Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Challenge Six - The Coupon Challenge - It Should Have Been Day Four


So this should have been Day Four and the day to go shopping and use up my £7.50 worth of usable Nectar Points ... only the great Welsh lockdown happened!!

As I needed to be at home in Wales to cover for Alan working away next week I couldn't get back to the Van and still be able to return to Wales when needed.  So I'm here without having the chance to buy the food that I had planned ... and with a need to use up a lot of the food in the cupboards here too.  So this last leg has been put on the back burner for now.

The Sainsbury's I now use is near the Van and although I could travel to the one in Rhyl and perhaps do the grand finale that I had planned for this Challenge here, I think I would rather chomp my way through what I have in store here instead of moving house with it.

So the Grand Finale was going to be to live for a week on whatever I could buy in one visit to Sainsbury's using only my Nectar points and up to 20p for overage.

Oh well ... the best laid plans of mice and men and all that!!

One good thing is that I found a lottery ticket here at home in Wales being used as a bookmark in one of my books, and checking it on my phone I realised that it was a £30 prize winner.  Yay 😃

I have also been busy Ziffit-ing my books, as car boot sales have been non-existent in our part of Wales.  My first box of over £50 worth went off with the DPD man yesterday.  If that goes smoothly another will be following next week.

Sue xx

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Challenge Six - The Coupon Challenge - Day Three


The next lot of coupons to be used were the Tesco coupons. 

 I had a grand total of £33.50, made up of at least four lots delivered over the course of this lockdown year and none of them used as I have been paying contactless and just not getting my purse out.  Quite a substantial haul of food could be bought with these if you think about the amounts I spend on some of my Challenges.

My first thought was to do a month long food challenge, this was quickly discounted as things are so up in the air at the moment with lockdown rules and something new that is happening in my life.  My second thought, and the one that saw me heading to Tesco, was to put together another 'Rainy Day Box', a stash of food for emergency use.

But literally as I drove into the car park my mind changed.  I don't need this I thought, I can do better with this 'money'.

With my mind made up I went round the store putting three of everything that I thought would be useful for a foodbank to give to people that need supplies more than I do.

Three boxes of cereal, three packs of teabags, three jars of coffee, three tins of fish, three tins of fruit ... you get the picture.  I made it as balanced as I could and doing it this way meant I could keep loose tabs on how much I was spending.

When I got to the checkout I loaded one of each item on the conveyor belt telling the operator that I had three of each and before I knew it everything was back in the trolley ...

... along with the few things that I had picked up for myself, a BOSH! cake and a few tins of tuna for Ginger.

On the way out of the store everything for the Foodbank was bagged up and dropped off in the collection trolley near the door and I came home with virtually no shopping to put away, which always makes me feel very good somehow.

I left the receipt in one of the bags I filled up for the Foodbank but from memory I think I went over by about £2 and paid with my contactless card.  Not a bad mornings work.

Sue xx

Monday, 5 October 2020

Challenge Six - The Coupon Challenge - Day Two


My next shopping trip out from the Van clutching my saved up coupons turned out to be the Marks and Spencer's food shop.  

Alan needed a new phone so we Googled the nearest EE store and it was in Lancaster, just 40 minutes away from the Van, so we decided on a day out by bus.  Lancaster has a horrendous one way system and just one wrong turn or getting into the wrong lane and you are circling the town over and over ... can you tell I speak from experience!!

 Thinking that there should be an M&S in such a big place I Googled that too and sure enough it was just up the road from where we were going.

Mission sorted.

I didn't expect to get much with my £24 of coupons, but I intended to shop as wisely as possible.

After sorting out Alan's phone we had a spot of lunch in M&S and then wandered the food aisles slowly.  It had been months since I had visited an M&S, not at all during lockdown in Wales and as I have already said there is none near to the Van.  There was a lot of new stuff and the beginnings of Christmas stock.  I averted my eyes from this and we each chose some foods that we fancied.  This photo shows my choice ... a good selection of foods to stock up the fridge with tasty treats, my reward to myself for completing the Ration Challenge.  

