My Decision To Ditch Dairy 1 Year On – Did This Dietary Swap Really Help My Acne Prone Skin & Improve My Life?

I’ve always been a hardcore lover of cheese so even writing the title of this, realising it’s been over a year, slightly blows my mind. I gave up dairy around the middle of 2020 as I was trying to find ways to help my skin that didn’t require medication I was uncomfortable with taking. I tried this once before for around 3 months in 2016, focusing mostly on lactose-free products, with no real difference but if I’m being honest with myself – I didn’t try that hard.

I Feel Better In Myself

If I put aside my skin for a second on the whole I feel better for not eating dairy. One of the reasons I decided to go without it for a time wasn’t based just on hysterical Google searches but the fact that dairy, particularly in the mornings, always made me feel sick. I’ve also never liked the taste of cows milk and could never drink it on it’s own, the idea makes me shudder even now. I could drink a cup of coffee no problem but it had been years since I’d been able to have cereal that wasn’t dry without feeling rough. Ditching dairy enabled me to rekindle a love for Cheerios, Fruit & Fibre, Weetabix and more. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed these. Prior to this switch every breakfast I ate was something toasted. In the last 7-8 months once I realised vegan products didn’t make me feel ill all I’ve eaten each morning has involved milk or yoghurt in some way.

There’s Very Little I Miss

On an almost monthly basis new dairy free or vegan products seem to be released with big brands like Petit Filous, The Collective, Kit Kat and more jumping on the bandwagon. Many products I actually prefer to dairy. I never really liked dairy creme fraiche, finding the almost sweet aftertaste odd in savoury dishes, but Oatly’s answer to this product completely converted me. The fact that it has a long shelf life and is incredible in pasta dishes makes it a fridge staple for me. Some products are so good now that it feels like zero compromise and I’ve had dairy-eating friends unable to tell the difference. Examples include Elmlea’s plant based cream, Magnum ice creams, Ristorante’s vegan margarita and the newly discovered plant based passionfruit flavoured yoghurt from The Collective. Brands like HiP – Happiness In Plants and Doisy and Dam mean I can enjoy chocolate without feeling disappointed at all. If I had to dig deep the only things I miss are Solero Exotic ice creams and that it’s harder to find a good coffee when out and about – Cafe Nero remain my favourite high street chain for dairy free coffees.

I Still Eat Cheese

After letting me skin run my life when I first developed acne in 2016 I vowed never to let that happen again. I still love cheese so I still eat cheese. I’ve tried two vegan ones and they just don’t cut it for me so instead I have it less frequently than I used to and I go for lactose-free options. Lactose free cheddar is easy to find, Lidl have very reasonably priced sliced edam and Tesco have an own brand mozzarella although sadly this is getting harder to find in stores. I’ve recently discovered Waitrose have lactose free Halloumi and Feta so rest assured I’ll be jumping on those very soon. I used to consume a family sized block of cheddar a week. Nowadays a small pack of lactose-free cheddar lasts me 2-3 weeks. I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate cheese more for not having it every day. Basic things I previously got bored of like cheese toasties now feel like the most wonderful self-indulgent treat.

I Cheat Sometimes Because I’m Human

I make occasional exceptions for things like Sour Cream Pringles, Dairy Milk and the odd Solero Exotic and I don’t feel remotely guilty for it.

Quitting Dairy Sparked More Of An Interest In Food

I’ve never cared for cooking and used to easily get stuck into a rut with eating the same things. Cutting back on dairy gave me the opportunity to try so many new things to find new favourites. Some have been real hits and there have been a few misses but I actually get excited about seeing something I’ve read about on a supermarket shelf whereas before I felt a bit like a zombie filling my basket with the same old things. Reducing my cheese intake forced me to up my lunch game from the default cheese and ham sandwiches I’d unknowingly become sick of. I feel like quitting dairy has hugely diversified what I eat which has been really good for me.

