Wednesday 30 June 2021

Getting The Most Out Of Lemons

During Winter there always seems to be an abundance of lemons on offer.   Lemons are such a versatile fruit with many many uses.  The key is knowing how to process them quickly before they spoil.  Here are the tips I use to guarantee year round lemon abundance.  

*  To get more juice from your lemons roll them over the kitchen bench while pushing down.  This releases the juices inside.  Another tip is to put an uncut lemon in the microwave for 20 seconds.  

*  Freeze them whole.  This is a great tip if you have an abundance of lemons and don't have time to juice them all.  They will defrost a little soft but can still be used. Also great for baking whole lemon cake.

*  Zest them.  Zest can be used in slices,  cakes and muffins as well as savoury dishes.  Zest can also be frozen.  Just make sure you use a glass container to freeze it in as the zest scent is very hard to remove from plastic. 

*  Juice them and keep the juice in the fridge ( for a few days ) to make refreshing drinks.

*  Make lemon butter.  This is a wonderful spread to have on toast and scones.

*  Freeze the juice in icecube trays to keep a good supply all  year round.  Juice can be used on fish,  to make lemon chicken.  soothing drinks for sore throats,  baking and of course - lemon butter 

*  Freeze the zest of both lemons and oranges.  Then juice them and add to a snap lock bag or container to make 50 / 50 cordial in Summer.

*  Clean and freshen chopping boards with a lemon cut in half.

Lemon chicken

Ready for juicing

Lemon butter

Cooking fish in foil.

How do you process an abundance of lemons ?

How do you like to use lemons ?


Saturday 26 June 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 26th June 2021

 Due to the cold wet weather this week our gardening time has been limited.  We duck outside in between showers to get quick jobs done then head back inside to enjoy our beautifully heated home.  We are very grateful for ducted heating that keeps our home evenly heated and for blankets that give us extra comfort.

Here's what we got up to this week -

*  I poked some small holes in a plastic water bottle lid to make it easy to water seeds and seedlings.

*  Made a bottle of surface spray from kitchen detergent and cooled boiled water.  I use this to clean the kitchen stove,  benches,  sinks and cupboards.  In the bathrooms I use it to clean the toilets,  sinks and bath.

*  Dried 95% of the washing on clothes horses in the main bathroom.  We have a ducted heating vent in the floor so the washing is dried overnight.  Only work uniforms and tea towels from the cafe were dried in the dryer because they were needed the next day.

*  Juiced lots and lots of lemons I'd picked from our tree over a week ago.  The juice was frozen into ice cube trays.

*  Froze leftover tomato paste into an ice cube tray.

*  Planted lots of sprouting potatoes from our pantry.  I know it's not quite the right time of the year but the potatoes were too soft to peel or eat.

*  Baked shortbread biscuits to have with cuppas this week.  With just the two of us at home we don't go through as much baking.  I still have scones,  chocolate brownies and small whole orange cakes in the freezer that we eat every now and then.

*  We had roast lamb for a combined birthday dinner for Darren and Jessica last weekend.   This week I used the little bits of leftover sliced meat and meat off the shank to make a lamb stew in the slow cooker.  I was able to get another 7 single serves taking the total to 12 for a very small roast.  Lamb is very expensive so this was a very rare treat for us.  The stew went into the freezer for future easy dinners.

*  We picked lettuce and kale from the garden.

*  Darren found some heavy duty clear plastic we could use to cover the newly planted potatoes.  We are hoping this will help keep the soil temperature from getting too cold.  It will also protect against frosts and heavy rains.

*  Ate leftovers from the freezer a few nights.  I quite enjoy cooking once and eating 3 or 4 times type of meals.  Most weeks I only need to cook about 3 nights a week and getting dinners from the freezer for other nights.  We still eat a good variety and a menu plan helps with this.

*  Fed the outside compost bin with kitchen and garden scraps.

*  Saved water in the bathroom,  kitchen and laundry as per usual and reused it where we could.

*  I picked oranges and mandarins from the trees at Megan's place.  There is probably another 5oo + mandarins to pick.

