Category Archives: Money Saving tips

Guilty!!!!!!!

Yes, I am guilty, guilty of Tax avoidance, and you probably are too….

My conscience is clear though because it is perfectly legal.

I have a ISA…. Shock horror!!!!

And why did I take out an ISA?

TO AVOID PAYING TOO MUCH TAX!

and as I have had NO income since stopping work 6 years ago, I have also transferred part of my tax allowance to my husband so that we pay a little less tax and get a little more of his not very high wage. 

This is perfectly legal, in fact our government and tax offices encourage it.

Yes I question the morality of some of these super rich schemes, off shore investments etc, but the fact is that they are not breaking the law.

Now Tax EVASION is illegal, that is; not paying tax that you should . (by the way, did you declare the income on that little job you did for cash “on the side”?…Yes? Well done you… You can stay on your moral high horse)

Truth is, many of the people who make these laws are the ones who benefit from them so I suspect that nothing is going to change there,  but I have got a little irritated by those pointing the finger condemning those who are in a position to take advantage of these laws; can any of us honestly say that we would not arrange our finances in the most efficient way to minimise the amount of tax we pay?

I thought not…

Rant over

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Offcuts Pie

Yesterday I was planning on making a Cottage Pie for our dinner with some mince from the freezer but with a cauliflower mash topping for a change (using frozen cauliflower)

I wandered into my local supermarket and there were some nice looking small fresh cauliflowers on the reduced shelf for 55p so I decided to get one and use it for the topping for our dinner later.

I was hungry as I had not yet had any lunch and decided to buy a single roll and go to the Deli counter and buy a slice of chicken/ham or cheese, or whatever was a good price,

As I got to the counter, the assistant was marking down some packs of offcuts to 49p, so  I asked her what they were and she explained that they were just a random mix of all the little bits that were left after slicing  so it was “pot luck” what was in there.

As it was only 49p for 260g of meat I decided to risk it and have some in my roll and then hubby could have some in his wraps for his lunch the next day.

On opening the pack there was a good selection of Ham, bacon, Chicken, Turkey, peppered beef.

During my walk home I wondered if I could use this to make the “Pie” instead and so the “Offcuts Pie” was created.

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So here’s what I did;

I had about 200g of meat left after my sandwich so I chopped this up into smaller pieces and popped them into a frying pan – no need to add any oil or fat as there was a little on some of the ham and heated this up.

I added some water and made a gravy using my usual gravy granules.  I add a little bit of hoisin sauce left in a bottle so I put this into the gravy for some extra flavour and poured all this into my baking dish.

To make the topping I chopped up the cauliflower and boiled in some seasoned water for a few minutes until it started to soften.

I then drained the water off (realising that I should have done this first and used the water for the gravy to keep all the nutrients in the dish).

I then mashed the cauliflower up with a little mustard, butter and a small amount of cheese (I had some cheddar but you can use whatever you have – a cream cheese would be nice) and then spread the mix on the top of the meat & gravy.

This went into the oven at 180degrees for about 30 minutes until the cauliflower had browned an the gravy was bubbling.

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I served this with some carrots.

We really enjoyed this and it was also fun to eat as you were never sure what the next mouthful would contain.

You can of course vary this in many ways by making a more traditional base using onions and tomatoes to make a rich gravy and add extra vegetables.

The topping of course can be made with potatoes, swede, any vegetable you choose really.  On of the advantages of using the cauliflower is that the calorie content is greatly reduced (as long as you only use a tiny amount of butter and cheese – just enough to help give a bit of colour and hold it together) and also good if you want to watch your carbohydrates.

Try it – its fun and very tasty and cheap!!

I Will be Organised!!!!

This time of year gets busy for everyone and although I’m not in paid employment I still have quite a busy life and with some of the extra things occupying me at the moment, I realised that I had almost forgotten several birthdays (about half my extended family seem to have theirs in November, December and early new year)

I was going through my new diary for next year writing all the birthdays in and writing the cards required for the next few weeks when I hit on the idea of preparing all the cards for next year at the same time.

