Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Pancake Day

So it's pancake day, and while I don't usually go nuts over traditions, I had the day off work anyway so why not.

Whisk 3/4 cup of milk with an egg. Add a cup of self-raising flour and a tablespoon of sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla (optional). Pour a small amount onto your medium temperature frypan and cook for about 40 seconds. You'll see the bubbles pop, so flip them when you can see holes that don't disappear. Cook the other side for another 40 seconds.


In my arrogance I hadn't checked my cupboard properly, and it turns out that I only had plain flour. Whatever, too bad, I made them anyway. They're not as light as they would have been but they are perfectly edible once covered in cinnamon sugar! (If you used plain flour like I did, then flip them once the outer edge stops being shiny.)

I also had a lonely-looking cake mix sitting in my cupboard so while I already had a messy kitchen, I made that and whacked it into my mini oven. (YES I found a cake tin small enough to fit a nine-litre oven, it's the mini loaf pan from Wilko if anyone is curious). Vanilla cake with chunks of Galaxy chocolate shoved into it. Victory is mine ♥

As an aside: I usually buy Tesco Buttersoft, but as Sainsbury's is a closer supermarket and I'd run out of butter, I bought home Sainsbury's product instead. Bad move! It's too hard to spread and tastes quite unappealing. If I wanted to eat something unappetising on my sandwiches I'd have used the cheap cooking margarine already in my fridge. The remains of that Sainsbury's product will have to be used for cooking. Boooo.

Spendy Spenderella: 150 pounds on driving lessons, I was very pleased that I could arrange it online and set up my first lesson myself, only to discover my instructor is so heavily booked that following lessons will be ten days apart! This is near-on pointless, I know how to drive, I just need practice time. I called the school only to be told that if I cancel a lesson I'll just lose my money. For that reason I'm not going to name and recommend them. If you are really curious, the name of the school matches the colour of a stop light. Grumble. Stay tuned, at this rate passing my test will take seven years.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Winner and loser

...that's me this week. I finally managed to get signed up with EE to take advantage of the corporate discount on phone plans. It will save me a good ten pounds every month, as I've been on pay-as-you-go until now which is rather pricey. So, savings!

And as a reward for reducing my spending and better managing my budget, my credit score has been walloped. Punched in the face. The simple act of entering a phone contract. Boooo. My electoral roll address has finally updated, but it barely helped with that overall score. The bank still won't touch me for any kind of unsecured personal loan to try to knock out the fast-approaching deadline on the previously-mentioned Large Bill which is hovering overhead and being rather annoying.

Large Bill company has not tripped over itself in offering to work with me (I did offer to make an arrangement to pay them back, as I know my financial situation will improve dramatically in a few months' time). Unfortunately what I got was a vague note that they don't do arrangements, they would expect to take action on this, but then an ambiguous sort of indication that they would wait and see what I could manage. Um... yeah thanks? At the same time their sales team are calling me every day! I've taken to not answering the calls from the sales team... so they upped the ante today and sent me a link by text message, which was a promotional video inviting me to spend fifty thousand pounds (insert me crying with laughter here).

At least they have a sense of humour!

I also cancelled my Spotify Premium account. I do love it, but that's ten pounds more I can use on bills, and I've noticed lately that I rarely listen on my mobile (which is the main aspect of Spotify Free that's lacking, compared with Premium).

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

It Won't.Go.Away.

Let's pretend I snapped before eating.
I thought I was getting better, but the flu has had other ideas and moved (with a vengeance) into my nose, and laughed its way maniacally into my chest. Oh, it's hilarious alright, I've now been forced back off work and thus off the payroll until I stop hacking up a lung. Sigh. I suppose I should appreciate saving the 3.60 in train fare each day that I stay home? Haha.

I did manage to get five lemon curd donuts this week for 16p. Imagine, if you will, that it was something I actually needed. (But they were good, though.)

My washer has been delivered and installed! Although it will take me about a year to recoup the savings compared with visiting the launderette, I think it's worth it for my general sanity. And if I'm honest it hurt psychologically to feed four pounds into the machine for each load and another five to get my sheets dry. No, a tumble dryer is not thrifty and it's not environmentally responsible; but drying my large stuff inside in an unheated living room in England is just not happening!

