Wednesday 28 June 2023

It's Time To Look At Your Shopping List Differently. Part 2

If you are struggling to put food on the table with constantly rising grocery prices,  it's time to do things a little differently. When writing out your shopping list,  ask yourself a few questions -

*  Do we need it ?  Can we go without ? Can we make it ourselves ? Is there a cheaper option ?

Last week I shared 6 ways you can save a small fortune on your grocery bill.  This week I have another 6 ways to save and every single one of them I personally use for Darren and I.  Our grocery budget is $120 a month for 2 adults and has been for about 18 months.

*  Make your own.  If you want to stretch your food budget so you can buy more or save money,  then start making things from scratch.  Jam is dirt cheap to make and even cheaper if you grow your own fruit or know someone who does.  Make gravy from scratch instead of buying those little sachets or ready made.  Make your own wedges / chips / fries instead of buying a bag.  Make foaming hand wash,  surface spray,  custard,  desserts,  lasagnes.  Cut you own veggies  bake your own biscuits,  cook your own pasta sauce.

*  Bulk buying.  Buying larger packets / bags is usually the cheaper option but make sure you know your prices.  Also make sure you can use that quantity within a reasonable time frame.  Go halves with friends or family to split the cost.

*  Buy ingredients.  A trolley full of ingredients will cost far less and provide more meals than a trolley full of processed food.  My grocery bill is proof of this.  Don't listen to the so called experts who report that healthy food is dearer than processed.  My pantry,  fridge and freezers are full of ingredients all bought for $120 ( or even less ) a month.  I had a distant family member tell me recently that it's cheaper to buy a box of biscuit mix to make rather than  buying ingredients.  I don't think she understood the concept that buying ingredients might cost more upfront but can make many batches of biscuits.  The box mix she uses only bakes maybe 12 - 18 biscuits in total.

*  Less meat,  more vegetables.  I'm not going to tell anyone to give up meat.  That's a personal choice and should be talked over with your doctor to make sure you get your nutrients elsewhere.  Darren and I quite enjoy meat but you won't find a hunk of meat on our plates.  On the rare occasion I cook a roast,  I get 2 slices of meat and Darren might get 3.  We fill up our plates with veggies and no one goes hungry.  Chop suey,  stews,  soups and casseroles are a great way to have meat and stretch it further.

*  Cut the treats and give as presents.  If you like chocolate, chips and lollies,  consider adding them to gifts within your family.  They make great Christmas stocking stuffers or gift bag fillers for a birthday present and the recipient will be thrilled to get what they love to eat.  This is the only way Darren and I can afford a food treat and not have it impact our grocery budget.

*  Grow your own.  Have a look at your shopping list.  What fresh items do you buy regularly ?  Could you start growing some of these ?  Lettuce is super cheap, easy and quick to grow.  It can be grown all year round in many areas.  You can grow it in a pot or in the ground.  Even if you start with this you could save $2 - $4 a week. 

Are you looking at your shopping list differently ?

How are you cutting your grocery bill ?

Saturday 24 June 2023

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 24th June 2023

 We are well and truly in the depths of Winter here in Melbourne.  This week the temperature has been between 11 - 15 degrees Celsius each day ( and much colder at night ) with lots of rain and cloud cover.  It's been too cold to be in the garden so I've focused on indoor jobs to keep me warm.

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

*  Emptied the last of a bottle of shower gel into the foaming hand wash pump and added a little extra water.  I had the bottle upside down for a couple of hours to make sure I got every last drop.

*  Baked 3 loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.  I used recycled bread bags to store the bread in the freezer once I sliced it.  I use these bags over and over again for the bread.

*  Mended a coat and a pair of jeans.  The fastener on the jeans had come off so I replaced it with a button.

*  Dried almost everything on a clothes horse over the vent in our main bathroom.  We rarely use this bathroom and keep the door closed so the washing dries within 24 hours.

*  I did my monthly grocery shopping and used our Woolworths rewards card to get 10% off.

