01 Dec

December 2018

With the Toy Show being on last night Christmas season has officially kicked off in Ireland; in fact I have a Christmas party to go to tonight. The kids are obsessed with Christmas and their pure joy and delight in decorations in the shops and music playing on the radio is brilliant. As usual for the start of December though I don’t have the decorations up and I’ve no Christmas Tree in the sitting room quite yet.

I know I’m not the only one. I suppose it’s a hangover from the days of being so stressed out about money that we tried not to put the decorations up early or the presents under the tree until we had them bought. It felt like we were making promises to the kids (and to ourselves) that we just couldn’t keep.

The memories of tossing in turning in bed at night wondering how to borrow from Peter and pay Paul will never go away. I hope that they never do because I understand now that they have (a) brought me to where I am today and (b) know exactly what it’s like for those who are struggling at the moment.

Over the next month I’ll have something new each day for you to read or watch. I’ll share my tips on how to prepare for Christmas on a budget; how to not to be a Mammy-martyr in the lead up to the big day, how to ask for help gracefully, and some budget present ideas for all ages.

For today, the first day of December, I’d like to ask you to add 1 small extra item to your grocery shopping this week to donate to your local food appeal. It needn’t be something expensive, even if it’s an extra tin of beans or a bag of rice. If you’d rather not add an extra item in, why not see if you have something in your cupboards already that you’d like to share. Here’s the list from the St Vincent de Paul for their food appeal (this is also suitable for the Lions Club food appeals). Click here for the St Vincent de Paul list.

I’ve got some bags of pasta and some tins of beans which will be brought to our local collection point this week.

Chat tomorrow. Cxxx

14 Jun

How To Visit Taste Of Dublin On A Budget

Updated for 2017! For ten years I managed to avoid Taste of Dublin, I knew it was on, I knew where, and convinced myself that it wasn’t worth visiting and not to bother. However, in year 10 I was invited along as a guest of the organisers to check it out. This gave me the opportunity to head on in and see if it was worth the admission price, what’s on offer, and to figure out if it’s worth your while to head along this year (year 12).

The Ticket Price

The cheapest tickets you can buy directly online are €17.50 per person and these are available for the Thursday and Friday afternoon sessions. I have to say I found these afternoon sessions to be the most enjoyable, especially when the weather is good. Regardless of which day or time you elect to visit the Iveagh Gardens, make sure you buy your tickets online. It’s far more expensive at the gate on the day. Read More

16 Jul

Simple Chicken Traybake

The beauty of this simple chicken traybake is that once it’s assembled you just bake it in the oven and wait while the delicious smells fill the house. Read More

09 Jul

Wholesome Frittata

This frittata tastes delicious while still warm at dinner, but is also the perfect next day lunchbox fare because it’s just as nice cold. There’s no reason why eating healthily should be hard to do! Read More

25 Jun

Gently Spiced Pork Meatballs

Gently Spiced Pork MeatballsThe trick to perfect meatballs is to roast them in the oven before adding the meatballs to the sauce. This is not only a way to render off the fat you sometimes find in the cheaper cuts of meat, but the browning process in the oven adds extra flavour. It’s easy to see why this meal is a hit with my family. Read More

18 Jun

Quick and Easy Vegetarian Tart

Vegetarian TartThis vegetarian tart is so easy to make thanks to the pre-rolled puff pastry. There really isn’t much to do apart from bake the pastry, then fill it a quarter of an hour before serving, then cooking for the final few minutes. It’s the ultimate make-ahead party food, and you’ll look like an absolute genius to produce something so pretty from your kitchen at the last minute. What makes it more incredible is that you only need 5 ingredients to make it! Read More

11 May

My Tips For Managing The Family Budget

My Tips For Managing The Household BudgetIt’s a delicate balancing act but you don’t need me to tell you that I’m sure. How do you allow for all the costs during the year, make sure that the bills are paid, that there are enough savings for special occasions, and not end up pulling your hair out in frustration?

I’d love to tell you that it’s easy to manage the family budget, but it’s not. Setting up a management system will take time. I’m not going to pull any wool over your eyes. My best advice to you is to put the time in today, and you’ll find it much easier in the future.

This is not an exhaustive list. I’ll bet you have some tips that are far better than mine. If you do please let me know! Read More

24 Apr

Potato Pizza

When I peel potatoes I always peel at least twice as many as I need for a meal. If I’m going to invest my time at the kitchen sink peeling spuds, then I might as well make it worth my while. Once mashed, I divide the potatoes into 2 sections – 1 to cool for freezing, and 1 for the main meal. Frozen mash is one of my kitchen secrets because I keep it on standby for busy days or quick suppers.

How do I cook the mash once defrosted though? Mash and gravy are one of life’s luxuries and there is nothing like a spoon of mash made with plenty of black pepper, topped with a runny poached egg. Excuse me while I drool on my keyboard at the thought.

Sometimes I do fancy something different, and this is where the idea of the potato pizza was born. The trick is to cook the base until it’s crispy on a low heat before adding the other ingredients. This adds to the cooking time, but really it’s not long when it comes to active-cooking time as it takes only 10 minutes to assemble. Read More

04 Nov

Tuna Fish Cakes

Tuna Fishcakes

While I love Fresh Fish Friday, I don’t always have the budget or time to get to the fishmongers to get some decent fresh fish.  This recipe for tuna fish cakes uses a medium tin of tuna which is handy to have in the store cupboard for frugal weeks. If you have fresh vegetables to put with this meal, do as they will brighten up your plate. Alternatively a tin of sweetcorn and some frozen peas will go just as well.  There’s nothing wrong with eating from the store cupboard every now and again, especially if it saves you money in the long run. Read More

21 Jan

Leftovers Pie

I realise that in the technical sense of the term, this is not a “pie”. I’ve already received a lecture from my other half about him being short-changed. He rang this afternoon and I mentioned that dinner was ready. When I informed him that it was leftovers pie he was delighted, then the excitement turned to disappointment when he realised that there was no pastry at all involved in this pie. DSC_0613 Read More

03 Jun

Meatballs In Onion Gravy

I often wonder what people consider to be a frugal recipe. Watching the new series of “Save With Jamie” last night where he talked about his recipes costing about STG£1.75 per portion being frugal I realised it’s easy to forget that frugal to him is excessive to me!  If you’re interested in what I think of his book to accompany the series you can read my review from September here.

Before I get to my own recipe ,which costs far less than what you’d think, I just wanted to mention my own book. The price has dropped significantly on Amazon and if you’re interested in picking it up for a bargain then do head over there, check out the reviews and see if you’re interested.  Meanwhile, as I’m on RTÉ’s “The Consumer Show” tonight at 8.30pm I’m off to find a cushion to hide behind and a pot of tea to keep me steady!

This meatballs in onion gravy recipe uses just a few key ingredients but it is full of flavour. It’s also budget friendly, coming in at just €0.90 per portion for a family of 5.

I always have at least one bag of frozen sweetcorn on the go. When the sweetcorn is flash frozen it preserves far more nutrients than tinned sweetcorn and it’s cheaper per gram to buy than the fresh or tinned alternatives. Another product I keep in the stores the whole year around is spuds. Irish spuds are cheaper this year than the last so bear that in mind when you’re out shopping.

By keeping some key store cupboard ingredients stocked up, I always have options when it comes to planning my meals for the week. Why not give this family meal a try? Read More

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