Wednesday 30 March 2022

10 Ways To Offset Rising Grocery Prices - Part 2

 Are you tired of seeing grocery prices going up every time you visit a supermarket ?  So am I and it makes you wonder whether the prices will go back down again when petrol prices go down and transport / supply chain issues are resolved.  Probably not.  

We need to be prepared that these high prices might be here to stay.  So you have two options.  You can  absorb the extra cost into your household budget,  or change the way you shop.  If you're like me you don't want to absorb the extra costs.  The reality is,  my budget can't fit in higher grocery costs,  higher petrol prices and higher utility costs.  

The grocery budget is the most flexible area of the household budget.  You can pick and choose what to buy,  the brand to buy and to a certain extent,  how much you pay for each item.

Here are another 10 tips and tricks I use all the time to keep our grocery budget down to $100 a month for 2 adults and one cat.

*  Expensive meals are no longer on our menu plan.  Roast beef,  legs of lamb,  lamb chops,  lamb kebabs and casseroles that require more than 400 grams of meat are a thing of the past.  

*  TVP is used to stretch beef mince in lasagne,  spag bol,  chop suey and pasta bakes.   We don't notice a difference in taste or texture in these meals.

*  Dinner leftovers are NOT eaten for lunch the next day unless it's too small to freeze for a single dinner serve.  Cooked lunches ( leftovers ) are more expensive than a sandwich or bowl of homemade soup.  

*  All dinner leftovers are portioned out after we have finished eating.  They go into takeaway containers then placed in the fridge.  As soon as the food cools,  the containers are labelled with the meal name,  date and how many serves. 

*  We are not precious about leftover meals that come from the freezer.  It's food,  it tastes great,  it certainly doesn't taste like the freezer and the consistency is the same or very close to a freshly made meal.  It's all in the defrosting and reheating method.  Defrost the food in the fridge overnight if possible then add a touch of water to the dish when reheating in the microwave.  The water is important for stews,  casseroles and  pasta dishes  and prevents drying out.  We had previous friends tell us they didn't like leftovers or meals from the freezer.  Little did they know that they sat down to a lunch of soup and sausage rolls from the freezer and the chicken in the sandwiches also came from the freezer.  They loved the food and all five of them gobbled it up.

*  I don't wander the supermarket aisles just to have a look while grocery shopping.  I go down the soft drink aisle once a year at Christmas time to buy apple cider.  I never go down fresh refrigerated meal aisle.  Mostly I start shopping in aisle 7 which is the flour and sugar aisle.

* We grow most of the fruit and veg we eat.  We don't have a big veggie garden but we make the most of the space we have.  Some of our fruit trees are dwarf ones so they don't take up too much space.  The veggies we grow are the ones we eat the most like potatoes,  tomatoes,  broccoli,  beans,  corn and silverbeet.

*  I rarely look at junk mail from the supermarkets.  There is too much rubbish food in the catalogues and it costs too much.  Sure,  there are 1/2 prices sales but you'll rarely see it on basic items like generic flour,  sugar,  milk,  butter,  cheese  meat and fruit and veg.  Junk mail is there to lure you in to the shops to buy things you don't need.

*  We eat and buy seasonal.   I don't look for strawberries in Winter and I don't look for citrus fruit in Summer.  We also don't eat salads in Winter.

*  I buy and use dried herbs.  Fresh ones are far too dear and tend to wilt before using it all.  

Eating seasonal

Our version of freezer meals

Darren digging in our veggie garden.

I have another 10 tips and tricks to share with you next week.

Do you use any of these tips to keep your grocery budget down ? 

Saturday 26 March 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 26th March 2022

 Autumn is my favourite time of the year.  The weather is mild and we enjoy getting outside to plant veggies for Winter and to get the garden in shape.  My housework tasks are a little easier to complete now that the heat has gone.

Here's how our week looked -

*  Filled 2 slow cookers with pears from our tree,  added apples,  lemon juice,  sugar,  cinnamon and nutmeg to make pear and apple butter.

*  Filled the biscuit jar with homemade ANZAC biscuits.  We have enjoyed them with cups of tea.

*  Gratefully received a squashed loaf of bread from a friend.  Some was used to make dried bread crumbs and the rest was fed to the chickens.

*  Planted carrot,  silverbeet and lettuce seeds in our veggie gardens.

*  Used cut up old socks to tie plants to garden stakes.

*  Picked pears,  beans,  strawberries,  tomatoes,  a zucchini and lots of raspberries from our garden.

*  Fed apple and pear peelings,  weeds,  worms,  bread crusts and a few old grapes to our chickens.

