Saturday 28 August 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 28th August 2021

 We've tried to keep busy each day as lockdown continues.  We've now spent 210 days in lockdown since March last year.  Thankfully Darren and I love being at home but it sure would be nice to go for a drive somewhere.

Unfortunately we had to cancel another big holiday we were due to go on this week.  It was meant to be a replacement holiday for the cancelled Cook Island holiday for our 25th wedding anniversary from last year.  It's getting really hard to plan anything at the moment.  Oh well,  the world will have a big grand reopening sometime and we'll enjoy it even more.

Here's what we got up to this week - 

*  Planted more potatoes from our pantry that were sprouting.  I also planted lettuce seeds and over 50 dwarf bean seeds.  I'm outside every day checking to see if any have broken through the soil.  Any day now.

*  Sewed and sold a few face masks as requested by Facebook readers.

*  Made 2 pots of soup.  One was made from chicken stock I'd frozen earlier this year.  The other pot of soup was made from pumpkin given to us and a cauliflower from our garden.  I added a couple of potatoes and soup mix and it made a delicious soup.  I've frozen a few serves to eat on cold days.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Picked cauliflower,  silverbeet and spinach from the garden.

*  Sold another bundle of handmade men's greeting cards.

*  Sanded a couple of timber chopping boards.  They were starting to get a little rough so a sanding was needed.  I rubbed them with vegetable oil to finish off.  They look like new again.

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

*  Darren attached a new chicken feeder to the chicken coop.  It's been working well and it looks like the native birds are not eating the feed.  A big saving for us.

*  Bought a 1 kilo bag of seed potatoes from Aldi for $7.99.  This is $2 cheaper than other places we've seen them.  I don't usually buy seed potatoes after not having much success with them.  These ones are Dutch Cream ( our favourite ).  If we don't get a good harvest from them then we'll stick to planting potatoes from my pantry.

*  Turned the heater down just a little on the milder days.

*  Restored two pieces of furniture.  I'll have a big reveal next week.

*  Darren baked biscuits using dough from the freezer.  He also baked some gluten free cup cakes for a friend.

My chicken shaped chopping board.

Face mask order for kiddies

Seed potattoes

Plum tree blossoms.

How have you saved money this week ?

Have you had success planting seed potatoes ?


Saturday 21 August 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 21st August 2021

 Darren and I have enjoyed plenty of time out in our garden this week.  The weather has been mild some days so we tried to make the most of it and plan / plant for Spring / Summer harvest. Due to the tighter lockdown restrictions I am unable to work for at least the next two weeks.    Thankfully I have plenty of projects on the go around our home to keep me busy.

Here's what we've been up to this week -

*  Saved a few Penstemon seeds from our garden.  I think I was a little late in collecting them so I've cut off a few almost dry seed heads and put them in a paper bag to collect more.

*  Baked lots of ANZAC biscuits using dough from the freezer.

*  Dried all the washing on the line or clothes horses.

*  Juiced more lemons and froze the juice.

*  Made up a bottle of surface spray,  shower cleaner and toilet cleaner using various ratios of diluted kitchen detergent and water.

*  Wrote out a menu plan for the next 6 weeks.  I was on a roll and kept on planning.

*  Baked choc,  choc chip muffins for a family in need and froze some for ourselves.

*  Gratefully received some food blessings from friends and a family member.

*  Planted Aster and Alyssum flower seeds.  These will fill in a few gaps in our garden.

*  Added 7 premade meals to the freezer.  I'm really enjoying the 'cook once,  eat three times ' approach to meal preparation.

*  Replanted 20 new strawberry plants I grew as runners last season.  Strawberry plants generally produce fruit for 2 - 3 years and should be replaced accordingly.  This is why I encouraged runners at the end of last Summer.  

*  Planted 4 more sprouting potatoes I found in my pantry.

*  Darren fed the compost bins with lawn clippings and kitchen scraps.

*  Planted lettuce seeds and spaced out a few silverbeet seedlings.

Sprouting potatoes from the pantry.

Our potato plants are looking healthy

Lettuce in abundance

Silverbeet seedlings

New strawberry plants.

