Tuesday 30 September 2014

Lemon Butter

Growing up lemon butter was one of the spreads I enjoyed on my toast for breakfast.  It was an occasional treat that my Mum bought in a jar from the supermarket.  Years later I'm married with my own home and family.  I couldn't afford to buy lemon butter as it just didn't fit into our tight budget. 
That was until I came across Cath Armstrong's recipe on her website The Cheapskate's Club.  Now I'm in heaven  !!!  It takes six minutes in the microwave to make.  Best of all,  I have a fruiting lemon tree and chickens to give me free eggs.  It costs less than $1 to make a large jar.

125 grams of butter
1 cup of castor sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup of lemon juice

Beat the eggs with an electric beater in a medium microwavable bowl until light and fluffy.

Add the sugar half a cup at a time to the eggs and beat well until the sugar has dissolved.

Stir in the lemon juice.

Melt the butter and pour it into the egg mixture.  Mix it in well.

Cook the mixture in the microwave for two minutes on high.  Beat the mixture well.

Microwave for another two minutes and mix again.

Microwave for another two minutes again and stir gently as the lemon butter will be boiling hot.

Pour into sterilised hot jars and screw the lid on straight away.  When the jars are cool,  store in the fridge for up to two weeks.  As the lemon butter cools it thickens up really well like a spread.


*  If you like your lemon butter really tangy,  add a little extra lemon juice.

*  Frozen lemon juice can be used ( that's what I use all the time ).

*  To sterilise the jars,  boil the jars and lids in a saucepan with water while you are making the lemon butter.  If you were making jam I'd suggest the oven method for sterilising jars.

*  Normal white sugar can be used.  I use it when I've run out of castor sugar.

*  It's great on toast,  in sandwiches,  on scones or can be used in little tart shells for a yummy dessert.

Lemon butter for any occasion
Beating the eggs

Adding the sugar

Sunday 28 September 2014

A Current Affair Story on Monday 29th September 2014

As some of you will know, I've been away for a few days this week.  I can now reveal that I travelled to Brisbane to film a new story for A Current Affair.  The story will be aired on Monday 29th September 2014 at 7.00pm on Channel 9.  I hope you enjoy the new savings tips I share with reporter Ben McCormack as we help Australian families save more money.

If anyone missed the story and would like to see it,  here's the link


Saturday 27 September 2014

This Week's Frugal Tasks

I kept myself reasonably busy this week.  Darren and I have started Spring cleaning around the house.  Furniture is being pulled out and dusted behind.  We'll start on the windows soon.  I like to get them done before the Summer heat sets in.  Our vegetable garden  is growing and we'll be adding more seedlings shortly.

Here's my frugal list - 

*  Made chunky beef soup from two pieces of leftover roast beef.  It made enough for ten single serves that I froze.

*  Made bulk crumble topping mix.  This is stored in an airtight container and made up when  I pull some frozen stewed apples from the freezer.  Apple Crumble is Jessica's favourite dessert.

*  Baked six loaves of wholemeal bread.  I was on a roll.

*  Bought Dove soap on sale in Woolworths.  It was selling for $3.40 for a box of four bars.  This is the best price I have ever seen.  They only had four boxes left on the shelf so I went to the service desk and asked for a rain check.  I now have twelve months to buy another ten boxes ( of four bars ).  After that I don't think I'll be buying soap for the next two years.

*  I made pita chips.  Half of them I left plain and the other half I sprayed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt .  Both are very yummy.

*  Made Lemon Butter with lemons from our tree and eggs from our chooks.  It's delightful on toast for breakfast.

*  I saved rinse water in the kitchen and used it to water some plants outside.  Water saved from the showers was poured into the washing machine.  The rinse water from the washing machine was saved and poured back in for the next load.

*  Darren used some of our compost ( for the first time ) on the vegetable garden.

*  I converted a pair of 3/4 pj troussers into pj shorts for Jessica.  I also altered a Summer top I bought from the op shop.  It now has a more fitted look.

*  Made white chocolate and raspberry muffins for morning teas and lunch boxes ( if they last that long ).  I froze most of the muffins.

*  I made chicken curry in the slow cooker.  There was enough leftover for four single serves.  They are now in the freezer.

* Our chickens are almost back into full egg laying production.  They only slowed down a little during Winter.

A couple of our chickens saying hello.

Chunky beef and vegetable soup.

Our little peach tree in full bloom.

Grapefruit given to us last week.

Lemon butter for my toast..

Leftover chicken curry ready for the freezer.

Raspberry and white choc muffins.

Would you like to share your frugal tasks for the week ?

