Saturday, 18 September 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 18th September 2021

 Darren and I try to stay busy each day with various tasks around our home and garden.  Spring arrived this month but we've had many days of high winds and cold weather.  Still,  we try to get outside each day even if it's just to do an inspection of the garden to see what's happening.  

Darren is now staying home every day due to the current lockdowns and the effects they've had on the hospitality industry he works in.   We are making the most of this situation by finishing off small home maintenance jobs,  painting trims,  doors and our bedroom.  I'll be spending more time crafting and posting various handmade items for sale on my Facebook pages in the lead up to Christmas.

Here's what else we've been up to - 

*  Cleaned the dishwasher using bi carb and vinegar.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Made pita chips for snacking.

*  Made plum sauce for the first time in 20 years.  I used the plums from the freezer that my Dad gave me last Summer.

*  Made chicken stock in the slow cooker then turned it into a big saucepan of chunky chicken and vegetable soup.  We had some for dinner that night and the rest was divided into single serves and frozen.

*  Made tomato relish using tomatoes we grew last Summer and froze.  We will be giving some of the relish and plum sauce as presents.  Some will be consumed by ourselves and a few will be sold to a friend.   

*  Baked and sold chocolate choc chip muffins to a friend who needed them for a couple of vulnerable family members.

*  Sold a few jars of homemade jam and tomato relish to a friend who requested them.

*  Sprayed white vinegar on a couple of bathroom towels that were getting a bit smelly.  I let them sit for about 10 minutes while I sorted out the washing then washed and line dried them.  They now smell like the great outdoors.

*  Took a few more cuttings of plants in our garden.  I'm not sure of the names ( other than lavender ) but I will post photos when they grow. 

*  Darren planted out many flower and vegetable seeds from the Woolworths seed give away ( 2019 / 2020 ).  He is pleased to announce that many of them have sprouted.   When you can't go to Bunnings to select and buy plants,  you make the most of what you have on hand.

*  Saved the washing machine rinse water and shower warm up water and poured it all into the washing machine.

*  Used old bread bags to line our bathroom bins.  This saves me from washing the bin inserts.

Tomato relish

Plum sauce

Do you have plans to makes sauces,  jams and relishes this Summer ?  Do you give some as presents ?

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

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Homemade Laundry Liquid

 Just recently I thought I'd make laundry liquid for a change.  I've been making laundry powder for more than 10 years and although it's great,  I do get powder residue on the clothes from time to time  

After doing some research on YouTube I gave it a go a few months ago and have been quite happy with the results.  Keep in mind Darren and I do not have filthy,  grotty clothes and if we do have stains,  I treat them with Miracle Spray.

Here's the recipe I've come up with

400 grams of finely zested pure laundry soap

2 cups of bi carb of soda

2 cups of washing soda

1 cup of laundry soaker powder ( I used Aldi Di San brand )

Lots of water

In a large saucepan place the zested laundry soap and 2 litres of hot water.

Place the saucepan on a low heat and stir until the soap has dissolved.

Take the saucepan off the heat and pour into a 20 litre bucket.

Add 10 litres of warm to hot water and add all the other ingredients

Stir until well combined then add cold water until it reaches almost to the top of the bucket.

Stir well.

Half fill up 2 litre plastic bottles with the laundry liquid and top up with cold water. I used old vinegar bottles.

Give the bottles a good shake to combine.


Give the bottle a good shake then pour about 150 - 200 mls of liquid to your load of washing.

Soap and water dissolving in a saucepan

Some of the ingredients

Have you made laundry liquid before ?

Do you have a recipe to share ?

Saturday, 11 September 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 11th September 2021

It's been another week in lockdown and boy,  have we been busy.  We are trying to make the most of the extra time at home knowing that when things open up,  I'll be working again,  shopping ( just a little bit ),  visiting and going on small road trips.  

This week I've spent some time at the sewing machine,  tidied my craft room ( just a little ) and wiped out a few cupboards.  It's Spring cleaning time after all and I'm trying to get different things cleaned each week before the Summer heat sets in.

Here's what we've been up to this week -

*  Made and sold some face masks for people in Sydney and South Australia.

*  Picked silverbeet,  lettuce and broccoli from our garden.  