Here is my monthly grocery shop so far.  I'll be buying milk and a few veggies weekly for the next 3 weeks.  So far I've spent just under $60.  Please keep in mind we are picking greens from our garden,  have corn cobs and broccoli frozen from last summer as well as a few packets of green beans in the freezer.

We have a good amount of beef mince,  fish,  silverside and sausages in the freezer as well as lots of precooked meals.

Our pantry and bathroom cupboards are fairly well stocked so the groceries I bought are to replace what we used recently.

Do you have plans for your Winter / Summer garden ?

What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Wednesday 18 August 2021

Our $100 A Month Grocery Budget - Part 2

 Last week I wrote about how we've been eating well for $100 a month since February 2020. Some months I can have $20 - $30 leftover.  This is always put into the grocery slush fund for when we do need it.

Here are the other tricks and tips I've been using to keep our food bill so low -

*  Dinner leftovers are portioned out and frozen that night.  Even the smallest amount is frozen and eaten at a later date either as a lunch ( rarely ) or extras like rice are added to make it a complete meal.

*  Adding extra vegetables to casseroles and stews gives us extra portions.

*  Baking cheaper treats like scones,  muffins and cakes.   Biscuits are still baked but I'm careful about the cost of the ingredients.

*  Sour cream,  cream and icecream are only purchased if we have a real need for them,  not a want.  Sour cream and cream does tend to be thrown out before we can safely use it all.

*  When I do buy meat it's usually beef mince,  chicken drumsticks,  fish portions ( not crumbed ),   beef sausages and tinned fish like tuna.

*  Writing out a menu plan for 4 - 6 weeks at a time and being careful to use up meals that have been frozen.

*  Only buying sauces / condiments we actually use. This means sticking to the basics like tomato,  bbq,  worchestershire,  soy,   mint.   Not that we bought too many that we didn't use up.  

A Summer garden haul

Adding vegetable to a pasta dish

Portioning leftovers for the freezer

Have you cut out unnecessary groceries on your shopping list ?

Saturday 14 August 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 14th August 2021

We might be in lockdown here in Melbourne,  but I'm not sure where my week has gone.  We have lots of spare time on our hands even with the small amount of work we still have.  Maintaining a clean home,  putting food on the table each night and growing a garden are no small tasks.  Maybe I just feel like nothing big or remarkable has been achieved this week.

Still,  we a grateful and blessed for the life we lead and even more blessed to have a decent sized backyard to enjoy during these challenging times.

Here's what we got up to this week - 

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.  Used recycled bread bags to store the bread in the freezer.

*  Baked a batch of pumpkin scones using the pumpkin we were blessed with.  

*  Gratefully received 12 roti breads from a cleaning client who made them fresh while we were cleaning their home.  They have a roti bread machine on their kitchen bench and the husband sat there making them for us.

*  Gratefully received a container of pumpkin soup from Megan who dropped it off for us.  We'll be having it for lunch today with some of the roti breads.

*  Saved the washing machine water,  drink bottle water and shower warm up water to reuse around our home and garden.

*  Picked kale,  silverbeet,  lemons,  lettuce and spinach from our garden.

*  Darren mowed the lawn and gave some of the clippings to the chickens to enjoy.  The rest of the clippings went into the compost bin.

*  Baked ANZAC biscuits and choc chip biscuits using homemade dough from the freezer.

*  Froze leftovers of honey mustard chicken.

*  Turned electronic standby lights off and turned the doorbell off each night.

*  One of our chickens started laying eggs again.  The other chicken has been a freeloader for more than 3 years.

*  Pruned a wayward lavender plant and kept some of the flowers to put in a vase.

*  Dried the washing on the line when we had milder days.  The rest of the washing was dried on clothes horses over ducted heating vents.

Baking day

From our chicken

A blessing

Our roti bread blessing

From the garden

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

Wednesday 11 August 2021

Our $100 A Month Grocery Budget - Part 1

Due to the uncertain times we live in and irregular work hours over the last 18 months, we have been spending just $100 a month for food,  toiletries and cleaning products.  At times,  that money has stretched to feed up to 5 people depending on who's coming and going in our home at dinnertime.  The $100 includes food and supplies for our cat as well as three meals a day for Darren and I.

