Saturday, 28 February 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 28th February 2015

I've had a much quieter week work wise.  This has given me plenty of time to shop for bargains, bake,  cook and potter around the house.  I love pottering.  Collecting an egg or two,  picking raspberries,  watering our edible garden.  Ohhhh,  such joy  !!!  Here's what I got up to this week -

* Made lots of pita chips to munch on.

*  Made lots of pumpkin scones for morning teas.  These have been frozen.

*  A fruit and veg shop opened up in the shopping centre where Darren and Megan work at the church cafe.  They had opening day specials of tomatoes for 99 cents a kllo and bananas for 99 cents a kilo as well.  Megan picked out some lovely produce.

*  Reduced the amount of clothes washing I do by doing one load every day and only if I really need to .  I've been doing this for the last three weeks.  The first week I did six loads,  last week I did five and this week I did six loads.  Usually I do 8 - 10 loads so I'm very happy with the reduction. Hopefully I'll see a reduction in my water bill too.

*  Gratefully received some bread rolls,  cheese,  sandwiches and small slices, 

*  Made a double batch of brown sugar.

*  Made 14 jars of tomato relish with the cheap tomatoes Megan bought.  Hopefully I won't need to make any more relish until next Summer.  I have over 30 jars of relish for us to consume,  to give as presents and to sell.

*    Saved the warm up water from the showers.  Some was poured into the washing machine and some was used to water veggie seedlings and my mango plants.

*  Fed the chooks some kitchen scraps.

*  We've been able to source some used coffee grounds.  Darren has been putting them in our compost and some around the garden.  I must say,  the compost smells divine.

*   This week we picked a few beans,  corn,  tomatoes and lots of raspberries.

*   Gratefully received a few empty glass jars. These came at a perfect time as I was searching for smallish jars to make the tomato relish.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread.

*  Made sweetened condensed milk.  Some was used in a lemon slice.  The rest was frozen into 1/2 tin and whole tin portions for future choc truffles and more lemon slice.

*  Planted some broccoli and cauliflower seeds for Autumn / Winter growing.

*  Picked lots of iceberg roses to make two posies.  I used recycled pasta sauce jars as vases.  I think they look beautiful.

Our iceberg rose bush / tree 

 Such beautiful flowers. 

Megan's pavlova.

Our lemons are growing well.
What did you do this week to save time,  money and energy ?

Thursday, 26 February 2015

My Menu Plan Friday 20th February - Friday 20th March 2015

Here is my latest menu plan.  It looks like we won't be getting too much hot weather in the next few weeks so I've changed some of the meals accordingly.  I've introduced some cooler weather meals as we transition into Autumn.  Of course,  my menu plan is not set in stone.  I'm sure outing will crop up and there might be days when we don't feel like eating the meal on the plan.  That ok.  We have plenty of food in the house so we won't starve.

Fri 20th - Homemade hamburgers and wedges
Sat 21st - Salad and fish cooked in foil

Sun 22nd - Get your own but feed me
Mon 23rd - Salad and crumbed fish portions and smashed potatoes
Tues 24th - Roast chicken ( on BBQ ) with potato / pumpkin mash and veggies
Wed 25th - Homemade hamburgers - we were given rolls that couldn't be frozen.
Thurs 26th - Tuna pasta bake and greens
Fri 27th - KFC chicken drumsticks and salad
Sat 28th - Freezer meals

Sun 1st March  Get your own but feed me
Mon 2nd - Tacos and a dessert of some description
Tues 3rd - Leg of lamb and roast veggies
Wed 4th - Shepherds pie with leftover lamb
Thurs 5th - Fish potions,  rice,  zuc slice and veggies
Fri 6th - Salad and chicken strips
Sat 7th - Chops and salad ( or veggies )

Sun 8th -  Homemade pizza
Mon 9th - Rissoles,  salad and baked potatoes
Tues 10th - Chicken curry in slow cooker with rice
Wed 11th - Homemade meat pie with veggies
Thurs 12th - Fish cooked in foil with mash and veggies
Fri 13th - Chicken hamburgers with wedges
Sat 14th - Honey mustard chicken with rice

Sun 15th - Toasted sandwiches
Mon 16th - Spag bol
Tues 17th - Beef stew in slow cooker with mash
Wed 18th - Roast chicken with roast veggies
Thurs 19th - Salmon patties with baked potatoes and salad
Fri 20th - Freezer meals

A roast meal

Chicken curry in the slow cooker

Homemade meat pie

Honey mustard chicken made from scratch.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

5 Easy Ways To Cut Your Grocery Bill.

Have you ever wondered why your grocery bill gets bigger and bigger each time you shop ? Yes, it could be your kids are eating more.  Yes,  prices do increase on a regular basis and it feels like you are in a never ending battle to keep your food costs under control.

