Wednesday 29 August 2018

5 Quick Ways To Save Money

Saving money doesn't have to be painful or time consuming.  Keep the cash in your purse and still live a great life.

*  Take a well prepared shopping list with you when you do the grocery shopping.  Stick to the list.

*  Borrow CDs,  DVDs and magazines from your local library.  They are free to borrow and could save you a small fortune.  Having more variety and less clutter are added bonuses.

*  Cut your own hair.  If your hair needs a basic trim,  ask a family member to do it for you.  Jessica has just started going to a hairdresser but if she needs a trim,  I use my $10 Kmart scissors ( bought about 20 years ago ).  Megan has been to a hairdresser twice and didn't like the result.  She won't let anyone but me touch her hair now.

*  Carry a bottle of water wherever you go.  Keeping hydrated is important and will save a trip to the doctor.  If you are out longer than first planned,  a bottle of water will keep you going instead of ducking into a café.

*  Add extra veggies to a casserole to stretch the meal.  Freeze the leftovers.

Saturday 25 August 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 25th August 2018

Weekends seem to be a great time to get lots of frugal jobs done.  Here's what I got up to this week -

Made raspberry and white chocolate muffins using raspberries we grew last Summer.

*  Made a batch of soap with olive oil and coconut oil.  It's hardened pretty quickly so as soon as I try it I'll let you all know if it's a good one.  I'll post the recipe in the next couple of months.

*  Sold soup,  muffins and mini quiches to a cleaning client.  She was most grateful for the goodies due to her life being super busy looking after her extended family.

*  Bought a large tray of sausages marked down by 20%.  I bag the sausages up into meal sizes so nothing is wasted.

*  Redeemed a $20 voucher for the kitchen shop called House.  I put it towards a candy thermometer for soap making ( hot process ) and a small frypan marked down from $70 to $20.

*  Gratefully received a bag of lemons.

*  Darren and I attended a free movie night at our church last weekend.  We saw the movie I Can Only Imagine.  If you get the chance to watch it please do.  It's based on a true story about forgiveness.

*  Used the door snake and closed the curtain when the temperature dropped and the winds picked up.  Every little bit helps to keep our energy usage down.

*  Saved the shower warm up water,  drink bottle water and washing machine water to reuse where we could.

*  Planted lettuce seedlings in the veggie garden.

*  Fed the compost bins with kitchen scraps.

*  This week's op shop finds - a white lamp shade for $2.99,  a study stainless steel potato masher and slotted spoon for $2.99 together and Royal Albert melamine plates ( new ) 2 for $2.99.  I like to pop in once a week because I never know what I'll find.

Olive oil and coconut oil soap

Raspberry and white chocolate muffins

Mini quiches

 As of the start of September I will no longer be publishing readers comments if there is no name attached to the comment.  

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Drinks - The Added Cost

Have you ever wondered why your grocery bill doesn't decrease to the amount you want ?  I have countless people tell me that it's impossible to feed a family for under $300 a month. YES, people really do tell me that yet my monthly food budget has been $300 since October 2010. In February 2014 due to financial circumstances our food budget was reduced to $270 a month. By November 2015 I'd lost most of my cleaning work so the food budget was slashed again to $200 a month.  Since February this year I've been feeding Darren,  myself,  Jessica part time and Megan when she pops in for just over $100 a month.

Soft drinks, cordials, juices and bottled water can add unnecessary costs to the food budget. When you think about it, none of these are necessary to keep our bodies functioning. Soft drinks are high in sugar or artificial sugars, flavourings and colorings. Even lite cordials contain too much sugar. Juice is loaded with sugar and some contain preservatives. Bottled water is so unnecessary in most parts of Australia. We have some of the best drinking water in the world and yet so much bottled water is sold at a high price.

Have a think about it. Do you really need these drinks in your fridge ? There is nothing wrong with having them as treats for special occasions. To keep your body hydrated and your skin and kidneys healthy, water needs to be consumed by the glassful and no, tea and coffee doesn't count towards your water intake.

Milk is a great source of calcium no matter what your age is. But all in moderation. I've seen families go through 6 - 8 litres a day and wonder why their children won't eat their meals or drink a glass of water ( which is free ). A glass or two a day of milk combined with cheese, yoghurt and fruit and vegetables will give you a great dose of much needed calcium.

