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The Rising Cost of Living – How Can We Beat It?

By Di Castle November 03, 2022 Lifestyle

We are all worrying about prices and the cost of energy, aren’t we? We wonder how we will cope in the coming winter. But over the years I have found there are some simple ways to save money.

First, Let’s Look at Food

While I wouldn’t wish anyone to go hungry, it is a fact that we are all more overweight than we used to be. If you look at family photographs taken in the war years, when there was strict rationing, you will not see any of your ancestors looking overweight.

There are many steps we can take which have been advocated by experts in the field of dieting and so here goes.

These are my ideas only and should not be followed by anyone with health issues. If you have some health conditions, your diet may need to vary, but you should consult your doctor or nurse practitioner. But please read on for ideas.

Baby Steps

  • Try using a smaller plate.
  • Dish up the food and then remove some or half off the plate and put it in the fridge to heat up the next day.
  • Fancy egg and bacon? Use one egg and not two.

Shopping and Eating

  • Don’t be proud. Stickered (on sale) food that is just about to go out of date is perfectly good. If you can’t eat it all? Put it in the freezer. Stock up when food is on special offer.
  • If shopping online, use the drop-down menu to find offers.
  • With online shopping, choose a delivery-saver slot, which will usually save you one pound. Sainsbury’s is best for this. Some supermarkets still charge about three pounds for delivery, so be careful. You need to choose a large window, for example 7-11 p.m. but an e-mail will be sent on the day, giving you the hour of delivery, e.g., 7-8 p.m.
  • Beans on brown toast once a week is nourishing.
  • Salmon pieces are generally very large, so I now cut these in half, use one portion and freeze the other.
  • The same can be done with chicken pieces. Have half a large chicken piece hot one day and the other half can be eaten cold the next day.
  • Buy cheap cuts of meat. These are more tasty anyway. Shoulder of lamb is cheaper than leg of lamb. Breast of lamb, stewing beef, brisket are all good. They may have some fat on them but once cooked it is easily cut off.
  • If you are fit and able, you could get a piece of land in a community garden and grow your own vegetables, something I did for 10 years. As I grew older, it became harder, but I started putting in fruit bushes which cut down the amount of digging. I then froze the fruit. I also froze runner beans and other vegetables when they all prospered together.

Electricity

  • When boiling a kettle, only put in the amount of water you need. You could also cut down on some of those extra cups of tea. Do you really need a cup of tea or are you just bored?
  • Reduce the number of times you put the cooker on each week. There are frozen jacket potatoes which take only five minutes in the microwave. Perhaps one of your meals can be a jacket potato with salad which saves using the cooker.

Cooking

  • When cooking, use the opportunity to cook other meals; a casserole on one shelf and chicken pieces on another. Also, use vegetables that can go in the oven while other food is cooking.
  • I have found food can cook quite well in a shorter time than suggested in the instructions. However, do make sure that food is cooked thoroughly.

Using the Hob

  • Cook up small amounts of mince with many vegetables such as turnip/onion/potato, using one saucepan to save fuel. If you have a slow cooker, you could have this on for 3 to 4 hours or even less. Divide the cooked meal into several portions and freeze in containers. I save those that come from a Chinese or Indian takeaway.
  • Don’t forget fruit. Half an apple is better than none.

Heating and Keeping Warm

  • It’s a well-known adage that to save heating we should wear layers and jumpers, but we should also look at our existing heating system and check that it is working efficiently. Timers and thermostats will help. One piece of good advice is to use your local library where you’ll find company, warmth, books and newspapers to read.
  • Last year, my daughter bought me some thermal layers to wear under my clothes and this made so much difference that I’m going to add to my stock this year.

Holidays

When our children were young, we went camping with all cooking done on our two-ring stove. It was many years before we treated ourselves to takeaway fish and chips on the way home. Soon after, we managed fish and chips during the week and a meal in a cheap motorway restaurant on the journey home.

General

  • Not all appliances are created equal. It is possible to find a chart online (such as this one from Citizen’s advice bureau) which shows the costs of running electrical equipment over a period of say five or ten minutes. You should be able to search for this wherever you are living. This enables you to monitor your use and find alternatives if you find an electrical gadget is using too much energy.
  • You can get some useful tips by looking something up online. For example, one gives an estimate of a ten-minute shower but better to use a clock in your bathroom and time yourself. Three or four minutes or even less is probably all you need unless you are washing your hair.
  • Read your meter regularly and send in your readings. This is important when the energy prices increase.
  • I have invested in an off-peak membership at a local health club where there are showers and hairdryers. I visit twice a week and haven’t used my own shower to wash my hair for months. On a day when I am going to the club, I don’t have a full shower but a short wash.

