22 September 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 24 - 30 September 2017

Banana muffins Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing recipe from the Cheapskates Club Cake & Muffins Recipe File
Banana Muffins
This coming week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Beef

Monday: Herbed meatballs in tomato sauce

Tuesday: Mushroom & Parmesan Risotto

Wednesday: Chicken & mushroom pie, steamed vegetables

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Tacos

Saturday: Tomato Vegetable Soup, toasted crumpets

In the fruit bowl:  bananas, strawberries

In the cake tin:  Chocolate coconut slice, muesli bars, banana muffins

Herbed Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:
500g mince
1 cup long grain rice
1 onion, grated or finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 tsp dried parsley
1 egg beaten
oil for frying
1 can tomato soup
1 cup water
Finely grated rind & juice of 1 lemon

Method:
Place meat, rice, onion, carrot, herbs and egg in bowl and mix together. Shape mixture into balls. Heat oil in large pan and fry meatballs until browned turning frequently. Drain well on kitchen towel. Place meatballs in a casserole dish. Mix soup with water, lemon rind and juice. Pour over meatballs. Bake without a lid in mod. oven (350F) for 45minutes.

Herbed Meatballs in Tomato Sauce Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing recipe from Cheapskates Club Recipe File Easy Meals Click through for the recipe
Herbed Meatballs in Tomato Sauce



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20 September 2017

How and Why I Started Making Washing Powder

How I Started Making Washing Powder click through for the famous Cheapskates Club Washing Powder Recipe on Debt Free, Cashed Up and Laughing
How I stared making Cheapskates washing powder for clean clothes that don't itch
Almost 27 years ago we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy. He was just gorgeous (and still is!), but after a few days he developed a rash, that turned into blisters. His little arms and legs were red, scaly and sore. He cried when we put him in the bath, and he squirmed and wriggled when he had clothes on.

Thankfully he was a summer baby and a singlet and nappy at home was plenty, but dressing him to go out was awful and I'd be crying with him. Our doctor diagnosed eczema and recommended changing our laundry detergent. Unfortunately the detergent he suggested cost almost a week's grocery money - just not viable for us.

And so began my search for a laundry detergent that would clean clothes without irritating.

It took a while, but finally I stumbled upon a recipe for a laundry goop (in the meantime AJ's clothes were washed separately, in just hot water, no detergents or soaps at all). It was a bit of a process to make, but it was cheap and it didn't irritate our skin. I was so happy.

By this time we had two mischievous little boys who loved to play outside. At the time the laundry was outside too, we hadn't renovated yet.

One day I could hear giggles and laughing and the sounds of fun - lots and lots of fun - so you can imagine my joy (not) when I found those two little boys covered from head to toe in laundry goop, as was the washing machine, the laundry door and walls, the floor - even the back verandah had a layer of goop on it. I cleaned it up and made another batch.

And, like they were on a cycle, it was rinse and repeat - they loved the goop so much they played happily in the new bucketful a few days later.

This is why I started making my own washing powder. Cleaning up two large nappy buckets full of goop took ages, although the laundry had never been so clean.

I looked at the recipe, read the ingredients and decided it could be made in powder form. Easy!

Small, experimental batches were made to research effectiveness, cost, ease of making and using until I finally stumbled upon the one I am, along with thousands of other Cheapskates, still making and using in every wash load today.

I still use just 3 level teaspoons to a full load of washing and we are still itch and irritation free and the clothes are clean too.

If you haven't tried it, do. It takes less than 5 minutes to make a batch and costs just 3c a load to use.

This has to be the cheapest and best value laundry detergent around.

Cheapskates Washing Powder

Ingredients for Cheapskates Washing Powder Click through for the recipe and instructions

Ingredients:
1 bar soap, grated
1 cup washing soda (Lectric Soda is the most common brand in the laundry aisle, or sodium carbonate if you want to buy in bulk)
1/2 cup borax

Mix together and store in a sealed container.

Use 3 scant teaspoons per load for a top-loader and 1 scant teaspoon per load for a front loader.

You can use up the small slivers of toilet soap you collect if you like, ordinary bath soap or laundry soap. This recipe is ideal for using up all the leftovers you collect in the family bathroom.

This detergent won’t produce masses of suds, but it will get your clothes clean.

