Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Our Money Saving Autumn Garden

With most gardens winding down after a productive Summer,  ours continues to save us quite a bit of money.

Silverbeet grows all year round and our two plants provide us with greens on our dinner plate at least twice a week.  When broccoli is too dear to buy at the supermarket,  silverbeet is a nutricious  alternative.

Our lemon tree still has fruit from last season  as well as new fruit growing that we will be picking in a couple of months.  All fruit we cannot use straight away is juiced and frozen for year round savings.  Lemon chicken,  lemon butter,  lemon on fish and lemon drinks for sore throats are some of the ways we enjoy our lemons.  At 80 cents a lemon in the supermarket,  we are saving a small fortune.

The raspberry bushes are almost at the end of it's picking season.  Since early December we've picked over 4.5 kilos.  All fruit has been frozen as picked and turned into delicious jam a few times a year.  I also make a couple of batches of raspberry and white chocolate muffins for afternoon teas and snacks on the go. The cheapest raspberries to buy are $10 a kilo in the supermarket,  so our bounty would retail for a minimum of $45.  WINNING  !!

The last of our potatoes will be dug up in a week or two.  I'm hoping the latest crop will provide us with free potatoes for another six weeks.  The last time I bought potatoes was mid December last year.

The $4 punnet of lettuce seedlings I planted a few months ago is still growing well.  We've enjoyed many salads during the warm weather we had.  Now that it's cooled,  we like to add lettuce to our lunches of dry biscuits and tuna.  Just another way to get nutrients from  green vegetables.

In a months time I will be picking the first head of broccoli with more to follow shortly. I have many plants at various stages of growing.  If all goes to plan I'll be blanching and freezing lots of broccoli with the hope of not having to buy any for a long time ( if at all ).

We have beautiful displays of vibrant chrysanthemums growing in our flower gardens.  Not only are they enjoyed out in the garden.  We pick punches of flowers to brighten up our home and to add a pop of color.    We love to spread the joy around by taking punches of flowers to our daughter's homes when visiting. 

The chicken have enjoyed many meals of weeds and old veggie plants.  This in turn reduces the amount of chicken feed they eat.

Our labours of 2020

Our chrysanthemum display 

Enjoying flowers in the home

Darren is growing kale ( not for me )

Tiny broccoli seedling

Our bigger broccoli plants

Our lettuce patch

Lots of flowers

Our entertainment

Just coming into bloom

Silverbeet for another meal

There are always lemons.

Are you still picking anything from your garden ?

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Our Latest Frugal Tasks Saturday 17th April 2021

It's been a while since I've been able to post on my blog.    We've had so much sickness go through our family over the last 4 - 5 weeks.  I was sick for 3 weeks with a sore throat that turned into a chest infection and sinus infection.  A week into my sickness,  Megan and both her babies got gastro.  Megan ended up in hospital and Darren and I looked after the boys at different times as needed.  This was over the weekend Megan was meant to have the boys combined birthday party.  It was postponed for a month.

Then Darren got a touch of gastro but recovered quickly.  Just as I was starting to feel a little better Jessica took me away for a weekend to Daylesford.  We had a wonderful time away and enjoyed the beautiful countryside,  good food and fresh air.  

Five days after our weekend away,  Jessica was admitted to hospital with appendicitis.  She spent most of Easter in hospital after having her appendix removed then the next five days recovering at our place ( back in her old bedroom ).  Then we had the boys birthday party last weekend.

Throughout this challenging time we've tried to stay as frugal as possible.  There were a few times when we bought Subway for lunches on the run when we physically couldn't be at home to eat.  We've also stayed away from the shops..  I've been quite content to stay at home and sit in front of the tv.

Here are some of the frugal tasks we've completed lately ( that I can remember ) -

*  Collected the free flower and veggie seeds from the Woolworths promotion.  Darren has made plans to plant them out..

