Saturday, 20 April 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 20th April 2019

This week's frugal tasks are pretty much non existent due to the continuing challenges we are facing.   We've cooked our meals from scratch most nights.  Freezer meals have been eaten when cooking was impossible.  We've saved water like we usually do and stayed away from the shops.  Yesterday I baked bread and finished making a few cards.  A friend gave me some mini tomatoes which we've eaten with salads when the weather turned warm again.

So this week I thought it would be a fabulous chance for regular commenters and those who lurk around the edges to share their wonderful thrifty ways of the last week or two.

Here's your chance - Share away  

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Your Iron Could Save You Money.

A couple of months ago a friend was telling me she rarely uses her iron due to the easy care clothes they wear.  Her iron makes such a rare appearance that her daughter didn't know what it was or what it does.  She went on to say that I might be one of those few people who irons on a regular basis.  She's right.  I iron once a week or every two weeks if there's very little in the ironing pile.

This got me thinking about living without an iron.  I personally couldn't live without one.  Sure,  an iron helps my family step out into the world looking their very best.  Have you thought about the money saving benefits of using your iron ?

*  Sometimes clothes can dry out of shape.  Instead of throwing a misshapen item of clothing out,  give it an iron.  You'll probably improve it's appearance.

*  Can you sew ?  Even basic hand sewing with a needle and thread or hemming ?  Then an iron can make easy work of hemming.  Cut the jeans or trousers to the right length.  Use your iron to fold up a  neat hem,  then sew it into place.  No need to pay someone to do it for you.

*  Can't sew at all and need to hem something.  You can use hemming tape and an iron to get a neat looking finish.

*  Iron out the wrinkles from saved wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbon and brown paper.

*  Remove wax from clothes.    Scrap of excess wax then place  a paper bag over the wax patch.  Use a low heat on your iron and the paper should absorb the rest.

*  Many business clothes can be washed and ironed at home.  No need to go to the dry cleaners unless it's really really necessary..  

What do you use your iron for ?

Saturday, 13 April 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 13th April 2019

It's been a difficult week to get through.  We've had challenges coming at us left,  right and centre.  Darren and I are fine and we are standing strong in God's love for us.  Please pray for good health,  healing and peace for our loved ones.  Thankyou.

Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Made a double batch of chocolate brownies.  I left a few pieces out for us to eat fresh and the rest went into the freezer for family gatherings.  Chocolate brownies freeze really well.  In fact,  you can't tell they've been frozen.

*  Made chicken stock in the slow cooker with a chicken frame.  The next day I made a big pot of chunky chicken soup.  We had it for two meals and the rest was divided up into single portions for the freezer.  I gave a few to Megan for easy lunches.

*  Started my first ever bottle of vanilla extract.  It should be ready to use in five weeks.

*  Charged all the laptops,  phones and electric toothbrushes on the weekend when electricity is a little cheaper.

*  Made a one kilo batch of yoghurt using frozen yoghurt as a starter.  This is so yummy with fresh fruit for dessert.

*  Made homemade pizza to curb the takeaway urge.  We used about 100 grams of shredded chicken meat on each pizza with our favourite toppings.  Jessica and I love tomato and bbq sauce mixed together,  mixed herbs,  tomatoes,  pineapple and cheese.  Darren loves the same sauces and meat,  mushrooms,  tomato,  cheese,  olives and  anchovies

*  Gratefully received a bunch of silverbeet from my MIL's garden.  We used it in spag bol sauce and with another meal as our green vegetable.

*  Saved the washing machine rinse water,  saved the shower warm up water and saved drink bottle water to reuse around the home and garden.

*  Our chicken feed was getting low so Darren mixed in some quick oats to stretch it until he could get to the feed store.

*  Fed the compost bin every couple of days with kitchen scraps.

*  Made lots of cards using what I already had on hand.

Men's cards

Pictures are from rose books

Some still to be finished

Chocolate brownies

Making vanilla extract.

 What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Prices I Pay For Meat

With meat prices ever increasing,  it can be challenging to feed your family on a budget.  I'll admit,  we are not huge meat eaters.  By that I mean we don't eat big portions of meat with our meals.  On the weekends we eat simpler meals like toasted sandwiches,  homemade chunky soups or leftovers.  This does save us money on the food budget and gives us a chance to use things up.

I don't have a hard and fast rule for meat prices,  but I do work to a limit of what I'll pay per kilo.  My current limits are -

*  Beef Mince - I pay no more than $8 a kilo for the Coles mince.  I must admit,  this seems like an expensive price.  Tasman Meats had mince on sale in February for $5.99 kg and I bought four big trays with maybe 1.5 - 2 kilos per tray.  I portioned the mince out into 250 g lots and bagged it up for the freezer.  Some meals I use two portions eg - meat pie.

*  Chicken Fillets - If I can get them down to $3.99 kg then I buy up really big. Maybe 10 kilos worth.  The most I'd pay is $5.99 kg but at this price I'd have to be desperate for chicken and maybe only buy 1 kilo.

*  Legs of Lamb - $7.99 kg is the only price I'll pay for legs of lamb.  If it's any dearer then we go without and wait until next year's season.  At $7.99kg I'll buy 3 or 4 legs and always try to get the smallest.  This is enough to have lamb once a month with each leg giving the three of us 3 or 4 meals.  When I cook up the leg,  all leftovers are frozen in gravy for the following months.

*  Fish - I pay no more than $10 a kilo for frozen fillets and are usually bought from Aldi.  On the rare occasion I buy salmon from the deli section at Coles for $26 a kilo.  As I said,  it's saved for a rare treat.  Buying from the deli section is cheaper than the pre packaged salmon at $44 per kilo.

*  Corned Silverside - If I can get it for $5.99 then I'm happy and will buy 4 or 5.  I'd probably pay $6.99 kg if the cuts looked good and I was running low.

*  Roast Beef - I'll pay $7.99 kg if there is not too much fat on the meat and the cuts look good.

*  Chicken Drumsticks - I'd be in heaven if I could pay $1.99 kg.  I think those days are gone for now so the top price I'd pay is $3.99 kg.

*  Lamb Chops - I'll pay no more than $8 a kilo but to get it at that price it would have to be on clearance in the supermarket.  Regular prices for forequarter chops are now $16 a kilo.  We eat one chop per person and it's now a rare treat.

*  Whole Chickens -  I'd pay $3.99 kilo but I rarely buy whole chickens.  Drumsticks and fillets are quicker to cook and fillets can be stretched a long way in a meal.

*  Diced Beef - $8 or $9 a kilo is my top price but I have to get it on clearance.

*  Beef Steaks - Are rare in our house.  We bought the Drovers pack from Coles for Australia Day and the steaks were delicious.  I think we paid $22 per kilo but cut the steaks in half so our guests didn't eat too much in one hit ( I had other meat on offer ).

*  Sausages - I buy from Coles for just over $5 a kilo.


Saturday, 6 April 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 6th April 2019

We've had some beautiful Autumn / Mild Summer type weather in Melbourne this week.  Great for drying the washing and great for our energy consumption.  I worked four days this week and did my grocery shopping on my day off.  Of course I spent a fair bit of time at Kurt and Megan's place cuddling Luka.  Megan is getting back onto her feet and able to do small amounts of housework.

Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Made two chocolate cakes and seven little ones.  One cake went to Megan and Kurt,  a smaller one was for us and the little ones went into the freezer for when we are on church morning tea.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Did the grocery shopping for the next five weeks and stuck to the list.  So far I've spent just over $102 with about $17 left from the budget to cover milk and a few fruit and veg for the next five weeks.  Usually I do a monthly shop but I thought I'd see if I can stretch the budget to five weeks.  If it doesn't work i'll go back to monthly.  With fruit and veg increasing in price due to the drought,  I might have to increase our food budget to $150 a month.

*  Stayed away from the shops except for the grocery shopping.  Cuddling Luka is more important than shopping.

*  Fed the compost bin every couple of days with kitchen scraps.

*  Sold one dozen eggs and a jar of jam to a cleaning client.

*  Bought two trays of Lamb Forequarter Chops form Coles at 50% off making them $8 a kilo.  There were six chops on each tray so I'll be freezing them into packs of two for Darren and I.

*  Gratefully received quite a few little tomatoes from a friend.  I'm hoping to use them on homemade pizza on Sunday night.

*  Dried all the washing on the line.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and poured it into the washing machine each day. I also saved the washing machine rinse water as per usual.

*  Froze 10 single serves of leftovers from our dinners.

Slow cooked lamb on mash and spinach

Leftover Massaman beef for the freezer

My lunches a few times this week

Baking bread

What frugal tasks did your complete this week ?

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

DIY Garlic Bread.

I'm not a fan of store bought garlic breads.  They seem to be very heavy and doughy.  I personally haven't bought a garlic bread for the last two decades but they have been served up at gatherings.  I just couldn't see the point and my budget never really allowed for the extra expense.

Garlic and herb breads can be made with bread sticks,  bread rolls or even a loaf of bread.  Take your pick.  Here's how I make mine -

*  Bread stick
*  Butter
*  Dried mixed herbs
*  Garlic powder or dried garlic granules
*  Salt ( if needed )

Cut the bread stick ( or roll ) into slices.
Lay the pieces flat and spread butter on each piece.
Sprinkle garlic,  mixed herbs and salt on each piece of bread.
Stack the bread pieces together and turn the end piece back to front so the buttered side is facing inwards.
Wrap the bread stick in foil and freeze until needed.

To heat up,  turn the oven on to 180 degrees Celsius and place the bread stick on an oven tray then place in the oven.
Heat for 15 minutes then open the foil up slightly and heat for a further 5 - 7 minutes.  Serve.


*  I portion the bread stick into 6 - 7 pieces which is enough for the three of us.  This reduces or eliminates wastage.

*  Garlic bread can be heated under the grill in the oven without the foil.  This method is quicker but you need to keep an eye on it as it can burn quickly.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 30th March 2019

So much has happened since the last frugal post.  I've been busy taking care of Megan,  Kurt and Luka both at the hospital and at their home. This has given Kurt a chance to get some sleep and much needed fresh air.  It's been an absolute pleasure to cook,  clean and do their washing as well as cuddle Luka every chance I get.  I've also had three day of work and my own home to run ( sort of ). Here's what else I've been up to -

*  Cooked meat pies,  spag bol sauce ( with hidden veggies,  linseed meal and oat bran ),  garlic and herb breads,for Megan and Kurt's freezer.  Not a saving for me but a time, money and sanity saver for them

*  Used old bread bags to line our bathroom bins.

*  After making a big pot of spag bol sauce I spooned the remaining tomato paste into an ice cube tray to freeze.

*  Sold one dozen eggs.

*  Fed the compost bin every few days with kitchen scraps.

*  Dried all our washing on the line and clothes horses.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and washing machine rinse water to reuse where possible.

*  Saved a few gift bags and ribbons from baby presents.  Megan is also saving gift bags to reuse in the future.

*  Picked a few raspberries and froze them.  It hasn't been a great season this year.  I did manage to make a few jars of jam a couple of weeks ago.  I still have enough raspberries frozen to make muffins later in the year.

*  Cooked all meals from scratch with one exception.  The night after Luka was born,  Darren and I were on a mercy mission to grab some clothes and bedding for Kurt to sleep at the hospital t( to help look after Megan ).  Both Darren and I had been out ALL day.  We were racing against the clock to get to the hospital before visiting hours were up.  The easiest option was to get Subway just down the road from our place.

*  Baked Anzac biscuits for Megan using dough I had in the freezer.  She rang me about 7.30am from the hospital,  14 hours after Luka was born requesting my Anzac biscuits to snack on.

*  Ate freezer meals a couple of nights.  We also gave Kurt a few freezer meals to eat at the hospital to save a bit of money.  Our freezer meal stockpile has just about run out so we'll be making a point of building it up again ASAP.

*  Refilled the foaming hand wash pumps here and at Megan and Kurt's place using diluted shower gel.

Early morning Anzacs for Megan

From our garden

Making garlic / herb bread

How frugal have you been this week ?

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Our Grandson

Our grandson Luka Stephen Mc Ewan was born on Friday 22nd March at 5.48pm.  He weighed 8lb 1oz and has Megan's brown hair.

Luka is doing well and starting to gain weight.  Megan is slowly recovering from an emergency C Section.  She's getting a little better each day  Kurt is doing a wonderful job of looking after Megan and Luka.  He's become an expert in nappy changes and picking out Luka's clothes when they need changing.

Here are a few photos of our beautiful grandson-

4 days old and holding my finger

Hello everyone

Already pondering life

Nana and Poppy just after Luka was born

Proud Auntie Jess

Saturday, 23 March 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 23rd March 2019

Due to the week long ' Babe Watch " ( as Darren calls it ),  I was unable to do too many frugal tasks.  I've made extra trips out to Megan and Kurt's place to spend time with them while Megan was in early labour ( for 7 days ).  Hopefully I'll have some good news for you all very very shortly.

Here's my little list of frugal tasks -

*  Made a double batch of ANZAC biscuit dough.  I baked some biscuits for us,  some as part of a present for my Dad's birthday and the rest of the dough went into the freezer for future baking.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Gratefully received a few card making supplies at our card making day last Saturday.  I also bought some at heavily reduced prices.  I'm very careful about what I bough and only buy what I need for can see a use for.

*  Gratefully received a bunch of silverbeet from my Mother In Law.

*  Made a batch of Miracle Spray for Megan and Kurt.  They love using it on just about anything and my heart swells with pride when they tell others about it.

*  Made a triple batch of laundry powder.

*  Gave Megan a haircut.

*  We all filled up our cars with petrol at $1.21 per litre.  The next day it went up to $1.54 per litre.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Getting Your Year Into Gear - Emergency Budget

Life can throw unexpected challenges our way.  Being prepared as much as possible is the key to surviving those challenges.

Darren and I have lived with varying work hours our entire married life ( 23 + years ).  We've always had a baseline budget to work with and any extra hours has always been a bonus.

At the start of the year when I was doing all the budgets,  I thought it would be a good idea to write out an emergency budget just in case we are faced with the unexpected like job loss or illness.  When the unexpected  happened in the past,  we've  scrambled as soon a possible to cut our expenses.  Having the emergency budget written out has given us peace of mind.  We feel prepared for anything now.

The emergency budget is a bare bones budget that only includes the day to day expenses like food,  petrol,  chemist, and  haircuts etc etc.

A starting point was to look at our usual budget that includes the above items as well as direct debits for our new car,  Cook Island holiday and  local holidays   As I went through each item / category,  I either cut it out of the budget or cut the alloted amount down to the bare minimum we could survive on.

Of course our holiday and car direct debits could be cut it we need to.  There will always be another chance to go on a holiday.  My new car is not needed for a few years so we'll have the time to save.

The emergency budget included a heavily slashed present / gift budget.  If times were tough,  I'd bake biscuits for presents,  make items from my material stash or make boxed sets of greeting cards from my paper stash.  I've always had an overflowing gift cupboard that could supply presents for a year.  Of course there is my jars of jam and bars of soap I could give.  This is an area I feel in control of.

Our wardrobes have plenty of clean, well looked after clothes and shoes with new socks and  under things bought on sale and stored away.  We could easily go a year without needing new clothes.  If the emergency budget had to be put into action,  clothing would not be included.

Our food budget at the moment is about $120 a month for the three of us.  It sounds impossible,  but if we needed to we could cut it down to $100 a month and grow more food and eat really basic meals and snacks.

Thankfully we are pretty healthy and rarely need to buy anything from the chemist.  Sometimes we have too much money put away for chemist expenses.  So if needed this area could be cut down.

We'd cut pocket money right down to the bare bones.  In other words,  just enough to buy one morning tea per month.

Once I'd written out the emergency budget I'd slashed over $1100 for our monthly budget with a possible extra $200 slashed if it meant the difference between sinking or swimming.

Do you have an emergency budget you can fall back on in hard times ?

Will you consider writing out an emergency budget in the near future ?