Tuesday 31 March 2015

Fruit And Vegetables Are Cheap To Eat.

Have you seen the news reports and tv shows claiming that fruit is too dear to buy ?    So many times over the years the media tells us that low income families can't afford to buy fruit and vegetables and that junk food is a cheaper option.  WHAT ROT  !!!!

Darren and I always shake our heads at the tv.  We firmly tell the tv that we've always been able to afford to eat healthy.  It's probably quite comical to watch us talking to a tv but I get so frustrated.  There is no excuse for poor shopping habits.  There is enough information available to educate us about the health benefits of fruit and vegetables.

For starters,  it's what our body knows.  They are whole foods created to nourish our bodies.  Fruit and vegetables are full of anti oxidants,  vitamins and minerals.  They provide fibre to keep us regular which in turn gets rid of the toxins in our bodies.   I know I'd much rather get my vitamins and minerals from fruit and vegetables than from a multi - vitamin.

Yes,  at times some fruits and vegetables can be expensive.  The trick is to avoid buying them just because you want them.  Here's what I do to reduce my fruit and veg bill -

*  Look at your menu plan and write a list of items needed.

*  Take a detailed shopping list with you when you shop.  Specify what you need and how many.

*  If some items are too expensive,  be prepared to substitute or go without.  Bananas are a great example of this.  Their price can range from 79 cents a kilo up to $5.99 a kilo with no real reason for the price changes.  When they are too dear I buy a few extra apples or find something else.

*  Know your prices.  I won't pay more than $2.99 a kilo for bananas,  apples and grapes.

*  Buy in season.  It sounds obvious but I see so many people buying strawberries in Winter for $5.99 a punnet.  In Summer they can be under $1.  Buying in season means you are buying better quality and the nutrients are at their best.

*  Pick your fruit and veg over.  Do not buy soft fruit unless you are going to eat it that day.

*  Potatoes are always cheaper by the bag.  Check the inside of the bag to make sure they are not green.

*  Fruit and veg shops are almost always cheaper than supermarkets.

*  Check the bargain table at your fruit and veg shop.  Only buy reduced items if you can use them withing a few days.

*  Grow your own.  Even if you only grow lettuce in a pot this could save you $50 - $100 a year.  Lettuce costs on average $1.99 each.  Buy one a week and you are up for $103.48 per year.  A packet of seeds costs about $3 and lasts a few years.

*  When vegetables are cheap,  buy lots,  blanch and freeze for future meals.

This fruit haul cost  $9.88 and lasted one week.  That's $2.47 per person per week or 35 cents per person per day.  You can't quite see every piece of fruit in the photo but there was plenty to eat each day.

I can't think of any store bought snack that only costs 35 cents per serve that is as healthy,  nutritious
and filling.  Can you ?

Saturday 28 March 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 28th March 2015

Writing a list of all the frugal things I've done during the week gives me a great sense of satisfaction.  I know I've done the very best I can with the money I have without being stingy.  Here's what I got up to this week -

*  Gratefully received some sandwiches,  mini quiches,  salad rolls,  milk and bread, 

*  Dried all washing on the line and clothes horses.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread.  It's been about a month since I last baked as we've been eating bread that was given to us.

*  Made chocolate truffles with homemade sweetened condensed milk I had in the freezer.

*  Continued to pick raspberries each day.  I think they are starting to slow down in production.  Darren and I are thinking about a second location in our backyard so we can grow even more next year.  I'll be very happy if I never have to buy them again.  In one season we've got our money back on the cost of the two plants. 

*  Gratefully received two bags of glass jars with lids from a cleaning client.   There were 15 jars in total and all were just the right size.  I can see a bumper stockpile of homemade jam and relish next Summer.

*  Filled up my car with petrol bought at 108.9 cents per litre.  Everywhere else had gone up to 133.9 cents a litre.

*  Continued to only do five loads of washing a week.  I seem to have formed a new washing routine after 19 years of washing three loads every Mon,  Wed and Fri.