From Megan's trees.

In the veggie garden

Covering newly planted potatoes

Shortbread biscuits

How have you saved time,  money or energy this week ?

Wednesday 23 June 2021

Save On Takeaway With These Tips

 We all have our moments when takeaway is enjoyed at home as a quick option on a crazy busy day. Later on you look at your bank statement and wonder why it cost so much.    Here are a few tips for reducing the total spend on your treat -

*  Don't buy the garlic bread on the menu.  While someone picks up your order ( or getting it delivered ),  grab a few slices of bread or a bread roll ( sliced in half ),  butter it,  add some herbs and pop it in the oven under the grill.

*  Soft drinks, bottled water and juices are incredibly expensive from takeaway shops.  Just offer the family a glass of water and save your sugar intake for a piece of chocolate or a biscuit after dinner.

*  When you are about to eat your takeaway,  if possible serve what you know you can eat onto dinner plates and portion the leftovers into containers.  Place them in the fridge and when dinner is over,  pop it in the freezer for future eating.  Placing picked over,  leftover food in the fridge might seem like a great option but the food deteriorates at a faster rate due to the bacteria introduced from the cutlery. 

*  If ordering Asian food,  cook your own rice to save money.  White rice takes 10 minutes to cook which can be done while the takeaway food is being delivered or picked up.

*  Try to only order what you know you can eat.  Over ordering is a common mistake many people make.  If this happens,  freeze the rest.

*  Meal deals are not really deals.  They are marketed so you spend more than you intend.  Just order the basics.  For example,  pizza without the dessert,  garlic bread and drinks.

*  Check your phone apps to see if there are any discount coupons or codes.

*  As a cheaper alternative,  keep leftovers in the freezer to avoid the temptation to spend.  

How do you save on takeaway ( other than not buying it ) ?


Saturday 19 June 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 19th June 2021

 Due to the cold,  wet weather we've been experiencing in Melbourne my frugal tasks have mostly been inside.  We were blessed with mild weather on Sunday so you can imagine we made to most of it to get a few gardening jobs done.

Here's what we got up to -

*  Planted quite a few strawberry runners that were growing in one of our garden beds.  Strawberry plants only last a few years before you need to replace them.  Runners are the free option.

*  Planted about 25 broccoli and 4 mini cauliflower seedlings  I'd grown from seed.  I also planted lots of sugar snap peas in one of the other garden beds.

*  Fed the outside compost bin every second day with kitchen scraps.  Old broccoli plants were also added to the bins.

*  Made a few more apron cards using supplies I already had.

*  Defrosted one of our 120 litre freezers.  This helps it run more efficiently  While I was putting all the food back in I made a note of what we have and what needs to be used shortly.  No waste in our house.

*  Wrote out another 28 day menu plan and included a few cheap meals.

*  Used the steamer insert on the stove to cook all our veggies.  Usually I cook the potatoes or rice on the stove and steam the veggies in a microwave container.

*  Donated a bag on unwanted items to Savers and received 2 x 20% off vouchers.

*  Picked kale and silverbeet to add to our dinners

*  Emptied the last of a moisturiser bottle into the next one.  I used a connector that my Dad invented and made up.  He's made them in a few different sizes to fit just about any bottle opening.

*  Darren has enjoyed eating an orange every day that was picked from Megan's tree.  They are still a little too sour for me.  I'll wait until we pick more fruit in July.

Free oranges in abundance

Darren's birthday card I made

Saving the last of the moisturiser

Using the steamer to cook the veggies

How did you save time,  money or energy this week ?

Wednesday 16 June 2021

Super Cheap 28 Day Menu Plan

 There's no doubt that meat prices have sky rocketed over the last couple of years.  It doesn't seem that long ago that Coles supermarkets ran a big advertising campaign highlighting their 1 kilo trays of beef mince for $5.  That same tray now costs $12.  Lamb prices have doubled now making it a luxury piece of meat.  Roast legs of lamb and roast beef are now off our menu and we can forget about steak.  Not that we had steak on a plate for a meal but now cooking a beef stew is too expensive.  I just can't justify paying close to $20 a kilo for the cheapest steak no matter how far I stretch it in a stew -  and yes,  I can stretch it far.

