UK lifestyle and money blog

Victoria Sully Nov 2018 Circle Logo


Welcome to the Lylia Rose UK money and lifestyle blog.  I'm Victoria Sully, a busy mum of two, wife, full-time blogger and online money-maker.  I’m passionate about making money online, saving money, self-employment, healthy living and blogging.  I’m on a personal mission to be healthier and wealthier!  Thank you so much for joining me.


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Category: Eco Friendly Living, Sustainability, Green

  1. How much single-use plastic do you use in a week?

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    Ad for The Midcounties Co-operative 1Change campaign – all words and opinions are my own

    Plastic is big news at the moment.  We are the first generation to know the devastating effects that our technology and everyday habits are having on the environment and the planet we call home.  Unfortunately with plastic, it’s not good news.

    We have all seen the news stories, YouTube clips and documentaries telling us why single-use plastic is bad.  This once revolutionary man-made product is now littering our oceans, clogging up rivers, killing animals and even poisoning us.  

    Many of us, especially the more eco-conscious among us, might not like to admit it, but plastic is unfortunately a big part of our everyday lives.  Just look around your home and even where you are sat right now and see what is made from plastic.  I bet you’ll begin to realise that it’s everywhere.

    Of course, we have come to rely on plastic and its multitude of uses and it’s not going to disappear anytime soon.  The big problem that we can begin to solve, however, is single-use plastic.  These are plastics that are only used for one purpose and then discarded.  There are a lot of them and we all use them every day.  Once you begin to realise how much you do use, it’s really shocking to think about how much plastic is thrown away every day across the globe.

    How much single use plastic do you use in a week_ (1) 
    Image - Canva

    How much single plastic does my family use in one week?

    I decided to take part in a challenge by The Midcounties Co-operative who is launching a campaign called 1Change to demonstrate what it is doing to reduce single-use plastics.  It is also hoping to get customers, employees and co-operators on board to join the fight in reducing single-use plastics.

    The challenge was to save up an entire week’s worth of single-use plastic to see how much we use.  We’ve made quite a few changes over recent years to help reduce the amount of plastic we use and to be more eco-friendly as a family, but I was still shocked by the amount we had used and were therefore throwing straight into the landfill.

    So, here goes.  We managed to fill up one big shopping bag with the loose plastic as we collected it:

    How much single use plastic do you use in a single week 

    And here it all is laid flat so we can see what it is:

    How much single use plastic does a family of four use in a week

    A detailed look at the single-use plastic a family of four throws out in a week

    I was pretty shocked at the amount of this plastic when it was all laid out.  It looks like so much, yet I know it’s not even going to be half as bad as some families of four.  We make a lot of our own home-cooked evening meals, lunches, snacks and even use plant-based milk so this really reduces the amount of plastic we use each week.  We also only usually drink water, tea and milk so we don’t usually have plastic bottle waste.

    This week we didn’t make any of our own energy balls as we’d ran out of dates and our local shop doesn’t sell them, so there are lots of snack packets instead from all of our lunchboxes and snacking.  You can see we did buy several packs of dates at the end of the week, so we can now make some more of our own snacks which will reduce our single-use plastic waste.

    Here is a list of our plastic waste and my thoughts:

    ·         Toilet roll wrappers

    Recently our local supermarket had recycled toilet roll that was wrapped in paper packaging and I purchased a few.  Then when I went back a week later it was gone!  I wonder if they were trialling the brand, but they should definitely stock it again.  If there is a more eco-friendly option then I would much rather purchase it.  I’ve also considered a bidet toilet before which could totally eliminate the need to buy toilet roll.  For now the best way to reduce the amount of plastic is to buy the largest multipacks possible.

    ·         Fruit and vegetable wrappers

    We eat organic food and I always feel guilty about the amount of plastic it comes in.  If you don’t eat organic then you can choose to buy loose fruit and vegetables which is usually a cheaper option too.  This will reduce your amount of plastic.  I’m going to order more fruit and vegetable boxes and we actually have organic vegetable boxes coming for the next three weeks as I saw a great online offer.  This will reduce our plastic.  I hope the supermarkets will soon offer loose organic fruit and veg, or at least package them in plant-based wrap which I know exists.

    ·         Bubble wrap from a delivery

    Unfortunately many of us order online and are therefore not in control of the wrapping.  There’s a shop I regularly order from and they send the products in so much unnecessary wrap as it’s not even a breakable product.  I always send feedback every time as it’s such a waste of packaging and bad for the environment.  If we all let our thoughts be known then hopefully it will begin to make a difference.  This company could have used a paper wrap which would have been recyclable and environmentally friendly.  I do always try to save packaging to re-use it and I hope the new recipient does the same.

