A Simpler Life – living within our means & food challenge

This year something that we, as a family, really need to concentrate on is saving money and this ties in with my quest to start living a simpler life. This is the first of many posts about ‘The Simple Life’ and is about living within our means; something I am reluctant to admit, we definitely do not do at the moment.


I’ve never been great with money, never been particularly good at saving or sticking to a budget – it was never a life skill that I picked up (oh how I wish they had taught me some useful life skills like this back at school!), even when we were a lot worse off than we are now and were a one income family I was still useless at saving money – we lived paycheck to paycheck, blowing it all in the first weeks of the month then spending the last half struggling. It’s not a pleasant feeling.


Now we have two incomes coming in but with that have got used to having more ‘expendable income’, the ease with which we fell into our overdrafts has turned into an uphill struggle trying to get out and stay out of them. We are lucky I guess that our only debts (aside from student loans which are being paid off gradually) are our overdrafts and they aren’t particularly large but despite that it doesn’t sit comfortably with me to be in debt of any kind. I am also desperate to start saving for all of the different things we want in life – I want to be able to travel, to move home and to have more freedom and flexibility in our lives which having savings would help us to achieve.

Embracing minimalism and a move towards a simpler life is directly related to our finances for me; I no longer wish to waste money on surplus items, I don’t want to have overflowing cupboards of fast fashion and a home filled with ‘stuff’ – I want to have a healthy amount in savings and the ability to spend on experiences rather than things.  To help with this I am starting to budget and plan our finances a lot more carefully than I ever have in the past.


It was a bit of a wake-up call for me when I realised how much we waste as a family – particularly food waste. I’m pretty ashamed to realise just how much I throw away every week because it’s gone out of date or even, in some cases, because its food I never bothered to use up the leftovers of. I know that I can be very lazy when it comes to cooking fresh meals every night – I often buy all of the necessary ingredients but then never cook the planned meals as they aren’t ‘what I fancy’ or ‘I can’t be bothered’. This is a habit I hope to break, in fact its a habit that I have no choice but to break.

As such I have set myself a challenge and for the rest of this month (well until payday on the 25th so 14 days!) I am planning to cook only from what is already in our kitchen apart from a very small budget solely for a few items that need to be bought fresh ie milk. thai-restaurants



As you can see we have a LOT of food (we also have baking stuff that I haven’t included on the list) – anything with an asterisk * is nearing it’s use-by date and so I plan to use those items up as soon as possible. I am setting myself an additional budget of £20 per week to top up on things such as milk and fruit as we go through tonnes of both.

Please do send me recommendations for meals that I can make using the ingredients above – the simpler the better, and wish me luck on this next part of my journey towards a simpler and more intentional lifestyle for me and my family…



My Random Musings
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  • Reply mummyof5miracles January 11, 2017 at 9:28 am

    I am also awful when it comes to wasting food as I am extremely fussy and won’t use anything even on its use by or best before date it always has to be the day before and bread I will only eat the days it’s opened so if I’ve only taken a few slices out it then goes in the bin which is awful when you think there’s people out there with nothing , the slow cooker has fast become my best friend because it means I can throw everything in there and not and worry about it and we have a home cooked meal every day 🙂

    • Reply bettertogetherhome January 11, 2017 at 9:35 am

      I LOVE my slow cooker but it seems to be on it’s way out 🙁 I have always been like you – throwing food out before it even reaches it’s sell by date but i’m determined to get a hold on our waste and budget! xx

  • Reply everycloudmummy January 11, 2017 at 9:39 am

    God I couldn’t have written this! I am trying to do the exact same and will definitely blog about this also. Let us know how you get on! X

    • Reply bettertogetherhome January 11, 2017 at 9:55 am

      I will do 🙂 let me know once you’ve a blog up about it xx

  • Reply Jane January 11, 2017 at 9:55 am

    This is SUCH a good idea Alex 🙂 I’m trying to be much more economical with our food as well, look forward to seeing what you’ll be making! Jane x


    • Reply bettertogetherhome January 11, 2017 at 9:57 am

      Thanks Jane! Let’s hope I’m up to the challenge – If I can do this it’s sure to help me long-term with meal planning 🙂 xx

  • Reply mummyof5miracles January 11, 2017 at 11:34 am

    Reblogged this on Mummyof5miracles and commented:
    I am a nightmare for wasting food myself, I really should take a leaf out of this ladies book and try harder not to throw so much stuff away!

  • Reply amyandtots January 11, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Feeling this post so much. Especially with food, I find it so much easier to just chuck something in the oven and then all the fresh food I did buy just goes in the bin! Must break the habit!

  • Reply anklebitersadventures January 11, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Reblogged this on Adventures with the ankle biters and commented:
    Love this take on the simpler life

  • Reply anklebitersadventures January 11, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    I love this as I have also been thinking about this and how we don’t live to our means – love the lists so helpful 🙂 look forward to the next posts on a simpler life xx

    • Reply bettertogetherhome January 11, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      Thank you 🙂 It was quite eye-opening doing a full inventory of what we actually have in the kitchen! xx

  • Reply Sammie January 12, 2017 at 9:50 am

    I’m also terrible with money. We have plenty of disposable income after bills but I could not for the life of me tell you where it goes. We have no savings and a fair amount of debt, we’re totally crap at prioritising. It really does start with food I think, it is my biggest monthly expense (aside from bills obviously) and like you, I really need to get on top of it! I’m sure I came across a website once where you put in a few key ingredients and it creates a meal but I can’t remember what it was called… will do some googling.

    • Reply bettertogetherhome January 12, 2017 at 10:00 am

      Sammie we are exactly the same – we have a decent income but I just spend money without even realising then get a shock when I check my balance mid month! Ours is definitely our biggest monthly expense, closely followed by me buying random crap for the house something I’m going to cover in another post! I love the sound of that website! thanks 🙂 xx

  • Reply suzie January 13, 2017 at 11:28 am

    Umm, I’m the complete opposite of this. If it’s past its sell-by date but it looks and smells OK, I assume it is! And I haven’t killed anyone yet lol.
    It’s great to live out of the store cupboards for a week or so … gets rid of all those odd tins of stuff … but it does make for some interesting food combinations. I have no ideas for recipes, just chuck stuff together and see what comes out.
    You probably don’t want to come to my house for dinner ha ha.

    • Reply bettertogetherhome January 13, 2017 at 11:35 am

      haha! well i’m glad to hear you haven’t killed anyone yet – not with your cooking anyway! 🙂 We’ve got sooo much stuff in the freezer and cupboards that actually so far I think all the combos will be normal – might not be the case in week 2!!

  • Reply Meal Plan Monday | January 16, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    […] been on a no-waste, minimum spend challenge when it comes to groceries (you can read more here) and as part of that I’ve started planning our weekly meals to help me make the best use of […]

  • Reply Meal Plan Monday – 3rd July | Better Together Home July 5, 2017 at 9:28 am

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