Monday 31 August 2015

Op Shopping

Once upon a time,   op shops were small,  dingy ,  musty smelling and dirty. When I was young and my family were on holidays,  my parents loved to look in the local op shop.  But you wouldn't see me in there.  I was the one standing out the front waiting patiently ( not ) for my parents to finish looking.

Oh how times have changed and yes,  you'll see me in an op shop quite often.  I discovered op shops back in 2005 when a friend told me about Savers.  Curiosity got the better of me and one morning after church Darren,  our girls and myself made a trip into Frankston to have a look at Savers ( no longer there ).  I was stunned at the size of the store.  Two levels of treasures to look through and racks and racks of clothes.  I guess you could call it a super sized op shop.

Ever since then my family makes regular trips to op shops with Savers being our favourite.  We like Savers because it supports the Diabetes Foundation and SIDS for Kids through buying clothing and goods from them to help stock their stores.  We also love the neat layout of the store,  it's cleanliness and the variety to choose from. Donations of goods are gratefully received during working hours and with each donation you can get a stamp on a discount card.  This entitles you to a 5 - 20% discount on your next purchase no matter how big or small any day of the week.  It's a wonderful incentive to give and bless others.  Sunday is student day and if you have a student card you can get 20% off your total purchase.  Monday is Senior day.  Just show your Senior's card for a 20% discount.

When my family appeared on A Current Affair back in June 2014,  we had the opportunity to film part of the story at the Narre Warren  / Fountain Gate Savers.  I was in heaven as I know the store and staff well,.  During the story I explained how each of my family members receives $150 twice a year as a clothing allowance from our budget.  This is given in Spring and Autumn so that we can start looking for clothes for Summer and Winter.   Now you might be wondering how we can clothe ourselves for $300 each a year ( not including underwears,  bathers and pjs ).  Savers and other local op shops are our first port of call.  We go in with a list of clothes needed and start hunting.  If we can't find what we want,  THEN we look in the major department stores.

Op shops are great for picking up kitchenwares at bargain prices.  Taking a walk through the kitchenware department is like going on a journey back in time.  I quite often spot things that my Mum or Grandma had in their kitchens.  It always brings a smile to my face.  I've bought Tupperware,  vintage platters for my Mum,  pasta bowls,  biscuit jars,  icypole moulds,  toasters for $3.99,  George Foreman grill and hotplate for $20 ( worth $129 ),  Breville iron for $14 ( worth $69 ),  electric knife for $7 ( brand new ),  teapots,  craft supplies,  bedside tables ( to go in the wardrobe ) cook books,  clothing,  handbags and many many other bargains in new or near new condition.   You just never know what you'll find

I would have to say that my greatest find and what gets me excited the most is when I pick up vintage china.  I've been able to collect Royal Albert,  Royal Doulton,  Royal Anne and a few other well known brands at $1.99 and $2.99 for a bread and butter plate. I now have a lovely collection that gets used on occasion.   I've bought cup,  saucer and plate sets for my girls as Christmas presents for $15.  I always make sure I have a discount stamp to use for those purchases.

Supporting op shops is a wonderful way to furnish a home,  save lots of money,  support charities and reduce landfill.

Here are some handy hints for successful op shopping -

*  Have a list of items you are looking for in your purse / wallet.  You never know when you'll find it.

*  Sign up to newsletters or club cards for future notifications of sales.

*  Support op shops with your good / clean  unwanted items.  This is how they keep running.

*  Know your prices.  If the item seems a little dear,  politely ask for a better deal.

*  Check  kitchen items over for chips,  scratches and stains.

*  Check clothing for holes,  stains, wear and tear and missing buttons etc.

*  Try the clothing on before you buy.

*  When buying hand bags,  check the inside for cleanliness and wear and tear.  Make sure the zipper / fastener works.

*  Check DVDs and records for scratches.

*   Always keep your receipt to return faulty items.

*    When buying men's shirts,  check the collar for wear and tear.  This is a good indication of how often it's been worn.

*  Carry a plastic bag or folding shopping bag in your hand bag.  Some op shops do not supply shopping bags or you may need to purchase one.

*  On 50% off days, shop early for the best items.  Although op shops try to bring out more stock during the day,  they do get really busy and may not have time.

