31 December 2017

A New Year, a New Diary

For a stationery addict like me just the thought of a brand new year sends shivers down my spine because a new year means a new diary.

A whole book, just waiting for me to fill in the blanks, map out plans for  the coming twelve months, set schedules and goals and stay organised.

I love my diary. It's nothing flash - I always use a school diary - they have enough space to write appointments and jot down notes, they are a week to a view, and have all the school and public holidays marked, as well as having space to note special projects, planning etc. But best of all they're sturdy and cheap, and fit neatly in my bag. So much better than any other diary I've tried over the years, and I've tried a few different brands and versions.

Last year I was given a beautiful planner, that has a removable cover, so the old planner has been slipped out and my new diary slipped in. It's pretty and makes me smile, and looks so much more grown-up than my little school diary. It has a nifty little slot for a pen (and yes, I have favourite pens too!) and pockets on the inside of the cover for important stuff like receipts that need to be filed.
One of my very favourite New Year's Eve traditions is shifting  information from my old diary to my new diary.

I mark in birthdays and other special events.

I add the work timetable for The Cheapskates Club.

I add my goals for the year (we have quite a few as a family, Wayne and I have some as a couple and I have some just for me).

I use the yearly planner section to keep track of important dates like birthdays, annual leave, special events etc. so I can see at a glance what's happening if I need to.

To keep it pretty, because I like pretty things, I use coloured markers and stickers to highlight different dates and important events.

Best of all, I use this diary. Every. Single. Day. Of. The. Year.  Because there's no point in taking the time on New Year's Eve to set up a lovely new diary/planner and not use it.

So do you get excited at the thought of a new diary?

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27 December 2017

The 2018 Boxing Day (non) Sales

Well,for the first time in I can't remember how many years, I haven't been near a shop since 8am Christmas Eve.

Now for a die-hard Boxing Day shopper, this is huge! I look forward to the Boxing Day sales from the 28th December every year. I save my mad money, my birthday and Christmas money, I shuffle the slush fund around so there is extra, the gift fund and the household funds get shuffled so that come Boxing Day I can get up as soon as the sun peeps over the horizon, dress in comfy clothes and shoes, eat a good, protein packed breakfast so I'll have the energy to battle other shoppers and then shop my list til everything is crossed off.

Well this year, starting as always in early December, I looked and looked and looked; in stores, online, in the junk mail to see if there was anything I/we needed, wanted, could use, would use, may use, could or would be a great gift so I could add those things to my Boxing Day shopping list and came up with nothing - nada - zilch!
My money is still in my purse, and it will be used on New Year's Day to buy the marked down groceries we will use.

The present box has birthday, Christmas, Mother's and Father's Day gifts until 2021, and upcoming engagement, wedding and 21st presents. The wrapping box is full to overflowing with paper, cards, ribbons, stickers, stamps and sticky tape. I've double checked the linen cupboard and towels, sheets, tea towels, hand towels, face washers, tablecloths, doyleys, are all in plentiful supply with new manchester ready to replace old. I definitely do not need any new dishes or glassware for the house. We don't even need any new camping gear.

I looked at the tech sales - nothing I need, and not really anything I want either, at least not enough to buy now.

I may have been tempted by shoes (I usually love the David Jones Boxing Day sale for my shoes) but I don't need them and I have shoes I've only worn a couple of times to get to still.
Hannah said I'm just being fussy and maybe I am but I don't like shopping, especially just for the sake of shopping and I am on a serious decluttering mission so bringing more "stuff" into the house isn't in the plan.

Buying things on sale is a great way to save money - duh! But if you're just shopping out of habit, and don't need or really want those things then that's a complete waste of money (and time and energy - shopping is hard work). 

And that applies all year round, not just for the Boxing Day sales.

Did you brave the Boxing Day sales yesterday? What bargains did you pick up? Did you shop with a plan or just randomly buy things you think you may use? Do you have a sale budget, especially for the Boxing Day sales?

01 December 2017

26 November 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 26 November - 2 December 2017

07 November 2017

The Week that Was 5th November 2017

I'm running late - again! Life gets in the way sometimes and posting gets pushed further and further back.

This week has been all over the place - as usual in a busy household of five. I think that it's life at it's very best, interesting, fun, loving and happy.

We all saved money, time and energy this week by:

Picking some roses from the garden to take to Mum.

Saving the shower warm-up water for the washing machine.

Drying the washing on the clothesline, using our free solar clothes dryer.

Cooking all meals from scratch, according to the meal plan, using ingredients on hand.

Making a double batch of Whole Orange Cup Cakes, using oranges from the freezer.

