How we save over $5000 on food

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Are you tired like N-dog here, of constantly finding yourself stressed out while standing in the grocery store, not knowing what you`re going to have for dinner? Do you want to save more money on food?  Are you tired of eating industrial, un-healthy food? Then keep on reading!

So.. this is embarrassing, but a couple of years ago, when BF and I moved in together, we both lived in small spaced dorms and shared kitchen with a lot of random (and semi-crazy) people, so we didn`t like to spend much time in the common room, which means that we didn`t think about how much money we wasted on food. We went to expensive grocery stores because it was more convenient, we bought easy expensive industrial food,  and shopped every day. Neither of us thought about how much we were really spending.

But then we moved into a house together and I started paying attention to what I ate due to my Fibromyalgia. That was 3 years ago, and I`ve had a steep learning curve and saved so much money! Approximately $5300 a year! That`s A LOT of money. We used to spend more about $900(!!) on food a month. I know, I know, but I did warn you, it was not my finest hour. …Continue reading

No More Gym Expenses

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I want to take care of my body and my health, but I don`t want to waste money.  I`ve been scrutinizing my monthly budget to see where I could make more cuts, like I did with my cellphone plan, and from April 1st I´m cutting down on the gym expenses. I`ve experienced that exercise helps with the fibromyalgia, giving me more energy, and lessening the pain, which is probably why I have been so hesitant with quitting the gym.  I`ve been going to this relatively cheap gym for a year or so, but ever since August when I started Uni with an extra classload to finish up my BA faster, there really hasn`t been time enough to exercise.  But quitting the gym, doesn`t mean I have to stop exercising. …continue reading

Budget Friendly Cooking – What`s in your pantry?

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Save Money – Cut down Grocery Budget – Organize the Food – Cook with what you`ve got

In order to save more money I`m trying to cut down on my food-budget this month, and one way of doing that is by cooking with what you`ve got. My cupboards were getting quite messy, so today I  cleaned the cupboard, wrote down every food item, and then organized the food. I also organized the freezer, and noted down whatever I found. And there were a lot more food than I`d thought:

Baking supply: Whole wheat, Whole-wheat flour coarsely ground, Whole-wheat flour finely ground, Wheat bran, Sunflower kernels, Pumpkinseeds, Flax seeds, Yeast, Flour, Vanilla sugar, Baking powder, Baking soda, Dark syrup, Light syrup, Demerara sugar, Sugar, Brown sugar, Confectionary sugar, Cocoa powder, Sweet condensed milk.

Dry Ingredients: Pasta Penne, Pasta Tagliatelle, Jasmine rice, Brown lentils, Red lentils, Tomato soup, Béarnaise sauce, Gravy, Oatmeal, Polenta, Muesli, Pistachio, Raisins, Saltines,

Freezer: Broccoli, Lingonberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, 6 Nan bread, 10 Tortilla, Hamburger bread, Portion Bread, Brioche, Sourdough Bread, 4 calzones, Pizza sauce, Pork, 2 Chicken Breasts, 4 Ground Pork meat, 4 Ground Beef,  2 Turkey Breasts, 2 Tenderloins of Pork, 1 Tenderloin of Pork BBQ, some Chicken wings, 3 portions of smoked salmon.

Fridge: Spring onion, Onion, Ham, Salsa, Butter, Whipping cream, Tomato pure, Milk Chocolate, Apples, Oranges, Bananas.

With these ingredients in mind, I decided to make the following meal plan, trying to incorporate food items I already got.

Meal Plan
Monday: Creamy Pasta with Ham & Mushroom
Tuesday: Norwegian Stew
Wednesday: Scrambled egg & smoked salmon with bread
Thursday: European Pancakes
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Turkey Breast with creamy mushroom sauce
Sunday: Pasta Bolognese

For the next 4 weeks, I`ll be using what I`ve got as the main ingredients, and try to only buy items of food that`s absolutely needed. My starting budget is $421, but hopefully I`ll have some money left after one month.

What are you ways of cutting down the food expenses?

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(re)discover your neighbourhood

I live close by several major tourist attractions, and every time I take the subway, I can guarantee you, there will be tourists either going uphill or downtown. What makes them stand out, besides the foreign languages, is that they always seat themselves on the side of the subway where you can see all over town. And they take photos. A lot. Which made we wonder. When was the last time I actually took a camera with me and took photos of my town? I mean, I live in the Capital; crying out loud. There are plenty (!!) of pretty things to discover and take photos of. Why should only the tourists experience the city like this?