*  If possible,  avoid shopping the day after a 50% off sale.  Stocks can be low.

*  Carry a water bottle / snack with you.   A quick trip to the local op shop can turn into a couple of hours of shopping.

*  Carry hand sanitiser in your hand bag or car glove box to clean your hands after a visit.  I find my hands feel a little dusty.  . 

Here are some photos ( taken with permission ) of my local Savers op shop.

The clothes are sorted into like items.
Easy to find the label on the jeans
A variety of magazines
Books galore.
Hang sell kitchenware,  craft and homewares.

Here are some of my favourite op shop purchases -

A cupboard for extra baking bits and pieces.
My girls love the cookie jar and the basket is for egg collecting.
Some of my vintage plate collection.

This is not a paid advertisement for any particular op shop.  I support many op shops through donating and buying.

Saturday 29 August 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 29th August 2015

This week's frugal tasks are varied.  I just love filling my days with tasks around my home.  It saves us so much money and I feel a great sense of achievement knowing I'm doing the very best I can for my family.  Here's this week's list -

*  Made soap for the very first time.  I was a little nervous of the unknown but all went very well.  Now I'm waiting for the soap to harden ( cure ) which takes six weeks.  Only five more to go until I can try it.  I'm hoping to sell the odd bar or use as gifts to recoup the costs.  A blog post on soap making will come soon.

*  Turned the heater off for a few days as the weather was mild.  I can feel Spring in the air.

*  Went to the shops for milk fruit and veg on Tuesday.  A few things on my list were a little dear so I bough other fruit that was cheaper like pears for 99 cent a kilo instead of apples ranging from $1.99 ( old apples ) - $5.99.

*  Tipped the crumbs from the bottom of the Wheat Bix packet into the  Seasoned Bread Crumbs container.

*  Made another batch of Miracle Spray. This 2 litre bottle is kept in the kitchen under the sink and the one I made last week is for the laundry.

*  Made a batch of Easiyo yoghurt.  I then saved two tablespoons of that yoghurt to make a batch of sweetened yoghurt.

*  Made some pumpkin scones using cooked pureed pumpkin from the freezer.

*  Gifted a jar of relish from my stockpile and a jar of Cranberry Hootycreek biscuits for a 50th birthday party on Saturday.  The gift tags were home made.

*  Made six loaves of bread.  Two loaves were white bread with chia seeds and four were Wholemeal Bread with extra Goodness.

*  Recycled lots of bread bags from a charity bbq.

*  Saved all the washing machine water for each next load.  Dried the sheets on the line and the rest on clothes horses.

*  Picked our first head of broccoli for the year.

*  Picked more lemons from our tree.

*  Picked some silverbeet to go with a meal.

A homemade gift
Biscuits and relish for a 50th birthday gift.
Soap making
Getting the bread dough ready for the tins.
Buckling under the weight of all the rain.
Peach tree flowers.  Spring is almost here.
Our broccoli

What 's on your frugal list for this week ?

Thursday 27 August 2015

My Menu Plan 16th August - 15th September 2015.

After a few months of not having a menu plan,  it's wonderful to get back into the routine.  My mind is a ease and the family just loves to see what's on the menu for tea each night.

Here's the long awaited menu plan for the Gower's -

Sun 16th   -  lunch at Cath's place after arriving home from the workshop.  Get Your Own that night.

Mon 17th  -  KFC drumsticks with tomato relish,  wedges and salad
Tues 18th  -  Tuna Pasta Bake with greens
Wed 19th  -  Meals out of the freezer
Thurs 20th  -  Fish in foil,  rice and steamed veg
Fri 21st  -  Homemade hamburgers and wedges
Sat 22nd  -  Veggie soup and toast
Sun 23rd  -  Get your own but feed me 

Mon 24th  -  KFC drumsticks ( we have lots in the freezer ), mash and steamed veg
Tues 25th  -  Homemade meat pie with steamed veg
Wed 26th  -  Meat pie leftovers and anything from the freezer
Thurs 27th  -  Roast chicken with roast veg and cauliflower and white cheese sauce
Fri 28th -  Spag bol with garlic and herb toast
Sat 29th  -  Chicken curry with rice
Sun 30th  -  Get your own but feed me.

