Pitta pockets – kept in the freezer and reheated under the grill – are perfect for a picnic on the sofa. I stuff mine with hummus, sliced boiled egg, tomato, red onion and any pickle I have – ideally chilli.
Yotam Ottolenghi, chef-patron of Ottolenghi and Guardian food writer
Turn old fruit – particularly peaches that are too soft to bite into – into a tremendously simple pudding by roasting them with brown sugar and grated ginger, and serving them warm with something cold like yoghurt, cream or ice-cream. YO
I can attest to the cheap thrill of a milk frother (I like KitchenCraft Le’Xpress, which cost around £8) to help create, as many of us did during lockdown, the coffee of my dreams without the price tag of a fancy coffee machine – or spending several pounds in a coffee shop. I’m still using mine.
Meera Sodha, chef and food writer
When we were skint, my husband and I would set each other a challenge: cooking a meal based solely on items in the fridge or cupboard. One thing I made was kimchi and tomato spaghetti. Fry half a jar of kimchi in toasted sesame oil until dark and caramelised, then add a tin of chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 15-20 minutes then mix into freshly cooked spaghetti. MS
For pudding, can I recommend this simple pleasure – just as fragrant, but far cheaper, than fancy candles. MS
I rarely go for a full pedicure because I take good care of my feet at home. Once a week and on dry feet, trim toenails with clippers (I always use Muji’s), then file dead skin on your heels, around your toes and along the balls of your feet with a cheap foot file (Dr Scholl, Boots or Superdrug’s are all great). Let the dead skin fall on to a sheet of old newspaper (which sounds gross but is actually satisfying) and discard.
Follow with a quick foot wash, then dry thoroughly and slather on a heel balm like Flexitol, rubbing all over the feet. Cover with clean cotton socks and wear to bed overnight. You’ll wake up to soft, even healthy-looking feet. File and paint the nails if desired, making sure you leave a thin gap between nail and cuticle for the neatest finish. Between paint jobs, maintain the skin with a pumice stone in the bath or shower, working around the polish to avoid chipping.
Sali Hughes, Guardian beauty writer
Gel eyeliner creates the best cat-eye flick, but the brushes that come with the pot are often hard to wield. You can buy better brushes, but you’ll be looking at double figures. Try a trick I learned backstage at fashion week and use a £2.50 super-fine paint brush to do your eyeliner instead. You’ll need one for acrylic or oils, as watercolour brushes are too soft.
Anita Bhagwandas, Guardian beauty writer
If you’re looking to pare down your summer makeup regime, invest in a cream blush stick to use on lips, cheeks and eyes for a pretty pink look that works with all skin tones. Milk Mini Makeup Lip + Cheek in Quirk isn’t cheap at £18, but bear in mind you can use it three ways. It’s also pigmented enough to use on eyelids without being drying, so lasts all day.
Another routine-simplifying hack is using a brush-on facial SPF which handily doubles as face powder. Hawaiian Tropic Mineral Sun Protection Powder Brush (SPF30), is great and works on all skin tones, despite the pale colour. It also keeps selling out, so if you see it, stock up immediately. AB
Giant beauty products are the nemesis of a small handbag, but buying a trial-size lipstick just so you can fit it in your bag feels far too decadent. A vintage pillbox is a way around it. Pick one up on eBay or a charity shop for under £5 (I like the ones with multiple compartments, like this), clean it thoroughly, sterilise, and then simply decant your cream blush, lip balm and lipstick into the compartments. Then gently heat the underside with a hairdryer: when it cools, the products should set. AB
Shopping is expensive but style is free. Everyone owns a white shirt (and if they don’t, they know someone who does). I wear mine open over a vest and trousers, instead of a summer jacket. Don’t pop the collar, don’t roll the sleeves and don’t tie it in a knot. Just keep it simple – I tend to just shrug it on as if it was a cardigan. This works everywhere from the office to on holiday. Bonus points if you wear it with a gold chain and black sunglasses.
