Noticed some changes? You can read all about the improvements we've made on the Forum in our latest announcement. We also have a new set of Forum rules so please take the time to give them a read and familiarise yourself.

Welcome to Old Style - PLEASE READ ME BEFORE POSTING - contains info on searching

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Old Style MoneySaving
11 replies 42.2K views
squeakysqueaky Forumite
14.1K Posts
10,000 Posts Combo Breaker I'm a Volunteer Board Guide
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Old Style MoneySaving
Welcome to Old Style

Hello and welcome to MoneySaving Old Style

The Old Style board is about making the best of what's left after you have done all the financial cut downs which you can find on the various boards here on MoneySavingExpert and paid all your bills etc. Essentially we help you to make the most of your housekeeping money.

This is all about depending on older, more basic and often cheaper ways of running the home, not relying so much on modern consumerism, processed foods or off the shelf solutions to achieve the standard we want in our everyday lives.

What is Old Style?

Old style is about taking charge of the money you have saved elsewhere on MoneySavingExpert by using the many ideas collected here. It's about taking control of the home areas of your life. Essentially what used to be known as Home Economics, or Domestic Science.

Old style isn't all OLD. We're happy to use modern up to date things like Slow Cookers, Microwaves, Breadmakers and more. We like to re-use, reduce, re-cycle. We save money (and, by coincidence time and energy) by cooking double and freezing. That way you always have some "ready meals" in the freezer for those days we all have when we don't feel like cooking.

What's OLD about this forum is that we try not to rely on ready made instant meals. We try to shop with thrift in mind and not blindly throw the nearest and easiest thing into the shopping basket and barely glance at the total in the till as we hand over our credit card.

We try to set and keep budgets, plan meals, find ways to use up leftovers, and some often very inventive ways of using up those food items that are hiding in the back of the fridge and the cupboards before they go out of date (or mouldy and 'orrible) and have to be binned.

Old style isn't just about cooking. We can help rescue those disasters from spills and accidents that would otherwise have you paying huge cleaning and laundry bills. We can recommend household gadgets/equipment that we know from experience "do wot it sez on the tin" before you set off to the shopping boards to find yourself the best deal. And more. Much more.

We really really don't harp on about the good old days, (well, not too often :)) nor do we try to step back in time. If we did we'd all be cooking on open fires in the back garden and bashing the laundry on rocks in the nearest river :)

Please note: You can't possibly be expected to make all the changes you'll see suggested here in the various threads at once. It's impossible. You wouldn't expect to pass your final exams after one day at school, and you shouldn't expect to be able to do the same here in Old Style.

The best approach is a step by step one. Pick one or two things that you think will be of best help to you and do those until they become normal. Then pick the next best and so on. As you go you'll find that everything gets easier and you'll be patting yourself on the back and actively looking for new ways in no time at all.

Where to start?

We have a number of threads where members have asked this, and how can Old style help me? They have been collected together so that you can browse through them and pick the ones that most interest you:-

Getting Started on Old Style

For many members who are on low income, or are forced onto low budgets by high repayments, the Debt-Free Wannabe board can help release a bit more for housekeeping and, if you've already been there and been directed here after they've given your budget a good make over, we have a regular Grocery Challenge that helps you to gradually reduce your budget in a pain free, supportive and friendly way. (The first post in each of our challenge threads explain how they work and, usually, some helpful advice)

It is always a sticky (with a sticky.gif next to it) at the top of the forum listing so that it is easy to find.

If you'd like to browse through older challenges ---> Click Here.

Alongside the Grocery Challenge, many members find it useful to plan their meals, generally first by having a browse through their store cupboards, before starting a shopping list. We have a weekly thread where members post their plans, which often help inspire/remind others - so if you pick the most recent thread from the list you are more than welcome to join in:- Weekly meal plan threads

If you've ever said -

"I've got a pantry full of food and nothing to eat"...

Then there are plenty of ideas and inspiration in this older thread store cupboard challenge and more in this recent one Family of 5 'shop from home'food storage challenge... and if those can't help you, you can look up your prospective main ingredient and find a thread (or two) full of recipes each in The Complete Cooking Collection and if you are still stuck then try here:- Cooking by numbers website

How do I find everything?

A perennial question, honest :)

If you are fairly new to MSE, or find that the search rarely helps you to find things; you should know that the default setting for the forum search is to look back for one month only. Many of our threads are older than that, recipes tend not to go out of date :)

The first post here --> Quick search help will show you how to change your setting. The following posts in that thread can help you use the search to good effect.

