Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Low income doesn???t have to mean boring!

Guest blog - some great tips -  by Penny GoLightly


If you’re cutting back your spending, it’s common to worry that your social life and even your diet will become restricted and boring. However, these are two things that you can still enjoy with a little planning ahead.

When money is in short supply you don’t automatically have to find yourself eating dull and monotonous meals, with the same recipes (or ready-meal reheats) over and over again. Even if you can’t afford a cookbook, you can still find plenty of free recipes online and there are several websites devoted to cheap, tasty cooking so you never need to be short of inspiration.

Banish suppertime boredom with storecupboard saviours like dried mixed Italian herbs, dried French fines herbes, mustard powder, soy sauce, teryaki sauce, Tabasco, and vegetable stock granules - all cheap to buy, keep for ages, and ideal for perking up simple dishes. Sometimes I also freeze wine or coconut milk into ice cube trays so a tiny amount of luxury can be added a cube at a time into dishes to really stretch out a bottle or can.

Fresh herbs are delicious but too expensive to buy, so I prefer to grow my own on the kitchen windowsill. Good quality seeds can be found cheaply enough: Poundland sells six packets of different herbs for £1, and you can improvise pots out of empty cans or large yoghurt cartons if needed.

If you can’t afford to go out for big fancy meals, that isn’t the end of the world either. For the occasional treat, look for special offers at chains such as Strada or Pizza Express, find 50%-off deals at toptable.com, or just stick to a main course and a coffee when you go out. If that’s more than the budget will allow, you can take it in turns with your friends to entertain at home (and ask your visitors to bring the wine or the dessert). 

Keep an eye on entertainment magazine websites and online clubs such as SeeFilmFirst.com for tickets for free cinema screenings, or look for free local comedy or music nights if you can afford to buy a drink.

Watch television shows at no cost using web-based on-demand services such as iPlayer and 4oD, or you might be able to pick up a freeview box cheaply on eBay or even Freecycle. You could also go to watch television and radio shows being recorded for free, if you live near a recording centre. A good place to start is often the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/tickets/ , but a quick internet search will reveal many more sites to try.

For the time being, local libraries are still amazing places to go to borrow books for free, or DVDs and CDs for low fees. They also have message boards and fliers for a wide range of community-based schemes and events, most of which are cheap or cost nothing to attend.

For more of Penny's articles adn tips, visit her website www.pennygolightly.com



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