*  I bought  'odd bunch ' carrots and potatoes from Woolworths to save a little extra money.  The potatoes looked perfectly fine to me,  nothing odd about them at all.

*  The weather has been quite cold this week.  I've kept the curtains closed except for a couple of inches so I can see where I'm walking.  This has really helped to kept the temperature from dropping too quickly and keeping the heat in.

*  Bought a new zip up hoodie jacket from Savers for $5.40.  I've been on the hunt for a couple of zip up jackets which are great to wear to my cleaning jobs. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find them in the usual retail stores so maybe they are not popular this year.

*  Saved the shower warm up water,  washing machine rinse water and water from our drink bottles and reused it where I could around our home and garden.

*  Used the solar lanterns most nights.  With the weather being so overcast,  there have been some nights when they haven't given much light.

*  I bulk cooked honey mustard chicken ( 6 single serves ),  veggie soup ( 11 single serves ) and cottage pie ( 8 single serves ) on separate nights at dinner time.  We ate the meals as we usually do and the rest were frozen for future meals.  This is much easier and less time consuming than setting aside a whole day to bulk cook.

*  Baked the easy coconut slice I posted here a couple of months ago.  Some was kept for our morning teas and the rest was taken to a family working bee.


Honey mustard chicken serve ready for the freezer

Easy coconut slice.

How have you kept warm ( or cool ) this week ?

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

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Its Time To Look At Your Shopping List Differently. Part 1

 The cost of living crisis is hitting many people hard.  Prices are going up all the time and when it comes to the grocery bill,  you never know how much it's going to cost from week to week.  I've given up expecting certain items to cost a certain amount.  It seems the prices change constantly.

If you want the cost of living crisis to have a minimal impact on your grocery bill,  things need to change and the change has to come from you. 

My grocery budget for Darren and I is $120 per MONTH and it's been at that amount for about 18 months.  Has it been tough ?  A little. Have we made changes to keep it that low ?  YOU BET WE HAVE !!!  And that's the trick.  CHANGES  !!!

Here are 7 ways to lower your food bill and still eat well.

*  People expect to eat the same food and complain about rising prices.  I don't know how many times I've come across people who insist on buying fancy steaks for their meals and then tell me food costs too much.  Nothing's going to change if nothing changes.   Steak is now a luxury.  Save it for a special occasion.

*  Trying different brands.  Why do people feel the need to fill their pantries,  fridges and freezers with branded products ?  Who are you trying to impress ?  If people are judging you on what brands you consume,  you might want to rethink your friends.  Unless it's curry powder,  chocolate,  tea,  coffee or tomato soup,  it doesn't matter what the brand is.  It will still do the job.  Remember,  flour is flour and sugar is sugar.  I use generic flour to bake all our biscuits,  slices,  cakes and breads and it works perfectly.

*  Going without the extras like lavish sauces / gravies,  gourmet oils ( avocado,  coconut etc ),  fancy cheeses,  deli meats,  recipe bases etc.  You know what I'm talking about.  These items are like icing on a cake.  It's nice to have but not needed.    Save them for special occasions.

*  Portion controlling food.  Have a look at how much you are putting on your plate.  Could you eat a little less ?  If the meal is meant to serve 6,  are you only getting 4 or 5 serves ?    Could you stretch the meal to 7 serves ?

*  Eating whole foods.  I'm not necessarily talking about going to a whole food store and spending a fortune on overpriced nuts and flours.  If you are hungry,  eat an apple or banana.  Think back to when you were a child.  What did you eat in your lunchbox ?  It was most likely whole foods. 

*  Cooking simple meals.  No one can sustain a Master Chef menu.  That tv show doesn't know what a food budget is.  Meat and 3 veg,  casseroles,  stews,  pasta or bakes are comfort foods without the high price tag.  If you'd like some budget friendly,  tasty meals then have a look in the recipe section on this blog.  I personally cook every one of those meals on my tight budget and there are no expensive ingredients.

