Saturday, 20 October 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 20th October 2018

I'll be the first to admit I've been too busy this week to be extremely frugal.   Sunday we were at church then out to lunch.  Monday I was doing the monthly grocery shop plus a couple of loads of washing.  I worked Tuesday to Friday at my cleaning jobs.  Plus there was the usual housework,  Spring planting of veggie seeds and seedlings and a few hours of weeding and planting a few flowers.

Here's what I managed to fit in when I found a few spare minutes -

*  Sold two dozen eggs.

*  Used recycled bread bags to line the bathroom bins.

*  Planted bean,  cucumber and lettuce seeds as well as bean seedlings I'd grown.

*  Dried the washing on the line and clothes horses.

*  Saved shower warm up water,  drink bottle water and washing machine rinse water and reused it all around the house and garden  where I could.

*  Picked silverbeet for two meals.

*  Filled up on petrol when I heard it was going up.  It hasn't risen yet so I'll keep topping up every few days.

*  Gratefully received six daisy plants and one cherry tomato plant from my Dad.  My Dad has a beautiful display of daisies in his front garden.  There are quite a few different colors and the plants have been throwing seedlings that Dad has been digging up and potting.  He's got quite a nursery going under his pergola.

*  Hand washed the dishes most nights.

We'll start picking lettuce next week

The raspberry plants are growing rapidly

The tomato plants we grow each year.

What's on your frugal list for the week ?

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Supermarket Freezer Food.

How often have you walked past the supermarket freezer section and been dazzled by it's contents ? I used to be like that as a newly wed about 18 - 19 years ago. My cooking skills were limited so those prepacked, pre prepared foods looked like heaven to me. 

I'll admit that I bought a frozen lasagne or two. I also bought frozen sticky date puddings, a cheese cake or two, a few pizzas, apple pies, a few frozen meals as well as the staples like frozen vegies, icecream and fish.

At the time, these frozen foods tasted very nice. Divine infact. Then I saw the light or should I say recipe books and the internet. These two sources of information opened up a whole new world to me. I found easy to follow recipes that used normal everyday ingredients. Suddenly that frozen sticky date pudding that I thought was " oh so yummy " didn't have the same appeal any more. I could make it better and cheaper.

I now freeze my own lasagne, leftovers ( my version of a freezer meal ), sticky date puddings in muffin sizes, pizza dough to make my own pizzas and stewed apple to make apple desserts. My grocery budget has shrunk as a result of making my own and I enjoy my own food far more than anything made in a factory.

These days, the only things I buy from the freezer section are bags of fish portions ( not crumbed ) , icecream ( plain vanilla ), pastry ( to make my own yummies ) and beans and corn kernels. Everything else we either grow, bake or cook ourselves. 

The next time you walk past the supermarket freezers, have a think about making these foods yourself. Your family will be thanking you for it and you'll notice a change in your grocery budget.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 13th October 2018

Last weekend Darren and I escaped to Ballarat for a few days.  The miner's cottage we usually stay at has been sold and we are not sure if the new owners will keep it as a bed and breakfast.  We had a booking for early December but had to change it before the new owners take over.

We had a wonderful time relaxing,  shopping at both  Mill Markets ( antique mega stores ),  enjoying morning and afternoon teas out and had a lovely picnic by the lake at Daylesford.   We took all our own snacks,  water bottles,  teabags,  breakfast spreads and a few treats.  The weather was glorious which can be unusual for Ballarat.

Here's what else we got up to this week -

*  Saved $12 on petrol by activating and using an offer from Flybuys in their phone app.  We used the 10 cents a litre discount to fill up both our cars.

*  Used our Flybuys card to pay for our groceries while we were in Ballarat.  Every time we get to 2000 points,  Darren converts it into $10 and loads it onto the card.  A great little bonus for doing our usual shopping at Coles and Kmart.

*  Donated a couple of bags of unwanted items to Savers and received a few discount stamps.  They only allow one stamp per day so I make sure I do a few trips when driving by to really make my donation count.

*  Dried all the washing on the line.

*  Refilled and diluted the shampoo and conditioner pump bottles.  I diluted them by 1/3.

*  When we left our accommodation to come home,  we took all the food that was included in the price for our breakfasts.  We took home a couple of pieces of fruit,  a box of orange juice,  milk and a small tub of  margarine

*  Converted $20 worth of Flybuys points into money.

*  Picked silverbeet from our garden to include in two main meals.  Broccoli isn't cheap at the moment so the silverbeet is our ' green ' vegetable on our plates.