*  Picked flowers from the garden to brighten our day.  When we were preparing Jessica's room for her stay,  Darren picked a bouquet of flowers from our garden for her to enjoy.

*  Made a  couple of batches of chunky chicken soup from scratch.  We enjoyed this over many meals and it was just what we needed.

*  We have been trying to eat smaller serves at dinnertime each night.  My homemade meat pie usually serves 4 - 5 people.  The last one I made gave us six serves.  Two eaten that night and four went into the freezer.

*  Went to Hindustan Imports on the way home from a cleaning job and purchased herbs,  spices and baking ingredients in bulk at cheap prices.

*  I continue to pick raspberries almost every day.  We've also picked tomatoes,  zucchinis,  strawberries,  lettuce,  silverbeet,  pears,  lemons and beans from the garden.  Shortly we'll be digging up the last of our potatoes before Winter.

*  Used recycled bread bags as bin liners in the bathrooms.

*  Made up bottles of diluted dishwashing detergent to clean things around our home.

*  Took snacks with us to Daylesford to save a little money.

*  Bought chocolate Easter bunnies at half price after Easter.  They have been put away for next Easter.

*  Took cuttings from a few plants in our garden.  Hopefully they'll take and we can plant them out next Spring.  

*  Made a big batch of pita chips for munching on.

*  Continued to cook meals for 4 - 6 people like I've always done.  All leftovers are carefully portioned out and frozen for future no fuss nights.  


Freshly picked beans

From the garden

Jessica holding a large pear from our tree.

Flowers Darren and Luka picked for me.

How have you been frugal lately ?

Saturday, 13 March 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 13th March 2021

We continue to make the most of the produce we are picking from our backyard. Over the last four weeks the only fruit and veggies we've bought from the shops are carrots,  cucumber and a few bags of lettuce ( our seeds weren't growing.  We now have seedlings we can harvest from ).  This has been a big saving and blessing for us.

Here's what else we've been up to -

*  Made 4 jars of pear butter in the slow cooker using pears from our little tree.  Two jars went into the fridge and two into the freezer.   From my research,  pear butter only lasts two weeks in the fridge.  By freezing some it means it will all be used up within a good time.

*  Descaled the kettle using citric acid.

*  Darren used the compost from one of the bins on the veggie garden and one flower bed.  The other bin now needs to mature ( bake ) for a couple of months while we start filling up the newly emptied one.

*  Turned a couple of sauce bottles upside down to get the last of the contents out.  

*  Baked three loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Added crushed up wheat bix and corn flakes to the dried seasoned bread crumbs to make it stretch further.

*  Made and sold a  double batch of raspberry and white chocolate muffins to a friend who had ordered them.  The profit I made has been put aside to go towards presents for next year.

*  Made plain dried bread crumbs from saved bread crusts.  I like to keep a jar of plain bread crumbs to add to meatloaves etc without the seasoning.

*  Picked zucchini,  pears,  tomatoes,  silverbeet and raspberries from our garden.  The zucchini was planted as seeds in mid January so it's only taken 7 weeks from seed to picking.  

*  Sold a dozen eggs to a friend.

*  Made a 10 litre bucket of laundry liquid from scratch.  As I pour it into smaller containers it's diluted down with water 50 / 50.

*  Made zucchini fritters and added zucchini to a tuna pasta bake to stretch it further.

Lettuce now ready to pick

Broccoli seedlings growing

Zucchini growing

Our latest potato crop

One mandarin tree is in bloom

Muffins from my kitchen.

What frugal things did you do this week ?

Have you tried making laundry liquid ?

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Silverbeet Will Save The Day

 If there is one vegetable you'd like to start growing,  then Silverbeet ( chard ) might be the vegetable for you.  There are so many reasons to grow silverbeet even if you think you might not like eating it.

*  Silverbeet is a cool climate plant but can be grown in warmer climates providing it gets extra water and shelter during heatwaves.  In most climates it can be grown all year round.

