29 June 2016

Cheapskating on Autopilot

There are some days I wish I had more hands!

These days the things I do to save us money have become such ingrained habits that I don’t even realise I’m doing them – they’re all done on autopilot. So, when I was asked to talk about the everyday things, I had to stop and think - really think - because most of them I just do without conscious thought.

*I automatically check for the markdowns in the meat cabinets as I zip through Aldi, Tasman and now Australian Butchers.

*I automatically put the veggie water into a container in the fridge to use as a soup base or to make gravy or stock later in the week.

*I automatically put the leftovers from dinner into a container and freeze it for a future easy meal (we're a family of five and most of my recipes make at least six serves so there's always at least one left). These then become free meals for nights when we're running late or can't be bothered cooking.

*I automatically hang the washing outside in the sunshine and wind. The sun is a free stain remover and deodoriser, the washing smells divine after being sun-dried.

*I automatically go to the op shop/$2 shop/discount shops first – 9 times out of 10 I find what I’m looking for.

*I automatically turn lights off when I leave a room.

*I automatically dress in layers so the heater can stay off longer.

*I automatically open the drapes wide on winter days when the sun is shining to warm the house, and automatically close them again as soon as the sun starts to go down about 5pm.

*I automatically close the drapes and windows tight early in the morning during summer to keep the heat out and open them wide as soon as the sun has gone down to let the cool in.

*I automatically look for the ‘specials’ at the fruit and veg shop – and plan our meals around them.

*I automatically look for items to put into the Present Box – it’s nearly always full of gifts, cards and wrapping.

*I automatically cook more than one thing at a time in the oven – all shelves are used while the oven is on.

*I automatically turn the gas off once the pot has come to the boil and let the veggies sit to steam.

*I automatically put the veggie peelings into the compost.

*I automatically do the mending as soon as it becomes necessary.

*I automatically ‘turn’ sheets when they wear out.

*I automatically overlock the frayed edges of towels, face washers and bathmats as the hems unravel.

*I automatically put old sports socks into the cleaning cupboard to use as dusters etc.

*I automatically use microfibre cloths and Miracle Spray for cleaning – instead of hundreds of other more expensive cleaning products.

*I automatically split the toothpaste tube and get at least another two days' worth of toothpaste out of it. I do this with all tubes - make-up, hand cream, even the condensed milk we use when camping.

*I automatically cook from scratch rather than order home delivery or go out for take-away.

*I automatically recycle plastic bags – use the grocery bags for rubbish, rinse out and dry the fruit and veg bags to use in the fridge and freezer (I don’t recycle plastic bags that have had meat or chicken in them).

*I automatically wash and dry the foam trays that some foods come on to use as plates for pot-lucks, mixing paint or glue when crafting etc.

*I automatically put foods into Tupperware containers rather than using plastic wrap – I’ve had a 100 metre roll of plastic wrap for at least 6 years!

*I automatically turn the sauce bottle upside down, rinse out the tomato soup can and scrape the cream bottle and peanut butter jar with a spatula.

*I automatically use the butter wrappers to grease cake tins.

*I automatically check the price of petrol – and fill up when I see it at its lowest for the week.

*I automatically compare prices and sizes – carrying a calculator makes working out the per gram price easy if it's not on the label (and it's easier than fiddling with the calculator on my phone).

*I automatically catch the cold water in the showers and use it in the washing machine.

*I automatically save used tea bags to use as firelighters.

*I automatically add fruit and veggie peelings to the worm farm and compost bin.

*I automatically save coffee grounds to add to the compost and worm farm.

*I automatically darn holey socks before buying new ones.

*I automatically save paper bags to be re-used.

These are just a few of the things that I do on autopilot. I don't do them all every day or even every week, but I do them without thinking.

They all save us money, some only a few cents at a time, but at the end of the day, it all adds up. If I can save just $1 a day, I’ve saved $365 in one year!

And that’s three days that I don’t have work – it’s three more days I can spend with my family!

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26 June 2016

The Week that Was

Wonder of wonders, today is Sunday and I'm actually posting my week that was.

The days go so quickly I really need to write down the things I do to save money, time and energy each day, or even as I do them!

Persevered with a particular card I want to make for a special birthday - here's the sixth incarnation.

3D baby grand piano card
I've saved the shower water and used it in the washing machine or to mop the floors or to water the indoor plants.

We've cooked all our meals from scratch, using ingredients we had in the pantry, fridge or freezer.

Gave AJ a discount docket for petrol and my Flybuys card so he could fill his car at the cheaper price and get me the points - I have enough for $60 in Coles vouchers, now I'm just waiting until they actually have something on sale worth stocking up.

Gave Wayne a big kiss and hug for the beautiful roses he bought me "just because".

A few weeks ago I broke my favourite vase, so I'm re-purposing a green Ball jar as a vase for these beautiful roses Wayne brought me on Thursday
Continued with the double batch cooking to stock freezer meals. This week I added ravioli pasta bake, curried chicken and quiche to the freezer.

Made a batch of pies for tea last night - they weren't on the meal plan but were requested. 500g mince, 1 onion, some sliced mushrooms and gravy made 14 pies for a cost of $7.20 or 51 cents each.

