Using Colouring Sheets as Gift Wrap

Whether you use your children’s colouring pages or your own, more intricate, adult colouring books, the pretty sheets make beautiful gift wrap. I think this is a very frugal as you get to repurpose your artwork, and it can also be recycled after use.

I enjoy colouring the abstract designs and feel this makes the best gift wrap (see picture). If you don’t have any colouring books to hand, you can also Google some freebies to print out, colour at your leisure, and then reuse as gift wrap.

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Autumn Craft: Decoupage Candle Jars

I like making seasonal crafts with my children that can also double as decor. This candle jar craft is great for older children. My 9 year old really enjoyed this and asked to make more, which we shall do in the near future.

What you will need:

  • Clean jars
  • PVA glue
  • Paint brush
  • A damaged book (newspaper works well too)
  • Autumn leaf print outs (I used google to find some)
  • Small candle
  • Scissors

Method:

  • Rip some books pages up into various size shreds
  • To decoupage you need to glue the surface , stick on a shred of paper, and then glue over the top of the paper. You build up the book pages in layers, gluing over the top of each piece.
  • When happy that the jar is covered, cut out the leaves from the print out and arrange them on the jar. Ensure you glue over the top of the leaves too.
  • Leave it all to dry.
  • Place a candle inside.

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Super Simple Homemade Garlic Bread

If you have bread, butter, and either fresh or pureed garlic in the pantry, then homemade garlic bread is a must!

My kids enjoy garlic bread as much as me, and if I don’t have any in the freezer, I can whip up some without a fuss.

Ingredients:

  • Slices of bread (any kind)
  • Butter
  • Garlic cloves or puree (I use 1 tsp of puree)
  • Chopped parsley is optional (dry or fresh- use less if it is dry).

Method:

  • Combine your butter, garlic, (and parsley) together in a bowl.
  • Slice your bread if it isn’t already.
  • Spread the butter mix onto your slices.
  • Bake in the oven at about 200 until the bread toasts and the butter melts. Timings are dependant on thickness etc.

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Why Start Christmas Preparations Early?

We are now in September, and if you are not well under way with some Christmas prep, I advise you to do so. I really benefit emotionally and financially from starting early.

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Why I Start Early

To spread the cost: I like to think of the time until Christmas in pay checks. I start buying bargains and sale items from January as and when I see them, but I properly up my bargain hunting game in September. We get paid monthly, so that means (depending on the date payday falls on in December) that we have 3 or 4 pay checks before Christmas. It also makes it sound scarily close and gives me a kick up the backside to crack on.

I cannot afford Christmas on a single paycheck, as we all have bills to pay first and they don’t just stop because it is Christmas. I have to spread the cost to avoid getting into debt.

To eliminate stress: The biggest stress for me at Christmas is money, but I also dislike being unorganised. Starting early helps eliminate both of these stresses for me.

To save money: Being able to keep an eye on the sales or hunt for bargains really does save me a lot of money. Unlike December, toys are not sold out or have massive price increases, and I can shop around for the best deal.

To shop secondhand: The saying why buy new when used will do really applies when saving money at Christmas. I always keep my eyes peeled for toys and clothes that my children will like. Yes, I am picky when buying second hand gifts; I don’t want them to look second hand, but when I see a bargain I grab it. Secondhand books are great for gifting. Hunt around for some in great condition and put some away for nieces and nephews or even classmate gifts etc.

To go handmade: With a little more time you can put a little more thought and effort into your gifts, whether that is making some yourself or shopping around for handmade items locally. Making gifts is much more personal and can save you a lot of money.

To save money: Giving yourself enough time to save will cut the stress and help you to not go in debt.

To make money: This follows on from the above point. If you work out how long you have until Christmas and a total figure you are aiming to spend, you can pick up a side hustle or sell items you no longer need to go toward your savings.

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Lunchbox Snack/ Filler Ideas

My daughter enjoys variation in her lunches from day to day, so I try to shake it up a little. In this post, I will include some of the snack options that work well in lunchboxes.

Mini Pancakes and Fruit

Next time you are whipping up some breakfast pancakes do some extra mini ones for lunchboxes. These are great with berries, and you can freeze them in advance.

Banana Bread/ Muffins

Banana muffins or banana bread works great a lunch box filler. Bananas are a great source of energy for kids, and if they’re bored of just getting fruit in their lunchboxes, a healthy slice of banana bread or muffin works well.

Cookieandkate.com have a great recipe on their site: Healthy Banana Bread Recipe

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Oaty Biscuits

You can find my recipe for oaty biscuits here: Oaty Biscuits (no nuts)

Natural Yoghurt and Berries

Yoghurt is great with fresh fruit or granola etc (no nuts). You can keep it in a Thermos to keep it cool if preferred.

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Veg Sticks / tortillas and Hummus

My children love raw carrots and cucumber to dip in hummus. I find this a super cheap, super healthy lunchbox idea.

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Anything Goes Tomato Base Sauce

My children love pasta with tomato sauce and I save money by making my own. It really is simple, and the best part… as long as you have tomatoes, you can add those pesky leftover veggies from the fridge. This recipe can also be batch cooked and frozen.

This sauce can be used in bolognese, lasagne, and as a pizza base sauce etc.