Costings (as at 19/09/2017):
1 bar laundry soap - 50 cents
1 cup washing soda $1
1/2 cup borax 60 cents
Total $2.10 for up to 90 washes (3 cents a load - actually a little under, I round up, the fraction is too hard for my addled head).

These prices are based on what I found at Coles, using generic laundry soap, Lectric Soda and Bare Essentials borax. You can get the cost down by using soap slivers and buying the washing soda in bulk. I buy washing soda in 5 kilo buckets from Aurora Cleaning Supplies in Dandenong South

Optional:
Give the washing powder an extra boost if you wash really dirty or greasy clothes by adding one small box of bi-carb soda to the mix.




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10 September 2017

The Week that Was 10th September 2017

This week I've been busy going through the pantry, stockpile and freezers, updating inventories and making up my shopping list for the remainder of the year. The plan is to have all the shopping finished by 30th November, as usual, so I can relax over the summer.

Started more seeds: lettuce, capsicum, zucchini, cucumber and tomato.

Tom helped me prep another two veggie beds, ready for planting.

Used cardstock and paper I had to make new labels for the containers in the laundry.

Stayed home as much as possible, for a few reasons:
1. It was cold and wet - much nicer to stay by the fire.
2. To save on petrol.
3. No need to go to the shops, I shopped at home and all we needed was milk, which I asked Hannah to pick up for me.

Cooked all our meals from scratch, using ingredients in the pantry, fridge and freezer.

Caught the shower warm-up water and the sink warm-up water and tipped it into the washing machine.

Made a chocolate cake for Tom's birthday.
Homemade chocolate cake from the Cheapskates Club Cake Recipe File Click through for the recipe
Homemade chocolate cake, filled with homemade raspberry jam and whipped cream for the birthday boy!
This week we've been told to expect blackouts here over the summer. This has had me thinking of my freezer stocks. I talked to Wayne about it and we have decided to eat the freezers down as much as we can, focus on other methods of preserving for the time being and save the money we're not spending in the slush fund to top up the freezers later.  We have more than enough to see us through to the end of January between meat and chicken packs, dump packs and prepared freezer meals.

I picked lavender this morning, some to strike for new plants, and some to hang to dry.
Lavender from my garden Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing
Lavender from my garden in an old jug from Wayne's Granny
Bought a beautiful gift from the op shop for $4 - it's gorgeous and just right for the intended person.

Ask and you shall receive! This has been my blessing for the last couple of months, although I haven't really asked for anything. This week I was again given a lot of craft materials from friends and friends of friends who have either heard about or seen the cards, dishcloths and tea towels I've been making. My craft stash has been boosted with fabric, cotton yarn, stranded cotton, cross-stitch graphs, paper punches and dies and beautiful papers. These are all things that have been on my wish list for ages, and I'm so very grateful to everyone who thought of me when they were doing their spring cleaning.




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08 September 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 10th - 16th September 2017

MOO Butter Chicken from the Cheapskates Club Chicken Recipe File Click through for the recipe
MOO Butter Chicken
This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Lamb

Monday: Sausages, vegetables and onion gravy

Tuesday: Refrigerator Lasagne

Wednesday: MOO Butter chicken, steamed rice, pappadums

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Haystacks

Saturday: Stuffed potatoes with cheese, coleslaw, pineapple, sour cream

In the cake tin:  Lemon Coconut Slice, Fruity Tea Cake

Am I Australia's most Boring Grocery Shopper?

Am I Australia's most boring shopper? Click through to see how Cath from the Cheapskates Club does her monthly grocery shop for her family of 5 for under $300!
Am I Australia's most boring shopper?
I asked myself that question this afternoon after I wrote up my shopping list, using the IGA, Coles and Woolworths catalogues to round out what I wasn't able to get at Aldi (always my first stop for groceries).

There were lots of things on sale at all three supermarkets, but out of all the grocery items available, and there were hundreds, I put four things on my list.

The problem is I don't buy chips or Cheezels, blocks of chocolate, soft drinks, alcohol, sugary cereals, biscuits, washing powder, bathroom cleaners, deli items (well not regularly anyway), yoghurt, lollies, cakes and muffins or meat. OK, I do buy meat, but I buy it from Tasman Meats or Australian Butcher or Farmer Joe's, where it is half the supermarket prices.