*  Expensive dinners as a treat.  We all like a good roast don't we ?  Or steak,  or salmon for example.   Salmon is one of my favourite meats but we don't have it just because I like it.  Salmon is saved for my Mother's Day meal or my birthday and you can bet I thoroughly enjoy it.  Best of all,  it doesn't blow our budget because we know it's a treat.

Are you looking at your shopping list differently ?

How are you cutting your grocery bill ?

Saturday 17 June 2023

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday !7th June 2023

 Welcome back to my frugal tasks post.  It's been a few weeks since I've posted how we've saved money.  During this time both Darren and I have been home sick and  all work cancelled for almost 2 weeks.  We've also had a family member rushed to hospital a couple of times resulting overnight stays. us packing hospital bags and looking after children.  Thankfully we are now well ( or at least getting better ).

During our illness,  I was very glad for my stockpile of everything.  We had plenty of pain relief,  tissues and cough lollies.  I had a small freezer full of all those cooked meals I often talk about.  That really kept us going on the days when I couldn't get out of bed.  By the time I got sick,  Darren was starting to recover so we took it in turns of looking after each other. 

So the following list of frugal tasks is what we managed to get done since the 20th of May.

*  I depilled a scarf using a fabric shaver.  It came up looking almost new again.

*  Made choc chip biscuits for morning teas using dough I'd made and frozen previously.

*  Dried most of the washing on clothes horses over the ducted heating vent in our spare bathroom.  The vent in this room is quite strong so the washing dries within 24 - 36 hours.

*  Sold some kitchen stools / chairs we got dirt cheap a few years ago.  They were secondhand when we purchased them and had planned to use them on our decking area outside as extra seating.  Then the great lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 happened and we just couldn't use them.  So I popped them on Marketplace and sold them for a profit.

*  Made wholemeal bread with extra goodness a couple of times over the last few weeks.  It's great to have ingredients when you are stuck at home unwell.

*  Darren had the opportunity to receive a big bag of chicken feed for free.  The day Darren picked it up was the same day he was planning on buying a bag at the feed store.  This wonderful blessing saved us about $25 - $27.

*  Made up a big bottle of heavily diluted Dynamo laundry liquid.

*  I made 10 wholemeal bread rolls for Darren's work  lunches.

*  We splashed out and bought a piece of roast beef for about $28 to cook up as a treat.  I cooked it in the slow cooker and we had some of it for dinner that night with roast veggies.  I portioned out enough meat for another roast dinner for the two of us.  The next day with the remaining meat I made a beef stew in one slow cooker that gave us 7 portions.  I also made a Massaman beef curry in the other slow cooker that gave us another 11 portions.   So for $28 we got 22 single portions.  This is $1.27 per portion for meat.

*  Gratefully received lemons,  passionfruit and mandarins from a friend.

*  Picked a handful of blackberries and a couple of mandarins from our garden.  

Freezer meals.

Lots of freezer meals.

Homemade choc chip biscuits.

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

Do you have a stockpile of freezer meals for emergencies ?

Wednesday 14 June 2023

What's Stinking Up Your Home ? Part 2

Following on from last week's post,  here are another 6 areas that can get on the nose and ways to deal with them. 

*  Linen cupboard.  Linens stored for too long end up with a stale smell.  Try adding soaps between linens,  using scented drawer liners or rotating linens often.

*  Kitchen sink.  Rotting food would be the biggest culprit of smelly drains.  Please don't wash your food down the sink.  The bi carb,  vinegar and boiling water trick sort of works but doesn't kill the bacteria.  Pour a little bit of bleach down the plug hole and let it sit there for at least 10 minutes.  Wash away with cold water.

*  Pet bedding.  Wash your pet's bed every week or have a variety of blankets or towels to line the bed with.  Washing the towels might be easier in Winter.  Also,  don't forget to wash your dog often.  I know it's common sense but I've been around many smelly dogs in people's homes and the owners usually can't smell it.

