30 May 2014

I MOOed a Nappy Genie

It's been a long time since I had to deal with nappies, but anything to make life easier, like Sharyn's MOOed nappy bin, put a smile on my face. If you use disposable nappies you'll love this idea.

"I was keen to buy one of those Nappy Genie bins but could not justify the expense especially after realising that after purchasing the bin at around $60 you then need to buy refill cartridges for $19.95! Not to be discouraged I went to Crazy Clarks and bought a pedal bin for $6 and lined it with plastic shopping bags, layered one inside the other. Wet nappies are OK as they aren't smelly, but once I get a dirty one I simply open the lid, tie off using the handles of the bag and take it outside to the wheelie bin. I am saving a small fortune not having to buy plastic bag refill cartridges every month and I still have the convenience of the bin."

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29 May 2014

Crazy Uses for Common Household Items

You might want to take another look at some common items in your home - they may have a crazy or unusual use that you've never thought of before!

Here are seven common items with uses that may surprise you!

1. Lemons

Deodorizing: Rubbing half a lemon or a lemon slice under your arms is said to kill bacteria that causes body odour.

Spider repellent: Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice onto a cloth or the brush attachment of your vacuum, then dust cobwebs with it. Spiders dislike the lemony scent and should shun the corners, decreasing your cobweb problem.

2. Coca-Cola

Defroster: Pour Coca-Cola over an ice-covered windshield to de-ice.

Rust remover: If a bolt, screw or nail is too rusty to turn or remove, pour Coke over it and allow it to soak for a few minutes and try again.

Stain remover: You can remove blood and/or grease stains from clothing by pouring on some Coke.

Grease and oil remover: Pour Coca-Cola over oil stains on concrete; soak for a few minutes and clean with a hose.

3. Chalk

Stain remover: Get rid of oily stains by rubbing with chalk before to washing. Chalk absorbs the oil.

Ant repellent: Draw a line of chalk across and around the places where the ants are getting into your house. They won't cross the chalk line because it dries them up.

Moisture absorber: Drop a piece of chalk in with your silver items, it will absorb the moisture and prevent tarnish.

4. Salt

Keep down the fizz and foam: Sprinkle salt over the fizzy foam on top of a soft drink to bring it down.

Water spot removal: Sprinkle a little salt on water spots on wood and rub with a little olive or almond oil.

Scrubber: Use salt and bicarbonate soda to scrub out porcelain or metal sinks.

5. Plastic Cups

Seed starter: Use a nail to poke holes in the bottom of plastic cups, fill with dirt, and plant seeds.

Sifter: use a small nail to poke holes in the bottom of the cup, and use to sift fine sugar or cocoa powder over desserts.

6. Coffee Filters

Flowerpot liner: Put a coffee filter on the bottom of a flowerpot to cover the hole and prevent dirt from falling out.

Window shiner: Use a coffee filter to polish the inside of your car windows to remove smudges and streaks. Use on mirrors, too.

Porcelain protector: Place a coffee filter between plates and bowls in your cupboard to prevent scratches and nicks.

7. Cornflour

Body powder: Use cornflour on your feet or other sweaty areas to cool and prevent chafing.

Lubricant: Use cornflour inside rubber boots and gloves, it makes the easier to get off.

Detangler: Sprinkle cornflour on knotted rope or string to help get the knots out.

Who knew you had so many useful items around your home!

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28 May 2014

Buying a new car is an exciting time! It’s exhilarating to know that a new car will soon be yours. But the actual process of purchasing a new car can be less than enjoyable. Car salesman can be so pushy. How do you know you’re getting a good deal?

You could use a car buying service who will deal with the dealers directly on your behalf. By hiring a company to do the dirty work of negotiating, you can limit your involvement to simply communicating what you’re looking for. At the end of the process, you simply need to go pick up your car. In some cases, the car will be delivered to you.

Let the dealerships compete for your business. After doing the obligatory test-drives and determining what you want, contact competing dealerships and ask for their best price. You can then play the dealerships against each other. If you’re patient, you’ll save a significant amount of money.