I know of some people who prepare a load of cards and simply put the date on the top of the card where the stamp would go so that they know when to post it.

I had already accumulated a stack of birthday and blank cards so I set to work to see how far I could get with what I had in stock.

I thought about actually writing them, but decided not to as that would give me flexibility to change the cards if I saw something nearer the time that would be a better match.  The important thing was that people received a card to show that they had been remembered.

So; I found some sticky labels (the ones like post it notes that you can write on or mark a place/piece of paper with) and wrote the persons name and the date of their birthday on it.  I then attached it to the selected card and created a pile in date order which I then placed into a folder (you could use something like a shoe box if you have a lot more cards.

I did quite well and managed to cover the majority with using a selection of nice blank cards too.

Birthday cards are quite expensive now with most of them costing £2 or £3, and then you have the cost of postage on top.  You can save a bit of money by purchasing a couple of packs of nice note cards and using them.  I found some really nice quality ones which were only £2 for 10 so you can mix and match them as well as having cards ready for anything else like a thank you note or a get well card.

While I was doing this, I made a note of the people or events that I will still need obtain cards for; things like wedding anniversaries or special birthdays so when I am next in a shop looking at cards, I have some idea of which ones I need buy.

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Christmas Cards

A few years ago I decided to stop sending Christmas Cards – or at least greatly reduce the number I was sending.

We used to end up sending something like 100 cards and many of those were to people we see on a regular basis (even on Christmas Day) so as well as being an expense which I wanted to reduce, it seems better too for the environment as most people then throw a huge stack of cards in the recycling bin at the end of the Christmas holidays.

Cards can be quite expensive and as I usually sent a letter with the cards to people that I don’t see regularly, I decided to still send the letter with perhaps a nice photo incorporated and explain that we were trying to be a little more economical and also do a little bit to save the environment and wastage.

Most people I have found value receiving a letter more than a card and therefore appreciated being remembered – many times I have heard of people who say “we decided not to send a letter this year” only to be bombarded with complaints that the letter was missed – especially if you don’t see people because you live too far apart.  They still like to know what your year has been like (be selective though over boasting about little Johny’s achievements)

So now I will send a few cards, mainly just to family (who obviously don’t need the letter)

You could maybe (if you have free land-line calls) give someone a telephone call instead of sending a card or letter – postage is so expensive now I’m sure they would love to speak you

The Chicken – Part 4 – (Chicken Soup)

Normally when I make Chicken soup, I will use up the leftovers from a Sunday Roast.  I will deliberately prepare and roast too many vegetables and pick all the meat off the bones and boil them to make a stock.

However, this I used a different method.

After cutting up my chicken in Part 1 (https://suhancock.wordpress.com/2013/11/02/the-chicken-part-1/) I put the remaining carcass which still had a fair amount of meat on it into my roasting tin (which has a lid).

I then added a couple of whole carrots, parsnips, a couple of sticks of celery, one red onion, 2 cloves garlic and a bayleaf along with about 1 litre of boiling water.

This then went in the oven at 200 degrees for about an hour.

After allowing to cool a little I removed the chicken carcass and took off all the remaining meat an placed the bones into a pan of water and boiled for about 15 minutes with the bayleaf.

While the bones were boiling I chopped up all the cooked vegetables and added a bit of sage and onion stuffing mix to which i then added the water that had been used to boil the bones.

As I had more than I wanted for the evenings supper, I took out the amount I needed then separated out the rest into containers for the freezer.  In this instance I had enough to give the 2 of us four meals (with some bread)

I will usually add some gravy thickening powder to thicken up the liquid to the preferred consistency.  (You can of course use some flour).

To vary this you can then add other veg such as sweetcorn, or for some carbohydrate try adding some rice or pearl barley (although this takes a while to cook

Great for warming up after a day out in the cold.