Used my membership card at the chemist and save 15% on the cost of my medication.

Returned an item to Coles for a refund because I found it cheaper at another store in the same Centre (saving $8!). The woman was a little perturbed that I'd found it cheaper but I was able to show her the docket as I'd already bought it.

Downloaded 23 free ebooks for my kindle from hundredzeroes.com.

Really enjoyed talking to two lovely women in Aldi. It was a pleasure to meet you both and I hope you say hello next time we bump into each other.

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

24 June 2016

Meal Plan 26 June - 2 July 2016

Mac'n'Cheese, quick and easy a on of my family's favourite treat dinners
Sunday: Roast Beef

Monday: Sweet & Sour Chicken & noodles

Tuesday: Curried sausages, rice

Wednesday: Swiss schnitzels, steamed veg

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Deluxe macaroni cheese, tossed salad

Saturday: Cheese pancakes & salad

23 June 2016

Fruity Tea Cake

I apologise in advance for another recipe post, they seem to be the theme this week.

Pamela messaged me a few days ago asking for the recipe for the fruit cake with ginger ale in it. Here it is! It is so simple, just three ingredients, but it tastes divine, is moist and never lasts long in our house.

This really is the cheapest, quickest and easiest fruit cake you'll ever make. Slice and serve with butter or freeze for a quick grab-n-go snack.

Fruity Tea Cake

2 cups cold tea (or dry ginger ale or chocolate milk)
2 cups mixed dried fruit
2 cups SR flour

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.

Variation: This is so good, it adds a little zing to the cake. Substitute dry ginger ale for the cold tea, then follow the recipe. The cake is moist with just a hint of ginger - delicious.  Or use chocolate milk for a change and enjoy the chocolaty treat.

Cost: $2.36

The ingredients I use in this cake all come from Aldi: tea bags, self-raising flour and mixed dried fruit. The cost will go up if you shop at another supermarket buying branded ingredients. If you use generic ingredients the cost will be around the same, with the dried fruit being the variable.

If you use generic dry ginger ale the cost will be approximately $2.60.

22 June 2016

How to Cut Back on Household Expenses: Heating

There’s nothing cheap about running a household as all facets of it require us to spend money. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t find an affordable way to run your household. In fact, you may be surprised to find that you’re spending more money than necessary in several areas of your household expenses. Below are a few areas where you may be able to cut back your household expenses.

We all spend money heating our homes during the cooler months, which can add up to quite a bit of money over the year. There are ways to reduce these expenses though and they are all simple things anyone can do.

·Use ceiling fans – Use ceiling fans to force warm air down. Some ceiling fans have a reverse switch, others you need to reverse the blades to drag the hot air down from the ceiling.

·Close unnecessary vents – Many of us have vents in our homes that don’t need to be open because we’re seldom in the room. Close those vents and you’ll instantly save money.

·Close doors to rooms you aren't using. - There's no point in heating rooms you aren't using. Keep the doors closed most of the time. Open the doors one day a week to air the room and keep it from getting damp.

·Change filters regularly – Stay on top of changing your airconditioner filters regularly. You should be changing them every 30-60 days during heavy use.

·Open curtains and blinds – During cooler months, keep your curtains and blinds open during the day. This allows the sun’s rays to naturally heat up your home. Close curtains and blinds during hot summer months to keep cool air in.

·Close curtains and blinds - During cooler months close the curtains and blinds as soon as the sun starts to go down. Warm air will be trapped in the house and they'll block the cold coming through the windows.

·Use space Heaters – Space heaters  are a great way to supplement your central heating, which helps lower energy costs.

·Bring out the throws and knee rugs - Cover up of an evening with a throw or rug and keep the thermostat on the heater turned down. You'll be warm and cosy without affecting your heating bill.

·Check around windows and doors for draughts - You'd be amazed at just how much cold can sneak in through gaps around windows and doors. Seal them up with specialist tape you can get from any good hardware shop. It's a simple DIY job, the tape isn't expensive and it will save you a lot of money all year round.

·Use draught stoppers or sausages - A sausage against exterior doors will keep draughts out. Again, they'll not only keep cold (or hot in summer) air out but save you money.

21 June 2016

What to do with a Glut of Sausages

Other than barbecuing or grilling and serving with onion gravy, what can you do with a glut of sausages? I was pondering this very question on Saturday night after we'd been very generously given lots and lots and lots of sausages.

Here's the list I came up with:
Quick Curried Sausages
Colleen's Sausage Casserole
Crumbed Sausages
Sausage Wellingtons
Sausages in Plum Sauce
Paprika Sausages with Mushrooms
Sticky Sausages
Sausage Neopolitana
Barbecue Sausages
Sausages with onion/mushroom/pepper gravy
Sausage Bolognese
Sausage Stew

Sausages are an inexpensive meal. Not one to be had often, they can be a little on the fatty side, but cooked properly and served with lots of steamed veggies or salad they are a tasty addition to meal plans.

What is your favourite way to enjoy sausages?

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19 June 2016

The Week that Was

I'm playing catch up - again!