Mon 31st  -  Honey soy drumsticks with mash and steamed veg
Tues 1st  -  Beef stew and mash
Wed 2nd  -  Wedding Anniversary so maybe out for tea
Thurs 3rd  -  Fish in foil,  wedges and steamed veg
Fri 4th  -  Rissole casserole with mash
Sat 5th  -  Chops,  mash and steamed veg
Sun 6th  -  Father's Day.  Might cook something special at home

Mon 7th  -  Saucy chicken drumsticks with rice and steamed veg
Tues 8th  -  Chop suey and mash
Wed 9th  -  Roast leg of lamb with roast veg and steamed veg
Thurs  10th  -  Tuna casserole and greens
Fri 11th  -  Shepherds pie made with left over lamb
Sat 12th  -  Homemade meat pie with steamed veg
Sun 13th  -  Get your own but feed me

Mon 14th  -  KFC drumsticks with mash and steamed veg
Tues 15th  -  Homemade lasagne with steamed veg


*  I don't cook on Sundays.  We are generally busy with church or family get togethers.  I cook six nights a week for my family so Sunday night is their turn to serve me.  It also gives them a chance to learn new skills in the kitchen.

*  The menu plan is not set in stone.  If something comes up I just swap it around.

*  I always defrost the meat in the fridge as it's the safest way I know.  If something comes up and we can't eat it that night,  it's safe for another day.

*   The veggies we eat are the cheapest in season I can find.  We also have lots of blanched veggies in the freezer.  Someone commented on an earlier menu saying we eat a lot of potato.  As I said,  the menu isn't set in stone.  Some nights I look at the menu and might change the mash to rice.

*  We don't have any special dietary requirement in my family.

* We rarely have dessert as the main meals are enough.

*  Left overs are frozen that night and written into the menu plan as a free / freezer meal.

lasagne and streamed veg
chicken curry in the slow cooker
Family meat pie
Hamburgers and wedges at home
fish in foil

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Grocery Specials Wednesday 26th August 2015

Here are this week's best grocery specials -


*  Vegeta Stock 180g-250g 1/2 PRICE Was $3.59, Save $1.80  Now $1.79 each.  This is the best price I've seen Vegeta reduced to.  Well worth stocking up as it might not come on sale again until next Winter

*  Heinz Tomato Big Red Soup 420g 1/2 PRICE Was $2.20, Save $1.20  Now $1.00 each

*  Dolmio Extra Pasta Sauce 490g-500g 1/2 PRICE Was $3.29, Save $1.65  Now $1.64 each.  Although I make my own,  at this price it's worth grabbing a few jars to donate to charities / churches for Christmas hampers.

*  Imperial Leather Body Wash 1 Litre 1/2 PRICE Was $9.00, Save $4.50  Now $4.50 each

*  Brut 33 Deodorant For Men 150g 1/2 PRICE Was $6.29, Save $3.30  Now $2.99 each.  Norsca is the same price as well.


*  Australian Strawberries 250g Punnet Australian Grown.Now 2 for $2.80 or $1.98 each, Save $1.16.  A fantastic price at this time of the year.  Can be frozen for smoothies,  jam making or icecream.

*   Arnott’s Country Cheese, Cheds or Sesame Wheat 250g Now $1.89 each 1/2 Price, Save $1.90.  The country cheese are a childhood favourite.  At this price I'm almost tempted to buy a box.

*  Pantene Shampoo or Conditioner 900ml Now $7.84 each 1/2 Price, Save $7.85

*  Energizer Max AA Batteries Pk 10 Now $6.58 each 1/2 Price, Save $6.59 AAA are on sale too.

*  20% Off All iTunes.  The picture includes the $20 itunes card.  This is great as so often you can't get a discount on the $20 one.  Great for Christmas presents.

*  1/2 price on a large range of Bonds underwears ,  socks etc.

Monday 24 August 2015

Hot Chocolate Drink Mix

I orginally found a recipe for Hot Chocolate Drink Mix on The Cheapskate's Club website back in 2010.  After reading the free newsletters for a couple of months,  I really wanted to pay for a membership to get access to all the recipes in the recipe file.  This was one of my first light bulb moments when I found I could make my own hot chocolate instead of buying Milo which is dear and tends to go hard when it's not used for a while.