 Therefore, a couple of weeks ago, on a beautiful, sunny Sunday, BF and I went for a walk downtown. And this time I brought my camera with me. At first it felt a bit odd, taking pictures of everything, but then I thought about the social media world we live in today, so I figured, why should I be bothered if anyone thinks I`m an obsessive Instagrammer (I´m not), or that I`m a blogger (which I am. But only one person in my real life knows about it). Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. I took out my camera when we got to the Royal Palace, thought it`d be an easy transition, you know, all the tourists and me. And then I stopped caring, and started taking pictures.

Norwegian Royal PalaceCarl Johan statueThe Royal Palace where the King and the Queen reside, but during summer it`s open for the public through guided tours. A statue of the Norwegian&Swedish King Carl Johan, by which the street leading down from the castle and all the way down to the central station is named after. The inscription says: “the people`s love, my reward”.

Aker brygge by winteraker brygge in winterAker Brygge. A very popular place during spring and summer. They sell the best ice-cream there! There are green areas where people can have a picnic, and children can play. The latest thing is a small beach! Franklin D. Roosevelt statue in OsloAnd as a special treat for all you American readers, here`s what looked like a very random statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt. I did google it, and it turns out, during the WW2, the president had a speech called Look to Norway. A very inspirational speech for all resistance fighters in Europe. So we put up a statue as thanks!

oslo tram from 1913oslo tram from 1913 (1)While walking towards the central station, we discovered that the old tram was in use for the day, so I just had to hop on. The tram is from 1913, and they usually take it out for a spin on Sundays. Such a great experience. Not much has changed, other than the tram driver was a woman. Don`t think that would`ve been allowed in 1913!

Vulkan Mathall / Vulkan Food MarketVulkan Mathall / Vulkan Food MarketThe last thing we did was go uptown to an area called Grünerløkka, where the Food Market can be found. This area was previously an industrial area of the city, but is now where all the hipsters hang around. Compared to markets in other European countries, the Food Market is very dissappointing. It`s crazy expensive, and mostly just exists of small dining areas. Not the place for a poor student trying to make her ends meet. But it was a fun experience. And it does smell lovely in there!! kornsilo, studentbolig, grain silo turned student housingI thought I`d end this tour today with a funny building you can find next to the Food Market. It`s a former grain silo turned into student housing! Genious right? Though, I`ve heard it`s hard to decorate with all the walls being rounded…

So whether you live in a big city, a small town or in the country, when was the last time you actually stopped, looked around and “smelled the roses”? In the busy everyday you can easily forget that the place you live might actually be worth (re)discovering. Oslo can be  ugly and scary, but also peaceful and beautiful, it`s all in the eye of the beholder. So here`s my challenge to you. Go explore your neighbourhood.  And bring a camera, you never know when you gonna need it!

If you blog about it, let me know, and I`ll link you up on my blog! I`d love to see some other parts of the world rediscovered!

Be SMART about phone use and SAVE money

In September 2012 I had finally saved enough money to buy a smart phone. But then there was the choice of choosing a reasonable cell phone plan. What`s usual in Norway, is to have a plan which has a lot included. At that point, there was only one I thought fitting to my cell phone use, a plan that cost me $35 a month. And it included 600 texts, 600 mms, 600 minutes and 1000MB, which I thought was a great deal!

6 months later, I find myself realizing that I never use the phone that much, so I don`t get the value of the monthly cost of $35! So I went online to my cell phone plan contractor, to see if they had something that would suit my phone use better. That`s when I discovered a new cell-phone plan! Sure it only included 150 texts, MMS, MB and minutes, but that should be sufficient for my use. And it only cost $17.50! That would mean cutting my cell phone bill in HALF!

By changing my phone plan, I`ll now save $210 a year!! And!! Another genius thing I intend to do, is instead of adding that extra $17.50 a month to my spending money, I`m going to save the money. I intend to make an automatic transfer of $17.50 to my Vacation savings account each month! This way I make sure that I really do save money by cutting my phone plan in half! 😉 So be SMART and start SAVING money! 

ImageA Dublin snapshot, one of the places I`ve saved up months in advance to visit!

What about you? How are your cell phone bills? Is there anything you could cut back on? Is there anything else you`d rather spend the money on?