My trolley is usually full of flour, sugar, milk, oil, butter, eggs, wheat biscuits, bran, milk powder, peanut butter, honey, baked beans, tomato soup, tuna, pineapple rings, beetroot, dried beans and soup mix, frozen corn, cheese and dried fruit.

My problem is each week when I look through the catalogues, I don't find very many of those things on sale.

So am I Australia's most boring grocery shopper? I get excited at half price shampoo and toothpaste; I go crazy and stock up on baking paper and foil when it's on sale; I jump for joy when I find mince for $5.99 a kilo and when tea bags are half price you won't get the grin off my face for days.

But cans of Coke for $18? Washing powder? Frozen lasagne? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I'm not even tempted.

I make my own washing powder - it costs 2-1/2 cents a load, a fraction of even the cheapest commercial powder.
Cheapskates Washing Powder the cheapest laundry powder you'll find does a great job for under 3 cents a load Click through for Cath's recipe from The Cheapskates Club
Cheapskates Washing Powder
There isn't a commercial lasagne that even comes close to my homemade from scratch lasagne, for taste or price, so why would I buy it, especially when it costs less than $5 to make 12 serves?

If we want a fizzy drink I make it, there's nothing as refreshing as homemade gingerbeer or cordial or real lemonade  and there's nothing artificial in any of them.
Overnight Ginger Beer cool refreshing easy to make and cheap Click through for the recipe from the Cheapskates Club Drinks Recipe File
Overnight Ginger Beer
Biscuits? We tried some bought biscuits last week. I was told everyone was raving about how good they were. I didn't mind them, but my family? No, they did not like them at all, and were quite adamant that homemade are much, much nicer. For me, homemade are cheaper too.
Homemade ANZAC Biscuits tasty easy to make and cheap from the Cheapskates Club Biscuits Recipe File
Homemade ANZAC Biscuits
Using the boring ingredients I buy each month I can make biscuits, cakes, breads, scones, pancakes, jams, soups, casseroles, stews, pies (savoury and sweet), sausage rolls, cordial, ginger beer, yoghurt, cheeses, sauces, gravies, dressings, even sweets and lollies that are full of flavour and devoid of rubbish ingredients. And all for much less than buying them.

If I am Australia's most boring shopper, so be it. I probably spend less for those boring ingredients a month than most families spend in a week, and we eat so much better.

I can live, happily, with that.


07 September 2017

Fruity Tea Cake

Fruity Tea Cake Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing Cheapskates Club Recipe File
Fruity Tea Cake
 This is the quickest and easiest fruit cake you'll ever make and it tastes great! Slice and serve with butter or freeze for a quick grab-n-go snack. It's cheap too. This tea cake costs $1.80 to make. I buy my baking ingredients from Aldi.

Fruity Tea Cake

Ingredients:
2 cups cold tea
2 cups mixed dried fruit
2 cups SR flour

Method:
Soak the fruit in the cold tea for 10 minutes. Beat in the self-raising flour. Pour into a greased and baking paper lined loaf tin. Bake at 180 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let stand in tin for five minutes before turning out onto a cake rack to cool.

Variations:

Chocolate Tea Cake: Use 2 cups chocolate milk to replace the cold tea.

Orange Tea Cake: Use 2 cups orange juice to replace the cold tea.

Spicy Tea Cake: Add 1 teaspoon mixed spice with the flour.

Sultana Cake: Add 1 teaspoon lemon essence with the cold tea. Use 2 cups sultanas to replace the mixed fruit.


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03 September 2017

The Week that Was 3rd September 2017

Homemade MOO blackberry jam Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing Cheapskates Club Jams Pickles Relishes Recipe File
MOO Blackberry Jam
Made a batch of blackberry jam using frozen berries a friend gave me. Yum! I've been having blackberry jam on toast for breakfast this week.

Kept the fire going on Sunday and Monday and dried the washing on the clotheshorses.

Dried washing on the clothesline Thursday and Friday, using the wind and sun, and dodging rain showers.

Ate leftovers for tea two nights, free food we were given, and it was delicious. I moved $10 to the grocery slush fund.

Gratefully received some sliced bread sticks, left from a dinner we went to, and made garlic and herb bread. We had some with our dinners during the week, the rest is in the freezer for other meals or snacks.