*  Picked up some reduced fruit and veg on the bargain table at my local fruit and veg shop. $1 a bag of carrots ( over 1.5 kilos ),  $1 a bag of apples ( 2 kilos ) and a huge piece of watermelon for 50 cents.

*  Made chunky beef and veg soup using 1 1/2 slices of leftover roast beef and the stock it cooked in.

*  Darren and I went to the Melbourne International Flower Show on Thursday.  Yes I do spend money from time to time ( hehehe ).  To save some money we took afternoon tea,  snacks and water bottles with us.  We also collected any free samples that were being handed out.  We'll be right for Powerfeed and Seasol for a while.

*  Refilled and diluted the dish washing liquid and shampoo / conditioner.

*  Saved and reused lots of bread bags for bin liners and to store food in the freezer.

*  Washed and reused some zip lock bags.

Here are a few photos from the Flower Show.  I'll post more over the coming weeks.  They really are a feast for the eyes.

Raspberry and white choc muffins with our own fruit.
Such a blessing to receive these glass jars.

What fugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Thursday 26 March 2015

My Menu Plan

Oops,  I'm a bit late with my menu  plan.  Here's what we will be eating for the next four weeks -

Mon 23rd -  Chop suey and brown rice
Tues 24th - Sausage casserole in the slow cooker with mash
Wed 25th - Roast beef in the slow cooker with roast potato,  pumpkin,  carrots and steamed veg
Thurs 26th - Tuna pasta bake
Fri 27th - Honey mustard chicken and rice
Sat 28th -  Homemade hamburgers and wedges
Sun 29th -  Get your own but feed me

Mon 30th -  Tacos and a baked dessert of some description
Tues 31st -  Beef stew in the slow cooker with mash
Wed 1st -  Roast chicken with roast veg and steamed veg
Thurs 2nd -  Fish portions,  rice,  zucchini slice and steamed veg
Fri 3rd - Spag bol
Sat 4th - Chops,  mash and steamed veg
Sun 5th -  Get your own but feed me

Mon 6th - Homemade meat pie and steamed veg
Tues 7th -  Homemade KFC drumsticks with mash and steamed veg
Wed 8th -  Silverside in the slow cooker with roast veg and steamed veg
Thurs 9th -  Tuna casserole and greens
Fri 10th -  Freezer bits and pieces that need using up
Sat 11th - Chicken schnitzel,  mash and steamed veg
Sun 12th - Homemade pizzas

Mon 13th -  Meatloaf and gravy with mash and steamed veg
Tues 14th -  Chicken flan with herb /garlic bread
Wed 15th   Roast leg of lamb with roast veg and steamed veg
Thurs 16th -  Salmon patties with brown rice and steamed veg
Fri 17th -  Shepherd's pie with herb bread
Sat 18th -  Freezer meals
Sun 19th - Family over for lunch so maybe leftovers for tea.

Homemade Hawaiian pizza
Roast veggies
Homemade hamburgers and wedges
Krispy Fried Chicken

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Grocery Specials Wednesday 25th March 2015

Here are this week's super duper specials. I noticed there was a lot of chocolate,  junk food and convenience foods on sale this week.   Please remember,  I generally only buy ingredients or whole foods to feed my family.  The products listed below are items I'd buy and the best price possible.


*  Vegeta stock powder $2 per 200  250 gram tin.  Saving $1.59.  This is a once or twice a year sale price so stock up ( pun intended ).  Yes I do make my own liquid stock and freeze it but sometimes soups and casseroles need a little stock powder to lift the flavour.

*  Morning Fresh dish washing liquid half prices at $3.40 for 900mls.  If you missed out last week here's your chance to stock up.

*  Cadbury blocks of bubbly chocolate half price at $2 a 155 gram block.


*  Streets Magnum ice creams half price at $3.99 a 4 - 6 pack.  Best possible price and great as a treat.

*  Lynx Anti perspirant half price at $2.99 a 96 gram can

*  Garnier products half price.  We don't normally buy these products but I do include a shampoo and conditioner in my girl's Christmas stockings..