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Chunky Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup

I love homemade soups.  They are quick and easy and taste so much better than anything you can get in a can. Making them yourself eliminates  the need for artificial preservatives,  colorings and flavourings.  You know exactly what is in the soup and can change the flavour and ingredients to suit your needs and diet.  It's also a great way to add or hide vegetables that your kids might not normally eat.

The first time I make this soup I looked up a few recipes on the internet.  I combined a them to make my own.  Megan,  my daughter asked me to add extra vegetables to make it chunky.

Here's Megan's and my recipe -

1.5 litres of chicken stock. 
! x  420g tin of creamed corn
1 x  400g tin of corn kernels
2 cups of cooked chicken bits or two small chicken fillets cubed and cooked
4 - 5 medium potatoes peeled and diced
2 medium carrots,  peeled and diced
2 teaspoons of dried ginger
2 sticks of celery, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons of dried onion flakes or 1 small onion  finely chopped
75mls of soy sauce or two good dashes
1 tablespoon of dried or fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 packet of crushed 2 minute noodles ( no flavouring ) or three egg whites

Add all ingredients except the noodles or egg whites to a large saucepan.  Cook until the carrots and potatoes are just soft - about 1/2 an hour. 

Add the crushed noodles and stir through.  Cook for a further 2 minutes.  If adding the egg whites instead,  lightly beat them in a measuring jug and slowly pour into the soup as you stir.

Serves 6 - 8

Can be frozen.

Notes -

*  Add extra potatoes or carrots if the soup doesn't look thick enough.

*  I use Aldi tins of creamed corn and corn kernels.  No name brands work well.

*  I make the chicken stock in the slow cooker using chicken bones or frame with a couple of bay leaves.  Then I freeze it for future use.

*  If the soup needs more flavour,  add a tablespoon of chicken stock powder.

*  You can add whatever vegetables you like.

Chunky Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup 

Saturday 20 September 2014

This Week's Frugal Tasks

The weather has turned cold again in Melbourne.  This week I've had to concerntrate on indoor frugal tasks to keep us warm.  Here's what we got up to -

*  Made pumpkin scones.  They are now in the freezer for morning teas.

*  Saved and recycled twelve bread bags from a charity bbq.  I turned them inside out,  brushed the crumbs off and pegged them to a clothes horse to dry out.  They will be used as bin liners and to scoop out the kitty litter.

*  Cut up a cereal box to make two more page dividers for my price book.  I also cut up the cereal bag to use as go between for crumpets,  hamburger patties chops and frozen soup portions.  It stops things sticking together.

*  Juiced a big bowl of lemons and froze the juice in ice cube trays.  I then went outside and picked another bowlful.  These will be juiced in a week's time.

*  Found two Summer tops at Savers op shop for under $10 total.

*  Gratefully accepted 5 grape fruits and a loaf of soy and linseed bread from a friend.

*  Menu planned for the month.  It's always a relief when it's done.  Then I don't have to think about it for another 30 days or so.

*  Sorted,  rearranged and wiped out my pantry.  I made lots of room as I start to stock up on general groceries ahead of the busy Christmas period.

*  Saved water every day from the showers and poured it into the washing machine.

*  Picked silverbeet and broccoli florets from the veg garden to use in meals.

* Avoided  using the dryer for the fourth week in a row.  Our Winter sheets are thick and take too long to dry on clotheshorses.  We have been blessed with windy,  warmish weather on the day we wash our sheets.

*  Baked some peanut butter choc chip biscuits ( cookies ) for the cookie jar.

*  Cooked all meals and snacks from scratch.

*  Bought pretzels on sale for 99 cents a bag at NQR.  I bought 8 bags.  These will be used for class Christmas parties and other occasions leading up to Christmas.

*  Did my monthly food shop and stuck to the list.

My pantry before the sort out

Peanut butter choc chip biscuits ( cookies )

Drying the bread bags on a clothes horse

Pumpkin scones before bakng

Some of my monthly food shopping

Saving water from the washing machine

One of our chooks.  Her name is Becky.

Did you do anything this week to save time,  money or energy ? 

Thursday 18 September 2014

My Menu Plan 20th Sept - 19th Oct 2014

 One of my blog readers asked me to post my menu plan for the month.  I always keep last month's menu plan and rewrite it for the next month.  I generally change a few things around depending on what we are doing and according to the seasons.  If the weather is getting warmer then I add a few lighter meals or salads.  If the weather is heading into Winter then I include more stews,  soups and casseroles.

