Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Is it possible to make your own takeaway food for less than you’d pay for it readymade? In my new ‘make it or buy it’ challenge, I’ll be finding out this week.

Despite pursuing a more frugal lifestyle, I still occasionally have a weakness for a good takeaway. Sometimes there’s nothing better than kicking back on a Friday night, putting your feet up and leaving the cooking to somebody else. Every week I get at least ten leaflets pushed through my door for pizza delivery companies, Chinese and Indian takeaways. But are we paying too much? Is it possible to make your own ‘takeaway style’ food at home for less which might also be healthier or better quality too? Despite people cutting back on takeaways during the credit crunch, delivery pizzas have remained popular. This week, as part of my make it or buy it challenge, I thought I’d investigate by making my own homemade pizza and comparing the price and quality to the takeaway versions.

Making a pizza at home is so quick and simple that I’m surprised more of us don’t do it instead of ordering them in or buying them readymade from the supermarket. If you have a bread-maker then it’s even easier to do so because you can get the bread-maker to mix and knead the dough while you put your feet up and have a cup of tea. To make my pizza I mixed 300g (11 oz) of strong white bread flour with 1/2 a teaspoon of fast acting yeast, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, 15g (1/2 oz) of butter, 1 tablespoon of milk powder, 1 teaspoon of salt and 210 ml of water.

When the dough was ready, I rolled it out on a floured surface and shaped it into a 10 inch (25 cm) circle – well, roughly so, as I was pretty hopeless at getting it into a pure round. Then I spread a few tablespoons of tomato puree across the pizza base with a knife. Next I cut up some vegetables, including our very first courgette of the season from our garden, and mushrooms.

To give it a meaty flavour, in place of pepperoni I threw in some slices of dried pork sausage that DJ likes to eat on top. Then, to prevent them from burning, I coated the vegetable and meat slices in a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar before placing them on top of the pizza and sprinkling some grated cheese on top. Lastly, I put the pizza on a baking tray and put it in a pre-heated oven at 220 degrees C (gas mark 7) for about 20 minutes until it was ready. I served it with some mixed lettuce leaves from our garden and some fresh chopped basil – also grown by DJ.

I was a bit nervous when I took it out of the oven. Would it taste as delicious as the pizzas you can get delivered? Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t bad. The toppings were really fresh and tasty and it actually tasted like a pizza that you might buy. There also wasn’t that greasy sensation that you sometimes get from pizzas that have been delivered. I think this is probably a slightly healthier option, depending on how much of it you eat. However, it was a little bit doughy in the middle and took a bit longer to cook than I expected, so I think next time I’ll use half the amount of dough and make a thinner crust pizza.

However, how did it stack up price wise? Here’s a rough breakdown, dividing up the cost per kg of each item by the amount used. While our courgette was ‘free’, I’ve given it a nominal value due to the cost of maintaining our veg garden:

Flour – 22p
Yeast – 5p
Sugar – 1p
Butter – 7p
Milk powder – 2p
Courgettes – 20p
Mushrooms – 20p
Saucison sec – 50p
Tomato puree – 4p
Cheese – 42p
Olive oil – 25
Total: £1.98

To have a similar pizza delivered by my local delivery company would have cost me £13.99, so we definitely saved some money, even allowing for the energy cost of baking the pizza. The only downside was having to make it myself (and do the significant amount of washing up it created, too) – obviously the point of having a takeaway is not to have to cook – but it’s not a difficult meal to make.

Later in the week I’ll be investigating other takeaway options and whether it’s more cost effective to buy them in or make them ourselves. Hope you can join me then!

Do you make your own homemade pizzas? What are your favourite recipes and how much money do you save by making your own? Leave a message and let me know.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

My top frugal tips

Before going on xmas holidays, I thought a fitting note to end on would be to put together a selection of some of the most useful frugal living tips I’ve come across during the past four years, so here goes:
11 Ways to Keep Money in Your Pocket in 2011
 

–  Take responsibility for your own finances.  Don’t be afraid of them. Get to know them and spend some time with them! Keep a regular eye on your bank accounts and statements – it’s easy these days with internet banking access – and put together a realistic monthly budget that you can keep to. If you don’t like spread-sheets, there are plenty of online budgeting tools that you can use to keep on top of your finances.

 

–  Learn to live within your means. It can be tough sometimes, especially in this difficult economic climate and within a culture which tries to make us buy things we don’t need and advertising which tries to make us aspire to ape the lifestyles of celebrities.  But there is more to life than spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need and comfort to be found from having a bank account which is in the black rather than in the red. As I get older, I appreciate simple things more such as the company of good friends or a walk in the countryside which come for free. If your hobbies are costing you too much money, there are plenty of low cost alternatives you can switch to if you only just give it some thought and research. Why not have a day each month during which you try not to spend any money at all? There’s a challenge for you!

