Saturday 30 October 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 30th October 2021

 Well,  it's finally happened !!  Darren and I are officially out of lockdown and isolation as of last Sunday night and we have rejoined civilization.  Melbourne started opening up Thursday night last week but unfortunately we had to wait another few days until Darren had a negative test result.  By the time he had confirmation all the shops had closed for the day.  Then both Darren and I were at work on Monday.

So Tuesday was our big day out.  Darren went and got his haircut then we headed down to Sorrento for lunch and a world famous vanilla slice.  Then we had a lovely walk along the pier and watched the fishermen wrestling with seaweed  on their lines.  I'm not normally a beach person but being at the beach gives a wonderful sense of freedom after such a long lockdown.

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

*  Mixed up a quadruple batch of choc chip biscuit dough for the freezer.  I'm trying to get lots of dough into the freezer ahead of Christmas and the hot weather.  There are a few people I'll be giving home baked biscuits ( cookies ) to as part of their present.  

*  Gratefully received a food dehydrator from a friend.  This will be wonderful to use for our garden produce and for vegetable specials I find at our local fruit and veg shop.

*  Darren and I made pizza from scratch including the base.  This is quite a saving compared to takeaway pizza and tastes so much better then anything I've ever bought.

*  Darren has been picking hot pink perfumed roses from our garden for my bedside table.   With such beauty in our garden,  we rarely buy flowers for our home.

*  Luka our 2 1/2 year old grandson picked flowers for me from our garden.  He said " Nanny,  you need a barse ( vase ).

*  Dried all the washing on the line.  Sometimes I change my wash day to suit the weather.

*  Used some of our shower warm up water to water our plants.  The rest of the water went into the washing machine.

*  Dug up 18.7 kilos of potatoes from the garden.  These potatoes were grown from supermarket potatoes that had sprouted in my pantry.  Free food worth at least $18 and chemical free.

*  Fed lots of snail to the chickens as well as old lettuce plants.

*  Picked sugar snap peas and a mini cauliflower from our garden.

*  Used the thermos to make cuppas during the day.  Turned all standby lights and unused appliances off when not needed.  Stuck to the two light rule.  

From our garden

Digging for potatoes

The first bucketful.

The 18.7 kilo haul.

My gifted dehydrator.

Out and about in Sorrento.

THE vanilla slice

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

Have you enjoyed new found freedoms in your area ?

Wednesday 27 October 2021

10 Cheap Pantry Items To Stock Up On

There have been lots of articles and YouTube videos make recently about stockpiling or prepping for uncertain times.  We have seen food shortages across the world for various reasons and it really does pay to have extras in your pantry.  

Some people spend thousands on dollars on building a very impressive stockpile ( or in some cases a hoard ).  This might not be in everyone's budget so I thought I'd compile a list of very cheap pantry items that anyone can afford.

Flour - plain,  self raising,  wholemeal or for those who have food intolerances the flours you can use.  Flour prices start at $1 a kilo. When you have flour on hand you can bake bread,  bake sweet or savoury snacks,  use it to thicken stews and so many other uses.

Sugar -  I buy white,  raw and icing sugar.  From white sugar I make castor sugar and brown sugar.  Sugar is used in baked goods,  desserts,  relishes,  chutneys,  sauces and jam making. White sugar prices start at $1.10 per kilo

Pasta - any shape will do.  We still have about 5 years worth of spaghetti pasta that was given to us about 3 years ago.  We also use spiral pasta in pasta bakes and small shell pasta in soups.  Pasta has a very long shelf life if stored in airtight containers or packets. Pasta prices start at 80 cents for 500 grams.

Tinned vegetables. - We stock up on tinned tomatoes in case our garden crop doesn't grow well.  I keep tinned corn kernels and creamed corn for soups and casseroles.  We also have beetroot for Summer salads. Tinned tomatoes prices start at 60 cents for 400 grams

Rice - I only keep white rice on hand now for it's long shelf life.  We did eat brown rice years ago but found it went rancid after 6 months.  Rice is a great side dish that can be jazzed up with seasoning or served plain.  Rice also makes a very thrifty fried rice dish or a delicious creamed rice for dessert.  Also used as a filler in casseroles,  rissoles and meatloaf. White rice prices start at $1.40 per kilo

Tinned meats - I keep many tins of tinned tuna in brine for casseroles and pasta bakes.  While large tins of tuna cost $3,  the meat can be stretched a long way.  I also keep tinned salmon in the pantry to make salmon patties.  Adding potato mash and grated vegetables to the salmon makes many more patties than you think.  Tinned ham and chicken are also available on the supermarket shelf but i don't buy then nor can I vouch for them being thrifty.