Here it is -

Sat 20th Sept - Chicken Curry in slow cooker with rice
Sun 21st -  Get your own but feed me

Mon 22nd - Honey mustard chicken and rice
Tues 23rd - Meat pie and greens
Wed 24th - I'm away so the family can cook or have freezer meals
Thurs 25th -  I'm away again        "            "              "
Fri 26th - Salmon portions  rice,  zuc slice and veg
Sat 27th - Chicken flan and greens
Sun 28th - Get your own but feed me

Mon 29th - Meatloaf,  mash and veg
Tues 30th - Sausages,  smashed potatoes and veg
Wed 1st Oct -  my birthday so I chose lasagne and veg
Thurs 2nd - Salmon patties, rice and veg
Fri 3rd - Hamburgers and wedges
Sat 4th -  BBQ
Sun 5th - Get your own but feed me

Mon 6th - Homemade KFC drumsticks,  mash and veg
Tues 7th - Chop suey and rice
Wed 8th - Tuna pasta bake
Thurs 9th -  Roast chicken and roast veg
Fri 10th - Homemade pizza
Sat 11th - Beef stew in slow cooker with mash
Sun 12th - Get your own but feed me

Mon 13th - Saucy chicken,  mash and veg
Tues 14th - Tacos
Wed 15th - Silverside in slow cooker with roast veg
Thurs 16th - Tuna casserole with greens
Fri 17th - Spag bol
Sat 18th - Chicken burgers and chips
Sun 19th - Get your own but feed me

Part of my monthly shop

Homemade chicken, tomato, cheese and pineapple pizza

What my birthday dinner will look like - Lasagne

Frezer meals for when I'm away

Hamburgers and chips
 Do you write a menu plan ?

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Lemon Chicken

Having a lemon tree has been a real blessing to my family.  We make good use of the free lemons by making lots of yummy treats.  Lemon Chicken is a favourite dish in my family.  I didn't have a recipe for this dish.  I haven't even looked it up on the internet or my recipe books.  I just made it up the way I thought it should be.  I use drumsticks as they are budget friendly.  Darren bought ten kilos of drumsticks at $1.99 a kilo at a butchers a couple of months ago.  He portioned them out into meal sizes for the freezer. He was able to get fourteen meals from the ten kilos.  We allowed one drumstick for us girls and two for Darren

The chicken for this dish costs us $1.42.  The lemons are free and the seasonings and vegetables cost next to nothing.  Total cost for the meal would be under $2.00 for four people.

1 - 2 drumsticks per person
Plain flour to coat the drumsticks
2 lemons
Garlic - powdet, granules or fresh
Onion - dried flakes or fresh
Mixed herbs
Olive oil

Heat the oven to 190 degrees celcius.

Coat the drumsticks in plain flour.   In a medium / large fry pan add the oil and cook the drumsticks until they are brown.

Transfer the drumsticks to an oven proof dish.

Cut one lemon and squeeze the juice over the drumsticks.

Season the drumsticks with all the seasonings.

Cut up the other lemon into thin slices and quarter each slice.  Scatter over the drumsticks.

Cook in the oven uncovered for 40 minutes until cooked through.

Once you have served the drumsticks,  add a little boiled water to the casserole dish and scrape up all the brown bits.  This makes a lovely gravy / sauce to spoon over the chicken.

The finished product. 
Lemons, silverbeet and broccoli are from our garden.

The chicken was browned in a fry pan.
Now to add the lemons and seasonings.

The dish is ready to be finished off in the oven.


Sunday 14 September 2014

Gravy Powder

I've tried making my own gravy powder a few different ways with varying degrees of success.  Some were too bland and some were too light in color that I felt compelled to add soy sauce to darken it.  The best one I've tried is to make my own and mix it with store bought no name gravy powder.  It's the best of both worlds.  It cheaper than no name and reduces the amount of artificial ingredients.

Here's the recipe -

150 grams of no name gravy powder
6 really heaped dessert spoons of plain white flour
2 tablespoons of dried onion flakes
1 tablespoon of onion powder
1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon of sweet paprika ( normal variety )
2 reasonably heaped dessert spoons of beef stock powder
2 teaspoons of celery powder
1 1/2 tablespoons of dried parsley
2 teaspoons of salt
good shake of pepper

Mix all the ingredients together in a medium bowl and store in an airtight container.
To make it up add 2 - 3 tablespoons of gravy powder mix to 1 or 1 1/2 cups of cold water.  Stir or whisk until it's hot and thickens.

Total cost to make 470 grams is about $2.  This makes more than the standard box of no name gravy which is 425 grams.

