10 March 2015

Extortionate Garage Costs and Some Thrifty Food.

Last week, I noticed that my hand brake had become very floppy and that it needed to be pulled up very high in order to for it to stop the car rolling away so today, I took it to the garage to get them to have a look at it and tell me when they could fit it in. I was absolutely HORRIFIED when I was quoted over £700 to have it fixed! I cannot believe it is so expensive to get a hand brake fixed. I was told that this is the worst case scenario, where the callipers, cables and pads all need replacing and that it might not be that bad but, by the gloomy mutterings of the mechanic coupled with the ominous rubbing of his chin, it's not looking hopeful that there will be a happy outcome to all this! I didn't even know hand brakes had callipers and pads! The best case scenario is still £200 and as I said, I'm not holding out much hope that this will be the case.

I realise that cars need to be maintained and that things break and wear out but £700? Is it me or is that just ridiculous? Just to make sure I wasn't being ripped off because I am a woman and believe me, this has happened to me in the past, I rang another garage and described the problem over the phone and they confirmed that if the callipers have seized and it needs new cables and pads, the £700 is about right. I am totally devastated because once again, my greenhouse money is going to have to be spent on something else. 

Just when you think things are starting to get better ..... whammo .... something else comes along to mess things up!

Sooooooo, frugal and thrifty to the rescue ....... yet again! At the end of February, I rather rashly bought a bag of spuds from my local Morrisons because they were half price and were a bargain. I don't usually eat a lot of potatoes but at £2 for 12kgs I was sure there was something I could do with them. I love shepherds pie and sausage and mash and lovely warming, rib-sticking meals so I grabbed my spuds and off I went. Because they were half price, they went out of date fairly quickly but by storing them in the dark in my hall-way, which is cold, they are still almost perfect with no sprouting triffid bits and just one or two that had gone a bit soft, which I threw out.

They have been sat in the hallway, waiting patiently for me to do something with them and today, after my shock garage visit, I decided I had better do something with them because after I pay for the car there isn't going to be very much left for anything else! Luckily, in my weekly shop I had included some leeks, double cream and low fat creme fraiche because the plan had always been to make some cheesy leek and potato gratin to put in the freezer. So, after pulling myself together and having a good strong cup of tea to get over the shock, I got cracking with the cooking.

After peeling what seemed like a galactic quantity of spuds but which still left me with at least a third of a sack, I par-boiled them and left them to cool. While they were cooling, I fried some leeks in a little butter until they were tender but not too soft and again left them to cool. Then I assembled my gratin. Firstly I did potatoes, leek and cheese with a dollop of creme fraiche and a glug of cream. When I ran out of leeks, I did potato and cheese with creme fraiche and cream and when I ran out of cheddar, I used leftover bits of brie and garlic and herb roule that I had left over in the fridge and they were looking a bit past their best. The last of the potatoes I just popped into the foil trays added some salt pepper and butter so that I can just simply put them in the over and use them as roast potatoes. 

In total, I made three single potions and three double portions of gratin to freeze, a big pie dish full of gratin for my lunch ..... quality control is essential ..... and three portions of roasting potatoes, all for a grand total of £3.86. 



  1. You have made me want to go and pull up the few leeks left in the garden from last year xxx

  2. That's my kind of food, yummy! I always buy those big sacks of spuds when they are £2 and give DD some of them. She and her hubby are both being made redundant in a couple of weeks so she is counting the pennies too. I took her a whole sack of spuds today to help out.
    Awful news about the cost of car repair. Crikey, what a blow. Let's hope it's not worst case scenario x

  3. Cars are a bit like teeth, hard and painful to get and painfully expensive to maintain. The potato day sound good to me, you have just made my mind as to dinner tonight.