Saturday 28 September 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 28th September 2019

Darren and I have spent 5 days in Ballarat this week having a mini holiday with family.  We shared a 3 bedroom period style home which made it quite economical for everyone.  We enjoyed an afternoon at Daylesford and visited the Mill Markets ( lots of collectables and antiques ).  Two days were spent at Sovereign Hill and I spent 1 1/2 hours panning for gold.  .I'm proud to say I found a few flecks of gold and one tiny gold nugget about the size of a pin head.

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

*  Sold a bottle of Miracle Spray to a cleaning client.

*  Took baking,  spag bol,  snacks, fruit and veggies from home to help with our holiday grocery costs.

*  Used our saved Flybuy dollars to buy extra groceries at Coles while we were away.

*  Bought tickets to Sovereign Hill from RACV at a discounted price.

*  Gratefully received some lemons from a friend.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Made a bottle of room spray using cooled boiled water and essential oil.

*  Fed the compost bins with lots of kitchen scraps.

*  Made a big saucepan full of veggie soup using sad,  wilting veggies from the fridge crisper.  I included cauliflower and broccoli stalks which I cut up into small cubes.  Once the soup had cooked I used the stick blender to puree it.

*  Bought an AFL ( football ) mug at half price in Coles.  This will be given as a Christmas present.

*  Cheap main meals we ate this week were - fried rice and soup with crusty bread.

*  Bought a cooked chicken while in Ballarat and used it to make our lunches for three days while we were out and about.  This $10 chicken saved us approximately $40 on lunch costs.  We took water bottles everywhere we went which saved us another $30 +

Hearty vegetable soup.

Sorry I'm short on photos this week.  I've been busy enjoying life.

How have you saved money this week ?

Wednesday 25 September 2019

Slow Cooker Tips

Do you have a slow cooker that isn't used as much as it should ?  If so,  you are not the  only one.  Quite often I'm speaking to people about slow cookers and so many people don't quite know what to do with them.

Not long after I got married,  my Mum and Dad bought me a slow cooker.  At first I couldn't understand why people would need one or what it could do that a saucepan on the stove couldn't do.  It didn't help that there was no instruction booklet in the box.

That slow cooker sat in the back of a kitchen cupboard unused for 9 years.  Then the internet came about and suddenly there were recipes and books on the subject everywhere.

Here are a few ideas and tips to get the most out of your slow cooker.

*  Turn your slow cooker on first to preheat it before putting anything in.  This helps to bring the temperature of the food to a slow boiling point much quicker and prevent food poisoning.

*  Lightly spray or grease the slow cooker insert to help with cleaning up after eating.

*  Brown beef in a frypan then transfer to the slow cooker for juicy meat and extra flavour.

*  Reserve beef juices to make a delicious gravy.  Mix a little flour and cold water in a cup ,  add a couple of spoonfuls of hot juices to the flour and water.  Mix well then slowly add to the slow cooker and whisk well.

*  Keep the lid on during cooking and only lift it to stir if really necessary.  Every time you lift the lid precious heat escapes and it takes longer to come back to a slow boil.

*  Use cheaper cuts of meat.  Inexpensive cuts of meat can be high in fat and connective tissue which is broken down during the moist slow cooking process.

One of my slow cookers from an op shop

Chicken curry

Next week I'll continue this series with more slow cooker tips.

Saturday 21 September 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 21st September 2019

Spring has finally sprung in our backyard.  We have blossoms on our plum,  peach and apricot trees.  Even our heavily pruned ( hacked ) lemon tree has 3 or 4 flowers on it.  It's great to see som many thing coming to life.  I can almost taste and smell the jam I'll be making if I get enough fruit.

Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Made lots of mini quiches and froze.  I used eggs from our chickens and silverbeet from our garden.

*  Bought lots of packets of English breakfast muffins on clearance from Coles for 63 cents a bag.  They usually retail for just over $2.  I froze the lot for breakfast and lunches.

*  Made a double batch of ANZAC biscuit dough.  I baked some biscuits from it to give as part of a present for a belated Father's Day celebration with my Dad.  The rest of the dough went into the freezer.

*  Gratefully received lots of bread bags from a charity bbq.  They will be used as bathroom bin liners,  to pick up cat poop and as an outer layer to freeze food.

*  Gratefully received fridge door seals from a friend who repairs electrical appliances.  The magnetic strip inside is great to use for different crafts.

*  Darren bought a bunch of flowers for our wedding anniversary on the 2nd of this month.  I've been able to keep them going for over two weeks by changing the water and cutting the stems every few days.

*  Cooked a roast beef in the slow cooker and got 15 portions from it.  Three were served that night as a roast dinner.  Two more roast dinners were portioned up and frozen.  Meat for two was put in gravy and frozen.  One single serve of meat was frozen in gravy.  The following night I made a Massaman Beef  Curry from two thick slices that gave me seven portions ( five were frozen ).

