Sunday, January 21, 2018

I Did Something Crazy...

Sooo... I did something crazy this week... something so not me.... something so not Finding the Pennies.  Honestly, I can't believe that I did it actually. Enough already! What is it, Lauren?! I passed up the opportunity of a FREE gym membership to Nuffield Health Gym. *gulp!*  I can hardly believe it myself.  The directors of the company I work for offered to pay for a full gym membership for the office employees, worth £33... and I didn't take it.  Why?!  Because I belong to Anytime Fitness which is about a 5-minute walk up the hill from our house.  I know myself... there is NO WAY I'd want to get in the car and drive 8-ish minutes to Nuffield.  More than that... the classes don't start until 6:45, so there's NO WAY it would work out time-wise with working out for an hour then driving back home to get myself and the family ready before the school run and work.  I mostly don't work out in the evenings, so evening workouts/classes isn't really a possibility for my family's schedule.  So, I kindly declined the generous offer.  *sigh*
So, back to the money-saving Lauren.  What did you do Friday evening? I bet it wasn't as good as ours!  While the girls enjoyed their movie night - Dora the Explorer... again - Jeff and I hovered over the laptop screen at the kitchen table considering remortgaging options. Yay! Fun! (Not.)  What's sooo depressing is realising how much is left on our house to pay off and how much we pay in interest!  Waaaa!  At least we're starting to look at the options and have the time to ask others for advice.  My ultimate goal is to pay off our mortgage... and the sooner, the better!
Completely changing topics.... my girls have had the Mueller corner yogurts perhaps twice... ever... because they're full of sugar and EXPENSIVE... and the "yogurt" is drippy and gross.  Can you tell I don't like Mueller yogurt?!  Not that the above-pictured yogurt is any less sugary (I haven't compared nutritional info), it does taste a WHOLE lot better and cost less than 90p (I can't remember the actual price) from Aldi.  So that my daughters don't entirely miss out on the "fun" of having Smarties (British M&Ms for my non-British readers) in their yogurt, I occasionally let them add a small handful to their yogurt.  Cost-wise it comes to about 15p per bowl compared to the best price of 40p per Mueller Corner yogurt.  
Sorry (not sorry) that I talk so much about food on my blog, but it is such an easy way of saving money.  Almost every weekend, I crave Chinese or a curry.... but it can be sooo expensive if it's eaten at a restaurant or even taken away.  The next-best option is the Chinese or curry "deals" from the supermarket... and yes, they're fine, as long as my girls will eat them. The meal would cost £8-£10.  Not too bad... but I know I can do better... with the use of my slow cooker.  Even having ordered great-quality meat from UKFreshMeats for £8 for this recipe, it still works out to about £4 for the meat for this meal since we've only eaten half of the beef.  Of course there are the costs of the pretty basic ingredients for the sauce and the costs for the brown rice I boiled myself... oh yeah, I made Slow Cooker Broccoli and Beef  and it hit the spot!  The leftover beef will be used in steak fajitas tomorrow evening for a quick, easy and cheap meal.



Saturday evening Jeff and I shared this small-ish bar of chocolate that was marked down to 47p at Aldi after Christmas.  It was alright... not fantastic... but it did the trick for a simple, inexpensive Saturday evening treat... and it looked pretty too! 

I know this post is somewhat random, and honestly, not completely thought through... but that's ok!  I'm simply sharing my thoughts in the hopes of encouraging you to find ways to simplify, cut-back where possible and consider options that may or may not save you money depending on your circumstances, like not taking advantage of the paid-for gym membership. 

Have a great week!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Putting "I Have Enough" into Practice

Evening All! I sat down a half hour ago with my cup of tea and a couple of Lindor truffles (my favs!) to start my evening by clearing out a few receipts from my wallet/purse and updating my budget.