I chose to get a box of the gorgeous Vegan Kievs, four meals for me in one box.  I usually serve them simply with just a portion of rice and peas.  The Chicken Nuggets pandered to my 'inner 10 year old self' just a little snacky type meal with a pot of mayo to dunk them in.  The samosas were to be another simple lunch, and the Dirty Fries an adventure.  I had heard of these but never tasted them ... gosh perhaps I shouldn't have ... they were delicious, and when I opened them I ate the full two portions the box states it contains all by myself.

We decided we would each choose a ready meal for our tea that night, as Alan was setting back off to Wales in the early evening.  Mine was the Sweet Potato Katsu Curry.

This is the photo I used on the original post the day I bought it, my first evening meal after the Ration Challenge ended.  It was very tasty and very spicy and displayed as it is one of my small plates it looks just right.

Alan's choice of ready meal was a Chicken and Bacon Pasta Bake, to be closely followed by two of the Pineapple Tarts, it would have been all four but I stopped him.  I should imagine the other two were consumed not long after his arrival home, but I didn't ask ... if I don't know I can't tell him off  😄

  The salmon fillets are tucked in the freezer at the Van, handy for fishy meals on his regular visits ... once we can get back!!

Our total spend came to £29.15, which with the coupons deducted was a happier £5.15 spend.  Not too shabby for some tasty treats and a stash of fish for future use.

I was happy with our food spend ... much happier than the cost of Alan's new phone, it's a good job it's a business expense!!  While we were there we also took advantage of all the points I have available on my Costa Card and had a free coffee each.

Oh, and as the lady in the M&S Café gave Alan two sachets of mayonnaise to go with his lunch and he only used one, I brought the other home to add to my little stash tin.  You've got to love a freebie ... of any description.

I'll be back tomorrow with the third part of my couponing adventure, the part that saw me coming home with a lot less than I expected in my shopping bag.

Sue xx

Sunday, 4 October 2020

Challenge Six - The Coupon Challenge - Day One


It all started with the self-service till at the Co-op asking me if I wanted to use my dividends.  Yes I clicked, I do.  I had gone to the local Co-op for some bread and some milk for Alan, and while I was there bought some treats for the weekend .  Wandering up and down the now one-way aisles means temptation reaches out at you,  so my shop ended up including two boxes of Magnums that were on special offer.

My total came to £13.90 and it turned out I had £12.65 in dividends.  So not too shabby ... the bread and the treats for just £1.25

It made me think what other vouchers, coupons or points have I got and not used while we have been busy paying contactless for virtually everything for the majority of this year and gotten out of the habit of handing over cash and vouchers.

My last saved Sainsbury's receipt, tucked in the pocket of my bag showed me that I had £8.49 in Nectar points.  As far as I know you can only redeem these in £2.50 increments, which means I have £7.50 available to spend.  This amount made me think even harder ... it just screams Challenge Week!!

The Marks and Spencer's vouchers had built up nicely as I have no M&S near the Van to shop at.  There was a grand total of £24 gathered over the course of this year.

And WOW the Tesco grand total for the year ... again I have no Tesco near the Van ... along with the ones that arrived the other week is a smile inducing £33.50.

So what to do?

I decided that I would do something different with each of the sets of coupons and points to make things more interesting, and I would photograph and save the resulting purchases until they had all been completed and show you what I had been up to in the form of a mini Coupon Challenge.

I have now completed all but one of my little spend-athons, and it's time to let you in on what I did.

So today you see the Co-op spend.  Basics and treats for a grand total of £1.25.

Tomorrow it's the turn of  the Marks and Spencer's vouchers, and what I bought in the week following the Ration Challenge.

