Wednesday 28 April 2021

The Top 10 Items I Buy At Op Shops

As always,  I love a great bargain and op shops have saved us a fortune over the years.  Whether  it be a much needed household item or a birthday present,  op shops are the first place I look.  I quite often have a 'watch ' list in my purse ready for a planned or unplanned trip to a local op shop.  Sometimes the hunt can take a year or two and sometimes I can find the needed item straight away.  Either way,  a trip to the op shop is enjoyable and if nothing is purchased,  it becomes a free outing.

Here are the top 10 items I've purchased from op shops that have saved us so much money.  Of course there are many other things I've purchased over the years. The ones below are the best ones.

*  Jeans.  Op shops offer such a large variety of jeans.  They have racks and racks of jeans that come in all shapes,  sizes,  colors and quality.    I can always find a pair of jeans that fit really well for under $10 and generally they are brand names I can't afford to pay retail for.  When our girls were primary school age we were able to complete their wardrobes with jeans for going out and jeans for around the home.  Our girls were ( and still are ) very different shapes and both on the small side.  Retail shops just didn't offer well fitting jeans for them.

*  Small kitchen appliances.  I've bought slow cookers for under $15,  an iron for $14 that retails for about $70,  an electric knife for $5,  a toaster for $3 and a George Foreman grill / hotplate for $20.  All were as new and tested by the op shop's electrical tester.  As with all things but especially electrical items,  I always keep the receipt until I've tried it out at home.

*  Casserole dishes.  I've fitted out Jessica and Megan's kitchens with new or near new casserole dishes,  pie plates and serving platters.  Most items only cost about $3 or $4 each compared to $10 plus in the shops.  I bought the dishes in classic white or Tiffany blue ( and variations ) as these are the colors they like.  Classic white never dates and goes with anything.  When I've needed a particular dish for my kitchen,  I always look in the op shops.  Sometimes I need to look for a few months but the savings is worth the wait.   

*  Pasta bowls.  Over the years our 25 year old pasta bowls have chipped or cracked due to heavy use.  I've bought sets of 4 or 6 bowls for $4 that look new.  Jessica and Megan have bought pasta bowls from the op shops for their kitchens too.  

*  Cook books.  Although I don't usually buy the cook books for myself,  I have bought many for presents.  Usually I can find them in fantastic condition for $3 - $5.

*  Kitchen utensils.  I've bought good quality stainless steel potato mashers for $2,  Tupperware hamburger presses with lots of containers for $3,  knives and forks for Jessica's kitchen for a few dollars and dumpling moulds for $2.  These are just some of the items I've found over the years.

*  Baby clothes and nursery accessories.   Both Megan and I have bought so many clothes for Luka and Bryson and dirt cheap prices.  Wraps,  cot blankets / doonas,  bibs,  a baby bath and feeding items have all been purchased for just a couple of dollars each.  

*  Kids licenced doona covers.  I've bought Bob The Builder,  Thomas The Tank and Elmo doona covers for Luka and Bryson.  Some were still in the original packaging and cost $7 and under.

*  Silicon cake moulds.  I use these when I make soap and have found lots of great shaped moulds for a fraction of retail prices.  Usually I pay $2 - $3 at the op shop compared to $10 + retail.

*  Home décor.  Although I'm not one to fill my home with things,  I've gradually updated our home with modern country farmhouse décor.  Items I've bought include picture frames,  old bottling jars ( used as vases ),  porcelain jugs,  flowers,  candle holders ( old saucers ),  lampshades and cushions.  All these items cost $5 or under.    

Op shopped home decor

Silicon cake moulds for soap making

Country farmhouse decor

Kitchenware and a cook book for a present.

Utensil and cookie jar from the op shop

Items for Jessica and Megan's kitchen

Baby shower items.  Most are from op shops

What do you love to buy from op shops ?

What has been your biggest op shop bargain ?

Saturday 24 April 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 24th April 2021

 The days are getting cooler and gradually shorter yet we try to stay as productive as possible.  Autumn planting is finished in our veggie garden and we look forward to a bountiful crop of blessings  Each day we are grateful for the small home we live in that allows us to have a decent sized backyard for a garden.  We are grateful  for our careful planning all those years ago when we thought a veggie garden and fruit trees would be fun to have.  

Here are some of the frugal tasks we've completed this week -

*  I gratefully received TVP ( textured vegetable protein ) from a friend a couple of months ago.  We've been adding it to our mince meat meals like lasagne and spag bol to help stretch the meat further.  With meat prices almost too dear for our budget,  the TVP has been a real blessing.

*  Made a batch of pumpkin scones using pumpkin I bought for 99 cents a kilo ( which is cheap for this time of the year ).  We are hoping to grow our own pumpkins next Summer.

*  Darren picked bunches of flowers from our garden to brighten up our home.  

*  I planted out broccoli and mini cauliflower seedlings I'd grown from seed.

*  Froze lots of leftovers from our dinners.  When we get too many in the freezer we write them into the menu plan for easy nights and very little cleaning up.

*  I did my monthly grocery shopping on Monday and had $40 worth of vouchers from completed online surveys.  Combining these with the 10% off offer at Woolworths ( from our insurance ),  my total shop was reduced to $19.95.  This included a $12 tray of sausages.

*  Enjoyed two dinners out this week.  One at Megan's place and the next night at Jessica's.  Gotta love it when our grown daughters offer to feed us.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and the grandbabies bath water.  All of it was poured into the washing machine.

*  Made a jar of gravy powder using flour,  beef stock powder,  herbs and a little bit of store bought gravy powder I'm trying to use up.

*  I forgot to mention last week that we received some meat leftover from Luka and Bryson's birthday party.  Some of the meat we received were 4 bbq sausages.  I turned them into a sausage casserole in the slow cooker.  I was able to get 6 generous serves by slicing the sausages thinly.

Darren loves color under the pergola

From the garden

Making pumpkin scones

Pumpkin scones for afternoon tea.

Have you increased the amount of veggies you are growing since or during 2020 ?

How have you saved money this week ?

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 ?