Wednesday 30 October 2019

Easy Holiday Meals When Travelling Part 1

We all love to eat well when on holidays without slaving away in the kitchen.  Eating out is great but can add huge costs to your holiday spending.  A little forward thinking and writing out a menu plan of sorts will give you a much deserved break and time to enjoy your holiday.  A side bonus is the food will taste just like it does when cooked at home.

*  Spag bol is always a family favourite.  If it's a local holiday then I take a premade portion of spag bol meat sauce that has been frozen.  I weigh out the pasta depending on how many people we are travelling with and take a container of grated cheese.  The cheese is also used for salad rolls we have for lunches.  If we are travelling interstate,  then I'll place all the dried herbs into a snap lock bag.  When we arrive at our destination,  all I need to buy is a tin of tomatoes,  small tub of tomato paste,  packet of pasta and a small tray of mince

*  Homemade meat pie can be made ahead of time and frozen.  Either heat it up in a microwave or heat and crisp up in the oven.  Serve with salad or steamed veggies.  The meat pie is large enough to travel many hours away from home and still stay frozen.  If weight is not an issue on your flight,  you could wrap layers of newspaper and a hand towel  around it to keep frozen ( or at least cold ).

*  Everyone loves a bbq when on holidays but the meat can cost a fortune.  A cheap option is to pack a little bag of all the seasonings you need to make hamburger patties or rissoles.  Just buy your tray of mince,  add the seasoning and a dash of tomato sauce,  mix then portion into the size you need.

*  Pancakes make great breakfast,  lunches or snacks.  Premake the mix using self raising flour,  milk powder,  a dash of salt and sugar.  When it's time to cook,  just add one egg and enough water to reach the correct consistency.

*  Custard is easy to make when your away.  Portion the custard powder,  sugar and a couple of tablespoons of milk powder into a snap lock bag.  Just add water and cook as you usually do.


Saturday 26 October 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 26th October 2019

I will admit I had a much slower week this week.  I only worked two days and spent a few days just relaxing and doing nothing much but watching tv and having  Nana naps.  After the busyness of last week,  I really needed the rest.  Here's what I managed to do when I wasn't resting -

*  Gratefully received more Moccona coffee jars through Facebook.  I gave a handmade greeting card for each jar I received.  I've almost completed replacing the plastic in my pantry.

*  Made up a jar of dry crumble topping mix to make delicious easy desserts.

*  Saved the warm up water from the shower.

*  Fed the compost bin every second day with kitchen scraps.

*  Gratefully received dried parsley,  sage and thyme from our card making group swap table.  I also received some greeting cards to cut up and repurpose into new cards.

*  Went to Hindustan Imports to stock up on bulk herbs and spices.  They are so much cheaper than supermarket prices.

*  Gratefully received a zucchini plant from my Dad.

*  Made up a big jar of brown sugar using white sugar and molasses.

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

*  Made a double batch of ANZAC biscuit dough.  Some of the dough was baked for our snacks,  some was baked and given as a birthday present in a Tupperware container and the rest of the dough went into the freezer.

*  Jessica offered to buy a couple of groceries to help stock up the fridge.  Coles didn't have any roast chickens  left for sale so Jessica asked for a voucher for a free one.  Darren picked it up a couple of nights later and we had it  with salad while the weather was warm.  The bones were put into the slow cooker to make stock.

*  Cheap meals this week were - homemade pizza and the two meals with the free chicken.

*  Finished off 30= greeting cards that were started over the last year or so.  They have been put into cello bags ready to give as swaps for jars and for donating to our local op shop.

*  Darren picked quite a few roses from our garden to put on my bedside table  Their scent is beautiful.

From the garden

Some of the finished cards

How did you save time or money this week ?

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Freezing Celery

Celery is one of those vegetables that's hard to keep fresh in the fridge.  It would have to be the one we waste the most in our house and finding ways to use it up within a week can be quite a challenge.

A few years ago I tried freezing chopped celery and it was a great success.  Here's how I do it -

*  Top and tail all the stalks.

*  Wash off any dirt.

*  Finely dice each stalk.  I use my Nicer Dicer for fast dicing.

*  Grab one handful and place in a freezer bag.

*  Squeeze out the air and tie a knot in the top of the bag.

*  Place in the freezer.


*  The celery will defrost limp and soggy.

*  Frozen celery can be added to any casserole,  soup or stew. 

*  A large ice cube tray can be used to freeze celery in smaller amounts.

Using the Nicer Dicer

Ready for the freezer

Saturday 19 October 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 19th October 2019

This week has been a busy one.  I've worked four days,  made a trip into the city with my Dad,  did the monthly grocery shopping,  cooked and baked and tried to keep on top of the housework ( with Darren's help ).  I've made a great start on next year's present shopping and I'm contemplating wrapping up this year's Christmas presents.
Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Made mini garlic breads from gifted day old bread sticks.