*  TRESemme shampoo and conditioner half price at $5.48 for a 750 - 900ml bottle.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Dried Seasoned Bread Crumbs

These homemade bread crumbs are very tasty,  cheap and easy to make.  I use them to coat chicken fillets,  chicken drumsticks and salmon patties.  Unfortunately I don't measure out the ingredients when I make the seasoned bread crumbs.  It's usually a shake of this and a good shake of that and some taste testing along the way.  However you make your bread crumbs,  they'll be much nicer than anything you'll buy in the supermarket.

Here are my approximate measurements -

3 cups of dried bread crumbs.
1 cup of crushed corn flakes or wheat bix
1 tablespoon of dried onion powder or 2 tablespoons of dried onion flakes.
1 tablespoons of rock salt ( less if desired )
2 teaspoons of paprika
1 teaspoon of dried garlic granules or powder
few peppercorns or pepper
about 1 tablespoon of dried chives or parsley

If you are using granules or flakes for your seasonings,  whiz them in a coffee grinder or use a mortar and pestle.

Mix everything together in a large bowl.  Place in an air tight container..  Once the lid is on give it a good shake to distribute the seasonings evenly over the bread crumbs.  Store in the pantry.


*  I use a food processor to blitz bread crusts from the ends of loaves of bread. ( saved up in the freezer ). Any bread can be used.  The crumbs are then spread evenly on large oven trays and baked at 160 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes until golden and dry.  You may need to use a spoon to loosen the bread crumbs half way through baking to even out the drying process

*  If you are running low on seasoned bread crumbs,  add a couple of handfuls of crushed corn flakes and / or wheat bix to the mix.

Ready to make.
The seasonings in a large bowl.
Mixing it up.
Storing in an air tight container.

Saturday 21 March 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 21st March 2015

As the seasons change,  so too do my tasks around the house.  I've moved away from jam and relish making and moved onto the garden as we prepare for the next planting.  Here's what I got up to this week -

*  Gratefully received some raisin bread,  a few slices of fruit cake,  a couple of sandwiches,  breakfast muffins,  bread rolls,  dried soup mix,  dried onion flakes and lentils.

*  Continued to pick a handful of raspberries each day.

*  Darren planted silver beet,  beetroot,  lettuce and broccoli into a prepared veg garden bed.  He's added lots of coffee grounds to the soil and turned it over a few times.  I must say,  the garden smells lovely.

*  Gratefully received a 15 kilo bucket of white bread flour mix from a facebook follower .  My girls love white bread and I don't like buying the supermarket bread.  Now I can make my own and hide a few extras in the mix.

*  Gratefully received some glass jars from my sister inlaw.  I love receiving glass jars as they hold so much potential.  I could use them for jam,  relish,  lemon butter,  dry mixes or  biscuits.  A great way to recycle as I use them any times over.

*  Found and bought some plain card stock in Spotlight on sale for 35 cents a sheet.  I can get at least two cards per sheet making them very cheap.

*  Made lavender air freshener for the toilet.  Here are the instructions

*  Saved the shower warm up water each day.  Some was poured into the washing machine.  The rest was poured into a watering can and used on my mango plants.

*  Saved the washing machine water when possible for the next load.  I don't save water from a dark load of washing because it's not suitable to use for a white load the next day.

*  Sold a jar of jam and a dozen eggs.

*  Picked the last of the tomatoes before Darren pulled them out.

*  Made 20 hamburger patties for the freezer.

*  Made more dried bread crumbs from bread crusts.  The crumbs will eventually be made into seasoned bread crumbs when the container gets low.

*  Bought 4 punnets of blueberries for $1 each.  They have been washed and frozen in snap lock bags to be added to muffins.

Mango trees grown from seed. They are 2 years old.

Our tallest one is about 50 cms.

Raspberries I pick each day.

Bargain blue berries

Princess smooching my laptop screen.

Hello Mum.  I'm cute  !!!

She just likes being near me.