Opened the windows and doors for a couple of hours on Thursday and Friday, to let the sun and wind freshen the house.

Made a batch of Shake'n'Bake to use up cracker crumbs and cereal crumbs I've been saving in the freezer.

Used wheat biscuits crumbs instead of biscuit crumbs to make a No Bake Lemon Slice. I had wheat biscuits, I didn't have any plain biscuits; it turned out just as nice as the one made with biscuit crumbs.

Gratefully received some craft materials from a friend who no longer uses them. I've been busy sorting to make sure I'm not doubling up. Put aside the "doubles" for the card ladies to go through on card day.

Sold a set of Christmas cards and put $12 into the grocery slush fund.

Went through my shed to find paint for my washing table. Waited until Friday, when it was sunny and warm, and then painted the table. This table was a hard rubbish find about 15 years ago and I love it, so I try to keep it spic'n'span. I found two cans of the same white spray paint, just enough to give the table two coats of paint, so this was a no cost renovation and it cleared some leftover paint from the shed.

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



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02 September 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 3 - 9 September 2017

Easy Cornbread from Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing and the Cheapskates Club Bread Recipe File, to go with chlli or just to enjoy Click through for the recipe
Easy Cornbread

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Garbanzo bean casserole, mashed potato

Tuesday: Spag bol

Wednesday: Chilli Con Carne, corn bread

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Hamburgers

Saturday: Toasted sandwiches, tomato soup

In the fruit bowl:  oranges, apples, lemons, bananas

What's on your meal plan this week?

27 August 2017

The Week that Was 27th August 2017

The week that was debt free, cashed up and laughing....click through sit back with a cuppa and catch up
The week that was....sit back with a cuppa and catch up
A busy week and a very happy and productive one too. I love working around our home, it's something I really enjoy. I even like mopping the floors and scrubbing the bathrooms, and this week I did those chores and more.

I've just calculated that by pottering around our home and doing the dreaded-by-some housework I keep approximately $200 a week in our bank account. The housework didn't include the ironing. We don't have much, about an hour a week, but even so, by doing it myself our bank account keeps $25 a week. Doing the gardening, something else I really enjoy, keeps another $80 a week in our bank account!

Wowsers!

It's been a while since I did the sums, but it really pays to spend a few minutes each day (about eight hours a week all up) to not spend $305! I'd have to work approximately 20 hours to earn that money (on minimum wage rates); by doing those chores myself the hourly rate is $38, more than double minimum wage. I'm so grateful to be blessed with the health, strength and motivation to be able to do this.

We've had visitors since Wednesday, so the house has been full of laughing and chatting and tea drinking and cake eating people and I've had a ball looking after everyone.

So here's how I saved us money, time and energy this week:

*Cashed in the money box on my desk and added $158.50 to our savings account. Those 5c, 10c, and 20c coins add up quickly.

*Dried the washing outside, in the sunshine and wind, two days. I almost forgot to get it in, I'm out of the habit as I've been using the clotheshorses next to the fire over winter.

*Juiced more lemons and froze the juice.

*Baked for our visitors and the weekend.

*Spent a lovely day with Wendy and Carol on Tuesday, making cards. I was able to put together two bags of cards to go to two different charities, 100 cards in one bag and 40 in the other.

*Gratefully accepted some craft supplies from a friend who no longer needs them.

*Very gratefully accepted some stamps for the Crafty Mums Co-op from a friend whose mother no longer needs them.

*Picked up another Moccona jar for 20c and a crystal ring stand for $1. I've been looking for the ring stand for a few weeks to finish off a Christmas gift.

*Used some yarn that was given to me to knit a tea cosy for a Christmas gift.

*Downloaded some vintage style pattern cover images to use as transfers on grocery bags. These will be Christmas gifts. I'm using transfer paper we were given, and the bags were 60 cents each on a mark-down table at Lincraft a few months ago.

*Spent a fun day working in the tea room at the AMRA exhibition, making cups of tea and coffee and keeping the workers fed and watered. Had a free lunch and lots of delicious coffee.

*Gratefully accepted leftover roast beef, roast chicken, corn, peas, baked potatoes, gravy and cheesecake. There is enough for four full roast dinners for our family, and 12 roast beef or roast chicken rolls with gravy for lunches or quick dinners. I've estimated not spending $210 and moved that from the grocery budget to the slush fund.