*  Leaves can be picked within 7 weeks of seedlings being planted.

*  The same plant can have leaves harvested year in,  year out.  My good friend Maureen from The Cheapskates Club has had the same plant growing for about 7 years.

*  It's a wonderful space saving plant that can also be grown in a pot.

*  When broccoli is too dear to buy in the shops,  silverbeet makes a wonderful green vegetable substitute saving you lots of money on your grocery budget.

*  Only 2 plants are needed to feed a family of four.

*  Silverbeet makes a great ' filler ' to stretch meals further.  Shred the leaves and add them to spag bol sauce,  lasagne,  chop suey and stir fries.  

*  When you only have sad veggies in your fridge crisper, don't go to the shops.  Just pick a few silverbeet leaves,  coarsely chop and toss in a little bit of water in a saucepan.

*  Silverbeet is a good source of vitamin A,  B6,  C and K as well as riboflavin and folate.

Picked leaves

The silverbeet plant

Silverbeet added to a tuna pasta dish

Do you grow Silverbeet ( chard ) ?

How do you use the Silverbeet leaves ?

Saturday, 6 March 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 6th March 2021

 This week has given us milder weather here in Melbourne.   Darren and I continue to work in our garden planting,  pruning,  weeding and harvesting.  Everything we harvest from the veggie garden is a real blessing and is helping to keep our food budget low.

Here's what we've been up to -

*  Picked a handful of raspberries each day.  Our strawberry plants are still giving us fruit every couple of days.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and poured it into the washing machine.  Saved kitchen water was used to water lots of pot plants and the mandarin trees.

*  Darren and I had a day out last Sunday to Phillip Island ( about an hour away ).  We took our lunch,  a thermos and afternoon tea with us which saved us quite a bit of money.  It was lovely to sit under the big trees on the sloping grassed area at the beach.

*  Wrote out our menu plan for the next 4 weeks.  It's always a relief to have it written out and really does make dinner time so much easier.

*  I took some homemade chicken stock out of the freezer and made a pot of chunky chicken and veggie soup.  I added broccoli crumbs from the bottom of a ziplock bag in the freezer.  Nothing went to waste and it gave extra nutrients to the soup.  We had the soup for 2 dinners this week at a cost of about 20 cents a serve.

*  Filled up both our cars with petrol for well under $1.20 a litre just as the price was going up to $1.65.

*  Picked the last of the sweet corn,  blanched and froze it to add to future meals.

*  Built a little fence to protect the lettuce and silverbeet plants from the ever growing bean plants.  I used gutter guard as the fence and scraps of timber and tied it together with cut up old socks.

*  Darren and Luka made scones together.  Luka is a fan of anything that looks like cake.

*  Dried all the washing on the line outside even when it threatened to rain.  I'm always full of optimism when it comes to the weather and my wash day.  The dryer is only used in emergencies.

*  Planted lettuce seedlings I bought.  I picked a punnet with more seedlings than the others to get more value.  From the punnet I got 20 seedlings instead of the usual 8.

*  Picked more lemons from our tree.  I know it's out of season but our tree has ripe lemons as well as baby ones.

The little fence I built to protect the lettuce seedlings

Protecting the silverbeet from the bean plants

More out of season lemons

Luka helping with the vacuuming

" I can do it myself "

Luka loves the on / off button.

Have you planned your Spring / Autumn garden ?

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

This Little Water Tip Could Save You Lots Of Money

Have you ever thought the shower warm up water draining down the plug hole seems like such a big waste ?

If you place a bucket under the shower head,  this clean water could be used elsewhere.  Of course you could pour it into the washing machine and this is something I do often.  It's not going to save you much money but you'll feel better about reducing the waste.

Here's an even better tip that will feed you and save lots of money.  Reuse the shower warm up water to water some veggie seedlings.  If you love lettuce, you can grow it all year round in many climates.   A $3 packet of seeds will last a few years and could save you over $100 a year.  This figure is based on buying one small $2 bag of lettuce leaves every week for one year. If you have a larger family,  you would be buying more lettuce so the savings will be even bigger.