Brenna and I went to Sainsbury's this morning.  Man! I almost wish I hadn't.  £56.51 for seemingly few things!  Unfortunately, I can't get everything at Aldi that my family wants, Shreddies (Jeff doesn't like Aldi's Malties... oh, well).  I did buy a large reduced beef joint for a VIP's visit on Saturday and a few packs of fresh berries that I don't usually buy... it all sure adds up quickly!  I used up what was remaining on the Sainsbury's gift card that we purchase at a slightly reduced rate through Jeff's work) and £32.50 worth of Nectar points, leaving £2.14 remaining. 

We reduced our grocery budget £50 this month as a challenge to get by on just "enough", which could be allocated elsewhere in the budget.

I also returned an unopened canister of Allinson's yeast that I bought prior to Christmas for £1.10.  I found yeast at Aldi for much less a day or so later, so I didn't need the Allinson's yeast.  It's about finding pennies, right? 
This afternoon I spent a little time setting up the girls' Fisher Price Little People Farm and Zoo toys to take pictures of in the hopes of selling them.  I've been dreading this moment for years as these were favourites once upon a time, but aren't any longer.  My girls no longer play with them, they're taking up valuable space, and I'm sure they will be loved again by another family. (This is me trying to console myself.)
Yesterday, I forgot to take my lunch to work.  My immediate thought was to make it until I got home at 3:30pm.  Hmm... nope that didn't last long.  Then I remember the sandwich van whose music chimes loudly outside the office at 11:45am every day.  I thought, "This is the one time I will buy myself a sandwich."  Then my mantra "I have enough" popped into mind.  In my desk drawer were some packets of just-add-boiling-water soup, a handful of almonds, a clementine leftover from Tuesday and a selection of biscuits/bars.  "I have enough."  The sandwich van came and went without my visiting it.
I didn't really feel like going to the shop yesterday, nor did I really need to.  We had enough at home.  Since I like to have a couple of meat-free meals a week, I decided it was "breakfast for supper" night.  We had scrambled eggs (it's not technically meat, right?), blueberry muffins (Recipe from Everydaycheapskate.com, but without the sugary topping) and fruit salad with a couple spoonfuls of yogurt stirred in for something different. Cheap and easy.

"I have enough" has helped me in a few situations already this week.  One other example was when I went to dry my hair yesterday morning. I almost turned on the light in the bedroom, but then realised there was just enough light in the room to dry and brush my hair. I'm finding even more places to cut back when I keep "I have enough" in mind.     

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

My 2018 Mantra: "I Have Enough"

Picture credit
Welcome to 2018, Friends!  Have you made any New Year resolutions?  I haven't.  That's right.  I haven't.  There's something about new year resolutions that feel so immediate, but temporary, not something that is sustainable or something that one can start and build up gradually overtime.  I feel that in order to make a change... for good... old habits have to be broken down, while new habits are slowly created and improved upon.  My money-saving mindset did not - voila! - magically happen overnight... in fact, it's very much a work in progress and always will be. 

Although not always good at it, my money-saving mindset started when I was young.  I would watch my dad clip coupons for groceries from the Sunday newspaper, then eventually, I'd be the first to snatch up the pages of coupons to cut out.  We didn't necessarily need to cut out coupons and use them at the grocery store, but we did.  I began to understand how much fun it was to get something for less money.  Over 30-odd years, this has developed into not only my love for and utter thrill at finding a bargain, but wanting to share this love and thrill with you! 

Perhaps you're thinking, "Lauren, doesn't saving money leave you with feelings of deprivation or inadequacy?"  My answer: No, not at all. In fact, the more money I don't spend, the more money I get to keep to myself or use for something else.  Makes sense, right?

But honestly, sometimes I do feel a little inadequate when I see lovely cars driving down the road while I drive my 11-year-old Vauxhall Vectra, or when I see others wearing lovely clothes and mine are pretty basic and either a hand-me-down or purchased at 60% off somewhere.  But you know what, I then quickly remind myself that there's absolutely nothing wrong with driving a perfectly good, safe Vectra or wearing hand-me-downs.  I have enough.

