Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Save 10% at Boots with NetVoucherCodes

One of the first things I check before any major purchase is if there is an online voucher code that can help me reduce the cost.

But, I never think to check for smaller purchases or when all those small purchases add up to a larger amount.

However, it doesn't take a lot of smaller amounts to make a larger one, especially when everything we need comes all at once!

So I was delighted to find a 10% saving when you spend £75 or more at Boots (it expires 6 Feb 2015 but check out NetVoucherCodes for full terms and conditions).

With us needing toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel, aromatherapy oils, new toothbrushes and some medications the shopping bill will be £75 easily!

So what I am trying to say is that money saving is a constant thing and that sometimes I need to start looking at the pennies and not just the pounds.  It is drummed into me to look for savings on big ticket items that I sometimes overlook the other options.

So this is why I am going to be joining in with Cass at Dairy of a Frugal Family with her five things I have saved on this week and sharing my family's five things every Friday. 

  1. Mini has been saving his pocket money each week as he got a magazine subscription for Christmas which started this week.
  2. We have been eating from the freezer and the stores so I have saved £30 on the shopping bill
  3. The husbeast changed his brakes himself saving on the labour costs at the garage 
  4. I repaired two pairs of the boys school trousers that they had put the knews through on.  I used the material from one pair which was beyond repair to patch the inside.
  5. My FIL gifted us a sack of potatoes (he is a farmer) which saves on me buying any.
I would love to know what you have saved on this week.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Don't miss out on your Merlin Annual Pass in the January sale

We love making memories and one of the ways we do this is visiting places.  We have long learned that experiences bring our family much more joy that things.  We recently picked up our Merlin Annual passes at York Dungeon, which is going to enable us to have a lot of experiences and make a lot of memories this coming year. 

A Merlin Annual Pass unlocks 31 Worlds of fun across the UK for an entire 12 months and with Merlin Worlds across the country there is something for everyone, and the value is amazing.

Merlin Worlds include, Alton Towers Resort, Chessington World of Adventures Resort, LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort, THORPE PARK Resort and SEA LIFE centres around the country.

You can also visit a number of London Worlds, which include; Madame Tussauds, the London Dungeons, the London Eye and the London Aquarium!

The best time to buy your Merlin Annual Pass is in the January sale, as you won't see a lower price all year. So from just £99* per person you could have access to all 31 Worlds and visit them as many times as you like!

So start having your experiences and making memories now by buying your Merlin annual passes at their lowest price.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Menu plan, the money has run out before the month edition!

January is always a tight month, but die to some unexpected bills and rather lax invoice payments is is harder than normal for us this month.  So we are trying to stretch what we have in the fridge, freezer and cupboards.

Monday - Toad in the hole, mash, leeks and peas

Tuesday - chicken noodle soup (made with homemade stock) and dumplings

Wednesday - Garmon, egg and chips

Thursday - Homemade pizza

Friday - Jacket potatoes with cheese and beans

Saturday - Bolognese with quorn mince from the freezer

Sunday - Roast chicken dinner

Next week will be even more of a mashup as we will be eating mainly from the freezer.  We are lucky I have a well stocked larder and we have a sack of potatoes from the father in law (who is a farmer)

Monday, 12 January 2015

Apply for a grant to replace your gas boiler!

Since Christmas is an expensive time of year anyway, so many families on low incomes are currently struggling with high heating bills and cannot heat their home affordably or effectively. There is a scheme available to help those households that meet the qualifying criteria obtain a free grant to put towards replacing old and inefficient or broken gas boilers. This could be of huge benefit in terms of energy efficiency and saving money on those all-important fuel bills. If you are a homeowner or private tenant (with permission from your landlord), on tax or pension credits or income related benefits, you could qualify.

More about the scheme 

The government ECO (energy companies obligation) scheme launched in 2013 is still providing grants to help low income households become more fuel efficient and heat their homes more affordably. There is a legal obligation placed on large energy suppliers to meet targets of improving energy efficiency in low income households. If you meet the criteria, Boiler Grants can help you through the process of applying for the grant and then put you in touch with an ECO registered company or supplier.

How it works

If you qualify, an ECO scheme approved company will survey your property making sure that everything is in order before the grant will have final approval. The new A-rated gas condensing boiler will be installed by a Gas Safe Registered and approved installer and you can look forward to lower energy bills and a warmer home. It is worth noting that even if you are eligible, you might be required to make a contribution towards the new boiler. The grant itself and the application is completely free and any contribution would be offset by the savings on your energy bill.

