23 June 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 25/06/2017 - 01/07/2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Nutmeat loaf, veggies

Tuesday: Vegetable Lasagne

Wednesday: Kransky, hot potato salad

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Stir-fry

Saturday: Toasted sandwiches, tomato soup

16 June 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 18/06/2017 - 24/06/2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Lamb

Monday: Vegetable Moussaka

Tuesday: Spaghetti Soup

Wednesday: Sweet Curry with left-over lamb & rice

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Haystacks

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

12 June 2017

Honey Do List Update

Well here it is Monday night and what have we accomplished?  Only one thing on my list!

But it was a big thing. Wayne and I completely emptied, cleaned, sorted and tidied our wardrobe. That may not sound like a big job, but we have a big wardrobe, almost the same size as our bathroom. It took us hours and hours - three all up.

It's so nice now I've been walking into it every few minutes and just standing there.

Other than that, we've done nothing that was on the list and lots of things that weren't. It seems to go like that around here. We've talked to friends via Skype, entertained unexpected visitors, walked down memory lane looking at some photos we found, had lots of cups of tea and coffee and enjoyed brownies Hannah made.

The list is still on the fridge and I'll still cross things off as they get done but I'm not going to stress about the when or how, because in all honesty, in the grand scheme of things, they're just jobs that aren't vital to life, health or well-being, unlike spending time with the people who are important to us.

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11 June 2017

MOO Condensed Milk, Cross it Off Your Shopping List and Save a Fortune

I've just been browsing the Coles catalogue for this week and notice that condensed milk is on sale for $2.50, save 70 cents. I was gobsmacked! It's obviously been a while since I bought condensed milk because the last time (I just checked my notes) it was $1.69!

I do use condensed milk quite often, in baking and to make Russian caramels, but I can assure you I wouldn't be if I had to pay $2.50, let alone $3.20, a can (and those cans are about 30g smaller than they were when they were $1.69!).

MOO condensed milk has been a staple in my pantry for years. It's easy to make, tastes and works exactly like the tinned version and costs less than $2 to make more than double the quantity you'd be paing $3.20 for.

Here's my go to condensed milk recipe - and don't worry about being able to store it before it goes yellow. It will keep in the fridge for at least a week, longer if you turn the container upside down. But it freezes! Yes, put any extra in the freezer until you're ready to use it in another recipe.

MOO Condensed Milk

1 cup hot water
2 cups skim milk powder
2 cups white sugar
6 tbsp butter or margarine

Place all ingredients in a food processor and mix for about 3 minutes. The mixture will be quite thin, but thickens on standing for about an hour. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to one week. Can be frozen, thaw before use.

Makes 3 cups.

Seriously, it is so quick and easy to make and so cheap - why would you ever spend your hard earned dollars on tinned condensed milk?

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09 June 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 11/06/2017 - 17/06/2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Curried tuna Slice, salad

Tuesday: Refrigerator Lasagne

Wednesday: Shredded beef & gravy pan fried sandwiches

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Hamburgers

Saturday: Fish, chips, salad

The Honey Do List for a Long Weekend

We have a long weekend this weekend (happy birthday Your Majesty) and for the first time in ages Wayne is on call all weekend so we will be home.

That means we'll have time to get some things done (and there are plenty!) so I've made a honey do list and posted it on the fridge.

I know we won't get it all done, but if we get at least half of the things on the list crossed off I'll be doing a happy dance on Monday night.

On the list:

  • Put up the shelves in the laundry
  • Move the  clotheshorse hooks
  • Paint the laundry
  • Hang the hand towel ring in the bathroom (finally!)
  • Move the shelves in our wardrobe to a better, more space efficient layout
  • Add the extra shelf in the cupboard under the oven
  • Finish off the pelmets and drapes in the lounge and diningroom (OK, this is me - I've had the fabric and tape for so long, I just haven't had the motivation to sit at the sewing machine and finish the job)
  • Make the drapes for our bedroom (see above!)
  • Hang the new curtains in the bathroom, toilet and ensuite (they're made, they just need to be put up)
  • Go through the kitchen dresser, donate what we don't need or want and put away the good dishes
  • Defrost and inventory all four freezers 

I'm going to come back and cross things off as they get done. I love seeing things crossed off to do lists so that will keep me motivated, and if I'm motivated then I can keep Wayne and the kids motivated.