Just a little bunny trail here - I listen to podcasts as often as I can (they're FREE!) as they are so informative and encouraging.  My favourites, by the way, are Primal Potential with Elizabeth Benton (healthy lifestyle), Dave Ramsey (finance), Retire Inspired with Chris Hogan (finance), Life Money Hope with Chris Brown (Christian finance) and Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth (Christian).  

I listen to pretty much every single Primal Potential podcast and learn amazingly wonderful things from Elizabeth Benton about nutrition, exercise and mindset.  But Podcast 429 titled "My Personal Mantra & 2018 (please listen here) I listened to 3 times (and now a fourth time to write this blog).  Three times! Elizabeth discusses a book she read and had reflected on called The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist and from which she quoted a couple of pages.  Did I mention that I listened to this podcast three times?!  It had that big of an impact on me. 

Elizabeth quotes, "...and for many of us, our first thought is 'I didn't get enough sleep', the next one is 'I don't have enough time'.  Whether true or not, that thought of "not enough" occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it.  We spend most of the hours in the days of our lives complaining or worrying about we don't have enough of.  We don't have enough time. We don't have enough rest. We don't have enough exercise. We don't have enough work. We don't have enough profits. We don't have enough power. We don't have enough wilderness. We don't have enough weekends.  Of course we don't have enough money... ever.  We're not thin enough. We're not smart enough. We're not pretty enough or fit enough, educated or successful enough or rich enough... ever. Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we're already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something.  And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds race with a litany of what we didn't get, or didn't get done that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that revelry of lack. This manta of "not enough" carries the day and becomes a kind of default setting for thinking about everything.  From the cash in our pockets, to the people we love or the value of our own lives. What begins as a simple expression of the harried life or even the challenged life, grows into the deep justification for an unfulfilled life. It becomes the reason we can't have what we want or be who we want to be.  It becomes the reason we can't accomplish the goals we set for ourselves, the reason our dreams can't come true, or the reason other people disappoint us. The reason we compromise our integrity, give up on ourselves or write off others.  We live with scarcity as an underlying assumption. It's not that we necessarily experience a lack of something, but scarcity, as a chronic sense of inadequacy about life, becomes the very place from which we think and act and live in the world. Through that lens, our expectations, our behavior and their consequences become a self-fulfilling prophecy of inadequacy, lack and dissatisfaction. 

"In the mindset of scarcity, our relationship with money is an expression of fear. A fear that drives us in an endless and unfulfilling chase for more, or into compromises that promise us a way out of the discomfort around money." 

Elizabeth goes on to explain the parallel between money and overeating... "the desire for more... more... more."  She continues to quote, "When you LET GO of trying to get more of what you don't really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have."

Elizabeth then chats about an exercise in journaling (which I have really haven't gotten the hang of myself) and has asked herself, "What do I not need more of? And where do I act as if I don't have enough? Where do I act as though I need more?" She answers what she doesn't need more of, "Food, sugar, alcohol, television, money, stuff.  Whether that stuff is clothes, coffee mugs, tech accessories, books."  For me, it's very similar things. I, too, don't need more food or sugar, bath towels(!), cooking equipment, stuff... ugh! I have too much stuff!  Kids' toys, markers and pens, dust (ha!). 

Where do you feel like you don't have enough?  I have been thinking of the word "enough" since I first listened to the podcast last week.  I have enough. I feel fulfilled. I don't need more. *BAM!* It was a total light bulb - no, EXPLOSION moment! 

I have enough.

I have enough food - my fridge and freezer are crammed full. My cupboards won't fit another can/tin or box.  Look at me! I am no skinny mini! I hardly need more food than I need.

I have enough friends  -  I don't need more friends. I don't even nurture the friendships I have with amazing friends who are spread around the globe.