Dried bread crumbs - this might seem like an odd item to have on hand but it can cost nothing to make if you use the ends of loaves of bread.  I keep them unseasoned in bulk in the pantry and season a batch when needed.  Bread crumbs are another way to stretch a meal and save you money.

Dried beans - I don't stock these simply because I don't like them.  They are a good source of protein and can be used in meatless meals or to stretch meat further.

Dried soup mix - I keep this on hand all year round but especially in readiness for Winter soup making.  Add a few sad looking vegetables from the fridge or saved scraps from the freezer and you have a delicious and nutritious meal for just a few cents a serve.  Soup mix starts at $1.70 for 500 grams and this makes many pots of soup.

Tinned soups - this might sound like a contradiction considering I make soup from scratch all the time but tinned soups come in handy to make a cheap meal.  They last for years past their best before dates ( if stored well ) and can be used to make tasty casseroles,  pasta bakes or a thrifty lunch.  They always come on sale for $1 a tin before and during Winter.      

What cheap pantry items do you like to have lots of ?

Saturday 23 October 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 23rd October 2021

 As our last lockdown ( hopefully ) come to an end,  we've been busy trying to finish up a few projects before we go out and about.  We've done as much as we can in our garden using what we have on hand.  A trip to a couple of garden centres is high on our priority list to buy a few more plants.

Darren has installed a few new internal doors to the spare bedrooms.  These were given to us almost a year ago for free. Now we need to do a bit of sanding then lots of painting.

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

*  Baked three loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Made up a batch of dried seasoned bread crumbs.  I added a small bag of extra crunchy corn flakes that were gifted to us.  Hopefully the bread crumbs will be extra crunchy.

*  Fed lots of garden snails to the chickens.  I go snail hunting almost every day and seem to find so many.  Better in the chicken's tummies that the snails eating my plants.

*  Picked silverbeet,  sugar snap peas and parsley from the garden.

*  Found lots of self sown seedlings growing in the garden.  I dug up quite a few forget me not seedlings and replanted them to fill in gaps around the garden.

*  Filled up a thermos with leftover boiled water from the kettle when we boil it for our breakfast cuppas.  This gives us enough boiled water for morning tea and sometimes afternoon tea.  If we don't use it all for cuppas,  it's used to cook veggies for dinner.

*  Once again Woolworths over charged me for packets of tissues.  When I pointed this out they gave me three packets for free and charged me the correct price for the others.  I was also over charged for a 5 kilo bag of rice.  When I returned it they gave it to me for free.  That was worth $20 ( not that I would pay that much ).  It certainly pays to check your receipt after shopping.

*  Used cut up old socks to tie our standard roses to their garden stakes.  The socks are sturdy but have some give which reduces damage to the plant stem.

*  Over the last few weeks we've been mulching our garden  for free.  I asked on a local Facebook page about sourcing mulch that wasn't full of weed seeds.  People gave me a few suggestions but they were out of our price range.  A man who follows that page contacted me and offered as much mulch as I needed for free.  He'd just had a tree chopped down and mulched by a contractor.  We estimate the mulch we took was worth over $200.  We've mulched just about all our garden beds and still have 8 big bags left.  Such an amazing blessing.

*  Darren juiced the last of the lemons off our tree.  We've frozen the juice in ice cube trays.

*  Baked whole orange cakes using oranges from the freezer.  I made the cakes in various sizes to suit the occasion.  Small ones are great for the grandbabies or to take to my card making group.  Medium size is great for Darren and I over a couple of days.  The larger one is good for having visitors or for when we visit other people.   

Sugar snap peas from the garden

Making my own from scratch.

Whole orange cakes

The apricots are growing fast.


How have you saved time,  money or energy around your home ?

Wednesday 20 October 2021

I Found Freebies In My Garden

Over the last six months Darren and I have been making over our front garden and filling in gaps in our back garden.  Unfortunately due to the almost continuous lockdowns this year we have not been able to buy plants for such a long time,  Our local garden and hardware stores have been closed to the general public and I've not been game to do any online ordering for plants.

So we've kind of been stuck for new plants.  As I've been weeding our gardens on a regular basis I've been looking under plants to see if they have grown little seedlings.  To my surprise I've found many little plants hiding out of sight.  I've scraped away the mulch and gently dug up the seedlings and replanted them to help fill out our garden.