I had my eye on a small chest of drawers this week, and remembered I had gift vouchers to use from work. Late last year I nabbed a seasonal product on sale that came with vouchers included - spending £10 to get £20 in vouchers, and they needed to be used, so here we are. I also got my standard staff discount applied. End result is that I got a £25 chest of drawers for £11.66. Not bad!

This weekend, providing I'm actually well enough, I shall be taking a trip north to visit friends, meaning some spending on travel, accommodation and entertainment will be a thing. Hardly ideal given my low income of late, but friends are important and who wants to die rich without any fun in this life? :)

Friday, 19 January 2018

I have the flu.

So I've decided to embrace it as an opportunity to be frugal, because I'm staying indoors out of the cold and I'm eating what's already in my kitchen. That works, right? Right? (Never mind the lost income as I don't get sick pay just yet, never mind the cost of medication...)

I had a message from one of my biggest current bills - ok, let's call it a debt - it was a deadline that I really didn't like. Anyone will tell you not to ignore these things and hope they go away. So I tried to sort it today, only to discover I'd been given the wrong person to call, and the poor lady suffered as I dissolved into a coughing fit and had to hang up on her! Ah, if only we got points for trying :)

Friday, 12 January 2018

Small Treats

The purpose of a crumpet is to hold as much butter and honey as possible.

I was thinking about my bank balance last night (and such thoughts are not generally very pleasant ones) and pondering that all the "money" I have is pre-allocated, and I really won't be able to spend anything extra until pay day. The thing is, since today is my precious Day Off™ after eight days of working in a row, I felt like I "deserved" something special.

Anyway, before I even got very far on that thought, I had a huge long sleep in then ate crumpets for a late breakfast. And the funny thing is, I've lost the urge to treat myself - I'm quite content enough already. Crumpets are good. Lazy days are good. Vanilla-scented candles are good. Coffee in a warm room while Skyping a friend, that's good too.

Sometimes we're so fixed on blowing wads of cash that we forget how to appreciate simple things!

I have everything I need. There's credit on my electricity, there's food in my fridge, there's a supermarket card for any extra essentials, there's cash for the train. I don't need to panic about that bank balance. Breathe.

Now I just need to figure out what to get a friend for their birthday gift!

Monday, 8 January 2018

Random Disappearing Act

Firstly I hope everyone had a lovely holiday break :) I spent Christmas Day by myself, relaxing at home (well most of it) and then got an out-of-the-blue invite to go away for a week. So I threw caution to the wind and I went... throwing a bunch of savings into a plane ticket. Yes it burned a hole in my pocket but the accommodation and meals were very kindly paid for me, and really, what's the point of being frugal all year if you never get to have any fun?

So you'll have to forgive me that this blog was a little bit (totally and completely) forgotten while I was soaking up sunshine and drinking cocktails by the pool.

It has been a difficult few days back at work. I've been working outdoors in the cold promoting our store, and while I have loved talking to the public about what I do, I have to admit that the allure of a warm coffee shop has won me over a few times. Five degrees, darkness and wind, they're really not that much fun all day. Sure, it's one thing to bring a flask from home but when you know you could be thawing out at a table inside with your workmates, it's so hard to resist (and I failed). I'm not rude enough to sit there without at least buying a cuppa, so I bought one, even though I ate my sandwiches from home.

Also a takeaway once, but at least I used a voucher. And also cookies with it. And also more coffee. Also.

As an aside I did get cashback for my plane ticket!

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Yay! Then Hiss.

I have finally finished building furniture! Yay! The relief is amazing. Unfortunately my ceiling height (or lack thereof) necessitated a rearrangement. You can just make out the relocated Christmas Tree, which is presently helping to screen my desk and chair. But see that three foot gap behind the white sofa? That's the Bash Zone. All I can really use it for is stashing junk, and even that is a dangerous thing to do. I have (so far) hit my head viciously on those two beams six times and I'm not even counting the times I have bumped my head gently. It seems I haven't caused myself quite enough pain to make me actually remember to watch where I'm going (but watch this space).

Now I just need to rid myself of all the ridiculous empty cardboard boxes.

My go-to website for buying discounted gift cards (Zeek) seems to keep selling out of most of the items that I want, and only offering the ones that are one percent off - the price of popularity! - But I managed to pair it with cashback and came out in front, by first clicking through from both TopCashBack, then I spent the money on Zeek credit first, and redeemed that credit on a supermarket gift card, which will come in the mail.