Still no photos folks, but as soon as I can get them uploaded I will.

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


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25 August 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 27th August - 2nd September 2017

Spaghetti Pie a budget friendly easy dinner Cheapskates style that uses pantry ingredients
Spaghetti Pie

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Beef

Monday: Vegeballs, mash, greens

Tuesday: Spaghetti pie, tossed green salad

Wednesday: Curried Nut Croquets, steamed vegetables

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Tacos

Saturday: Pumpkin soup

In the fruit bowl:  Oranges, lemons, apples

In the cake tin: Cookies'n'Cream Slice, fruit cake, Choc Chip Cookie Slice

Vegeballs

Ingredients:
60g grated cheese
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cups rolled oats
1 egg
1 cup evaporated milk
1 large tin tomato soup
1/2 - 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
oil for frying

Method:
Beat egg into evaporated milk. Add onion, cheese and rolled oats. Add breadcrumbs until stiff. Roll dessertsponfuls into balls. Fry in hot oil until browned all over. Drain on paper towel. Place in casserole dish. Mix tomato soup with a 1/2 tin of water. Pour over vegeballs. Bake in moderate oven until soup starts to simmer, about 30 minutes. Serve hot over spaghetti or with mashed potato and steamed veggies.


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20 August 2017

The Week that Was 20th August 2017

Sunday and Monday were glorious days, full of sunshine and blue skies, a little hint of the spring that's just around the corner. Those sunny days were a gorgeous break from the bleak winter we've had and they just put a spring in my step and a smile on my face. The days were so warm we let the fire go out for the first time all winter!

Then Tuesday winter was back and we lit the fire again.

Wayne's Dad will be here next week so I've been busy making jam and lemon butter and baking goodies for him to take home.

There were blackberries, raspberries and mixed berries in the freezer so they were all made into lovely jam. If you've never made jam, or have always thought making jam was hard or a real chore, trust me when I say it's not. Hannah has been making jam since she was nine, that's how easy it is. Bought jam, no matter how good it is, just doesn't compare to homemade. (The blackberry jam was too tempting and we opened a jar as soon as it was cool enough and had it on toast for dessert - very yummy).

Very gratefully accepted a packet of pickling spices, a large jar of Vegemite, some garlic and shallot pastes, mouth-watering Lindt chocolates, apple cider vinegar and some linseed meal, all good boosts to the pantry.

I spent a lovely day with the card ladies, laughing, talking, drinking tea and eating. We even managed to make some cards!

Added to our pantry with some herbs and spices and new jars (20c each from the new ADRA op shop in Boronia - an amazing bargain!) and new labels I made.

Started the September/October/November shopping lists to cover December and January. Also added extra to build the stockpile. At the moment most things are sitting at the usual (for this time of year) 5 - 6 months, but without sounding like I'm fear mongering, or a crazy doomsday prepper, I would really like to have at least 18 months of the basics on the shelves by the end of the year. I'll need to rejig our budget and scrounge some extra cash from somewhere, but I believe it's a part of my job to ensure that my family is prepared for hard times. Having lived for three years and two months without a regular income, I know how important it is to have at least a basic stockpile of food, toiletries, medicines, cleaning supplies, clothing, seeds and basic household items.qa20

Cooked all our meals from scratch.

Caught the shower warm up water and added it to the washing machine. I think this summer will be dry, and water will be even more precious, so I'm starting our own "water restrictions" now. Then, if the summer is as dry as I think it will be, we won't be shocked if water is suddenly scarce. And if it's not, being more careful with this very precious resource won't hurt and may even show an improvement in the water bill.

Filled the car just before petrol jumped 40 cent a litre and used a 4c off voucher.

Completed a 4 week Flybuys challenge to get a bonus 10,000 points. It was HARD! I rarely spend $50 a month at Coles, so to do so every week really was a challenge. I made a list of things we used that we buy from Coles and followed the half-price sales. Each week I went over the $50 by no more than $3 and we now have washing soda, laundry soap, dishwasher powder and oven bags to last two years and cheese, flour and sugar have been added to the stockpile. The plan is to cash in the points for a gift card to use at Christmas time.