Making a double batch of Sweet Potato Chocolate Cup Cakes using sweet potato puree from the freezer.  Our local baker sells larger cupcakes for $2.60 each; four batches of cup- cakes cost $9.60 to make, so I've moved $50 to our savings account. This is a lot less than the cost of buying 48 cup-cakes, but there's no way I'd ever pay $124.80 for cup-cakes so I've shifted what I *might* pay in a pinch for a very special occasion for really spectacular cup-cakes.
Sweet Potato Chocolate Cup-Cakes Click through to Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing for the recipe
Sweet Potato Chocolate Cup-Cakes
Doing a very small top-up shop at Aldi, stuck to the list and came in under $20 for the week.

Using less than 1/4 tank of petrol so didn't need to top up (thank goodness, petrol is still expensive).

Making labels for Mum's new clothes using a fabric marker and white bias binding I had. I hand stitched them so they're nice and secure and won't come off in the laundry.

Planting out some lavender strikes I've been nursing along in pots. I saw them at the nursery for $8 each, and they were smaller so I've moved $48 to our savings account.

Celebrating Wayne's birthday with his favourite meal (baked beans on toast) and his favourite cake (passionfruit sponge) and dessert (lemon meringue pie and ice-cream) at home. He loved his birthday dinner and we all had a fun night. I made him a special birthday card, and the kids all gave him handmade cards too.

Shopping around for prescriptions and found my regular chemist was the cheapest for them, but Chemist Warehouse was cheaper for the over-the-counter medications needed. They're both in the same area so only one trip was needed.

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

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29 October 2017

The Week that Was 29th October 2017

The week that was 29th October 2017 Click through to read more

Not much conscious saving of money, time or energy done this week. I picked up a virus sometime over the weekend and spent most of the week in bed feeling sad and sorry for myself.

But, having a well-trained family, they managed to:

Cook all meals, using either freezer meals or ingredients on hand. Nothing fancy, but take away didn't appear once.

Dry the washing on the clothesline.

Do the weekly grocery top-up and stuck to the list.

Towards the end of the week:

I took advantage of a sale and Hannah's staff discount and ordered hair spray and dry shampoo. The hairspray is for me, the dry shampoo is for the Dignity Bags we're putting together. Saved 60% off RRP.

Didn't drive very far, so no need to get petrol this week (a good thing - it jumped up 32c a litre in the 20 minutes it took to drive past the service station, drop Hannah off and come back the other way!). I've put this week's petrol money into our holiday fund.

Put more fruit to soaking for two more Christmas cakes.

I made a batch of Christmas cupcakes.

I made a double batch of Miracle Spray.

I now own a mobile phone that won't need recharging every 4 hours, with more data, and 650 minutes a month international calls free, plus a $25 discount on my first bill and two movie tickets (I see a date night in my future) and all for $3.71 LESS that what I've been paying.

Wayne cooked our roast on the barbecue (we decided to stick to the meal plan and have a roast), so no need to use the oven - keeping the house cool and saving on electricity.

Downloaded free ebooks for my Kindle.

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27 October 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 29th October - 4th November 2017

Muffin Surprise Cheapskates Club Easy Meals Recipe File Click through for the recipe
Muffin Surprise - a Saturday night favourite in our home
This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Mexican Meatballs

Tuesday: Refrigerator Lasagne

Wednesday: Tandoori chicken, salad, naan bread

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Hamburgers

Saturday: Muffin Surprise

In the cake tin:  Fruit cakes, shortbread

Muffin Surprise

My kids say the surprise part is that it is always different.

Toast one or two English muffins per person. Top with any combination of the following, depending on what you have in the pantry, fridge and freezer.

  • sliced cheese
  • sliced tomato
  • mushrooms
  • baked beans 
  • tinned spaghetti
  • left over spag bol 
  • egg (boiled, poached, fried or scrambled) 
  • ham 
  • bacon 
  • sliced deli meats
  • hollandaise sauce

 - whatever takes your fancy.

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24 October 2017

The flash sale has finished, but you can still
join the Cheapskates Club for just $36.50 for the first year and learn the secrets to living life debt free, cashed up and laughing!