Sue xx

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Getting Back to Normal

The first few days after a Challenge like the Ration Challenge can always seem a bit weird, there's no way you can throw yourself straight into just 'getting back to normal'.  There's quite a bit of guilt in the simple fact that we can go back to normal.  We can fill up the fridge with tasty foods, restock the cupboards, eat what, how much and when we choose too.

This year like last I am just slowly coming out of the Challenge and changing things back over the course of this week, although not everything will be changing back, I will never buy another flatbread for instance or a shop made falafel.  Of course the first thing to come back was coffee, then I had a pint of cider with my tea on Sunday night ... it's easy here at the Park to nip round to the club armed with a pint pot and pick up a drink to take back to the Van  😀

I bought two gorgeous big juicy lemons to slice and pop into the freezer.

That's my morning drink sorted out for the next week or so.

Yes still hot water ... but  post Challenge hot water with lemon.  And of course after it's flavoured the hot water, the lemon goes into a glass and is kept in the fridge for the rest of the day to flavour my glasses of tap water.  Those of you who have read for a while know this habit of mine well.

We had to call to Lancaster yesterday so while I was there I took advantage of being near a Marks and Spencer and used my last three lots of vouchers to pay for some food.  I got a nice yellow-stickered Sweet Pepper Katsu Curry for my tea.  Tasty but very spicy, and the best bit was the ease of cooking it and the minimal pots it created.

It's been a little Challenge that I set myself and has been ongoing for a while but very intermittently ... I'll share if anyone's interested.  It's not yellow sticker shopping, it's just a little four part Challenge with the last part leading into my next Challenge for this blog.  Two parts of it are now complete and the next will possibly be done tomorrow.

But I guess if anyone is interested I could share the photos and a bit of waffle, you all know I'm good at waffling.  😆🤣

Sue xx

Monday, 21 September 2020

The Ration Challenge - End of Challenge Round Up - Edit ... New Total

The Leftovers.

There's not a lot left is there!! 

I guess I could rustle up one final meal of Fried Rice in a Satay-like Sauce ... but I won't.  Instead these items will be used up over the next few days with other foods out of the cupboard here at the Van.  Peanut butter on toast for breakfast for perhaps two days and in normal eating non-ration challenge terms I guess I have a couple of weeks worth of rice.  

Yet again this year I was shocked at the sheer amount of salt I went through.  At the start of Challenge Week this little salt cellar was full to the top, now only the bottom third is left.  I guess when food is sparse and simple salt equals flavour and you add all the flavour you can to all of your food.

I will needless to say be weaning myself off salt over the next few days.

The ticks on the wall chart show that I completed all I set out to complete  😃

Now, how about a round up of some of my favourite meals ...

Right at the beginning the Paratha, with one of my three cups of coffee of Ration Challenge week.  Me ... drinking just three cups of coffee in a week ... unheard of!!

One of my favourite meals - the Falafels with plain rice.

I'll definitely be making these again for sure, but in future with dried or even fresh herbs added and some pepper too, both things I didn't and couldn't have last week.  They were light as anything and absolutely delicious 💓

An eye-opener for me, I like wraps!!

 Especially when they are fresh turmeric homemade wraps and filled with hummus and broken up bean burger, but in more normal days they will also have some shredded crunchy lettuce and perhaps a squeeze of mayo.

Oh be still my beating heart - the pastry made with oil instead of hard fats is delicious, and when it's wrapped around a Lentil and Beanburger is a real treat.

Lentil Pancakes.

That you can make something that is tasty, filling and nutritious out of a handful of lentils and a cup of water was a revelation and these will no doubt be made over and over again.

And the highlight of the week for tastiness, colour and just sheer joy bringing ... my Tomato Pizza.  This will be eaten over and over I can assure you, but with a side of maybe coleslaw or just some crunchy salad vegetables rather than with even more tomatoes  😁😆

It's been a good week, having done this before meant I had some knowledge of what was ahead of me and having the time to try out a few recipes in the run up to it was brilliant.

