I have been wanting to start our workshops and courses, but with my butterfly brain I found it hard to decide what to do first. We already have our free e-book and free Ta-Dah! course available, but I wanted to do more… I decided to ask what the real issues are for families trying to budget and be more ethical in our Facebook Group – and from that poll the clear winner was Meal Planning.
So – our first email course will be to share how we meal plan and source our food to balance the budget and try to reduce food waste. As with all things in life there are lots of ways to do this, and in fact if you search on line you would find mountains of information – what is special about our course is that’s it a more personal and practical suggestion. It’s about what we actually do in real life! If you have been following us for a while you will know that part of our plan it to be open and honest about what we do and why – and that we’re not perfect or pretending to be. We don’t filter too much here, as parents it’s so demoralising when you see other people who seem to have it all together when you are falling apart.
When you buy the course from our shop, you will receive five emails over five days –
- Welcome email with description of the course and contents info – with an invitation to a separate thread in our Facebook Group for Q&A
- Meal Planning video with Claire – explaining and demonstrating what we do and why
- Meal Planning resources and printables
- Sourcing Your Food video with Claire – discussing many ideas for how to source good value, low waste food (and a few non-food ideas too!)
- Sourcing Your Food resources and printables – by now you will be a meal planning ninja x
We try to make sure that what we do has some value or impact, so you will also receive a feedback email to check your thoughts about the course and anything you would like to let us know.
Remember Members of Plan It, Love It, Do It! are able to receive this course for FREE as part of their membership.
There are NO AFFILIATE links here, I’m not getting any personal benefit from sharing these ideas with you (more fool me!) but I wanted to inspire people to stop spending money they don’t have, or only buying from large corporations when you can get wonderful, handmade, beautiful, ethical gifts from small suppliers, local producers and great people. You are likely to come across a charge for postage and packing, but it may be that you live close enough to collect, or will add more to an order for postage to be cost effective. Please remember these are small suppliers making great products to feed their families.
If you have a friend or relative that runs their own business, please do buy from them before a large corporation – they are your friends! Maybe you could ask if they have gift vouchers, if they’ve written a book then buy it…
Let’s make 2018 a real year of LOVE and KINDNESS.
These are not ‘stocking fillers’ or ‘secret santa’ ideas just based on the price, they are simply lovely gifts. Where you choose to put them, and how many you may buy is entirely up to you but please people of Earth take a moment to just think about what you are spending and where – this should be a time of Peace, Love and Family. I see so much stress and anxiety and it makes me sad.
Next week I will be sharing some FREE gifts for children, just as a few ideas to give some perspective. But for today – dive in!
These in no particular order, and all are beautiful in their own way (I have tried to group them for ease….) Many of the makers I know personally or have been in touch with via the wonders of the internet recently so this information was correct when I pressed Publish!
Actually I want these as well, but they are very useful for school lunches – reuseable sandwich bags (£3.75). I love the designs and variety and just the great ecological wonderfulness of them. There is lots of love at WoollaWoolla Handmade including polar fleece neck warmers and cool hair accessories, all in budget.
These beautifully hand crafted wooden spinning tops from Love Heart Wood are just timeless (£4.50). Each one is unique and no need for batteries!
Another great local find for us was KBling Designs, we got our girls a number of hair accessories and a necklace all under £3! There is loads to choose from, and no fuel or postage cost for us.
More handmade hair accessories from Three Little Pickles Craft (£2.00) – can you tell we have three girls?? It was great to meet another working mum, doing her best for her family and such a creative gift xx
We love Stapleford Stones, they are such fun to hide and share – or to buy and keep. Prices start from £2.00 and go up…
As you will already know we love books, and kids books can be under budget – for those reading on their own check out Maddies Magic Christmas (£1.99 on Kindle), Rob Keeley’s Short Stories (£3.99 on Kindle), We also use local charity shops for books and DVD’s.
For the Home:
There is a whole section of gifts listed under £5 at Homebee. There are lovely inspirational plaques (£4,50), and a great Badger riding a bike tin (£3.50) that made it’s way to our basket – along with a cute fridge magnet (£2.50) Mr F will appreciate x
If you sort by price at Moose in the Mint you will see a whole host of items under £5, all upcycled and eco-friendly. We particularly liked the individual wine glass markers at £2.50.
Another whopping great list of items in budget from Hetty and Betty – Mr F has his eye on the beer bottle opener (£4.99) and I would rather like the heart shaped chalk board (£3.99).
For an original and striking piece of artwork you can buy a print from Vision Within Artwork (£4.50) – we love the Manchester Bees and also know some Londoners that would appreciate the St Pauls Cathedral.
