This week has been quite odd. When I think quickly not a lot has been accomplished, but sitting down to make a list I've been pleasantly surprised to see just what I did this week to save money, time and energy and care for my home and family.
Firstly, I've cooked dinner every night except last night when the boys made us pizza for tea. Not that I don't normally, but I know it would be odd for some families to have homecooked from scratch dinners every night of the week.
What I have cooked has used freezer ingredients. I'm still trying to eat down the freezer, although it doesn't look that much emptier. On the upside I haven't added anything to the freezer this week, not even leftovers for freezer meals.
On that note there are lots of freezer meals to eat so I'm encouraging them for lunches. That wouldn’t normally happen, as they make an expensive lunch, but I would like to get them down to a more reasonable supply and this biting, cold wind has meant the boys are hungry at lunchtime and want something warm. Wayne's been taking his in a food thermos as he's been on the road all this week.
I worked outside most of Sunday and it wasn't until I came inside that I realised just how cold it was - only 8 degrees! No wonder my nose was red. But I did get a lot of weeding done, still more to do though. The back garden is now bare - all my winter crops have been harvested, the only thing left is the catnip for making bug repellent for summer.
Mulched the front garden beds. I've been thinking for months about what to do with these and I've decided on a lavender garden with roses behind it. My mother-in-law had the most beautiful lavender garden, with hundreds of different varieties so she had lavender all year round. The fragrance was gorgeous, the colour in the garden so pretty and it attracted butterflies and birds to the yard. It was lovely to brush past it and then get a gentle wafting of that light lavender scent.
Sliced the roast lamb on Sunday to give us another roast dinner and two slices for curry or soup or French shepherd's pie. Put the bones in the freezer to make soup stock, I love soup made from lamb bones it tastes so much richer than beef bones I think. That's 20 serves and four meals from one leg of lamb, bringing the cost down to $3.91 per meal or 78 cents per serve. I try to keep the meat portion of our meals to an average of $5 per meal, or $1.20 per person. Do you have a meat budget?
Made a chicken and vegetable pie from scratch, using two sheets of bought pastry, half a chicken fillet, 1 cup mixed frozen veggies, a sprinkle of celery salt and tarragon and a MOO white sauce. Tasted amazing and only cost $2.60 to make. It cut into eight serves so just 32 cents a serve. Another budget meal and it used pastry, chicken and frozen veggies from the freezer to help with the freezer challenge.
Stopped off at Pellegrinos on my way home from dropping Hannah at the station and bought 3 kilos of bananas for 99 cents a kilo and 20 kilos of Thorpedale potatoes (the best potatoes in Victoria I think) for 90 cents a kilo. That's 10 cents a kilo over my regular top price, but these are superior potatoes in every way. I'm wondering if I shouldn't buy another 20 kilos and store them.
Spent Thursday at the hospital with Mum having some tests done and an iron infusion. Saved on buying morning tea by accepting the lovely nurse's offer to make me a cup of tea and she even brought some biscuits on the side of the saucer. I took water to drink and my kindle to read while I waited.
Finally hung a little embroidery I did a long time ago. It has been framed and sitting on the kitchen dresser forever until I decided where I wanted it. It's now hanging in the laundry and looks lovely.
The washing was dried on the clotheshorse next to the fire every day this week, even on the sunny days. I put it over in the morning and most of it is usually dry by tea time, just the heavier things to dry overnight. My dryer is still a convenient wall-hung storage cabinet :)
Spent more time in the garden on Tuesday. Tom was home to help me move heavy things and prune the higher branches of the trees. It's looking tidier and I'm itching to start planting but it is still far too cold. I'll start more seedlings in the blanket bag hot house this week so they'll have plenty of time to establish before the soil warms up.
Gratefully accepted some lemons and some pears. Lemons have been juiced and frozen. Juiced some more oranges from our tree to make cordial (froze some of the juice for later). Grated the zest and froze it in ice-cube trays for flavouring later on. Orange zest is lovely in icings, marinades, salad dressings, bread crumbs. Scraped the flesh out of the oranges and whizzed it then bagged it for orange cakes.
Made six batches of lemon butter, using lemons gifted to me. I've been saving pretty jars for gift giving and they look lovely. Used sugar, butter and eggs from Aldi, cost for 12 jars of lemon butter $5.85.
Made 4 batches of orange and grapefruit marmalade for gifts using the microwave marmalade recipe from the Recipe File. The oranges and grapefruit are off our trees. Only cost was the 2 kilos of sugar. Aldi sugar, $1.80.
Made a triple batch of 50:50 Cordial. Bottled it in recycled canning bottles. Again the only cost was the sugar, citric acid and tartaric acid. Sealed the bottles in a hot water bath as I want to keep this cordial for summer. If we were going to be using it straight away I'd have just kept it in the fridge.
Joy suggested caramel tarts as my contribution to afternoon tea yesterday. The butternut snaps were on sale for $2 a packet at Coles and I used MOO condensed milk to make the caramel. Cost $3 for 18 little tarts or 16 cents each - a very frugal treat indeed, and really easy to make.
Knitted a soap sack from lovely soft bamboo yarn leftover from another project, so basically free. This is to go with a matching face washer and hand towel and a pretty soap for a gift.
Started making Christmas cards, but was side tracked by the August card challenge. It's masculine cards so I switched over to making some manly and boyish cards.
Used a discount voucher to fill the car up with petrol for 115.5 cents a litre at Woolworths in Bayswater, the cheapest I've seen it in a while. I had the discount applied to my card after last week's great bargain shopping session and was very happy to use it.
Kept the central heating off and the fire burning all week. The house has been warm, even in the mornings.
Checked the catalogues this week and apart from peanut butter there wasn't anything else I would normally buy on sale so it was an easy shop - milk, bread, mushrooms ($6/kilo!), and 6 jars of peanut butter.
Saved the string from the bag of potatoes to use for craft. Cheaper than buying twine and just as pretty and it's authentic!
This week I've been on a power saving binge. I've been walking around turning things off at the wall, making sure only necessary lights are on, checking globes to make sure they are the right size for the task. Our power bill seems to have gone crazy since May. I worked out we are averaging $34 a week in electricity and I only budget for $30 so something has to be trimmed.
Had a lovely, very frugal afternoon yesterday with nine lovely friends making cards, learning how to make a shirt card and how to put an insert into a card and generally sharing ideas, tools, materials, tips, yummy food (what an afternoon tea!) and lots of laughter and good conversation.
Avoided a gym membership by getting plenty of exercise gardening, vacuuming, scrubbing showers, mopping floors, carrying grocery shopping and stretching to put washing over the clotheshorse. Yes, I realise I'm scratching here but I didn't spend money on a gym membership and I did get a fair amount of exercise :)
How have you saved money, time and energy this week?