The main meats we have been eating are chicken drumsticks,  chicken fillets,  beef sausages,  frozen fish fillets,  tinned tuna and salmon and beef mince.  Last year when meat was hard to come by I did manage to buy one corned beef ( silverside ) and one tray of cheap steak.  Over the last 14 months I've rationed that steak out to make Massaman beef curry and beef stew.  I think I now have one 300 g piece of steak left in the freezer.  Unless beef prices drop I will not be buying steak in the foreseeable future.

So with all this in mind,  it's been a real challenge writing a menu plan with variety yet keeping to our $100 - $120 a month food budget.  This budget includes food and kitty litter for Princess ( our cat ) and food,  basic toiletries and cleaning ingredients for Darren and I.

I was blessed a few months ago with a large amount of TVP  ( textured vegetable protein ) for free from a friend.  When I first heard about it years ago I vowed I'd never use it.  But desperate times call for desperate measures and TVP has been a real blessing for stretching beef mince without really noticing a difference in texture.

Below is the latest menu plan I have been using.  Keep in mind it's just the two of us but I still cook for 4 - 6 people as per the recipe and freeze all leftovers.  It's very rare that leftovers are eaten as lunches.  They end up being dearer than a toasted sandwich and we don't need to eat meat twice a day.  

 From memory,  all recipes for the meals below are in the recipe section.

My Abundant Life: Recipes (

Day 1  -  Chunky Chicken Soup made from slow cooker stock.

Day 2  -  Meatloaf,  potato mash and steamed veg.  Leftover meatloaf frozen

Day 3  -  Leftover Chunky Chicken Soup with crusty bread

Day 4  -  Salmon Patties ( bulk cooked and in the freezer ) with rice and steamed veg

Day 5  -  Honey Mustard Chicken with rice

Day 6  -  Sausages,  potato mash and steamed veg

Day7  -   Get Your Own - maybe toasted sandwiches,  eggs on toast,  leftovers

Day 8  -   Lasagne ( made in bulk and frozen ) with steamed broccoli and silverbeet from the garden

Day 9  -   Chicken Drumsticks Lemon Flavoured with potato mash and steamed veg

Day 10 -  Massaman Beef made in the slow cooker served with rice.  Leftovers frozen in single serves

Day 11 -  Tuna Casserole served with steamed green veg.  

Day 12 -  Chop Suey served with rice.  Leftovers frozen into single serves

Day 13 -  Curried Sausage Casserole in slow cooker served with mashed potato.  Leftovers frozen 

Day 14 -  Leftovers of some description

Day 15 -  Tuna Pasta Bake ( bulk cooked and from the freezer )

Day 16 -  Cottage Pie ( I call it shepherd's pie )

Day 17 -  Chunky Chicken Soup from the freezer

Day 18 -  Beef Stew in slow cooker served with potato mash

Day 19 -   Homemade Chicken and Pineapple Pizza

Day 20 -   Silverside with potato mash and steamed veg

Day 21 -   Spag Bol ( sauce made in bulk and in the freezer )

Day 22 -  Chicken,  potato and veggie bake. Kale and broccoli used in bake came from our garden

Day 23 -   Freezer meals or eggs on toast 

Day 24 -   Fried rice with small amount of chicken added. 

Day 25 -   Family Meat Pie ( portions from the freezer ) served with steamed green veg  

Day 26 -   Leftover fried rice

Day 27 -  Fish portions ( from Aldi ) cooked in foil with lemons, served with potato mash and steamed veg

Day 28 -  Honey Soy Chicken Drumsticks served with rice and steamed veg


Chop suey in the making.

Slow cooker Massaman Beef Curry

Homemade pizza

Bulk Chunky Chicken Soup for the freezer

Honey Mustard Chicken

How are you fighting rising meat prices ?

Do you have any super cheap meal ideas ?