20 October 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 22nd - 28th October 2017

Baked Honey Mustard Chicken Click through for this quick and easy, tasty and cheap recipe
Baked Honey Mustard Chicken - a quick and easy, tasty and cheap dinner for fussy families and busy nighs

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Beef

Monday: Schnitzels, vegetables, tomato gravy

Tuesday: Gnocchi in Alfredo Sauce

Wednesday: Spicy baked chicken pieces, potato bake, broccoli

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Tacos

Saturday: Kebabs with salad, tabouli, hommos

In the fruit bowl: bananas

Baked Honey Chicken

A few weeks back chicken fillets were cheap - very cheap - so I took advantage of both the sale and a healthy slush fund and stocked up. We really like chicken, but it can get boring very quickly if it's just the same old crumbed schnitzels meal after meal. This Baked Honey Chicken solves the problem. It is tasty, quick and a simple one pan dinner that uses just four basic pantry ingredients.

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Dijon style mustard*
1 tsp dried basil
4 chicken breast fillets, skin off**

Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Line a baking dish with foil. Whisk together the honey, mustard and basil in a small mixing bowl. Place the chicken fillets into the baking dish. Pour the sauce over the top to evenly cover the chicken. Bake 30 minutes or until the chicken juices run clear when the chicken is poked with a fork.   Serve over steamed rice or steamed vegetables.

*We prefer wholegrain mustard so I substitute it for Dijon. I buy the Aldi wholegrain mustard.
**To make chicken fillets go further, I often dice them. Two large chicken breast fillets, diced, will give six serves - five for dinner and one for the freezer - for my family.
If I don't have chicken fillets, I use drumsticks or maryland pieces.
If it is too hot to use the oven, cook the chicken fillets on the barbecue - they're just as tasty and the kitchen won't heat up.

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17 October 2017

My Cleaning Stockpile

My Cleaning Stockpile - click through to Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing to see 11 common household products that keep our home sparkling and clean year round
A few common household products can keep the house clean for a year - for around $20!
Not too many prepared cleaning products are used in our home. In fact aside from dishwasher powder and dishwashing detergent, and laundry soaker, everything else is made from ingredients I keep in the cleaning stockpile.

From these ingredients I can keep our whole home clean and fresh, and do all our laundry.

Yesterday I made a double batch of Miracle Spray. Wayne used it to clean some mildew off a tent we were given, with great results. It cleaned the mildew stains and didn't bleach the canvas.

This morning I filled a dishwasher detergent bottle with water and topped it up with full strength detergent - two bottles of dishwashing detergent for the price of one and it works just as well at half-strength as it does at full strength. As an aside, I noticed on Friday that Aldi have dropped the price of their dishwashing concentrate again - it's down to $1.59 a bottle.

Between Christmas and New Year I'll be doing my cleaning stockpile shop to see us through 2018, so a list of what's needed has been started.

So what's in my cleaning stockpile?

  • Bicarbonate Soda
  • Borax
  • Citric acid
  • Dishwasher powder
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Laundry soap 
  • Lavender oil
  • Scrub buds
  • Washing Soda
  • White vinegar

Where do I buy cleaning ingredients?

Borax and dishwashing detergent come from Aldi (the borax is a special buy - keep an eye open in the catalogue for when it comes on sale as it's around half the price of borax from the supermarket and in a reasonably sized tub).

Laundry soap and dishwasher powder come from Coles. They are both generic. You'll find laundry soap in the cleaning aisle, usually on either the very top shelf or the very bottom shelf near the laundry powders.

Dishwasher powder is normally on the bottom shelf with the dishwasher powders.

Eucalyptus oil and lavender oil I buy direct from Bosistos. They have great sales and this year they had a 4 litre bottle that I was able to share with friends that brought the cost down to $23 a litre - the cheapest price at the time for pure eucalyptus oil.

Citric acid and washing soda come in 5kg buckets direct from Aurora Cleaning Supplies.

White vinegar I buy at Aldi.

Bicarbonate soda can be bought in 5kg bags from Costco. If you don't have a Costco membership then you can buy it from pool shops under the name "ph buffer". Just be prepared to have to buy it in bulk - perhaps you could share it with a couple of friends.

What do I make with these ingredients?

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13 October 2017

Meal Plan 15th - 21st October 2017

Snickerdoodles a Christmas favourite at  Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing Click through for the recipe
Snickerdoodles - the addition of red and green sprinkles turns these ordinary biscuits into yummy Christmas Snickerdoodles
The kitchen has been busy this week, with a head start on Christmas baking. Fruit cakes have been baked, puddings have been steamed and lots and lots of biscuit dough has been added to the freezer.

We love snickerdoodles at any time, but the addition of the coloured sprinkles makes them extra special Christmas Snickerdoodles. As we only have them at Christmastime, we never tire of them.

