The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Review of our 2009 challenges

Photo: Supermarket bargains

Photo: Supermarket bargains

I am remiss. I haven’t reported back on our three challenges this year. Last year it was to cut our over the counter spending by 25%. We found that in the end we were regularly cutting the weekly outgoings by 50%. So that challenge continues for this year, plus not buying cut flowers (flowers from the garden ) and a new challenge – developing a collection of recipes designed around food that we have found for 50% or less.

This last challenge is worthwhile when it comes to expanding the taste buds. We can now sample food that would be out of the question to buy full price on a save 50% budget.

Danny found Pecorino cheese last week, reduced from £5.19 to £1.79. I had never tasted this delicacy and imagined that it would be a mild/medium flavoured cheese. I was delighted to discover that it had the sort of strength that would make a little go a long way. Perfect shaved on a salad or a plate of steaming spinach.

The downside is that the freezers house a lot of ingredients waiting for that final essential ingredient to appear. This Sunday I decided to make a batch of fish pies. I thought that we had finally found a good balance of fish. But when I delved into the icy domains I discovered that we had loads of smoked fish, some salmon but no white unsmoked fish to balance the melange.

“Look out for cut price cod, Danny. When you find it we’ll have fish pie.”

This evening I was planning to tweak a Guinness, beef and oxtail pie filling. And make a batch of cauliflower, bacon and tomato cheese as D had finally found some blue cheese for the sauce. There was a warble from my mobile.
“I’m at the CFC in Tesco. There’s a large piece of Coley (white fish) for £1. Shall I buy it?”

So this evening I’m making three dishes. This means that the gaps in the freezer will be filled with ready made homemade meals and equates to several evenings playing out late in the garden so it’s well worth the hassle tonight.

If you are willing to duck and dive, not stick slavishly to a recipe plan and take a few chances with unfamiliar ingredients, you can knock pounds off your weekly shopping bill by buying offers and Condemned Price Food. Shopping does take longer but I’ve discovered that it’s much more fun and we are eating better than we have for years.

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  1. Hi Fiona. I’m fscinated with your site. We are doing the same sort of things in France. It’s tough, but very satisfying – somehow makes you feel more fulfilled and alive.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi John

    Thanks for this.

    Hello Sarah

    Keeping your eyes peeled for bargains certainly keeps your shopping bills down!

  3. I love finding bargins when we go shopping, luckily our local supermarket is only a 10 mins walk from our house. We manage to pick up loads of reduced goodies, helps keep the shopping bills down

  4. Info for Ruthdigs – nearest Waitrose to Exeter is Sidmouth.

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Amanda

    I reckon that each branch of Waitrose (or Tesco, Sainsbury’s etc) model their behaviour on their particular clients.

    Cambridge Waitrose has far less wonderful offers than Newmarket W. Newmarket Waitrose only sell organic milk in bags whereas Cambridge only sells Select Farm non organic milk in bags.

    The N branch of W now piles their CFC food into trolleys, in the past it used to be alongside the normal price food. I bet that they are shifting far more now.

    Hello Dianne

    I’m considering moving to South Yorkshire! Lucky you. These shops should be all over the World. Well done The Company Shop!

    Hi Emma

    I reckon that you need to shop around all the time. I prefer the Waitrose CFC and Danny favours the Tesco one. Even Netto has a CFC in Newmarket and I expect M&S has one in the centre of town, where we rarely travel.

    Hi Ruthdigs

    I’m amazed that there isn’t a Waitrose in Exeter – it’s a city after all!

    Bad luck though. It’s easy to cut the cost of your shopping if you have a freezer and some decent local shops.

    Hi Debbie

    I know exactly what you mean. It’s fun finding bargains. More hunter gatherer than conventional shopper!

    Hello John

    You are absolutely right. I shop with my mum every other Sunday in Waitrose in Cambridge. We always glide to the fish counter looking for bargains and generally draw a blank whereas in Newmarket the fish counter is a nirvana for the fish love with a light purse.

    Hi Dianne

    Thanks for the update.

    Hello Michelle

    I love Hallumi too – I bet the locally made is the racing dog’s b******s.

    We splash out too every now and then. Makes these buys even more delicious.

    Hello Domestic Executive

    You are so right . It’s important to keep the freezer turning over regularly. Sometimes we cant work out what some of the shapes at the bottom of the chest freezer are/were.

    Hi Jo

    That’s a shame. But I bet that you run your freezer much more efficiently than we do. With Danny in town every evening (post run) it’s easy to get carried away.

  6. Jo @ LittleFfarm Dairy

    We have one small problem….our nearest ‘supermarket’ is a 35-minute car journey away. Darnit. 🙁

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