I have enough money - we are able to pay our bills, put food on the table, keep warm and dry.

I have enough time - hey, we all have the same 24 hours.

I have EVERYTHING I need.  "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19).

I have enough.

This is my 2018 mantra: "I have enough."  I have noticed already that a few thoughts of inadequacy were quickly diminished when I recited my mantra to myself.  I am really looking forward to exploring how this impacts my decisions regarding money, my continued progress to lose weight and my life in general and will share these experiences with you this year. Take care, Friends.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Reflecting on 2017

Honestly, I can't believe that there are less than 2 hours left of 2017.  Probably like most, there have been plenty of ups and downs this past year, but I am not going to reflect on coulda, woulda, shoulda.  I am going to end this year by reflecting on how I've grown in a few aspects of my life.

Courage: Merriam-Webster defines courage as "mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty."  This year I've had the courage to not give up when I very easily could have, the courage to take on a new job that was completely out of my comfort zone and the courage to open myself up on this blog to those who know me and those who don't.  

Confidence:  I came to the realisation early in the year that people in my life were dramatically influencing my self-belief, not in a good way either.  Not that it's been easy, I've begun to have a "I'm-ok-with-that-person-not-liking-me" attitude.... and, boy, is that freeing!  WHY in the world have I wasted so many years trying to impress people that I really don't like either.  I will only fight so long to keep a friendship alive; it either is or isn't.

I love writing this blog; I love sharing my thoughts about my money-saving mindset in the hopes that it helps someone.  It's my creative outlet.  Some people write music or paint amazing paintings or sew quilts.  Not me; this is how I'm creative AND completely practical.  I've noticed that whenever I go to discuss this blog with anyone, there's suddenly dead silence.  Ok... I don't exactly know what to think about it, but honestly, I don't care... much.  I do care what my readers think about this blog, but honestly, if someone doesn't like it or I write something that offends them (though I seriously don't intend to do that) and they decide to stop reading it, fine by me.... all the best to them.

"Lauren, that's just weird."  Yep, that's weird, I'm weird... I don't do what's "normal".  My confidence has led me to go against the grain - it's not normal to save, it's not normal to budget, it's not normal to voice "one's" opinion about life and living.  What's "normal" is to have debt, buy things to impress others and to live in the moment. My life may be seen as old-fashioned and hum-drum... ok, sure, if that's the way the perceiver wants to perceive my life.  I hope to prove the contrary.

"No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else." - watch the trailer for The Greatest Showman here to see what I mean.

Contentment: For the past 2-3 years, the Lord has been working in my heart to help me to stop fighting the desire for different circumstances, better this and more of that.  He has been teaching me to be thankful for what He has given me and to appreciate the "simple" things in life.  A big... no, HUGE... part of my money-saving mindset depends on this idea of contentment...of having enough, of being enough, of doing enough. 

In 2018, I do hope and pray that I will continue to grow in courage, in confidence and in contentment while also learning how to simplify and streamline my life to allow for what's truly important to me. 

In 2018, this blog will change - I'm not exactly sure how, but I do know for sure that it will take a more biblical approach.  For a few months now, I've felt the Lord pulling me to make this blog more of a ministry, an outreach. If this offends the reader, no apologies, I wish them the best on the path they choose if they no longer want to read this blog.  No, I definitely don't know everything about life, the Bible or finances, but I know enough. I know that if I don't take this step of faith I will not be following the Lord's prompting.  I want to walk along side you.  I hope you continue on this adventure with me.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Boxing Day Thoughts: Start Moving in the Direction of Your Goals

Hi Friends.  This cute picture of our daughters really warms my heart.  Brenna, the younger one, has just opened her gift from her older sister, Ellen, and is hugging her present.  Just thought I'd share it.