*  Made up a 2 litre bottle of Miracle Spray and sold it to a friend.

*  Baked a batch of ANZAC biscuits using dough from the freezer.  I bagged up some of the biscuits to add to my Dad's Fathers Day present that Darren dropped off on his doorstep.  I also added a box of bread improver from my stockpile knowing Dad would use it to bake his bread.   Dad rang later and was thrilled with the present.  He was so low on bread improver and had no way of getting more due to the lockdown restrictions.  God knew my Dad's need and prompted my heart to add the bread improver to the gift.

*  Darren cooked 5 individual chicken and vegetable pies using 1/4 piece of bbq chicken leftover from Father's Day.  The pies were delicious and the rest were frozen for future eating.  I think Darren has his eye on one for the AFL Grand Final.

*  Saved more Penstemon seeds by putting the seed head in a paper bag and giving it a good shake.  I'll be planting the seeds in the next few days.

*  Sold almost all of the apron cards to friends on FB.  Thankyou for your support.  It's helping us more than you'll ever know.

*  Cooked up a big pot of spag bol sauce.  I added TPV,  silverbeet and carrots to stretch the meat.  From 1 kilo of beef mince I got 20 serves of sauce.  We had spag bol for dinner that night and the rest of the sauce was divided up into portions for two and frozen.  

*  Darren baked a batch of raspberry and white chocolate muffins for our morning teas.  Some were kept in the pantry and the rest were frozen.  By freezing most of them they don't have a chance of being wasted or spoiling.

*  Cleaned the kettle with citric acid.

*  Fed weeds,  aphid infested kale and bread crusts to the chickens to supplement their feed.

*  Made up 40 litres of laundry liquid using ingredients I had on hand.  I'll be posting the recipe shortly.

*  Darren emptied one of our compost bins and added it to one of our front yard garden beds.  Darren has been pulling out old plants that had become overgrown.  The soil is lacking in nutrients so the compost will be a welcome addition.

*  I took cuttings from a few different plants in our garden.  If they strike they'll be planted in the bare garden bed mentioned above.

Raspberry and white chocolate muffins

Darren's chicken pie

Princess enjoying the sun

Melting soap for laundry liquid

Cards I've been selling

How have you saved time,  money or energy this week ?

What are you looking forward to when lockdown finish ?

Saturday, 4 September 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 4th September 2021

It's been a mixed bag here in Melbourne.  We've had a few warm days of 26 degrees which was wonderful and great gardening weather.  We've also had cold days and lots of rain which has been  good for the garden. 

Our lockdowns have been extended until late September with a possibility of October.  I don't mind the lockdowns but I'd really like to get my hair colored.  I know,  first world problems.  It's my only luxury  Darren is getting desperate for warm weather clothes.  He's lost a lot of weight this year and pretty much nothing fits.  Our grandson Luka is growing out of his clothes and Megan is having to buy everything online instead of shopping at the op shops first.

At least the lockdowns are giving us extra time to grow more food,  makeover our front yard and do small maintenance jobs around our home.

Here's what we've been up to this week -

*  Went to the supermarket to buy mushrooms for a slow cooker meal.  The ticket said $3 for 500g.  I was charged $6 at the checkout.  Thankfully I noticed the mistake and went to the service desk to have the difference refunded.  They refunded the whole amount.  Such a blessing.

*  Megan found heavily reduced beef steaks in the supermarket.  They were just under $4 each for a large steak with a saving of $18.  She dropped one of on our front door step.  From that one steak I made two casseroles that gave us 13 serves in total.  I made Massaman Beef and Beef Stroganoff.  I cooked them in my slow cookers and all leftovers were frozen.  Cook once,  eat three times is fantastic.

*  Planted the Dutch Cream potatoes I bought last week.

*  I had a catering order for spag bol sauce for a cleaning client.

*  Dried the washing on the line and clothes horses.  

*  I was able to work one day this week.  One of my clients organised a work permit for me ( our current lockdown requirement ).  Their home was getting a bit dirty and they had gone to their farm for the weekend so I was able to clean with no one in the house.

*  Picked the last of the lemons off the tree.

*  Fed kale and broccoli leaves to the chickens.

*  Turned standby lights off when appliance were not in use.  I also went around the house each night turning the landline phone chargers off and the doorbell.

