Back To School for £50 Or Less?

Good morning and happy Monday!  We have had a fun filled weekend and are ready for another busy week!  Hope you all had a good one?

I received an email from Pep & Co/Poundland last week and was delighted – anyone who follows me on Instagram will see me posting my #whatostomateswear post most days and know I wear a lot of their clothes.  I swear by their high-waisted jeans – definitely the comfiest I have found!  We also get quite a lot of the kids bits in there.

The Mission…Should You Choose To Accept It

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The email was telling me all about the new school uniform and items they have in their stores currently and set me a challenge – to kit out a child for school for £50 or less!  Any one with children will know how expensive a new term can be and I regularly fork out well over £100 per child so this intrigued me… could it really be done?

Challenge Accepted!

Of course I had to give it a go, so on Saturday we headed to the local store we tend to use at the entrance to the Intu Derby centre.  The store was well stocked with a good range of sizes.  There were lots of different options including shirts and polo shirts, pinafore dresses and tights.

Uniform

The items are of lovely quality and do not feel cheap at all.  I find that the boys either grow out of their uniform or get it ditched (irreparably) after a few months, so spending less on items like polo shirts suits me better as I know these will need replacing at some point throughout the school year.  The polo shirts are available in white and light blue and are £1 each!  They can be bought separately or in two packs..

I personally did not pick up any sweatshirts as the boys school asks that they wear the ones with their logo on.  However, they are available in blue, red and black for just £2 each.  A great alternative to the more expensive school branded ones or good to have as a back up just in case.

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Trousers can be the bane of my life.  Both my boys have gone through phases of having tiny waists but long legs!  Leo is more in proportion now but Riley struggles to get a size that is long enough to suit his leg length which aren’t then too big for his waist.  I was really pleased to see that the Pep & Co trousers have adjustable waists in them.  The smaller sizes were just £3 and the bigger ones were £3.50 and were available in grey and black.  Skirts and pinafore dresses were also on sale.

The shoe range wasn’t huge but I loved these ones I picked up for Riley – super smart and he said they were very comfy and made him run really fast!  The girls shoes were cute too.  At  only £8 these are perfect for quick growing feet (and football players) who will need new ones at a rapid rate.

Socks (5 pack) and tights (2 pack) were also available in grey and black.  There were girls socks with a slight frill to the top as well.

The boys PE kits are bought from school too but they are encouraged to take in tracksuit tops and joggers for the Winter and for outside PE sessions.  Pep & Co had these lovely, soft tracksuits in grey, black, navy and blue.  The tops were £5 and the bottoms £4.  They also had PE pumps in a range of sizes for just £3.50.

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Trying It On

As you can see, Riley got right into the modelling game for you all!  He loved taking these pictures, even if he was a little wary at first!  He is wearing size 7-8 shirt, polo shirt and trousers and size 13 shoes.

Stationery

Leo picked up some stationery items too.  There was a range of sets with different characters on containing all the basic items for just £1 which is great value.  Leo wanted to get the separate bits so he chose the ones he wanted, but you could have definitely saved more here by buying a set.

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The Bill

I was dubious heading into this challenge as, like I said previously, I generally spend over £100 on each of boys easily when it comes to school shopping.  However, the quality of the Pep & Co uniform pieces are still great and they were such amazing prices!  I do find sizing up in there is generally better  and you will want your little ones with your to try shoes and things on.

So how did I get on?  Could you get everything you need for £50 or less?

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I did it!!!  With enough to spare for a lunchbox or a little rucksack.  I wanted to also mention the coats they had in there – these were available in khaki and navy and I thought they were lovely and only £12 – definitely something I will be picking up when the weather starts to get cooler!

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I was so pleased with my little haul and really happy to be able to share this with you and hopefully help you save some money too!  Let me know if you try out your local Pep&Co and Poundland and what you are loving in there at the moment in the comments below,

nat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meal Planning & Saving Money

As it’s January and this year I really want to try and save money and pay off my debts, I’ve got back on the meal planning train. I used to always shop like this but the last few months have been a bit up and down as the boys aren’t here to cook for all the time and I have been back and forwards to Ste’s quite a bit. Hopefully everything will settle down a bit this year as we are in a good routine and I am getting back to something I love to do – cook!

Using a meal plan is a great way to try new foods and recipes, as well as save money. I thought I would go through the way I plan my meals and then shop, as if you are looking to do either of these things this year you might find a bit of motivation.

First, I get some inspiration for meals to try. I like looking online, Pinterest is amazing! I also check recipes from my friends (Stephie at Colitis To Ostomy does a great Meatless Monday post every week and Louise at Crohns Fighting has some fab Thai recipes on her blog). I love picking up the freebie supermarket magazines too as they often have some great recipes in. I then sit and ‘ostomy proof’ them, as well as perhaps changing up some of the ingredients or the method. I like to take a recipe and make it my own! You can also plan breakfast and lunches but I don’t always go this far. I make sure I have bread, toast and sandwich fillers, crackers, eggs, cereal, soup etc so I can all sorts of things for these meals depending on what I feel like.

From that I can then make a shopping list of what I need. Often my cupboards have a good supply of herbs, spices, stock etc so I make sure I’ve got all those types of things in already so I don’t repurchase unnecessarily. Then add in all the other necessities like toilet roll and washing up liquid.

A great tip from here for people like me who can’t always manage a supermarket shop, is to shop online. So easy to set up and most supermarkets cover most areas now so you can choose your favourite. Have your list by your side and only buy what you need. Not browsing the aisles cuts down alot on buying too many ‘goodies’ that you see on the shelves and just like the look of.

If I want to go out and shop I will make my first stop Aldi. Definitely the best and cheapest I’ve found and I really like it in there. It’s five minutes in the car from me, so local too. There are some things that you just won’t find there and some things (for example their crisps) which I just don’t like, so then I head to Asda.

I was very pleased with myself for heading around Asda and only buying what I needed from there yesterday. I had my list with the two things I couldn’t get in Aldi (tarragon and coconut milk) and I wanted crisps, cereal, Actimel and the dog’s food. I also checked out the whoops section, and managed to get some meat which had been reduced.

When I got home I added these bargains to my meal planning list so I now have a full list of meals. I don’t plan to have certain things certain nights (unless the boys are here or someone is round for tea) so just mark them off when I’ve made them. I always make a family sized meal and freeze the leftovers. This is great for when I’m not feeling too good and don’t want to be cooking. There’s plenty of meals in the freezer to defrost and heat up when I’m hungry.

Just for the nosey ones among you who want to see the list, here it is!

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My Meal List (January)

I hope to be able to share some of the recipes with you over the coming weeks too. I have no great photography skills and my food doesn’t always look great in the photos, but it’s always tasty and not too difficult to recreate.

So to round up my top five best money saving and meal planning tips are

1) Create a meal plan, then a shopping list from this so you only buy the food you need

2) Try Aldi! I am super impressed with their prices, the fresh fruit and veg and the meat is amazing

3) Shopping online isn’t the time saver it can be made out to be but it does save you money by helping you stick to your list and if you are disabled, it’s an invaluable service

4) Check out recipes from the internet. As I said above, Pinterest is brilliant and you can check out my recipes by clicking here. If there’s something in there you don’t like, swap it for something you do! Play around with different foods and techniques and make a recipe your own.

5) Freeze leftovers. Don’t throw away perfectly good food. Pop it in a freezer tub and it will be perfect for those days you are in a rush or not up to cooking

Do you have any other fab tips? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!

NatalieThe Spoonie Mummy

Lucy At Home