    ·         Wrap and pitta bread wrappers

    We don’t eat loaves of bread as they are full of so many questionable ingredients, so we choose to eat wraps and pittas from companies that only use a handful of ingredients instead.  This does mean we have wrappers from these weekly.  In this case the companies really need to change their packaging.  If you love bread you could make your own at home using a bread maker.  These are easy options for the kids’ lunchboxes so I do buy these for the convenience.  I also make pasta for their lunches which is a better option as that can be taken in reusable pots each day and creates less plastic waste.

    ·         Crisp packets

    We don’t buy crisps every week, but this week we did!  I’ve seen some crisp packet recycling initiatives begin to take shape with recycling points popping up in stores.  I’m really pleased this issue is beginning to be tackled.  I still question why the crisp companies don’t use compostable packaging.  I’ve purchased crisps in compostable packets before from small independent brands, so the big brands should really take note.  This would be the ultimate solution.

    ·         Dried fruit & nut packets

    I’ve seen a shop in a nearby town that sells nothing in packets at all.  You can take your own reusable tubs and pay per weight.  I imagine a future where all the stores are like this.  Like it used to be before plastic was invented!

    ·         Baby wipe packet

    I dread to think how many packets we got through when my children were babies.  Now we get through one packet every 1-2 weeks, again for the convenience.  They are easy to use for sticky fingers and faces when out and about.  I make sure we buy eco-friendly wipes that are biodegradable, but these brand values don’t seem to extend to the packets themselves.  We can use cloths and water at home to clean the children’s faces and we need to do this more.

    ·         Cling film

    I really don’t like cling film and I was researching it recently after discovering non-PVC cling film and the dangers of cling film with PVC.  I decided to stop buying it, but we had two rolls in our draw to use up so I felt like it was better to use it up.  I still feel guilty using it though and won’t be buying more once it’s gone.  We tend to use reusable pots and very occasionally some foil which can be recycled.  We don’t really need cling film.

    ·         Baked beans wrapper

    To avoid the baked bean wrapper we can buy single cans.  Unfortunately the stores often discount the multipacks which come in a plastic wrapper – grr!  Stores should start offering discounts on the more eco-friendly packaging options available to customers instead.

    ·         Wrapping paper wrapper

    This definitely isn’t normal for our weekly shop, but it was Reuben’s birthday and so I had purchased some wrapping paper and it was wrapped in a plastic film.

    ·         Water bottle tag

    Again, this is not normal, but Reuben’s milk bottle was lost at pre-school (we give him plant based milk to take).  So Ben replaced it with a new one which annoyingly had a plastic hanging tag and a plastic mould over the lid.  This packaging was totally unnecessary and a cardboard hanger would have sufficed.  I hope companies start becoming more responsible with their packaging.

    ·         Smoothie bottle

    Ben purchased this when at work for the convenience.  We do make a lot of our own smoothies and milkshakes at home which is definitely a solution to store bought ones.  Plastic bottle waste is a big problem and perhaps it was the plastic bottle problem that first opened our eyes to the issue with plastic.  I remember seeing a large sculpture in Bristol of a whale made from thrown away bottles.  We don’t drink squash and choose to distil our water at home instead of buying bottled water like we used to.  We also make our own plant-based milk, juices, smoothies and milkshakes.  This change drastically reduced the amount of single-use plastic we used.

    How much single use plastic do you use in one week

    Though this pile looked like a lot, it squished down into half a 10 litre bin bag.  We only have a small 10 litre bin in our kitchen as we really try to keep tabs on what we are throwing into landfill and how we can reduce our waste.  Go back a few years and we were putting a full landfill wheelie bin out once per week.  Now we only put ours out every six weeks and often it’s not even full.  Still, it’s far too much waste and far too much plastic needlessly damaging the environment.

    A rant about the problem of single-use plastics

    The problem with many of these single-use plastics is that they can’t be recycled.  They are wrappers and the like that aren’t collected in our recycling.  This type of packaging really does irritate me as come on, it’s 2019 and it should not exist anymore!

    Out of this heap we could only recycle two items in our council recycling bin – a plastic tray and a plastic bottle.  It really does infuriate me; if crisp packets can be recycled then the councils should collect them and recycle them. 

    I know there are smaller independent companies who are using compostable packaging for crisp packets and inside cereal boxes.  I’ve purchased these products before, but they are few and far between.  I’ve also seen a male toiletry company that makes its tubes from sugar cane! 