*  Made hamburger patties in bulk to freeze.  We had hamburgers for dinner one night to satisfy a slight takeaway craving.  We are only human.

*  Saved water as per usual.

*  Lockdown saved us money by eating at home for our wedding anniversary on Thursday.  I cooked lamb shanks in the slow cooker with a tomato and veggie  sauce / gravy.  They were served over a bed of potato mash.  The dinner cost $11 plus our bottle of Appletiser ( sparkling apple juice ).

Casseroles in the slow cooker

Lamb shank anniversary dinner

Hamburgers at home

How do you satisfy takeaway cravings without spending extra money ?

How did you save money this week ?

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Furniture Makeovers - My Very First Attempt

 Earlier this year I purchased a timber chest of drawers on Marketplace for $40.  When Darren arrived home with the drawers,  I was quite surprised to find the drawers have metal runners which is a bonus.  There was a lose handle,  a little water damage on top and some sticker residue that needed removing.  Other than that,  the drawers were in pretty good condition.  I just didn't like the color.

Over the last 3 or 4 weeks I've spent many hours working on the drawers.  I've learnt to use an electric sander,  filled in little nicks and scratches and painted 2 undercoats and 3 top coats ( 4 in some places ).

Darren helped me with attaching the new handles.  I'd bought these from Bunnings before our previous lockdown.

Just as I was nearing the finish line with the drawers,  a certain little grandson thought it would be a good idea to paint his Mum's bedside table with nail polish.  Megan can't paint furniture with two little toddlers on the go so she gave the bedside table to me to restore for our use.

Late last week I finished painting both pieces and I must say,  I love the new look.  We now have beautiful furniture for our spare room.

Drawers in original condition.

Just finished sanding

The finished product

The new handles

The bedside table Megan gave us to restore

The paint I used.

Have you restored / upcycled old furniture ?

Saturday, 28 August 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 28th August 2021

 We've tried to keep busy each day as lockdown continues.  We've now spent 210 days in lockdown since March last year.  Thankfully Darren and I love being at home but it sure would be nice to go for a drive somewhere.

Unfortunately we had to cancel another big holiday we were due to go on this week.  It was meant to be a replacement holiday for the cancelled Cook Island holiday for our 25th wedding anniversary from last year.  It's getting really hard to plan anything at the moment.  Oh well,  the world will have a big grand reopening sometime and we'll enjoy it even more.

Here's what we got up to this week - 

*  Planted more potatoes from our pantry that were sprouting.  I also planted lettuce seeds and over 50 dwarf bean seeds.  I'm outside every day checking to see if any have broken through the soil.  Any day now.

*  Sewed and sold a few face masks as requested by Facebook readers.

*  Made 2 pots of soup.  One was made from chicken stock I'd frozen earlier this year.  The other pot of soup was made from pumpkin given to us and a cauliflower from our garden.  I added a couple of potatoes and soup mix and it made a delicious soup.  I've frozen a few serves to eat on cold days.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Picked cauliflower,  silverbeet and spinach from the garden.

*  Sold another bundle of handmade men's greeting cards.

*  Sanded a couple of timber chopping boards.  They were starting to get a little rough so a sanding was needed.  I rubbed them with vegetable oil to finish off.  They look like new again.

*  Saved the washing machine rinse water and shower warm up water.  All of it was poured back into the washing machine.

*  Darren attached a new chicken feeder to the chicken coop.  It's been working well and it looks like the native birds are not eating the feed.  A big saving for us.

*  Bought a 1 kilo bag of seed potatoes from Aldi for $7.99.  This is $2 cheaper than other places we've seen them.  I don't usually buy seed potatoes after not having much success with them.  These ones are Dutch Cream ( our favourite ).  If we don't get a good harvest from them then we'll stick to planting potatoes from my pantry.

*  Turned the heater down just a little on the milder days.

*  Restored two pieces of furniture.  I'll have a big reveal next week.

*  Darren baked biscuits using dough from the freezer.  He also baked some gluten free cup cakes for a friend.

My chicken shaped chopping board.

Face mask order for kiddies

Seed potattoes

Plum tree blossoms.

How have you saved money this week ?

Have you had success planting seed potatoes ?