Jess Cartner-Morley, Guardian fashion writer
If, like me, you own the following items – a blazer, jeans, white sport socks, trainers – try adding a baseball cap. It gives an ordinary look some supermodel glamour (see the catwalk at Celine) on the cheap. Logo hats are to be encouraged, the weirder the better. JCM
First, tie an oversized men’s shirt (something large and plaid, ideally) so it sits just on the waistband of your trousers. Sounds simple, but this grunge-inspired twist will break up your outfit nicely (and give you something to sit on if you go to the park). Second, on warmer days, flash a smidge of midriff by gathering your T-shirt at the back with a hair bobble, making sure to fold the material back underneath to hide the bobble.
Melanie Wilkinson, Guardian’s styling editor
Channel the infamous Miu Miu SS22 show (the one with the super-short, frayed-hem miniskirt), but instead of chopping a short skirt in two, try cutting the sleeves and bottom half off a long shirt. Go for elbow-length on the sleeves and bum length on the shirt hem, so they match. You don’t need to crop it too short, either – it’s all about the fraying. MW
Vintage shopping is a surefire way to get high-quality stuff on a shoestring. It just requires two things: time and patience. First, target specific categories or it becomes too overwhelming – this applies to both online and in-person shopping. For example, “broderie anglaise blouse” may seem like a narrow search term, but it will yield a wealth of riches on Etsy – while Bygonediva does some great Victoriana lace pieces. Leather jackets are another winner, ditto 70s summer dresses and bakelite costume jewellery.
If you’re feeling more edgy, Asos Marketplace and Depop are flooded with crop tops and shoulder bags (both big right now), which look as fresh as they did in Y2K.
Helen Seamons, menswear editor
Vintage denim costs less than new, is better for the planet (obviously) and is usually better, not least because someone has already worn it in for you. Cutting jeans into shorts is a classic way to reuse an old pair of 501s. Try Rokit, Thrift.plus and Beyond Retro. HS
Home and garden
You don’t need to spend to refresh your home – you just need to look at what you’ve already got. When I want to update a room, I ask myself whether the space is working hard enough. By moving a few pieces of furniture around you could create, say, a reading corner in the living room and suddenly have an extra mini-space within a larger one. Do this by sorting out your bookshelves – freestanding or permanent – then reorganising your books. I promise you, it’ll feel like a new room.
Laura Jackson, TV presenter and writer
When I was running a supper club, I found some large pieces of wood, which I chopped into boards, sanded, treated and used as serving boards on my dining table – it’s incredibly satisfying to create something like this yourself. Best of all, it cost next to nothing. LJ
Buying compost is one of the biggest outlays for gardeners, so making your own is a no-brainer. Take your food waste, your old wool socks, some removed garden weeds, add a little time (around three months on average) and hey presto, free compost. This isn’t just a growing medium; it will also feed your plants for free and cut down on your waste. You probably don’t even need to spend money on a compost bin – most councils provide subsidised ones.
Alys Fowler, Guardian garden columnist
Garden open days are a fantastic way to nose around domestic-sized plots and get free inspiration. From locally organised ones to the National Garden Scheme, where your entrance fee goes to charity, you’ll pick up loads of ideas for layouts, planting combinations, path materials, ponds, sheds, how big a mature plant grows – plus, you can pick the brains of the people who made it. On top of that, people often sell off their excess plants for a fraction of the price of garden centres. And best of all, there’s usually homemade cake. AF
Aside from their beauty, air-purifying qualities and ability to make us feel calm, houseplants can be multiplied at no extra cost to share with friends and family, or simply to increase your own collection. Propagation is the act of producing a new plant from a parent plant, and there are several propagation methods, from taking a cutting from a leaf, stem or root, to grafting, layering and seed sowing. I’m pretty lazy, and I like to hedge my bets and avoid disappointment whenever I can, so I stick to the most common techniques and effortless houseplants to propagate. Here are my top choices:
Stem-cutting (cut stem 10-20cm below the leaf joint and place in compost)
Jade plant (Crassula ovata)
Chinese money plant (Pilea peperomioides)
Stem-cutting, but place in water
Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa)
Pothos (Epipremnum species)
Inch plant (Tradescantia species)
Desert rose (Echeveria species)
Bunny ears cactus (Opuntia species)
Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
Plantlets (detach little plants that have grown roots from mother plant)
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)