The beauty of finding a recipe is that you can make your own changes to suit your family's taste.  That's what I've done and here's my version

2 cups of milk powder - full or skim milk
1/2 cup of castor sugar or regular white sugar
1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
1/2 cup of coffee whitener - optional

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a whisk.
Store in an air tight container

To serve, use 2 teaspoons of the mix in boiling water.  Add a little milk and extra sugar if desired


*  No name cocoa powder can be used.  This is what I use

*  Coffee whitener is found in the tea  / coffee aisle.  It's usually on the bottom shelf.

*  If you don't want to use coffee whitener,  then just add a little extra milk powder.

*  This makes a wonderful present either given in a glass jar or in a cello bag decorated with a ribbon.

Saturday 22 August 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 22nd August 2015

Last weekend Cath from The Cheapskates Club and myself ran a workshop in Adelaide.  It was so great to meet like minded people willing to learn new budgeting skills.  I met up with Annabel from The Bluebirds Are Nesting blog and Tania from Outback Tania blog.  Such lovely ladies and we felt like we'd known each other forever.

We had a camera crew there for most of the day from the tv show Today Tonight.  The sound man came in to listen to my talk about feeding a family for $300 a month.  I thought he'd come back into the room to unhook me from the microphone.  He said he was listening and leaning.  That put a smile on my face.

Lots of information and tips was shared around the room from locals who know where to get the best deals.  So many came away from the day inspired and ready to tackle their budgets.

Please watch this space as Cath and I hope to do more workshops very soon.

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

* Gratefully received some apples,  English breakfast muffins and some lemon slice.

*  From the Adelaide Cheapskate's workshop I bought home a small bag of lollies,  a couple of packets of snack sized biscuits,  a few tea bags,  sugar,  coffee sticks,  accom toiletries and a bottle of water.

*  Bought $1 toothbrushes from Woolworths while I was in Adelaide.   I also bought more toothbrushes for 59 cents and Dove soap for 89 cents from Terry White chemists.

*  Made the most of the Spotlight 30% off sale to buy some card making equipment.  I used my clothing allowance from Winter as I didn't buy many clothes.

*  Gratefully received a gift from my blogger friend Annabel.  She bought me some baking supplies.  The wrapping paper is beautiful and will be used for card making.

*  Froze two single portions of left over tuna pasta bake.

*  Ate out of the freezer three nights in a row.  I need to make more room in the freezer for when legs of lamb come on sale in Spring.

*  Saved all washing machine water for each next load and dried all clothes on clothes horses.

*  Fed the compost bin with lots of kitchen scraps.

*  Fed the chickens some bread crusts and grass.

*  Juiced and froze some more lemon juice.

*  Made a double strength batch of Miracle Spray.

*  Emptied the supermarket shelf of white choc bits on sale in Coles.  Mind you,  they only had three packets.  I received a rain check for six more packets.  This rain check is valid for twelve month so I'll save it and try to get more stock while the sale is still on.

*  Filled up with petrol before it goes back up..

Annabel,  Cath and myself
Fellow bloggers - Annabel,  Cath,  myself and Tania
Cath doing her talk.
Annabel talking about the beauty industry.
Everyone's place setting with a goody bag and biscuits.
Our room is ready
Ready to go
The present from Annabel
Flowers Darren is growing
On my kitchen windowsill.

What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Grocery Specials Wednesday 19th August 2015

Here are this week's best grocery specials -


*  Gold’n Canola 4 Litre 1/2 PRICE Was $18.00, Save $9.00  Now $9.00 each

*  Alfa One Rice Bran Oil 3 Litre 1/2 PRICE Was $18.00, Save $9.00  Now $9.00 each

*  Maharajah’s Choice Basmati Rice 5kg 1/2 PRICE Was $17.50, Save $8.75  Now $8.75 each

Cadbury Cooking Chocolate 200g-225g 1/2 PRICE Was $4.19, Save $2.10  Now $2.09 each.  At this price it's worth stocking up.