It Hasn’t Been As Expensive As I Thought

This is largely due to using cashback apps like Green Jinn. These have enabled me to get dairy free products either for free or hugely reduced. At the time of publishing I have 8 cartons of long life plant based milk in the cupboard which haven’t cost me a penny. I’ve been able to get free yoghurts, reduced vegan pizza, free plant based flapjacks and more all via cashback apps. It was a bit of a learning journey at first but I now know that some products are accidentally vegan so there’s no need to fork out for the “free from” section version. For example Tesco’s own brand dark chocolate digestive biscuits and Bakewell tarts don’t list dairy in the ingredient lists! I got into the habit of quickly scanning packaging labels. Lidl and Aldi now have vegan products which are reasonably priced, Asda also have some amazingly cheap desserts and free from products. I’ve found Home Bargains to be excellent for cheap snack bars which I see as dupes for Nak’d Bars and Eat Natural bars for half the branded price or less.

I Can’t Confidently Say Quitting Dairy Helped Me

I honestly tried so many things around a similar time that I can’t declare with 100% conviction that ditching dairy was the answer. I know for a fact that cutting caffeine did me a world of good and I’ve experienced less cysts since. Although I can’t say for certain that doesn’t mean I intend to jump back on the dairy wagon. I don’t really feel like I’d have anything to gain from doing so. I will say my skin is consistently in the best place it has been for years. I still break out from time to time because hormones exist but this now feels easily manageable. I put this improvement down to a combination of changes. I don’t feel restricted by my decision to reduce dairy and for as long as I feel this way I’ll stay as I am.

Monthly Round Up – The Best Ways I Made Money, Saved Money & Bargain Finds In July

July was an incredibly busy month for me meaning I definitely didn’t put any effort into money making this month. I’m hoping when things calm down over August to get back on the eBay train selling clothes I no longer wear and more. In terms of bargains, I’m mildly ashamed to say I succumbed to the lures of the Boots Clearance section but as I paid with my Advantage Card points I think I can be forgiven. I’m banning myself from Boots for August!

Made Money

I sold an unwanted household item for £15 on Facebook Marketplace which was a pleasant surprise as I forgot I’d listed the item a month previously. During the last week of July I received an offer on eBay for an item of clothing I’d borderline given up trying to shift. I ended up making around £7 profit and considering it only cost me £10 in the first place from an ex-high-street clothing market in London I was pleased with that.

I’ve unfortunately been so busy this month that I’ve not had a chance to properly list more clothes on eBay etc but it will be top of my priority list in August.

Bargain Finds

I picked up an Indeed Labs Watermelon Melting Cleansing Balm which still retails for £24.99 on Superdrug and Look Fantastic’s websites for £2.70 in Boots clearance section. It was marked with a £3 sticker and I then got a further 30p off thanks to student discount. I paid with my Boots points so it didn’t cost me anything. This can be used to remove make up and my current make up remover is running out so that helped me to justify this!

I also picked up a Lee Stafford Heat Protection leave in hydrating cream for £1.80 also. I try to look after my hair with low cost products to save me having to pay for hair cuts quite so often so was pleased to grab this as my current one is 2/3rds empty. Once again I paid with Boots points so there was zero spend involved.

In Wilko I picked up this adorable Chinese Money Plant for £1.50 instead of £3 as it looked in need of some care. I’ve wanted one of these plants for a while but been unable to spot one in stores for under £8 so am really happy with this.

Food Savings

Clearance Food – the main element of almost every main meal I ate this month was from the clearance section of Tesco. I managed to time my supermarket arrivals really well to stock up the freezer with reduced fish and more. I’ve been hunting for nearly a year since I gave up dairy for clearance vegan cake and finally hit the jackpot this month. I managed to get a BOSH chocolate cake reduced. As it didn’t say “not suitable for home freezing” I chopped it up and froze 3/4s of the cake which was then defrosted on a slice by slice basis when I fancied a treat.