How are you feeling this Boxing Day?  I'm feeling pretty good, thanks, except I keep thinking about how much weight I've put on the past week or so.  Not good.  I decided that there was no point in waiting until New Years Day to "start" my diet... again.  For those of you who don't know me, I have been (struggling to) losing weight pretty much my whole life and have lost a fair amount in the past couple of years, but have been battling the same 10 or so pounds the past year in a half.  However, I weigh more this morning than I have in a really long time.  I could tell I was putting on weight even without stepping on the scale, because I felt sluggish and my clothes were getting snugger each day.  The problem is, food is yummy and I tend to eat too much.  I do know, however, when I create a plan and stick to it... day after day... I lose weight.

So, this morning, my friend and I went to the gym together.  Same time as usual...6am.  We did a pretty challenging HIIT workout then 500ft on the Jacob's ladder.  Quite tough but I really thrive on challenges, especially when I believe or even know I can do it.  I came home and had one of my favourite breakfasts... a plate of sauteed red cabbage with two scrambled eggs, 1 slice of crumbled bacon, some avocado drizzled with some Sriracha sauce.  By the way, if you haven't tried Sriracha sauce, yet and you like to add a bit of kick to your dishes, just go out and buy yourself some Sriracha sauce... it's sooooo goood.  So, that was my breakfast this morning and I already feel better for making a couple of healthy steps in the right direction.
"Lauren, how exactly does this have anything to do with saving money and finances?"  Dieting and exercise have so much in common with finances, and I'd like to share my thoughts on this to inspire you to have a serious think this week, before New Years Day next Monday (when you might be gung ho to start something new), about where you'd like to go this year in terms of your finances.

#1: What is your goal?  Consider what you'd like to achieve this year.  Maybe it's paying cash for your next holiday/ birthday party/ life event, as opposed to putting it on a credit card to pay for after you return from your holiday or have that birthday party or life event.  Maybe it's to finally get a written plan in place so you know where every penny you spend is going before you spend a thing.  Maybe it's to cut back in little ways so that you can pay off some debt.  Maybe it's to start saving for an emergency fund or boost the one you already have, or to contribute more towards retirement, or pay more towards your mortgage. Perhaps you'd like to reach the end of the month or your next paycheck with money still left in your bank account.

#2: Does this goal need to be broken down? Perhaps your goal seems too insurmountable, too impossible to achieve.  Let me just tell you, that it's likely not impossible - is it possible to break down your goal?  For instance, if your goal is to save for your next holiday and pay for it in advance, write down how much you'll need for travel and accommodation.  Add to that entertainment, food and other costs.  There you go, you have a goal and you've taken the first step of considering the costs.  Now, divide that number by the number of paychecks or months until the holiday.  That is how much you need to save each paycheck or month prior to the holiday.  This seems kind of intuitive, but believe me, the next step may be the hardest.  Save that money each month or paycheck for that holiday.  This is the application step, the one that you need to work on each and every day to reach your goal.

This application part is the part of the diet of remembering to set my alarm the night before, actually getting out of bed at 5:40am the mornings I workout, getting dressed, going to the gym, having a plan in place at the gym, completing the workout, eating meals that are not only nutritious but also delicious, planning meals in advance, telling myself "no, not right now" OFTEN, having a plan for the tough times and identifying the tough times (like 16:00 after the school run when I'm hungry and tired) all while going through your normal, busy day.  It's not easy!  No one said that taking control of your finances is easy either, but by breaking your goals down into mini goals and steps makes accomplishing these goals completely doable. 

#3: Stop. Once you have a really good think about what you'd like to accomplish, stop a minute and consider where you are. What are you thinking about and feeling today?  Are you really ready to make a change and start working towards your goals?  Are there any emotional ties you may have to work through before or while working towards your goals?  Maybe there are some challenges you'll have to overcome or work towards.