    This is much more sustainable and it’s a shame that it’s only the tiny little companies are making the effort rather than the huge corporations who can afford to.  The large brands really should be setting an example and leading the way.

    I also think the governments should enforce these sustainable, biodegradable and alternative options to plastic packaging.

    Join the fight against single-use plastics with 1Change

    The Midcounties Co-operative has decided to take action in reducing the amount of single-use plastic that is consumed.  They aim to develop sustainable cities and communities as well as protect life under water and on land.

    Here are some of their targets:

    • Ensure all its Co-operative Childcare Nurseries maintain eco school status
    • Engage 50 partner schools in ‘plastic is not fantastic’ education and campaigns by 2022
    • Engage 1000 members in taking action in its 2019 1Change campaign to reduce single-use plastics
    • Reduce the overall waste it produces by 20% by 2022
    • Maintain a 99% recycling rate
    • Eliminate single-use coffee cups in stores by 2020
    • Eliminate single-use straws and cutlery by 2020
    • Allow customers to bring their own containers to its meat and delicatessen counters by 2020
    • Remove all plastic bags across premium supermarkets by 2020, providing bag for life alternatives.   

    Co-op food stores in the Midcounties will be providing information to help shoppers make informed purchasing decisions around single-use plastics from 18th March 2019.

    They also invite you to make a pledge about what you can do to make 1change in the fight against single-use plastic.

    Make your pledge by clicking here and help stop this:

    How much single use plastic do you use in a week_ (2)
    Image - Canva


    Check out my other articles on how to reduce plastic:

    How cutting back on plastic benefits your life and saves money

    15 ways to reduce plastic consumption

    Plastic waste can be turned into roads (and 20 ways to reduce plastic consumption)

    Plastic is not fantastic – the dirty secret of where our recycling really goes


    Please pin me:

    How much single-use plastic do you use in a week_


    Disclaimer: In paid partnership with The Midcounties Co-operative

  2. Save time, space and money with a capsule wardrobe

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    If you’re always short on time, space in your home and money, then choosing to have a capsule wardrobe could solve all of these things! 

    Read on for tips on how I manage my capsule wardrobe, as well as how it will help you spend less and become clutter-free in your wardrobe.

    Being a minimalist

    I’ve shared my story a few times on my blog of how I believe I came to be a minimalist and lover of a capsule wardrobe.  To cut a long story short, I moved house several times in my late teens and early twenties which included renting rooms in shared houses and bedsits. 

    Not only did I not want to lug so many belongings with me for each house move, but I also didn’t have much space at each property.  I didn’t need to buy a lot of furniture and home décor as I only had a bedroom to furnish.

    Once I settled with my husband I then had more space and belongings did at first begin to grow.  They also grew with the arrival of our children who need a lot of things and grow out of things far too quickly!  But having lots of stuff makes my head fuzzy! 

    I’m not one for mess or clutter and even just knowing I have things sat unused in cupboards or attics makes my head feel noisy.  I’m definitely a minimalist by nature and so I’m always minimalizing our belongings so we don’t have too many items and only exactly what we need and use.

    Ben still has a corner in the attic full of mostly junk which drives me quite insane.  I’m sure he keeps it there just to irritate me. Every time I go up to the loft I see if I can find a couple of pieces that I can pass on or recycle.  Believe me; he even has empty boxes up there from old electronics!

    Stay clutter free in your closet with a capsule wardrobe

    Save time, space and money with a capsule wardrobe (1)

    One thing I have now got Ben on-board with is a capsule wardrobe.  I was already doing it for me and the kids and now he’s reduced his clothing collection too.

    I’m forever clearing out the kids’ wardrobes as they outgrow their clothes so quickly.  I only keep a small amount of clothes for them.  Only what they need.

    Related - How to create an autumn capsule children’s wardrobe

    My own wardrobe is now down to around 50 items.  That’s in total, for the whole year.  I have a few items hanging – mostly tops, cardigans and a few dresses.  Then I have a pile of shorts, trousers and leggings.  I wear the trousers in the winter with boots and the summer with flip-flops.  I also have a box of underwear and a box of gym clothes and pyjamas.  I have two coats and a small selection of shoes – wellies, two pairs of winter boots, two pairs of pumps, one pair of flip-flops, smart flats and smart heels.  That’s it.  To be fair I could even get rid of the heels as I never wear them!