Lots Of Free Vegan Food – via Green Jinn. I saved £8 on 4 cartons of long life Mighty Pea milk, £4.20 on two large tubs of Alpro Greek Style yoghurt and £1.60 on a vegan chocolate milkshake. I also managed to score 2 vegan probiotic drinks for nothing saving £2.40. Green Jinn is by far the best app for dairy free and has saved me so much money. I haven’t had to buy dairy free milk in over 5 weeks now because I’ve been able to grab these almost weekly. They’re long life and retail at £2 a carton usually so this has been a great saving for me on an essential item. I now have 8 cartons stocked up in the cupboard which are in date through until June next year which is brilliant.

Lunch Box Additions – via Checkout Smart and Tesco Clubcard I managed to get two boxes of 100g pea stick snacks for a total spend of 20p for the two. Green Jinn had an offer for 45p off own brand strawberries which I managed to use also. Via Shopmium I got a free 500ml Robinsons drink also which made a nice treat as this isn’t something I would normally buy.

Cheap Treats – Via Shopmium I scored a £5 tub of vegan ice cream for £3, I’d usually spend about £2.50 on occasion for a treat so decided to go for this as I’d never buy it full price. I also discovered Asda is incredibly reasonable for dairy free desserts with a pack of 2 chocolate mousses or tiramisu retailing for £1. Tesco’s equivalent in virtually the exact same packaging is £1.80. I can confirm I tried both and they were amazing.

Home Bargains Dairy Free Snacks – Home Bargains is the best for reasonably priced, relatively healthy dairy free snacks. They have dupes of Nak’d bars which are 99p for a box of 3 and only made with 100% natural ingredients. I’ve tried both the cocoa orange and blueberry flavours before and they’re fantastic. I also got 2 boxes of Graze Superfood Oat snacks for £1.49 a box instead of £2.50. Whilst there I discovered that the lemon and blueberry flavour which previously contained milk are now vegan so I was over the moon. I find these sorts of snacks brilliant for on the move or when I’m craving something sweet but avoiding chocolate etc.

Free Box Of Celebrations – via Shopmium as July was my birthday month. Whilst I don’t really eat dairy I decided to claim these as I could always gift them on to someone else. I was offered £3 cashback from Shopmium, they were on Tesco Clubcard price for £2 so I ended up making £1 profit on this.

For all the other amazing freebies I got during my birthday month stay tuned for a post scheduled very soon!

Saved Money

Thanks to the mostly glorious UK weather I did a lot more walking to get from A to B which resulted in free exercise and travel. This month was so hectic that I ate out only once and shared lunch with a friend outside in the sunshine at an independent cafe which was lovely.

I only visited the Boots clearance section once so I feel that needs to be noted as a way I saved money!

Comments Welcome

A Review Of O2 Priority Moments – Is It Worth Being With O2 For This Reward App?

I am a huge fan of the Priority Moments app for O2 customers and check it on a weekly basis for any good offers. I’ve read reviews in the past saying it’s only really of use if you live in London but I beg to differ as lots of the deals apply to chains found up and down the country. Some offers are available in shops found in most high streets and the online offers are available for all. Offers and competitions vary all the time but below are some of my all time favourites from over 6 years of being with the phone provider. I have to say there wasn’t much worth having during 2020 due to lockdowns, I saw more perks from the Vodaphone Very Me rewards app posted online.

Please note some are currently available at the time of publishing and others are me taking a trip down memory lane!

Caffe Nero Free Drink – offer a free drink either hot or cold from a small selection after 12pm on a Tuesday or Wednesday. One code is available per person per week and soya milk is included. A limited amount are available so best to claim earlier than later. Sometimes it is possible to claim loyalty stamps on the free drinks meaning after collecting 9 free drinks you can then get a 10th for nothing but this comes and goes.

Greggs – About a month ago Greggs offers were added to O2 Priority on a Friday and Saturday. There are two offers which I’ve never been able to claim at the same time, suggesting it is one offer per day. On one day you can claim either a regular or vegan sausage roll and on the other day either a sausage or bacon bap. So far I’ve grabbed 3 vegan sausage rolls which are a great treat.