Use an individual car broker. The process is similar to the company-run car buying services. In some cases, the broker negotiates his fee and receives it from the dealership. From a practical standpoint, this allows you to finance the fee rather than paying it out of your own pocket straight away. You need to take this into account when working out your finances - you'll be paying interest on this fee for the duration of the finance period.

It’s generally accepted that car buying services will save most people about $1,000 over what they would have done on their own. However, if you’re skillful at negotiating, you may be able to do better than the buying service, especially after the fee is taken into account. How good are you at negotiating?

Buying a car can be easier and less expensive than you might think!

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27 May 2014

English Muffin Bread

If you love English muffins, but find the shape and size leaves you wanting more, this is the bread for you. Sliced it can be used for sandwiches or toast.

5 1/2 cups warm water
6 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tbsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
11 cups plain flour

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix just until incorporated. It will turn into a very wet, sticky dough. Leave the dough in the bowl and let it rise until double in size. Spoon this sticky dough into four well-greased loaf pans. Let rise in pans until dough reaches the top of the pan. Bake in a preheated 175 degree Celsius oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Ten minutes before done, brush with melted butter. Makes 4 loaves. Bread will be moist at first, allow it to cool completely before slicing. This bread freezes beautifully. I slice it before freezing and just take the number of slices I need from the freezer.

If the idea of four loaves of bread is overwhelming, you can easily and successfully halve the recipe to make two loaves of bread.

Cost: $2.15 for four loaves.

From September 2013 Cheapskates Journal

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26 May 2014

MOO Monday: Shaving Lotion

Are you always cutting yourself with a razor? Shaving lotion can help as it moisturises the skin before the hair is removed, but it can be expensive and sometimes the ingredients are not really what you want to be using on your skin.

This is a really fast, cheap easy way to make your own, and it works beautifully for men and women, easing razor burn and leaving your skin soft and moisturised.

You will need:
A pump bottle
5 tbsp of your favourite moisturising lotion
5 tbsp olive oil (it doesn't have to be EVOO)
1 cup shampoo
1 cup conditioner

Step 1.  Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix really well until they are thoroughly combined.

Step 2. Let the mixture sit for an hour.

Step 3. Pour it into your bottle – I find it easier in a pump bottle but it is up to you, a squeeze bottle will work too.

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23 May 2014

Home Shopping with a Twist

"Recently I ran out of moisturiser and rather than order a new one as I usually would, I went through my bathroom cabinet and found another half used bottle from a previous occasion. To my surprise, there were lots of products, gifts and samples I had forgotten about tucked away in there. It was like shopping at home rediscovering them all and choosing which ones to pull out and use! I have resolved not to buy any new products until all the others in the cabinet are used up first! I also did some 'home shopping' for clothing by going through all my clothes stored away in space bags. There were clothes I forgot I had in there! I now have a great winter coat simply by changing the buttons on a jacket I was going to get rid of.  All up I've saved over $200!"
Contributed by Kirsty Crawford

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22 May 2014

The Broomstick Clothes Dryer

Sometimes it's the simplest ideas that make us slap our heads and wonder why we didn't think of them. This tip from Cheapskater Julie B.,  is one of them.

"With electricity prices on the rise and as the winter days are short and often dull, it can be hard to dry all the family washing. I now lay a broom between my two clothes airers. I hang undies and socks on the airers and then put all shirts and windcheaters on coat hangers and hang these on the broomstick. I have found I can usually fit two loads out this way. By placing near the fireplace or air-conditioning outlet I can get the washing dry without it costing me a cent more. (I have managed to avoid using my dryer at all)."
Contributed by Julie B.

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21 May 2014

How to Pay Bills during Financially Hard Times

Unfortunately, the bills don’t stop even if the pay packet does. There is still a financial responsibility to your creditors. If you're facing financially hard times it’s time to sit down and come up with a game plan.

The reality is that there are certain bills that can’t go without being paid. Your family needs a home to live in and the basic comforts like heat, electricity, transportation and a working telephone. These are the bills that warrant getting paid first.

For the telephone, there is no rule that says you need a mobile phone and a landline. Some people use their mobile phone as their only number. This saves on the cost of two telephone services.