The Chicken – Part 2 (Quick Sunday Roast)

After cutting up my chicken yesterday, (https://suhancock.wordpress.com/2013/11/02/the-chicken-part-1/) – today I planned on a quick Sunday Roast – not only saving on time but significantly reducing the cooking time saving on electricity costs too.

I started with my vegetables (Potatoes, Carrots & Parsnips) – true to my post https://suhancock.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/to-peel-or-not-to-peel/ I just scrubbed the vegetables and then chopped them up.

I chopped them into smaller pieces than usual so that they would cook more quickly.

One Diet tip I picked up a few years ago is to part boil your veg with a stock cube before roasting.  You can then put them into a hot oven on a preheated tray without the need for any fat as they take on some flavour and colour from the stock cube (save the water for making a delicious gravy.

I then made a small amount of sage & onion stuffing (from a shop bought economy pack) and then took the two chicken thighs which I had saved from yesterday.  I lifted up some of the skin and placed some stuffing under each one and put into a small roasting dish.

If you are being extra good and had removed the skin, then spread some of the stuffing mix on top and cover to prevent it from drying out too much.

Roast the veg and chicken for between 30 and 45 minutes and enjoy with some more green veg of your choice.

 

This is also a great way for a quick midweek roast

The Chicken (Part 1)

This week with the colder weather coming and after promising hubby some home made chicken soup I bought a 2.5kg chicken costing just under £7.  A bit big for just the two of us but I find that it is the most cost efficient way of buying chicken, especially since I learned how easy it is to portion one up and put into the freezer for later use and the larger chickens tend to have a greater proportion of meat on them.

I was also able to use a voucher for £1.50 off for spending over £6 on chicken and this also meant that my total shopping (including some I do for an elderly relative) tipped over £40 enabling me to use another £5 off voucher – so a virtually free chicken – yeah!!

So – what to do with it….

First – remove the small furry member of the household and shut the kitchen door ignoring all the protests from the other side.

Sometimes when I have a chicken I will simply stuff it with shop bought sage & onion stuffing, roast it and then make dishes with it over the next few days; but with the size chicken I had, that was going to take a long time in the oven and I wanted to try and be a bit more economical with the electricity usage; so I decided that I would not cook the whole chicken

The first thing is to cut up the chicken into smaller pieces ready and there are videos available on line that demonstrate this,  but this is the way I do it.

Turn the chicken over so that the breast side is faced down.

Pull a chicken leg out and towards you and you will eventually feel the thigh bone disconnect from the main part of the body.  You can then cut through the gap with a sharp knife and separate the leg away (kitchen scissors are handy here too as sometime the skin is a little awkward) .  Repeat for the other side.

You can either leave the leg whole or feel for the knee joint and cut through again at this point so that you have a drumstick and a thigh from each side.

Turn the chicken around and do the same with the wing – you should be able to feel where the joint is and cut through at this point.

Once you have removed the legs and wings, turn the chicken over so that the breast side is faced upwards.

You will see a bone going down the middle.

With your sharp knife, cut along this bone using it as a guide for your knife and carefully follow the bone down until you can remove the whole piece.  Repeat for the other side.

Depending on the size of your chicken you can cut the breast into two, you can remove the lower flap part as well if you wish.   My chicken was big enough to get 4 x 130g breast pieces and a nice lot of meat for using as chicken pieces (the supermarkets charge about £4 for these bits!!!)

If you are wanting to watch your fat intake then remove the skin and discard.

This left me with 4 chicken breasts, 2 lots of breast meat pieces, 2 chicken thighs, 2 chicken drumsticks and a carcass with quite a lot of meat still on it.

All of this can then be bagged up and popped in the freezer for a later time.

Come back for part 2 and find out what I did with it all – and don’t forget to make sure that your hands, utensils and worktops etc are carefully washed afterwards.