29 April 2016

Cath's Meal Plan 1st - 7th May 2016

Haystacks - a favourite quick dinner

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Beef, baked potato, sweet potato, onion, cauliflower, beans, gravy

Monday: Baked bean curry, steamed rice, pappadums

Tuesday: Haystacks

Wednesday: Sweet & Sour meatballs, rice

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Burgers, salad, buns

Saturday: Muffin Surprise

What's on your menu this week?

28 April 2016

Let's Revisit Pita Chips and Save a Bundle

Hannah came home from work on Tuesday and the first thing she said to me was "Mum, you're going to say "oh my giddy aunt" when you see this" and quickly thrust her trusty phone into my face.

She was right.

I did say "Oh my giddy aunt" when I saw what was on her phone.

See if you don't have a similar reaction, here's what I saw.

Can you see it? Yep, pita chips just $71.58 a kilo - a real bargain NOT!

I did the sums. A packet of Lebanese bread costs $1.35 for 400g or $3.40 per kilo. Sometimes it comes on sale for 99 cents, and even better, 89 cents a packet and I buy up big - 10 or more packets (it freezes!). That would bring the per kilo price down and make these gourmet (who'd a thunk the humble pita chip would be a gourmet treat?) treats even cheaper.

Add some olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, a couple of cloves of garlic and about two teaspoons rosemary and for a cost of approximately 90 cents (the cost will depend on how much you pay for your oil and herbs - I grow garlic and rosemary so they're virtually free) and you can have 1 kilo of seasoned pita chips for under $4.50. If you'd rather have them plain they'll be even cheaper.

That's a whopping $67 difference.

I bet that you, like me, believe that $67 is much better in your bank account than the supermarkets (if you don't then maybe this isn't the place for you after all).

Pita chips take around 10 minutes to make and they're so easy even a child can make them.

Here's how I make our pita chips.

Add your own seasonings or not, it's up to you. Either way I can guarantee they won't last long.

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The Week that Was 24th April 2016

It's time to get the quilts, knee rugs and dwarmies out - the evenings are getting cool

A little late getting this up, my apologies, life has been more than a little bit hectic.

This has been a busy week. I've had a trip to the airport, some doctor appointments and shopping to do on top of the usual household tasks and Cheapskates Club work.

Thank goodness I've written down my household schedule, it has certainly helped to keep everything done. The family has been able to see what needs doing each day and just do it, without me nagging or stressing about when I'd find the time to catch up. I'm so glad I took the time to write down what needs to be done each day.

I've enjoyed the sunshine too, sitting on the back verandah for morning and afternoon tea most days.

All our meals have been cooked from scratch, using ingredients in the pantry, fridge and freezer.

I saved by choosing a generic brand, then another 15% on prescriptions using my Community Pharmacy card.

Collected the cold water from the bathrooms and kitchen and used it to water the garden.

Used the worm tea to feed the new seedlings and the fruit trees.

Opened the blinds and curtains wide during the day to warm the house, and closed them as soon as the sun had gone to keep the warmth in.

Pulled out the throws and warmies and put them in the lounge and family rooms to use now the evenings are getting cool.

Made breadcrumbs using the crusts I had stored in the freezer.

Made pumpkin soup for the freezer from a pumpkin I bought for 29c/kg. Froze some for baked veggies too.

Made more plum jam using fruit from the freezer.  These are for gifts so I also cut lid toppers from wrapping paper and made some pretty labels for them using papers I had in the cupboard.

Dried the washing on the clothesline on warm days.

Gratefully accepted a huge washing basket lot of papers, ribbons, cards for our card making days (thank you Keren). I know the card ladies will be excited :)

Cut some pictures from old magazines to use as embellishments on cards and gifts. Added them to my stash.

Took the sleeves up on a shirt of Tom's that was too long in the arms, saved him $12 (the cost to get it done at the alternations place).

Watched The Help. I wasn't sure I'd like this movie so I recorded it when it was on TV, then watched it one morning when I couldn't sleep. I loved it, and have kept it to watch again.

Put together a birthday present using a set of the coasters I crocheted and some pretty serviettes in the same colours. Cost: $2 for the serviettes, about 60 cents for the thread for the coasters and an hour of my time. Used a card from my stash in the same colours to complete the gift.

Filled both cars up with petrol at 95.7c/litre - cheapest it's been for a few weeks.

Saved Mum some money by taking her open packets of medicines to the chemist to have them used in her Webster packs. She's already paid for them so she may as well use them. They were more than happy to keep the tablets and use them up.

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

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22 April 2016

Cath's Meal Plan 24 - 30 April

Pumpkin was on sale at Pellegrino's this week, 29c a kilo. We didn't grow pumpkins this summer, so I very happily spent $9 and bought three. I made a huge pot of pumpkin soup with one of them, at Hannah's request. It's her favourite soup and so quick and easy to make. It freezes really well too, so there are single serves in the freezer ready for lunches. The other two are stored in the pantry and they'll be used up over the next couple of months.