What about food? Everyone needs to eat. You can lower your food costs with store sales and shopping in bulk when necessary. Visit the butcher shop and have them cut up your meat to save money. Read the $300 a Month Food Challenge posts in the weekly newsletters. You find them all in the Newsletter Archive on the Cheapskates Club website.

If money is tight, entertainment is often the first to go. You may have to do without cable television or cut back to the basic channels since everything has gone to digital signal. If you want to watch movies, purchase the ones you like when they are on sale. This way you can watch them over and over without paying any additional fees.

When there is nothing else you can cut and money is still stretched too far to meet all the bills, it is probably time to call the creditors. No one wants to do it but you will have a more favorable outcome if you call them before your bills start falling behind. If you have been a good customer who has had on-time payment in the past, they will help you to make your payment in some form without ruining your credit.

For your monthly utility bills, there is a service many of them offer called the Equal Payment Plan. Here, you can enroll in the program that averages your monthly usage and comes up with a payment amount that stays constant. This will help you avoid larger bills in the summer or winter months. A plan like this also makes budgeting limited funds a whole lot easier.

As for any credit card bills, making a payment arrangement won’t adversely affect your standing with them or the credit companies. When you are back on solid financial footing, you can resume your normal payments.

When the economy is down, it affects everyone, but bills are still going to come due. Use the above tips to help you stay afloat in hard times.

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20 May 2014

Banana Hot Dogs

Looking for a different and fun way to put fruit on the menu?

1 banana, peeled
1 plain fruit finger bun
Red jam
Smooth peanut butter or Nutella

Place the peeled banana in a bun. Fill two zip-top baggies – one with jam and the other with peanut butter. Cut a tiny hole in the corner of each bag, and squeeze jam and peanut butter or Nutella out onto the banana as you would mustard and sauce. Eat and enjoy.

-Add crushed pistachios for a crunchy relish look-alike.
-Cereal and dried fruit make great additional toppings.
-Try soy nut, almond or sunflower butter for a change.

Contributed by Narelle Walker

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19 May 2014

MOO Monday: Cream of Anything Cup-a-Soup

4 cups skim milk powder
1-1/2 cups cornflour
1/2 cup chicken flavoured stock powder
4 tsp dried onion flakes
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients together and store in an air tight screw top jar. This mix will keep for twelve months in a cool, dry pantry.

To Use:
Add 1/3 cup of cup-a-soup mix to 1 coffee mug of boiling water. Stir well to dissolve soup mix.

Add half a cup of one or more of the following with the boiling water:
Sliced mushrooms
Asparagus pieces
Cooked broccoli or cauliflower florets
Thinly sliced celery
Cooked, diced chicken or beef

From the Cheapskates Club Recipe File

16 May 2014

Go Thrifty When Buying for your new Baby

If you are a first-time parent, you will more than likely want everything brand new for baby, I know I did. However, if you are a first time parent there is also a great chance that you are looking to save money, as well.

Going thrifty doesn't mean you love your baby any less; it just means that you are financially wise and realize that baby will grow out of just about everything before you have even paid your credit card bill.

Consignment shops are a great place to buy gently used baby goods. The majority of consignment shops will not buy anything unless it is in good condition. These shops will offer you designer clothing, layettes, furniture and baby gear for a fraction of the cost of new.

Once you realize how quickly your baby will grow, you won't mind shopping in a consignment store at all. You can buy the most adorable layout and outfits in size 0000 up for cents on the dollar compared to new. Your baby will look adorable and you'll be smiling from ear to ear at the savings you have made.

You can find some very basic items at garage sales for too. When Disaster Struck and we had a baby on the way and absolutely no spare money, one of the first things I learned to do was shop at garage sales for the children's clothes. I picked garage sales in the more affluent suburbs, set a budget of no more than $1 per outfit and off I'd go. I picked up Peter Rabbit, Fred Bare, Pumpkin Patch and other "designer" labels for between 50 cents and $1 each. Some of them were brand new, still had the labels attached.

If you find a sale with a lot of things you want to buy, don't forget to haggle. Offer to buy them all for a fixed amount rather than as individual items. Chances are you'll get a real bargain and the seller will be glad to not have anything left at the end of the day.