2 for £10 in Pizza Express – seemingly no longer available – this offer lasted a good few years and I’d use this with friends at least twice a month as it was such good value for money. If drinking tap water I’d literally end up paying £5 for a large pizza. 3/4 of which I’d eat and the last 1/4 I’d take home in a box to have for lunch the next day meaning I effectively got 2 meals out of it. I’m really sad that since Covid hit this disappeared and hasn’t made it back onto the app.

Leon – this year I’ve seen a free lattice fries offer from Leon pop up several times. Sadly there isn’t a chain anywhere near me but this is a great one if you are nearer a bigger city.

6 Months Disney Plus – I managed to get this for free via O2 Priority Moments which was a great way to stave off some boredom during the “stay at home” instructions last year!

Holland & Barrett – back around 2018/9 there used to be weekly freebies which enabled me to pick up some great unusual snacks as well as beauty products at no cost. I ended up with yoghurt raisins, chill crackers, a cucumber face mask and organic lip balm so this was a great one.

WH Smith – back around 2019 there was a weekly offer to get a particular book title for £1 which later became half price for particular new releases. As I’m a keen reader I picked up several of the £1 books which I still have. I gained Steig Larsson’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and One Day via this brilliant deal.

Merlin Entertainment – again in 2018/9 – there were codes during the summer holidays offering 50% off entry to several Merlin tourist attractions which included aquariums up and down the UK and The London Eye. Without this code I wouldn’t have bothered going up the London Eye so am grateful to have been able to use it.

Boots x Smashbox – this offer only came around once but it was an absolute favourite of mine. I’d guess in 2019 there was a code on Saturday to pick up a free liquid lipstick from Smashbox in Boots stores. It was available in 3 shades and worth around £18.

Kat Von D – again this was also a one off but I managed in 2018 to get a free mini of the Kat Von D tattoo liner from Debenhams via O2 Priority which was amazing.

There are cheaper providers out there than O2. I’ve been with them long enough that I now have a SIM only contract which has been heavily discounted due to my loyalty to O2. I’ve read hacks from Money Saving Expert on ways to get the O2 Priority app by buying a Pay As You Go sim card which is an option for anyone not keen to switch in case it isn’t comparable. I, however, have no experience of doing this so can’t comment on the success of this or not. Until the recently weekly Greggs addition I was starting to wonder about looking into switching for an even cheaper deal but ultimately for what I pay I really can’t complain. I rarely ever buy coffee so see this as a great way for me to treat myself at no massive cost.

Comments Welcome

My Favourity Loyalty Schemes: Why You Need To Know About Holland And Barrett & Their Rewards For Life Scheme. A Review Of Holland And Barrett For Dairy Free Food & Eco Swap Bargains.

I’ve never been a regular Holland and Barrett shopper by any means in the past but I am fast becoming one. In fact, until the last month or so I can’t remember the last time I went in a store and had certainly never placed an online order or even thought about visiting their website.

Just before Easter I came across a few online deals with Holland and Barrett via following Money Saving Expert on Instagram. As my family kindly tend to gift me chocolate at this time of year I sent them the deal along with a link to their dairy free chocolate section. The deal included 20% off on top of existing offers like “buy one get one half price” and included free home delivery with no minimum spend. This really put Holland and Barrett on my radar. I’ve decided to list lots of the reasons I’m starting to love H&B for dairy free treats and more. Another reason behind this post and my recent ventures into buying from them is that I’m keen to reduce environmental impact and have come to realise H&B stock quite a range of plastic free beauty items. In typical savvy fashion I have yet to pay full price for anything from them. I’ve bagged some of my best bargains this year from Holland and Barrett… read on to find out more.

The Easter treat haul – 20% off on top of existing store promotions and free home delivery

In Store Clearance

I recently visited my local store and found a brand of snacks I love which are typically £1.50 a bag marked down to 75p on clearance due to their expiry date. I purchased these at the start of April and their best before was marked mid May. There were lots of other items with similarly long clearance dates on so definitely worth a look for stocking up.