A very much hiss was my disgusting foray on eBay earlier in the week, where I bought what can only be described as selfish and unnecessary items, totalling about £30. On the plus side I did get some cash back and I did finally order my toaster from a different site. I also got a small kettle and a mini oven, which should mean I use less power when I need to cook something for one person (it always strikes me as wasteful to heat that huge oven just for a little meat pie).

I sold one item for five pounds - technically I sold another item, but one of the buyers was a pain in the proverbial and decided he didn't want it. Simpler to cancel the sale than to get the negative feedback later on, ho hum.

On the right is the latest sweet treat to go into my mouth: Apple Crumble Slice with Custard (28p & 8p, respectively, from Tesco). It was delicious. And I used too much custard on this, it would have been fine with a quarter of the tin.

Freebie this week: A latte from Costa (thank you, Wuntu) and also a perfume sample in the mail.

It's Pay Week, so I plan to go grocery shopping soon, but before I do, I'm going to check out some online retailers. I shy away from them in general with the reasoning that I won't find yellow stickers, but I think it's only fair (to myself) to at least take a look for bargains.

* links are referral links, where I get a small bonus if you join. I only ever include links that I genuinely believe you can benefit from.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Slowly, Slowly

When I first got here almost a month ago I spotted a great rug in a charity shop, brand new. It was 45 pounds which was really way over budget, but I loved it so much that caution was thrown to the wind and it came home in my arms. I didn't have enough hands to carry a lovely wall picture that I spotted on the same day for £10, so I left it behind. I assumed it would be gone so I didn't bother to go back.

Well guess what was still there when I checked? Here is my living room so far and I'm quite pleased with it:

The ottoman on the left was also £10 from the same shop. The right hand ottoman was £30 and is new, and the sofa was £55 and is also new. You might have noticed my sloping ceiling there. I haven't got any wall space that can host anything tall, so allllll my storage needs to be at floor level. There are two low cabinets on the opposite wall which I'll try to remember to snap when the rest of the room is done. I also have a new sofa bed still in the box which belongs beside the Christmas tree. I'm working really hard on summoning the energy to assemble it :D

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Holiday Mode: On

I am finally on holidays until the end of the year (insert wild applause). It means I can finish sorting out my flat, which has been a bit neglected and has suffered from my rampant procrastination.

Yesterday was my Christmas breakfast party with work, making it a really frugal morning with a delicious cooked breakfast served up by the managers. I also got a lovely Christmas gift of a years' subscription to Headspace, which has stacks of meditation and mindfulness podcasts. They also gifted me some Sony bluetooth headphones (!!!!!!!) which I was very excited about, but as I don't need those myself I'm going to make sure they end up under someone else's Christmas tree.

Unfortunately in the afternoon I realised that there was no lunch happening. I think I sort of expected morning tea to be a feature. But no, and it meant I had to buy lunch. I'll admit I was lazy and shelled out the £3 for a "meal deal" meaning that along with my sandwich was a packet of Doritos and a bottle of Coke, two items I realistically could have done without. Oh well, I'm excusing it by saying it was my last day of work for the year.

I have absolutely zero excuse for what I did on the way home. I went into a pound shop and emerged £14 poorer. These shops are a trap, I tell you! Sure, I can pretend I needed all the things I bought, but really, I could have done without most of them. Except the chocolate. That was an essential.

In other news, after a tip from an EE rep, I got Experian on the phone to ask about my missing credit score. The nice lady on the phone did something magic, and my credit score suddenly appeared. This missing credit score was probably the reason the bank knocked me back for a home loan earlier in the year. I have a rubbish score mostly due to me not having lived here very long, but it's a score, which is better than no score at all. Within two minutes I had applied for and been approved for a credit card at 56% p.a. interest, and I have applied at a second bank as well, which will let me know shortly. (Danger danger Will Robinson: don't go nuts with credit or loan applications, as the applications themselves could harm your credit rating.)

I can hear the gasps. No, I don't plan to spend that credit. I am not crazy - 56% interest for goodness' sake!!! - I simply need some way to begin improving that score, and credit cards are all I can really do for now. I did read the fine print and provided I pay out the balance in full every month, I should have no fees or interest. So I plan to actually load it with my own money in advance then use it while shopping.

PS. Considering how many of my posts are arriving late, I'm dropping back to posting twice a week.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017


I argued to myself that if I buy myself some treats from the supermarket, I'll stop wanting to buy food at work. This sort of mostly works. I went ALL last week without buying anything during my work days (dance). And then on Monday I accidentally left my treats AND my lunch at home, and it was on a day that free breakfast didn't happen.