What are your plans for the long weekend?

02 June 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 04/06/2017 - 10/06/2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Beef

Monday: Mexican Meatballs

Tuesday: Spag bol

Wednesday: Chicken parmigiana, salad, french fries

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Tacos

Saturday: Toasted Sandwiches

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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09 April 2017

The Week that Was 9th April 2017

Australian Butcher in Boronia had great meat and chicken sales. I used some slush fund money and some of the meat budget to start to refill the freezer. Chicken fillets $4.69/kg, mince $6.99/kg, silverside $5.99/kg, sausages $4.39/kg.

Hannah and I did a stockpile top-up shop at Aldi.

Defrosted and restocked the small freezer.

Cooked all our meals from scratch.

Spinach and ricotta ravioli - Hannah's favourite, she saves leftovers for work lunches

Saved brown paper from a parcel to reuse as wrapping paper. It only took a few minutes to iron it flat and it is as good as new.

With the warm, windy weather I've been able to wash summer quilts and blankets and get them put away. I brought out the winter blankets and doonas and aired them on the clothesline before I put them on our beds. That was a big job and took two days. I love this time of year when the days are sunny and warm, with a light breeze, and the nights are cool enough to sleep comfortably.

Used my Community Chemist discount to get scripts filled and saved $5.40.

Ordered a 4 litre container Eucalyptus oil and shared it with three friends. Worked out to be a $21.25 (total $85) saving for each of us over buying the small bottles.

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

Rebuilding the Stockpile

Last year our stockpile was our grocery store. We lived from it, with just $100 a month to spend on fresh fruit and veg, dairy and some meat and poultry.

Part of the 2016 grocery stockpile
By the end of the year the shelves were looking very bare, and bare shelves make me jittery. Knowing I can always feed my family and keep ourselves, our clothes and our home clean is my safety blanket. It is reassuring to me to know that even if there is no money to spare we can still eat well and maintain our health and our home.

With that in mind we have worked hard over the years to build our emergency fund and I spend time working on my shopping list, to ensure we can eat today and in the future.

That means I make a comprehensive shopping list, including quantities and prices, each month. I've been doing this for almost 23 years now and having a well-stocked pantry has saved us not only money, but time and energy many times over the years.

The stockpile has meant that when needed I've been able to redirect grocery money to another area and we could still eat. It has given us wriggle room in our budget to cope with the small emergencies that crop up from time to time and not worry about how we'd feed our kids. But more than anything it has taken away the worry of how I'd do that when we had no money (and there have been times over the years when we just didn't have any spare money, not even 5 cents).

So looking at the empty shelves has been niggling at me, until this last week when I did some juggling and rearranging and reworked our family budget (budgets are meant to be reworked and rejigged, they're not set in cement) and found some money to shift to the slush fund.

On Monday I went to the butcher. It's the first time I've been to the butcher for ages and it was a great day to go. I went to Australian Butcher in Boronia and bought:
Chicken fillets - advertised at $4.99/kg - bought in store for $4.69/kg
Regular mince - $6.99/kg
Sausages - $4.39/kg
Whole chickens -  $2.99/kg - I bought 1 to have as roast chicken and either chicken fried rice, sweet'n'sour or enchiladas
Corned beef - $5.99/kg

Total cost was $106.32

Then Monday afternoon I spent batch cooking. With the help of the slowcooker and the pressure cooker I made six meals of pasta sauce and six of haystack mixture. Then I made a huge batch of porcupine meatballs and froze in meal lots - that gave me four meals.

I used some of the chicken fillets to make curried chicken and some to make chicken casserole packs (four of each). These were frozen raw, with the sauces and veggies, ready to be thawed and cooked.