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Enchiladas

Tuesday: Sweet Lamb Curry, rice, pappadums

Wednesday: Wellington Loaf, scalloped potato, greens

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Sausages, vegetables

Saturday: Meatloaf & vegetables

17 April 2016

The Week that Was 17th April 2016

Decanted a batch of citrus vinegar cleaner I had brewing. The bathrooms smell lovely.

Made a double batch of Miracle Spray.

Made a double batch of Cheapskates Washing Powder.

Made apricot jam using apricots I bought for $5 a box just before Christmas. I took the stones out, chopped them and the froze them in 1 kilo lots before Christmas when I was time poor. It was easy to pull them out and make jam on Monday.

Dried the washing on the clotheshorses on Monday and Tuesday when it was wet. The other days the washing dried nicely on the clothesline in the sunshine.

Wayne and the boys cut and stacked firewood we've had drying for a couple of years in readiness for winter (I can't wait to get the fire going).

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

Planted a rhubarb crown I cut from one of Mum's plants we divided.

Stewed some rhubarb I picked from Mum's garden. We're having it with our yoghurt for breakfast.

Gratefully accepted a LOT of mandarins (thank you Wendy and Darren), enough to give us all a piece of fruit each day for 13 days! I put some in the fruit bowl, the rest are in the crisper to stay fresh. I'll bring a few out each morning for us to eat.

Made a double batch of Lemonade Scones for afternoon tea on Saturday using lemonade that was given to us.

Thomas needed  a card for a baby shower so I made one using things from my card making stash.

Spent the day on Saturday with the "card ladies" and had a lovely time. I managed to make seven cards, and learned three new techniques too.

Bought 11kgs chicken fillets from Tasman yesterday and bagged them up, enough for 22 meals.

16 April 2016

Cath's Meal Plan 17 - 23 April 2016

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Lamb

Monday: Rissoles, vegetables and onion gravy

Tuesday: Devilled Chicken Wings over fried rice

Wednesday: Haystacks

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Vegetable pies (made in the pie maker)

Saturday: Tacos

In the fruit bowl:  apples, bananas, oranges

In the cake tin:  Sultana Cake, Banana Cake, Chocolate Coconut Slice

Devilled Chicken Wings

2kg chicken wings
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp crushed garlic
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp tomato sauce

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Mix ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the chicken wings. Toss together and cover with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Bake for 40 minutes or until browned and cooked through.

10 April 2016

The Week that Was 10th April 2016

I have lots of down time on my hands at the moment so I've been crocheting sets of coasters to add to the present box. I've used up scraps of cotton yarn leftover from other projects so they're virtually free gifts.

Collected cold water from showers and kitchen; used to water plants and wash floors.

Cooked all meals from scratch (or used freezer meals).

Ordered a gift online after shopping around and saved $30.

Hung washing on clothesline to dry.

Stayed home most days so used less than 1/4 tank of petrol for the week.

My favourite body butter has been discontinued from the Body Shop range. I get this as part of my

Christmas and Mother's Day gifts each year and I love it. I was able to get a gift pack of the body wash, butter and hand cream for 40% off. Then I checked the Body Shop website and was able to order enough shower gel and moisturiser for the next year or so with free postage, again at 40% off.

Pellegrino's had sweet potato for 49ckg (22c/lb), eggplant for 99c/kg (45c/lb) and washed potatoes for 29c/kg (13c/lb). This has made two large vegetable moussaka, four large potato and sweet potato bakes, enough steamed sweet potato for 10 batches of Sweet Potato Chocolate Cup Cakes and left enough to use as veggies this week. The extra meals have gone into the freezer. I also bought a bag of Turkish rolls for $3 to make roasted vegetable rolls using the eggplant, sweet potato and mushrooms (for lunches, they freeze well), kiwi fruit and bananas and a big bag of mushrooms off the throw-out trolley ($3). I spent a grand total of $17.30 on this shopping trip.

The boys helped me transplant mini cabbage, mini cauliflower and broccoli seedlings this week. That will be the total of my winter garden this year, I'm just not able to keep up with it at the moment. Thank goodness for excess produce in the freezer to see us through winter.

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

03 April 2016

The Weeks that Were 04/04/2016

Over the last few weeks I've:

Caught the shower water and used it to water the pot plants.

Cooked all our meals at home, using ingredients in the pantry, fridge and freezer.

Ran the cooler only on the three days it was really necessary. The other days the fans were enough to keep the house cool when combined with shutting windows, blinds and doors before the sun came up.

Dried the washing on the clothesline.

Tidied the bathroom cupboards and inventoried what was in them. No need to buy toiletries for a long while.

Put petrol in my car when it was down to 89c - only took $18 but the next day it was back up to $1.25/litre. Did this a few times over the last month, sometimes the car only took about 20 litres but  the 35c a litre saving is better in my pocket.

Combined errands to save time and petrol.

Made a double batch of Iced Coffee Mix and put it in the fridge for cold drinks.

Used powdered milk to make custard and saved the fresh milk for drinking.

Made fig jam.

Made plum jam.

Made plum sauce.

Stewed nectarines for crumble during winter.

Made the crumble mix, put it in a ziplock bag then put it and the bagged nectarines in another ziplock bag to make crumble kits. No excuses come winter - dessert just has to be baked.