Back in 2010 after Darren and I had paid off our mortgage,  I let my grocery spending slip a little.  Oh,  no  !!!  Wendy out of control in the supermarket,  that's unheard of.  Yes,  it happened.  I was just so glad to be debt free that I wanted to live a little.  Our family's food bill was climbing to well over $450 a month.  In fact,  I wasn't really tracking my spending.

In July 2010 I joined The Cheapskates Club and posted a thread on their forum titled "  Food Shopping Made Me Smile ".  This post described how I'd set myself a new goal of reducing my food budget to $300 for the month to feed my family of four.  So many members asked lots of questions and the $300 a month food challenge was born.  We now have participants from all over Australia joining in the challenge.

In 2014,  my husband gave up his full time paying job to be available to God's work.  Our budget had to be slashed in all areas as we waited on God for provision.  The food budget was reduced to $270 a month and we comfortably stuck to the new budget for  11 months.

I have a little secret to reveal.  For the last 2 months,  my new food budget has been $250 a month.  My family doesn't know ( they will now ) and they haven't noticed a difference.  We are still eating very well and there is plenty of food in the house.

Here are 5 of the tricks I use to keep my food budget so low -

*  Shop with a shopping list.  It sounds obvious but I'm astounded at the amount of people I see in the supermarket with no list in hand,  throwing whatever into the trolley.  A shopping list should have the exact product needed and the quantity.

*  Shop at home first.  As you are writing your shopping list,  check your pantry,  fridge and freezer to see what you already have on hand.  Make it a game to see how many items you can cross off your list.

*  Use unit pricing to your advantage.  Unit pricing  became mandatory in Australian supermarkets back in Dec 2009.  I was jumping for joy.  No need to bring a calculator with me. No more guessing the best deal.  Unit pricing is a great way to find the cheapest price per unit of each product.

*  Do not be brand loyal if you want to cut your spending.  Flour is flour,  sugar is sugar and they all do the same job.  If you can't make ends meet and can't pay all your bills on time,  branded products in your pantry will not give you peace of mind or make you happy.

*  Cut out the junk food.  This includes ready made,  microwave,  pre cut,  individual serves,  pre cooked,  ready to go,  snack size,  bite size, instant and freezer foods.  Generally they are processed and contain colorings,  preservatives and artificial flavourings.  These foods are also over priced for what you are getting.  Maybe save them as an occasional treat.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 21st February 2015

I've had a very busy week this week with a big cleaning job on every day ( my paid work ).  This led to many, many hours on the road travelling to and from my girl's school as well as the cleaning jobs.   I've had to be super organised with easier meals and the family pitching in to help keep our home tidy.  Here's what I managed to get done -

*  Kept the curtains closed on the warm days.

*   Picked raspberries,  beans,  tomatoes,  corn and silverbeet from the garden.

*  Gratefully accepted some sausages left over from a charity bbq.  I've frozen them and they will be made into sausage casserole at a later date.

*  Darren bought home more bread bags from the charity BBQ.  I've decrumbed them,  dried them out and stored them for future use as bin liners and for storing food.

*  Supermarket specials I bought this week were - Shapes biscuits for $1.47 a box ( IGA ),  Grapes for $2 a kilo,  Fountain tomato sauce for $1.19,  Palmolive shower gel 500 mls for $3.  The shower gel has been put away as Christmas stocking fillers for my girls.

*  Dried all the washing on the line and clothes horses.  I can't remember the last time I used the dryer.

*  Made muesli bar slice for school lunch boxes and morning teas.  It doesn't last long in my house as we all love to eat it.

*  Made a triple batch of Anzac biscuit dough for the freezer.  I baked some biscuits as well.