*  Picked up a couple of fresh pizzas on clearance from Coles for $1.75 each.  I froze them for when we have hungry family members visiting.

*  Gratefully received limes,  mint,  cupcakes and rhubarb from a friend.

*  Picked silverbeet from our garden to have as our green vegetable.

*  Fed the compost bin almost every day with kitchen scraps, paper packaging and paper towel.

*  Gratefully received tomato plants from my Dad.  There were 10 seedlings in the punnet with was too many for Mum and Dad to use.

Bargain of the week

A very tasty meal

Rosemary in our garden.

How did you save money this week ?

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Slow Cooker Roast Beef

There are many benefits to cooking beef in the slow cooker.  There's no guessing if it's cooked enough.  No fat splattering all over the oven.  No tough bits going to waste.  But best of all,  it's tastes absolutely divine and comes out super moist and falls apart as you cut it into slices.

Here's the recipe I made up a couple of years ago.

1 Bolar blade or Yearling roast beef ( or similar cut )

2 dessert spoons of Beef  Stock Powder

2 dessert spoons of French Onion Soup powder

1 kettle full of boiling water

4 tablespoons of Plain Flour

2/3 cup of cold water in a small jug

*  Preheat the slow cooker on the high temperature and spray with oil ( for easy cleaning later )

*  Brown off the meat on all sides in a fry pan

*  Place the meat in the slow cooker.

*  Add the beef stock powder and french onion soup.

*  Fill up the slow cooker with boiling water until it almost reaches the top ( 2 cm from the top or 1 inch ).

*  Place the lid on and cook for 8 - 10 hours.

*  Take the meat out,  cover with foil and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.

*  While the meat is resting,,  make the gravy using plain flour and cold water dissolved in a measuring jug.  Add a little of the hot liquid from the slow cooker to the plain flour  and water mixture and combine.  Slowly pour the mixture into the hot liquid in the slow cooker while whisking quickly to prevent lumps..


*  Leftovers can be frozen.  I like to add lots of gravy to the leftovers before freezing.  The meat seems to retain it's moisture.

*  Save two thick slices of beef and make Massaman Beef in the slow cooker the next night or freeze the slices for future cooking.

Roast beef dinner

Browning the beef

Cooking in liquid.

Saturday 14 September 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 14th September 2019

I'm back to the usual pace this week and feeling much better.  Thankyou for all the well wishes you sent.  I've started restocking the freezer with precooked meals ahead of the busy season at the end of the year. Most of my Christmas shopping is done and Megan finished her shopping this week too.

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

*  Gratefully received extra cleaning work this week.  Infact,  it was decluttering and sorting out a client's linen cupboard,  doing some washing and shopping for her due to illness.

*  Wrote a menu plan for the next two weeks.

*  Fed the compost bins with lots of kitchen scraps and paper packaging.

*  Fed grass,  bread crusts and weeds to the chicken to supplement their usual feed.

*  Picked silverbeet as our green vegetable for a few meals.

*  Bulk cooked spag bol sauce and stretched it out with grated carrot and silverbeet.  It's been portioned into serves for 2 and 4.  Some will be used for an upcoming short holiday to Ballarat with family.

*  Made a trip to Hindustan Imports to stock up on herbs and spices.  They are much cheaper than supermarkets.

*  Dug into my glass jar collection and found 8 glass jars that matched and turned them into bulk herb jars for the pantry.

*  Picked more rosemary from the garden to dry.  The last bunch was blitzed in the coffee grinder to make rosemary powder.  I'll gradually filling up the jar.
*  This week's super cheap meals were fried rice and chunky chicken soup

*  Made a trip to Savers with Megan and Luka to update Luka's wardrobe.  We found lots of great clothes for him at bargain prices.

*  Made lots of mini sausage rolls and froze them for a small gathering I'm having soon.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Baked a whole orange cake and divided the batter into different sized cake tins.  The smallest laf and mini cakes were frozen and one was iced and eaten during the week.

Orange cakes in different sizes

Mini sausage rolls

Fresh  bread and flowers.

What frugal tasks were on your list this week ?

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Let's Help With The Recycling Crisis

Recycling in Australia is now at a crisis point.  China is no longer accepting our recycling ( which is fair enough ) and recycling giant SKM has gone into liquidation following  fires at their depos and a series of bans imposed by the EPA.

This has left many councils across Australia with limited or no recycling options.  My local council has found another recycling contractor but they can only accept reduced amounts.   Homeowners have been asked to reduce what they put in their recycling bins.

With this topic being much talked about in the media,   I thought we could all share ways to reduce our recycling and maybe save a few dollars along the way.

Here are some ideas to get you started -

*  Save glass jars to store bulk amounts of herbs and spices.

*  Strawberry punnets can be used to plant veggie seeds in.  Close the lid to create a hot house for quicker germination.

*   Wash out milk and juice containers to make up Miracle Spray and hand wash  in bulk.

*  Revise your shopping list and try to buy ingredients instead of ready made food where possible.  Watch your grocery bill shrink.