We were excited to come across Alexander Fox Design recently – her use of recycled materials to create Christmas decorations was just beautiful, and many under £5. We also love foxes, so her larger work has gone on the Wish List x
If you love recycling, and beautiful bottles then The Tipsy Candle is a really fun company re-purposing beautiful glass bottles into candles. They have an Absolut Vodka for £5, but the larger champagne bottles with up to 70 hours burn time are obviously more. We particularly liked the Nottingham Gin which has gone on the Wish List x
For a less alcoholic approach you could try Tension Takeaway Candles, these are vegan and made in East Sussex with the smaller 100g size all at £5.00.
If you fancy some lovely treats you can’t go wrong with an artisan hot chocolate coin (£1.25) from Pip’s Real Hot Chocolate – from beautiful Wales, there are vegan options and shed loads of flavours, we like the mint ones…
Still on the foodie theme you could try the vegan fudge from Fab Fudge with a whole host of exciting flavours from £2.99. We liked the raspberry and the fruit and nut x
The wonderful Low Tox Box have a great shop, with lots of items in budget – for a festive treat they have an eco-cracker you can reuse again and again (£2.95).
We love everything at Fiona Rob Graphics, but the pocket mirrors (£4) are particularly lovely, and the Penguin felt decorations (£4.50) are super cute as well. There are also keyrings and other cards, decorations and woodland animals in abundance.
For the foodie in the family (or for yourself) you can try some award winning spice blends and new flavours with Spice Sanctuary mixes (£4.99) from Planet Organic.
You can have a pack of 15 teabags delivered to someone via Tea Huggers (£4.85)- perhaps a ‘Good Night’ , ‘TLC’ or ‘DETOX’? They have a mouth watering range on offer and no P&P costs in the UK. If anyone wants to send me some chocolate tea, I’d love to give it a try, but the Sleep one sounds the best…
For something very unusual check out these brilliant ‘slang’ pencils from Hedge and Hog Prints (£5.00) – we love the Ay Up version, but have some Yorkshire friends who will be getting the Bobby Dazzlers!!
One for the creatives – an organic and ethically produced iron on fabric patch from Shenaniganz (£4.99) – Art certainly is my distraction…
I was amazed to find these lovely hand made earrings at Two for Tea – for just £1 a pair!! P&P is £1.00 for up to five pairs and I want the Snoopy ones…
Our love of books is shared on both sides of the family – so you can always get someone a book in our experience, it’s great to support a local or indie author whenever possible – or to use second hand books or share one you already have and give a book review and tea bag with it x There are lots of Kindle books available for under £5.00, ideas to try… Aunt Bea’s Legacy by Jeanette Taylor Ford (£2.99) or The Night Raid by Clare Harvey (£3.99)
One particular book we recommend for the After Christmas clear up is from Less-Stuff and at £4.99 it’s well worth a read and maybe a few for gifts too!
We recently met Helen Domleo – an amazing designer and silversmith on a dog walk! Her work is quite beautiful inspired by nature and often using recycled metals, and some of her pieces are under £5.00… just amazing. I may have treated myself to something – shhh!
One of our favourite artists is Paper Panda – with lots of gifts, templates and accessories for under £5.00 you could inspire someone to a new hobby, and if you cut used paper it’s recycling too, I’m a genius.
If you would like to pamper someone you can’t go far wrong with a range of gifts under £5.00 from Honey and Rose – all handmade and good for you, we really like the filled Christmas Crackers (£5.00) and bath fizz (£3.00).
From the House of Kind you can have a beautiful notebook (£5.00) ready to list your dreams for 2018 – printed on recycled paper using vegetable inks you can feel good while you dream big!
If you’re looking for something with a bit of bite you will like Mean Mail! As the name suggests their cards (£3.50) are all quite mean, but also funny… we like ‘Did you Keep the Receipt?‘ which also seems quite fitting with my earlier rant…
The handmade greeting cards from Ethicological (£3.50) not only look great and are jolly useful, but are made as part of a project to support children who have experienced the hardest of times to become independent – they are also made of recycled papers and embody the whole package of green and great.
We really love the idea that you can make paper out of elephant poo – share the hilarity with a Card Making Kit (£3.95) from The Exotic Paper Company.