So I bought myself a mushroom omelette (30p) and it was lucky I did, because there was no free protein meal at lunch either. I had the free fruit and salad. And a free latte for the trip home.

So I bought a Tesco four-pack of muffins on the way home for my treats for the rest of the week (£1 coin from my remaining change stash). Salted Caramel! They are amazing. And then I really just wanted something hot for dinner and I wasn't in the mood to eat another omelette but I really haven't got cash to spare. So I dangerously went into Sainsbury's knowing there was £10 left on my Sainsbury's gift card, and came home with a reduced instant Hoisin Duck meal for $1.49. Oh and a whole lot of other things, but hopefully I have enough meals now to last me the 12 days left until payday.

I put a tenner onto my electric key.

I have enough in the bank for my bus tickets, thirty pounds in my purse, a handful of coins, and two pounds on my Sainsbury's card. I'm equal parts horrified and energised by the budgetary challenge. As soon as I get paid I'm planning to buy a new Sainsbury's £50 gift card for my grocery shopping. In theory this will stop me spending over my budget (let's see how that goes).

Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Single Room Thing

So I happen to have a one-bedroom flat, with "heating". But the heating in the living room just... isn't up to the task. It tries, but the best it really achieves is taking the chill out of the air, and on keyed electric (boooo!) I was spending about £20 a week just trying to stop from freezing. I kept waking up shivering and then having to turn the blow heater on in the mornings just to get dressed, and that's not so fun when you're heading out into temps close to zero.

I'd intentionally kept the bedroom door shut and out of use until I received all my furniture, which happened yesterday, so I have boxes everywhere. But when I switched on the heating in there to help dry the newly-cleaned carpet, it's like an oven! So... guess what I've done for the past two days? Yep, set myself up in the bedroom. I have my desk and laptop in here, and my bed. I figure the space is smaller and it should save me some money if I just stop heating the living area during the week. Realistically I only need the living room for making my meals - maybe I'll feel differently once all my lovely living room furniture is in place in there! :)

I've also gotten cheeky a couple of times and left my front door open for half an hour when I arrive home from work... being at the top of the warm stairwell, it helps warm up a cold room nicely.

In other news I have sadly failed in signing up to a contract for my mobile phone. I get a corporate discount if I join EE. But I keep failing the address check verification when EE tries to confirm my card, even though I've confirmed that EE have the correct billing address. The bank says it's EE's fault. EE say it's the bank. I'm tired of making phone calls... will try again once I have received and returned the official "change of address" form for the bank. In the meantime I had to buy more pay-as-you-go credit with my current provider, so that's twenty-five extra pound down the drain that I really didn't want to spend... hey ho, not much I can do about it now!

Friday, 8 December 2017

The Washer Debacle

I've mentioned my washing machine more than once... I love the idea of that tiny washer, but truth be told this particular one has been a nightmare. It arrived banged up, broken, dirty and definitely not new. The seller had seemed willing to split the cost with me, but after repeated requests I'd gotten nowhere. Long story short it's now been returned and I'm waiting on a full refund from eBay.

That refund will come in handy, since ka-ching-wise, I'm scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel.

I must admit, it's easier not to spend money when you simply don't have it. But I'm a little bit nervous about finances and lasting until payday. I haven't bought a single Christmas gift either, but I'm trying to put that aside until I get paid... all my gifts will be bought online (and apparently all on the two days before Christmas).

I do already have one gift... bought with Nectar points. Thumbs up there, I know I could have used those points more efficiently on something for myself that I needed, but never mind, it's one less gift to worry about.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017


I'm late with this update, but I've been pretty busy.

This week I've been updating my Level 3 First Aid. It's amazing how much I remember, how much I had forgotten and how much has changed since I last did my training. I am thoroughly in awe of new defibrillator machines, they now talk you through and are quite reassuring considering it's what most people would consider a scary thing to witness.

So how is this frugal? I'm adopting poetic licence here. I am going to say instead that First Aid Training is incredibly good value. Think about it, people. What is the point of paying all our bills, saving all our pennies, getting financial independence, if we don't have our health and the health of those we care about?