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I add in whatever veggies etc I need to use up such as:

  • Sweetcorn
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Courgette
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Broccoli

This is just a few.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 10 fresh tomatoes/ or 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 200ml passata
  • Leftover Veggies
  • 1x diced onion
  • 1x vegetable stock cube
  • 1x tbsp paprika
  • 1x tbsp worcester sauce
  • 1x tsp mixed herbs
  • 1x tsp brown sugar (any sugar will do)
  • Salt to taste

Method

  • Put the oil in a large saucepan and fry off the onion.
  • Add in the tomatoes, veggies, and passata.
  • Add in the stock cube, paprika, mixed herbs, sugar, worcester sauce, and salt.
  • Mix together well.
  • Allow to come to a boil, then turn it down and simmer for 10-15 minutes , or until everything is cooked and soft.
  • Allow to cool a bit, and then blend with a hand blender.

How to Store

I like to store mine in glass jars in the freezer. Make sure you leave a little space at the top of your jar for expansion.

You can store these in the freezer for up to 3 months, or keep them in the fridge for 3-5 days.

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5 Breakfast for Dinner Ideas

We love to have breakfast for dinner in my house. We don’t tend to eat cooked meals for breakfast, so it makes sense to have them as our evening meal. My kids also like it when we shake things up a little.

Scrambled eggs and toast

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We have this as a main dinner quite regularly. I often cook eggs for a cheap meal when we need to keep costs low. Scrambled eggs is the only type of eggs everyone will eat as I have a child who will not eat fried eggs or soft boiled.

If like me, you like to make your scrambled eggs in the frying pan (I can’t stand wet scrambled eggs), then you can use a little olive oil. You can add tomatoes or mushrooms, or even a little grated cheese and onion.

Pancakes topped with fruit

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Who says pancakes can’t be a meal in themselves? You can make them healthier by substituting the eggs with bananas, and this means they will be naturally sweet too, so no need for sugar. Pile on some chopped fruit, and voila!

BLT

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Bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches are a hit in my house. We like to have ours in large rolls with mayonnaise. This meal is particularly great when you’re in a rush, but need a substantial, warm sandwich to fill you up.

Sausage/ Bacon and egg muffins

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My husband wishes that Mcdonald’s served their breakfast menu all day. He loves a good egg and sausage muffin. We live a good 40 minute round drive from a Mcdonald’s so we have perfected our own. We prefer a poached egg, but fried or even scrambled would work. You can even buy the round, sausage patties in Tesco. If you are not a sausage fan, bacon works well.

English Fry Up

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A fry up is a treat meal in my house. It is far from healthy with fried bread, eggs, mushrooms- the whole shebang. Of course, you could make a healthy version to eat more regularly simply by oven cooking the meat and mushrooms etc and poaching the eggs.

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15 Tight Budget Lunch Time Meal Ideas Part 2

With the kids still off school for a few more weeks (UK), I wanted to post another tight budget lunch time meal ideas post. Here are just a few more of the ideas my family enjoy.

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  • Cream cheese and tomato slices on crackers
  • Scrambled eggs and toast
  • Tinned soups
  • Tinned hotdogs and rolls
  • Cheese and onion quesadillas
  • Tuna and cucumber tortilla wraps
  • Beans on toast
  • Pasta with marinara sauce
  • Couscous with ham and tomatoes
  • Cream cheese stuffed peppers
  • Savoury vegetable muffins
  • Cheese and red pepper rosti
  • Cheese and ham topped filo
  • Macaroni cheese
  • Potato salad

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Innovative Upcycle Ideas

Does anyone else get sucked down the Pinterest black hole? I love to explore the different content and find new ways to be frugal. My latest obsession is to discover innovative upcycle ideas. In this post, I will share some of the ideas I have found with links to the original posts for you to peruse.

DIY Rope Trash Can by Toolbox Divas

This is such a practical, yet pretty use of an old bucket and rope. Toolboxdivas.com have a tutorial on how to make this beauty.

T-Shirt Necklaces by Vicky Myers Creations

If you have stained or old t-shirts that you want to upcycle, why not turn them into necklaces? Vickymyerscreations.co.uk has a tutorial to do just that.

Bread Bin Charging Station by Joyful Derivatives

What an ingenious use of a bread bin to conceal unsightly wires! For a full tutorial, head over to joyfulderivatives.com

Decoupaged Bedside Tables by Just the Woods

Decoupage is a great way to upcycle ordinary furniture into one of a kind pieces. Justthewoods.com have a video tutorial to help you do exactly that!

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One final link is to Evan Dunn’s How to Upcycle Furniture: A Guide for Beginners post. If you need any ideas or technique guidance, then this link is definitely worth a look.

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Book Review: Dosh by Rashmi Sirdeshpande

I was gifted a copy of this book (thanks to Hachette Kids and Tandem Collective), and I thought it was right up my street as I have a child who is of perfect age for this book. Because this book is for middle grade kids, who better to give an opinion than my daughter herself:

‘I think it is educational, but it is very interesting at the same time. It explains money in words that younger people can understand. The Amazing Trailblazers section was inspiring to me because it tells the stories of successful business people.’

My opinion on this book is one of praise. Many times, I have said that teaching children about money in more details should be on the curriculum, and hence, why as parents we are keen to ensure our children do understand the different aspects of money. Who doesn’t want their kids to grow up with a healthy respect and understanding of their finances? This book is perfect for educating teens and pre-teens in a clear, informative way.

You can get a copy of this book via amazon: Dosh by Rashmi Sirdeshpande

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