In many cases you may not need the search at all. We have an entire set of Indexed Collections covering the most frequently used areas of the forum:-

Our Indexed Collections

The first post holds a list of collections - each held by one of our members, and the following posts contain the best part of 3,000 threads all sorted by category, and then alphabetically so that you can find pretty much anything quickly and easily.

And the really good news is that you don't even have to remember where it is!

At the top of every page is our "Resource bar" and you can find Our Indexed Collections (and our Monthly Challenges) right there. (See the image below)

Tip 1:- At the bottom of most collections there is a list of web sites that members have also found helpful.

Tip 2:- If you still cannot find what you want and your question is likely to have a fairly simple or yes/no answer we have some quick questions threads on subjects like freezing, bread, slow cookers, and more.The main thread is a sticky Quick Questions on ANYTHING and the first post has a list of more "specialist" quick questions.

Tip 3:- We encourage members to join any thread that has a similar question to their own. We honestly don't consider joining threads to be "hijacking" someone else's thread. It really does help to keep similar questions all in one place.

Cooking and Cleaning - the easy and cheap way?

Since these are usually by far the costliest parts of any housekeeping budget, here are some good starting points:-


You'll have seen mention of the Grocery Challenge and Menu Planning in the earlier "How do I start?" section just above here, and between them they'll help make a major difference to your food bills.

By and large our members are keen not just to eat cheap food, but to eat healthy food too. Cooking from scratch, pretty much by definition, reduces your intake of additives. You can still have your favourite junk food, such as pizza or burgers, but we can show you how easy, cheap and healthy it is to make your own.

By buying value foods (as long as you find them an acceptable substitute - and if not then don't do it, don't make yourself miserable - stay within your personal "comfort zone") you can release a bit of money to help buy a few more organic foods.

To that end, you can find organic shops, farm shops, and even delivered box schemes local to you by using this site:- and a related thread:- Organic supplies and deliveries near you

There are lots of threads which contain either cheap, or healthy, or both, ideas for recipes. Here's a short list of both:- cheap healthy threads

There are more here:- The Complete Cooking Collection listed under "healthy eating"

Packed lunches for work and school can also be found in that collection listed under "lunch", with thousands of ideas which can be a great money saver. You can also find other lunch based threads (including a lunch challenge) on Debt-Free Wannabe and others (especially for school) on MoneySaving in Marriages, Relationships & Families. And if they don't tickle your taste buds this google search:- google packed lunches comes up with just over 2,000,000 pages. You don't need to read them all - but the first several are very good. Honest :)

We also advise deliberately cooking extra of meals such as chilli, stews, casseroles, curry, soups and putting them in the freezer. They can either be used for packed lunches or instant ready meals.

- Cooking for the freezer... Help!
- Cooking meals for the Freezer
- Cooking Meal building blocks for the freezer
- Cooking for the freezer - vegetarian

Again from the Cooking Collection, this time listed under "freezing", the threads above contain a number of tips and meal ideas that freeze well.

Dietary needs such as diabetes, gluten free, lactose intolerant are also covered in many of the main recipe collections (again under "healthy eating" in the Cooking Collection) and if they don't cover your own needs then just ask on the board. There's always someone who will be able to help you. (Please don't ask for medical advice though)

Vegetarian meals, recipes are well covered in our food related indexes and we even have seasonal meal plan threads:- Vegetarian Meal Plans

Weight loss. Yep, we do that as well. Join our Weight loss the Old Style way thread, and perhaps you would also like to browse the associated Losing Weight Recipes Collection

Growing your own. Although this is very much an Old Style way of keeping yourself supplied with fresh healthy fruit and veg, we now have a board especially for all things that don't necessarily need green fingers. (Including flowers - a number of which are edible, honest). Please don't make gardening posts here on Old Style, instead could you post them over on

Greenfingered MoneySaving


You can clean your house for pennies, do your laundry at a fraction of the cost, and then there's cleaning your self (and pampering :)) too.

