It was a good job someone had added festive frippery, as the woods themselves were rather brown.
I was having a good ponder as I plodded along. Mostly about the fact that my half marathon is just four short weeks away, and (as usual) I haven't quite done enough training. Also, that the half marathon is next year, which means that next year is quite soon, which in turn means that Christmas is very soon.
When I wasn't running through my Christmas present list in my head, I was pondering the new year, and specifically two (related) things: finances, and moving house.
Having waffled on about finances a couple of weeks ago, a friend pointed me towards the Frugalwoods blog, which I'd not come across before. Because I can get a bit obsessive about such things, I am currently reading back through the archives - I'm proper nosey and I do so love reading about other people's lives and how they manage their finances.
Mr and Mrs Frugalwoods are, it turns out, very frugal, and are hosting an 'uber frugal month' in January. Now, we consider ourselves to be pretty frugal by nature, but as we're about to commit to a mortgage which will likely take up what feels like a vast proportion of our income, there's no harm in seeing if we can do more.
So I can tell you that I eat 40g of oats for breakfast, and as I bought 1kg for 75p at Aldi the other day, I can tell you that those 40g cost approximately 3p. At the minute we have (not particularly frugal) Sainsbury's sultanas (£1.50 for 500g), and I have 30g which (I think!) works out at another 9p. Add in a pinch of salt, a couple of teaspoons of sugar, a bit of cinnamon, and enough electricity to power the microwave for exactly two minutes, and, even if we include the cup of tea (teabag, gas to boil kettle, dash of milk) we're probably looking at under 15p for my breakfast (Peter I can't vouch for - he doesn't weigh his so might eat as much as 25p worth, gosh!)
My lunches don't fare so well (Peter is often near home, so can cook, forage, or eat porridge again). I went through a phase of taking leftovers, but we're not cooking as much as we'd like at the minute, so that isn't working. What also doesn't work is having a selection of sandwich-making items in the house (they get eaten too quickly). Instead, I stock up on the way to work on a Monday, which means my dinners often end up looking like this.
I'd not actually worked out the cost per day, but I'll do it now as I'm looking things up anyway. Flatbreads are 14p each, so that's 28p per day. Two cheese triangles is 34p. Salad is roughly 18p a portion, so that makes 80p a day. If I do have cheesy Wotsits (and most of the time I try not to, much as I love them), that adds another 25p. I also stock up on yogurt (50p per day), satsumas (33p per day), and some kind of snack biscuit type thing (roughly 24p a day). That's £1.87 a day (£2.12 if I add in the Wotsits).
While that's cheaper than buying lunch at the work cafe, it's still around £10 a week. I'm at work roughly 44 weeks of the year, which means I'm spending approximately £440 a year on work lunches (obviously this isn't exact - some days I meet a friend for a cafe lunch (even worse!) or get a free lunch (yay!) - but it'll do as a rough calculation). Is that a lot? It feels like a lot - the perfect target for an uber frugal month!
When Mr and Mrs Frugalwoods were at work every day, they batch cooked rice and beans at the weekend for work lunches, which they calculated at the equivalent of approximately 31p a day (which would work out at £68 a year). Even if that only replaces the bread/cheese/salad, it's still a saving of £108 a year, and I bet I could find or make cheaper alternatives for the other things too. I was going to say 'I wouldn't want to eat the same thing every day' - but in fact I've been eating EXACTLY the same thing for lunch at work every day for months, and I haven't minded one bit!
So there we are - we've commited ourselves to examining all of our spending and having an uber frugal month in January. If you fancy joining in, you can sign up here (you don't have to sign up, but if you do you'll get some tips by email I believe).
In the meantime, any suggestions for frugal and tasty lunches to take to work would be most welcome!