    I wear stuff until it needs replacing or totally goes out of shape, not just a few times until I’m bored of it.  This makes me much more careful with my clothing choices when shopping.  It has to be something I will wear numerous times before I’ll consider buying it.

    I’ve still tried to cut my own wardrobe down even more, but I think I’m now at my minimum!  Ben’s clothes take up around half our homemade triple size wardrobe and mine take up around a quarter!

    Save money, only buy what you really need

    My trick is to layer in the winter and reduce layers in the summer.  I pretty much wear the same wardrobe all year round.  Only in the summer I won’t wear my boots or fluffy cardigan.  Otherwise you’ll see me in the same outfits.  In the summer I might wear my trousers with a pair of flip-flops and a vest top.  But in the winter I’ll wear both the trousers and vest top, but I’ll add a t-shirt, cardigan, socks and boots.

    I don’t see the need to buy specific winter and summer clothes when I can make do with what I have.  Most clothes are suitable for all seasons, but it’s a case of layering them up when it’s colder. Even some summer dresses can have a pair of woolly tights or leggings added with a chunky cardigan to make them winter-worthy!

    Having one set of clothes, instead of several sets of seasonal clothes, is definitely a much cheaper option.

    Be intentional when buying clothes

    Save time, space and money with a capsule wardrobe

    My actual wardrobe (a couple of outfits are in the wash)

    This year, 2019, I am doing a zero spend on clothes for the whole year!  I am challenging myself to not buy any clothes for the entire year.  I took a good look at my wardrobe and though it’s looking pretty scarce, I believe I have enough to get me through an entire year, all the seasons and beyond. 

    In recent years I’ve not been a big clothes shopper anyway, but I’d still sometimes splurge on something I spotted at the supermarket or that caught my eye passing a store.  It’s usually these unintentional clothing purchases that end up sat in my wardrobe not getting worn very much!  They are quick impulse buys for a moment of pleasure and I didn’t ever give them much thought.  They were excitable purchases!

    So even though I didn’t do it very much, I was still a sucker for quick impulse buys that I didn’t really need.

    By stopping this altogether I will definitely save money this year.

    I’m also making a promise to be intentional in the future when buying clothes, so I only buy what I set out to buy because I really need it.

    Less choice, more time

    I tend to wear the same clothes most days.  I get stuck on a favourite comfy outfit and I’ll wear it several days in a row.  Life is so much easier and quicker like this!

    In my late teens I had a huge shopping addiction.  I was obsessed with shopping for clothes and had around four rails overflowing with clothes and piles of clothes underneath. 

    I wasn’t always a minimalist!

    It was really ridiculous, but also very overwhelming.

    Getting ready took forever.  There was so much choice every time I needed to get dressed.  I had so many options and so many decisions to make. 

    I must have wasted hours every week just putting outfits on and off whilst I chopped and changed my mind.

    What a waste of time!

    Reducing that choice means you’ll have far more time to do other things.  Sometimes having less options is better!

    Smaller wardrobe, more space

    You can now even buy some space-saving and beautifully designed single wardrobes which are perfect for keeping your capsule wardrobes on track.  I love the MADE white single wardrobes I found here at Lionshome, but there are even cheaper options too.  Or like us, you can make your own wardrobe.  They are plenty large enough for all the clothes you really need and if you can’t fit your clothes in, then you’ve got too many!

    Not only is a smaller wardrobe a cheaper option than a full size version, but think of the bedroom space you will free up!  Large bulky wardrobes can impose on so much of the available space in a bedroom, especially if space is at a premium, so a single slim wardrobe is a much neater solution.

    We originally had a regular size wardrobe each and I remember having to persuade Ben that we’d be fine with one triple wardrobe between us instead.  I wanted to create more space in our bedroom and this reduced our wardrobe space by around 25%. 

    Ben was convinced and built us a lovely triple sized wardrobe from old pallet wood which he refurbished.  Now I think we could have gone even smaller and saved more space in our bedroom!

    Not only have we saved space with a smaller wardrobe to what we originally had, but we have also got rid of a couple of chests of drawers which used to house clothes.  Now we just have the wardrobe and need nothing else.

    How to save time, money and space with a capsule wardrobe

    Having a capsule wardrobe really does suit my lifestyle and make clothing a lot more organised and affordable.  I’d definitely recommend it if you are overwhelmed with the amount of clothing you own and want a simpler life.