But the absolute highlight of the last week for me has been YOU.  Knowing that I had so much support, cheering me on from the side-lines, willing me to do well and being ready in a nice way to hold me to account if I failed or stumbled was humbling, cheering and well, just so supportive.

I would like to thank each and every one of you for that support, be it financial or with your words of encouragement.

My Sponsors for Ration Challenge 2020

Anonymous 26.53

  • Anonymous 53.00 
  • Susan H
  • Anonymous 10.60
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  • Hilary E
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  • Mona M
  • Anonymous 26.50
  • Jean B-L
  • Tania O
  • Anonymous 53.00
  • Claire P
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  • Ann M
  • Jenny D
  • Dorothy W
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  • Robert C
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  • Faith A
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  • Jason W & Tash B
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  • Me (on behalf)
  • Frances B
  • Simon W
  • Linda W
  • Sally C
  • Gillian M
  • Sheila A
  • Joy C
  • Alan/Anonymous
  • Me

Thank you ... between us we managed to raise the magnificent sum of  £1,6500.00  The team I was part of managed to raise £3,289.20 between us, and the Ration Challengers overall total up to now, as some people are still doing the Challenge over the next few weeks, is £1,434,457.00

What else can I say except a massive THANK YOU.

Sue xx

 in the UK we've raised

Sunday, 20 September 2020

The Ration Challenge - Day Seven - Final Day

The same as every day this week my first drink of the day was a cup of hot water.

I think it was the Ration Challenge last year that got me hooked on cups of hot water, although these days usually I have a frozen slice of lemon dropped into them.

Breakfast - Rice and Dahl

Then it was onto breakfast, and using the rice I cooked yesterday morning I again added a portion of Dahl to it.  Very tasty, and very filling, much more so than my more usual Weetabix.

Next I to set to and started my prep for lunch.  Making up a batch of Oil Pastry with the last of my flour I carefully brought it all together and broke it into two balls and then left it to rest in the fridge for an hour wrapped in floured cling film.

When it and I were suitably rested, I carefully rolled it out using the flour in my flour shaker to flour the board.  (I had put 50g of my flour ration into the shaker at the start of the week and it has just lasted until today.)

I placed a dollop of my remaining dahl in the centre of each piece of pastry and topped it with the leftover pieces of Lentil and Bean Burger, then I pulled up the pastry to completely cover the filling, made sure it was firmly sticking to itself and then flipped the whole thing over  ... to give me something that looks a lot like an Eccles Cake.

Dinner - Lentil and Bean Burger Pasty

Still looking a lot like a pair of Eccles Cakes they came out of the oven half an hour later, smelling absolutely gorgeous.

  I ate one for my dinner and it was delicious.  The crumbly light textured pastry enclosing the now piping hot dahl and bean burger with the base lovely and thick where all the layers of pastry had converged and cooked into one.  The other one will be eaten for my tea, as one was more than enough for me.

Afternoon Snack - Lentil Pancake and a cup of Coffee

But somehow, mid afternoon and knowing I would be having a slightly later than usual tea after Alan arrived at the Van, and also knowing that he would be having a chippy tea, I managed to fit in a Lentil Flatbread, although to me they have the texture more of a crispy, but fluffy inside pancake, so I have now renamed them.

And with it the last of my coffee ... my third cup of the week, eked out from the two teaspoons of coffee that I got as a sponsorship reward.

Tea - The other Lentil and Bean Burger Pasty

 To misquote a famous food retailer  'This is not just any food ... this is Ration Challenge Food ðŸ’–'  It was gorgeous, and once Challenge week is over I will be making this again and eating it with a large dollop of mayonnaise.

That's it the Challenge for me is  over, I will be back with one more post giving my final fundraising total and some of my thoughts about the week and the food.  I will also show you what I have left over.

Thank you all so much for your amazing support and sponsorship.  

For one final time - My Fundraising Page is here.

Sue xx