*  Saved all water from the washing machine for the next load.

*  Saved the shower warm up water to water my mango plants and other fruit trees.

*  Refilled and diluted the shampoo and conditioner bottles in my girl's bathroom.

*  Made all meals and snacks from scratch.

*  We had a Valentine's Day dinner at home.  Jessica picked a bunch of flowers from the garden for our dining table.

Valentine's Day flowers from the garden.

Muesli bars slice

Raspberries from our garden.
What frugal tasks did you do this week ?

Thursday, 19 February 2015

What Makes You Happy ? February 2015

It's time to reveal another three things that bring joy to your life.  For me it's not the latest phone,  fashion trend or expensive overseas holiday. I find pure joy in the simple things in life.  Here's my three things for February -

*  Picking produce from my garden.  I just love to spend time in my garden,  pulling a weed here and there and picking the lovely fruits and vegetables to feed my family.  This also makes me feel rich as it costs very little to grow our own.

My garden haul on Wednesday 11th Feb.

*  Having a lovely cup of tea with some home baking.  I'm not into the fancy teas that are the latest trend.  Give me a good strong cup of normal / English breakfast tea with a little sugar and milk and I'm happy.  A homemade muffin,  scone or biscuit finishes off a relaxing morning tea for me every day.

Peanut Butter Choc Chip Biscuits

A good cup of tea in my Grandma's cup and saucer,

*  Having a stockpile of good wholesome food in my pantry,  fridge and freezers.  I feel happy knowing that I can afford to buy ingredients to cook and bake for my family.  I'm happy and content knowing that if the supermarkets closed unexpectedly or weather or illness prevented me from grocery shopping,  I could provide many, many meals and not have to worry.

A monthly grocery shop.
What three things make you happy ?

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Raspberry And White Chocolate Muffins

I just love a good homemade muffin and these raspberry and white chocolate ones are divine.  The raspberries add tang which balances out the white chocolate.  They look pretty too.

6 cups of self-raising flour
2 cups of white sugar
2 eggs
2 ¾ cups of milk
250 grams of melted butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
200 – 250 grams of white choc bits
400 grams of frozen raspberries

Mix the flour and sugar together.

Melt the butter and add all other ingredients except the raspberries.
Place muffin / patty cases into the muffin tins.

Add the frozen raspberries and gently stir in until just combined.
Spoon mixture into muffin / patty cases until 2/3 full.

Bake at 200 degrees celcius for 20 -25 minutes until just golden on top.

Makes approx.. 24 large muffins.

Muffins can be frozen.


Saturday, 14 February 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 14th February 2015

Lots of different tasks filled my days this week. Next week I'm working every day so I tried to get ahead and extra organised around the house..  Here's what I got up to -

*  Baked lots of peanut butter choc chip biscuits using homemade dough from the freezer.

*  Portioned out $20 worth of chicken fillets into seven meals and froze in snap lock bags.

*  Refilled the dish washing liquid and diluted it by about 30%.

*  Made lots of small rissoles and flash froze them raw on oven trays.  They were then portioned into meal sizes and put back into the freezer.  The will be great for quick and easy meals especially on hot days with a salad.

*  Collected kitchen water and poured it onto our fruit trees.

*  Bought two as new recipe books from Savers for $3.99 each less 15% discount.  One was a muffin book and the other was a biscuit book.  They have been put away for Christmas presents.  I picked up a lovely cushion for a bed for $2.55.  It looks new and has been put away for a birthday present.  I also bought an assorted bag of cotton reels and ribbon for $ 2.55.  The cotton will be used for sewing and is worth at least $18. 

*  Gratefully received some salad, bread,  croissants and nectarines.

*  Used some old Christmas cards to make 38 gift tags for future Christmases.

*  Altered a dress for myself and one for Jessica.

*  Hand washed the dinner dishes a few times this week.  There wasn't enough to put the dish washer on,  We usually only use the dish washer for afternoon tea and  dinner dishes together.

*  Gratefully received a large amount of vegetable seeds from an online friend who cannot plant them.  There are enough seeds for the next year or two of everything we usually grow.  This is a huge blessing for our family and were are so thankful.  Thank you so much Jenny.  xoxo

*  Picked corn,  beans, tomatoes, raspberries and one lemon this week.