Wa-a-a-ay back in September 2003 a single post raised so much interest and enthusiasm that it became the inspiration for starting a whole new forum on MSE. This one! It's still every bit as interesting and useful today so here it is:-

Save Zillions On Cleaning Products

The thread is long, so the highlights have been indexed - Click Here

After reading that, for a bet, you are going to want to know a lot more about using vinegar for cleaning around the house and how to use it for your laundry. So here's one of the main threads on vinegar:-

White vinegar

And lots more here:- vinegar threads here on Old Style


And yes, before you say it - the real joke here isn't the use of vinegar - it's the man cleaning the cooker! :)

Domestic Appliances Come up quite often, and they have their own section in the MEGA index:- Appliances and it includes (at the bottom) two links about sourcing long lost instruction manuals; one of which is our own thread, and the other is to a useful website. Here we are concerned only with cleaning problems so if you have mechanical problems then the best forum for those would be In my home (includes DIY) MoneySaving (and they too can help with instruction manuals).

Laundry and clothes include all sorts of tips on removing stains and spoils and the indexes contain a wealth of good stuff. Just follow your nose when using Our Indexed Collections and the MEGA Index which are mentioned above.

Make-up and bodycare figure largely there too. Not to mention that by keeping a close eye on the Grabbit board and the Freebies board you can keep your dressing table well covered with offers and samples - and we do now have a Health & Beauty MoneySaving board as well.

There's more... MUCH more:-

At the time of writing we are steadily closing on 20,000 different threads and half a million posts!

If you tried to print it all out and make into a set of books they'd overload your bookcase! And wear out your printer! If it does - see Techie Stuff first and then use the shopping comparison sites on Shop but don't drop and don't forget the cashback links!

Just like any other good book/resource we have an index. Actually we have several :) I can't stress enough how useful they are to help you find a thread that very probably already has an answer to your question or some recipe suggestions for your intended ingredients. So remember - the entire collection of indexes can be found at the top of every page here:-


How do I signatures and pictures and things?

If you are new to the web, or to forums, or just to the MoneySavingExpert forums there's an excellent guide written by one of our members that shows you how to do all of these things.

If you are very new perhaps you'd like to have a look here:-

sra's MoneySavingExpert Beginner's Guide

And in more detail for those of you who want to do a bit extra:-

sra's Complete MSE A-Z

What do all the abbreviations mean?

DD, DS1, MiL, LOL BM SC... are all explained:- Click Here

And finally...

Phew! That was all a long read. But it's not all serious stuff here on Old Style. We have our Daily Thread which is our equivalent of chatting with the neighbours over the garden fence, full of support and good humour. It's rarely off the first page so there's no need to link to it. So if you just want to chat - that's the place to go.

And if you think we all must be brilliant at cooking and stuff... well we are... most of the time.

But not always! Have a read here. chuckle.gif

Gingham Ribbon, Pink-winged, squeaky

Hi, I'm a Board Guide on the Old Style and the Consumer Rights boards which means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly and can move and merge posts there. Board guides are not moderators and don't read every post. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to [email protected]. It is not part of my role to deal with reportable posts. Any views are mine and are not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.
Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.
DTFAC: Y.T.D = £5.20 Apr £0.50


  • Penelope_PenguinPenelope_Penguin Forumite
    17.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker I've been Money Tipped! Best Buy Bear
    2009 Old Style Calendar thread is here :D

    angelavdavis's pdf format Old Style Calendar for 2009 is here :T

    The 2010 version is here :j
    :rudolf: Sheep, pigs, hens and bees on our Teesdale smallholding :rudolf:
  • edited 30 April 2009 at 7:09AM
    Penelope_PenguinPenelope_Penguin Forumite
    17.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker I've been Money Tipped! Best Buy Bear
    edited 30 April 2009 at 7:09AM
    I've copied this and the following posts from squeaky's excellent thread on How to Search. If you find it helpful, please thank squeaky, not me ;)squeaky's original thread can be found here :D

    Penny. x

    OK folks, here's the thing... it's something we all see and we all struggle with.

    We do a search and we can't find what we are looking for, and ten seconds later some smarty pants hands us a link :)

    So here's a quick and easy search routine that will help most often...

    At the top of the forum listing, towards the right hand side you'll see the "Search this Forum" link...

    And if you click on it you get a search box like this...

    If you type your search words into the text box you'll often find that you get lots of threads listed - especially if your search word is one that might be used in lots of different posts. If you can see the thread you want, fine; but otherwise there's a way to make the list shorter and more applicable to what you are looking for.

    Click on the "Advanced Search" link as shown above and you will now see...

    For the moment, leave the selection "Search titles only" as it is. This will limit your results to ones that only have your search word in the title.

    Look a bit further down the page for the "Search options" section...

    The recent forum software update set the default "look back time" to just one month. Many of our threads are considerably older than that! :) So select "Any Date" as you can see above, otherwise you will not be able to find older threads or, all too often, no threads at all.

    Now skip down to the bottom of the page and click on the "Save Search Preferences" button...

    Note:- You only need to do / check this the first time you use advanced search.

    Go back to the top of this page and type in your search word(s)...

    And either press the Enter / Return key, or click on the "Search Now" button.

    For this particular search you should get the following result...

    The eagle eyed amongst you will notice that there are no threads newer than Dec 2007. This is because Christmas threads now get posted on the celebrations board.

    If you had your "look back time" set to just one month you would have found none of these threads.

    So that's the quick and easy way to look for any thread that has your search word(s) in the title.

    And yes, I know, all too often you either get loads and loads of threads in a search result - or none at all. It gets discouraging and it all starts to look like "Rocket Science" to get the darn thing to work and give you what you're asking for.

    Well, it's not "Rocket Science", promise... but it is something of an art form :)

    So bear with me and I'll go through some of the ways that you can refine your searches to find that one thread or post that you are sure must be about the place "somewhere".
    :rudolf: Sheep, pigs, hens and bees on our Teesdale smallholding :rudolf:
  • Penelope_PenguinPenelope_Penguin Forumite
    17.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker I've been Money Tipped! Best Buy Bear
    Since it's recipes that get looked up most often here on Old Style I'm going to use finding a given recipe as my example here.

    Let's stay with Christmas Cake for now, and suppose that you didn't find the one you were looking for in the threads listed. There's every chance that the post was made in some other thread about cakes and the the original poster didn't give the post a title.


    Step back to the advanced search page and this time choose "Search Entire Post" and then click on the "Search now" button...


    You'll get a much longer set of results now - but each of those threads will have your search words in it - somewhere.

    Now it can be a bit of a slog. For shorter threads a quick scan down the post is fine.

    For longer threads that are pages long there's a quicker way to check. We'll use the first result in this search (delia's thread) and see how it goes.

    To the top right side of the (any) thread is a "Search this thread" link...

    Click on that, add your search text and then click on the "Go" button...


    Now you'll get a list of those posts that have your search words in...


    Click on the link to see the full contents of the post. The words are automatically highlighted in bold red so they are easy to spot.


    In this case it's easy to see that the recipe you're looking for isn't in this thread or this post.

    Ho hum - pick yourself another likely thread from the results. Nobody said this was easy :)

    There is an alternative to checking each thread by hand. While this is OK for a short list of results - and, since you can see thread titles easily enough so can skip past threads whose titles suggest that it's highly unlikely to have christmas cake recipe in it, you can modify your original search to show ALL the posts in ALL the threads as a list of posts...
    :rudolf: Sheep, pigs, hens and bees on our Teesdale smallholding :rudolf:
  • Penelope_PenguinPenelope_Penguin Forumite
    17.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker I've been Money Tipped! Best Buy Bear
    If the list of threads in your results is long and a quick browse is unlikey to help a quick search, you can set the advanced search to show you a list of all the posts that have your search words in.

    Again this is likely to be a lo-o-ong list... but sometimes it's easier to scan. So...

    Step back to the advanced search page...


    Down at the bottom, click on the little radio button to "Show Results as" Posts.

    Now you'll see each post in each thread in a list - like this...


    Again, sometimes it will be obvious that your recipe isn't going to be in the post - so you just keep scrolling through the results and checking those that you think are your "best bet".

    And sometimes, the first thing you find is not the recipe - but a clue...

    Such as in this post: help - fruit cake nightmare

    To save you the effort - if you now refine your search to include mary berry the only thing you'll find is a reference to her book on Amazon. (your search text would now be christmas cake mary berry and it gives a much shorter list of posts to check.)

    So it may be that your inspiration came from an MSE post but you had to look up the actual recipe on google. Like this...

    google mary berry christmas cake
    :rudolf: Sheep, pigs, hens and bees on our Teesdale smallholding :rudolf:
  • Penelope_PenguinPenelope_Penguin Forumite
    17.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker I've been Money Tipped! Best Buy Bear
    Sometimes you can remember who posted a recipe - but you can't find where it is...

    Getting away from Christmas cakes now - supposing you wanted to find twink's world famous hobnobs recipe...

