No Yeast Easy Pizza

I’m having one of those weeks where I’m stalling when it comes to doing the food shopping. Once everything turns “merry” and the countdown to Christmas starts, the thought of battling my way through crowds, trying to complete a mental shopping list, fills me with dread. So I’ve been trying to survive on what we already have in the cupboards and I came up with this. It’s weird how creative you become through avoidance of shops.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups of flour

1 tsp of salt

2 1/2 tsp of baking powder

1 tbsp of oil

160ml water

1/2 jar of tomato sauce

2 handfuls of grated cheese

 

Method

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Add the oil and water. Form into a ball and gently knead for a couple of minutes. Add more flour if the mixture is too wet/more water if too dry. Flatten it out. I find it’s easier to stretch this pizza base with your hands – that’s why mine looks so misshapen 🙂 Dont forget to grease the tray first so it doesn’t stick! I usually pour some oil on kitchen roll as a quick way to do it/ you can also use the paper cover off a tub of butter. Spread tomato sauce with a spoon and sprinkle cheese on top. I used cheddar because it was all we had but any would work – apart from maybe cream cheese. That would be weird 🙂 Add any toppings you like. Cook at 180c for 10-15 minutes. It is ready when the cheese has browned.

Cheerfully Cheap Days with Children

I’ve been saving money for a trip we are going on early next year, so I’ve been trying to take advantage of every free activity we can find. Sometimes it’s easy to fill days with costly activities with kids, especially if it’s cold or the rain puts limits on the what you can do. I try to regularly check local papers, NI for kids and Facebook for upcoming events. If you plan them out and think about ways around extra costs, it’s easy to avoid unnecessary spending. Here are a few examples of what we have been doing recently.

I took my kids to a lantern workshop, where they made lanterns in a local cinema for a nearby parade. Correction: I made two lanterns while they ran wild and climbed on other kids. The idea was nicer than the execution of it but I still found it strangely therapeutic sticking tissue paper to willow. We had to book it in advance, but it didn’t cost anything and the girls will enjoy walking with their lanterns and seeing the fireworks.

I’ve started taking the girls to the busiest park in the area. Now the temperature is dropping, it seems that people are put off doing outdoor activities with their kids. But if you get wrapped up, sometimes I think the cool air is more refreshing and the wind wipes your worries away. I brought a flask of hot chocolate with us to keep everyone warm and kept walking so I didn’t notice the cold 🙂

I took the girls to a twilight market at a farm. It was hard to find, but the tents that were set up in the dark helped to awaken my Christmas spirit. It was deathly cold, but the exhibitors prices were great and it’s hard to feel unhappy when you’re looking at coloured, twinkling lights. The girls found some unusual crocheted hats for ten pounds and less and I picked up a couple of handmade Christmas presents. I also bought a head sculpture from an artist called Chronic Crafts. They are really unique and cute and I want to own the whole collection. I like small scale events like that too because they feel more personal and you get talking to people you wouldn’t have the chance to interact with at busier markets. There was a stall with light up fairies in jars and fairy houses that made the place look cheerful and festive. My kids are like magpies and love a bargain as much as I do, so they enjoyed the lucky dip and picked out a couple of small items each.

On Saturdays, we have started going to the minors’ club at a local cinema. They have a free screening on Saturdays for kids and an optional workshop for an extra three pounds. We saw 101 Dalmatians and Homeward Bound recently. The films are a good length for kids, with no trailers and the snacks are inexpensive/you can bring your own. I think having a quiet coffee in the cinema is my new favourite thing to do on what would typically have been a frantic Saturday.

I’m going to keep looking out for local events that we can enjoy without paying extortionate prices. I think Christmas can be extra costly now because it has become such a commercial event, but if you’re creative and look out for smaller events that aren’t as well advertised, it is easy to find things to do that don’t eat up your whole Christmas budget.

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Ways to live a more frugal life that doesn’t suck

20 Tips for a More Frugal Life that doesn’t Suck.

Here are some simple tips to help you lead a more frugal life with fewer money worries and unnecessary expenses (without depriving yourself of everything enjoyable.)

1. Buy house plants instead of freshly cut flowers that will wilt after a few days. Although, if you’re like me it’ll be a miracle if the plants outlive the flowers.

2. Buy your kids’ toys second hand. My kids’ favourite toy is a dolls house I bought in a charity shop for £40 including dolls and furniture.

3. If you want to go out for lunch, go for picnic using items you already have in your house instead. Bring fresh coffee or hot chocolate in a flask.

4. Stop drinking fizzy drinks all the time. I always see people carrying around bottles of fizzy drinks, everywhere they go. Try and save them for treats and bring a reusable water bottle instead. Add cucumber, lemon or blueberries to ice cold water to make it more interesting.

5. Stop making going to shopping centres an outing. Go to a museum, a nature reserve, the library, a new park, or a friend’s house instead. You’ll feel like you have spent your time in a much more valuable way.