 

–  Have a goal in mind.  Many of us are having to save money simply because we are facing bad times but you’ll be more successful if you’re saving towards something specific.  It could be a holiday, a course you want to go on or a special occasion you need to save for. Or it could just be that you want to work less and have more time to spend with your family. Whatever it is, make plans for the future and start saving towards them if you can. It will motivate you and make you feel more positive about living a more frugal lifestyle.

 

–   Learn to haggle and always ask for a discount on a major purchase if you can. It’s something that takes getting used to if it doesn’t come naturally, but it’s nearly always worth doing. If a clothing item you want to buy has a mark on it, show it to the sales assistant and ask for some money off. If there’s something wrong with your meal (I had a meal out a while ago and found a piece of plastic in it! There was nothing wrong with the food otherwise but I got my meal for free!) ask for a discount.  The worst thing that can happen is that you are unsuccessful but if you don’t ask, you don’t get. If you’re unhappy with the service you receive, always complain and ask for money back.

 

–  Got the Good Life bug? If it’s something that interests you anyway, why not grow some of your own food at home? You don’t have to be Monty Don – it’s easy to grow tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and lettuce at home and if you don’t have a garden you can still grow them in hanging baskets, pots or grow bags. Seeds can be expensive but you can harvest your own seeds from supermarket tomatoes and peppers and exchange seeds with friends to save money. Compost can be pricey too but, if you’ve got the room, you can make your own at home by recycling grass clippings and kitchen waste.  As I’ve come to know it, learning from others, living the frugal life isn’t about eating rubbish but good quality food, and nothing much compares in the quality and health stakes to fresh, home-grown grub. And, when times are hard or you’ve forgotten to go shopping, for much of the year there will always be something in the garden or your grow bag that you can add to a meal.

 

–  Whatever people may tell you, it’s not worth skimping on everything.  There is always something that it’s just a false economy to save money on. It might be a small item like your teabags (I don’t like to compromise on a good brew myself) or something bigger, like your car, a good pair of shoes or your own health.  Whatever it is, don’t compromise on it.  Save money elsewhere instead.  Life is too short to be miserable or unsafe. Remember something which a blog user told me a while ago – living frugally isn’t just about living cheaply but living well.

Read Full Post »

As I drove to work in the morning, I saw a car shaking a little erratically as it suffered behind a car a bit too slow. It switched into the other lane of a two lane road but again it was stymied by another slow car so impatient, it switched back almost clipping another car in the process. Over and over again, the car switched lanes back and forth and in the end, had ended up back where it had originally started. Now, I’m all for switching lanes once or twice if I’m really stuck behind an incredibly slow vehicle but this was just getting ridiculous. I wanted to pull that guy over myself and sit him down and tell him to just “Stop!”. Besides, he could save a lot of money if he just had a little patience. How?

Save on Petrol/Fuel

All this rapid acceleration and decceleration was just wasting a lot of gas which with it being £5.50 or more per gallon around here was a LOT of money.

Save on Car Service

I’m not an automobile expert here but I’m sure that all this swerving back and forth has got to be tough on the tires. Not to mention this guy may have been lucky not to get hit by another car this time but things are unpredictable and I’m sure he’s gotten or will get into a few accidents that could have been wholly preventable. This means getting his car fixed over and over again when he didn’t have to.

Save on Car Insurance

Speaking of accidents, even minor accidents when happening multiple times will make an insurance company take pause. The insurance companies still want to make sure they have a profit in the end and if they’re always paying claims since most of the time, it’s this guy at fault, then they’re definitely going to raise his premiums.

Save on Medical Bills

Ok, if this guy gets in a car accident, he has a likely chance of getting hurt or at the minimum: whiplash. Also, this guy’s rather impatient and even his car seemed a bit stressed. Stress, whether it be from daily life or simply the fact that he has to pay more on gas or auto service or auto insurance, is definitely not good for one’s health in the long run (heart disease or high blood pressure to name a few).

This guy could potentially be paying hundreds of dollars more and all he gets in the end is that he arrived at work 5 minutes earlier than he could have. Is it worth it? That’s for him to decide.

Read Full Post »

Make a saving budget

With the food and petrol prices constantly rising in the face of the global financial crisis, cutting unnecessary spending and saving money is of ever increasing importance. By cutting out some luxuries from our lives we can avoid debt and save money.

When shopping, keep a look out for special offers, sometimes you can even pick up top branded products cheaply if they are on offer. Otherwise, try to buy supermarkets own brand products and stay away from brand names. Often, the quality of the product is the same for a cheaper price. Buying things in multipacks can also help to save money in the long run.

Shop around. Try shopping at a different supermarket and see if you’re shopping works out cheaper. This could be especially helpful if this supermarket is closer to home. Look out for petrol vouchers with your shopping and find out which supermarket offers the best loyalty card system.

Create a budget for the week, month or even a year. Sit down and work out all your incomes and expenditures, this way you know how much you have to spend on yourself over a given period. If you have cash left over try and save it. This could be by having one less drink on a night out or not having a weekly takeaway, over the year this will add up to a big saving. Some financial advisers will help you budget free of charge so it’s worth arranging a meeting with one to see what advice they can offer you on saving money.

