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Spend & Save

Alice-Azania Jarvis: My style of multitasking can get expensive

In The Red

Multi-tasking is my speciality. At least it is if, by multi-tasking, you mean doing lots and lots of different things to an ok-level, all at the same time. Washing the dishes but not shining the glasses, for instance, while having a kind of uhuh-mhmm-not-listening-all-that-closely type of conversation, all while vaguely clocking the headlines as they are read out over the radio and planning what I'm going to cook when my friends come round the following day.

Most of the time, this is not a good thing. People boast about their multitasking like it's some kind of achievement as opposed to a necessity foisted on them by a shortage of time, lack of finances, or absence of organisation. Perhaps they're good at multitasking. Perhaps they can do all their shopping, cooking, cleaning, working, writing, dieting, budgeting and socialising really brilliantly, all at once. Not me. My multitasking has left me a jack of many chores but a master of none. It's the reason I lock myself out of my flat, the reason I leave the fridge open, forget to cancel my phone contract, run late for meeting friends or never quite have the ingredients for a sensible supper. And, most of the time, it costs me money: locksmiths, electricity bills, emergency taxis.

There is one area in which my multitasking might just be described as "good", rather than "necessary". Namely, food. Eating it, not making it (the number of times I've spoilt a mayonnaise or overcooked a cake through attempting to do it at the same time as, say, burning a CD or doing a bit of online shopping ... well, I've lost count).

The thing is, I love to dine out. It really is one of my favourite things to do. I love looking up new restaurants, reading tips for hidden gems and researching menus. But I just don't have the budget. Yes, going out for dinner once in a while is ok – but it is also seriously expensive. And so, lately, I've happened upon the solution: brunch. It is the perfect way to dine out – even in posh restaurants! – without spending too much. First of all, given the breakfasty-connotations of the meal, alcohol frequently isn't involved. Also, no matter what you're ordering, it is virtually guaranteed to be cheaper than it would be were it on the dinner menu. Omelettes, kedgeree, fruit salad: they rarely cost more than a starter. And they take the space of two meals – breakfast and lunch – in one go, saving you extra money along the way. Bargain!