*  Found lots of great presents at Savers.  I found new pizza trays ( with the holes in it ) for $2.99,  Royal Albert bits and pieces,  Tupperware hamburger presses for $3.99,  brand new cook books for $2.99,  baby coat hangers for Megan and  a table runner for $2.99 ( I might keep that one ).  I've made a fantastic start on the present list for 2019 and 2020.

*  Bought hard cover Mr Men books at The Mill Market in Ballarat.  They were $10 for 5 and they are in excellent condition.  I'll be putting them away for when our future grand children come to visit.

*  We received out electricity bill and saved $21 compared to the same time last year.  It might not be much but with power prices skyrocketing,  we are very happy with the saving.

*  Cut the end off a shower moisturiser tube to scrape out the last of the contents.

*  Fed weeds,  bread and grass to the chickens.

*  Darren emptied both compost bins into the veggie garden.

The miner's cottage

Mill Market buy

Apricots growing on our tree.

I've set up a new Facebook group called Aussie Bargain Shoppers where everyone can share any bargains or specials they see when out and about.  

It's closed group so click on the button ' Visit Group ' at the top right hand side and that will take you to the closed group.  Press the join button,  answer the three question and we'll add you to the group.

How did you save time,  money or energy this week ?

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

3 Easy Chicken Marinades / Sauces

Once there was a time when all our chicken dishes were covered in a sauce that came from a jar.  I thought it was yummy.  Darren and the girls loved it ,  but we didn't know any better.  Then I needed to slash the grocery budget to free up some extra money.  Mr Google was helpful for ideas on how to make my own marinades as well as my own common sense.

I don't know how to make lemon chicken the conventional way.  Infact,  I've never looked for the recipe.  I just sort of made these recipes up in my head and tried them out on my family.  The feedback was positive and now the following recipes are firm favourites in our home.

The following recipes I've used on chicken pieces like drumsticks.  There's no need to measure anything.  Just a good squirt of this and that and adjust to your own personal taste.

Honey / soy - In a small bowl add a good squirt of honey and microwave for 20 seconds until runny. Then add a slightly smaller squirt of soy sauce. Mix together and brush over chicken. Season with garlic, pepper, parsley and onion flakes

Lemon chicken - squeeze 1 lemon over the chicken pieces. Season with salt, pepper, garlic, onion flakes and chives. Slice another lemon and place over each chicken piece.

Saucy chicken - use equal parts tomato and bbq sauce. Mix together with 1 - 2 teaspoons of mustard powder. Brush over chicken and season with salt and pepper.

Generally chicken pieces need to be cooked for 40 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.  To intensify the flavour,  baste the chicken half way through the cooking time with juices from the bottom of the pan.
Honey Soy Chicken Drumsticks

Saturday, 6 October 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 6th October 2018

Here are this week's frugal tasks -

*  Made potato cakes for lunch using leftover potato mash from dinner the night before.  They are super yummy and it's amazing how far one large spoonful of potato mash stretches when you add seasonings and a little grated cheese.

*  Gratefully received lots of glass jars from my parents.

*  Juiced a few more lemons and froze the juice.

Cleaned the kettle with citric acid.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Found two cot sheet sets for $5 each from Savers.

*  Decluttered another bag of items,  donated them to Savers and received a discount stamp.

*  Sold one dozen eggs.

*  Dried most of the washing on the line.  Some was dried on clotheshorses and the rest went into the dryer.

*  Gratefully received some water crackers and cheese from a friend.

*  Made up two big bottles of foaming hand wash.  I like to have it on hand ready to refill the pumps if I'm in a hurry.

*  Gifted a jar of homemade jam,  a bar of handmade soap and a candle ( store bought )  to a friend for her birthday.  It's so easy to get presents together when I have these things all year round in my present cupboard.

*  Mended one of Darren's jumpers.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and used it to water the bean seedlings I've been growing.

Birthday flowers from Darren

Flowers from Jessica

Jessica made this for me.  Very yummy  !!

How did you save time,  money or energy this week ?

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Coconut And Olive Oil Soap

Recently I was given a couple of bottles of olive oil and a few jars of coconut oil.  I haven't been game to use the coconut oil in cooking so I did a bit of internet research to find a new soap recipe..

This recipe is classified as a hot process recipe which requires the oils to be heated to a certain temperature then combined with the lye mixture.  I didn't have a candy thermometer at the time so I  just used my judgement and let the lye cool for 15 - 20 minutes before adding the warmed oils.