If there is one extravagant purchase you make in 2018, make it a first aid course. Humans only have three minutes of oxygen saved up. Ambulances never arrive in that first three minutes. Putting it quite simply, you need first aid to live. If you're in trouble, your life - or the life of someone you care about - depends on someone near you knowing what to do. And watching "House" on tv is not good enough!

First Aid Saves Lives.

Please do this for your loved ones.

Sunday, 3 December 2017


...my days, that is. Or should I say, my weeks. Only one day off work this week and a day of rest and relaxation was not to be had!

I've been busy still trying to arrange my flat (suitcase living is not so fabulous) and also get the caravan ready for the winter... rather late. More than once I've caught myself thinking: what's this full-time malarkey?

Anyway. Unsurprisingly there have been unexpected spends, but on the plus side I've been reasonably good at bringing lunch from home. I only have a four-day week (thank dog!) and as I'll be off-site there will not even be free fruit or salads or coffee, so the gauntlet is thrown: can I manage to stick to packed lunches for the whole week? (Challenge accepted!)

Unrelated purchase with no excuses offered: Christmas tree £2, baubles £2 (half are still in the box as they're too big for the tree), lights £7.

Friday, 1 December 2017

It's December Already

Eeek! Of course I'm aware that Christmas is around the corner but even so, I still do a double-take to see Christmas decorations up in the shops. I think it's because I'm mostly disconnected from it this year, I'll be off work and spending Christmas by myself (no sympathetic responses please as I'm perfectly ok with this).

I suppose I should update on my latest purchases?

Jumper £2, scarf £1, hat 50p and a belt 50p which somehow escaped the photo. Nothing fancy but some basics so I look vaguely respectable when leaving the front door.

Casserole dish £1 so that I could feed a guest.

Entertainment which I'll leave in the caravan for guests - £12.50 for the three (Trivial Pursuit was a tenner, which was a bit of a nostalgic indulgence).

I cannot wait until I'm in walking distance to my local car boot sale!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

El's Budget Fish

Again this isn't a recipe, just posting what I've eaten for my dinner :)

I grilled this, and I am not usually a fan of fish, but it was absolutely delicious so I can definitely recommend the brand. As you can see the fish portion is generous at 100g.

Cost (November 2017)
Tesco value breaded fish (100g portion) 24p
Small potato 6p
½ cup mixed frozen vegetables 6p
Squirt of lemon juice 3p

cost per portion 39p

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Into Gear

I've finally gotten my new flat arranged and collected the keys - about time! It's been an absolutely exhausting time at work lately, with a really long commute and barely any time to even fart.

Because of the timing of my new job starting, my pay this month is also really, really tiny. I'd expected this, but the reality of seeing it in black and white is quite sobering. On top of that, I own zero furniture for my new place, so I have to buy everything and time is against me. I've been keeping an eye on free items, but without transport it's a little tricky and I'm virtually forced to buy it all at once, from one place, to keep the delivery charges reasonable. So I took a trip to two used furniture charity shops, but unfortunately I've come away disappointed. One was frightfully expensive and all I bought was a tiny ottoman and a rug. The second one had good prices, but they didn't have any furniture that really met my needs. On the plus side this second one has some lovely accent pieces like mirrors, lamps and wall art, so I'll go back there when I am a little richer...

So the most practical/frugal has been to buy the furniture brand new. Ouch. On the plus side, I do work for a great company, and I have been incredibly fortunate that they've given me three days' paid leave as a thank you for relocating to another store, an interest-free loan to pay the flat deposit, plus a VERY generous one-off staff discount in our own store, to help me furnish my new place. End result is that I ordered a houseful of furniture from them so their coffers are quite a lot richer, but I did get £270 in discounts and will get an extra months' rent as a loan in my Christmas pay cheque. So all up, I think that's a win.

In not-so-great news it won't be delivered for several weeks, so it's very lucky that there's an air bed in the caravan which I can take with me! :)

Friday, 24 November 2017

What's New?

Well, I'm completely and utterly exhausted. But that's to be expected given that I've moved job locations and am currently enjoying (hahahaha!) a ridiculously long commute via shank's pony and public transport. Yesterday involved two hours of walking, two and a half hours of bus, three hours of car, and six hours of training at a new position. Today there is no brain in my head.