Toys are a big seller at garage sales and usually all that needs to be done is a good soak and washing and baby will have a new musical toy to drift him or her off to sleep or a set of stacking blocks for later on when baby grows bigger. Our Fisher Price farmhouse came from a garage sale for $2. The Micro Machines they boys played with for years (we still have them) cost $2.50 for a shoebox full. Duplo and Lego were my favourite toy buys at garage sales and I never paid more than $5, and that was for a huge bin full of Lego. Hannah's genuine Baby Born cot was $1 at a garage sale. It was a little grimy which is why it was so cheap. We brought it home, carefully took the cover off and soaked it then washed it, washed all the frame, put it back together and it was as good as new.

Books are another favourite garage sale buy. I never paid more than 10 cents for a children's book. I'd buy as many as I could find and put them away for rainy day treats and rewards for good behaviour.

When buying toys, however, make sure not to buy anything will small parts and pieces, especially used. Buy things like building blocks or books so that you know baby will be safe.

Garage sales are also an excellent resource for buying second sets of anything. If you will be returning to work and baby is going to visit Grandma once or twice a week, you can buy a highchair or even a second stroller to leave at Grandma’s so you don't have to lug those things with you every time you visit.

Our twin stroller cost $30 at a garage sale. The spare travel cot was $15.

Another great way to get baby items for free is to barter with someone. You might be looking to pass on your maternity clothing while someone else is looking to get rid of his or her cot or stroller. Bartering is a great way to exchange goods without spending a dime!

Let’s face it; having a baby today is so very expensive. Utilizing consignment shops, garage sales and bartering is a great way to go thrifty when shopping for baby.

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15 May 2014

MOO Sticker and Label Remover

It's Murphy's Law. Whenever you have a label or sticker to remove, and you need it to come off in a hurry, it won't. It will stay stuck. It will come off in little tiny pieces. The sticky part will stay stuck. It will be a nuisance that ruins nails, takes time and generally stresses you out.

Not any more!

Two simple household items combine to make the best sticker and goo remover you've ever tried.

Ordinary vegetable oil and bicarb soda. That's it.

When you have a label to remove drizzle it with vegetable oil. Any oil will do - canola, olive, coconut, it doesn't matter. Pour a little oil over the label and rub it in. When the label is soaked with the oil, sprinkle it with bicarb soda and gently rub. The oil will have softened the paper and the bicarb acts as a very gently abrasive to remove the glue.

When you've massaged off that label, rinse the item with hot water and dry. It's that easy and that cheap.

Try it next time you have a label to remove. You too will be amazed at just how easy it really is to remove a sticky label.

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14 May 2014

Stretching an already Tight Budget in Retirement

When you are just starting out or raising a young family, it is an all-important task to cut corners and save money wherever you can. But it isn’t just young folks that need to be thrifty. When you reach retirement age, if you're not careful to keep a tight rein on the budget, you may find yourself stressing over your finances. When you're younger, there is always the possibility of earning extra income. You certainly do not want to face that option when you are retired.

Here are a few ideas for stretching a tight budget in retirement:

Tap into little known resources such as the many free services offered to retirees. Contact your energy company and have them come down and give you a free home inspection in order to save money on your utilities. Your energy company will be more than happy to point out more than enough ways that you can save money on your energy bills.

A free inspection could save you hundreds of dollars on wasted energy. Something as simple as installing energy saving light bulbs, power strips that you shut off at the end of the day and how to give your heating system a tune up will save you lots of money.

Get your car checked over by a mechanic who offers free safety checks. They'll give you an idea of any work that needs to be done and then you can decide who does the work. Ask around, call your local Council and search out free services. Taking advantage of these free services will save you money and educate you on how to safeguard yourself.

Take the time to learn how to use your computer. Learning how to pay bills on line will not only save you time but will save you the cost of postage or time lining up at the Post Office as well. If you have a dozen bills or so, paying on line will add up to savings on postage and trips to the post office to buy stamps. It is completely safe and secure as long as you follow the instructions.
Take advantage of supermarket shopping online. Delivery fees are nominal compared to the cost of petrol, mileage, and wear and tear on your vehicle.