We just started using this soap in the shower and so far so good. I've priced a very similar soap selling in an eco store called The Source and it sells for $9.95.  It's marketed as a shampoo bar that comes unwrapped.  It's a slightly larger bar and the only difference I could see in the ingredients list was Castor oil was used in theirs and a few scents and colorings.

  • 1 pound (16 ounces or 453.6 grams) coconut oil
  • 1 pound (16 ounces or 453.6 grams) olive oil
  • 0.303 pounds Caustic Soda (4.844 ounces or 137.339 grams)
  • 0.760 pounds water ( 12.16 ounces or 344.73 grams)
  • Up to 1 ounce of essential oils of choice (optional)
  • Stick blender,  spatula,  rubber gloves for hands,  cling wrap,  moulds,  hand towels and trays to put the moulds on.

Carefully measure out all your ingredients before you start heating the oils.

Into a large icecream container or metal bowl, add the Caustic Soda to the water and stir until the liquid becomes clear and the Caustic Soda dissolves. Let  the mixture sit for 15 - 20 minutes until it feels warm, not hot  PLEASE do not dip your finger in but feel the warmth from the outside of the container

While the Caustic Soda ( Lye ) is cooling,  gently heat up the olive and coconut oils in a saucepan until they reach 48 degrees Celsius.

Gently and slowly add the warmed oils to the lye mixture and stir.

Using a stick blender combine mixture until it reaches trace.  This looks like thickened custard. You may need to rest the blender every few minutes.  Turn it off and use the blender to stir.

Pour into silicon moulds,  place cling wrap and hand towels over the top.  Place in a safe place to cool and harden.

Start using your soap within a few days.

Here are links to the other soap recipes I use -

Saturday, 29 September 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 29th September 2018

This week has seen me move my cleaning jobs around to accommodate the public holiday on Friday. Housework was slotted in around work,  gardening cooking and baking.  I'm a person who thrives on schedules and order so to have a topsy turvy week was a challenge for me.

For those who did not see my post on Facebook,  Darren and I announced we will be grandparents next March with Megan and her boyfriend Kurt expecting a baby.  We are excited,  a little nervous and suddenly feeling about 20 years older.  I've made lots of trips to Savers ( ok,  more than  usual ) to buy up on baby clothes,  a baby bath,  blankets and other goodies.  It's amazing what good quality things people donate and the cheap prices they are sold for.

Here's what else I got up to this week -

*  Made up two bottles of diluted Dynamo laundry liquid.  Usually I use my homemade laundry powder but work uniforms need something with a fragrance to cut through the grease smell.

*  Made a whole orange cake using a couple of small oranges given to me last week.  I'm hoping to freeze the rest of the oranges for future baking.

*  Donated a couple of bags of goodies to Savers and received a 20% off discount stamp.

*  Made up two bottles of diluted Windex window cleaner.  It still works just as good as the full strength.  The diluted ratio is 50: 50

*  Made two bottles of Miracle Spray to sell to a couple of cleaning clients.

*  Made chunky chicken and veg soup.  First I made  stock in the slow cooker using one drumstick,  one wing and bones from a quarter of chicken.   Then I made the soup on the stove top.  There was plenty of meat and the soup made seven portions for the freezer.

*  Froze leftovers from chop suey and  spag bol.

*  Fed weeds,  Spring grass and bread crusts to the chickens.

*  Picked silverbeet to add to two meals.

*  Megan,  Kurt and I went to Savers to buy baby clothes and maternity clothes.  I was able to give them a discount card with 20% off on it.  This saved them $16.

*  Picked flowers from the garden to brighten up my kitchen.

*  Sold two dozen eggs.

*  Dried the washing on the line.  I changed my wash days to suit the weather.

*  Gratefully received more lemons.

From the garden

Selling excess eggs

Silverbeet added to chop suey.  Yum

How did you save money this week ?

Have you tried a new frugal task lately ?

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Budget Party Food For Kids ( Or Adults )

About 4 years ago,  Jessica was turning 17 and deciding how to celebrate her birthday without blowing the family budget.  Money was super tight back then with Darren only working one day a week and myself cleaning homes two days a week.  We've always celebrated each birthday with a party or dinner out no matter how much money we've had.  Birthdays are important and worthy of a celebration.

After much deliberation Jessica decided to have four or five of her friends over to watch a movie.  Homemade sausage rolls and mini quiches were on the list.  For sweets she decided on a few slices and MOO ( make our own ) sundaes.  MOO sundaes have been a big hit with the teens. We've just  put out a tub of no name vanilla icecream, choc topping, nuts and a few bowls of small lollies and let the teens design their own desserts.

