Each week I am buying a little something towards Christmas whether it be a special offer on chocolates, or some cheese I know will mature nicely ready for the big day. This helps me spread the cost so December doesn't hit my bank balance quite so hard.
I have already made and frozen my 'Repton Pudding' an alternative to Christmas pudding.
I used to travel to Switzerland a lot for work and I loved my Bircher Muesli. It gave me the energy to kick start my day as well as keeping me fuller for longer. What I didn’t realise was how easy and cheap it is to make. The ingredients can be varied depending on your taste and there are very healthy options if you want to keep the calories down.
To serve 4-6 people you will need:
I started preparing for Christmas early the year my eldest was born. We knew there was going to be complications and as her due date was the 18th December I realised as early as September that I needed to get myself organised, especially when told that from November onwards I could be admitted into hospital. In those days there was no online shopping, so that tells you how long ago it was. Preparing early was a revelation in the amount of money I saved. So between now and Christmas I will be sharing with you some lessons I have learnt over the years.
For the last few weeks I have been saving glass jars for homemade Jams and Relishes. These are a great Christmas gift for friends and family as well teachers and neighbours. If these are the perfect gift for the Duchess of Cambridge to give to the Queen, I don’t see how anyone can complain.
Homemade relish: Relishes are simple too! There are some fantastic recipes on the internet but the main ingredients are onions, sultanas, apples, vinegar and brown sugar. Today I made some with some blueberries which needed using up and the other ingredients mentioned.
Tip: If the relish isn’t sweet enough add some more sugar, if it becomes too dry add some more vinegar, if it is too runny add some more mixed spice. Relish is all about personal taste so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Mulled wine sachets: I quite often put together hampers for Christmas, within which I include homemade mulled wine sachets. I use netting bought from haberdashery shops such as Dunhelms, using remnants they sell off at a reduced prices. Cut it into squares, add some crushed cinnamon sticks, crushed nutmeg and some dried cloves.
Tied with some pretty ribbon they are easy to make and so much cheaper than anything you can buy but taste as good if not better!!!
When I am working in London which is at least three times a week, I have a two hour commute each way, which altogether takes up 4 hours of my day. So the last thing I feel like doing when I get home is a load of cooking and washing up. Nor do I want to be buying convenience food that is expensive and will blow my weekly budget. The only option I have is to create my own convenience food so I get some work life balance.
I will also add the cooked vegetables and meat to couscous, pulses and grains and with some chilli sauce it also makes a hot nourishing meal on a cold winters evening.
These little packets of goodness can also be added to pasta and sauces to make quick and nutritious meals.
Click here for some more great meals in minutes from the BBC Good Food website:
Alternatively take a look at my A-Z of recipes for some more quick, easy and cheap meal ideas.
How many of us buy a loaf of bread as part of our weekly shop to only throw part of it away at the end of the week? I had a friend who lived with his sister and he used to threaten to throw the whole loaf away as soon as she unpacked the shopping because chances were it would still be in the bread bin mouldy when she bought the next one the following week.
Over the years I have come up with all sorts of ways to use leftover bread rather wasting it or giving most of it to the birds. There are some recipes as old as time where you can use old bread, for example Queens Pudding and Bread and Butter Pudding. However there are only so many times you can keep making these recipes without getting bored, so I have tried to be a bit more adventurous whilst sticking to a budget