Such a simple tip yet the impact is huge.

What could you use the saved water for ?

Saturday, 27 February 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 27th February 2021

 It's been a lovely week of very mild Summer weather here in Melbourne.  Both Darren and I have made the most of this weather and spent lots of time out in our garden.  Here's what we've been up to -

*  Made chicken stock in the slow cooker using the carcass and a few herbs.  When it was cooked I portioned it into smaller sizes.  With just the two of is in the house I no longer need to make the huge pots of soup that serve 10 - 11 people.  The smaller portion will make enough soup for 4 serves  ( 2 meals ).

*  Picked lots of tomatoes,  corn and silverbeet from our garden.

*  Picked a couple of handfuls of raspberries every day.  So far this season I've picked 2.25 kg and frozen them.

*  Picked a few lemons left from last season.  They have gradually turned yellow and we are now using them.

*  Made a double batch of chocolate brownies from scratch.  I've kept some in the pantry and the rest was frozen for future afternoon teas.

*  Fed the compost bin every day with garden clippings and kitchen scraps.

*  Darren picked up a large glass lidded container from Woolies just as they ended their latest promotion.  We didn't need to pay for it and just did our usual shopping to get the points.  They are now getting rid of the remaining stock and you only need half as many points for a container.

*  Planted 2 Hebe plant cuttings we've grown ourselves from another plant.

*  Made 10 jars of raspberry jam from our fruit.  This is my all time favourite jam.  So tasty and tangy.

*  Planted out more broccoli seedlings we bought as well as a few we grew from seed.  I'm hoping to grow lots of broccoli to freeze so we don't have to buy it from the supermarket at such high prices.

*  Baked lots of chocolate choc chip muffins and sold them to a friend who had ordered them.

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

*  Picked a small bowl of strawberries from our garden.

From the garden

Raspberry jam

More jam

Chocolate brownie

How Darren had the chocolate brownie

Our raspberries

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Are you picking anything from your garden or planning a garden ?

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Reusing Old Plastic Cereal Containers.

 Over the last couple of years I've gradually changed my pantry storage containers from plastic to glass where possible.  This has left me with a dilemma of having lots of plastic containers to find other uses for.  The cereal containers in particular were too good to throw out,  which is not an eco friendly option.   Some were 20+ years old and not BPA free so finding non food related uses proved to be a challenge.

I love neat and tidy organisation in my cupboards and after much thought came up with these ideas for the containers -

*  Storage for clothes pegs.  This has been a fantastic way to use a container.  The pegs don't fall out ( or very few do ) if the pegs are knocked over by accident.  Having a lid on the container keeps the spare pegs dry and clean when waiting for the washing to dry on the line outside.  This will also extend the life of the pegs.

*  Dry cat food storage.  No longer do I have tiny crumbs from the cardboard box fall out on the tiles or in the laundry cupboard.  The little opening in the lid makes it easy to reach in with a scoop to get the exact amount Princess needs to eat.  Portion control at it's best.

*  Plastic bag storage.  I have two cereal containers under my kitchen sink for plastic bag storage.  One holds recycled bread bags that are really clean and suitable for food storage.  I use them many times over to store my home baked bread in the freezer.  When they start to look a little ratty,  I store them in the other container to be used as bin liners.  I can squash a lot of bread bags in those containers and the lid helps to keep them tidy.

*  Storage for kitty litter scoop bags.  I also reuse bread bags to scoop up kitty litter messes.  Having a container in the laundry cupboard makes it easy for quick clean ups..

Under my kitchen sink

Laundry cupboard storage

My new peg ' bucket '.

Have you found other uses for old plastic containers ?