Hamburger making.

Ready to freeze.

What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Thursday 19 March 2015

What Makes You Happy ? March 2015

Here are three things that make me happy and bring a smile to my face -

*  My daughters calling me Mama.  When they were young they like to watch the Aristocats movie.  In this movie the kittens call their mother " Mama ".  Ever since then on occasion my girls call me mama and it makes me smile.  It's such a lovely endearing name and I feel special when I hear it.

*  Having a free day when there's no housework to do.  It's very rare in my house but lately I've been able to work extra hard during the week so that I have Saturday free to do what I want.  I've spent the time making cards and other craft items.

*  Autumn.  Darren and I love to get into the garden during this time of the year when the weather is mild.  We prepare the vegetable garden beds for Winter planting.  Vegetable seeds are planted then transplanted,  bushes need to be trimmed or pulled out and we do lots of weeding.  The weather isn't too hot or cold and we enjoy breathing in the fresh air.

What makes you happy ?

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Grocery Specials Wednesday 18th March 2015

Time to post the weekly grocery specials.   The ones I've listed below are products I regularly buy to keep my food budget under $300 per month.  These are the best prices possible. Of course there are any more specials advertised.  Here is the pick of the crop-

 Coles specials -

*  Palmolive shower gel 500 ml 1/2 price at $2.99.  Well worth stocking up at this price.  I add them to presents and always put a bottle in my girls Christmas stocking.

*  Norsca deodorant 150 grams 1/2 rice at $2.99.

*  Lindt blocks of chocolate 100 grams 1/2 price at $2

Woolworths specials -

*  Vita Brits 1/2 price at $2.29 for a 1 kilo box

*  Continental Cuppa Soups 1/2 price at $1 per box of two serves.

* 20% off all chocolate Easter Bunnies.  Never pay full price for Easter eggs etc.  They always come on sale the week or two before Easter.

*  40% off all Nivea products.

*  Morning Fresh dish washing Liquid 1/2 price at $1.97 for 400 ml.  This is a great price.  Clear the shelf if you'd like.  You know I do.

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Hamburgers At Home

The cheapest takeaway meal I can make is homemade hamburgers and wedges. I make the hamburger patties in bulk and freeze them into lots of four for future quick meals. The rolls are made ahead of time using my wholemeal bread recipe and frozen as well. In Summer we grow our own lettuce and tomatoes so this reduces the cost as well. Here are the ingredients and costs for the most delicious hamburgers.

Patties - Start off with one kilo of regular beef mince ( $5 per kg )
seasonings of pepper, garlic, seasoned bread crumbs ( homemade ), tomato sauce, soy sauce , onion, parsley. I use dried onion and herbs.  The seasonings cost about 5 cents per patty  I use a good shake or squirt of everything and combine it well with my electric mixer.
Use your electric scales to weigh out 80 grams per patty.  The cost per patty with the seasonings is approx 45 cents.

Bread rolls cost 10 cents each to make .

Cheese, lettuce and tomato ( if you grow your own ) the cost is approx 10 cents for the cheese. If you need to buy all these allow about 30 cents.

Tomato sauce or mayo about 5 cents

Homemade wedges - potatoes cost about $2.99 for five kilos.  I use my Nicer Dicer to cut the potatoes into wedges.  I spray them lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with Season All.  Cook for about an hour at 200 degrees Celsius.  For a single serve of wedges with seasoning the cost would be 20 cents.

Total cost for a single hamburger and serve of wedges is $0.90.

If rolls and patties are made and frozen ahead of time, it takes about 15 minutes to make the hamburgers.  Occasionally Darren adds an egg to his hamburger. We have chickens to supply us with eggs so it doesn't cost us anything to add an egg. This meal is filling, , far more filling than what you can buy at the shops.

Next time you have a craving for takeaway, have a go at making your own. It's healthier, cheaper, tastier and far more satisfying to make it yourself.