*  Make your pizza at home instead of getting takeaway.  Here's my recipe for pizzas.

*  Drink water from the tap instead of buying bottled unless absolutely necessary.  Ditch the soft drinks and save them for special occasions.  Even better,  make your own lemonade while citrus fruit is still in season.

*  Newspapers make great seedling pots.  Use the newspapers as a weed barrier in the garden.  Compost your newspapers.

*  Jam making season in Australia is just around the corner.  Time to save any glass jars with a metal lid.

*  Compost your junk mail and paper grocery packaging.  Generic brand flour and sugar comes in paper..  Save some dollars and feed your compost bin.

*  Glass juice bottles and small soft drink bottles can be used to make reed diffusers.

*  Wash and reuse your glass or plastic containers instead of using cling wrap.

*  Offer cardboard boxes for free on Facebook pages like Buy,  Swap,  Sell.  They make great moving and storage boxes.

*  Ditch paper plates ( don't throw them out.  Just don't use them ) and use the good stuff.  Having a picnic ?  Then dig out the picnic basket and use the plates included.

*  Save department store gift bags,  decorate and reuse for gift giving.

*  Tins with lids can be used for pantry storage.  

My new bulk herb jars

Jam making

Homemade pizza

Decorated department store bags

What ideas do you have to reduce recycling ?

Saturday 7 September 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 7th September 2019

I've spent most of the week resting and trying to recover from this nasty cough and infection.  It's been wonderful to watch tv during the day which is a rarity for me.  I'm slowly on the mend and feeling better each day.  I continued my cleaning work but worked at a slightly slower pace.

Here are my frugal tasks for the week -

*  Used a gift card to eat dinner out for our wedding anniversary on Monday..

*  Gave Megan a haircut.  She loves the feel of freshly cut hair.

*  Bought blocks of chocolate at half price to put in our family's Christmas stockings.  I know I'm a little early but I don't like paying full price for anything if I can help it.

*   Cleaned the dishwasher with bi carb and vinegar.

*  Gave the washing machine a good wipe out with vinegar.  The drum and pipes were cleaned with Epsom salts on a hot wash.

*  Emptied the last of a Dynamo laundry liquid bottle and swished water around to get every last drop out.  This made up a 600 ml bottle of liquid which will be used over many washes.

*  Finished making a lace bunting using old doilies I no longer use and ones I bought quite cheap at op shops.  This bunting will be used instead of balloons and streamers at many family celebrations in the future..

*  Dried all the washing on the line.  I'm glad to have the clothes horses packed away for a while.

*  With the weather warming up a little I resisted the urge to turn the heater on during the day.  I made sure all curtains were wide open especially when the sun was shining.

*  Went to the Savers op shop 50% off clothing sale.  I picked up two Winter tops for myself and two tops for Luka in larger sizes.

*  Used handmade cards and recycled gift bags for Father's Day and anniversary presents.

*  Picked silverbeet from the garden as our green vegetable for three meals.  I love to shred it finely and cook it in the spag bol sauce.  I've been doing this for so long that spag bol doesn't seem right without it.

*  Jessica did a cook up of butter chicken and froze all the leftovers into single portions.  Sometimes she doesn't know if she'll be home to eat dinner with us.  By having her own freezer meals it saves her money and reduces the urge to get takeaway on the way home from work.

Lace bunting

Chocolate for presents ( and for our treats ).

How did you save money or time this week ?

Wednesday 4 September 2019

Don't Throw Out Your Dishwashing Liquid Bottles.

At a time when many people are trying to reduce their plastic waste,  finding ways to reuse what they have is a money saver as well as reducing the  environmental  impact.

Before any plastic container is thrown into the recycling bin,  I always try to find ways to reuse it around the home.  The humble dishwashing liquid bottle is no exception. Large and small bottles can be used as follows -

*  Disinfectant comes in large bottles and is hard to pour out in measured / portioned quantities.  I decant it into dishwashing liquid bottles to use on smelly washing in the washing machine.  The squirty lid makes it easy to control the flow.

*  Decant white vinegar into a dishwashing liquid bottle to squirt into the mop bucket.  Use with boiling water to wash your floors.

*  Those large bottles of laundry liquid are heavy to use and the lids seem to leak over the outside of the bottle.  Trying to measure out one capful of liquid without it dripping everywhere is challenging to say the least.  Carefully fill up  a dishwashing liquid bottle,  screw the lid on and use the squirty lid to portion the liquid into your washing machine.  Go one step further and dilute the liquid 1 part liquid to 4 or 5 parts water for fantastic laundry savings.

*  Keep a bottle of heavily diluted dishwashing liquid in your bathroom for cleaning showers and sinks.  Super cheap and works really well.

*  Foaming hand wash is a great product to use.  Make your own by diluting shower gel 1 part gel to 4 parts water.  Store it in a large dishwashing liquid bottle for refilling your hand wash pumps around your home.

How do you reuse dishwashing liquid bottles ?