Saturday, 20 February 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 20th February 2021

 Since last week's frugal list post,  Melbourne and the rest of Victoria ( the state I live in ) has been in a snap 5 day lockdown.  I was happy to stay home and potter around the house,  do some gardening and watch lots of YouTube clips.  Thankfully Darren didn't miss out on any work shifts and I was able to reschedule a cleaning job to next week.

During the coolness of our mornings we've been working out in the front garden doing some tidying up.  We've also pottered in the veggie garden,  pulled a few weeds and generally admired the fruits of our hard work.

Here's what else we've been up to -   

*  Fed the compost bins every second day with kitchen scraps and garden clippings

*  Made a big batch of brown sugar from scratch using white sugar and molasses.

*  Mixed up a double batch of cranberry hootycreek biscuit dough.  Some was baked for Darren as a Valentine's Day treat.  The rest of the dough went into the freezer for future baking.

*  Knitted a few more dish cloths and face scrubbies.  I have a friend who is interested in buying some for herself and to give some as presents.  As soon as she's made her purchases I'll put them up on Facebook if anyone is interested in buying some too.    The knitted dish cloths are the only cloths I use to wipe down my stone bench top and stainless steel stove.  They give a wonderful streak free finish.

*  Planted 6 daisy plants I'd grown from cuttings.  Now they are spread out around our front and backyard garden beds.  They'll be a wonderful burst of color in a couple of months.

*  Picked silverbeet and tomatoes a couple of times during the week to add to our meals.

*  Used reclaimed bread bags to line our bathroom bins.

*  Cooked up some excess tomatoes and froze them for future spag bol dinners.

*  When out digging in the front garden I found 4 small lavender bushes that had popped up from nowhere.  I've replanted them into better positions to fill in a few gaps.

*  Saved lots of shower water and poured it into the washing machine.

*  Harvested some of the sweetcorn we have growing in our veggie garden.  Some was cooked to have with 2 of our dinners.  The rest was blanched and frozen.  I'll be picking another 10 - 15 ears of corn over the next few weeks.

*  Found lots of brand new  knitting / crocheting cotton in my local op shop at fantastic prices.  Now I have a few more color options for the dish cloths and face scrubbies 

Brown sugar from scratch

Making brown sugar

Cranberry hootycreek biscuits for Darren

Our sweetcorn crop.

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

One Simple Way To Reduce Food Waste

 Each year,  Australians waste about 7.3 million tonnes of food with costs the economy approximately $20 billion.  That sounds like a staggering amount doesn't it.

Think of it this way.  That wastage equates to about 300 kg of food per person or one in five bags of groceries.  That's a very shocking statistic and a heck of a lot of money being thrown out.

As most of you know I'm a domestic cleaner of over 20 years.  I've cleaned many fridges over this time and I'm always shocked at how much food is abandoned ( forgotten ) by the family.  I'm not talking about a small bowl of mashed potato.  I'm talking about expensive fruits and vegetables,  convenience foods and takeaways.

There is one simple way to start reducing the food waste in your home.

FREEZE  !!  That's right,  freeze your leftovers.  At dinnertime,  as I'm serving up the meal if I can see there will be leftovers,  I get out a few takeaway containers and portion the extra food into single serves.  Once dinner is eaten the leftovers are put into the fridge to cool.  Then when the dishes are washed and the kitchen is clean,  I put the lids on the containers,  label then place in the freezer.

If you have too many vegetables in the fridge then blanch them and freeze for future eating. Sad looking fruit could be cooked ( stewed ) and either eaten within a couple of days or frozen.  Maybe make fruit icypoles or icecream with excess fruit.

Excess eggs,  cheese,  butter,  milk and cream can be frozen for future use.  Just do a Google search for the best way to freeze each item.

I'm hoping this has inspired you to use your freezer to save money and reduce the food in your fridge spoiling.

Single serves of soup for the freezer

Portioned and labelled

Chicken curry meals for the freezer

How do you reduce food wastage in your fridge ?