*   1/2 PRICE Décor. Excludes clearance items. 2nd week on sale

*   Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion 354mL 1/2 PRICE Was $13.40, Save $6.70  Now $6.70 each


*  40% off Inspire bathroom manchester.

*  Morning Fresh Dishwashing Liquid 400ml Now $1.97 each 1/2 Price, Save $1.98

*  TRESemme Shampoo or Conditioner 750-900ml Now $5.24 each 1/2 Price, Save $5.25

Monday 17 August 2015

Padded Hearts - A Simple Craft.

I'm not overly crafty but this is a simple one.  If you can thread a needle,  then this craft is for you.  I've made these for teacher's presents,  little girl's birthday presents and as Christmas decorations for the tree and dining chairs.  Megan has one hanging on her bedhead.

Here's what you need -

15 centemetre paper shapes.
Scrap pieces of material
Contrasting cotton

Print off or hand draw a few different shapes that are approximately 15 cm high.  Cut the desired shape out and pin it to a double layer of printed material ( right sides facing out ).  Cut the material shape out with normal material scissors or pinking shears ( zig zag ).

Starting on a straight edge,  sew simple straight stitches about 1/2 centimetre from the edge.  The stitches should look like tacking stitches.

Continue stitching until you are about 3 centimetres from the start.

Stuff the shape with a little wadding.  Just use a very small amount  at a time.  The shape needs to be slightly padded but not like a cushion.

Stitch up the remaining fabric and tie off and cut the cotton.

Attach a small ribbon to form a loop with a few stitches.

Add a little ribbon bow with a few stitches tying a knot at the back.

Some shapes can be joined together with a few stitches to form a wall hanging or to hang on the back of a dining chair.

Saturday 15 August 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 15th August 2015

Hi everyone.  By the time you read this post Cath and I will be in Adelaide meeting some lovely people who want to learn how to live well on less.  My list is a little shorter this week as I've been preparing for the workshop,  packing and getting the house ready for me to leave.

Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Made a double batch of Cranberry Hootycreek biscuit dough for the freezer.

*  Cleaned the dishwasher with bi carb and vinegar.  I wiped the inside of the door and seals with Miracle Spray.

Cleaned the kettle with citric acid.  It looks like new.

*  Cleaned the inside of the washing machine with vinegar and a small squirt of detergent.  Cleaned out the lint bag and holder with detergent and a toothbrush.

*  Made seven male birthday / all occasion cards for the first ever Cheapskate's card swap.

*  Kept the heater off when the sun was shining through the windows.

*  Picked up 1 kilo bags of carrots for 69 cents,  pears for 99 cents a kilo and small mandarins also for 99 cents a kilo.

*  Made a double batch of peanut butter choc chip biscuit dough for the freezer.

*  Made two chocolate cakes.  One for the family to eat and one for church morning tea on Sunday.  It's our turn to serve tea and coffee but I'll be in Adelaide so the cake for this is in the freezer for the family to take out Sat night.

*  Made a double batch of Raspberry and white choc muffins for lunchboxes and the freezer.  Gee,  the freezer gets fed well.

*  With both Darren and I having colds,  we eat simpler,  cheaper meals a couple of nights.  Eggs featured in a few meals as well  as English breakfast muffins.

*  Saved lots of washing machine water and dried most of the clothes on clothes horses.

I'm learning to make men's cards.
Filling the oven with baking.
Chocolate cake
Raspberry and white choc muffins

What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Grocery Specials Wednesday 12th August 2015

Here are this week's super duper grocery specials -


*  Ocean Spray Craisins 150g-170g 1/2 PRICE Was $4.10, Save $2.10  Now $2.00 each

*  TRESemmé Shampoo or Conditioner 750mL-900mL 1/2 PRICE Was $10.50, Save $5.25  Now $5.25 each

*  Reflex A4 Copy Paper 500 Sheets 1/2 PRICE Was $6.99, Save $3.50  Now $3.49 each

*  Birds Eye Ocean Selections Atlantic Salmon 700g 1/2 PRICE Was $31.00, Save $15.50  Now $15.50 each


*  Multix Cling Wrap 33cm x 60m Now $2.00 each Save $1.69  

*  30% off selected Inspire bakeware and Pyrex.