I will be the first to admit,  it's been a struggle at times.   We didn't go out and stockpile extra things just to reduce our spending down to $100 a month..  Thankfully we had a reasonable supply of basic pantry items, a good stockpile of meat and an excellent stockpile of toiletries and cleaning supplies.

Back in early 2020,  our budget was cut in all areas with food and gifts taking the biggest hit.  In saying that,  these two areas of our budget are easier to cut than other areas.  We can grow more food and I can make more presents.

To cut the food budget from $150 a month ( on average ) down to $100,  we had to make some hard choices about what is a necessary food item and what is a luxury.  It has been a bit of an adjustment and at times the fridge looks quite bare.  Through all of this,  there is always food on the table,  it's tasty and filling.

I thought I'd share with you how we've eaten on such a small budget and a few tricks I've learnt along the way.

*  Any food that goes into the fridge is carefully used within the right timeframe so it doesn't get thrown out.  With a slightly bare fridge,  it's easy to keep track of what we have.

*  When serving dinner,  our portions have been slightly smaller so we can freeze at least another two portions.  Some meals we've been able to freeze 3 - 4 portions.

*  Soup has featured in our menu plan for dinner at least once or twice a week when the weather has been cold.  Teamed up with leftover bread stick or a dinner roll from the freezer,  it makes a hearty meal that costs about 10 - 20 cents per serve.  Generally the soup is made from a chicken carcass which most people would throw out.  I also cooked up the last leg of lamb from the freezer and used the bone to make a delicious soup.

*  I have deliberately avoided my more expensive recipes especially the ones where you only get four serves and the meal costs $5 or more.  Meat pie,  rissole casserole,  salmon patties and chops have been a rare treat on the menu due to the high meat content and / or cost.

*  My shopping list is revised over and over again to eliminate any unnecessary purchases.  Groceries such as biscuits ( except for Christmas ),  dips,  chips,  chocolate, soft cheeses and roasts have not been purchased since we cut the budget. 

*  I've been adding TVP ( textured vegetable protein ) to beef mince to stretch it further.  I had my doubts about using TVP but in the right ratio we don't notice it at all.

*  Our vegetable garden has given us plenty of greens to add to the dinner plate all year round. Growing silverbeet and kale has been a big money saver.  I've been blanching and freezing excess broccoli and corn.  Even our potato haul earlier this year saved us more than $20.  I didn't buy potatoes for 5 months.

*  Any store bought snacks are only purchased as part of our present for birthdays,  Mother's / Father's Day and Christmas.

A simple Summer dinner

How do you stretch your meals ?

Saturday 7 August 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 7th August 2021

 The last couple of weeks have been a time of rest and recuperation for both Darren and I   I was sick for a week with side effects from a vaccine and a cold that sent me to bed.  Darren came down with a bad cold about the same time.  I've been feeling well for three days now and Darren has almost recovered.

We were grateful for a well stocked freezer of home made meals to keep us going.  We are also grateful for a clean,  tidy and organised home that gave us the opportunity to just sit and recover.  No dirty washing or dishes piling up around us.

Although I've been absent for the last couple of weeks,  my frugal list is very short and sweet.  There were days when I couldn't do a single task around our home.

So here it is - our frugal list

*  We picked kale,  silverbeet and lettuce from our garden to go with a few of our meals

*  Pruned our Hebe bush and used the branches to brighten our home.

*  Made 2 kilos of brown sugar from scratch.

*  Made a quadruple batch of ANZAC biscuit dough.  Some was baked and the rest of the dough went into the freezer.

*  Made a big pot of spag bol sauce from 1 kilo of beef mince.  I added TVP to stretch the meat and added grated carrot and lots of silverbeet and kale.  From the pot of meat sauce I was able to get 21 single serves.  We ate it fresh that night and the rest went into the freezer.  Batch cooking at it's best.

*  Gratefully received 2 pumpkins.  Darren cut and cooked one of them.   The flesh was drained overnight and portioned into containers to freeze.  It will be used to make lots of pumpkin scones in the future.

*  Gratefully received some oranges and mandarins from Megan's trees.

*  Saved the washing machine rinse water for the next load of washing.

Making ANZAC biscuit dough

White sugar and molasses makes brown sugar

Fresh kale and silverbeet from the garden

What are you picking from the garden ?

How have you saved money this week ?