*  Kitty litter.  When we had Princess,  we always kept the kitty litter in the laundry,  out of the way.  We changed the litter once a week and scooped the mess out every day.  Sprinkling a little bi carb helped with odours and putting the litter in the sun also helped to dry it out.  It doesn't matter what kitty litter you use,  they all smell and need to be cleaned out often.

*  Vacuum cleaner.  Household smells are absorbed by the vacuum cleaner and blown out the exhaust / air outlet.  Dog smells would have to be the worst offenders.  If you can,  switch to a bagless vacuum cleaner or empty the cloth / paper bag often.  I have a $79 Kmart bagless vacuum cleaner and the suction is better than what my Dyson was.

*  Stale smelling bedrooms.  This could happen for a variety of reasons.  People spending too much time in the room with the door closed,  not enough ventilation,  consuming food,  dirty plates,  overflowing rubbish bins,  dirty linens,  piles of dirty clothes.  The list could go on.  Keeping the door wide open and a window opened a little will really help the situation.  If the air is not free flowing then mould and bacteria in the soft furnishings will build up.

How do you deal with these smells in your home ?

Saturday 10 June 2023

Frugal Tasks Will Be Back Next Week.

 My Frugal Tasks post has been missing for the last few weeks for a reason.  Both Darren and I have been sick and are now in the recovery stage.  At one point I was in bed for a few days with the chills.

Just getting very basic tasks done too all our energy.  We were very grateful for a freezer full of cooked meals,  a well stocked pantry and enough fridge items to keep us going.

Hopefully next Saturday I'll be able to share the frugal tasks we have completed as well as the blessings that came our way.

Wednesday 7 June 2023

What's Stinking Up Your Home ? Part 1

 Have you ever walked into your home after a day out and noticed your home has a smell about it ?  It makes you wonder if visitors can smell something too.  As a cleaner of well over 20 years,  I've developed a very sensitive nose when it comes cleanliness.  Here is a list of guilty culprits and ways to eliminate the odours -

*  Rubbish bin.  If you've put raw meat scraps or fruit in your bin,  this could be the reason for the smell.  Perhaps empty your bin more often or reduce the bin size.  Start a compost bucket for fruit and veggie scraps and empty every day or so.

*  Towels.  Odours can build up for various reasons.  Not washing yourself thoroughly,  not hanging the towel up,  folding the towel over,  old towels,  towels not drying completely,  or not washing the towel often enough can contribute to the smell.  Generally it's good to wash your towel every 3 or 4 days to reduce the chance of smells.  A good airing on the clothesline can greatly help too.  So does spraying your towels with vinegar before placing in the washing machine.

*  Toilet.  Urine splashes around the toilet is the most common cause of toilet smells.  Wiping the toilet,  floor and walls on a very regular basis will help with the smell.  I spray vinegar on the floor once a week and leave it for a few minutes before wiping away.  Keeping your toilet lid closed when flushing will keep the germs in the bowl.

*  Exhaust Fan in kitchen.  Odours from frying food are in the grease trapped in the filters.  If the filters are small enough,  clean them in the dishwasher.  Otherwise,  get out your pressure washer to clean the filters outside.  Even a kettle of boiling water will help.

*  Fridge.  Spills left in the fridge,  rotten food and dairy are usually the guilty culprits.  Clean out your fridge once a week even if it's just a few shelves at a time.  Maybe you are buying too much food and don't use it quick enough.  I use kitchen detergent and water to clean my fridge but I've heard a little bit of vanilla essence on a cloth helps with odours.  So too does bi carb in a bowl.

*  Wet washing in the washing machine,  dryer or basket.  If your washing has accidently been left in the washing machine etc and it smells,  don't dry the washing as it is.  It will need to be rewashed with a bit of disinfectant to kill the germs and odours.  I had a cleaning client who insisted on leaving wet washing in her dryer for days.  Eventually she'd turn the dryer on but it never got rid of the smell.  I know because I made their beds with smelly linens.

How do you deal with these odours in your home ?