*  Pine O Cleen Disinfectant 1.25 Litre Now $2.49 each 1/2 Price, Save $2.50.  This is the best possible sale price.  Worth buying a few bottles.

* Kleenex Viva Paper Towel Pk 3 Now $2.47 each 1/2 Price, Save $2.48

*  40% of all Garnier hair color.

*  Colgate Extra Clean Toothbrush Pk 1 Now $1.00 each 1/2 Price, Save $1.00.  Well worth buying lots.

*  Colgate Waxed Dental Tape 50m Now $2.03 each 1/2 Price, Save $2.04  

*  30% off all Palmolive hair, hand wash,  and body wash

*  Garnier Fructis Shampoo or Conditioner 250ml 1/2 Price.Now $2.72 each, Save $2.73  All Garnier Haircare & Skincare 1/2 price.

*  Cadbury Sharepacks 160-180g Now $2.29 each 1/2 Price, Save $2.30

Please feel free to add any specials you find.

Monday 10 August 2015

Rissole Casserole

This is another one of my made up recipes.  I love a good casserole and mash and this one ticks all the boxes.  I'm the best Mum ever when I make this for my family.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

500 grams of beef mince
1 medium carrot peeled and diced
2 – 3 medium mushrooms sliced
½ a zucchini diced
1 cup of frozen or fresh beans
1 stick of celery diced
1 tin of tomato soup
Salt and pepper to taste
Good shake of dried oregano,  basil,  onion flakes and garlic
500 - 700 ml of water
1 cup of uncooked shell or 1 1/2 cups of spiral pasta

Roll mince into small balls. 
Place into a large oblong casserole dish. 
Add carrot,  celery,  mushrooms,  beans and zucchini over the top. 
Sprinkle on the seasonings.  
Mix the soup with 500 - 700 ml of water and pour over everything..
Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 40 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius 
Take out of oven,  remove the foil and add the pasta.  
Push the pasta under the liquid so that it cooks.  Replace the foil.  
Return to the oven for a further 20 minutes or until the pasta has cooked through. 
Serve with mash and crusty bread.  

Serves 4 – 6 people. 
Freezes well.


*  If you have the time,  brown the rissoles in a fry pan first then add to the casserole dish.

*  I'm all for budget ingredients but this is a dish that needs a good quality tomato soup.  The Aldi brand is strong in flavour and dilutes well without loosing too much taste. Please don't use a generic brand unless you add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste for extra flavour..

*  This is a recipe where you can add any vegetables you have on hand. 

*  Left overs are great on toast.

Winter comfort food.
Browned rissoles with added carrot.
Adding silverbeet - because I can.
Ready to serve.

Saturday 8 August 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 8th August 2015

Here are this week's frugal tasks.  I hope you can add your list to this post.

*  Fixed my vacuum cleaner.  One small part broke off when I was cleaning the filters.  This part helps to keep the filters in place so that the main barrel can be locked in.  My $6 bottle of super glue saved me spending $150 -  $600 on another vacuum cleaner.

*  Used some peanut butter choc chip biscuit dough from the freezer to bake cookies for the Cheapskates card making afternoon.

*  Gratefully received lots of card making scraps from Joy.

*  Used some frozen chocolate brownies to take to an afternoon tea.  They were meant to be for Darren's birthday party but I forgot all about them.

*  Sold two dozen eggs and some card making starter kits.

*  Picked some silverbeet from the garden to hide in a chop suey for tea one night.

*  Gratefully received some left over biscuits ( cookies ) from the card making afternoon.  These were eaten for morning teas at home and school.

*  Finally wrote out a menu plan for the next six weeks.  Life has been very unpredictable lately so it was too hard to stick to a plan.  We did eat out of the freezer though so all is good.

*  Made a batch of Miracle Spray.  Even though it was for a tv story,  I still needed to make some.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread.

*  Saved the bath water and bucketed it into the washing machine.

*  Lined the bathroom bins with saved bread bags

*  Made lots of pita chips for snacks.

*  Made a double batch of peanut butter choc chip biscuit ( cookie ) dough for the freezer.

Chocolate brownies
Bread making
Pita chips
Peanut butter choc chip biscuit dough
Making Miracle Spray
Lining the bathroom bin.