6. Buy own-brand cereals; most of them taste the same and are so much cheaper.

7. Replace half of the TV you watch with reading, going for a walk or making something. It will make you feel more satisfied and energised.

8. Only buy books you can’t order at the library/read as ebooks for free.

9. Compare cinema ticket prices before booking a ticket. Save it for films you are dying to see so it feels like a treat. Get a discount card if they have one, to get cheaper tickets, popcorn or drinks.

10. Stop feeling pressured to keep up with others. Who cares if their kid has more stuff than yours? They probably just feel overwhelmed by it all and are already learning to be materialistic.

11. Don’t make over-complicated meals with a huge variety of ingredients that go to waste because they are only used in one meal. Simplify your life in whatever ways you can.

12. Learn basic sewing skills so you can fix clothes rather than throwing them out/ make friends with someone who sews 🙂

13. Check in newspapers for free local events. You might find a one-off event you would have missed otherwise.

14. Exchange magazines with friends so you each only have to buy one but still get to read a variety.

15. Get rid of any TV channels you are paying for but never use. Save the extra money towards something you really want instead.

16. Start buying value range long grain rice. It is less than 50p and is really versatile. You can easily make sticky rice and I have also used it in risottos and rice pudding.

17. If you are going to eat out, have one course and have dessert or coffees at home or at a friend’s house after.

18. Instead of having wardrobes that are specific to each season, make a wardrobe that can be used year-round, by adding layers in Winter and taking them away in Summer. It saves you having to find storage space too.

19. Stop drinking juice like it is coming out of a tap; the goodness of the fruit is cancelled out by the sugar content anyway. Buy different kinds of tea instead: it will last longer and give you more variety.

20. Don’t deprive yourself of everything you want just to save money; you will only end up splurging at intervals instead. Find cheaper alternatives that still make you feel like you are treating yourself, without the financial fallout 🙂

Hope these tips give you some ideas to help you to have a more frugal way of life with less stress 🙂

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Budget Activities for Kids on Cold Days

9 Frugal Things to do on a Frosty Day (with kids)

Sometimes the weather overrules your plans and dictates what you’re going to do. For example, I wouldn’t dare to drive in frost again after a recent skid in the snow. So, when the weather is chilly we won’t be covering a great distance, but that makes us enjoy nearby nature and cosy comforts more.

Here are a few frugal things to do on a cold day:

  • Winter walks. I love going for wrapped-up walks on winter days. It makes you appreciate the warmth even more once you retreat indoors. You can go to watch the sea when it is rough, go to a park, or just wander around and see what you find. My kids like to fill their pockets with leaves, pine cones and twigs along the way.

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  • Scrapbooking. Your kids can add what they have collected to a scrapbook. It doesn’t have to involve expensive crafting materials. They just need a blank notebook or paper hole-punched and tied with string or ribbon, glue, pens, scraps of paper, things they have picked up at places you have visited, stickers, etc. You could make a Winter-themed scrapbook for yourself while they are making theirs. Fill it with found objects, quotes, photos and seasonal colours.
  • Hot chocolate with marshmallows. My kids and I like to have tea parties on cold days. We make hot chocolate, I light candles and put on jazz and we sit and chat at the table.
  • Sitting under a cosy blanket with books and a hot water bottle. Sometimes I read alongside my kids and sometimes I read to them. They like to make up their own stories to the pictures sometimes and I use the opportunity to read something other than Winnie the Pooh.

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  • Pretend post-box. Use a cereal box and cut a slot into the front of it. You can let your kids paint it if you’re feeling particularly patient, or just leave it as it is. Give them little pieces of paper to write on and pens. Get them to draw pictures or help them write letters to family members or friends. Ask them what they’d like you to write. Then get them to put them in envelopes, add a “stamp” with a sticker or stamper and then get them to post them. They like to empty the post box and open their own letters too.
  • Movie afternoon. Make some popcorn and drinks with straws. Let your kids agree on a movie and make a home cinema. You can make tickets for them and let them pretend to buy their snacks. You can also set snacks out for them to put in their own bowls, eg, breadsticks, raisins, popcorn, crackers, etc. I usually put a small amount out in different cups so it seems like they have lots of options, without ruining your dinner plans.
  • Make warming foods. Making foods like soups, stews, casseroles and bread help to pass a day indoors and you can involve your kids. If I’m making soup I let them do simple things like placing the vegetables in a roasting tin and sprinkling seasoning on top.
  • Go to a charity shop and get a board game or a book of crafts/cooking/activities for kids. I have found quite a few of these second hand and they are great for inspiration. Alternatively, find these for freeat the library.
  • Going out for a small treat. My kids particularly like to get ice-cream on cold days. It’s a bit weird, but they are my children, so bizarre choices aren’t exactly cause for alarm.