most of us. I don’t have loads of time at the mo so any tips are really appreciated. I have a friend who works at Tesco…

    Unfortunately we don’t have a Home Bargains around here. Sounds great!

    I have the micro cloth that I found in the car the other day it was 99p from Homebase. Apparently they are 3 pounds each in Waitrose.

    Hi Mildred,

    The biscotti sound delicious.

    Hi Amanda

    I’ve learnt so much in the last few days!

  6. Admit to using Ocado too, Even putting it in – Ocado doesn’t always come out the most expensive, surprisingly. I do think making things from scratch is key and you do this already. I’ve loved reading all the other comments! It’s fascinating and important stuff. Maybe you should start your own forum Fiona. It’s a safe place to come.

  7. Best of luck on your new resolution Fiona!!! Look forward to seeing how you get on. I do hope you every success.

  8. Mildred

    Fi, re your biscuit downfall . . . we make a double batch of ‘biscotti’ every couple of weeks. They are kept on the dresser in a big Le Parfait jar and are lovely dunked in our morning coffee! They are not too sweet, additive free and always seem to fill the ‘gap’!

  9. What a great idea, Fiona!
    Boyfriend and I are renting a flat together, but supposedly scraping as many pennies as we can as we want to buy a house if we possibly can, so we’re on an economy drive too.

    I don’t know how useful it’ll be, but there’s a great shop called Home Bargains – it’s primarily in the north and the midlands, though there are stores in Kettering and Northampton should you ever stray that far! It’s a strange store that sells ends-of-lines of various different brands and if you’ve got the time to sift through you can get some great bargains on anything from cat food through toiletries and cleaning products to linens and stationary supplies. There’s something different every week, but they sell big brands very cheaply, particularly if you’re not too fussy. We bought a pair of 7′ square curtains for £10 – bargain!!

    Micro cloths are definitely worthwhile, from an eco prospect too, it’s much better cleaning with a micro cloth and a bit of elbow grease than all these “magic formulas”. Don’t buy from Lakeland though, far too expensive! Pound stores have them sometimes, or if you know someone who goes to germany regularly, ask them to bring some back as they’re much cheaper over there and come in various different grades including “scrubber”.

    There’s loads of silly little student tips, too, like finding out when your supermarket discounts things and being friendly to the staff as they might “tip you off” if they’re about to discount stuff. Some things aren’t worth economising on though, and supermarket baked beans are never as good, in my opinion!

    Good luck!

  10. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Minamoo

    I know exactly what you mean – it’s so easy to overbuy food and have to throw stuff away. Danny gets very wound up about this.

    We tend to make most meals from scratch although biscuits are my downfall. And wine. Chocolate too.

    I am determined to make this challenge work this year. I’ll think of you too Minamoo when I reach for the Galaxy!

    Hi Kethry

    I’ve looked at the money saving expert forum a few times. It seems to have a lot of good ideas but I need to investigate it much more deeply. I think that Martin Lewis is an interesting guy, I’ll check out his programme.

    My seems like a great resource too.

    Thanks for the tips.

    Hi Joanna

    You are so wise. Of course this challenge can only work well if it all eventualities are Planned for. I hadn’t considered this and it makes sense. I have a few meals like that in my freezer too.

    We had always assumed that veg boxes were far too expensive – we never actually found out how much they would be, I am ashamed to say.

    We’ve got a long way to go as well. It should be an ineresting albiet bumpy ride.

    Hi Michelle

    We have 2 small freezers – getting the second one changed my life! I need to get on top of using them better. Too much stuff just lurks for months.

    I’m going to try and get hold of that book. Thanks for the tip.

    Hi Toffeeapple

    That’s a great tip. Cleaning products are so expensive!

    Hi Amanda

    That site sounds great. I didn’t know things like that existed! I need to renew my car insurance so will give it a whirl.

    I really want to make this challenge work.

    Hi Kate

    Happy New Year to you!

    Not looking at the flowers makes it easier not to be tempted. Flowering houseplants can be so pretty.

    Being rather undisciplined, I need challenges!

    Hi Steph

    Glad that you are enjoying the site.

    You are right, with a bit of planning and thought the challenge should save time and money. How interesting that Waitrose turned out to be the cheapest local supplier. Good point too about avoiding the drudge element and compromising on quality.

    Great point too about ordering well in advance. I am going to seriously look into this.

    It looks as though the veg box is a must.

    Hi Kate(uk)

    Thanks so much for leaving a comment too. Although we grow quite a lot of veg, a veg box seems a good idea. It’s interesting that you use Ocado too.

    I found a microcloth (unopened) in Jalopy’s boot today!

    Hi Mildred

    I hate carrying in the shopping from the car! I also have been known to by myself treats to make up for the drudgery of doing the weekly shop – deadly!

    I must start making bread again! We are hooked on homemade butter now.

    I’m not very keen on pre prepared supermarket meals – apart from the Waitrose “restaurant” range.

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