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

(I'll put photos up tomorrow, I need help with them today)



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15 August 2017

Crumble Kits

Cath's Crumble Kits also found in the Cheapskates Club Recipe File Desserts Click through for more crumble kit ideas
Crumble Kits
I love anything that makes life easier, but I certainly don't like to pay the price for convenience.

Instead I MOO as much as I can and one of the things that makes my life a lot easier and saves us a lot of money is crumble kits.

We've fallen out of the habit of having dessert after our meals and it was showing in my grocery budget. The fridge fairies were striking overnight and food that was planned for another meal was disappearing.

A quick survey of the troops and I realised they were hungry and missing dessert after their dinner.

I try to make our desserts as healthy as possible without going overboard, so we have things like apple and rhubarb crumble or peach cobbler or fruit salad cake, steamed fruit pudding, lemon delicious, baked rice custard, fruit pies, and they're usually served with a boiled custard or cream (or in Wayne's case both), or  fruit salad, fruit platters with dip and so on.

I've shared before how I make up MOO packet cake mixes and how they are so convenient.

Well, I make up crumble kits too and they are really convenient as well.

When I want to make a crumble I take the fruit off the pantry shelf or out of the freezer, grab a crumble kit from the pantry, add the melted butter, dump it all in a pie dish and bake it. Easy! I can get a crumble in the oven in under five minutes, fantastic for busy nights.

I use my big baking dish to make crumble. It makes enough for at least two nights of desserts and a couple of lunches - about 14 serves. I just put the leftover crumble into a Tupperware container and keep it in the fridge. The next night I reheat however many serves we need in the microwave.

As a bonus, crumble kits are great for camping. I make them up in large ziplock bags and they store flat in the tucker box.

Crumble Kits

Into a large ziplock bag add:
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
3/4 cup coconut
1 tsp mixed spice

Seal the bag.

On the front of the bag write:
To make up melt 125g butter. Add to dry ingredients. Mix well. Spread evenly over the top of fruit. Bake 30 - 40 minutes until topping is browned and fruit is bubbling.

I usually make up a dozen or so at a time and keep them in the pantry. Without the butter added they are shelf stable for months.

If you have freezer room you can add the melted butter and make the topping. Store the packets in the freezer so the butter doesn't go rancid - it will if you keep them in the pantry.

To use the frozen crumble kits just take one out of the freezer. It will be a solid block. Let it sit for a few minutes then either crumble it over the fruit with your fingers or use the coarse side of a grater to grate it over the fruit. Add 5 - 10 minutes to the cooking time.


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14 August 2017

Where I Shop

Where I shop to get the best value for my grocery budget dollar. Click through to see where I do my grocery shopping the Cheapskates way
Where I shop
Jilly emailed and asked me if I stuck to the same supermarkets for my shopping or if I divided it up between others, and she asked if I shopped around for groceries like I do for other things.

The short answer is I am not supermarket (or brand) loyal, I shop where I'll get the best value for my dollars, and yes, I do shop around between supermarkets, butchers, greengrocers, wholesale outlets and even suburbs.

If I have to go out of my suburb for shopping, I combine the trip with other errands to make it money, time and energy friendly. Often just going to a supermarket a couple of suburbs away can save money on grocery items.

Where we live we are blessed with all the major supermarkets within just a few minutes. We have Coles, Woolworths, IGA, Aldi and Foodworks within a 10 minute drive, so shopping around the supermarkets for the best specials is easy.

We also have four excellent greengrocers and two fantastic butchers close by.

If I choose to travel about 15 minutes I have another excellent butcher and a great market.

Travel 20 minutes and I have Dandenong Market on a Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, where the fruit and veg are excellent quality and price. The market is great too for clothing and household items.

But for a normal month, here's where I shop:

For groceries (in order):

Aldi
Coles
Woolworths
Food Factory Sales (SPC Outlet), Bayswater
Reject Shop

Specialty Herbs & Spices in bulk:

Hindustan Imports, Dandenong

For Meat:

Australian Butcher, Boronia
Farmer Joe's Boronia
Tasman, Mt. Waverley

For fruit and veg:

Pellegrino's, Wantirna South
Farmer Joe's, Boronia

For bulk wholefoods:

The Full Pantry, Croydon

For toiletries:

Aldi
then Coles, Woolworths, Priceline or Chemist Warehouse depending on what is on sale and the best price

For bulk cleaning supplies:

Aurora Cleaning Supplies, Dandenong South
Coles
Woolworths
Bunnings
FGB Natural Products (Bosisto's)

These are the places most likely to get my shopping dollars. Of course it all depends on what I need and what price it is when I need it. Occasionally there will be exceptional prices at a store/outlet I wouldn't normally shop at, but I do for super special prices.