Around the house this winter, layer up rather than turning the heating up! Heating bills are ever increasing due to rising gas and oil prices so by wearing extra clothing you can save money on your heating bill. The same can be said for your water bill, take showers rather than baths and avoid using the dishwasher where possible. As for electricity, turn off lights when they are not being used and try to avoid leaving electrical appliances on standby.

The cost of petrol has risen massively and even a short journey now costs a substantial amount in petrol costs. Avoid driving when you can, walk or take a bike. Not only will this save you money but it’s great for your fitness! You may also want to find out how to drive more efficiently, i.e how to use less petrol. Guides as to how to do this can be found online.

Read Full Post »

Tesco Compare is offering 500 Clubcard points to all Clubcard holders who buy a car or home insurance policy through www.tescocompare.com.

The comparison website searches and compares over 65 leading brands of car insurance and over 25 of home insurance to help customers choose the right deal.

It is the only comparison site to offer its customers loyalty points, giving them that little bit extra when buying a car or home policy through Tesco Compare.

Commercial Director, Vikki Macleod, said: “Our Clubcard offer is our way of saying thank you to Clubcard customers. In the current economic climate it has never been more
important for customers to search for competitive car or home insurance quotes. With this offer there is now the chance to collect 500 points as a welcome bonus.”

How does it work?

The offer couldn’t be simpler. Customers visit the Tesco Compare website, enter their Clubcard number when getting a car or home insurance quote, and the 500 points will then be awarded
after the policy is purchased.

Vikki Macleod added: “Our intention is for Tesco Compare to be the comparison site of choice for Tesco customers. We believe the offer is a great way for people to pick up a little something extra when shopping around for a car or home insurance deal.”

Alongside launching the offer, Tesco Compare is focused on helping customers to search for deals so they could save money. In addition to comparing by price, customers can also compare
car and home insurance quotes by features and benefits according to what is most important to them.

Tesco Compare’s services don’t stop there: It can also introduce people to comparison services for products including Money, Utilities and Telecoms, and a wider range of insurance products.

Read Full Post »

Some of the coins in your pocket could actually cost more to make than they are worth in the shops.

UK coins - How much are they really worth?

Image: PA/Microsoft

Making the notes and coins we use every day is a serious business. Every year, the Royal Mint holds what’s known as the Trial of the Pyx.

The trials have been held since the 13th century and are trials in the judicial sense, involving a judge and an expert jury of assayers (people who analyse metals). Together they ensure that newly-minted coins conform to required standards of weight, size and composition of metals.

However, does the value of the metal in a coin mean it’s actually worth more than its monetary value? Surprisingly, the answer in some cases is yes.

As the Royal Mint makes it clear that it is an offence for a member of the public to melt down a coin of the realm, we have used current coin weights and metal prices to estimate how much our coins are really worth. Read on to see the results.

(Figures based on November 30 prices)

 

Read more here

Read Full Post »

Buying auto insurance is important since it offers financial security to your vehicle in the event of an accident. When a road mishap takes place, your car might be subject to a huge amount of damage. This is why you should buy an auto insurance policy to prevent a liability claim.

With the advent of the Internet, you don’t essentially have to ask for automobile insurance quotes from various companies when you’re thinking about buying an auto insurance policy. Auto insurance comparison sites help you receive a number of quotes in no time. However, you should make use of the most reliable comparison sites like Carinsurance180.com for getting the most precise quotes and saving more money.

As a matter of fact, increasing numbers of consumers prefer to buy online automobile insurance since the entire procedure is quicker and there are minimum formalities. If you’re considering buying car insurance online, you should understand that there are multiple advantages available for you. You simply can’t get these advantages if you go the offline mode.

Benefits of buying auto insurance online

Given below are five important benefits if you insure your vehicle online:

1) It is more convenient

Buying auto insurance over the Internet is greatly suitable for consumers who have a busy lifestyle. Nearly all auto insurers have their own sites that allow the consumer to begin and stop searching and send an application whenever they want.

2) It helps you save time

Purchasing online car insurance is not similar to conventional techniques where you have no other option but to contact various companies or go to their offices in person. It is quite simpler since you don’t need to put so much effort from your end. Online shopping gives you the chance to compare various policies straightforwardly and you don’t need to spend much time for doing this. You don’t have to hang around or wait in the queue or face any difficulties.

3) You can save money

If you shop around online, you have the opportunity to save more since there are various options for you to select. You’re practically assured to save money when you use the Internet instead of an agent in your neighborhood. Many insurers are keen to get customers and for this reason, they are offering a range of discounts that helps you save more.

4) Confidentiality

Usually, car insurance quotes might be received namelessly and directed to standard email addresses. When you’re ready to buy the policy, you don’t have to bother about privacy issues since most websites are protected.

5) You have more choices

You won’t find any other source that would give you so many options to choose from. You can explore various policies and buy the one that is most suitable for your needs.

You should think about the abovementioned benefits when you’re going to insure your car.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »