Saturday 29 September 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 29th September 2018

This week has seen me move my cleaning jobs around to accommodate the public holiday on Friday. Housework was slotted in around work,  gardening cooking and baking.  I'm a person who thrives on schedules and order so to have a topsy turvy week was a challenge for me.

For those who did not see my post on Facebook,  Darren and I announced we will be grandparents next March with Megan and her boyfriend Kurt expecting a baby.  We are excited,  a little nervous and suddenly feeling about 20 years older.  I've made lots of trips to Savers ( ok,  more than  usual ) to buy up on baby clothes,  a baby bath,  blankets and other goodies.  It's amazing what good quality things people donate and the cheap prices they are sold for.

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

*  Made up two bottles of diluted Dynamo laundry liquid.  Usually I use my homemade laundry powder but work uniforms need something with a fragrance to cut through the grease smell.

*  Made a whole orange cake using a couple of small oranges given to me last week.  I'm hoping to freeze the rest of the oranges for future baking.

*  Donated a couple of bags of goodies to Savers and received a 20% off discount stamp.

*  Made up two bottles of diluted Windex window cleaner.  It still works just as good as the full strength.  The diluted ratio is 50: 50

*  Made two bottles of Miracle Spray to sell to a couple of cleaning clients.

*  Made chunky chicken and veg soup.  First I made  stock in the slow cooker using one drumstick,  one wing and bones from a quarter of chicken.   Then I made the soup on the stove top.  There was plenty of meat and the soup made seven portions for the freezer.

*  Froze leftovers from chop suey and  spag bol.

*  Fed weeds,  Spring grass and bread crusts to the chickens.

*  Picked silverbeet to add to two meals.

*  Megan,  Kurt and I went to Savers to buy baby clothes and maternity clothes.  I was able to give them a discount card with 20% off on it.  This saved them $16.

*  Picked flowers from the garden to brighten up my kitchen.

*  Sold two dozen eggs.

*  Dried the washing on the line.  I changed my wash days to suit the weather.

*  Gratefully received more lemons.

From the garden

Selling excess eggs

Silverbeet added to chop suey.  Yum

How did you save money this week ?

Have you tried a new frugal task lately ?

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Budget Party Food For Kids ( Or Adults )

About 4 years ago,  Jessica was turning 17 and deciding how to celebrate her birthday without blowing the family budget.  Money was super tight back then with Darren only working one day a week and myself cleaning homes two days a week.  We've always celebrated each birthday with a party or dinner out no matter how much money we've had.  Birthdays are important and worthy of a celebration.

After much deliberation Jessica decided to have four or five of her friends over to watch a movie.  Homemade sausage rolls and mini quiches were on the list.  For sweets she decided on a few slices and MOO ( make our own ) sundaes.  MOO sundaes have been a big hit with the teens. We've just  put out a tub of no name vanilla icecream, choc topping, nuts and a few bowls of small lollies and let the teens design their own desserts.

Other party food I've made in previous years for my girls have been -

Honey joys
Fruit platters
Mini pizzas
Mini muffins
Jelly and custard cups
Spag bol
Homemade hamburgers
Bbq ( generally sausages in bread with toppings )
Dip and biscuit platters
Scones, jam and cream
Choc brownies
Lemon slice

As well as the sausage rolls and mini quiches. I've found homemade food is a bigger hit than a bowl of chips. Over the years I've also cut down on the food too as ' less is more ' seems to work better. It reduces food waste and reduces the cost.

Whatever food I make is made on a budget and most of the ingredients I already have.  The money comes out of my food slush fund so that I don't break the budget. Generally for a larger party I make three savoury dishes and three sweet.

Mini quiches

Apple rose pastries



Sausage rolls

How do you cater for kids / teenager birthday gatherings ?

What is your family's favourite party food ?

Saturday 22 September 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 22nd September 2018

I've enjoyed the beautiful Spring weather this week and tried to make the most of it.   The chickens ran around the backyard,  Princess watched on with interest and I weeded,  watered and pottered around in the glorious sunshine.  Here's what else I got up to -

*  Gratefully received apples from a friend.

*  Gratefully received some card making supplies from a friend.

*  Tidied up my pantry,  wrote a menu plan for the next four weeks then wrote out the shopping list.

*  Sold two dozen eggs. We now have three out of four chickens laying.

*  When grocery shopping on Monday I picked up sausages,  casserole steak and diced beef on clearance.

*  Made 17 hamburger patties from 1 kilo of beef mince.  By adding an egg,  seasoned bread crumbs  seasonings and two finely grated carrots I added just over 400 grams to the total weight of the meat making it stretch further.  I've frozen then for future bbqs and the up coming Grand Final day.

*  Saved shower warm up water to use on the veggie seedlings and mango trees.  Saved the washing machine rinse water for each next load.  Saved water from drink bottles to soak dirty saucepans.  Every little bit helps and we do see a small reduction in our water bill.

*  Received and used a $20 voucher from the Good Guys department store.  When we bought our fridge last year we bought an extended warranty for another few years.  We don't normally buy extended warranties but we've had trouble with new fridges and freezers over the last few years.  The extended warranty offers $20 vouchers 3 - 4 times a year for the life of the warranty so effectively we get our money back.  This time I used the voucher to put towards a Christmas present for Darren.

*  Made salmon patties in bulk.  From two tins of salmon I made 34 patties.  We had some for dinner that night and the rest were divided into meal sizes and frozen

*  Made more pita chips for snacks.  I baked them in the oven while I was cooking a chicken flan for dinner at the same time.  We seem to be eating a fair few of them lately.  Then make great nachos without the preservatives and colorings that corn chips have.

*  Made pumpkin scones from a pumpkin given to us.  Most went into the freezer to be enjoyed at afternoon tea time.

*  Filled up both our cars just before petrol skyrocketed again.  I got petrol for $1.41 and Darren got it for $1.43.  The price jumped to $1.67 the next day.

*  Gratefully received lemons and oranges.

*  Found trays of chicken drumsticks in Coles reduced to $3.20 per kilo.  They are decent sized drumsticks so we'll only need one each when I serve them.

Grocery total so far including the chicken drumsticks $110.15

Pumpkin scones

Hamburger patties ready to freeze

Plum tree in full bloom

Using a supermarket crate to grow more strawberry plants.

Are you making the most of the Spring weather ?

Do you have anything edible growing in your backyard ? 

Wednesday 19 September 2018

My Monthly Grocery Shop Sept / Oct 2018

As you are probably aware,  I feed my family on a very tight budget.  At the moment I'm feeding three adults and one cat.  For the last 4 - 5 months the grocery budget has been $120 per month including basic cleaning supplies and toiletries.  It has been tight some months with either no money left over or needing to use the grocery slush fund to make it to the end of the month.

Due to this I've increased the grocery budget to $150 per month.  Sept / Oct is the first grocery shop with the new budget.  We'll see how I go.  Lots of readers have asked for my shopping list to see what I'm buying.  I don't mind sharing but typing out all the items and prices would be time consuming. So here are the photos and receipts of the purchases so far -






If you are wondering where the rest of the food is,  please remember I have a very good stockpile of pretty much everything.  I have enough toilet paper,  toothpaste,  toothbrushes,  deod,  shampoo,  conditioner and makeup for the next year or two.  I make my own soap instead of using shower gel and Darren uses it instead of shampoo.

Generally once or twice a year I stock up on herbs,  spices,  dried fruit and nuts from Hindustan Imports.  Occasionally I pop in for a couple of items that are running low.

I have enough roast beef and silverside in the freezer for the next few months at least.  I still have enough chicken drumsticks for four meals and one whole chicken.  We ran out of chicken fillets a couple of months ago but because the prices are too dear at the moment,  we are doing without.  I have two legs of lamb in the freezer waiting for a special occasion.  Each leg does about 3 - 4 meals.  The mince I bought this month is to make hamburger patties.  I still have about 3 kilos of mince in the freezer to use for other dishes.

When I did this shop I still had half a cauliflower,  one kilo of carrots,  half a pumpkin, eight potatoes and a few frozen veggies on hand.  Soon we'll be picking our own silverbeet on a very regular basis.  The mushrooms and tomatoes in the photo were for homemade pizza on Monday night.

We are not big fruit eaters in the cooler weather but I still had mandarins in the fridge and was gifted apples from a friend. 

Over the next few weeks I'll be popping into the shops to top up on milk,  fruit and veg as needed.

Saturday 15 September 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 15th September 2018

Darren and I have enjoyed the lovely Spring weather this week.  We've just started to get back into the garden to tidy up after a long cold Winter.  The raspberry plants are sprouting,  the plum tree ( small plant ) is in full bloom and the rest of the fruit trees are showing signs of new growth.

Here's what we got up to this week -

*  Made 7 jars of plum jam using fruit I froze from last Summer.  Some of these jars will be given as Christmas presents.

*  Saved tissue paper from a pair of new shoes ( in the shoe box ).  This tissue paper is great for adding to a gift bag.

*  Bought a pair of boots for next winter in Kmart for $7.  Bought Darren two pairs of Winter pjs reduced to $6 a pair.

*  Replanted our strawberry plants and weeded the area.    I also feed them with Seasol.  Hopefully they'll do better this coming season and give us enough fruit to make jam as well as eating fresh fruit.

*  Let the chickens free range while Darren and I sorted out the strawberry patch.  The chickens had a great feed of weeds and snails.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Made up two bottles of double strength Miracle Spray.

*  Watered the veggie seeds I planted last week with saved warm up shower water.

*  Froze 7 single serves of leftovers.  We are starting to get a big stockpile so it's time to write ' freezer meals ' into the menu plan.

*  Dried all the washing on the line.  I'm so happy Spring is here.  It's the money saving season with less heating being used,  no air con needed,  washing on the line and more daylight ( not needing to turn lights on as often ).

*  Gratefully received lots of bread bags from a charity bbq.  They will be used to line bins,  wrap meat and to cover bowls in the fridge.

*  Picked silverbeet from the garden for two meals.

*  Juiced and froze the last of the lemons.

*  Portioned the remaining amount of tomato paste into ice cube trays and froze.

My new $7 boots

Jam making

Strawberry patch replanted

In the garden.

How frugal was your week ?

Are you getting back into the garden ?


Wednesday 12 September 2018

Growing Vegetables Saves Money

Spring is a great time to get outside and get your garden in order before the Summer heat arrives. Spring is also the time to plant lettuce, tomato, corn, beans, zucchini, cuccumber, silverbeet and a variety of other vegetable seeds.

When starting a vegetable garden for the first time, it's best to start off small. Pick two or three vegetables for the first year and see how you go. Then for the following years add an extra one or two as your confidence and knowledge improves. By doing it this way you're not shelling out a small fortune.

Many vegetables can be grown in pots as well as a garden bed. Growing vegetables in pots can be a great option for those who are renting or who are elderly. You can place the pots on a plant stand or an old table. When the Summer heat arrives, the plants can be moved out of the searing heat. Just make sure the pots are reasonably deep and you feed and water the plants regulary as they can dry out quickly

Growing your own vegetables is an easy way to reduce your grocery budget. For example, lettuce can be grown all year round for just a couple of dollars. The salad mix variety looks pretty with all it's different colors. It's good for you and you can pick as much or as little as you need for each meal. Lettuce prices in the supermarkets vary for $1 - $3 so growing you own could save you a small fortune.

For the last few years we've been able to grow enough tomatoes to pick for our Summer salads as well as cooking and freezing about 30 tins worth.  All for about $4 for a punnet of seedlings.

Silverbeet can be grown all year round and makes a wonderful addition to chop suey,  spag bol,  lasagne and dishes that need a green.  When broccoli and cauliflower are too expensive to buy,  I just pick a few leaves from the veggie garden and lightly cook.  This becomes our ' green ' on the dinner plate.

Cos lettuce

Mixed lettuce

From our backyard


Will you be growing vegetables for the first time this year ?

Have you planted your seeds or seedlings this Spring ?

Saturday 8 September 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 8th September 2018

You might have noticed I was a little quite on the blog last week and this week.  That's because Darren and I had a short getaway to Brisbane from Thursday to Sunday last week.  I really needed some warm weather after Melbourne's extra long and extra cold Winter.  Brisbane provided us with lovely mild Spring like weather and we were able to wear t shirts and soak up some vitamin D.

We caught up with the Facebook famous Barb and her father on Thursday for a lovely afternoon tea.  They picked us up from our accommodation and drove us to a local shopping centre.  It was great to finally meet Barb after chatting on Facebook and The Cheapskates Club for the last few years.  If you are a member of pretty much any Facebook saving group,  you'd have ' seen ' Barb there.

While in Brisbane,  Darren and I also had picnic in the botanical gardens,  took a Brisbane River cruise,  rode the Brisbane Wheel ( a large Ferris wheel ),  caught up with friends,  ate out and shopped.

Due to our getaway,  I had to move a couple of cleaning jobs around,  so this week I've worked every day.  Darren will only have Sunday off this week.  With Darren's help I've managed to get our home back in order,  cleaned the bathrooms and floors and unpacked the suitcases.

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

*  Refilled the foaming hand wash pumps around the home.  We wash our hands fairly often so the pump need refilling every couple of weeks.

*  Fed the compost with kitchen scraps.

*  Gratefully received more lemons.

*  Gratefully took home all the hotel shampoos,  conditioners, coffee sticks,  toiletries and condiments that came with breakfast.

*  Stocked up on corned silverside at $6.99 kg.

*  Bought a slow cooker at Savers op shop for $14.99.  It's exactly the same as the one I already have so it will be great to have a back up.  It's in near new condition.

*  Planted lettuce seedlings,  Brussel sprout seedlings, bush  bean seeds and climbing bean seeds.

*  Picked silverbeet for one meal.

*  Bought chicken frames for $1.99 kg.  I've already cooked up one in the slow cooker to make chicken stock,  then chicken soup.

*  Dried all the washing on the line.

*  Gratefully received some card making supplies from Barb.

*  Used our Flybuys dollars to buy lunch ingredients and fruit when we were in Brisbane.

*  Fed weeds and bread crusts to the chickens.  We let them free range a few times when we were home.

*  Made pita chips for snacking.

*  Packed biscuits, chocolate,  tins of salmon,  bottles of water, teabags and collapsible containers to save money on our holiday.  We bought a salad bowl from Coles and added the salmon to the collapsible containers for our picnic lunch.

                                          The Brisbane Botanical Gardens

Brisbane City

Darren and a street performer

Butterflies on a building in the Queen Street Mall

Brisbane view from Mount Coot - tha

Goodies collected from our room.

The op shop slow cooker

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Wednesday 5 September 2018

Shopping The Supermarket Specials

One way to reduce your food budget without compromising on quality is to buy brand name items on special. Most branded items come on sale at some time. Some of them come on sale every 4 or 6 weeks while others like soups will be more of a seasonal sale item. 

Checking catalogues on a regular basis is a great starting point. If you see something on sale that you would normally use, ask yourself these questions before you buy-

* Do I normally use this item ?
* How many can I use within a good time frame ?
* Is this a good price or is there a better sale price ?
* How many can I store ?
* How many can my budget afford ?

A good sale price ( for me ) is 30 - 50 % off. When it's a 50% sale and a much used item I've been known to clear out the supermarket shelf. I can do this because I always have spare money in my food slush fund especially for this purpose.

If you don't have a food slush fund yet, see if you can buy an extra one or two items. Then when you go shopping next time you can cross that item off your list. This will free up some money to buy a different item on sale. Then the cycle begins. Your food spending will gradually decrease as you shop the sales. Before you know it you'll be buying everything on sale and your grocery budget will be slashed.  

Do you shop the sales ?

What grocery item will you bulk buy ?

You can never have too much tea.

A Winter sale item

Saturday 1 September 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 1st September 2018

Many of our frugal tasks revolve around our kitchen.  Food waste is a big problem around the world with people buying too much food and throwing too much out.  If I see food in our bin,  I see dollar signs.  Simple things like freezing leftovers  or saving bread crusts for other uses could save a household $20 - $30 a week.

Here's how we saved money this week -

*  Gratefully received some beetroot from my Dad's garden.

*  Hand washed the dinner dishes most nights instead of using the dishwasher.

*  Made a large lasagne for dinner one night.  I portioned it up into 12 pieces and froze the rest for future meals. We love lasagne but it can be time consuming to make.  By portioning it out and freezing,  I don't have to make another one for 3 or 4 months.

*  Started collecting eggs from our chickens.  One or two have started laying again after moulting and the weather being too cold to lay.

*  Reused a couple of snaplock bags for different purposes.  I try not to use them too often,  but after each use they are washed,  dried inside out then stored again for the next time.

*  Gratefully received bread bags to reuse / recycle many times over before they are put in the Redcycle bin at Coles.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.  We've enjoyed a yummy breakfast each morning of toast with homemade lemon butter.

*  Jessica gratefully received a bag of clothes from a friend.

*  Gratefully received quite a few muffins leftover from Jessica's work.

*  Made pita bread pizzas on Sunday night instead of giving in to the takeaway urge.  Usually we make our own pizza bases with this recipe but we'd been out all day and the pita bread makes a quick yet tasty base.

*  Dried some washing on the line,  some on clothes horses over the ducted heating vent and a few things went into the dryer.

*  Took up a pair of jeans and adjusted the neckline of a new top.

*  Fed bread crusts, old fruit and weeds to the chickens to vary their diet.  We also let them free range around our backyard for a few hours ( until the silverbeet became a snack for one of them ).

*  Refilled the foaming hand wash pumps with diluted shower gel.  Refilled all the Miracle Spray bottles around our home.

Refilling the spray bottles with Miracle Spray

We are getting a white egg every day or so.

The feathered girls.

How did you save money this week ?

Are you trying to reduce the food waste in your home ?