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Sausage Wellingtons & veg

Tuesday: Spaghetti pie, tossed green salad

Wednesday: Chicken parmigiana, salad, French fries

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Stir-fry

Saturday: Enchiladas

Christmas Snickerdoodles

2 tbsp red sprinkles
1 tbsp ground cinnamon, divided
2 tbsp green sprinkles
1-1/2 cups sugar
125g cooking margarine*
125g butter, softened
2 eggs
2-3/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/4 tsp salt

Heat oven to 205 degrees Celsius.
Prepare the sprinkles:  Get out 2 shallow bowls. In one put the red sprinkles and 1-1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, in the other put the green sugar sprinkles and remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Mix the sprinkles and cinnamon together; set aside.
Prepare the dough:  In large bowl, put the sugar, shortening, butter, and eggs and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cream of tartar, bicarb soda, and salt.
With electric mixer running on low, slowly add the flour mixture until incorporated and a dough forms.
Using a melon baller or teaspoon, shape balls out of the dough, about 2 to 3cm in diameter.
Roll the balls of dough through the sugar sprinkle mixtures, some in each combinations of colours, or as you like.
Place the dough balls on an ungreased biscuit tray, keeping about 5cm between each one.
Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove and let cool on biscuit tray for 1 minute, then remove to a cooling rack.
Let cool completely before putting away.

*I use Fairy cooking margarine in this recipe. Don't be tempted to increase the butter, the recipe won't be the same. The cooking margarine helps to make the dough lighter and the finished biscuit crisper.

**You'll find red and green sprinkles with the Christmas baking supplies at your local supermarket, or at any store that sells cake decorating supplies. I bought mine on clearance after Christmas last year and kept them in the freezer until I was ready to use them.

08 October 2017

My Non-Food Stockpiles

My Non-Food Stockpile Click through to see what's in my non-food related stockpiles

Not everything in my stockpile is food related, although food was the reason I started stockpiling.

I stockpile toiletries, cleaning products, garden needs, gifts, clothes and lots of other things to save money, save time when shopping and to ensure that if disaster strikes again we will be able to eat and stay clean, keep the house clean, the garden growing and celebrate, amongst other things.

Right now in my non-food pantry stockpile you'll find:

Oven bags
Freezer bags
Vacuum bags (for the Foodsaver, not the vacuum cleaner!)
Baking paper
Patty pans of various sizes
Freezer paper
Paper bags
Foil trays
Plastic tablecloths

In the cleaning stockpile you'll find:

Laundry soap
Washing Soda
Bicarbonate Soda
Citric Acid
Eucalyptus oil
Lavender oil
Ti Tree oil
Ocedar furniture oil
White vinegar
Dishwashing detergent
Dishwasher powder
Scrub buds
Spare gas lighters (2)
Bug spray

In the toiletries stockpile:

Toothbrush heads (for the electric toothbrushes)
Dental floss
Hair spray
BB cream
Lip balm
Shaving cream
Dove bars
Body cream

In the first aid stockpile:

Bandaids of various shapes and sizes
Burn cream
Burn dressings
Betadine gargle
Antiseptic cream
Antiseptic wipes
Elastic bandages
Eye bath
Water purification tablets

In the garden stockpile you'll find:

Lots of different types of seeds
Icy pole sticks to use as plant markers
Torn sheets to use as ties
Brass hose fittings (2 spare sets)

In the clothing stockpile (these days I only stockpile for Wayne and myself) you'll see:

Long sleeved t-shirts
Track pants (for Wayne)
Warm winter jackets (bought at Aldi on half-price clearance - $9.95 each!)

In the gift stockpile you'll find:

Wrapping paper
Gift bags (new)
Gift bags (recycled)
Cards & envelopes (birthday, thank you, thinking of you etc.)
Gift cards  & envelopes
Gift tags
Sticky tape
Double-sided tape
Curling Ribbon
And lots of things for presents, but because the recipients read my blog, I'm not listing them!

As you can see by my lists, stockpiles aren't just for food, they can be for anything you use.

What non-food items do you stockpile?

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04 October 2017

Mixed Dried Fruit Price Comparison

Christmas Cake - I make at least six each year just for Christmas Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing Click through for the best deals on ingredients
Christmas Cake - I make at least six each year just for Christmas
Aldi has mixed dried fruit, raisins, currants and glace cherries as special buys starting from today. If you're wondering if they are cheaper than Coles or Woolworths, here are the prices. I've also included Hindustan Imports for the cherries because that's where I buy them from, two kilos at a time (they freeze so they won't crystallise in the pantry).
Mixed Dried Fruit - which one is cheaper and where can you get it?