*  Blanched lots of broccoli then froze it for future meals.

*  Gratefully received some daisy plants from my Dad.

*  Finely diced,  bagged up and froze two bunches of celery.  I think I have enough to put in casseroles for the next 12 months.

*  We have a charity that moved just down the road from us that opened up an op shop last week.  I purchased lots of Sukin face products for $1.50 each.  I'll be bundling them up into little packs to give as presents over the next 12 - 18 months.

*  Used a $20 Coles voucher earned from surveys to buy 2 tray of mince.

*  Made 2 zucchini slices from gifted zucchinis and potatoes.  We had some with our dinner that night and froze the rest.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Made lemon butter from our own eggs and lemon juice.  I'm almost out of jam and it's at least a few months until I can get my hands on cheap or free fruit to make more.  The lemon butter is delicious on the bread I bake and turn into toast for my breakfast each morning.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and washing machine rinse water as per usual.

*  Fed the compost bin every second day with kitchen scraps.

*  Found another tv standby light to turn off at the power point.   Family members will have to figure out for themselves why the remote won't turn the tv on.

*  Picked up a couple of Stephanie Alexander colanders from the new op shop near us.  They were priced at $5 each and with their 50% off sale they came down to $2.50.  I found them on Amazon selling for just under $30.   I'll be making pasta hampers with them to give as presents.  I'm planning on including a couple of tins of tomatoes,  a packet of pasta and a small bag of spag bol dried herbs.

Cheap meals we ate this week were - Pita bread pizza and Chop suey

Broccoli ready to freeze

Zucchini slices

Chopped celery ready for the freezer

How have you saved time or money this week ?

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Making Gifts From The Garden

Giving gifts from the garden can be a very rewarding thing to do.  Often the gift costs very little or free if you use a recycled pot.  Here are some very budget conscious ideas for you to try -

*  Do you grow raspberries ?    Each Spring your old plants may send out little runner plants.  Gently dig them up and plant into a pot.  Add a little wrapping paper or a ribbon and give as a present.  When we bought our plants back in 2014 they cost $15 each from Bunnings.  A potted raspberry is a practical and free gift worth a good amount.

*  A plant pot of mixed lettuce seedlings is a colourful and practical gift.  Lettuce seeds cost only a few dollars but the packets might contain hundreds of seeds.  Now is the time to plant the seeds to have ready to pick lettuce for a Christmas present.

*  Make rose water using rose petals from your garden.  Just boil up the petals with water in a saucepan then simmer until the water changes color.  Cool with the lid on then decant into sterilised bottles or glass jars.

*  Plant a mini herb garden using recycled pots or even a small length of old guttering.  Stencil or paint the pots to customise them for the receiver.

*  Did you juice and freeze lots of lemon juice over Winter ?  Make up a big batch of lemon butter a couple of days before Christmas.  This 6 minute recipe is easy to make and tastes delicious.  Refrigerate until you give it and perhaps decorate the jar with a little ' hat ' and include a pretty teaspoon.  Op shops are a great place for sourcing pretty teaspoons.

*  Take cuttings from daisy plants during late Spring to make fabulous gifts.  Their bright,  pretty colors make a cheerful addition to any garden.

*  Lavender sachets would have to be one of the easiest gifts to make.  Pick the flower stems and dry over the next few weeks.  Pull the little flower heads off and pour into a cotton or organza bag.  Tie with a purple ribbon.  These little bags can be teamed up with a purple face washer, homemade  lavender room spray and a purple hand soap ( quite cheap in the supermarket ).

Potted up lettuce.  Isn't it pretty ?

Lemon butter

Raspberry plant as a gift

Drying lavender flowers

What gifts have you given from your garden ?

Saturday 12 October 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 12th October 2019

This week's list is an extra long one that spans two weeks.  We were quite busy last weekend trying to get our home and garden in order after being away a few times over the last three months.  We still have a long way to go but at least our garden is starting to look like a garden and not a jungle.  Princess our cat can no longer hide in the tall grass and weeds like a tiger.

The following frugal tasks are in order as they were completed so there might be a few repeats.  Hey, they all saved us a little money here and there.

*  Made a batch of pumpkin scones using pureed pumpkin I'd frozen a few months ago.  The scones were frozen for a future afternoon tea.

*  Refilled the foaming hand wash pumps around the home using diluted shower gel.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and poured it into the washing machine.

*  Dried the washing on clothes horses over the ducted heating vents.

*  Gratefully received a few lemons and jam jars from a friend.

*  Used a gift card to see Downton Abbey at the movies on my birthday.

