26 May 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 28/05/2017 - 03/06/2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Homemade pies, veggies

Tuesday: Chicken Alfredo

Wednesday: Aunty Mary's Beef Casserole

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Stir-fry

Saturday: Tacos

25 May 2017

Mountain Bread

This topic came up again a few days ago, so I thought I'd revisit it here.

Mountain Bread (that thin, flat wrap stuff) can be bought direct from Mountain Bread for 33% less than you buy it at Coles or Woolworths.

If you order more than 8 packets (and no reason you can't - it lasts for just about ever, no preservatives and very little in actual ingredients, and it freezes) then delivery is free.

There are a lot of different varieties.

I buy wholemeal and corn.

I use them for wraps, as lasagne sheets when I'm too lazy to make them, for quesadillas, to make "pita" chips and to make Australian sushi.

We take them with us when we go camping, as fresh bread is hard to get in the bush. Being light and flat packed they store easily in the food drawer.

They make great strudels when you don't have filo. I use three sheets, spread with melted butter, sprinkled with almond meal, and stacked. On the last layer i put stewed apple and sultanas, or apple and rhubarb, sprinkle with a little cinnamon and brown sugar, roll up and bake 30 minutes. Delicious with ice-cream.

Use them as pastry sheets in the pie makers or quiche tins.

Two sheets layered is great for sausage rolls when you don't have pastry.

You'll find ordering info here

You'll find the order form here (with prices and varieties).

Lots of uses - if you have another one, please share it.

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19 May 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 21/05/2017 - 27/05/2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Lamb

Monday: Mock Lamb, veggies

Tuesday: Mushroom Pasta Bake

Wednesday: Butter chicken, steamed rice, pappadums

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Haystacks

Saturday: Muffin  Surprise

17 May 2017

Putting a Dollar Value on Blessings

I used to faithfully document the money we saved and/or didn't spend in a little notebook. I’d write down what I did and how much it would have cost if we had to buy it i.e. make a loaf of bread, saved 90 cents; repaired the hem on Wayne's work pants, saved $7.50; cut the boys' hair, saved $13 and so on. At the end of each day I'd move the "savings" from the particular spending plan categories into our Emergency Fund so that it was really saved.
I stopped jotting down back in 2007. I'm not sure why; life became busy when Debt Free, Cashed Up and Laughing was published, the kids needed more attention (teenagers are such a lot of work - fun, but a lot of work) and I'm sure there are a dozen other reasons excuses I could find.

I still shift money from spending plan categories to our Emergency Fund, only these days I do it at the end of each month.

My lovely friend Annabel over at The Bluebirds are Nesting started the Vicky Challenge last year. It's pretty much doing what I used to do - giving every task a dollar value and calculating the savings when it is MOOed instead of outsourced or bought.

I was thinking about this yesterday when I was in NQR (a discount grocery clearance store we have here in Victoria). A couple of months ago Wendy blessed us with some gravy sachets. Now, I normally make gravy from scratch using the pan juices, stock and plain flour, so I had no idea just how much these sachets cost. Hannah used them one Sunday when she cooked dinner and again when she prepared a meal with rissoles and it was very nice tasting gravy. So, when I saw them in NQR today I thought I'd get a couple as a treat. Until I saw the price! The discounted price at NQR was $1.89! I haven't been able to find them at Coles or Woolworths to see how much they are regularly.
Even so, at $1.89 each that's expensive gravy. Pan juices and stock are free, 2 tablespoons of plain flour costs approximately 5 cents. Add another 2 cents for salt and pepper and a jug of gravy costs 7 cents. That's a $1.82 saving! Just on gravy.

And that's a $3.78  blessing we received, and $3.64 I can move from my grocery budget  to our Emergency Fund (I deducted the 14 cent cost of two lots of gravy).

In January Carol blessed me with beautiful papers and cardstock I can use to make cards and other gifts. I used the Kaisercraft price of 12 sheets for $5 to calculate this as I have no idea what the original retail value was I  moved $15 from my spending money to our holiday fund.
It may sound crass to put a dollar value on blessings you receive, but I believe we receive blessings to fill a need. Sometimes we don't know we have that need when we are blessed, but it always pops up.

Making sure you use those blessings wisely is a part of being a good steward. And being a good steward means using our resources, including money, wisely. Saving the value of blessings is another form of good stewardship and financial wisdom.

Remember: money isn't saved until it is safely in the bank in your Emergency Fund, PoM Account or a specific savings account. Until then it just isn't spent; that's why I make sure I move the savings from the many blessings we receive into one of our savings accounts, ready to meet that need when it pops up.

15 May 2017

A dilemma of ethics

When is it wrong to live the Cheapskates way?

Obviously breaking the law and engaging in illegal practices is wrong and unethical. But what about bending the law a little? If you were to just walk in to a coffee shop and take three packets of sugar then that would be considered stealing. But what about when you buy a coffee and take an extra packet to keep in your bag or add to the picnic stash? Or when you buy a coffee and take the sugar even though you don't have sugar in your coffee? Is that stealing? Is that unethical?

What would you do if you were given too much change at the checkout and realised it as soon as it was given to you? Would you just put it in your purse and say nothing? Or would you point out the mistake and hand it back? After all, the checkout operator made the mistake, not you. They should have been paying more attention to what they were doing, shouldn't they?

How about when you are shopping for prices. Is it ethical to go from store to store, asking prices and playing each store off against the other to get that rock bottom price?

It is a dilemma isn't it?

To me living the Cheapskates way comes with responsibility. The responsibility to do my very best to live within our means, to be generous with our excess, to be able to maintain our lifestyle ethically and to be a good role model to my children in all things, including living honestly, morally and ethically.

At the end of the day we have to account for the choices and decisions we make, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem.

12 May 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 14/05/2017 - 20/05/2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Sausage Casserole, veggies or salad

Tuesday: Spaghetti pie, tossed green salad

Wednesday: Chilli Con Carne, corn bread

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Hamburgers

Saturday: Fried Rice, Spring Rolls

07 May 2017

The Week that was 7th May 2017

Wayne and I have had a lovely 10 days away with good friends. It was cold - brrrr - and we had a little rain, but for the most part the days were sunny and perfect autumn weather.

Lithgow and the surrounding national and state parks is a beautiful area and I think I've found my favourite spot in New South Wales, the Gardens of Stone National Park. It was just stunning and I could have stayed there exploring for days.

The ferns and brush were so thick and green, the trees were so tall that the sun just filtered through and behind them are amazing rock walls - a truly beautiful spot. I kept waiting for a dinosaur to pop up it's such a beautiful, almost untouched spot.

Our camping trip cost us money in fuel and that was about it. We had saved up for the fuel costs so it wasn't an extra expense but a planned one. Food came from the pantry, fridge and freezer. We have to eat at home, and we have to eat while we're away so it's no added burden to the budget when we eat what is on the meal plan.

While we were away the kids kept the fire going and the ducted heating off, saving on gas and electricity.

They cooked all their meals from scratch.

Washing was dried on the clotheshorses in front of the fire instead of in the dryer (thank you kids!).

I've put three loads of washing through today and they are now drying in front of the fire.

What did you do to save money, time and energy this week?

05 May 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 07/05/2017 - 13/05/2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Beef

Monday: Gluten Schnitzels, veggies, gravy

Tuesday: Spag bol

Wednesday: Curried Beef Casserole

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Tacos

Saturday: Tomato Vegetable Soup, toasted crumpets

30 April 2017

The Week that Was 30th April 2017

This week has been frugal and then as you read on, you'll wonder how I can say that, but it has been. Every cent we've spent has been planned and budgeted so there are no nasty shocks. We even cover unexpected expenses by having an emergency fund (we haven't had any emergencies, just saying we're prepared and you could be too).

I've stuck to the Bare Bones Grocery Challenge I set myself. $25 a week for top-up groceries. It is amazing how having a few extra groceries in the pantry and freezer can stop you going to the supermarket or the corner store or even the local take-away joint.

The weather in Melbourne has been typical. I was able to line dry washing until Wednesday, when the heavens opened and down came the rain, and out came the clotheshorses.
As the rain came down, so did the temperature, so we lit the fire to warm the house and help dry the washing.

I did a lot of cooking and baking in preparation of going away, using only ingredients on hand.
Hannah cut my hair for me, saving $35 at the hairdresser.

We were able to talk to AJ over Skype and Facebook totally free of charge. He was able to send us photos of his trip each day, again over Facebook, free of charge. He also called us twice to use the free call allowance on his phone plan. I'd warned him not to come home with a huge phone bill and he and Wayne spent a couple of hours getting his plan sorted for international calls and data before he left. I think my horror stories of thousands of dollars in roaming charges had him scared witless, as only a mother can do.

I had a list from a friend who doesn't have an Aldi near-by so Thomas and I did her Aldi shopping for her and Wayne and I dropped it off on our way past on Thursday. Payment was a delicious morning tea that turned into lunch, with leftovers packed up and given to us to enjoy on our travels (and we did).

Hannah gave us another 10c off fuel docket and we used it to fill up in Sydney, where petrol is 11c a litre cheaper than Melbourne.

I waited until we were leaving Sydney to do a quick fresh bread and veg shop so we could eat well while we are camping. I passed on the tomatoes at $8.96/kg - the price rise a product of Cyclone Debbie I'm thinking.

What did you do to save money, time and energy this week?

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28 April 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 30/04/2017 - 06/05/2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Fish, wedges, coleslaw

Tuesday: Refrigerator Lasagne

Wednesday: Chicken enchiladas

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Stir-fry

Saturday: Boston Baked Beans

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23 April 2017

The Week that Was 23rd April 2017

This week has been very frugal, even with the Easter holiday.

I started a Bare Bones Grocery Challenge this week. I need to restock the stockpile, so eating what we have on hand will free up some grocery money to help with that.

I still haven't made it to Aldi to do the shopping on my list, hopefully I'll be able to put it off until Wednesday when I'll be shopping for a fortnight and our trip.

I've taken photos to list a few things for sale on eBay which Hannah will help me do. I have a Bendigo Potter dinner setting for six, complete with accessories (even the margarine container), that I love but never use. It was a very generous gift, and I really appreciate it, but I don’t use any of it so it's time to move it on. I also have some glassware and crystal I don't use that will hopefully be going to a good home soon and this money will be used to help rebuild the stockpile.

We are heading off to a reunion on Thursday morning and will be away for 11 days so I've been making up a meal plan, based on my yearly plan, that uses only what is already in the house for the kids (AJ will be home from his trip Thursday afternoon) and our trip.

I've vacuum sealed and frozen meal packs of veggies for roasts.

Dried the washing on the line in-between rainy days.

Turned the sprinklers off for the year. I'm thinking that now the days are cool and the nights cooler, and we're getting semi-regular rain, we don't need to pay for watering the garden anymore.

All the usual things: collected shower water, cooked meals from scratch, turned lights and power points off etc.

Filled the Patrol with petrol using a Flybuys offer, a 4c discount voucher and another 4 cents off for buying in-store. Wayne bought kindling for the reunion to make up the dollar amount needed. All up 14 cents per litre off - made a huge difference. And I managed to catch the price right before it went up again after Easter.

Made a birthday card for a friend using materials I had.

Took a load of kitchen items to St. Vinnies and cleared a cupboard in the kitchen.

Made a 3 ingredient fruit cake mix and baked it as cupcakes for Wayne's lunches this week.

Last card day Joy generously gave me a big bag of tapestry wool. I sat and sorted it and matched colours this week, ready to use on a canvas I have this winter.

Filled a tin I had with hand cream, emery boards, soap, a nail brush and a trimmed face washer as a thank-you gift for a friend who travels a lot. Everything was already in the present box.

Made some pretty jars to use for a Christmas gift. I'll post the how to later this week - so simple, great fun to do and they look amazing!

Wayne was able to service and make a simple repair on the winch for the Patrol. Saved a service fee and the cost of the repairs - approximately $240, but the biggest saving was on the front diff and hubs. He and a friend spent Easter Monday working on them. Cost of parts was $671.75, saving approximately $1,200 over having a mechanic do the work. Thank you to YouTube, Google and old fashioned handbooks.

What did you do to save money, time and energy this week?

21 April 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 23/04/2017 - 29/04/2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Lamb

Monday: Italian Vegetarian Meatballs, rice

Tuesday: Vegetable Lasagne

Wednesday: Curried sausages, mashed potato, peas, carrot, corn

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Haystacks

Saturday: Toasted sandwiches & soup

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The Bare Bones Grocery Challenge Week 1

I've posted a Bare Bones Grocery Challenge in the April Journal to help with finding cash to rebuild the grocery stockpile.

Yesterday I did a lot of inventories - fridge, freezers and pantry - with Tom's help.
Here's what we have in the house at the moment:


Pie Apple
Fruit Salad
Tomato Soup
Cream of Chicken Soup
Baked Beans
Black beans
Refried Beans
Pizza Sauce
Tinned Spaghetti
Pie Apricots
Apricot nectar

Cereals, Flours, Sugars, Baking Supplies, Powder & Tinned Milk:

SR Flour
Plain Flour
White Sugar
Brown Sugar
Icing Sugar
Powdered Milk
Gluten Flour
Wholemeal Spelt (Plain)
Dried Fruit - Sultanas, Mixed Fruit, Apricots, Prunes, Raisins, Craisins, Peel
Rolled Oats
Wheat Biscuits
Quick Oats
All Bran
Shredded Wheat
Ground Rice

Pasta, Rice, Noodles, Beans, Soup Mixes etc.:

Rice x 15kg
Spaghetti x 18kg
Noodles x 3kg
Lasagne Sheets x 2 boxes


Mint Tea
Coffee Pods
Hot Chocolate Drink Mix

Condiments, spices, herbs, sauces, dressings:

Peanut Butter x 8
Honey x 2
Vegemite x 2
Jam x 37
Tomato Sauce x 2
Barbecue Sauce x 10
Mayo x 11
Olive Oil x 4L
Salt x 2kg

Here's what's in the freezer:

Meat, Chicken, Fish:

Mince x 10 meals
Steak x 3 meals
Chops x 2 meals
Corned Beef x 5
Sausages x 2 meals
Whole Chickens x 3
Chicken fillets x 17 meals
Roast Beef x 1
Leg of Lamb x 2
Crumbed fish fillets x 1 meal

Prepared Meals, Sauces:

Pasta Sauce  x 10
Soup  x 6
Meatballs  x 3
Haystacks x 4
Freezer Meals x 11

Bread, Pizza, Pies:

Crumpets x 2 packets
Pizza Bases x 6
Pastry Sheets 4kg

Fruits & Vegetables:

Apricots 3kg
Onions x 19 1/2 cup packs
Beans x 7 bags
Cauliflower x 13 bags
Broccoli x 9 bags
Rhubarb x 5 bags
Mixed Vegetables x 5kg
Zucchini x 23 1/2 cup packs
Tomatoes x 23 bags
Carrots x 4 bags
Casserole Packs x 6

This week's shopping list:

2 x 3L milk $5.98
1 doz eggs $2.79
1kg Tasty Cheese $6.00
500g Butter $2.78
5kg potatoes $3.99
Total $21.54

I'll be shopping at Aldi for everything other than the potatoes which I'll get at Pellegrinos because they're on special today.

I'll be baking bread today for the weekend and picking tomatoes from the garden and looking at that list there will be absolutely no need for me to  go anywhere near a supermarket, butcher or green grocer next week.

14 April 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 16/04 - 22/04/2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Mini meatloaves, salad

Tuesday: Spaghetti & meatballs

Wednesday: Mock Fish & Chips, salad

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Hamburgers

Saturday: Pot Roast

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