Online Discount Codes

On 3 separate occasions I’ve now visited their website and every time I’ve been able to find a decent discount code. Even better I’ve found codes which stack so I’ve been able to get free click and collect from my local store saving me £1.50 and 20% off my basket total. Simply Googling the store name and discount codes has enabled me to do this. I’ve had most luck with the ones listed on the Daily Mail’s website.

15% Student Discount

Via Unidays is currently being advertised on their website at the time of publishing this post. Sadly this doesn’t stack on top of other % off deals but is handy to know!

Money Off Receipt

After buying clearance snacks for half the price I noted on the end of my receipt was an in store voucher for 25% off 1 item in store at a later date. Considering I mostly buy dairy free treats or food from here that aren’t available in my local supermarkets I thought this was worth hanging on to as it could reduce a £1 bar down to 75p. Equally I could see myself using this for plastic free soap as they stock some lovely sounding bars from Faith In Nature which are reasonably priced. It’ll be even better if I can tack this onto a clearance item.

Rewards Scheme

After the Easter discovery haul and finding clearance items in store I looked into if Holland and Barrett had a reward scheme worth joining. Turns out you get £3 worth of points just for signing up online, you don’t need a physical card and gain 4 points per £1 spent exactly like the Boots Advantage Card scheme. Each point is worth a penny. You also get a 20% off code for joining which is valid for 2 weeks which you can use online or in store and this does work on clearance items too. From what I gather of the Terms and Conditions you will then receive cash vouchers based on points you’ve acquired within an undisclosed collection period. The minimum threshold to receive these is 50 points.

After placing 2 orders, with which I got over half my money back via cashback on both occasions, I’d earned a voucher worth £3.75 which I was able to use online along with a free click and collect code and a 20% off code. Both of my orders were originally around £10 but after cash back each time I got £6-7 back. My 3rd order of 5 items ended up costing me less than 80p by stacking discounts and using cash back apps. The next point will help explain this in more detail!

You Can Use Cashback Apps

Here’s an example I’m still so chuffed with: I ordered 4 bars of HiP oat based chocolate with an RRP of £2.99 each and a large bag of dark chocolate roasted chickpeas worth £2.39. I used Daily Mail discount codes to knock off 20% and then a further code to get free click and collect from my local store. I checked with food cashback apps I have and found Green Jinn offered £1.50 back per chocolate bar if you bought online from Holland and Barrett, Checkout Smart offered £1 cashback on the Brave chickpeas. So in total I paid £11.47 instead of £14.35 thanks to online codes. I then got £7 cashback by uploading proof of my purchase to these two apps. My 5 items cost me £4.47 in total. Even better? I collected 44 reward points worth 44p for my purchases! My cashback request was validated and paid from Green Jinn in less than 24 hours which made it even better.

The Penny Sale

From time to time they have their famous penny sales where you can buy one item and get another for just one penny. Great for stocking up if they have some of your trusted favourites. Disappointingly this didn’t cover dairy free chocolate or healthy snack bars when I looked.

They Stock Lots of Dairy Free Brands In The Same Place!

Whilst this sounds silly, somethings I’d wanted to try were only stocked in one supermarket which I rarely visit, others only had half the range of a brand etc. Holland and Barrett had vegan / dairy free brands I’ve followed online and been curious about all in the same place which is amazing to browse. For example they have the Love Raw vegan Kinder Bueno dupes, NoMo, Livias, Doisy and Dam and Gato.

Eco Conscious Beauty

They stock REN whose Ready Steady Glow Toner I adore but have never known where to pick it up on the high street. They also have loads of plastic free options, spare blades for razors, reusable cotton pads as well as the expected bars for soap, shampoo and conditioner.