*  Baked a double batch of chocolate choc chip muffins.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread.

*  Darren rigged up an old beach umbrella to shade our raspberry plants.  The fruit was getting bleached by the hot sun.

*  Saved the washing machine rinse water for the next load.  Saved the shower warm up water for some plants.
Our raspberries have shade

Veggie seedlings we'll plant in a week or two.

My Savers bargain.  $2.99 less 15% discount.

I picked this in one day.
What did you do this week that was frugal ?

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Cleaning Your Kettle

How clean is the inside of your kettle ?  Does it look a little on the brown side ?  I was doing some cleaning at my girl's school the other day and as I finished cleaning the tea and coffee area,  I thought I'd look inside the kettle.  Yep,  it was brown.  When I arrived home I thought it was time to give my kettle a clean too.  I hadn't cleaned it for a couple of months.  Shock,  horror,  something dirty at my place !!!  I deliberately let to get really dirty to show you how quick and easy it is to have a sparkly new looking kettle.

All you need is a kettle full of cold water.  To this you add and a couple of teaspoons of Citric Acid.

Boil the kettle then pour the water down the sink.  Alternatively,  save the water. let it cool and pour it into the washing machine or water some plants.

Fill up the kettle again with fresh water and boil it.  Pour this water out ( and save it ).

Now the kettle is ready for use.

Here are my before and after photos.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

This Week's Frugal Tasks 7th February 2015

Now that my girls are back into the school routine I have a little extra time up my sleeve.  The house stays tidy longer and I can get the house work finished by mid morning as I'm not vacuuming around the family or waiting for the dirty washing to be collected. This gave me a chance to bake bread again,  to do more sewing and to do some de cluttering.

Here's this week's frugal task list -

*  Diluted a bottle of white vinegar by 50 %.  I had an empty bottle so I poured half into it and topped it up with water. It's great for cleaning but not suitable for cooking.

*  Made seasoned bread crumbs from scratch.  Some were used to make KFC drumsticks.

*  Made a muesli bar slice.  I would have taken a photo but it was a little over baked.  Still yummy though.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and poured it into my watering can and used it to water the fruit trees.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread.

*  Gratefully received two plum puddings.  I'll give one to a family member and the other one was portioned into single serves and frozen.  Darren is the only one in our house who really enjoys plum pudding. 

*  Made a children's Christmas apron and chef's cap as a present for Christmas this year.  The material panel was on clearance after Christmas a year ago for $1.

*  Saved some large glass jars.  I'm going to use them as presents by picking a bunch of flowers from the garden.  I'll tie twine around the flowers and place them in the jar.  The jar will be decorated with a wide strip of wrapping  paper and a ribbon.  I've seen these on The Prudent Homemaker's blog and they look lovely.  Cost is zero.  I'll post a picture when I make them up.

*  Picked strawberries,  raspberries,  beans,  tomatoes,  zucchinis and corn from the vegetable garden.

*  Darren used some of our compost on the veggie garden.

*  For some reason we didn't use as much milk this week and I had almost three litres to use with one day left on the expiry date  So I made creamed rice to use up about two litres.  We had it for dessert two nights running.  I had it for lunch two days and Jessica was in heaven eating it for breakfast. 

*  Gratefully accepted some free sandwiches.

*  Found some older face washers and hand towels in the linen cupboard to replace the tired ones I was using in the kitchen.  The really old kitchen ones were moved on to the laundry as mop up cloths.  I never buy kitchen sponges or wipe up cloths.  I use the slightly old and faded face washers instead.  It's great as I can change them over at the end of the day and throw them in the wash.

*  Baked a triple batch of chocolate choc chip muffins.  A few were eaten fresh and the rest were frozen for lunch boxes.

* Bought chicken fillets a $6.99 kg from Tasman Meat.  Bought Pineocleen  and Pantene shampoo and conditioner at half price from Coles..

*  Dried all the washing clothes horses and the line.

*  Kept the heater off all week and only used the evap. cooling for a couple of hours.
Chocolate choc chip muffins.

The bread dough before I cut it to put in the bread tins.

Wholemeal bread.

Face washers used as kitchen cloths.