Very, very, gratefully received an amazing gift of groceries (including the plums and nectarines used to make the jam, sauce and crumble kits). God is good,  He knew how to bless us.

Searched Pinterest for ideas and then modified them to make cards.

Sold jam, pickles, relish and some dishcloths for $50 total - just enough to pay for the craft supplies I've been wanting.

Found some silicone cake moulds at the op shop and bought them to use as soap moulds. Paid 50c, $1 or $2 (for the little loaf pans). I now have a nice assortment of pretty shapes: rounds, bars, scallops, teddy bears, santa, butterflies, hearts, rounds to use for soap making.

Parked around the corner from the hospital in free parking. All day parking is only (huh!) $10 a day, but  I've been there three days so far, with at least another four or five ahead. It was a bit of a walk but I figure the exercise is free too.

Cleaned out Mum's fridge and brought home a bottle of milk, some fruit and some vegetables that wouldn't last until she's home.

Took Mum a get well card from my stash and a new face washer and a pretty soap from the present box to use.

Fed the family from a modified meal plan and the very gratefully accepted replenished freezer meals (thank you, thank you, thank you card making ladies) while I was in hospital.

Was able to take meals to mum and my aunty who has come to stay with her for a couple of weeks until we're both back on our feet, from the freezer stash too. Again, saving money, but more saving the worry about them eating well.

Enjoyed a couple of days away over Easter, our last camping trip for a while. Bliss is the silence of the bush :)

Hannah went to Kmart on Easter Sunday and stocked up on Lindt Bunnies $2.25 each, half price, and other chocolate goodies. We now have our chocolate treats for birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day and Christmas for this year. All safely stashed in a box in my wardrobe.

Bought 10 packets of hot cross buns marked down to 50c a packet. Some in our freezer, some in Mum's freezer. These will see us through winter for weekend snacks.

With time on my hands and not being able to get about I've knitted some dishcloths, crocheted a couple of tea towels and made the cards for the April card swap.

Packaged up some boxes of cards into sets and donated them to the hospital kiosk to sell.

Very gratefully booked a wheelchair (free) at Knox City to make shopping a little easier with Mum on Thursday. She had appointments to get to, the boys took turns pushing her around and I didn't have to worry about her falling or feeling too ill. A great service and one I really appreciated this week.

Bought Borgs Puff Pastry 1kg for $2 (half price) at Woolworths. This is cheaper than Aldi pastry, and coming into winter we'll be making pies, pasties and sausage rolls for lunches. Having the pastry in the freezer means anyone can just thaw, cut and cook. MOO pies cost around 40c each to make if using leftovers, around 70c each if you use baked beans/spaghetti/tinned braised steak etc.Much cheaper than from a bakery and so good freshly made.

Made a triple batch of pie filling and froze two batches for winter pies.

Hannah was able to modify a card from the stash to use as a birthday card for a friend's two-year-old, saving at least $1.

Loved, loved, loved talking Cheapskating with the nurses in the ED, the lovely doctors on the ward and it was a treat to bump into a lovely lady whom I'd met earlier this year and catch up on how she and her daughter are changing to living the Cheapskates way. I hope you get well soon too!

The last month or so has been busy, and I've missed posting each week. Looking back I've still managed to get a bit done, although I haven't felt rushed or pushed at all.

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

02 April 2016

Cath's Meal Plan 3 - 9 April 2016

After a few weeks of glancing at the meal plan on the fridge and then making do, I think we're back on track!

Hopefully this next week will see everything back to normal, including our meals. The meal plan proved so worthwhile, especially on the days I wasn't around to be in charge. Whoever was around at tea time just checked the plan and then raided the fridge and pantry to come up with something similar.

Our replenished stash of freezer meals (thanks to the card making ladies) were a blessing too and took a lot of stress away. Just knowing that there was a dinner that just had to be thawed and heated meant on those really hectic nights no one was tempted to ring for pizza - a huge saving in money and I'm pretty sure good health.

So this coming week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Beef, baked potato, sweet potato, broccoli, carrots, gravy

Monday: Curried Tuna Slice, salad

Tuesday: Spaghetti and meatballs

Wednesday: Fish, potato gems & coleslaw

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Vegetables & Almonds, fried rice

Saturday: Spanish omelette

Hannah did some baking after work yesterday, our cake and biscuit tins were empty! We don't eat lot of cakes or biscuits but as soon as the tins are empty everyone is suddenly looking for a sweet treat.

She used some crumbs from the freezer to make a Lemon Coconut Slice and some Sweet Potato Chocolate Cupcakes, and that should see us through the week.

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01 April 2016

Quick and Easy Oats for Breakfast

For winter porridge, I prefer to use whole oats rather than quick oats (as they are lower GI), but find that they always boil over in the microwave so I have to watch them constantly. However, I inadvertently discovered that if I give the whole oats a short burst in the food processor before storing (not enough to make them into quick oats, but enough to get some fine particles) they never boil over in the microwave any more. I can happily pop a bowl in the microwave - even with milk - and walk away until they are done. For me, this is the difference between using oats because they are cheap and bought cereal because it is convenient.
Contributed by Megan Hooper

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