    To finish, here’s a quick look at how a capsule wardrobe is beneficial:

    • Save time – less time shopping for clothes you don’t need, less time choosing outfits, less time spent laundering, ironing and organising clothes
    • Save money – Buying less clothes will save money.  Needing less storage for the clothes will save money on furniture.
    • Save space – the less clothes you have, the less storage space you need for them.  Reclaim space in your bedroom by choosing a single wardrobe. 
    • Stay organised – clothes washing becomes easier as there is less variety of clothes.  Wardrobes stay organised and spacious as there are less clothes in them.  Find clothes easier.  Less clothes means less clutter and makes it easier to keep wardrobes neat and tidy.


    Related content

    Why every woman should create a capsule wardrobe

    Keep your clothing costs down with subtle fashion

    How my bedroom décor describes my personality

    Save time, space and money with a capsule wardrobe

  3. Why you should only buy second hand luxury watches and goods

    Posted on

    Not a day goes by where we aren’t reminded of the damage we are causing to our planet with the words eco-friendly and sustainability all around us.  We are the first generation to understand the devastating impact our decisions and lifestyles are having on Earth, the planet we call home.  As much as this is shocking and depressing, it should also inspire us to make changes and accept responsibility for our actions.

    The world of consumerism is changing

    Why you should only buy second hand luxury watches and goods (2)

    In some ways I really feel like the world is heading to a better place.  There has been a huge rise in veganism over the past two years with many changing their diets for environmental reasons.  Renewable energy sources are becoming the energy of choice too.  There are numerous recycling schemes nowadays with local councils collecting recyclable materials and even food waste from our doorsteps.  There’s a focus on minimalism and less so on consumerism which should stop the mass producing of unnecessary goods such as throwaway plastics.  We’re becoming more aware of our everyday choices and I believe we are making better decisions.

    One area of our modern lifestyles that we are just starting to take notice of is the consequences of fast fashion and accessories.  Constantly updating our wardrobes with the latest looks and throwing away perfectly useable clothing causes hundreds of thousands of clothing items to go to landfill every year (300,000 tonnes in 2016).  Not only is this terrible, but textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water after agriculture.  Our constant demand for the latest trends at affordable prices is polluting our environment on an enormous scale.

    Shifting the future of fashion

    Why you should only buy second hand luxury watches and goods (3)

    Repair, reuse, reduce

    We need to stop our love of fast fashion and throwaway trends and move to a more sustainable fashion future.   We need to learn to love our clothes and buy pieces that we will not get bored with in a few weeks.  We need to start buying better quality clothing and accessories that are built to last and stand the test of time. 

    The problem with many cheap fast fashion items is that they are made from poor quality materials that aren’t built to last.  Instead, we need to move back to perhaps paying higher prices for quality luxury items that will last a lifetime, or can at least be repaired if they do break.

    Of course we can’t all afford to buy ourselves a brand new Rolex watch whenever we need a timepiece, which is why to be even more sustainable we should always look into buying second-hand watches and clothing items as our first choice.

    Learning to love preloved

    Why you should only buy second hand luxury watches and goods

    Buying quality clothing and accessories for their longevity is one step closer to a more sustainable world, but an even bigger step is to stop the ongoing production of new items when there are so many perfectly good unwanted pre-loved items available to us. We need to stop our desire for only wanting new things and change our opinion on second hand goods.

    There has definitely been a rise in the trend of thrift stores, upcycling and vintage goods in the last few years and I hope it’s not just a passing trend, but something that is here to stay and continue. 

    Here are a few reasons why it’s time to start buying only second-hand luxury items:

    ·         They’ll last longer

    Firstly if we start shopping for quality items that are made from high-grade materials then they will last longer.  Seeking items that are made with craftsmanship instead of mass produced goods that are churned out of factories for pence will ensure the items are fixable and won’t fall apart in a few weeks.  This is true for clothing, accessories and pretty much everything we buy in the household.

    ·         You’ll find something unique

    The best thing about preloved stores is you’ll never know what you’ll find.  And, when you do find something you love it will probably be the only one.  It’s not like buying the latest fashionable jacket from a cheap clothing store and then all your friends buying the same.  Finding items in second-hand stores means that you’ll likely find something that none of your friends have or will be able to find.  You’ll be unique.

    ·         It’s more affordable

    You might never have been able to afford high-quality or luxury goods like Rolex watches when they were new, but buying second-hand means your budget will go further.  Those items you never thought you could afford are now at a much more appealing price.  Even if you can afford to buy luxury goods brand new, there are plenty of reasons discussed here for why you shouldn’t.  Everyone, no matter what their budget, should choose second-hand as the first option for the love of the planet.