#4: Ask for help.  You may be ready to start moving in the direction of your goals but aren't sure you know how or don't want to do it alone.  Is there someone you can share your goals with?  I am so thankful to be "on the same page" with my husband in regards to our financial goals.  Please don't hesitate to share your goals with me.   I promise it won't go beyond my ears or eyes.  I'd love to walk along with you to help you accomplish your goals.  Please feel free to message me on the Finding the Pennies Facebook page.  Seriously, I would be absolutely honoured and blessed to help you.

#5: Start ASAP. As soon as you're ready, START.  You don't even have to know what you're going to do exactly.  Just start paying attention to your thoughts and even writing down what you tell yourself about yourself and your goals.  But don't wait until a certain time or date.  Begin NOW, right now.

My goal weight seems elusive, but I know that with every small, "right" decision, I will eventually reach my goal.  This is not a sprint, nor something that I will achieve overnight.  Every small change, every small achievement all counts!  It's all about creating the mindset of working towards my goal every... single... day.  That's where I want to walk along side you. I want to help you to create small changes... the pennies... in your life to help you to reach the financial goals you have set out to achieve.
I just wanted to share a picture of these cute Santa pancakes that I made for the girls yesterday morning. Simple and cute, right?!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

How I "Spent" My Day: Christmas Eve Eve

To be honest, Christmas Eve Eve wasn't super "wow", nor super "last-minute-Christmas shopping hectic"... it was quite like a normal "home day". For some reason, if we're home on Saturdays, I tend to spend most of it cooking and baking.  Not that I don't enjoy doing both, but I do wish I could get to something else in the house. I really must strive to do that. 

My day started at the gym with my friend - an arm and shoulder workout. A few hours later, at about 9:30, I left my local Morrisons shop this morning with a smile on my face.  After having been there since 7:50, having spent the majority of it waiting for my Christmas order, I could have very, very easily left feeling very upset.  Instead, I had received FANTASTIC customer service just minutes before.

For a second year, I made a Christmas order from Morrison's - a ham, a pork pie for Jeff, a Christmas tree cake and a robin cake - yep, two cakes.   I selected the 8:30 pickup time, but arrived at Morrison's just before 8:00am to get a few more things to "survive" through Boxing Day.  At about 8:40, while I was bagging my groceries at the checkouts, I looked to my left and noticed a queue of customers.  It was customers waiting for their Christmas orders.  "Oh, great, it's happened again", I thought.  Just like last year, the delivery was late, so staff were scrambling to get the orders together.

I went over to Customer Services to enquire about my order. The young man behind the counter told me the lorry was late, so the orders weren't ready, but I was welcome to have a complimentary tea or coffee in the cafe.  I was actually impressed that the staff already had a plan to appease the customers while they waited for their orders.  I got my cappuccino and waited about 5 minutes in the cafe, then the same young man came over to tell me that my order was ready.  I joined the queue and waited... and waited... and waited.

As you can imagine, I became more agitated as I waited and was asked my surname numerous times.  The queue thinned out and I was the last one standing there.  I received numerous apologies but still no order.  Finally the customer services manager came over to find out what I was doing still standing there. I explained that I understand that the lorry was late to arrive, but the disorganization and the lack of staff to help sort it out was simply not good enough.  Somehow I remained calm while the refrigerated and frozen items I bought slowly came to room temperature in my shopping bags.

The customer services manager surprised me by offering me a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of Cava "to put a smile on my face".  I thanked her, but said that I'd rather have a small discount off the remainder of my order.  When I placed the order, I paid a £20 deposit.  She walked away and came back moments later with a lovely bouquet.  When another member of staff brought my order up in a large box, she explained that the pork pie I had ordered hadn't come in, so they replaced it with another one.  "I sure hope they don't charge me for that pork pie after waiting all that time", I thought.  A £10 pork pie for free would be nice!

The customer services manager then rang through most of the items, except the pork pie and the partially-thawed bag of peas I grabbed while I was waiting. £35-something rang up on the till, but she said that she didn't want me to pay for it.  Twenty pounds would have come off that for the deposit, but she gave me at least £15 worth of food for free plus the lovely bouquet!