Next time you write your shopping list have a think about the drinks you need. Will water and milk be enough ?

Saturday 18 August 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 18th August 2018

This week I got into the swing of making a few favourites from scratch.  It's probably been two years since I've had homemade lemon butter on my toast in the morning.  I just love lemon butter but with my stockpile of homemade jam in the cupboard,  it wasn't a priority.  This deliciousness can be eaten by the spoonful and is so much better than supermarket bought.

Here's what I got up to this week -

*  Made two jars of lemon butter using the lemons gifted to us.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Returned a bag of soft plastic wrapping to Coles supermarket to be recycled by Redcycle.  Not a money saving tip but a planet saving tip.

*  Tidied up the pantry and revised my shopping list after checking what I already had.   I was able to cross a few things off.

*  Juiced more lemons and froze the juice for future use.  During jam making season I go through quite a bit of lemon juice.

*  Made chicken stock in the slow cooker overnight.  From the stock I made a big pot of chunky chicken and vegetable soup. Lots of singles serves were frozen.  I just love this soup and could live off it during the cold weather.

*  Fed the compost bin and worm farm everyday with kitchen scraps and teabags / tea leaves.

*  Fed young Spring grass to the chickens.  I grab a couple of handfuls every few days to vary their diets

*  Made yoghurt using this recipe.  It's getting harder to find natural yoghurt.  The small tub I found cost about $1.80. With very careful measuring I'll be able to get four portions to make four litres of homemade yoghurt.  The other three portions of natural yoghurt are in the freezer to use as a starter for future batches.

*  Dried most of the washing on clothes horses.  A few things were tossed into the dryer.

*  Cut open a tube of a facial  scrub to scrape out every last drop.

*  Froze four single serves of leftovers.  Shortly I'll be able to write ' free meal ' into the menu plan.

*  Darren made up a jug of powdered milk when we were running a bit low on normal milk.  I'm not a fan of powdered milk but it is cheaper than normal milk and is great for cooking and baking.

Flowers from Jessica

Homemade lemon butter

Making yoghurt

Freezing tuna pasta bake for future meals

Chop suey - lots of veggies

Thankyou for all your lovely comments on Wednesday's post.  It was a hard post to write but I know we have a caring,  supportive community here.  I'm truly blessed with your kindness.

Wednesday 15 August 2018

I Just Have To Say.....

There are a few things I need to share with you.  I hope you'll pray for us and understand there are some things we cannot go into detail about.

Recently my blog has been flooded with spam comments mostly from overseas.  Generally their poorly worded comment is a giveaway and I delete them immediately.  They usually comment on very old posts from 2014.  The Soap Making post seems to be their latest target.

To avoid your comment accidentally being mistaken for a spammer,  please leave your name at the end of your comment. I don't need your whole name,  just your first name will be fine thankyou  If there is no name,  I will not be publishing the comment.  These spammers like to put links in their comment to obscure or rude websites.  This is not something I'd like anyone else to see.

Occasionally there is a very rude commenter who does the rounds of different blogs. These comments are never published by myself or my blogger friends.  Infact,  I don't bother to read them anymore.  Please uphold blog writers in prayer.  At times we are judged, and attacked for no reason at all.

A few readers have recently asked personal questions publicly about our family.  Generally I try to share what I can,  but I would prefer people to private message me on Facebook.  Some things are better left unsaid.  For those who were wondering,  Megan moved out earlier this year.  She lives about 20 minutes away and continues to live quite frugally.  She loves to tell me about the grocery bargains she finds, how she tracks her energy usage on a phone app and her latest bargain find at Savers.  Darren and I are very proud of her frugal efforts.

I will continue to write this blog for as long as I have something useful to share and for as long as people are being inspired.  Every tip,  recipe or craft I put on this page I personally use in my home.  All recipes are my own inventions unless otherwise stated.  I'm more than happy for you to share my tips and recipes so that others can live an amazing life too.  I only ask if you share it on your blog or in a Facebook group that you put my name and a link to my blog.

.*   A few readers have asked for more recipes.   It's lovely that you want more,  but I don't have a truckload of recipes to share.   Each year I try to add two or three new main meal recipes to my repertoire   We are simple eaters who enjoy budget yet tasty meals.   I don't make anything up or copy and paste from other websites just to keep my blog going.  If I find a recipe I like,  I always change it to suit our budget and tastes.