*  Dug up and replanted / repositioned 5 rouge potato plants to make the most of the growing space we have.  They are now growing in two rows which means I can cover with plastic to protect them during the coming colder weather.

*  Darren picked a bunch of roses from the garden.

*  Used my all in one cooker to make a huge pot of soup.  A few months ago I was given a few packs of lamb chops and 2 lamb necks from a friend who was moving.  I used one of the necks in this soup with zucchini,  tomatoes and broccoli from our garden ( the broccoli was last years leftovers in the freezer ) and a few other veggies.  Very delicious and super cheap too.   

*  Darren emptied one of the compost bins and dug it into a veggie garden bed.  Shortly we can plant the broccoli seedlings I've been growing.

Darren picked them from the garden.

We enjoy eating ANZAC biscuits

Cutting up old socks as garden ties.

How did you save money this week ?

Wednesday 23 March 2022

10 Ways To Offset Rising Grocery Prices

 There's no denying that grocery prices are going up.  Bank balances are being squeezed and it seems like there's nothing we can do   Or is there ?

As you know Darren and I buy all our groceries,  cat food / kitty litter,  basic toiletries and cleaning ingredients for $100 a month.  This has been our budget for the last 14 months ( from memory ).  To most people this seems like a ridiculously small amount to spend and we couldn't possibly be eating healthy.  

Guess what ?  We are eating healthy and we are not starving.  We eat home cooked basic,  yet tasty meals each night and there's plenty of  food on the plate.  Our lunches and breakfasts are nothing fancy but we are satisfied.  Morning and afternoon teas are also included in the $100 per month and there's always something delicious in the biscuit jar.

Here are 10 of the tricks and tips I've been using to keep to our grocery budget to $100 even when it seems impossible.

*  We constantly look out for meat on clearance.  Most of the clearance meat we've bought has been around dinner time which seems to be when the meat manager puts the reduced stickers on.  But in saying that,  we don't buy the meat just because it's on clearance.  The reduced price needs to work out to $10 per kilo or less.  Steak reduced from $40 to $25 a kilo ( for example ) is not a sale price for our budget.

*  Almost no convenience food makes it onto my shopping list or into the trolley.  This includes jars of pasta / chicken bake sauces,  gravy mixes,  noodle cups,  pre cut food,  microwave food,  frozen meals,  frozen snacks,  soft drinks,  chips,  lollies,  juices,  bakery items,  deli items,  dips,  breakfast cereal ( unless needed for a casserole / baking ).

*  Generic brands are always bought  except for curry powder,  toothpaste,  tomato soup,  teabags and chocolate.  Generic is cheaper 90% of the time.  It is rare that a sale item makes it cheaper than generic.

*  I am not brand or supermarket loyal.  I buy Australian made / owned products when I can but they need to be the cheapest on offer.  I'd much rather have money in my purse than fancy brands in my pantry.  I'm not out to impress anyone except my husband and he sure is impressed with the quality of food we eat.

*  I don't chase loyalty points to convert into cash.  If I get points for buying my basic groceries then I see it as a bonus.  Too many people are mesmerised by the bonus offers / points that loyalty programs offer.  You end up spending more than usual to get a couple of dollars back in cash.  Bonus offers are only a bonus if you don't go out of your way to get them.

*  I always have a shopping list when grocery shopping.  It's written in general order of where things are in the supermarket.  I also write how many of each item is needed.

*  I always check my pantry,  fridge and freezers before writing my list and shopping.

*  I only buy what can be used within a reasonable amount of time.  I don't buy 20 jars of Vegemite if we only go through one or two a year.

*  I rotate all items in my pantry,  fridge and freezers.  New items go to the back and older ones go to the front to be used first.

*  Any chips,  lollies,  biscuits or chocolate we like is given at Christmas in our stockings or for birthdays,  Mother's / Father's Days and Easter throughout the year.  It's kept in the pantry with our initial on it so we know whose is whose.

Photo taken about 2017

Clearance beef mince.

Next week I'll have another 10 tips and tricks to share with you.

Saturday 19 March 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 19th March 2022

 It has been a very busy and tiring week in the Gower Abundant Cottage.  Darren started a new job Saturday last week.  His job is in health and he been working at different locations in our area.  At the moment we are walking by faith because Darren doesn't know when the next shift is available until the day before.  Still,  we are blessed he's had over 40 hours of work this week and the pay rate has been exceptional.

While Darren is taking every shift he can,  I've been cleaning some of the homes we usually do together.  I've been keeping our housework up to date and trying to spend a little time in the garden each day.  I'm gradually recovering from the chest infection I caught 3 weeks ago.  Darren has now caught a cough but is soldering on.