If you receive any of the following, you might be eligible:

·         Child Tax Credit (with an income of £15,860 or less)
·         Working Tax Credit (with an income of £15,860 or less)
·         Income Support
·         Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance
·         Income-Related Employment Support Allowance

For more information or to apply, visit

Friday, 9 January 2015

Family Favorites - Slow cooker meals

Slow cooker Bolognese

One of our favorite family meals is bolognese and it is even better that I can make in in our slow cooker or crock pot.  It is perfect for Sundays when we have junior football, as I can prep it in the morning and we can come home to a warming, delicious hearty meal and even better one that leaves me with empty dishes and full tummies. 

You will need:
  • 15g Flora Buttery
  • 1 carrot , very finely chopped
  • 1 onion
  • 1 celery stick , optional , chopped
  • 55 g (2oz) mushrooms , cut into quarters
  • 350 g (12oz) lean beef mince
  • ground black pepper
  • 400 g tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp beef stock
  • 225 g (8oz) spaghetti or pasta of choice
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
This week, we had our bolognese without the mushrooms and celery, but with added peppers.


  1. Heat the Flora Cuisine in a large non-stick frying pan and season the beef with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fry the beef until it is nice and brown , before transferring to the slow cooker with  all the other ingredients and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  2. 15 minutes before serving cook spaghetti in lightly salted boiling water for 12–15 minutes, then drain.
  3. Arrange spaghetti in a deep dish, pour meat sauce over and sprinkle with grated cheese.
We always make double, as it freezes really well and is perfect for making lasagne with. 

Flora as some great recipes for using up leftovers to make family meals.

Smoky Slow cooker Beef and Sweet Potato Chilli

Chilli is also a firm family favourite in my home.  It is a great way to use up any beef that you might have left from the Sunday roast or from a large pack of mince meat that you may have left from making the spaghetti bolognese. 

You will need
  • 1 tablespoon Flora Cuisine
  • 800g braising beef, chopped into cubes
  • 1 medium sized sweet potato, diced
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped - no seeds
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped - no seeds
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika - less if your kids are not keen on the kick
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried coriander
  • 700ml beef stock
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin kidney beans, drained
  • 1 large square of dark chocolate
  1. Heat the Flora Cuisine in a large non-stick frying pan and season the beef with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fry the beef until it is nice and brown on both sides, before transferring to the slow cooker, along with the diced sweet potato.
  2. Add the garlic, diced chillies, spices and oregano to the pan juices and fry for minute until fragrant (you may need to open the window, as pre-cooking the chillies will make your eyes water!) Stir in the tomato purée, tomatoes and stock then bring to a boil.
  3. Pour the hot sauce over the meat, then cover with a lid and cook on low for seven hours. Taste, and add more smoked paprika and spices if you feel it needs it. Stir in the kidney beans and the dark chocolate, and then cook for an hour more until the meat is very tender.
  4. Serve immediately with a nice big blob of sour cream. This also works well spooned over baked potatoes, and  freezes beautifully.

Homemade Slow Cooker Beef Stock

Stock is something that I always make on a Sunday using my slow cooker and any left overs we have from preparing Sunday dinner,  I leave it my slow cooker on low over night and it is THE best stock you will ever make.
You will need
  • Beef bones (preferably with some meat still attached to it – this will help give it a richer flavour!)
  • 1 medium sized carrot, sliced
  • 1 medium sized , diced
  • 1 rib of celery, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Dried herbs (use whichever you have to hand)
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Cold water
  1. Place the leftover beef bones into the slow cooker with the chopped vegetables and the herbs.
  2. Add water to the slow cooker until it is roughly ¾ full and cover.
  3. Cook on low for 10 hours, or high for 5-6 hours.
  4. Once made, strain out and discard the vegetables and bones. You can freeze this, or use it immediately in a recipe of your choice. 

Slow cooked Sweet Potato

Did you know that you can cook potatoes and sweet potatoes in your slow cooker?  Well you can.  This will revolutionise the way you cook them, also it is so much cheaper to leave your slow cooker on than your oven all day.

You will need
  • A medium sized sweet potato
  • A tasty bit of Flora Buttery
  • Salt and pepper
  • Kitchen foil
  1. If your potato is looking a bit dirty, give it a good wash and dry it well (a dry skin will crisps up better in the cooker!)
  2. Pull enough kitchen foil off the roll to wrap your potato up. The metal allows the heat to conduct better and this is what crisps the skin. Put the potato on the foil and then rub the potato with a tiny scattering of salt and some black pepper. Then wrap your potato up, ensuring that no skin is showing.
  3. Place your potato in the slow cooker, and cook without lifting the lid for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Carefully remove when ready and unwrap.
This works just as well for regular potatoes too. 

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