Over 20 years ago we planted many lavender plants along our driveway,  only to have them all die about a year later.  Fast forward to earlier this year and we found about 8 - 10 had popped up again out of the blue.  How exciting and such a surprise.  I've dug them up and replanted in various locations.

I've also taken cuttings from the few plants we did buy earlier this year.  A new Hebe plant we bought has given us many new plants from cuttings and I've been able to give one to my parents.  Darren has even grown a few hydrangea cuttings from a plant his Mum gave us many years ago.

When the garden shops reopen we can't wait to buy a few different plants to complete our garden transformation.  While we await that glorious day,  we've saved hundreds of dollars and our garden is looking fabulous ( all things considered ).

Below are some of the freebies we've found and nurtured.

Snapdragon seedling we found.

Federation daisy we've grown from a cutting

Osteospermum and lavender plants that popped up

A Hebe plant we grew from a cutting

Grown from a cutting

Alyssum - the ;plant that gives many seedlings

Do you dig around in your garden for freebies ?

What plants give you freebies ?

How have you gardened during lockdowns and restrictions ?

Saturday 16 October 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 16th October 2021

 I must admit this week has been a bit of a lazy one. We've been dealing with quite a stressful situation and we are not sleeping well.  I keep reminding myself that God is in control and to breathe.  I've been in the garden almost every day even if it's to pull a few weeds and to admire the beautiful flowers.  Our garden has been a wonderful escape and I praise God that we have the space to create such beauty.

Some days I've watched lots of Youtube with a cup of tea and some baking as a way to relax.  So I apologise that my frugal list is a little short this week. 

*  Darren made pork dumplings from scratch.  He likes to make them a couple of times a year as a dinner / lunch treat.  Both Jessica and Megan think they are better than anything they have bought at the shops.

*  Fed lots and lots of garden snails to the chickens.  They get excited when I throw them over the fence and gobble them up as if they were lollies.

*  Made pita chips to have as snacks with a little bit of dip.

*  Planted corn,  beans,  cucumber and zucchini seeds in our veggie garden.

*  Made up two bottles of diluted Dynamo laundry liquid.  The ratio is 1 part liquid to 5 or 6 parts water.  I use this on the odd occasion when I do a dark load of washing that is a bit smelly.

*  I picked sugar snap peas,  one mini cauliflower and silverbeet from our garden.

*  Dried all the washing on the line.  Darren watches the weather and tells me when it's going to be a sunny day without rain.  If needed I'll change my wash day to suit the weather,

*  Saved shower warm up water and washing machine rinse water.  Reused it in the washing machine.

*  Filled up the shower gel pump bottles and diluted it just a little.

*  Sold a dish cloth and some greeting cards to a friend.

I treated myself to a platter for lunch

Forget me nots in the garden

One of the eight cards I made for an order.


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

Wednesday 13 October 2021

Start Your Christmas Shopping ASAP

 There are just 10 1/2 weeks until Christmas is here.  Have you started your shopping yet ?  Do you have any presents set aside in your present cupboard ?

I live in Melbourne and retail will not be opening up until early November ( at this point ).  If that's the case,  we will be left with just over 6 weeks to get all our shopping done.  That's us and every other Melbournian crowded into shopping centres desperately trying to buy much needed clothes,  household items and presents. That's not an ideal situation and certainly something I will be avoiding as much as possible.

When you do get to the shops,  you might not be able to buy exactly what you want.  In other states shelves are being stripped bare and variety is not what it once was.

Many supply chains have been broken for various reasons.  Transport strikes,  workplace restrictions and world issues ( you know what they are ) have taken a real toll on imports.  Also delivery times and costs have blown out with so much online shopping.

So what is the solution ?  How will you be able to buy Christmas presents this year ?

Here are a few ways you can get started now -

*  Buy local,  buy from small businesses or friends and family.    This helps to support people in your own state or country.  

*  Check your local Buy,  Swap and Sell Facebook pages,  Marketplace,  Ebay or Etsy.  People are always selling something and you might just find what you are looking for.

*  Can you make some presents with supplies you have on hand ?

*  Can you grow plant cuttings to give as presents ?

*  With so little advertising for toys ( certainly in our state due to shops being closed ),  are your children asking for general toys like a doll,  Lego,  sport equipment ?  If they are not asking for a particular brand,  model or color you will find it easier to get what they'd like.  Darren and I rarely bought the latest and greatest for our girls when they were little but they never missed out on great toys.