Mixed Dried Fruit*

Aldi: $4.95/kg
Woolworths:  Sunbeam $8.60/kg
Coles: Sunbeam $9.52/kg
Hindustan: N/A

Glace cherries - red**

Hindustan: $2.76/200g; $3.45/250g; $11.50/kg
Aldi: $2.49/200g; $12.45/kg
Woolworths: Winn Glace Cherries $4.50/200g; $22.40/kg
Coles: Winn Glace Cherries  $5.50/200g; $27.50/kg

*I've compared branded fruit with the Aldi fruit because it is closer to the quality of the branded product than the generic. I've tried both Coles and Woolworths brand dried mixed fruits and found them lacking.

**Hindustan wins on the per kilo price, coming in at $11.50/kg, while Aldi is the cheapest for the 200g packets at $2.49. If you don't use glace cherries often, then buying them from Aldi will be better value for you. I buy them in 2kg lots, portion them into 500g packs and freeze them until they need to go to the pantry. I use glace cherries a lot through the year, not just at Christmas time.

01 October 2017

The Week that Was 1st October 2017

Six Minute Microwave Lemon Butter from the Cheapskates Club Jams and Spreads Recipe File Click through for the recipe
Six Minute Microwave Lemon Butter
Gratefully received a bag of lemons so on Monday I made three lemon meringue pies (two went into the freezer), a batch of Six Minute Lemon Butter and two bottles of lemon cordial.

While I was making pastry I made some small pastry cases and made two dozen fruit mince pies. They're in the shops already so I figured we may as well be enjoying them too - December is still a long way off!

The weather has been iffy - windy enough to dry washing but lots of showers about, so the clotheshorses haven't been put away yet.

It has been warm enough to let the fire go out, so it has been cleaned, the glass cleaned and I used vinegar and hot water to scrub the hearth. Here's hoping we won't need to light it again until next winter.

I was able to buy a box of bananas for $9.99 so some went into the freezer for later. I made banana ice-cream with some. Others were used to make banana bread and choc chip banana muffins, and three of my favourite Banana and Sultana Loaves. Once they were cool they were all sliced and wrapped and put into the freezer.
Fruit and Banana Loaf from the Cheapskates Club Cakes Recipe File Click through for the recipe
Fruit and Banana Loaf
I did a pantry stocktake to make sure I have everything to make the Christmas cakes and puddings. The only thing I need is glace cherries, which I'll get from Hindustan Imports when I'm over that way next (about a fortnight).

Aldi have their mixed dried fruit on as a special buy, starting Wednesday. This fruit is lovely, and at $4.99/kg is amazing value (up to half the price of mixed dried fruit from the supermarket). I have on my list to pick up 12. That's enough for the Christmas cakes and puddings and fruit cakes through the year. I hope there's enough left when I get there, I can't be there when the store opens.

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

30 September 2017

It's time to spring forward for 2017!

Don't forget to put your clocks FORWARD one hour before you go to bed tonight.

Daylight Saving starts at 2am, with clocks being put forward one hour to 3am.

29 September 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 1st - 7th October 2017

 Cath's Meal Plan - Slow Cooker Chicken Curry on the menu this week on Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing Click through for the recipe
Slow Cooker Chicken Curry
This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Fishcakes, gems, coleslaw

Tuesday: Spag bol

Wednesday: Chicken Curry, rice

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Hamburgers

BBQ Sausage sandwiches

In the fruit bowl:  bananas

In the cake tin:  Banana cake, choc chip muffins

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

1 medium onion chopped
2 chicken breast fillets, skin removed and cut into cubes
4 large carrots cut into thick slices
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 can coconut cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup fresh or frozen peas

Place all ingredients except peas into the slow cooker and stir.  Cook on LOW for 8 hours.  Add the peas 30 minutes before serving. Serve over steamed rice.

This is chicken curry is so easy - just toss everything in the slow cooker and let it simmer all day. About 20 minutes before you want to eat, steam some rice and dinner is done.

It's cheap too, costing around $4.60 for six big serves (or 76 cents a serve).

I can get the price down by using chicken fillets bought on sale, onions, carrots and tomatoes all bought on sale, Aldi coconut cream and frozen peas and MOO chicken stock.

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22 September 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 24 - 30 September 2017

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

Sunday: Roast Beef

Monday: Herbed meatballs in tomato sauce

Tuesday: Mushroom & Parmesan Risotto

Wednesday: Chicken & mushroom pie, steamed vegetables

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Tacos

Saturday: Tomato Vegetable Soup, toasted crumpets

In the fruit bowl:  bananas, strawberries

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

Herbed Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

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

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

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

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20 September 2017

How and Why I Started Making Washing Powder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheapskates Washing Powder

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

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

Mix together and store in a sealed container.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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