We did treat ourselves to a dinner out on Monday night after Darren had worked a long shift and we both hadn't been well.  Other than that treat,  nothing has changed in our tight budget.  I still cook and bake from scratch,  still grow and freeze garden produce and everything is as thrifty as can be.

When we weren't working,  here's how we saved money -

*  We found cheap vegetable and flower seedlings at Bunnings on their clearance table.

*  Baked three loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Baked shortbreads for our afternoon teas.  I also pulled out a few small whole orange cakes from the freezer to eat.  These were really handy on busy days.

*  Darren took a packed lunch for every day of work except the first day.  He wasn't sure what facilities would be available in a tea / staff room but he knew shops would be available for lunch.  He did take snacks etc on that first day.  His lunches have to be quick and easy to eat / prepare so he's been taking rolls,  a homemade pie,  fruit,  my baking and a bottle of water.

*  I bought 2 x 5 kilo bags of Basmati rice on a half price sale for $10 each.  As soon as I have room in the freezer I'll be freezing it to make sure any bugs that might be in there will not survive.  I usually freeze it for at least 3 - 4 days.

*  Fed the compost bin with kitchen scraps each day.

*  Picked pretty little iceberg roses for our kitchen.

*  Saved the shower warm up water,  washing machine water and kitchen waste water to reuse around our home and garden where we safely can do so.

*  Turned off as many appliances as possible over night.  This includes one of our landline phones,  tv / dvd player and doorbell.

*  Picked raspberries ( they are slowing down ),  green beans,  a few tomatoes,  corn and lots of pears.

Shortbread biscuits

Roses from our garden

Lots of pears from our tree,

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

I'm planning on writing a blog post soon about rising grocery costs.  I'd love to hear how much the price increases has effected you and your family.  Thanks.

Saturday 12 March 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 12th March 2022

This week's frugal list is not a big one.  I've kept myself fairly busy in the garden and had cleaning jobs everyday ( not all day ).  I'm also recovering from a chest infection so there have been some days where just the basics are done to keep us clothed and fed.

We are enjoying the cooler weather and getting outside when time allows. Many bushes have been pruned to promote new growth for another year.  Weeds and unwanted grass are gradually being removed from garden beds.  I try to do this throughout Summer but on a smaller scale.

Here's my list for the week -

*  Made a large batch of sausage rolls for the freezer.  I was quite shocked at the increased price of sausage meat.  Lets just say the sausage rolls are a real treat to have for the occasional lunch.

*  Gratefully received tomatoes, passionfruit and a jar of jam  from a couple of friends.

*  Baked and sold lots of chocolate choc chip muffins and a bottle of Miracle Spray to a cleaning client.

*  Planted a Hebe plant and two hydrangea plants we've grown for cuttings.

*  Fed the compost bin almost every day with kitchen scraps.

*  Baked choc chip biscuits for afternoon tea treats.

*  Blanched and froze corn cobs from our garden.

*  Made up 5 x 2 litre bottles of laundry liquid. This is the last of the laundry liquid I made up 6 - 8 months ago.  I had it in a  25 litre bucket and it was double strength laundry liquid.  I try to make the liquid in cooler months and decant to smaller bottles.  I've had a couple of friends saving up their  vinegar bottles so that next time I can decant the whole lot.

*  Picked pears,  beans,  corn,  raspberries and tomatoes from our garden.

*  Made a big pot of soup using the gifted tomatoes,  zucchinis from our garden,  beef mince and lots of other veggies.  We had it for two dinners and the rest was frozen.

In the garden

Sausage rolls

Bryson's birthday card I made

Bryson opening his presents

Princess taking a nap on our old mattress.

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

Wednesday 9 March 2022

Apple Pear Butter

 Last year was our first year of a fairly bountiful harvest of pears from our miniature tree.  The fruit was hard and not too flavoursome for fresh eating so I had to find a way to use it up.  After searching YouTube ( as you do ),  I found general instructions for pear butter.

This year we had the pears again but I was also given small green apples from a friend.  I decided to combine the two fruits and made this recipe up as I went along.

The result was a fruity yet slightly tangy spread.   It makes a delicious spread on toast,  crumpets and muffins.   Maybe you will find some other uses for it too.  Perhaps spread it on  dry crackers with a little Camembert cheese.

8 large Pears or 1 - 1.5 kilos

4 medium Green Apples or 0.5 - 1 kilos

1/2 cup of tap Water

Juice of 2 Lemons

1/2 cup of Brown Sugar

2 teaspoons of dried Cinnamon

1 teaspoon of dried Nutmeg 

Turn your slow cooker on low ( if it runs very hot ) or high if it's a very slow cooker 

Peel,  core and slice the pears and apples.

Place in the slow cooker.