A Christmas present for this year.
What did you do this week to save time,  money or energy ? 

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Creamy Pasta Salad

This creamy pasta salad recipe is a lovely addition to a cold meal during Summer.  I serve it up as a side dish with a green garden salad,  sliced meat and maybe a baked potato or potato salad.  My girls get very excited when they find out I've made pasta salad.

350 g uncooked spiral or shell pasta
1 medium sized carrot grated
1 stick celery finely chopped
1 medium spring onion finely chopped
1/2 red capsicum diced
2/3 cup grated tasty cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1 x 300 ml bottle ready made coleslaw dressing or mayonnaise

½ cup of water

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta as per instructions with a little salt

As the pasta is cooking prepare the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.

Drain the pasta well.  When cool,  add to the dressing and mix well.  Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

You can add or delete the spring onion,  capsicum or celery to suit your tastes

Serves 6 – 8 people as a side dish.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

February's Theme - Being Water Wise

Now that the kids are back in school,  I thought it was time to set a monthly theme to help save time,  money and energy.  I'm very goal driven and find that I achieve so much more when I have goals written down

Each month I'll post a new theme and I hope you will join in as we strive for cheaper bills,  more home cooked food and a well organised life

February's theme is being water wise.  Australia is a very dry country and for many,  many years we experienced a crippling drought.  Severe water restrictions were put in place and we eventually got used to watching every drop of water we used.

A couple of years ago the water restrictions were lifted with only minor restrictions still in place. Yet how many of us still watch our water usage ?  Do we still see water as a precious resource ? Water charges are on the increase each year and I must admit,  I don't like opening my water bill.  My family can't afford a rain water tank at this point so we need to find other ways to reduce the amount of water we use.

Here are some ways that my family saves water -

*  Saving the shower warm up water in a wide mouthed bucket.  If the weather is warm we use this water on the plants outside.  If the weather is cool or wet,  we pour the water into the washing machine.

*  Saving the washing machine rinse water and pouring it back into the machine for the next load.  I do this all year round and for every load.  The final rinse water for the last load of the day is poured onto the garden around the house.  It can't be used on the vegetable garden as it contains bacteria but it's safe for other plants and the grass.

*  Putting a large ice cream container or bucket in one of the kitchen sinks to catch the water from hand washing,  drink bottles and rinsing vegetables.  This saved water is then used to rinse dishes before being put in the dishwasher.  I also use the water for rinsing out the other sink.  If there is any leftover water after these tasks are done,  I pour it into a watering can outside to be used in the garden.  If it's really clean water I water vegetable seedlings with it.

*  Using a wind up timer for shorter showers.  I've tried digital timers but eventually they rust or the battery dies.  Replacement batteries cost more than the water you'd be saving.  I've picked up wind up timers at the Reject Shop and other discount stores.

*  Have a large jug or bottle of water in the fridge.  In Summer tap water is warm so having a jug in the fridge will eliminate the need to run the water waiting for it to come out cool..

*  Watering vegetable and garden plants with a watering can.  Using a watering can is great for getting the water where it's needed -at the base of the plant.  If your garden is large then maybe this option is not for you.

*  Having a water saving shower head.  This might sound basic but many homes still haven't changed over.  Even if you have a water saving shower head,  only turn on the taps until a reasonable stream of water comes through.  Not every shower needs to be a power shower.

*  If you have plants in pots,  put them in the shade on hot days.  You won't have to use as much water to keep them alive.

*  Water your garden early in the morning or after tea during Summer.  This gives the plants a chance to absorb the water before it evaporates.

*  Put a bucket under a out pipe on your hot water system.  Water drips out constantly so why not save it for a plant.

*  Use the shower to shower,  not brush your teeth or shave your face ( for the men ).  Even with a water saving shower head,  brushing your teeth uses about nine litres.  Shaving and brushing your teeth at the sink uses less than one litre.

*  Have the tap turned off when brushing your teeth.  Maybe use a cup of water to rinse your mouth.

*  Using the dishwasher when it's really full.

Please feel free to update us with your progress throughout the month.  We'd all love to hear how others are saving water..

What water saving goals do you have for the month of February ?

How do you save water around the home ?

My watering can.

Our new bathroom taps

An ice cream container in the kitchen sink .