Welcome back! This week has been a JOURNEY! Freshers flu, not cooking, money crises – I’ve been through an ordeal.

So, let’s talk about it.

This week, I fully lost the will to live when it came to cooking for myself as I physically did not have the energy; coming down with a spot of the good ol’ Freshers’ Flu. Literally, as I write this, I’m sat in bed with a weird sense of physical weakness watching my little unicorn night light glowing and feeling comfortable yet oddly worn out.

The only things I could muster the strength to cook were bacon and eggs for breakfast (mostly because I needed to use the bacon before it expired), a single portion of cheesy pasta with bacon lardons (a recipe will feature below), and yesterday I managed, somehow, to make shepherd’s pie without any instruction besides what I know goes in it, of which I am storing a portion in the freezer because I’m a… good student… I guess? Three cheers for accidentally cooking more than you need!

So, here is my dinky little recipe for those nights when you just can’t be bothered, but you need some food quickly – either you’re hung-over, tired or you’re just done with productivity (it’s ok, we all feel like that sometimes):

Cheesy Pasta with Bacon

This recipe is suitable for vegetarians/vegans if you substitute the cheese for vegan cheese and the bacon lardons for small chunks of tofu.
You will need:
Pasta (a few handfuls depending on how hungry you are)
Cheese (I prefer Red Leicester)
Bacon lardons/Chopped bacon (or Tofu)
Instructions:

  1. Boil the pasta in a small saucepan making sure there is a depth of 2cm above the pasta of water to ensure it cooks correctly.
  2. While the pasta is boiling, grate the cheese.
  3. Fry the bacon until it is the desired texture (I did it for around 6 minutes so it was still soft, but the fat caramelised enough to produce a little bit of a crunch).
  4. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, and place it into a bowl. Then spread the bacon over the top of the pasta, and cover with cheese – and be generous with that cheese!
  5. Pop the bowl in the microwave for around 40 seconds (800W) or until the cheese is melted.
  6. Enjoy the cheesy goodness of this simple dish!

(Also don’t forget to take a picture of it like I did – it was too good to resist so I gobbled it up too quickly! #professionalblogger)

Now, lets talk money.

So, this week, as I explained in my previous blog post, I spent WAY too much at Lidl – around £30! This already made me concerned about how much I was spending every time I went out – even just to buy essentials from the Student Union Shop like milk and apple juice. Then came the email that asked me to select how I wished to pay my accommodation rent for the trimester – I decided to do it in instalments. However, problem number 1 soon arose!

As I was about to click the little ‘Pay Online’ option to get my first instalment paid and over with, I noticed that the finance people still hadn’t removed my old contract from my record. Therefore, I was presented with the disturbing figure of £10,000 as my total rent payment for the year – commence panic mode! Thankfully, a quick phone call with the accommodation team got that sorted in a jiffy, evoking a sigh of relief. Problem 1; resolved.

Problem 2 – I then set about completing my online payment of the first rent instalment, after which I went to check my bank account via the Santander app to see if it had already been processed and taken out. Yet, upon looking, I saw that no payment had been registered on the electronic statement and that my current balance rested disturbingly low. I knew I had £1500 overdraft with my Student Bank Account and the figure showed that I had £2000 remaining in total. This sent my mind into stress mode – I was going to be bankrupt just 3 weeks into uni, and unable to pay for my rent! Now, unfortunately, I had a lot to do that day, so couldn’t resolve the issue until later that night. After a stressed conversation with my mother over skype, I painstakingly went through all my payments since the start of university to try and figure out where about £350 had gone – was someone stealing from me? Had I somehow overspent even though I hadn’t bought much except food, books and train tickets? Where had this money ended up? In the end, I decided to phone Santander. By this time it was around 8.35pm, and I knew their call centres closed at 9pm (I’d been told it enough times by their annoying automated system whilst on hold for 20 minutes!). Thankfully, by 8.55pm I got through to a lovely scouse operator who kindly talked me through everything that was going on. He recommended I get the Santander Wallet app so I can see my ‘withholdings’ (AKA stuff that hasn’t gone through yet onto the statement) and assured me that the rent payment had come through and been deducted from my balance. The relief was overwhelming. I cried… yes, I cried over money #adultingishard.

The stress surrounding money this week made me consider how I was going to plan my shop for the weekend. I decided to take on a challenge I like to call ‘Trying to Spend under or exactly £10 and using what I already have to cook the week’s meals’ – I know, it’s so catchy right?

I had a tenner left in my purse and decided this would be my spending money come Sunday when I set out for Lidl.

I wrote a small list of about 10 things on it that I needed to create around 3 meals that I already had nearly the correct ingredients for – Ham and Pea Pasta (my mother’s recipe), Lentil Stew (mum again!), Risotto (why did I label these individually – this is also my mum’s) and a chicken curry.

I said to myself I could do this, and guess what…

I WAS RIGHT!

I spent exactly £9.66, meaning I had a glorious 34p left over. Joy doesn’t event begin to describe how I felt as I calculated my spending using my phone whilst in the queue to pay.

The only thing I missed off my list was a courgette because they were a whopping £1.70 for a single courgette! What is that but a tragedy?

Sadly, a day later, I realised I had forgotten to buy cream to put in my pasta dish… #whyamilikethis

So technically I failed but that’s just the way life goes.

It was quite fun to set myself that little challenge and it’s something I urge you all to try out. See what’s in your cupboards, get creative and do your best to spend under or exactly £10 on your next shop. I dare you!

Now, I suppose I should stop before I babble on any longer – this has been a mammoth of a blog! I hope you’ve now got your money on your mind and that I inspired you to get creative with your spending habits. I’d love to know how some of you get on – see if you can beat me in the £10 challenge!

Until next time, thanks for reading!