Saturday 12 June 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 12th June 2021

 It's been way too cold here in Melbourne over the last week or two.  Too cold to spend much time outside.  We did manage to get the bare essentials done like watering pot plants, feeding the chickens and picking broccoli.

Our lockdown ended yesterday and although we can now travel 25 km from home,  the weather is too cold and we are not allowed to visit anyone.  So home it is,  with the heater on and at times under a blanket.  Maybe I could do a little tidying in the craft room or here's a thought - start crafting again.

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

*  Picked lots of lemons.  I like to bring them inside and let them rest for a week before juicing.  I do tend to get more juice by doing this.  I did juice lemons that were a few weeks old and froze the juice.  Darren and I also pruned the tree after discovering a few small patches of gall wasp.

*  A couple of silverbeet seeds finally germinated after weeks of waiting.  To protect them from snails,  pests and the wild storm Melbourne experience this week,  I placed a plastic drink bottle over the seedlings.

*  While in the city with my parents last week I made quite a few apron cards.  It was a wonderful way to spend all the spare hours I had on Wednesday.  It also kept my mind off the news and further lockdown announcements.

*  Made homemade pizza for dinner one night.  Leftovers were eaten for lunch the next day.  Although we rarely eat takeaway,  I'll be honest,  I've been craving it during lockdown.  I'm only human  !!

*  Gratefully received a cooked chicken from a family member.  From the chicken I made enough stock to make 16 single serves of chunky chicken soup.  I also made potato, chicken and veg pasta bake that serves 4.  There was enough meat to go into the freezer for another 3 meals that will give us another 6 - 8 serves.

*  My mascara was getting a little dry.  So I put one drop of water in the bottle ( is that what they call it ? ) and gave the brush a good swish around.  I've done this two weeks running and it's like the mascara has been given a new lease on life.

*  Baked ANZAC biscuits from dough I had in the freezer.  I baked them while I was cooking a chicken, potato pasta bake one night.

*  Darren picked kale to put in the chicken potato pasta bake.  Our silverbeet needs a little rest and time to regrow more leaves.

*  Gave the washing machine a deep clean with Epsom salts and very hot water.  It's amazing how much gunk comes out.

*  Saved shower water and washing machine water as per usual.

*  I only opened the curtains a small amount on the cold days to keep the house warmer.

*  Got 6 serves from the family meat pie I made the other night.  Usually I get 4 - 5 serves but we've reduced our serving sizes just a little and added more veg to the plate. 


Here are the apron cards I made.  I'm hoping to make gardening and bbq ones soon.

Lemons from the garden.

Are you still thrifty even when the weather is cold ? 

If you are in Summer,  do you keep up your money saving ways ?

Wednesday 9 June 2021

My Best Broccoli Growing Tips

 Broccoli is one of the few vegetables we grow during the Winter months.  On the occasional year our broccoli plants have bolted and gone to flower before we can pick the heads.  Other than that,  broccoli is so cheap to grow,  fairly easy to maintain and a super food to boot.

Here are some of the tips and tricks Darren and I have learnt along the way.  We hope this helps you grow a bountiful crop to enjoy. 

*  Broccoli is generally a Winter vegetable that tolerates colder weather.  There are newer varieties that  can be grown all year round but we stick to growing in Winter.

*  I plant seeds in punnets during late Summer / early Autumn.  If the seeds fail to germinate I have been known to buy a punnet of seedlings from Bunnings.  With 8 - 10 plants per punnet,  it still works out to be more economical than buying broccoli from the supermarket.

 *  We've found if we plant out broccoli seedlings too early in Autumn we run the risk of a cabbage moth invasion.  Cabbage moths lay their eggs on the underside of the plant leaves.  Once the eggs hatch you have a hungry family of caterpillars who will eat the leaves and decimate the plant.

*  Daily inspection of the plants is necessary if you see white butterflies ( cabbage moth ) fluttering around the garden.  Squishing the cabbage moth eggs or caterpillars is a natural way to keep them under control.