Homemade hamburger and chips
Homemade wholemeal rolls.
Hamburger and wedges 

Saturday 14 March 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 14th March 2015

I've had a very productive week  with lots of great specials bought to fill my cupboards,  baking and cooking completed as well as being wise with what we have.  Here's what I got up to this week -

*  Gratefully received some glass jars from my friend Leesa.  Thank you so much.  Those salsa jars are the perfect size for my relish and the lids are apple green in color ( my fav ).

*  Gratefully received some sandwiches, and egg and bacon muffins

*  Mended lots of socks.  They had holes in the toe area so they were worth mending. 

*  Spent some time making birthday cards.  I only have a few stamps and ink pads from many years ago.  As card making can be an expensive hobby I've taken my lead from Annabel  at The Bluebirds Are Nesting blog.  She makes beautiful cards using pictures from magazines.  Here's a link to her blog. athttp://thebluebirdsarenesting.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/feather-your-nest-friday-6th-march-2015.html

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

*  Froze three single portions of leftover chicken curry.  These will be written into the menu plan as a free meal.

*  Picked a handful of raspberries each day and froze them.

*  Dried the washing on the line for free.  It looks like I've reduced my washing to 5 loads a week without compromising on cleanliness.

*  Saved the shower warm up water.  Some was poured into the washing machine and the rest was used to water my mango plants.  They are looking quite healthy.

*  Made up a batch of dried seasoned bread crumbs.

*  Darren bought two litres of chocolate flavoured milk for 50 cents.  It had one day left on it's use by.  We don't normally by flavoured milk but this bargain was too good to refuse.  Darren and the girls had a couple of glasses each to drink that day.  Megan used the rest to make icypoles.

*  Bought 10 kilos of chicken drumsticks at $1.98 kilo.  Darren and I divided them up into 15 meal portions ( 4 drumsticks ) and froze them.  We also have rain checks for another 15 kilos which we'll redeem throughout the next twelves months when we need them.

*  Made two chocolate cakes at the same time.  One is for us and the other is for morning tea at church on Sunday.

*  Bought the supermarket bargains listed here Grocery Specials.

*  Found three cushion inserts at Savers op shop for $2.99 each.  A few cushions on our family room couch and Megan's bed were looking a bit flat.  Spotlight sells the inserts for about $10 - $15 for the size I needed.  I'd been waiting for a sale but Spotlight doesn't seem to reduce them often.  I'd never even thought of looking at Savers,  but there they were. Three near new ones just waiting for me.

*  Cut and whizzed  a few bars of soap in the food processor   I added this to my bucket of powdered soap that I use to make laundry powder.

*  Picked a bunch of roses from the bush in the chicken coop.

Cutting a bar of soap before whizzing it in the processor.

First attempt at card making.

Flat cushions and new inserts.

Cushions with a new lease of life.

Much better looking cushions.

Megan's bed with rejuvenated cushions 

Roses from the garden.

Chocolate cakes.

Dried bread crumbs.

What frugal things did you complete this week ?

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Grocery Specials Wednesday 11th March 2015

As most of you know,  I LOVE A BARGAIN.  Buying almost everything on special helps me to feed my family and live an amazing life on a budget. I check all the supermarket catalogues each week to get the best deals on regular items I buy.

Each week I'll post the bargains I find so you too can save lots of money.  Please feel free to share the specials you find.  They must be food or food related,  toiletries or cleaning products etc at a really good price.  In other words, anything you can find in the supermarket.  If you live outside of Australia,  please share your bargains too and state what country / state you live in.

Here's this week's specials -

*   Cadbury Baking Chips and Melts $2.09  for 230 gram bag in Coles supermarkets on sale until 17 / 03 / 15.  This is the best price possible and well worth stocking up.  It only comes down to this price once or twice a year.