Jessica continues to plan for her wedding later in the year.  She's more than happy for me to share how we've saved money along the way. I will be blogging about this next year.   It will not be a super budget wedding.  There are just some things we don't want to go cheap on.   I will say that we have found some great bargains along the way,  Savers continues to be a great source of budget friendly household items.   Friends have offered their services at discounted prices or for free as their wedding gift.  We are very blessed.

I try to read each person's comment.  I'm very grateful  that you take the time to comment and share your own experiences and tips.  There are some weeks where time is limited due to my work.  If I can't answer your question  I'm so sorry.  We are a wonderful community here and I'm more than happy for others to help with their own advice. 

2018 has had its ups and downs.  We have a family member going through chemo at the moment.  If I seem distracted or don't reply to every comment,  you'll know why.  This family member would appreciate your prayers.  The prognosis is very good but their  journey has been tough.  

I'm hoping to get more stock into my blog shop very shortly.  Please feel free to have a look at the current stock.  I'm happy to take orders if you'd like something in a different color.   I also custom make cards if you'd like something specific.  Please private message me on Facebook if you'd like to combine a few items.  Sometimes I can help you save on postage    Feel free to ask.

Thankyou for your continued support.  

Saturday 11 August 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 11th August 2018

Life as been busy at the Gower Abundant Cottage.  Darren is back at Bible College after a mid year break. He continues to work at a café and comes cleaning with me once a week   Jessica is back at Uni after her mid year break as well as working at a café / play centre at least three days a week.  My cleaning work and housework keeps me quite busy most days.  I'm finding more time on the weekend to do so many frugal tasks.  Here's what I managed to squeeze in this week -

*  Hemmed the jeans I bought from Savers a couple of weeks ago.

*  Cut up the plastic cereal bag to use as go between for separating crumpets,  chops,  hamburger patties and single serves of frozen soups.

*  Fed the compost bin everyday with kitchen scraps and teabags / tea leaves.

*  Fed handfuls of weeds to the chickens.

*  Juiced lots of lemons and froze the juice.

*  Made chicken stock in the slow cooker then made a big pot of chunky chicken and vegetable soup.  Froze some of the soup for lunches,  fed the three of us for dinner and a large amount went to church for a soup lunch last Sunday.

*  Froze single serves of dinner leftovers.

*  Froze tomato paste from an opened jar into icecube trays.  They are now in a plastic container in the freezer to use in casseroles and spag bol.  This is a great way to use up every last drop.

*  Wrote a menu plan for the next six weeks.

*  Gratefully received another blessing of lemons,  mandarins and carrots from a friend who had too many.

*  Received our water bill and saved about $60 compared to the same time last year.

*  Kept the heater off all day Tuesday and Friday due to the sunny weather.

*  Descaled the kettle using citric acid.

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

Using up bits and pieces from the fridge

Tomato paste ice cubes

Drying the washing on the shower rail

Gifted mandarins

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


Wednesday 8 August 2018

Recipes With Expensive Ingredients.

Every year I like to add two new main meal recipes to the list of family favourites. Picking a new recipe to try can be a bit challenging. I need to pick something that I think my family will like, it needs to be reasonably easy to make,  BUT most of all, it needs to fit within my food budget.

The first thing I do when I've picked a new recipe is to see if I have every ( or at least most ) ingredient on hand already. If I don't have all the ingredients I ask myself a few questions. Does this recipe really need all the ingredients ? Can I substitute some ingredients ?

The next question I ask is can I make this recipe cheaper ? By cheaper I mean can I use less meat or a cheaper cut ? Many casserole recipes I've come across require 500 grams to 1 kilo of meat to serve four people. This seems like a lot of meat. The most I would use is 500 grams. Then I bulk it out with extra vegetables so that the 500 grams of meat will serve 6 - 8 people.  Have you noticed that some recipes only have one or two vegetables in it ? Many American recipes I've come across have huge amounts of meat or cheese in it and small amounts of vegetables. I always change the recipe around to make it healthier.