Use the Internet at the library. This will save you money on your monthly Internet bill as well as give you the opportunity to get out once or twice per week to pay your bills online, food shop online and just spend time surfing the web for senior citizen discounts and coupons. Coffee shops and restaurants offer free wifi service as well.

Take advantage of senior discounts days, which sometimes range from every Wednesday to every Wednesday and Saturday. Those discounts at your local cafe, bakery, op shop, supermarket, cinema, can add up to hundreds of dollars over the course of a year.

Always ask if the business you are dealing with offers a discount for seniors. My mother just had new carpet laid in her home. I arranged the quotes for her, then when she decided which one she wanted she contacted the company and asked if they offered a discount for seniors before placing her order. She saved 7.5% or $407 on the original quote - just for asking a question (and not being precious about her age!).

These are a few simple ways to begin living on a tight budget in retirement.

13 May 2014

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with Veggies

Here’s a heart warming soup that is sure to please chicken noodle soup lovers. It’s perfect for more picky eaters because the vegetables are finely chopped. Plus, it’s easy to swap out your family’s favourites to custom make the soup just the way you want.

This soup uses homemade and well-seasoned chicken stock, so there is no need to add additional seasonings. All we add is a little salt and pepper. If you happen to be using a commercial chicken stock, leave the salt out and add about 1 tsp of dried thyme and parsley.

3 carrots
1 stalk celery
¾ cup cauliflower
2 litres homemade seasoned chicken stock
¾ cups cooked chicken, cut in small pieces
½ cup uncooked soup noodles

Step 1: Prepare Vegetables

Cut your chosen vegetables into small pieces. For our recipe, we peel and cut the carrots.

 Chop the celery into small pieces.

Cut the cauliflower into small florets.

Step 2: Start Cooking

Place your stock into a large pot and heat to boiling.

Reduce heat to simmer and add the carrots, celery and cauliflower. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add the chicken pieces.

 Then add the noodles.

 Simmer for about 5 more minutes and serve.

12 May 2014

Dry Shampoo

We have all had one of those days where our hairs needs to be washed and we either don't have the time or we can't be bothered. Sometimes it's just not as easy as jumping in the shower, you may be travelling or camping. But no one wants dirty, greasy, lank hair.

What to do? Simple! MOO this dry shampoo and you'll never have to worry about shampooing your hair again. You can dry shampoo, save time and look good.

You will need:
Essential oil - Lavender or lemon
Rice flour
Arrowroot powder
Cocoa (for dark hair only)*
Salt shaker
Step 1. Add 2 tablespoons of cornflour, 2 tablespoons of rice flour and two table spoons of arrowroot powder to the salt shaker. Put the lid on and shake to combine.

Step 2. Add 6 to drops of the essential oil that you have chosen to the salt shaker. Put the lid back on and shake really, really well to thoroughly combine all the ingredients.

To use:  Just shake and apply to the roots of your hair when needed. Very gently massage into hair. Brush out.

It’s as simple as that!

*If you have dark hair, add 2 tablespoons of cocoa to the mixture. Sounds odd but it stops the white shampoo from dulling your hair.

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09 May 2014

Really Easy Menu Planning

If you are really serious about saving money on groceries you need to start with a menu plan. Without knowing what meals you are going to be preparing you can't create a shopping list. And without a shopping list you can't cut your grocery bill.  It really is that simple.

While it may not seem like it at first, planning your meals saves you time. It takes away the time you previously spent thinking about what you were going to have for dinner. It saves you time at the supermarket. Because you know what you are going to eat you know what to buy, no more wandering aimlessly around tossing things into the trolley in the vague hope you'll be able to use them. And no more waiting for home deliveries, to pick up takeaway or sitting in drive-through queues.

You'll also find cooking much more pleasurable when you have a menu in place. You'll know at a glance what you should be cooking, confident that you have everything you need to prepare the recipe. It also takes away the stress of cooking after a long day. The decision has been made, the choice is on the menu, so when the family ask "what's for dinner?" you can happily point them to the menu and get on with the cooking.

With your menu done and shopping list written, you can hit the shops with confidence. Sticking to your list will stop those spontaneous purchases of exotic "use once and then forget them" ingredients, if it's not on your list you don't need it so you don't buy it.