    ·         You can support a good cause

    Many second-hand stores are charity shops so you’ll be supporting a good cause when you buy from them.  Even if the second-hand stores you shop at are not affiliated with a charity, you’ll still be supporting a company that is doing good for the environment by recycling and reusing goods instead of producing more new items constantly.  Whether it’s a charity or not, choosing to buy preloved goods is always supporting a worthwhile cause.

    ·         Save the planet

    The best reason of all to choose second-hand watches and goods is to help save the planet.  The constant over production of mass goods in factories around the world is causing pollution to our air, water and more.  Poor quality synthetic fibres are adding to the plastic pollution problem and non-organic cotton farming is killing our wildlife and damaging soils due to chemical pesticides.  Clothing production is even causing deforestation.  It’s got to stop. 

    We need to learn to reduce, reuse and recycle more than ever and this can start with making second-hand shopping the norm.


    Related blog posts:

    7 ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle
    3 Important Reasons to Choose Organic (other than your personal health)
    13 eco-friendly ways to start saving money in the kitchen
    Get 100% renewable energy with Bulb and save lots of money (over £250)
    How to shop more ethically and sustainably for clothing

    Why you should only buy second hand luxury watches and goods (1)

    Images from Canva

  4. Save money by getting your protein from plant-based sources

    Posted on

    I recently wrote a blog post to answer whether being vegan is expensive in which I said both yes and no!  In reality though, the answer is no, being vegan does not have to be expensive.  Eating traditional plant-based foods instead of meats and cheeses is actually a much cheaper option.  But, like anything in life, you can choose to buy premium, organic and independent brands or you can choose to buy cheaper supermarket-own labels and value labels. 

    But what about protein?  Is it possible to eat cheaply as a vegan and get enough protein? 

    And the question vegans are probably bombarded with the most – where do vegans get their protein from?

    In this blog post I’m going to share with you why choosing to get your protein from plant-based sources is actually a really affordable option.

    The difference between animal protein and plant-based protein

    Save money by getting your protein from plant-based sources (1)

    One of my favourite responses when meat-eaters ask vegans where they get their protein from is ‘the same place your protein gets its protein from’!  It’s so true.  Animals get their protein from plants and so can we. 

    Around 20% of the human body is made of protein.  Our body doesn’t store it, so we have to regularly get it from our diet each day.  Protein is needed for almost every metabolic process in our body so it’s vital for the overall health of our body.

    Protein is broken down into amino acids in our body and there are over 20 different types of amino acids.  There are non-essential amino acids that our body can make itself, but there are also essential amino acids that we have to get from our diets.

    The difference is meat protein is often called a ‘complete protein’ as it contains a good balance of all the amino acids we need.   But eating meat also comes with a lot of negative health consequences.

    Most plant proteins only contain some of these amino acids, so to get all the amino acids we need from protein we need to eat a variety of plant-based protein sources.  But that’s fine as we should all be eating a variety of healthy plant-based foods anyway. 

    Going plant-based will probably mean you’ll eat a ton more of the highly nutritious stuff you should have been eating, such as different beans, lentils, and wholegrains, which is fantastic news for your overall health.

    Is vegan protein expensive?

    Can I get protein and build muscle on a plant-based diet_ (4)

    If we’re talking basics then no, plant-based sources of protein are not expensive.  What is expensive is if you start buying meat alternatives, vegan cheeses and readymade plant milks.  These things are readymade or processed foods and they come at a premium.  However, they are not needed as part of a healthy plant-based diet and are merely convenience foods, just like readymade snacks and foods based around meat and dairy.

    Plant-based protein is actually very cheap indeed. Good protein sources include many whole grains, wild rice, chickpeas, beans, lentils, green vegetables, nuts and seeds.  Lentils, beans, rice and grains are some of the cheapest foods in existence.  They can be bulk purchased as they can last for ages in their dried forms.  They are so versatile too and can be used to create so many meals.

    Compare the price of beans, lentils and grains to a pack of meat and you’ll start to realise how much cheaper a vegan diet can be.

    How to keep a vegan diet low cost

    Save money by getting your protein from plant-based sources (2)

    There are lots of ways to keep a plant-based diet affordable.  Below are a few suggestions to get you started.

