Saturday, 3 January 2015

Meal Planning and Freebies

First, the free stuff. 4 punnets of fresh raspberries in Morrisons yesterday reduced to 25p each except, when they went through the till, the 2 for £3 offer was triggered (which would have saved 25p a punnet on the original price). Saving 25p a punnet meant I got all 4 absolutely free, perfectly legal as even the shop assistant commented on what a good deal it was.

And today we had a free meal at a lovely little restaurant by the harbour in Dover thanks to the gift voucher DH received as a leaving present from the College back in July. We even received change as the meal cost less than the value of the voucher. It's not often you can leave a restaurant with more money in your purse than when you entered it. I had a lovely fish and chip dinner, so big that the beer-battered cod overhung the plate. No, it wasn't on my diet, but I hadn't had breakfast and I was so full afterwards that I've hardly eaten anything else all day. DH had a burger which must have been about an inch and a half thick. Again, we were both so stuffed we couldn't take advantage of the desserts menu which is why we ended up not using the full value of the voucher and getting change. It's been a horrible, cold, wet day and lunch out really cheered us up.

Oh, I do love free stuff, especially when it's so delicious.

The remainder of the afternoon I've spent doing a freezer inventory and meal planning. Instead of working out a detailed day by day plan which always gets scuppered by unforseen events, I've made a list of meals using what I have in stock and will choose from the list as appropriate. I've factored in several meals to make double or triple of so that I can freeze some for those times when I don't have time to cook from scratch (or when I can't be bothered). So far I have the equivalent of a month and a half's worth of meals which will use most of what I have in the freezer plus some of my dried and canned stocks. I also have enough toilet paper for a month, and enough anti deodorant, toothpaste and soap for at least 3 months. I will still need to buy some fresh stuff and dairy produce but if I can get through until the end of February without needing to do a big shop for the freezer and shelves I will be really pleased. 

I've also gone through my bank account and made my plans to get back on track with my wallet system of saving and putting money aside each month for all eventualities. We're going to make a real effort to get our mortgage paid off in the next 2 1/2 years in time for my 60th birthday. We already overpay every month on our direct debit and I also try and make an extra overpayment by variable standing order, but for the next 30 months we're going to try and pay off even more every single month. We are very fortunate that we changed and paid a one-off charge for a special mortgage arrangement a few years back and only pay 0.79% above the Bank of England base rate so our current interest payment is just 1.29% and we've now got just over £19,000 remaining. If we can manage to clear that in 30 months we'll have knocked about 7 years off the term of the mortgage, but we will need to double our current payment and that will be tight going. Once it's reduced to an amount we could conceivably pay off from our savings account if we had to, we'll cancel the payment protection insurance and the specific mortgage life insurance and put that £40 a month towards further reducing the mortgage balance.

We've agreed, though, that we need to enjoy life a little too, so my budgeting has allowed for a cheap holiday, occasional days out and a coffee, and maybe lunch out once a month. We also have DD2's wedding at the end of May, but I've already saved the money we're gifting the happy couple and there's some for my outfit and other extras that might arise. Hopefully MIL's financial affairs will get settled within a few months and then we'll be reimbursed the funeral expenses from her estate.

I'm tired out now after so much concentration and will be having an early night. Nothing to do with having spent part of last night on the sofa to escape DH's snoring! Sometimes I can put up with it, but last night it was driving me crazy, especially as I'd made up for the previous day's tardiness by getting up at 5.45am. Luckily we have a long, wide leather sofa that's extremely comfortable to sleep on when needs must.

I think that's all my mutterings done for now. Have a good evening. Love, Helen x


  1. HiHelen,
    I was supposed to do an inventory of my freezer today but never got round to it yet! I'm hoping for a good night's sleep on our new memory foam bargain mattress topper we got in a new year sale!

    1. Doing an inventory also gives me a good reason to tidy up and organise the freezer. How did you sleep on your new mattress? We were given a lovely deep memory foam mattress by DD2 when she moved in with her boyfriend and no longer needed it. I loved it from the start but DH took a while to get used to it and he's still not totally convinced.

  2. You have put some hard work in there Helen, it is good to start the year with a firm plan of action. Like you I will not need to buy much more than fresh fruit and veg for a while. I am looking to buy a machine quilting frame early this year and although I have the money saved I will want to replace that asap. You never know what lies around the corner.

    1. Too true, Pam. Our savings have taken a knock with the funeral expenses and although we should recoup most of it when MIL's finances are finally sorted out I get antsy when spending a chunk like that. I've just given DD2 the money we'd promised them as a wedding present so they can pay for the honeymoon. Although I had the money specifically saved for it I'll still be looking to replace it as soon as possible. Like you, I like to have enough saved to cover emergencies. I'll be interested to see your quilting frame when you get it.