She told me she wanted me to walk out of there with a smile on my face.  I thanked her and walked out slightly embarrassed for being doted upon.
Once I got home - and calmed down a hysterical 3-year-old - I made a small batch of my slow cooker bolognese.  This is the link to the recipe: http://littlespicejar.com/slow-cooker-bolognese-sauce/, but I don't follow it to a "t".  I also add probably 1/2 a cup of lentils to the bolognese not only to add a bit of fibre to the sauce but to "bulk out" the ground beef/mince.  Sometimes I add the cream, sometimes I don't.

The kids and I made cut-out Christmas cookies today after lunch, which I do enjoy, but admittedly, it is slightly frustrating.  The main thing is that the girls enjoy it and we have delicious cookies ready for Santa's arrival.

Our friends visited this afternoon for a short while, which is always nice, but always too short.  We've always been touched by their thoughtfulness and generosity.

Fast forward to now, and this is my view. A simple, cosy evening. Jeff and I are watching "It's a Wonderful Life", the Yankee candle my friend surprised me with lit in the background. I'm sitting in our comfy recliner typing this post and while sipping a small glass of Chilean Merlot that was leftover from my work's Christmas party.

"Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings", George Bailey's little daughter says in his arms in the last scene of the film. George's house is filled by the people whose life he's impacted and for whom he is so grateful.  I am grateful for your support of my blog and want to wish you and your family a very merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

"Beans and Rice, Rice and Beans"

While looking for another recipe the other evening, I was reminded of a recipe for black bean soup that I haven't made in a while... probably a couple of years... and boy, did it sound good!  Not only simple to make, delicious and nutritious, but it's inexpensive, too!  I was a little nervous about what my daughters would think of it, but recently, I never know what they will like and not like, so I didn't feel I had much to lose. 

I better quickly explain the title of this post.  Dave Ramsey, the American financial "advisor" radio host who I'm an avid listener of and whose advice I mostly follow, says all the time when he advises people how to get out of debt, "Beans and Rice, Rice and Beans", meaning to cut waaayy back on expenses in your life.  We quite literally followed his advice!

I keep my eyes peeled for black beans when I'm out and about, but the only place I can find them are at Sainsbury's for 65p a carton (below).  Not terribly expensive, but I bought the tin of black eye beans for 30p, so less than half the price.  I hoping to find dried black beans, but even spending £1.30 for two cartons of beans isn't too bad. 


This is the original recipe from Comfy in the Kitchen; however, quantities aren't listed, so I'll give you an idea of what I used - it's a pretty straightforward soup recipe.

2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. chili powder (or more, if you like it a little spicier)
1 tsp. cumin (or slightly more, if you prefer)
2-3 cartons of Black Beans (or two, plus one can of black eye beans, like I did)
2 stock cubes with 2-3 C. of water or chicken stock (depending on the consistency you'd like to achieve)

Heat the oil in a medium/large saucepan/pot, then add the onion.  After the onion cooks a few minutes, add the garlic and stir being careful not to allow the garlic to burn.  Add the chili powder and cumin, stir and cook for about an minute.  Add the beans, crumble the stock cubes in and add the water.  I used about of cup of homemade chicken stock along with the stock cubes and water.  I let this boil about 10 minutes, then turned off the heat used a immersion blender (handheld stick blender) to puree the soup a bit. I wanted my bean soup to be a bit chunky, so I only blitzed it a little bit. I ended up boiling it another 5 minutes to allow more water to evaporate so it was a bit thicker.  That's it.

I boiled plain 'ol rice while I was making the soup and served this with the bean soup, topped by a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.

To my amazement and delight my girls gave this dish two thumbs up!  Not only did this £2 meal - for the whole pot - feed us all this evening, there are at least 3 meals leftover in the fridge.  I hope you'll try this soon.  Please let me know if you find black beans cheaper anywhere else and if you try the soup in your home!