*  I've been busy over the last few weeks converting my pantry storage from plastic into glass.  I picked up 9 large Moccona coffee jars from my local Buy,  Swap,  Sell Facebook page for free.  For each glass jar I offer one handmade greeting card.  The offers flooded in and I'm well on my way to getting rid of the old plastic containers.  The plastic containers are being reused around the home and garden sheds for non food storage.

*  Made a trip to the Dandenong Market with Megan to buy our fruit and veg.  I'm pleased to say we found better prices on a few things and enjoyed ourselves for a couple of hours.  We are going to do this every fortnight to help reduce our grocery bills.

*  Gratefully received rosemary,  sage,  thyme,  tomato seeds and  pumpkin seeds from a family member..  I already have the herbs hanging up to dry in paper bags.

*  Dried most of the washing outside.  Only uniforms were put in the dryer.

*  When Darren was returning a supermarket trolley to the collection point,  he found an abandoned trolley with a bag of apples and oranges in it.  I gratefully received them and filled up the fruit crisper in the fridge.

*  Picked and dried rosemary from our garden.  I've blitzed it into a powder which sticks better to the  vegetables I'm roasting.

*  Made a pot of chicken stock using a carcass.  The next day I turned it into a chunky chicken and veggie soup which gave us 10 serves.

*  Ate freezer meals for two dinners.

*  Washed and reused ziplock bags a few times over.  I don't use them too often but they do come in handy when we are away on holidays and saves room in the suitcase for food items.

*  Received lemons and mandarins from a friend.

*  Sorted out the linen cupboard and recycled old hand towels into mop up cloths for the laundry cupboard.  Once they are too old for that purpose,  they become cleaning cloths for my work.

Baking ingredients stored in glass jars

Large Moccona jars used for storage

Luka and Poppy trying to go to sleep

How did you save money this week ?

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Making Gifts From The Pantry

The countdown to Christmas has already begun in our home ( or at least in my mind ).  I love to be super organised and never leave present shopping or making to the last minute.

If your planning on a homemade Christmas or thinking of making a couple of presents to save a little money,  now is the time to start.

Here are some great ideas using ingredients from your pantry to turn into stunning gifts -

*  Vanilla extract can easily be made from Vodka and vanilla beans.  Buy the cheapest bottle of Vodka you can find and  decant it into smaller sterilised glass bottles with a lid.  Split  two vanilla beans in half, and place into the smaller bottle.  Replace the lid and store out of direct sunlight.  Shake every week.  Alternatively,  put 5 - 6 vanilla beans into the large vodka bottle and decant after a few months.  The vanilla extract can be used in as little as 8 weeks but some people wait for up to a year for a stronger flavour.

*  Chocolate brownie dry mixes in a jar make a wonderful baking treat for those who might not usually bake or are time poor.  Carefully layer all the dry ingredients in the jar,  place the lid on,  tie on a wooden spoon and the recipe with a luscious ribbon

*  Bath bombs require some ingredients that most pantries stock.  Here's the recipe I use.  Pack the mixture into moulds or spoon it loose into a jar and tie  a fancy spoon on.

*  As I've mentioned in many blog posts over the years,  a jar of home baked biscuits makes a great present.

*  Face and body scrubs can be made from basic pantry items.   Here's a link to some great simple recipes Face and Body Scrubs

*  Nuts and Bolts savoury snack is so simple to make using Nutri-Grain cereal, peanuts and seasonings. Store in a large glass jar and makes a great men's gift.   Here's a link to the recipe Nuts and Bolts.

Making vanilla extract.

Moccona coffee jars make great gifts

Making bath bombs

Home baked biscuits for presents

What gifts do you make from pantry ingredients ?

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Slow Cooker Tips Part 2

Last week I shared some slow cooker tips  to get the most out of your appliance. Here's the second part of the slow cooker series.  I hope you are enjoying many delicious easy meals.

*  If using frozen veggies,  cook them in the microwave first then place in the slow cooker.  This brings the temperature up a much quicker.

*  Bulk out casseroles with extra veggies.  It's amazing how far a slow cooked meal stretches.

*  If adding potato or carrots to a slow cooked casserole,  cut it into small chunks and place it near the bottom of the slow cooker where the temperature is hotter.  Also try to keep the potato and carrots under any liquid.

*  Use the right sized slow cooker for your meal.  Ideally slow cookers should be half to two thirds full.

*  Slow cooker packet mixes can be high in salt and pepper.  Use with caution and maybe use two thirds  of the mixture for the first time to get an idea of how it tastes.

*  If you have a slow,  slow cooker,  put it on about 8 am so that the food is properly cooked by dinnertime.

*  Proceed with caution if wanting to cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker.  I personally haven't tried it and never will.  I'm concerned the chicken is too big and will take too long to come up to a safe temperature.  Maybe brown the chicken in a pan first and place in a preheated slow cooker.   

Cooking beef in beef stock juices

Bread pudding in the slow cooker