Add all the other ingredients to the slow cooker.

Cook for 8 - 10 hours or overnight

Lift the lid and give it a good stir.

Use a stick blender to blitz the fruit until it's smooth.

Leave the slow cooker lid off and continue to cook for another 4 hours or so until some of the liquid has reduced.

Spoon into hot ,  sterilised jars and seal.

Store in the fridge for 2 - 3 weeks or freeze for longer storage.

The finished product

Getting the fruit ready

Cooking in the slow cooker

Saturday 5 March 2022

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 5th March 2022

 As the weather starts to cool off a little,  our veggie garden is slowing down in production.  We try to freeze as much as we can if we have excess so it can be enjoyed through the Winter months.  It won't be long before our veggie seedling will be big enough to plant in the beds for the next season.

Here's how our week looked -

*  Fed the compost bins almost every day with kitchen scraps.  Darren turns the contents in the compost bins quite often to increase oxygen which helps break things down much quicker. 

*  Made 11 1/2 jars of raspberry jam using raspberries from our garden.  This is my all time favourite jam and the fruit has been very slow to grow this Summer.  I've started saving fruit in the freezer for the next batch of jam.

*  Did a big baking day of mini whole orange cakes using oranges from the freezer.  Some cakes were for a ladies afternoon tea,  some for my Mum,  Jessica and Megan.  Darren and I ate a few fresh ones and the rest went into the freezer for future eating.  This is a great way to reduce wastage.

*  Made lots of zucchini fritters using zucchinis and potatoes from our garden.  We had them for dinner a couple of nights and enough went into the freezer for another 3 meals.

*  Refilled the shampoo / conditioner pump bottles and diluted the contents by 1/3.

*  Made a couple of bottles of surface spray using cooled boiled water and dishwashing liquid.

*  Made 3 1/2 large jars of pear and apple butter in the slow cooker.  The pears were from our tree and the apples were gifted to us.

*  Blanched and froze corn cobs from our garden.

*  Diced 2 kilos of tomatoes from our garden and frozen them in a large snap lock bag to make relish in cooler weather.

*  Baked 3 loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Cleaned the inside of my kettle with citric acid.  It's amazing how clean it comes up.

*  Cleaned the dishwasher with bi carb and vinegar.  I also cleaned all the filters.  I try to do this at the start of each month.

*  Gratefully received a pumpkin,  some grapes and spinach from Jessica.  Her and her flatmate get a veggie box from the Prahran Market every couple of weeks.  On her last visit the stallholder gave them some extras which Jessica passed on to us.  

*  Picked raspberries,  a few strawberries,  pears, beans,  tomatoes,  corn,  zucchinis and cucumbers from our garden.

*  Saved the shower warm up water,  washing machine water and kitchen water to reuse around our home and garden where suitable.

From the garden

Pear and apple butter

Mini whole orange cakes

Zucchini fritters

Our garden produce

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

Wednesday 2 March 2022

Frugal February Challenge 2022 - Week 4

 Our Frugal February / Spending Freeze has come to an end and I think we have both been pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to limit unnecessary spending.  To be honest,  we just stayed away from the shops and kept ourselves busy at home.

Looking back over the last 4 weeks,  there was only the unplanned KFC lunch,  Valentines Day morning tea and the half price icecreams that could be considered unnecessary.  We did however decide to pay for these out of our pocket money and not general household funds.

Our savings has increased significantly which is fantastic considering Darren has had little work for the last 2 weeks.  Due to his unstable work and applying for another 2 jobs,  we have decided to continue the Spending Freeze for March.  Hopefully by then our income / work situation will have changed for the better.  This seems like the responsible thing to do. 

Here's how Week 4 looked -

Day 22 - $5.46 at Woolworths

Day 23 -  No Spending

Day 24 -  $24.16 on petrol 

Day 25 -  No Spending

Day 26 -  $3.79 at IGA

Day 27 -  $2.60 at Coles

Day 28 - No Spending

NOTES  -  

Day 22 I needed carrots and mushrooms for a beef casserole I was making.  Darren found sliced mushrooms on clearance and there was enough for the casserole ( 8 serves ) and another 2 meals.

Day 26 - The $3.79 was for a dozen eggs.  Our only laying chicken has not laid for the last 10 days or so.  I haven't bough eggs for such a long time I just grabbed the cheapest I could find.  I made lots of whole orange cakes and zucchini fritters with those eggs and had a few left over.

Day 28 -  The $2.60 was for milk.

We had 16 No Spend Days out of a total of 28 days for the month.  We got a lot more gardening,  baking and bulk cooking done during the month which has set us up for more savings to come.

How did you go with the  Frugal February / Spending Freeze ?