*  TRESemme Shampoo and Conditioner 750 - 900 mls 1/2 price at $5.24.at Coles supermarkets on sale until 17 / 03 / 15

*  Pantene Shampoo and Conditioner 350 mls 1/2 price at $3.90 at Woolworths supermarkets on sale until 17 / 03 / 15

*  Chicken drumsticks $1.99 a kilo at Woolworths supermarkets in the deli.  On sale until 17 / 03 / 15.  It might be hard to get stock so please go to the service desk and ask for a rain check. Woolworths rain checks are valid for twelve months.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Honey Mustard Chicken

Honey mustard chicken must be one of my favourite dishes.  I'll confess,  I used to buy the sauce in a jar.  I thought I liked it until I started making my own sauce.  Now I couldn't go back to the mass produced sugar and salt laden variety.  My recipe is very easy to make and is tasty.  My daughter Jessica isn't overly keen on cooking but she does a fabulous job of making this without me watching her.  The first time she made it she took a photo,  posted it on social media and her friends couldn't believe it could be made at home from scratch.  In other words,  they too have only known of the store bought variety.  Jessica was very proud of herself.

When I first wanted to make this from scratch I googled lots of recipes.  As usual the recipes didn't have vegetables included or they used way too much cream and sour cream.  So I made up my own recipe and tweaked it a few times until I got the balance of flavours right.  Here's my recipe -

2 small chicken breasts, diced and cooked
2/3 cup of cream
 2 - 3 tablespoons of honey
1 heaped dessert spoon of Dijon mustard
1 heaped dessert spoon of whole grain mustard
onion flakes, salt, pepper, chives, garlic powder / granules etc to taste.
1 cup of beans, cooked
1 large sliced carrot, cooked

Mix cream, honey, mustards and seasoning in a medium fry pan and heat.
Add cooked diced chicken, cooked sliced carrot and beans.
Mix well and serve with rice.

This serves four people.

Silver beet or spinach can be shredded finely and added to the sauce and meat as it's heating up..

Saturday 7 March 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 7th March 2015

*  Picked lots of raspberries and yellow pear tomatoes each day.

*  Gratefully received lots of sandwiches from a catering job I helped with.

*  Bought some amazing bargains at my local fruit and veg shop.   I bought three mangoes for $1,  seven bananas for $1,  half a cantelope for $1, apples for $1.99 and two bags of five kilos of potatoes for $5 and a cuccumber for 90 cents.

*  Collected a few eggs here and there.  Most of our chooks are molting in some shape or form so they are not laying as often.

*  Dried the washing on the line and clothes horses.

*  Used lots of bread bags as bin liners.

*  Froze some leftovers from 2 dinners.  We also ate frozen meals last Saturday as I'd been to a high tea and didn't feel like cooking or eating much.

*  Made 7 jars of raspberry jam with our home grown raspberries.

*  Gratefully received lots of bread from a friend and some scones from another friend.

*  Filled the car up with petrol at $1.12 per litre just before the latest price increase.

*  Darren emptied our compost bin onto a veggie garden bed.  In a few weeks we'll plant some veggie seedlings I've grown from seed.

*  Saved the washing machine water for the next load.  We also saved the shower warm up water and used it to water the veggie seedlings.  I saved the kitchen sink water from washing hands to rinse out the sinks when they were dirty.

*  Made a double batch of Chocolate Lunchbox Muffins.  I didn't have the room in the freezer to make a triple batch.

*  Made a huge batch of salmon patties using 5 tins of salmon.  This was enough for 6 meals for the four of us plus a few spares. I frozen most of them for future meals.  Making salmon patties can be messy with all the crumbing etc so when I make them I REALLY MAKE THEM  !!!

Home made raspberry jam.
The berries I'd been picking and saving.

My bargain fruit haul.

Some photos from the baby shower I helped cater for and serve at.  Below is a nappy cake made by a good friend of mine and fellow Cheapskate member Keren.  Her business is called All Things Baby and Beyond.  Her face book page link is https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005691076624#!/allthingsbabyandbeyond?pnref=lhc  She has more cute photos of nappy cakes. Well worth a look.

The cupcake had little rattles,  dummies and elephants on them.  No,  I didn't make them.

Lots and lots of food  !!

What did you do this week to save time,  money and energy ?