Other party food I've made in previous years for my girls have been -

Honey joys
Fruit platters
Mini pizzas
Mini muffins
Jelly and custard cups
Spag bol
Homemade hamburgers
Bbq ( generally sausages in bread with toppings )
Dip and biscuit platters
Scones, jam and cream
Choc brownies
Lemon slice

As well as the sausage rolls and mini quiches. I've found homemade food is a bigger hit than a bowl of chips. Over the years I've also cut down on the food too as ' less is more ' seems to work better. It reduces food waste and reduces the cost.

Whatever food I make is made on a budget and most of the ingredients I already have.  The money comes out of my food slush fund so that I don't break the budget. Generally for a larger party I make three savoury dishes and three sweet.

Mini quiches

Apple rose pastries



Sausage rolls

How do you cater for kids / teenager birthday gatherings ?

What is your family's favourite party food ?

Saturday, 22 September 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 22nd September 2018

I've enjoyed the beautiful Spring weather this week and tried to make the most of it.   The chickens ran around the backyard,  Princess watched on with interest and I weeded,  watered and pottered around in the glorious sunshine.  Here's what else I got up to -

*  Gratefully received apples from a friend.

*  Gratefully received some card making supplies from a friend.

*  Tidied up my pantry,  wrote a menu plan for the next four weeks then wrote out the shopping list.

*  Sold two dozen eggs. We now have three out of four chickens laying.

*  When grocery shopping on Monday I picked up sausages,  casserole steak and diced beef on clearance.

*  Made 17 hamburger patties from 1 kilo of beef mince.  By adding an egg,  seasoned bread crumbs  seasonings and two finely grated carrots I added just over 400 grams to the total weight of the meat making it stretch further.  I've frozen then for future bbqs and the up coming Grand Final day.

*  Saved shower warm up water to use on the veggie seedlings and mango trees.  Saved the washing machine rinse water for each next load.  Saved water from drink bottles to soak dirty saucepans.  Every little bit helps and we do see a small reduction in our water bill.

*  Received and used a $20 voucher from the Good Guys department store.  When we bought our fridge last year we bought an extended warranty for another few years.  We don't normally buy extended warranties but we've had trouble with new fridges and freezers over the last few years.  The extended warranty offers $20 vouchers 3 - 4 times a year for the life of the warranty so effectively we get our money back.  This time I used the voucher to put towards a Christmas present for Darren.

*  Made salmon patties in bulk.  From two tins of salmon I made 34 patties.  We had some for dinner that night and the rest were divided into meal sizes and frozen

*  Made more pita chips for snacks.  I baked them in the oven while I was cooking a chicken flan for dinner at the same time.  We seem to be eating a fair few of them lately.  Then make great nachos without the preservatives and colorings that corn chips have.

*  Made pumpkin scones from a pumpkin given to us.  Most went into the freezer to be enjoyed at afternoon tea time.

*  Filled up both our cars just before petrol skyrocketed again.  I got petrol for $1.41 and Darren got it for $1.43.  The price jumped to $1.67 the next day.

*  Gratefully received lemons and oranges.

*  Found trays of chicken drumsticks in Coles reduced to $3.20 per kilo.  They are decent sized drumsticks so we'll only need one each when I serve them.

Grocery total so far including the chicken drumsticks $110.15

Pumpkin scones

Hamburger patties ready to freeze

Plum tree in full bloom

Using a supermarket crate to grow more strawberry plants.

Are you making the most of the Spring weather ?

Do you have anything edible growing in your backyard ? 

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

My Monthly Grocery Shop Sept / Oct 2018

As you are probably aware,  I feed my family on a very tight budget.  At the moment I'm feeding three adults and one cat.  For the last 4 - 5 months the grocery budget has been $120 per month including basic cleaning supplies and toiletries.  It has been tight some months with either no money left over or needing to use the grocery slush fund to make it to the end of the month.

Due to this I've increased the grocery budget to $150 per month.  Sept / Oct is the first grocery shop with the new budget.  We'll see how I go.  Lots of readers have asked for my shopping list to see what I'm buying.  I don't mind sharing but typing out all the items and prices would be time consuming. So here are the photos and receipts of the purchases so far -






If you are wondering where the rest of the food is,  please remember I have a very good stockpile of pretty much everything.  I have enough toilet paper,  toothpaste,  toothbrushes,  deod,  shampoo,  conditioner and makeup for the next year or two.  I make my own soap instead of using shower gel and Darren uses it instead of shampoo.

Generally once or twice a year I stock up on herbs,  spices,  dried fruit and nuts from Hindustan Imports.  Occasionally I pop in for a couple of items that are running low.