Some people have raised concerns that we have nothing here for the pets in our lives – if you follow us you know we have a dog who is loved by some of the family more than others… We have some great ideas for making pet beds, treats and toys over on our Pinterest Board Frugal Family Pets x x
If you still need some more inspiration take a look at our Gifts That Keep on Giving, and next week’s 5 Free Gifts for Kids x
If you are a small, ethical or just lovely producer of something £5.oo or under get in touch and we can update this list xx
With all the Black Friday chaos around today, it made me realise that so many people (including myself on occasion) feel a compulsion to ‘buy’ to find a bargain, to get a great deal – to shop. I dealt with this many times when teaching confidence building skills; so many students would use shopping to make themselves feel validated, successful or just to get ‘things’ that for a brief moment made them feel good. Of course shopping is not a bad thing, and we can help the economy, support small businesses and do great things with our shopping… but just in case you want a break – here are 10 ways not to shop…
- Do something else! This is a bit cheeky, but actually quite a genuine suggestion. If you shop because you are bored, or it’s become a habit then try breaking your routine and changing things up a bit. If you shop because that’s the way to walk home for example, take a new route one day – we discovered that by just crossing the road a bit further up the path we could go past the shop quite easily… even the kids were distracted enough to not mention all the magazines and sweets they wanted.
- Unsubscribe your Email. You may find that over the years you have given your email address out to lots of companies… and are now in receipt of daily/weekly/monthly messages about deals, once in a lifetime offers and discounts. Some of these are useful as you find out about a free delivery offer, or are for companies you regularly use and the discounts are relevant. However, many of these will just be junk – and an enticement to shop that isn’t good for your pocket and eventually for your self esteem. Spend a hour ditching and unsubscribing so you are not tempted anymore. The number of email alerts today was staggering… my hour will be done over the weekend.
- Make a List. When you see something you really love, or must have – write a list of what you already have that serves that purpose, or does that thing. Being aware of what we already own is a sometimes surprising experience. If you still REALLY need/want that item, give yourself 48 hours to think on it… the urgency for gratification will be over by then, and if you still feel as strongly and it’s within your budget then go for it.
- Sell Something. This sounds completely the wrong way around, but you might want to try a ‘one in, one out’ policy for a short time to see what reaction it brings. This can be particularly useful for children to consider if they want the new thing more than one of their current things… Of course you could give something away but by selling something you raise funds and this can be very supportive psychological switch for people who like the thrill of finding a deal. It also means that you can put any money you raise towards future purchases.
- Write a Wish List. In this modern world we have stopped waiting for things, in the West we live in a high demand and fast paced culture and this means if we see something we just get it and pay for it later if necessary. How many of us have no idea what to give a relative or friend as a gift because they just buy what they need? Start a wish list and when you see something that you would like, just jot it down. If you are asked what you would like for a birthday, festival, treat etc you will have a whole load of ideas in all price ranges! Some major website have a list facility which you can share electronically, there is also Elfster which you can hold a list on or just good ol’ fashioned paper and pen.
- Make a Deal. If you mostly shop for others, you may find that to save money and sanity they would also like to cut back and you could suggest any number of new ways to show appreciation and affection. For example, if you give to other families at Christmas you could suggest not buying for adults but only for kids… or doing a Secret Santa with a fixed budget to everyone gets just one present… or setting a budget for gifts (new under £5 gift guide coming soon!)… or trading skills instead of things e.g. a haircut for a lawn mown, a babysit for a cake.
- Make Something. If your desire to shop is actually about wanting new things in your life, it might be that you can make them yourself, or join a group that could teach you, or help you or you could take part in a creative community event. The thrill you seek from owning new things doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It may be that you already have an item you could upcycle or recycle? You may have a skill you can re-kindle, or it might be fun to learn something new? Creativity is an important expression of who we are – that may be in the traditional sense of artistic output or in the form of music, dance, reading, gardening… whatever gets you going.
- Check a Deal. If you really do need/want to shop for a specific item, make sure you do some research – a ‘bargain’ deal today was in fact still £9 more than in my local shop (this was a children’s toy) – amazing deals are not always what they seem. Make sure you shop around and also look at cashback sites like TopCashBack to see if you can gain from your purchase in any way. Also remember if you have any loyalty cards to check if the benefit of the points or rewards change where you purchase your item.
- Have a Budget. This is a real essential and as you move to a more frugal life generally the idea of a budget will get less boring! There should be a hierarchy in the budget, so essentials like the roof over your head and food come above a new TV… yes Mr F they do!!
- No Regrets. Mostly the things you buy should give you joy. If you hide them, regret them, go without something you love to pay for them then they are not good purchases. If you never wear or use the item – that was money you could have spent on a trip out, a take away or whatever a treat would look like to you. I always ask myself ‘how would I feel about buying that in 5 days time?’. You can certainly have lovely things, and enjoy shopping but make sure you feel in control and get to have fun with it.