    • Buy dried ingredients.   Purchasing dried bags of lentils, beans and grains will save the most money compared to buying tins of pulses for example.
    • Buy in season fruit and vegetables.  Buying exotic fruits and vegetables is a luxury, but if they’re not in season then you’ll be paying a premium.
    • Make your own meals from scratch.  This is always the best way to keep costs down as readymade meals are so expensive.
    • Don’t buy faux meat, vegan cheeses or the like.  These are very costly and will really bump your food shopping up.
    • Make your own plant-based milks, cheese and cheese-sauce.  It’s much more affordable than buying readymade.  A delicious creamy cheesy sauce can easily be made with homemade oat milk, a few scoops of nutritional yeast and a squirt of mustard.  Perfect to serve with cauliflower or pasta.
    • Make your own snacks too.  Chocolate bliss balls are super easy to make with cacao, dates, seeds, oats and nuts whizzed together in a food processor and shaped into bite size snacks.  Whilst a pack of raw cacao might seem expensive at first, it’s so rich you only need to use a tiny bit to make plant-based milkshakes, bliss balls and hot chocolate, so a pack will last for ages.
    • Do everything in bulk.  Buy the ingredients you can in bulk to make them as cheap as possible in the long run.  Cook in bulk too and freeze/refrigerate portion sizes for the week ahead.  This will stop you reaching for the convenient foods as you’ll already have readymade homemade snacks and meals instead.

    A list of plant-based sources of protein

    There are lots of delicious plant based foods that provide vegans with protein, as well as everyone else too.  The foods below are good sources of protein and it’s recommended to eat a variety every day.

    Save money by getting your protein from plant-based sources (1)

    • Seitan
    • Lentils
    • Chickpeas
    • Garden peas
    • Beans – black, kidney, pinto, lima, black-eyed, cannellini
    • Tofu
    • Tempeh
    • Edamame beans
    • Soy milk
    • Seeds – hemp seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower
    • Peanut butter (and other nut butters)
    • Nuts
    • Buckwheat
    • Oats
    • Wild rice
    • Brown rice
    • Quinoa
    • Barely
    • Spelt
    • Bulgur wheat
    • Wheat berries
    • Lesser known grains such as teff, amaranth, sorghum, freekeh, farro
    • Asparagus
    • Avocado
    • Broccoli
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Artichokes
    • Kale
    • Spinach
    • Sweetcorn
    • Cauliflower
    • Potatoes
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Nutritional yeast
    • Spirulina
    • Sprouted grain bread

    What about protein for working out and building muscle?

    Save money by getting your protein from plant-based sources (3)

    Whilst the above plant-based sources of protein will provide enough protein for the majority of us, some people might be looking to up their plant-based protein levels even more if working out, training or trying to build muscle. 

    There has been a rise of plant-based protein supplements as vegan diets have raised in popularity and examples are pea protein powder, hemp protein powder and rice protein powder.  It’s becoming a very competitive market so you’ll be able to find huge tubs or packs of vegan protein powders on offer online, just as you would with animal product protein powders like whey.

    Protein supplement brand Scitec Nutrition has shared six tips with me for those looking to transition to a plant-based diet:

    1.            The number one factor to consider is whether you are getting enough calories. Whether you are bulking up or losing weight, making sure that you are consuming the right amount of calories is key to reaching your goal.

    2.            Because plants usually contain lower calories than animal products it is important to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Not only will a good mixture of fruit and veg provide your body with a variety of vitamins, it will also provide antioxidants to help keep your immune system strong.

    3.            Legumes are a great source of protein and eating a range of soy, beans and peas alongside grains such as buckwheat, rice and quinoa help to ensure that you get the essential amino acids your body needs.

    4.            Make your plates colourful. A good rule of thumb to follow is to make your meals as colourful as possible. A mixture of natural greens such as broccoli and kale, reds from tomatoes and peppers and yellows from sweetcorn and beans complement each other perfectly and provide a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats for your body to use.

    5.            Nuts are a great source of fat and are proven to provide a long-lasting form of energy just when you need it. Eat a handful of nuts before your workout to boost your calories and provide energy, or sprinkle some onto your breakfast to keep you going till lunch.

    6.            Depending on your goals, your lifestyle and your diet in general you may want to look into supplements to complement your plant-based diet. Tracking what you eat on an app or website will give you a good insight into the vitamins and nutrients that you may be lacking, meaning that you can add more into your diet. Many nutritional supplement manufacturers now offer plant-based proteins, BCAA’s and multi-vitamins to help you reach your nutritional targets.


    Not only can you satisfy your body’s protein requirements through a healthy and varied plant-based diet, but you can also save money by eating this way.


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    Save money by getting your protein from plant-based sources

  5. How to lower energy bills on a PAYG tariff

    Posted on

    This blog post is in association with Boost.