Saturday, 21 August 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 21st August 2021

 Darren and I have enjoyed plenty of time out in our garden this week.  The weather has been mild some days so we tried to make the most of it and plan / plant for Spring / Summer harvest. Due to the tighter lockdown restrictions I am unable to work for at least the next two weeks.    Thankfully I have plenty of projects on the go around our home to keep me busy.

Here's what we've been up to this week -

*  Saved a few Penstemon seeds from our garden.  I think I was a little late in collecting them so I've cut off a few almost dry seed heads and put them in a paper bag to collect more.

*  Baked lots of ANZAC biscuits using dough from the freezer.

*  Dried all the washing on the line or clothes horses.

*  Juiced more lemons and froze the juice.

*  Made up a bottle of surface spray,  shower cleaner and toilet cleaner using various ratios of diluted kitchen detergent and water.

*  Wrote out a menu plan for the next 6 weeks.  I was on a roll and kept on planning.

*  Baked choc,  choc chip muffins for a family in need and froze some for ourselves.

*  Gratefully received some food blessings from friends and a family member.

*  Planted Aster and Alyssum flower seeds.  These will fill in a few gaps in our garden.

*  Added 7 premade meals to the freezer.  I'm really enjoying the 'cook once,  eat three times ' approach to meal preparation.

*  Replanted 20 new strawberry plants I grew as runners last season.  Strawberry plants generally produce fruit for 2 - 3 years and should be replaced accordingly.  This is why I encouraged runners at the end of last Summer.  

*  Planted 4 more sprouting potatoes I found in my pantry.

*  Darren fed the compost bins with lawn clippings and kitchen scraps.

*  Planted lettuce seeds and spaced out a few silverbeet seedlings.

Sprouting potatoes from the pantry.

Our potato plants are looking healthy

Lettuce in abundance

Silverbeet seedlings

New strawberry plants.

Here is my monthly grocery shop so far.  I'll be buying milk and a few veggies weekly for the next 3 weeks.  So far I've spent just under $60.  Please keep in mind we are picking greens from our garden,  have corn cobs and broccoli frozen from last summer as well as a few packets of green beans in the freezer.

We have a good amount of beef mince,  fish,  silverside and sausages in the freezer as well as lots of precooked meals.

Our pantry and bathroom cupboards are fairly well stocked so the groceries I bought are to replace what we used recently.

Do you have plans for your Winter / Summer garden ?

What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Our $100 A Month Grocery Budget - Part 2

 Last week I wrote about how we've been eating well for $100 a month since February 2020. Some months I can have $20 - $30 leftover.  This is always put into the grocery slush fund for when we do need it.

Here are the other tricks and tips I've been using to keep our food bill so low -

*  Dinner leftovers are portioned out and frozen that night.  Even the smallest amount is frozen and eaten at a later date either as a lunch ( rarely ) or extras like rice are added to make it a complete meal.

*  Adding extra vegetables to casseroles and stews gives us extra portions.

*  Baking cheaper treats like scones,  muffins and cakes.   Biscuits are still baked but I'm careful about the cost of the ingredients.

*  Sour cream,  cream and icecream are only purchased if we have a real need for them,  not a want.  Sour cream and cream does tend to be thrown out before we can safely use it all.

*  When I do buy meat it's usually beef mince,  chicken drumsticks,  fish portions ( not crumbed ),   beef sausages and tinned fish like tuna.

*  Writing out a menu plan for 4 - 6 weeks at a time and being careful to use up meals that have been frozen.

*  Only buying sauces / condiments we actually use. This means sticking to the basics like tomato,  bbq,  worchestershire,  soy,   mint.   Not that we bought too many that we didn't use up.  

A Summer garden haul

Adding vegetable to a pasta dish

Portioning leftovers for the freezer

Have you cut out unnecessary groceries on your shopping list ?

Saturday, 14 August 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 14th August 2021

We might be in lockdown here in Melbourne,  but I'm not sure where my week has gone.  We have lots of spare time on our hands even with the small amount of work we still have.  Maintaining a clean home,  putting food on the table each night and growing a garden are no small tasks.  Maybe I just feel like nothing big or remarkable has been achieved this week.

Still,  we a grateful and blessed for the life we lead and even more blessed to have a decent sized backyard to enjoy during these challenging times.