Another question I ask myself is, if I need to buy a new ingredient, will my family like the new flavour ? I also only buy a small amount of a new ingredient. A few years ago I decided to try a peanut satay chicken recipe for the slow cooker. It needed coconut milk ( or cream ) so I bought a few cans thinking my family would like the recipe. They did not. The coconut flavour was too strong and the recipe didn't have a complexity of flavours. Every mouthful was hard to swallow. Never again !!!

I used the other can in a coconut cake recipe - another new recipe. We didn't like the cake either. Once again the coconut flavour was too strong. By then I think I had one can left. I ended giving it to a food drive for Christmas hampers.

I've now learnt my lesson. Only cook what we can afford and only cook what my family likes. If I need to buy anything different I now give it a lot of thought. Will it be money down the drain ? 

Have you bought different ingredients only to find that the family didn't like it ? 

Have you found strange ingredients in the back of your pantry ? How do you make a meal cheaper ?

Saturday 4 August 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 4th August 2018

Making our own,  diluting,  reusing and recycling has become a way of life for us.  It's a great life and gives us a feeling of doing the very best we can with what we have.  We are not tree huggers by any stretch of the imagination but God gave us a beautiful planet and we'd like it to stay that way.

Here's our frugal list for the week -

*  Made up two bottles of diluted Dynamo laundry liquid.  The ration is 1 part liquid to 5 or 6 parts water.

*  Made up a triple batch of laundry powder.

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

*  Cut up an old jersey knit top to use as cleaning cloths and rags.

*  Cut up and used the food processor to blitz 8 bars of laundry soap to make laundry powder.  I always like to have a small bucket of the soap blitzed up ready to make the laundry powder when it's getting low.

*  Donated 31 items to Savers and received two discount stamps.

*  Refilled the hair conditioner bottle and added a little water to the bottom to get the last bit out.  I also had the bottle upside down for an hour of two to get every last drop out.

*  Made up two big bottles of foaming hand wash solution using diluted shower gel.  The ration is 1 part gel to 4 parts water.

*  Saved the shower warm up water for the washing machine.

*  Gratefully received a box of lemons,  oranges and mandarins from a friend.

*  Jessica mended a skirt,  coat and a top.

*  Gratefully received a Savers discount card ( with stamps on it ) from a friend who had too many cards.

A fruit blessing

In the garden at the moment

Cutting the soap before blitzing.


Wednesday 1 August 2018

Bringing Afternoon Tea

When you are asked to bring afternoon tea ,  what do you do ? Do you panic and race up to the shops to grab an assortment of dips and biscuits. Do you fork out $15 - $20 for a few bits and pieces. How about those supermarket mud cakes at $6 each ?

A couple of years ago, my family went to visit some friends ( for lunch ) we hadn't seen for about 12 years. My DH volunteered for me to bring something for afternoon tea. As a young mum or newly wed I would have panicked ( slightly ) about what to bring and the time needed to prepare suitable food. I would have panicked more about the financial strain on our budget. Yes, it would have been a strain back then. Things are different now.

So the day before the visit I pulled out two logs of biscuit / cookie dough from the freezer. While I had bread baking in the oven, I sliced the dough and placed it on the baking trays and flattened the dough slightly. This makes the biscuits look more professional. As soon as the bread came out of the oven, I put the biscuits in. Easy as.

Then as the biscuits were baking, I made a lemon slice. I already had the biscuits for the slice crumbed and in a snap lock bag in the pantry ready to go. It only took about five minutes to make the slice. Later on I iced it and cut it up.

When I put three containers on my friend's kitchen bench that Sunday, she was pleased to hear that it was all home baking. Both her and her husband gratefully received the goodies and we all enjoyed eating them. When our visit was up, there was still some baking left. I said they could keep it and let them know that it had to be eaten by Friday ( for freshness ). With big grins on their faces, they informed me it wouldn't last past Tuesday, with the thought it might be eaten with their tea that night

WHAT A GREAT COMPLIMENT !!! No one ever raves about a supermarket mud cake.

The best thing was, it only cost me about $3.50 to fill two large dinner plates of delicious food and about fifteen minutes of my time. HOW GOOD IS THAT ? ! ? ! 

With a little preparation ahead of time,  supplying a plate of yummies can be a breeze.

How do you provide a plate of afternoon tea when asked ?