I tend to shop around, and I do travel out of our local area for great specials, but they need to be cheap enough to make it worthwhile (cover the cost of petrol and extra time as well as being cheaper).

I also try to combine as many errands as possible into each trip to save money, time and energy.

13 August 2017

The Week that Was 13th August 2017

The Week that Was 13th August 2017

I had lovely long chats with Annabel and Wendy this week, via messenger of course, as we can't easily get together in person. If someone had told me 22 years ago that I'd be so comfortable with technology that I'd be chatting to a friend in another state or one who lives about 25 minutes away in another suburb I'd have laughed. Back then I couldn't program the VCR (I still have a bit of a problem with double recording on the DVD recorder today!).  So, other than paying for our usual monthly internet connection, those chats were free. It really is good to be alive in 2017.

I did lots of baking to feed the hungry hoards, fill the freezer and keep the house warm. Cup cakes, chocolate slab cake, coffee cake, sausage rolls and four loaves of bread fed us this week.
The name says it all Simplicity Coffee Cake easy to bake and easy to enjoy from the Cheapskates Club Recipe File Cakes
Simplicity Coffee Cake
Made 30 Minute Buns for our hamburgers last night. This was a new recipe that I adapted to suit our tastes and it makes great burger buns. I'll be posting the recipe soon.

Made burgers "with the lot" for tea last night. Burgers at our local fish'n'chip shop are $9 each! I made the five burgers and a side of wedges for less than the price of one. That's $41 we didn't spend on takeaway food, plus the cost of petrol to go and pick them up. And my burgers really are better with my secret burger sauce :)

Juiced more lemons and froze the juice in ice cube trays.
Fresh lemons waiting to be juiced
Fresh lemons waiting to be juiced
Used lemon peels to make lemon scented cleaning vinegar. Using this vinegar to wipe over benches and bread boards, baths and basins, leaves a lovely fragrance through the house and it costs nothing extra to make, you use the peels from lemons you've juiced.

Used lemon peels to make lemon scented air freshener (just add clean lemon peel to a bottle of rubbing alcohol and let it steep for 3 - 5 days). I love the fresh smell of citrus, especially lemon, in the house. It's wonderful during winter when the windows and doors are mostly closed and the fresh, cold air is blocked.

Dried the washing by the fire on Monday, then outside in the wind and sunshine on Wednesday and Thursday. The wind leaves the washing so soft, even the jeans are softer when they're line dried on windy days.

Opened the windows and back door on Thursday when it was warm to let some fresh air into the house. It was windy, so they weren't open wide, but the breeze was lovely and really freshened inside.

Worked on some crochet projects for the present box.
Some crocheted projects for the present box
Made 12 cards for an order. They were a combination of easel cards and twist'n'pops.

Gratefully and happily listened to the rain on the roof. It filled the rain barrel I use to water the garden, watered the garden of course, and softened the ground which made weeding and digging so much easier.

Cooked all our meals from scratch.

Stuck to my grocery challenge and bought just milk this week.

Hannah and I went op shopping. Oh the bargains we could've had if we'd taken all our spending money with us!

I splurged on four large Moccona coffee jars for $1 each. I couldn't believe the price, these jars are getting almost as expensive second-hand as they are new and full of coffee. They went straight into the dishwasher and then into the present box. I really like these jars because the seal comes off the lid if you are very careful, so you can get the whole jar clean before you gently put the seal back into place. I also bought some linens and a basket I had asked the ladies to put aside for me.

Combined a few errands into one trip on Friday. It took about 3 hours all up, but I was able to cross all errands off my list and get in a few extras. This was a time saver, as well as a petrol saver. If I hadn't combined the trips and done a loop, there would have been six separate trips next week! It pays to think and plan ahead, even for shopping and bill paying.