    It’s that time of year when we’re all feeling the pinch after Christmas and looking for ways to cut back, spend less and save as much money as possible.  This can be particularly tricky when it’s also the darkest and coldest time of the year.  We’re all using more energy than normal just to see and stay warm.  There’s always lots of advice out there for lowering energy bills, but what if you’re on a pay-as-you-go tariff?  Is it still possible for you to reduce your energy bills? 

    Years ago I used to be on a prepayment meter.  I was only around 18 or 19 at the time, having moved out of home at age 17, and I had no idea about how to save money whilst using a prepayment meter.  I didn’t even have the internet or a laptop as it was 15 years ago and smart phones didn’t exist. I was clueless about the ability to switch suppliers or how to save money when it came to my energy bills.

    Luckily times have changed a great deal since then and thanks to the internet and smart technology, there are plenty of ways you can begin to save money on your energy bills if you are on a pay-as-you go tariff today.

    What is a PAYG meter?

    A prepayment or pay-as-you-go (PAYG) energy meter is exactly as it sounds.  Rather than using energy and being billed afterwards for what you’ve used, you instead pay upfront for the energy.  You’ll have a PAYG meter installed and you’ll need to top-up a card, key or online in advance of using the energy.  Then once the energy runs low you’ll receive a warning and you’ll know it’s time to top up again.  It’s a great way of tracking exactly what you’re spending on energy and you’ll be aware each week of how much you are using.

    Tips on lowering your energy bill if you’re on a prepayment meter

    How to lower energy bills on a PAYG tariff

    Here are some actionable tips to help you reduce your energy bills if you’re on a PAYG meter:

    1.     Compare suppliers

    Most energy companies will revise their tariffs once per year, which means you may no longer be on the cheapest tariff for your area after the year is up.  It’s always advisable to check a comparison site each year to see which energy company is the best value for you.  Don’t think you can’t switch suppliers just because you’re on a prepayment plan, or because you are renting.  Most energy suppliers offer a prepayment tariff and if you are responsible for paying the energy bills then you have the right to choose a cheaper supplier.  You should always compare different prepayment plans as it could save you hundreds each year!

    2.     Join Boost.  Get up to £30 free credit.

    If you switch to dedicated PAYG energy supplier Boost then you’ll get a free smart meter installation as well as up to £30 credit; £15 credit for gas and £15 credit for electric.  To get your smart meter installation (& £30 free credit) you just need to click here to go to Boost and a code will be populated for you to save. 

    All you need to do is 1) sign up to Boost online 2) book a free smart meter installation 3) get installed before 30th April 2019 and they'll apply the credit!

    Boost is a part of the trusted OVO energy brand so you know you are in good hands. Boost specialises in PAYG Energy, their whole focus is on giving customers the power to control their energy, the way they want. As part of the OVO group they do everything to ensure the best service possible for PAYG customers. 

    OVO has been recognised as the uSwitch Energy Supplier of the Year.  They were also number one in the 2015 and 2016 Which? energy customer satisfaction surveys, so you can be sure you’re in good hands.

    How to lower energy bills on a PAYG tariff

    3.     Claim your heating benefits

    If you are of a certain age, claim certain benefits or meet certain criteria (such as being on a low income and having dependants) then you could qualify for some financial help towards your energy bills during the winter months.

    If you were born on or before 5 November 1953 then you could get a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’ of between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills.

    There’s also the Warm Home Discount scheme which helps eligible people who are struggling with their energy bills.  If you qualify you will receive a one-off £140 payment to go towards your electricity bill.

    4.     Reduce how much energy you use

    Being on a prepayment meter means you are really aware of how much money you are spending on energy each week.  Use this knowledge to your advantage to see where you can reduce energy.  Here are a few tips to get you started:

    • Make sure you always switch off appliances when not in use instead of leaving them in standby mode. 
    • Only boil enough water for your cup of tea, instead of boiling a full kettle of water.
    • Heat only the rooms you are using and not empty rooms.
    • Only wash a full load of laundry and turn the temperature down.
    • Eat more healthy plant-based and raw foods to reduce how much you use the oven.
    • Put on cosy socks and a jumper and cover yourself in a throw before turning the heating up.
    • Turn the thermostat down slightly, even by 1 degree.
    • Use draught excluders along the bottom of doors.
    • Turn off the ligthts when you leave a room.
    • Use energy-saving lightbulbs.


    Hopefully this article will show you that it is possible to make some smarter and money-saving choices with a prepayment meter. 


    Great blog posts to read next:

    How to eat more eco-friendly and save money
    How to cut household expenses with renewable energy
    15 ways to reduce plastic consumption
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