The sausages were divided and made into two lots of curried sausages and two lots of Colleen's Sausage Casserole. I boiled and skinned the sausages, then chopped them and divided them into ziplock bags. I added the sauces and veggies and froze them. They'll need to be thawed and cooked in the slow cooker. I serve curried sausages over steamed rice and Colleen's Sausage Casserole I serve with mashed potato and veggies - broccoli, cauliflower, peas, beans, carrots, corn, sweet potato, pumpkin - whatever is in the fridge.

I cut each pieces of silverside in half, vacuum sealed them and then put them in the freezer to use over winter, when we will have it with mashed potato, cabbage, carrots and homemade mustard sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. This will give us six meals.

This gave us 37 meals at a cost of $2.95 per meal. This sure made me smile! Meat has been expensive and while there's no steak or roast beef, we will be eating well and the freezer has some tasty meals for us to enjoy.

It took me two and a half hours to prep, pack and clean up. The cooking time in the slow cooker was about 4 hours and the pressure cooker only takes 20 minutes, but they're hands off cooking, letting me do other things so I didn't include that time.

Hannah helped me do a stockpile grocery shop on Wednesday, to replenish what we'd used over summer. We went to Aldi and I spent $174.52. This included the milk, cheese and eggs for this week, as well as the stockpile shopping.

There was enough in the slush fund to add:
2 trays tomato soup
2 trays baked beans
1 tray tinned spaghetti
4L olive oil
4L white vinegar
3 x 12 packs toilet paper
8kg white sugar
6 x 500g jars peanut butter
1 x 500g jar Vegemite
6 x 1kg spaghetti

The pantry is looking a little better now.

I still need to add:
Soup mix
Kidney beans
Red lentils
Brown lentils
Gluten flour
Spelt flour
Powdered milk
Rolled oats

It's not the shopping that is exhausting but the putting away! I rotate, bringing older groceries to the front and putting the new stock at the back. This means lifting and shifting and I was grateful for Hannah's help.

I also doubled up on the sugar this shop. We don't use a lot of sugar, but with Cyclone Debbie devastating sugar crops the word is sugar will not only increase in price but could be in short supply. Now what that means isn't clear - it could be like the bananas after Cyclone Yasi - we didn't have trouble getting bananas, we just could afford to pay $12/kg for them so we ate other fruits. Sugar may still be readily available, just grossly over-priced. If that happens we have enough to last us about 10 months, but there are always alternatives (honey and maple syrup make great sugar substitutes).

Where did I find the money? I know someone will ask, so here it is. I allocate a standard amount each month for electricity, gas and water. We don't always use the amount allocated, in fact we rarely do, so the money sits in those categories as excess. I've gone over our bills for last year, added 10 per cent (to cover price rises, using more power or gas than we would normally etc.) and left one month of the budget in each category and the excess I moved to the slush fund.

How do you rebuild your stockpile after you've used it? Where do you find the money to stockpile?

31 March 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 2/04/2017 - 8/04/2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Fishcakes, gems, coleslaw

Tuesday: Spag bol

Wednesday: Enchiladas, salad

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Stir-fry

Saturday: Omelettes & salad

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26 March 2017

The Week that Was 26th March 2017

It has been a while since I posted my accomplishments through living the Cheapskates way. I've been running on half-strength for a few weeks, not able to sit for too long, and this week I spent three days in hospital in what I hope is the beginning of getting this problem solved.

Here is a catch-up of what's been going on in the Armstrong home.

The Week that Was 12th March

We have Wayne's father staying with us this weekend.

During the week I did some baking to fill the biscuit and cake tins, he likes his morning and afternoon teas and supper. I made a fruit cake, blueberry muffins, scones, gingerbread and a batch of coconut biscuits. Whew! And all without having to buy a single ingredient. Thank goodness for a well-stocked pantry.

Dried the washing on the clothesline.