    In truth - just putting hobnobs into the advanced search on "titles only" would find this one for you, but just in case....

    On the right hand side of the advanced search page is a box into which you can search for posts by that member...


    And the nice thing is that the forum lists all similar names so that you can pick the right one - is it "twink" or "Twink" or "TWINK"? The forum software reads each of those three as different names.

    And the results speak for themselves :)

    :rudolf: Sheep, pigs, hens and bees on our Teesdale smallholding :rudolf:
  • Penelope_PenguinPenelope_Penguin Forumite
    17.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker I've been Money Tipped! Best Buy Bear
    As I've said, if you can't find a suitable post with your search word in the title - you can search the entire contents of posts.

    This can leave you with lots of threads to check.

    So sometimes it's best to stay with the "Titles only" search but change the words that you are searching for.

    Again, let's stay with twink's world famous hobnobs... they're a biscuit recipe - so if it's the word "biscuit" that sticks in your memory and you try that first in a search...


    It ain't there. You'd think it should be - but sorry - it ain't.

    It won't show up if you use "recipe" either.

    Not in titles.

    But "hobnobs" finds it first time.

    So pick your words, and if one word doesn't find it - try another that "might" be in the title.

    After that... yep - you'll have to do it the hard way and "search entire contents" and so on.

    There are ways to combine words in the search by using "OR", or "AND"... that can help slim down a set of search results, and other tips...

    A full explanation can be seen in this post in sra's A-Z guide...
    :rudolf: Sheep, pigs, hens and bees on our Teesdale smallholding :rudolf:
  • Penelope_PenguinPenelope_Penguin Forumite
    17.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker I've been Money Tipped! Best Buy Bear
    And finally:-

    When all else fails - google is your friend :)

    It's true to say that sometimes google can search MSE in a more "on topic" way than the search facility here does. "Sometimes".

    If you log onto google and paste the following... SEARCHWORD(s)

    Google will search only MSE for what you want.

    This is an especially useful tip for those times when the forum search breaks down altogether. It's how we manage to help members find (some) things even when the search here is not working.

    Try this... :)

    google armadillo casserole
    :rudolf: Sheep, pigs, hens and bees on our Teesdale smallholding :rudolf:
  • Penelope_PenguinPenelope_Penguin Forumite
    17.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker I've been Money Tipped! Best Buy Bear
    Origianlly posted here by squeaky ;)
    You can help the search engine

    One of the quickest and easiest ways to search for something (usually) is to use the Advanced Search set to Titles Only.

    Unfortunately it has one rather fatal drawback.

    If a thread has a title such as:-

    Help me please...


    How do I...?

    Then it isn't going to show up on a search for (say) carrots because the search word isn't in the title, and neither you nor the system has the foggiest idea of what these threads are about unless you go and look at them
    Yes, they'll show up if you change the search from Titles Only to Search Entire Contents - but that usually gives you a much longer list of results to check.

    So fair enough - if you need help - by all means ask for it and put help please in the title. But then, in order to help people find things - put something covering the question at hand into the title.

    So, for instance - if you want to know how to stop fruit from sinking to the bottom when you are making jelly, please don't just use the title:-

    Help please

    By all means start your title that way, but then add something relevant as well, so your title could be:-

    Help please - fruit sinks in jelly

    That way, anyone looking for this thread will be able to use any of the "key" words such as "fruit" "sinks" or "jelly" (or any combination of them) and so stand a very good chance of finding the thread quickly and easily.

    You know it makes sense :)
    :rudolf: Sheep, pigs, hens and bees on our Teesdale smallholding :rudolf:
  • Penelope_PenguinPenelope_Penguin Forumite
    17.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker I've been Money Tipped! Best Buy Bear
    There's a new thread to help those new to Old Style find their way around. There are links to the most popular threads for those starting out. Link here - Tips and Quick Questions on "How to Start being Old Style".

    Penny. x
    :rudolf: Sheep, pigs, hens and bees on our Teesdale smallholding :rudolf:
  • Penelope_PenguinPenelope_Penguin Forumite
    17.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker I've been Money Tipped! Best Buy Bear
    SRA's list of A-Z of useful links.

    It includes a link on how to insert pictures to posts. This is often requested by posters, so I thought I'd add it here.

    Penny. x
    :rudolf: Sheep, pigs, hens and bees on our Teesdale smallholding :rudolf:
This discussion has been closed.