Did you get anything in the Black Friday chaos today?
Following on the recycled theme, and seamlessly matching it to the Christmas theme, I came across these beautiful recycled coffee sack Christmas stockings from Fern Cottage Crafts.
Buying gifts that have a recycled element can be done in all sorts of ways. There are lots of homemade ideas for gifts from children, or you may have a piece of jewellery from a relative that would make a great heirloom piece for another family member. Christmas shouldn’t be about the money we spend, but the thought we put in.
We’ve tried a few ways to extend Christmas spirit for more than just one day of present frenzied chaos and eating ourselves into a stupor. We like to wrap all our Christmas books and DVD’s and have them as treats all through December (re-using last years wrapping paper of course, if you wrap them before they go back in the loft with all the odds and bits you have left, or saved from the big day it’s a doddle!). We also like to make Christmas Eve a special day… take a look at Jam Jar Craft Studio for some great recycled paper ideas. Just a thought 😉
Why I chose to use recycled paper? – C&E Designs – Emma Cottam
At C&E Designs we create bespoke paper craft items, ranging from flowers to buttonholes to framed gifts to cards and tags. As a staple we use recycled paper – that is paper that we collect second hand. We hunt through second hand stores, we receive lovely donations and through that we have developed a massive stock of books, maps and sheet music.
Up-cycling this paper and creating something new allows us to bring life back into something that has been used and quite often discarded. We chose to use paper as creating something from almost nothing is a passion and allows our creativity to flow and re-using and up-cycling is important to us as a brand.
In this modern age we quite often throw something away when we are finished with it or when it doesn’t fit a purpose anymore. Recycling and re-using paper can save trees and help to preserve our environment. Whilst I’m not qualified to talk about environmental issues, for us as a business and for me as a person I feel it is important to recycle and re-use.
Using something that once belonged to someone else I often wonder about the journey that that piece of paper, book or map has been on and whom it belonged to. Often the messages at the front of the book, the markings on the sheet music or the circles on the maps show the journey and we like to incorporate this into some of our designs.
One of our favourite types of paper to use is old maps, the older the better! Especially when they have been taped together, are rugged around the edges and have become discoloured with age. These maps show a life well lived and to be able to creatively re-create this into something for someone else makes this an amazing job!
It’s been a much calmer week all round, and so ‘we’ have started to consider what we are buying for Christmas and lists have been created – presents, food, cards etc. One strategy we use is to stick to one supermarket and use their points scheme, this means we have a nice sum to use for our Christmas Treat Foods.
A new strategy is to use TopCashBack for items we buy online (we also order things via this for family and friends). I am totally amazed by how much we have saved over the year by using TopCashBack and when I was checking how to actually get the money out I realised that you can get an extra 6% more money FOR FREE by having your money on a shop card instead of straight to your bank. This could be used as a gift card for someone, or in a shop we are likely to be getting presents from anyway – with four kids every penny counts.
One great way to support local business people is to shop locally, particularly in the run up to Christmas. I will be doing a post about that in more detail next week, but here I wanted to focus on the great power of holding a ‘party’ at home and inviting one or more local sellers to come along.
These are usually very informal gatherings that are useful on lots of levels
- your friends get to meet up for a day/night out,
- they get to shop easily without queues and carrying heavy bags,
- they also get more unusual gifts or discounts,
- The benefit of being the host is that you will either get a ‘thank you’ gift, or a heavy discount on your own purchases, as well as the loveliness of having friends over for a catch up.
We have done this to support local businesses with lots of mutual benefits, those people have become lasting contacts and it’s a really nice way to shop. There are loads of different parties you can host, from cosmetics, kitchen wares, books and clothes. Our favourites are Phoenix Trading and Arbonne both offer a very personal service, have great products and people really enjoy seeing and buying them.
Just to prove I’m not the only person banging on about reusing mugs, or using recycled products, here is The Guardian showcasing the argument for coffee shops (you know who I mean…) being more green. However, we can all make an individual difference too, but recycling our cups or taking our own – and yes, this is going to be another photo of my own re-using mug as I love it sooooo much.
Today can do one! Just when you think one more thing might tip you over the edge… And then one more thing happens and you have to decide whether to laugh or cry.
Being frugal for a comfort eater and shopper isn’t easy – especially when stressed. However, I’m developing a list of free ‘feel good’ activities for moments like these – feel free to suggest some (be polite!).
I’m off to rummage in the craft cupboard to make some earrings for myself. After a cuppa of course😉
One persons rubbish is another persons really useful thing, these are being collected by someone moving house who is super excited about them! No money has changed hands and lots of smiley faces x