Here's what we got up to this week - 

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.  Used recycled bread bags to store the bread in the freezer.

*  Baked a batch of pumpkin scones using the pumpkin we were blessed with.  

*  Gratefully received 12 roti breads from a cleaning client who made them fresh while we were cleaning their home.  They have a roti bread machine on their kitchen bench and the husband sat there making them for us.

*  Gratefully received a container of pumpkin soup from Megan who dropped it off for us.  We'll be having it for lunch today with some of the roti breads.

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

*  Picked kale,  silverbeet,  lemons,  lettuce and spinach from our garden.

*  Darren mowed the lawn and gave some of the clippings to the chickens to enjoy.  The rest of the clippings went into the compost bin.

*  Baked ANZAC biscuits and choc chip biscuits using homemade dough from the freezer.

*  Froze leftovers of honey mustard chicken.

*  Turned electronic standby lights off and turned the doorbell off each night.

*  One of our chickens started laying eggs again.  The other chicken has been a freeloader for more than 3 years.

*  Pruned a wayward lavender plant and kept some of the flowers to put in a vase.

*  Dried the washing on the line when we had milder days.  The rest of the washing was dried on clothes horses over ducted heating vents.

Baking day

From our chicken

A blessing

Our roti bread blessing

From the garden

How have you saved time,  money and energy this week ?

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Our $100 A Month Grocery Budget - Part 1

Due to the uncertain times we live in and irregular work hours over the last 18 months, we have been spending just $100 a month for food,  toiletries and cleaning products.  At times,  that money has stretched to feed up to 5 people depending on who's coming and going in our home at dinnertime.  The $100 includes food and supplies for our cat as well as three meals a day for Darren and I.

I will be the first to admit,  it's been a struggle at times.   We didn't go out and stockpile extra things just to reduce our spending down to $100 a month..  Thankfully we had a reasonable supply of basic pantry items, a good stockpile of meat and an excellent stockpile of toiletries and cleaning supplies.

Back in early 2020,  our budget was cut in all areas with food and gifts taking the biggest hit.  In saying that,  these two areas of our budget are easier to cut than other areas.  We can grow more food and I can make more presents.

To cut the food budget from $150 a month ( on average ) down to $100,  we had to make some hard choices about what is a necessary food item and what is a luxury.  It has been a bit of an adjustment and at times the fridge looks quite bare.  Through all of this,  there is always food on the table,  it's tasty and filling.

I thought I'd share with you how we've eaten on such a small budget and a few tricks I've learnt along the way.

*  Any food that goes into the fridge is carefully used within the right timeframe so it doesn't get thrown out.  With a slightly bare fridge,  it's easy to keep track of what we have.

*  When serving dinner,  our portions have been slightly smaller so we can freeze at least another two portions.  Some meals we've been able to freeze 3 - 4 portions.

*  Soup has featured in our menu plan for dinner at least once or twice a week when the weather has been cold.  Teamed up with leftover bread stick or a dinner roll from the freezer,  it makes a hearty meal that costs about 10 - 20 cents per serve.  Generally the soup is made from a chicken carcass which most people would throw out.  I also cooked up the last leg of lamb from the freezer and used the bone to make a delicious soup.

*  I have deliberately avoided my more expensive recipes especially the ones where you only get four serves and the meal costs $5 or more.  Meat pie,  rissole casserole,  salmon patties and chops have been a rare treat on the menu due to the high meat content and / or cost.

*  My shopping list is revised over and over again to eliminate any unnecessary purchases.  Groceries such as biscuits ( except for Christmas ),  dips,  chips,  chocolate, soft cheeses and roasts have not been purchased since we cut the budget. 

*  I've been adding TVP ( textured vegetable protein ) to beef mince to stretch it further.  I had my doubts about using TVP but in the right ratio we don't notice it at all.

*  Our vegetable garden has given us plenty of greens to add to the dinner plate all year round. Growing silverbeet and kale has been a big money saver.  I've been blanching and freezing excess broccoli and corn.  Even our potato haul earlier this year saved us more than $20.  I didn't buy potatoes for 5 months.

*  Any store bought snacks are only purchased as part of our present for birthdays,  Mother's / Father's Day and Christmas.

A simple Summer dinner

How do you stretch your meals ?