You'll see your food bill shrink before your very eyes.

Here are my top tips to make menu planning easy and effective:

1. Pick a day and time that works best for you to do your meal planning.
I plan my menu a month in advance. This works best for us as I shop on the last Tuesday of the month. If you shop weekly or fortnightly do your meal plan a day or so before you shop. This gives you time to think about it and refine it if needs be before you hit the supermarket. I like to write our menu up in an exercise book, so I can refer back to previous months when menu planner's block strikes.

2. Plan your menu around what foods you have on hand that need to be used up.
Then  fill in the missing dishes with what is on sale at the supermarket and butcher that week. If whole rumps are on sale for $6.99/kg you can bet that my menu will revolve around a roast beef, perhaps a barbecue, stir-fry beef and black bean with fried rice and steak sandwiches for a treat.  I buy our meat in bulk but I still always keep an eye out for a great sale price on chicken, beef and lamb.

3. Keep your pantry, freezer and refrigerator organized.
It's common sense, but still something that we need to be reminded of.  With your food storage organized  you can cross reference what  you have on hand and what is on sale with the recipes you are going to use so you only  add the ingredients you need to shopping list.

4. Develop a system.
At the beginning of each month I write our menu onto a whiteboard  that is stuck to the front of the fridge. With the menu on the fridge I don't get asked what's for dinner quite as often. It also acts as a running shopping list. As soon as the last packet or bottle of something is opened it goes onto the shopping list, ensuring it isn't forgotten when we do our big shop and we never run out.

5. Get the family involved. 
Ask them for suggestions. Meal planning is hard when you have to choose every meal. I asked the kids and Wayne to list their favourite meals and I use their lists to create our meal plan. I use one of their favourites every week, which means I only have to choose three meals a week to fill in the menu plan. It makes meal planning more enjoyable and everyone is happy because they get at least one of their favourite meals each week.

6. As you create your menu, check the calendar.
 What is going on in the week ahead? Will everyone be home for dinner every night that week? Is there basketball practice, youth group or a Home & School meeting? On those hectic nights, quick and easy, freezer or crockpot meals will be needed. Are you going out for dinner and if so, do you have to take a plate? Make a note of these events on your menu plan and fit meals in accordingly.

7. Plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 
While I only put my dinner meal plan on the website, I do plan for breakfasts, lunches and snacks and include the ingredients for these meals on my grocery list. During the week breakfasts are simple: cereal and toast. On weekends we like to have pancakes or eggs on toast, omelettes or even a fry up. Week day lunches are sandwiches or rolls, with a slice or cookies and fruit. Weekends they could be as simple as a bread roll or a barbecue.  I like to have something homemade for afternoon tea and snacks, the kids are always starving when they come in from school, so two or three recipes are put on the menu for each week.

8. Plan for every day.
Whether you plan for a week, a fortnight or a month, you need to plan for every day even if it's just leftovers. Even if you plan for takeaway one night, unless every meal is accounted for it very quickly becomes another takeaway or eating out meal.  All your hard work at sticking to your grocery budget can be undone with just one meal.

9.Plan a new recipe every week.
It doesn't have to be for dinner, it could be a breakfast, lunch or snack.  Trying just one new recipe a week will put a stop to meal plan boredom. If you don't like it you don't have to make it again. If the family loves it you will be hailed a heroine for find a new family favourite.

10.Keep your recipes handy.
I have the recipes for our favourite meals written in a notebook. These are the meals we eat regularly. Having them all in the one place makes meal prep easy but it also means that when chicken legs are on sale I can quickly look up the chicken recipes and see how much I need to buy to make our favourite dishes.

For me, meal planning is the strategy that saves me the most money on groceries. By planning our meals around what I have on hand, what is on sale and what my family likes to eat I have been able to keep our grocery bill within our budget for sixteen years.

But I really like meal planning because it takes the stress away from dinnertime, making me less stressed and our family time around the dinner table that little bit happier.

08 May 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry Update

I've had an email suggesting that Slow Cooker Chicken Curry is a terrible recipe and I shouldn't have posted it as it is expensive and not at all suitable to be classed as a "Cheapskates" recipe.