Life gets so busy around here, some days I wonder where the day has gone as I climb into bed.

Over the last couple of weeks I've been busy organising care for my mother. For those who have done this, you'll understand just how time consuming and difficult it can be, trying to find somewhere we feel comfortable caring for  a loved one. I'm still looking - and it's not that I'm being fussy (I am) but that there aren't a lot of vacancies at the moment. Right now we're taking each day as it comes and praying for guidance and a solution that works for Mum.

We've also had the fire going non-stop burning firewood we've collected. This means we're not using the ducted heating unless it has been very cold and this should give me a credit in the gas category at the end of winter.

We’ve all collected the water from showers and the kitchen sink to use in the washing machine. I also tipped the water from the water dispenser into the washing machine (we used it on Saturday for cards).

We've eaten home cooked, from scratch meals using ingredients from the fridge, freezer and stockpile.

Re-purposed a toothbrush holder into a vase for our bathroom. It's perfect - the holes make the ideal "frog" for holding the stems in place.

Bought petrol from Woolworths using Hannah's Rewards discount - it was 4 cents a litre cheaper than anywhere else locally - and then I realised it had been three weeks since I'd put petrol in my car. What a difference staying home and planning trips makes.

Spent $12 at the op shop on a new, tags still on, black overcoat for me.

Used my spending money to buy three tapestry canvases, again from the op shop, for $25 for the three. I know these canvasses retail for $85 each; I've never been able to justify buying them before. Now to get Wayne to put my frame together and I'll have my winter evenings full of stitching. Saving: $220 (or at least $220 I didn't spend). I have plenty of wools, cottons and silks to work them. Now to plan them and start stitching.

Hosted our card making group and learned how to make easel cards and shabby chic cards. Cost: materials from my craft stash. It was a lovely afternoon and my card box has increased by eight new cards.

Made a double batch of MOO Taco Seasoning.

Made six dozen sausage rolls, cost $9 or 13 cents each.

Made three dozen mini quiche, cost $4.25 or 12 cents each.

Used the slow cooker to make a big pot of minestrone using pasta and sad veggies from the fridge; made pumpkin soup and beef and vegetable soup. What we haven't eaten has been frozen.

Fed the worm farm with veggie peelings from the kitchen.

Picked lettuce and capsicums from the garden.

Picked oranges, grapefruit and mandarins off the fruit trees.  Waiting for the lemons and limes to ripen.

Opened the curtains on sunny days to warm the lounge room, and made sure the blinds and drapes are closed by 5pm to keep the night cold out.

What have you been doing to save money, time and energy?

17 June 2016

Meal Plan 19 - 25 2016

Herb Rissoles - use fresh herbs from your garden to create your favourite flavour combination
This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Pasta bake, tossed salad, garlic bread

Tuesday: Herb rissoles, steamed vegetables

Wednesday: Fish Alaska*

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Cream cheese patties, steamed veg

Saturday: Lamb souvlaki

*Fish Alaska is a recipe from Annette Sym's Symply Too Good to be True.

10 June 2016

Meal Plan 12 - 18 June 2016

Old fashioned pot roast - one of my favourite winter meals
This week I've made a big pot (I used my stockpot) of chicken soup. I used stock I made from the chicken carcass from Sunday's roast, and a small amount, perhaps 100g, of very finely shredded chicken meat, also from the roast. I put in a grated zucchini that was looking sad and some grated sweet potato as well as the usual celery, onion and carrot. I put the sweet potato in because the piece wasn't big enough to feed all of us as a vegetable or to steam and mash for chocolate cake. The soup is delicious!

We have pot roast scheduled for Wednesday night. I love this meal, it's so simple to make, but tastes like it takes hours and hours. It does cook for a long time, but my input is about 20 minutes all up - my number one reason for loving it.

Next week we'll be eating:

Sunday: Roast Lamb

Monday: French shepherd's pie, steamed greens

Tuesday: Spaghetti Bolognese, salad, garlic bread

Wednesday: Pot roast, veggies

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Enchiladas, tossed salad

Saturday: Homemade hamburgers

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07 June 2016

Meal Plan 5th - 11th June 2016

Homemade Chicken Fried Rice - delicious, cheap and a great way to use up leftovers
Winter is here with a vengeance so I've made a big pot of meat and vegetable soup and another big pot of pumpkin soup and we've been having soup for lunch all week.  I use MOO stock (either beef, lamb, chicken or vegetable - depends on the type of soup) to make our soups and they are always so rich and tasty. Even Wayne, who most definitely is not a soup fan, enjoys my homemade soups.

The chicken we'll be enjoying on Sunday is huge - the biggest chicken I've ever bought so it will well and truly feed us for at least three meals with meat, as well as making soup (perfect for the long weekend next weekend).  Our roasts always do at least two meals, often more. When I can stretch them to two or more meals it makes a roast affordable (for our budget).

This week we will be eating (apart from lots of soup):

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Beef casserole, mash, peas

Tuesday: Wellington loaf, steamed veggies

Wednesday: Chicken fried rice, spring rolls

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Refrigerator Lasagne, tossed salad

Saturday: Haystacks