I have enough roast beef and silverside in the freezer for the next few months at least.  I still have enough chicken drumsticks for four meals and one whole chicken.  We ran out of chicken fillets a couple of months ago but because the prices are too dear at the moment,  we are doing without.  I have two legs of lamb in the freezer waiting for a special occasion.  Each leg does about 3 - 4 meals.  The mince I bought this month is to make hamburger patties.  I still have about 3 kilos of mince in the freezer to use for other dishes.

When I did this shop I still had half a cauliflower,  one kilo of carrots,  half a pumpkin, eight potatoes and a few frozen veggies on hand.  Soon we'll be picking our own silverbeet on a very regular basis.  The mushrooms and tomatoes in the photo were for homemade pizza on Monday night.

We are not big fruit eaters in the cooler weather but I still had mandarins in the fridge and was gifted apples from a friend. 

Over the next few weeks I'll be popping into the shops to top up on milk,  fruit and veg as needed.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 15th September 2018

Darren and I have enjoyed the lovely Spring weather this week.  We've just started to get back into the garden to tidy up after a long cold Winter.  The raspberry plants are sprouting,  the plum tree ( small plant ) is in full bloom and the rest of the fruit trees are showing signs of new growth.

Here's what we got up to this week -

*  Made 7 jars of plum jam using fruit I froze from last Summer.  Some of these jars will be given as Christmas presents.

*  Saved tissue paper from a pair of new shoes ( in the shoe box ).  This tissue paper is great for adding to a gift bag.

*  Bought a pair of boots for next winter in Kmart for $7.  Bought Darren two pairs of Winter pjs reduced to $6 a pair.

*  Replanted our strawberry plants and weeded the area.    I also feed them with Seasol.  Hopefully they'll do better this coming season and give us enough fruit to make jam as well as eating fresh fruit.

*  Let the chickens free range while Darren and I sorted out the strawberry patch.  The chickens had a great feed of weeds and snails.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Made up two bottles of double strength Miracle Spray.

*  Watered the veggie seeds I planted last week with saved warm up shower water.

*  Froze 7 single serves of leftovers.  We are starting to get a big stockpile so it's time to write ' freezer meals ' into the menu plan.

*  Dried all the washing on the line.  I'm so happy Spring is here.  It's the money saving season with less heating being used,  no air con needed,  washing on the line and more daylight ( not needing to turn lights on as often ).

*  Gratefully received lots of bread bags from a charity bbq.  They will be used to line bins,  wrap meat and to cover bowls in the fridge.

*  Picked silverbeet from the garden for two meals.

*  Juiced and froze the last of the lemons.

*  Portioned the remaining amount of tomato paste into ice cube trays and froze.

My new $7 boots

Jam making

Strawberry patch replanted

In the garden.

How frugal was your week ?

Are you getting back into the garden ?


Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Growing Vegetables Saves Money

Spring is a great time to get outside and get your garden in order before the Summer heat arrives. Spring is also the time to plant lettuce, tomato, corn, beans, zucchini, cuccumber, silverbeet and a variety of other vegetable seeds.

When starting a vegetable garden for the first time, it's best to start off small. Pick two or three vegetables for the first year and see how you go. Then for the following years add an extra one or two as your confidence and knowledge improves. By doing it this way you're not shelling out a small fortune.

Many vegetables can be grown in pots as well as a garden bed. Growing vegetables in pots can be a great option for those who are renting or who are elderly. You can place the pots on a plant stand or an old table. When the Summer heat arrives, the plants can be moved out of the searing heat. Just make sure the pots are reasonably deep and you feed and water the plants regulary as they can dry out quickly

Growing your own vegetables is an easy way to reduce your grocery budget. For example, lettuce can be grown all year round for just a couple of dollars. The salad mix variety looks pretty with all it's different colors. It's good for you and you can pick as much or as little as you need for each meal. Lettuce prices in the supermarkets vary for $1 - $3 so growing you own could save you a small fortune.

For the last few years we've been able to grow enough tomatoes to pick for our Summer salads as well as cooking and freezing about 30 tins worth.  All for about $4 for a punnet of seedlings.

Silverbeet can be grown all year round and makes a wonderful addition to chop suey,  spag bol,  lasagne and dishes that need a green.  When broccoli and cauliflower are too expensive to buy,  I just pick a few leaves from the veggie garden and lightly cook.  This becomes our ' green ' on the dinner plate.

Cos lettuce

Mixed lettuce

From our backyard


Will you be growing vegetables for the first time this year ?

Have you planted your seeds or seedlings this Spring ?