*  Can you upcycle items you already have.  Make something over or give it a coat of paint ?

*  Are there hard rubbish ( curbside ) collections in your area ?  I've seen photos of unwanted dolls houses and play furniture on curbsides waiting for the council to collect and crush in their rubbish trucks.  This could be a great opportunity to upcycle items with a fresh coat of paint or a good clean.

*  Can you trade items with your friends and family ?

* Try shopping at op shops for giftware and kitchenware.  It's amazing what people will donate in new or near new condition.

Lastly,  there's no need to buy for every man,  woman or child you know.  Trim your present list to suit your budget.

What plans do you have for Christmas shopping this year ?

Saturday 9 October 2021

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 9th October 2021

 Over the last three weeks since I last posted our frugal tasks,  we've tried to stay busy each day.  I've started Spring cleaning around our home and clean something different every few days. On the milder days we've had lunch or morning teas outside on our deck and admired all our hard work in the garden.

Here's how we've spent our days -

*  Bought Osso Bucco beef from Australian Butchers for $10.99 kg.  This is a fantastic price for any cut of beef.  

*  Made up one slow cooker of Massaman beef curry and one slow cooker of beef stew ( at the same time ).  We enjoyed these meals for the next two nights and all the leftovers were portioned out and frozen.

*  Gratefully received a pot of chicken noodle soup from Megan.  Unfortunately she made too much for herself and had no room in her freezer.  She dropped it off on our doorstep and we enjoyed it for dinner that night and froze the leftovers.

*  Dried the washing on the line or clotheshorses.  Over the last three weeks I've only put one load in the dryer when it was too muggy for the washing to dry naturally ( I tried ).

*  Wrote out a menu plan for the next four weeks.  Added in soup a few times as our cheap meals.

*  Baked wholemeal bread with extra goodness twice during the last three weeks.

*  Baked a batch of ANZAC biscuits using dough I'd previously frozen.

*  Gratefully received tomato plants from my Dad.

*  Made up a bottle of surface spray using cooled boiled water and a dash of dish washing liquid.  I use this to clean my toilets,  wipe sinks and clean the stove and kitchen benches.

*  Bought approximately 10 kilos of chicken breasts for $4.99kg.  For just over $40 I portioned out the meat and there was enough for 40 meals for the two of us.  Some meals I might be able to get 3 or 4 serves.

*  Made a pot of chicken stock from chicken skins and offcuts from the chicken breasts.  The stock should give us enough for 8 serves of chicken soup when I make it up.

*  Sold a few cards and face masks to friends who requested them.

*  Sold quite a few dish cloths,  face scrubbies and greeting card sets.  I still have a few left so if you are interested please check out the posts I put on my Facebook pages.

*  We picked lettuce,  silverbeet and sugar snap peas from our garden.

*  Darren and I baked raspberry and white chocolate muffins,  blueberry muffins and sausage rolls as our latest lockdown treats.

*  I found a few rouge seedlings growing under bigger plants in our front garden.  I gently dug them up and planted them in better locations to fill in some gaps.  With all the gardening shops closed,  we are grateful for the little surprises in the garden.

*  Made a garden scoop from a recycled vinegar bottle.  I'm planning on using it to scoop out potting mix from the bag.

*  We had both our ovens fixed for free by the company who makes / distributes them.  Even through they are well out of warranty,  it was a design fault.  The value of the repairs was approximately $500.

Here are a few photos from our garden -

Tomato plants from Dad

A  birthday chocolate / rose bouquet from Jessica

Massaman beef curry and beef stew

Dish cloths for sale on Facebook.

How have you saved time,  money or energy lately ?

Wednesday 6 October 2021

Look What I Made With A Vinegar Bottle.


Just the other day I emptied a small bottle of brown vinegar.  As always I try to reuse,  recycle or upcycle instead of tossing items in the bin.  Here's what I made with the plastic bottle - 

A Scoop.  It has many uses around the home and garden but I'm planning on using it to scoop out potting mix from the bag.

First I used a permanent marker to mark where I needed to cut.  Then using a pair of ordinary paper / craft scissors I cut on the line I'd made.

Here are some other ways to use this scoop -

*  For scooping out bulk foods from buckets like flour. and rice etc
*  A great scoop for playing in the sand pit.
*  Take to the beach to scoop sand or water
*  For measuring out food for pets 
*  For transplanting seedlings.  This keeps the soil around the plant roots when moving it.