Dry ingredients

The finished products

Saturday 13 September 2014

This Week's Frugal Tasks

Another week has come and gone and I sometimes wonder what I did with my time. Thankfully I keep a list on the front of the fridge where I can record my frugal tasks as I do them.  Sometimes I suprise myself with how much I achieve.   I try to keep myself reasonably busy around the house.  I enjoy my days at home ( when I'm not at work cleaning other's houses ) and feel at peace here.  Darren and I have created a warm,  happy home where delightful aromas from the kitchen fill our souls with pure joy.

Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Jessica bought a couple of ( as new ) dresses from our local super sized op shop.  I took up the hem on one as she wanted it a little above the knee.

*  Accepted some glass jars from a friend.  Some will be used to make jam for presents.  The larger ones will be used to layer ingredients to make a baking item and also given as presents.

*  Made lunchbox chocolate chip muffins.  We ate a few fresh and froze the rest for school and work lunchboxes.

*  Made brown sugar with the food proccessor.

*  Baked three loaves of  wholemeal bread.

*  Used up the last of a tube of lipstick.  I've been using cotton tips to get the last of it out which gave me another three week's worth.  I've also ordered two more lipsticks from Avon at half price.

*  Made yoghurt from scratch.

*  Picked more broccoli florets and used some in a stew.  I also picked some silverbeet and added it to a tuna pasta bake.  I chopped it up finely so the girls couldn't pick it out.

*  Made dried seasoned bread crumbs from scratch.  I use these to coat salmon patties and chicken drumsticks ( cheats KFC ).

*  Made gravy powder in bulk.

*  Cut broccoli stalks with my Nicer Dicer and froze them into meal portions for stews,  soups and casseroles.

*  Saved the shower water as usual and poured it into the washing machine..

*  Cooked all meals and snacks from scratch.

*  Had the heater off for a few days as the weather is warming.

*  Cut up some old socks to use as garden ties.

*  Scraped out the peanut butter and Vegemite jars.

*  Froze five single serves of leftovers from meals.When I get a good stash I add freezer meals to the menu.  Everyone picks their own and I count it as a free meal.  No cooking and no cost.

*  We had a lovely dinner at home on Father's Day.  I cooked a leg of lamb with roast vegetables.  Megan made a lemon meringue pie.  Total cost of the dinner was $10.  A fraction of the cost of a restaurant meal.  The leg of lamb was $15 but we made it do for two meals.

Mixed lettuce from our garden.

Hemming Jessica's dress.

Princess our cat watching over the chickens

Lots of wind to dry the washing for free.

Free garden ties made from old socks

Scraping out the peanut butter jar

Megan's lemon meringue pie
My piece of pie

Leftovers ready for the freezer
 How frugal was your week ?  Have you managed to squirrel away any leftovers for the freezer ?
Are you picking anything from your gardens ?  Did you pick up any bargains at the shops ?

Welcome to the new readers.  Would you like to share your frugal list ?

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Lunchbox Chocolate Choc Chip Muffins

Making muffins was the very first baked item I learnt to make as a newlywed nineteen years ago.  Back then I started my baking passion by using a packet mix.  The flavour was vanilla and I made it exactly as the packet said to.  The next time I made them I added choc chips.  The next time I added choc chips and cocoa.  The fourth time I added a little oil to the other added ingredients.

These days I make my own from scratch.  I found a recipe on the internet back in 2002 and as usual,  I changed the recipe around to suit my family's tastes.  They are delicious and because they are chocolate you can hide black chia seeds,  linseed meal,  oat bran and lots of other goodies to make them healthier.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do

3 cups of self raising flour
1 cup of sugar
4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups of milk
2 eggs
150 grams of melted butter
3/4 cup of chocolate chips / bits

Turn the oven on to 180 degrees.
In a large bowl mix the flour,  sugar and sifted cocoa powder.
Add the milk,  melted butter and eggs.  Mix until just combined.
Add the chocolate bits and mix until combined.
Place spoonfuls into greased muffins tins or use patty cases. 
Bake in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes until the tops spring back when touched.
Remove from the muffin tins when slightly cool.

Makes about 20 medium muffins or about 30 small muffins.

Notes -

*  These muffins freeze well.  Add them frozen to your kid's lunchboxes and they'll be thawed by morning break time.

*  To add extra goodness,  mix two tablespoons each of black chia seeds,  linseed meal and oat bran to the dry ingredients.  Kids will love them as the muffins are slightly crunchy.  You might need to add a little extra milk if the mixture is too stiff.

*  For vanilla muffins omit the choc chips and cocoa powder.  Add two teaspoons of vanilla extract.

