How I learnt how to save money and feel ok again…

The trick to getting a handle on my personal finances?

Eating out less and cooking from scratch more.

When I think about the amount of meals that I used to order in, using apps such as Uber Eats or Deliveroo, I often want to be sick in my mouth.
There was a time when I ate bolognese every day for lunch and dinner. I know what you’re thinking: ‘How could you do such a thing Karen. Bolognese?!’ You might not believe me, but it does get worse – during these heady days of reckless bolognese scoffing I often neglected to even make it myself. That’s right. I would regularly order in bolognese once, even twice a day. I didn’t care where it came from, how long it took to deliver or how much it cost. I was a bolgnese fiend and I’d be damned if I was going to make my own.

There was a reason behind this behaviour, of course, an excuse really. That excuse was a lack in cultural education and an inability to cook.

I grew up in the 80s, as the only child of a single Father. My Dad was many things: a skilled metalworker, a profligate drinker and a loving football player. But one thing that he was not was an experienced cook.We didn’t have much money between us and he was constantly caught between either work or the pub. This was a time when a man’s standing in his local boozer was far more important than the food his family ate and I understood that.

As a result of my Dad’s hectic schedule he would only have time to cook one meal a week and that meal was (you guessed it!) bolognese. Every Sunday, whilst slurping down a crate of Castlemaine XXXX, he would throw 2kg of beef mince into the one massive cast-iron pot in our house, along with 8 cans of chopped tomatoes, 4 chopped onions and 2 bulbs of garlic. This pot, along with scraps of bread, would constitute breakfast, lunch and dinner for both of us. This was the way of our household for the 18 years that I lived there and when I left for University, you can guess what food stuff I would constantly fall back on.

There’s a lot to like about bolognese. The garlic is a rich source of B Vitamins, there’s loads of Vitamin C in the tomatoes and who said eating red meat everyday is bad for you?

Still, when my lifestyle got naturally more hectic in my thirties I found that I was increasingly running out of time to make my regular bolognese every Sunday – it turned out that the behavioural habits that my Father lived by weren’t flexible enough for a socially active woman living the single life in London!

That’s how I got to where I was – up until a year ago: totally dependent on ordering in bolognese, because it was the only food that I knew and I didn’t have the time to cook it. My takeaway bolognese habit ended up costing me over £600 per month and, worst of all, sometimes the bolognese wasn’t even that good.

It took a cold hard look at my bank statement to see where I was going wrong. The statement was a who’s who of Italian restaurants throughout the city – I’d effectively lined the pockets of 400 delivery drivers since I first started using the popular delivery apps and I knew that something had to give.

My life changed in the right way when I remembered by Father.

I knew what I had to do. Rummaging around in the basement I found what I was looking for: a massive iron-cast pot, with a can of Castlemaine and a note inside reading:

‘For my darling Karen – when times get tough, cook some bolognese.’