*  This year we planted our first crop of broccoli plants a little too early.  To combat the cabbage moth invasion, Darren made his own cabbage moths out of icecream container lids and attached them to wire.  They have been placed at random heights in the garden.  Cabbage moths are territorial so when they see the artificial ones they soon fly away without landing on the plants.

*  Broccoli plants grow much better in well composted soil.  Darren adds our own compost to the bed about a week or two before planting.  Once the plants are growing I feed them with liquid seaweed fertiliser every week to top up the nutrients.

*  Once the main broccoli head has been picked,  smaller broccoli florets appear on the plant that can be picked and eaten.

Smaller florets from the plant.

Artificial cabbage moths

Made from icecream container lids.

Do you have any broccoli growing tips to share ?

Saturday 5 June 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 5th June 2021

 As our lockdown continues in Victoria,   I've stayed away from the shops for another week.   I feel blessed to have the knowledge and foresight to constantly have a stockpile we can live off for quite a long time.

On Monday my Dad was granted permission from the government for his scheduled eye surgery to still go ahead on Wednesday.  Mum,  Dad and myself stayed in the city for two nights while Dad had his surgery and check ups.   Everything went smoothly with the surgery,  accommodation and travelling.  It was a bit eerie to see the city so quiet yet it gave us a sense of calm.

Here's what else we managed to fit into our unusual week -

*  Picked,  blanched and froze 4 broccoli heads from our garden.  There are another 3 - 4 heads I'll be picking in the next couple of days and more to follow shortly after.

*  Planted 3 potatoes that were sprouting in my pantry.  I'm not sure if they'll grow into productive plants due to the time of the year.  At least they were free and too soft to peel and cook.

*  Darren pruned our raspberry plants.  This might not sound like a frugal task but 2 years ago we didn't get a chance to prune due to family traumas we were going through at the time.  Later that year our plants didn't produce as much as they usually do.  I rely on these plants for enough fruit to make lots of raspberry jam. 

*  Made a bottle of surface spray using dishwashing liquid and water.  I use this all around our home for cleaning.

*  Made and sold a 2 litre bottle of Miracle Spray for a friend.

*  Picked silverbeet,  lettuce and kale from our garden to eat at mealtimes.

*  Packed all the food I needed for my 2 days in the city.  Dinners were freezer meals of leftovers.

*  Saved shower water and washing machine water as per usual.

*  Made another 4 litres of laundry liquid from the big bucket I made a few months ago.  

*  Decanted and diluted a couple of bottles of shower gel into a large pump bottle.  Pump bottles make it much easier to ' portion control '.

*  Darren picked more mandarins and oranges from Megan's tree.       

Daisies in the garden

We love color.

Decanting homemade laundry liquid.

The view from our apartment in the city

What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Has anyone had a stockpile to help them during a lockdown ?

Wednesday 2 June 2021

Save The Power, Feel The Power - Part 3

 Sometimes we waste electricity without realising it.   I'm hoping these tips will get you thinking about ways to use less and keep more money in your pocket.

*  Turn your dishwasher off when the cycle has finished.  Even better,  give your plates and saucepans a quick scour then use the quick wash cycle which usually takes about 30 minutes to clean everything.  I've cleaned many homes over the years and either see dishwashers on a 120 minute cycle or they are left turned on all day.

*  Use one lamp in the lounge areas when the family is gathered to watch tv.  Even better,  have no lights on and pretend you are at the movies.

*  When and where possible,  replace old energy saving light globes for LED globes.  They do cost a little more but last so much longer and use far less electricity.

*  Defrost meat in the fridge instead of using the microwave.  The fridge is already on so you may as well make the most of it.  A large roast generally takes 2 days in the fridge to defrost.  Pieces of meat like chicken drumsticks,  steak or single serves of meals take1 day to defrost so plan accordingly.  This is also a food safety tip that reduces the risk of food poisoning if you defrost your food on a kitchen bench.  

*  Turn your washing machine and dryer off at the wall when the cycle has finished.  Even better,  invest in a clothes horse / rack and dry your clothes for free.

Have you thought of new ways to save electricity ?