I think it is safe to safe I’m fast becoming a huge fan of Holland and Barrett! In fact as I post this my family have placed one order on my behalf at Easter, I’ve placed three orders to click and collect and made purchases of clearance snacks on two occasions when picking up my parcels. All three orders together have cost me under £10 by deal stacking.

Comments Welcome

How To Use Green Jinn To Get Free Food & Save Money On Food Shopping – A Review Of The Cashback App For Food & Household Items.

I downloaded Green Jinn at the start of the year having previously only used Shopmium – another cashback app which works in a very similar way. At the time of posting this it is my current favourite app for free or heavily discounted food as I’ve been able to find some fantastic deals on dairy free products and more.

Since downloading the app at the start of this year I have saved over £25 on food in less than 4 months.

What Is Green Jinn?

It is a cashback app, primarily for groceries which enables you to try products either for free or at a discounted rate. You receive money back via a PayPal account after buying the exact product they specify from the Supermarkets listed. For example to get the cashback for a 30g packet of Brave Chickpeas on offer in Sainsbury you’d obviously have to buy the correct packet size and brand from that specific supermarket. It wouldn’t work if you bought a 60g bag, or even 30g bag in Tesco.

How Does It Work?

Download the app for free and sign up for an account. Connect your PayPal account so it knows where to send your cashback which typically arrives in less than 3 days. You’re able to request cashback after you’ve claimed over £1.50 worth. To request cashback you add the offers you’ve purchased to your Green Jinn basket and then upload photos of your entire receipt to prove purchase. This is really quick and easy to do and the app talks you through the process step by step. I’m not super tech savvy but find it incredible simple to do. Green Jinn does have some offers which are valid if you buy online too such as the Holland and Barrett website.

What Can I Expect To Get?

What I like about this app over the other food cashback apps I have is that it also includes supermarket own brand products as well as branded offers and freebies meaning I can often save that bit extra on fruit or veg etc. I don’t eat dairy so thought that having apps like this would be a waste of time for me but Green Jinn has been great and I’m really glad I downloaded it. I’ve been able to get free snacks worth £1+ all the way up to 4 cans of Kombucha worth £5 for free. Several weeks for the last couple of months they’ve had offers for free 1 litre cartons of long life non-dairy milks which I’ve been stocking up on and keeping in my cupboard as they don’t require refrigeration until they’re open. Whilst it’s not my favourite non dairy milk, it’s free and works well for me on cereal, in pancake batter or smoothies so has saved me money on my weekly shop as well as allowing me to grab some extras for nothing or low cost. Recently I was able to buy 4 bars of dairy free, oat based chocolate for half the price by buying online from Holland and Barratt. My cashback request was confirmed within 24 hours after taking some questionable photos of my order confirmation email from my computer screen! I should add that this cashback request worked for me on top of store offers and discounts so I still got my £1.50 back as well as saving a further 20% on the items from Holland and Barrett using a web code.

Any Additional Info?

Sainsbury always seems to have the most offers for free or discounted food items. At the time of publishing this post if you were to buy every offer from Sainsbury on Green Jinn you’d save £44.89 compared to £14.90 from Tesco. In my “savings” section I have one claim of £6.90 registering as claimed and not paid but I received the money in my PayPal account with no trouble.

How Does It Differ From Shopmium?

Shopmium has a really handy bar code checker where you can scan a product before buying to make sure you have the right one. Green Jinn doesn’t, so you just have to read the product details carefully to be certain you’ve got the right packet size etc for the cashback request to work. Once you’ve got into the habit of this it isn’t anywhere near as time consuming as it sounds. Shopmium has a referral options where you can earn credits whereas Green Jinn does not.

The Final Word

It’s a really good app, I like it lots and have found it very helpful to save money on things I’d either buy normally or to try new foods for free. I like that you can cash out with £1.50 worth as it’s really easy to “spend” that on offers. I tend to check all my food cashback apps the the day before I go food shopping as this sometimes influences which store I go to for me to save the most money. Cashback apps like this are great not only if you’re looking to save money but also if you like trying new foods.

Comments Welcome