The main problem appears to be the chicken.  It was suggested that breast fillets are too expensive and thighs, bone in, would be better value. I pay no more than $5.99/kg for chicken breast fillets and there are usually four to the kilo. Thighs, or rather maryland pieces are usually around the same price. I prefer the fillets as there is no bone and more meat and it's the meat I want in this dish.

The next suggestion was tinned tomatoes rather than fresh.  I use tomatoes from my  garden so they are basically free, regardless of how cheap tinned tomatoes are. Tinned tomatoes are also more juice than fruit, you would need to adjust the stock accordingly, although the emailer suggested leaving the stock out altogether. That won't work - the juice from the tomatoes isn't enough to create the gravy for the curry; your meal will be dry and burnt on the bottom.

Chicken stock is MOOed from leftover bones and veggie peelings and again free - I don't buy stock ever. If you want to know how to make chicken stock log in to the Member's Centre and download the How To.... sheet.

I could get away with MOOing mock coconut cream but it wouldn't be any cheaper than buying a tin from Aldi, so no saving there.

Curry paste was the next suggestion. If you prefer to use curry paste and it doesn't bust your budget that's fine. I save paste for special recipes because it is expensive. In this recipe curry powder is just fine and stands up to the long, slow cooking well.

In fact the only ingredients I would buy for this recipe would be the chicken, coconut cream, carrots and curry powder. It costs me around $3.80 to make 6 serves of this casserole or 63c a serve.

A MOO Exfoliating Mask Good Enough to Eat

For this, you will need two strawberries, a ½ kiwi fruit, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of honey. Remove the stems from the strawberry and peel the kiwi fruit. Place in a blender, adding the lemon juice, sugar and honey. When it forms a puree remove and pour into a microwave safe container.

Warm up the mixture in the microwave, careful not to make it too hot and test it on the back of your hand to make sure it is not too hot. Place the mixture on your face using gentle circular motions. The sugar acts like a scrub and the citrus from the lemon acts as a highlighter. The strawberry and kiwi provide important acids to rejuvenate your skin tone and the honey acts as a moisturizer.

This mask has the benefit of acting as an exfoliating scrub with all natural ingredients and as a moisturizer as well.

The best way to feel good about using all natural ingredients such as fruit is to use some fruit that may be leftover. Instead of tossing it, you can use it for your facials.

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07 May 2014

How to Become a Careful Spender and Start Saving

Are you trying to become better at saving and spending? Here are some tips to help you live on a tight budget and still have money to put in the bank for a rainy day.

The first thing that most families do is to create a spending plan. If you already have one, it may be time to re-evaluate it in light of your current financial situation. Spending plans are not written in stone, there is always some tweaking that can be done.

For the family without a spending plan it’s time to create one. Get all your bills together in one place, grab a snack and a drink and start creating.

The first place money goes is the household bills. Then you have other needs like groceries, petrol and school fees. Entertainment is last on the list. After you tally up your household bills you’ll know how much you have at your disposal.

Even with groceries you can tighten the belt. Try the store brand version instead of the name brand. The box may not be as pretty but most store brand products come off of the same assembly line. Learn to buy only when on sale to take advantage of lower prices. Always shop with an accurate shopping list.

Creating more meals at home is another way to save a few dollars. When we are in a hurry or rushed for time, fast food is usually the answer. Instead, make a habit of planning your meals in advance so there is always something to eat in the house. Invest in a slowcooker if you don’t already have one and use it.

When it comes to entertainment, you can probably cut some of the fat there too. If you rent movies from the video store, consider using a DVD service. The monthly fee is cheaper than the per movie rate at the video store and you have more perks.

After you go over the budget and see where you can tighten the belt, again calculate the amount of disposable income you have. A portion of that money can be put into a savings account. To make saving even easier, have that amount direct deposited to your savings account. You won’t even see the money. When you look at the amount of your paycheck in the bank, that money will already be safely tucked away.

Another way to save is to avoid hasty purchases. Try this. When you see something that you want to buy, give yourself 24 hours before you make a decision. If you still want it, then make the purchase. Usually, the extra day gives you time to change your mind.

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