*  These muffins are great for kids birthday parties.  Ice with different colored icing and top with smarties,  sprinkles,  coconut or crushed nuts.

A plate full of lunchbox muffins

Making the muffins

Saturday 6 September 2014

This Week's Frugal Tasks

This week Spring has arrived in Australia.  It's so exciting.  The weather is a little warmer and just right for spending more time in the garden.  Spring also means we don't have to use the heater so much.  Frugal gas bills will be on the way soon - YAY  !!!

Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Saved as much shower water as possible and poured it into the washing machine.

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

*  Darren planted out the vegetable seeds last weekend.into little green houses.  He bought these on clearance when Sam's Warehouse closed down.  The seeds were left over from last Spring so we didn't need to spend any money this year.  He planted corn,  tomatoes ( three varieties ),  zucchini,  mixed lettuce and  beans ( climbing and dwarf ).

*  Juiced more lemons and froze the juice into ice block trays.  These will be stored in containers in the freezer to make lemon butter,  lemon chicken,  lemon slice and for pouring over fish.

*  Picked another basket of lemons.  These will be juiced in a week's time when they are slightly softer.  I find if I leave them for a  week the insides relax,  the skin thins out and I get more juice from them.

*  Cleaned the dishwasher with bi carb and vinegar.  I gave the inside of the door and seals a wipe over with Miracle Spray to get rid of finger marks and any gunk.   The filters were given a good scrub and rinse too.  I try to do this at the start of each month to keep it in good working order.

*  Made more laundry powder.

*  Darren and I had our wedding anniversary on Tuesday. To celebrate we went out for dinner to Hog's Breath.  We used our 20% discount cards to make it more affordable.  We went to the movies and used a gift card that was given to us last Christmas.

*  We've had the heater off a few times during the day.

*  Made a chunky chicken and sweet corn soup that was eaten over two meals for the four of us. I used homemade chicken stock from the freezer.   It cost about.$2 per meal to make.

*  Picked more broccoli florets.  I thought the broccoli had finished growing but these florets just keep coming.  I'll keep picking as long as they keep growing.

Chunky chicken and sweet corn soup.

Vegetable seeds in the green house tray

Bean seeds popping out of the soil

Our dwarf peach tree has just started to bloom.  We only planted it a couple of months ago.  We are not expecting any fruit for a few years but the blooms are so pretty.

The broccoli florets just keep coming.

Lemon ice cubes.

Laundry powder.

Do you have a frugal tasks list to share with the other readers ?

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Making Laundry Powder

Making my own laundry powder was one of the first things I learnt to do in my quest to reduce our costs.  Upon further enquiries with family members,  I found out that my grandparents made a similar version using soap,  borax,  lectric soda and a bluing agent ( not quite sure what that is ).  How great is that ?  They knew what they were doing and it's lovely to know that  some things never really go out of fashion.

 It only takes about five minutes to make a batch that will last a month.  It's cheap, easy and can be adapted to suit your skin type.  I use no name pure laundry soap but if you have skin allergies then use a soap that suits your skin.

Here is the recipe -

1 bar of pure laundry soap ( or soap of choice )
1 cup of bi carb of soda
1 cup of Lectric soda

Grate the bar of soap with a grater using the fine zesting side.  It should look like a fine powder when it's grated. Alternatively cut the soap into slivers with a sharp knife and wizz it in the food proccessor.

Into a medium bowl place the grated soap.  Measure out the Lectric soda and bi carb. and add it to the bowl  Mix all ingredients together with a whisk until well combined.  Store in an air tight container.

Use 1 tablespoon for a full load in a top loading washing machine.
Use two teaspoons in a front loader washing machine.


*Bi carb can be bought in bulk at cleaning supply places and pool shops.  It 's also called ph Buffer which is used in pools.  It is not suitable for cooking and baking.

*  I cut 4 - 8 bars of soap at a time into slivers and wizz in the food proccessor..  I only make one or two batches at a time and the leftover grated soap is stored in a container ready to make up in the future.

*  This laundry powder is great for soaking soiled items.  Together with the Miracle Spray,  it keeps my washing clean.

*  Treat soiled items as soon as possible.

*  This laundry powder will not give you lots of suds in the washing machine.  Do not be tempted to add more to get the suds.

*  If you need a fragrance,  add a few drops of essential oil to the powder and mix well.

*  If you still have shop bought laundry powder to use,  add it to the one you made and mix well.

*  This laundry powder costs about 3 cents per load.

The finished products

The ingredients needed

Grated soap I keep in a bucket

Whisking the ingredients together

Have you made your own laundry powder ? If not,  do you think you could give this one a go ?