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

11 August 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 13th - 19th August 2017

Lemon Chicken and Parmesan Rissoles from Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing, a tasty way to add rissoles to the meal plan without being boring. Click through for the recipe.
Lemon Chicken & Parmesan Rissoles
Chicken fillets have been very cheap here lately so of course I took advantage and stocked the freezer. For the Lemon Chicken & Parmesan Rissoles (which are so good) I whizzed two chicken fillets to mince rather than buying it especially for this recipe.

We get bored if we eat the same thing all the time so I like to mix it up a little every now and then, so on Wednesday we are having our own version of Yum Cha with homemade spring rolls, dim sims, samosas and salad, just for something a bit different.

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Lamb

Monday: Lemon Chicken  & Parmesan Rissoles, veggies, gravy

Tuesday: Mushroom & Parmesan Risotto

Wednesday: Finger food– spring rolls, dim sims, samosas, salad

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Frugal Haystacks

Saturday: Homemade Subs

10 August 2017

No Bake Lemon Slice and Our Favourite Variations

No Bake Lemon Slice and our favourite variations a budget and family friendly easy to make no bake slice. Click through to get the recipe
No Bake Lemon Slice
Annabel and I were talking about MOO Condensed Milk and she mentioned she was going to give it a try in No Bake Lemon Slice. And that had me thinking (and wanting lemon slice).

No Bake Lemon Slice has been around for ages. I remember my Mum making it during summer when it was too hot to have the oven on. Then I started making it after we were married, again, usually in summer, when it was too hot to have the oven on (those Riverina summer days when it topped 43 were far too hot to bake).

Over the years I'd go to make No Bake Lemon Slice and realise I didn't have any plain biscuits. One day there was a packet of ginger nuts in the pantry. We love ginger in anything, so I used them instead. Oh boy! was that slice good. I put lemon icing on it and it was sensational. And it fast became one of our favourites.

Another time the only biscuits in the house were plain chocolate so I used those and made a No Bake Choc Coconut Slice. Spread with chocolate icing and sprinkled with shredded coconut it went down well.

Did I mention we love ginger? After Christmas a few years ago there was some shortbread biscuits left. I used the shortbread to make biscuit crumbs, added some chopped glace ginger and we had No Bake Ginger Shortbread Slice.

I've even used Oreos to make a No Bake Cookies and Cream Slice - this one is Hannah's favourite.

Good things happen when you take a basic recipe and, to borrow a phrase from a good friend, make it your own.

Here's the basic No Bake Lemon Slice recipe:

No Bake Lemon Slice

Ingredients:
125g butter- melted (or margarine)
½ tin sweetened condensed milk
1 packet of Marie Biscuits
1 cup coconut
Rind of 1 lemon

Method:
Crush biscuits. Combine in a bowl, spread into a tray and pat down and set in the fridge. Mix the juice from the lemon with icing mixture to make the icing. Sprinkle coconut over the icing to finish.

Variations:

No Bake Ginger Slice - Use ginger nut biscuits instead of the Marie biscuits. Ice with lemon glace icing.

No Bake Choc Coconut - use plain chocolate biscuits instead of the Marie biscuits. Ice with chocolate icing and sprinkle with shredded coconut.

No Bake Ginger Shortbread Slice - replace the Marie biscuits with an equal quantity of shortbread. Add 1/2 cup finely chopped glace ginger.

No Bake Cookies and Cream Slice - Substitute Oreo biscuits for the Marie Biscuits. Ice with vanilla buttercream and sprinkle with crushed Oreos.



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09 August 2017

MOO Instant Custard

MOO Instant Custard recipe saving you money time and energy shared with the Cheapskates Club Recipe File Desserts
MOO Instant Custard

MOO Instant Custard

Ingredients:
4 cups powdered milk (skim, low fat or full cream)
1 cup cornflour
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp vanilla sugar

Combine all dry ingredients. Whisk well to combine. Store in a clean, dry jar or canister.

To make 1 litre custard put 1-1/2 cups mixture into a dish. Pour in 900ml boiling water and whisk well until mixture is smooth and thick. This makes a medium weight pouring custard. If you like a very thick custard you can cook for 1 minute in the microwave, then whisk well.

To make 1 cup of custard use 1/3 cup MOO Instant Custard Powder to 3/4 cup boiling water. Whisk well.