Exercise

Exercising three times a week will improve circulation and ensure that you do not need your heating turned up so high. Also going out for a walk means you can turn your heating down for a couple of hours while you are out.

Disabled People

There are disability benefits which provide for necessary extras. The Attendance Allowance or PIP (UK) will allow reduced entry for carers into places of interest, cinemas and theatres. Rates of reduced entry vary but at the cinema you should get a free ticket for a carer, with theatre tickets sometimes available for £10 or 40% of the total cost. As a disabled person, I take a friend, and we share the total cost of entry.

With regard to benefits, do check you are getting everything you are entitled to. The Citizens Advice Bureau can help with this. There are charities which can provide wheelie walkers and mobility scooters. CAB will help with this.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you have any tips for saving money that you could share? Do you have any cheap recipes to share? Are there any websites you use for cost-saving tips?

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Audrey

Very helpful tips! Thanks!

Judith

Great advice ! For the past fifty plus years…… my husband and I have grown our own vegetables, fruit, herbs, spices, fish and meat. Our lifestyle is supported by solar power and rain water tanks which are fitted with filters. We use a freeze-drying system (like the Astronauts) to preserve our home grown harvest for up to 20years. It proves vital with the the challenging weather of climate change. One harvest is good. The next is not so good. We budget petrol by ensuring that the car does not venture out unless there is three reasons to do so e.g. 1. go to doctor / 2. go to hardware store / 3. go to post office. Thus managing time, petrol and car maintenance. We have thermal clothing. We installed a television in our bedroom so that on very cold nights we can snuggle up in a warm bed to watch tv. We shop online if postage is free. We are pensioners. Our lifestyle choices help us to avoid price rises and to know what’s in our food. Drought is our enemy here in Australia.

jen

I have been on an energy cost-saving mission this winter (in Australia). I bought 2 battery sensor lights—-one for the kitchen, another for the hallway. I use a large bright torch in the bedroom (on the tall boy, pointing towards the ceiling). I don’t turn the light on in the lounge room when just watching TV. As suggested in this article, I wear a thermal top & leggings under my clothes when at home. I have not turned the heater on at all this winter. My electricity bill was more than half of what I usually pay. It’s all been worth it. In no way have I been inconvienienced.

Bethany

Our ancient ancestors often ate a meal of just a few dates or figs or olives, a piece of cheese and a crust of bread. Why we think we need meat & veg & potato is not healthy. I’m on a medical diet and my meat portion size is “condiment” size. The meat is not center, it’s a side. The vegetable is the center of my meal. I buy fresh organic when its available, otherwise I get frozen. I stay away from canned foods. Cans get pushed back in the cabinet, overlooked or forgotten past the expiration date.

Audrey Denecke

I live in Wisconsin USA. A few of my strategies are similar to UK contributors. First, canned vegetables and fruit are so pricey. I’ve taken advantage of local farmer harvests: purchased then frozen many vegetables and fruit. Ex I love butternut squash for soup, fast bread etc.; I purchased several squash, baked and pureed them and froze same. I purchased apples and made applesauce (froze in mason jars), pie or crisp filling froze in freezer bags. I also agree with cutting large meat pieces into smaller portions (ex. chuck roast into 2 or 4 pieces). Or, buying a whole chicken and roasting or cutting into pieces for cooking later (big difference in price too). My last few: one or more non-meat meals per week; for breakfast (instead of eggs very high here) buy powdered milk mix in water, add protein powder (or yogurt plain or vanilla) add frozen fruit and/or spinach/greens for a power breakfast (tastes better than it sounds); finally I buy high quality soup mixes (ex. Bob’s Red Mill here) … sometimes nutrition more important than saving a few pennies.

Last edited 25 days ago by Audrey Denecke

The Author

Di Castle lectured in Further Education before publishing Grandma's Poetry Book in 2014 and Should I Wear Floral in 2017. She has won competitions at Winchester Writers Festival. Her 1950s memoir Red House to Exodus, is due out, as is Sharing the Silence, about two sisters, one profoundly deaf.

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