Salted Caramel Latte at M & S Café
Not only that, I've fallen off the wagon a few times in my frugal efforts. The new team is a lovely bunch of people so I must admit I've left my packed lunch in my bag a few times and gone for lunch with them. I might be sad that the money is gone, but I don't regret making the choice - we silly humans spend a LOT of our waking hours at work so it's really, really important that we're doing something that we love, and getting to know my colleagues and enjoying my time at work, that's a must for me. It helps that we're doing so much travel - we took a "road trip" selfie yesterday and had some laughs at our silly facial expressions (not pictured - I can't be sure they'd like to be featured in my blog!)

Golf. And from only 9 holes.
A friend came to stay with me recently for a weekend on the park, so we spent some time in the arcade and drank cocktails at home. We did go through some cash playing the mini bowling (I won, by the way!) and also on the air hockey (I lost), but compared with going out on the town, it was definitely the frugal option. We also played mini golf, where I was soundly defeated. That one was free entertainment :)

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

El's Beef Casserole

I adapted this from a recipe titled "Chinese Pepper Steak", because, quite frankly, there is nothing remotely Asian-inspired about this in the least. Also because when I think of Pepper Steak I imagine a rump steak crusted with peppercorns, which this is not. Ahem. But anyway, this is what I cooked up for my buddy when he visited recently and I still have leftovers in my fridge and they're delicious.

Not my pic, because I forgot to take a photo - but this is what it looks like!
As it's made with beef, it's not really the cheapest food in the world, but it's definitely a yummy budget casserole when we're talking about beef.

If you have a slow cooker, you can use that, otherwise preheat your oven to a low temperature. On cheap meats we cook very slowly so they're nice and tender. The temperature you use will depend how much time you have. The minimum time is two hours (at 160 C) but if you have the time and are happy for the oven to help warm your home, 120 for six hours will make it melt in your mouth.

400g beef, sliced (you can use the cheapest cuts you can find - and remember this is probably in steaks!)
splash of vegetable oil
half a teaspoon of garlic powder (or one fresh garlic clove, crushed and added to the beef)
2 tbsp flour
1 can of chopped tomatoes in juice
1 stock cube (I use chicken, but any is ok)
1 onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped (any colour but green is usually cheapest)
1/4 cup boiling water
2 tbsp soy sauce (optional)

Sprinkle the beef with the garlic powder then brown the beef quickly on a hot frypan in a splash of oil. As soon as the beef has some colour, tip it into your pot. On the same frypan, stir the flour over the heat until it's toasted brown. Add to the pot.

Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water. Add it in, plus all the other ingredients, and mix well.

Cover your pot and put into the oven. Wait some hours. Then enjoy! I do mine with mashed potato, but you could have rice, cous cous, noodles or pasta with it. Serves 4.

Tip: you can skip the frypan to save time (use cornflour dissolved in a little cold water, instead of plain flour).

Cost (Tesco November 2017)
Beef  £2.60
Oil 1p
Garlic powder 2p
Flour 1p
Tomatoes 31p
Stock cube 5p
Onion 8p
Bell peppers 65p
Soy sauce 11p
Total cost £3.96

96p per serve

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Wage rise

In what is absolutely brilliant news, the Living Wage Foundation announced its new hourly wage for 2018 not long ago, and it has gone up by 30p to £8.75 per hour (cheering goes here). This happens to cover me, as my employer is a voluntary signatory to their scheme. :)

But what's the reaction? Trolls, trolls and more trolls, whining at huge volume that either they don't get a payrise or that the new rate is still a pittance. I must confess I'm taken aback. The clincher was one commenter who lives on the living wage and posted his expenses, to "prove" to us that he can't afford to live on it - and in it was his food expense of £300 per month.

There is only one way that a single person can manage to go through that much food in a month and it's quite simply by wasting money. Either they're buying caviar, they're ordering take-away, or half their food goes into the bin. Even if I bought all ready meals and brand names I am not sure I could go through that much food. Maybe if I were also buying takeaway for lunch and tea every day.

I completely understand that there are people whose full time jobs involve a long commute and they're left exhausted by the end of the day without the energy to cook. Right now I am facing 14-hour days next week unless I manage to rent a flat nearer to work (please cross your fingers) and I know that will leave me drained, at least in the beginning. But I am sure not going to "solve" that issue with a quick call to a pizza place every evening! Even buying ready meals is cheaper than that, and I'm sure that if I drag my butt into the kitchen on a Sunday for a couple of hours, I can create five home-made meals for a fiver.

It's not rocket surgery! If money is tight then stop wasting it!