Spent the day with Pamela on Tuesday making cards (and talking and laughing and eating and drinking tea and coffee).

Kept the house shut tight during the heat of the day, and opened doors and windows wide at night to let the cool air in.

Picked more tomatoes from the lone tomato bush.

Added to the stockpile with a tray of tomato soup and a tray of baked beans and six kilos of plain flour using leftover grocery money.

Wayne needed a new mobile phone so he went shopping. My only comment was that it couldn't cost more than what he's paying now. He came home with a new iphone and a Samsung tablet plus $120 worth of accessories and it's $1 a month less than he was paying for the same value in calls and data. You should have seen the smile on his face!smile on his face -

The week that was 19th March

The card ladies came for our monthly cardmaking session. This month Wendy and I showed them how to make a very simple cold press soap. They were all able to take home a few cakes to cure and use.

We had a stamping demonstration and everyone made a pretty card to take home. I learnt a new technique (new to me anyway) and had some fun too.

Watched a YouTube video and learned to make a gift set - very simple to make and cost nothing as I had all the materials in my stash.
Maureen very generously gave me some capsicums which I oven roasted and then packed into olive oil. I love roasted capsicum so this will be a special treat during winter.

Grace gave me a bottle of the beautiful Lavender pillow spray she makes.

Picked lots of tomatoes from the lonely tomato bush.

Repurposed a sweet dish into a floral arrangement for the tall boy in the entrance. I used silk flowers I had, and recycled a piece of oasis. To finish the dish off I spread a bag of glass chips around the oasis so it can't be seen. I knew I'd find a use for them one day, I've been saving them in the craft box for about six years! I haven't quite finished with it, I'll keep tweaking until I am happy with it.

Made a batch of vanilla yoghurt.

All the usual things such as collecting shower water, drying the washing on the line, cooking our meals and so on.

Paid a specialist bill and checked the next day to make sure the Medicare rebate had been credited to our bank account. It had, but I've had to chase a couple in the past.

The Week that Was 26th March

 I spent three days in hospital this week.

Knowing I'd have at least one day in hospital this week I batch cooked on Monday and Tuesday and made dinner for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday ahead of time.  I froze Friday's dinner, and left Wednesday and Thursday (which is pizza so easy) in the fridge with warming instructions on a sticky note. Hannah works late Wednesday and Thursday so the boys had to get their own dinner. They know how to turn the oven on (I have taught them too cook) but still need guidance for meals they haven't prepared before. A sticky note gave me the peace of mind knowing that there would be no excuse for an overcooked dinner.

Last week Grace gave me a bottle of the beautiful Lavender Pillow Spray she makes and I've used it a lot this week, as I've spent a lot of time flat on my back in bed.

Downloaded some free ebooks for my Kindle.

My darling husband brought me home a bunch of beautiful Australian wild flowers from a nursery he was working at, as a surprise. They're on the tall boy in our bedroom, where I can see them all the time.

Reminded everyone that now the days are getting shorter and lights are being used, to turn them off when they leave a room.

Arranged for Wayne to drop me at the hospital entrance where I was met with a wheelchair rather than park and take me in himself. At $10 for 20 minutes it gets a bit expensive.  We did the same thing in reverse when I was discharged.

Checked prices on my prescriptions and took advantage of the hospital pharmacy to save $3.20 over the three scripts. I rang my local chemist to ask the prices, then ordered them from the hospital. I always compare prices between brands of drugs and if there is a cheaper option that my pharmacist recommends usually choose that.

The Grand Prix was on this week, and Wayne and I had a Grand Prix afternoon tea today. We had pita chips (made ahead), dip, veggie sticks, MOO sausage rolls, MOO mini quiche, sandwiches and a cheese platter with crackers, oven roasted capsicum, olives, semi-dried tomatoes and cheese cubes. All from the fridge or pantry and washed down with Overnight Gingerbeer, 50:50 Cordial or iced water. Luckily it was our lunch too, and we had a very late dinner!

What have you done to save money, time and energy this week?