30 April 2017

The Week that Was 30th April 2017

This week has been frugal and then as you read on, you'll wonder how I can say that, but it has been. Every cent we've spent has been planned and budgeted so there are no nasty shocks. We even cover unexpected expenses by having an emergency fund (we haven't had any emergencies, just saying we're prepared and you could be too).

I've stuck to the Bare Bones Grocery Challenge I set myself. $25 a week for top-up groceries. It is amazing how having a few extra groceries in the pantry and freezer can stop you going to the supermarket or the corner store or even the local take-away joint.

The weather in Melbourne has been typical. I was able to line dry washing until Wednesday, when the heavens opened and down came the rain, and out came the clotheshorses.
As the rain came down, so did the temperature, so we lit the fire to warm the house and help dry the washing.

I did a lot of cooking and baking in preparation of going away, using only ingredients on hand.
Hannah cut my hair for me, saving $35 at the hairdresser.

We were able to talk to AJ over Skype and Facebook totally free of charge. He was able to send us photos of his trip each day, again over Facebook, free of charge. He also called us twice to use the free call allowance on his phone plan. I'd warned him not to come home with a huge phone bill and he and Wayne spent a couple of hours getting his plan sorted for international calls and data before he left. I think my horror stories of thousands of dollars in roaming charges had him scared witless, as only a mother can do.

I had a list from a friend who doesn't have an Aldi near-by so Thomas and I did her Aldi shopping for her and Wayne and I dropped it off on our way past on Thursday. Payment was a delicious morning tea that turned into lunch, with leftovers packed up and given to us to enjoy on our travels (and we did).

Hannah gave us another 10c off fuel docket and we used it to fill up in Sydney, where petrol is 11c a litre cheaper than Melbourne.

I waited until we were leaving Sydney to do a quick fresh bread and veg shop so we could eat well while we are camping. I passed on the tomatoes at $8.96/kg - the price rise a product of Cyclone Debbie I'm thinking.

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

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28 April 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 30/04/2017 - 06/05/2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Fish, wedges, coleslaw

Tuesday: Refrigerator Lasagne

Wednesday: Chicken enchiladas

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Stir-fry

Saturday: Boston Baked Beans

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23 April 2017

The Week that Was 23rd April 2017

This week has been very frugal, even with the Easter holiday.

I started a Bare Bones Grocery Challenge this week. I need to restock the stockpile, so eating what we have on hand will free up some grocery money to help with that.

I still haven't made it to Aldi to do the shopping on my list, hopefully I'll be able to put it off until Wednesday when I'll be shopping for a fortnight and our trip.

I've taken photos to list a few things for sale on eBay which Hannah will help me do. I have a Bendigo Potter dinner setting for six, complete with accessories (even the margarine container), that I love but never use. It was a very generous gift, and I really appreciate it, but I don’t use any of it so it's time to move it on. I also have some glassware and crystal I don't use that will hopefully be going to a good home soon and this money will be used to help rebuild the stockpile.

We are heading off to a reunion on Thursday morning and will be away for 11 days so I've been making up a meal plan, based on my yearly plan, that uses only what is already in the house for the kids (AJ will be home from his trip Thursday afternoon) and our trip.

I've vacuum sealed and frozen meal packs of veggies for roasts.

Dried the washing on the line in-between rainy days.

Turned the sprinklers off for the year. I'm thinking that now the days are cool and the nights cooler, and we're getting semi-regular rain, we don't need to pay for watering the garden anymore.

All the usual things: collected shower water, cooked meals from scratch, turned lights and power points off etc.

Filled the Patrol with petrol using a Flybuys offer, a 4c discount voucher and another 4 cents off for buying in-store. Wayne bought kindling for the reunion to make up the dollar amount needed. All up 14 cents per litre off - made a huge difference. And I managed to catch the price right before it went up again after Easter.

Made a birthday card for a friend using materials I had.

Took a load of kitchen items to St. Vinnies and cleared a cupboard in the kitchen.

Made a 3 ingredient fruit cake mix and baked it as cupcakes for Wayne's lunches this week.

Last card day Joy generously gave me a big bag of tapestry wool. I sat and sorted it and matched colours this week, ready to use on a canvas I have this winter.

Filled a tin I had with hand cream, emery boards, soap, a nail brush and a trimmed face washer as a thank-you gift for a friend who travels a lot. Everything was already in the present box.

Made some pretty jars to use for a Christmas gift. I'll post the how to later this week - so simple, great fun to do and they look amazing!

Wayne was able to service and make a simple repair on the winch for the Patrol. Saved a service fee and the cost of the repairs - approximately $240, but the biggest saving was on the front diff and hubs. He and a friend spent Easter Monday working on them. Cost of parts was $671.75, saving approximately $1,200 over having a mechanic do the work. Thank you to YouTube, Google and old fashioned handbooks.

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

21 April 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 23/04/2017 - 29/04/2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Lamb

Monday: Italian Vegetarian Meatballs, rice

Tuesday: Vegetable Lasagne

Wednesday: Curried sausages, mashed potato, peas, carrot, corn

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Haystacks

Saturday: Toasted sandwiches & soup

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The Bare Bones Grocery Challenge Week 1

I've posted a Bare Bones Grocery Challenge in the April Journal to help with finding cash to rebuild the grocery stockpile.

Yesterday I did a lot of inventories - fridge, freezers and pantry - with Tom's help.
Here's what we have in the house at the moment:


Pie Apple
Fruit Salad
Tomato Soup
Cream of Chicken Soup
Baked Beans
Black beans
Refried Beans
Pizza Sauce
Tinned Spaghetti
Pie Apricots
Apricot nectar

Cereals, Flours, Sugars, Baking Supplies, Powder & Tinned Milk:

SR Flour
Plain Flour
White Sugar
Brown Sugar
Icing Sugar
Powdered Milk
Gluten Flour
Wholemeal Spelt (Plain)
Dried Fruit - Sultanas, Mixed Fruit, Apricots, Prunes, Raisins, Craisins, Peel
Rolled Oats
Wheat Biscuits
Quick Oats
All Bran
Shredded Wheat
Ground Rice

Pasta, Rice, Noodles, Beans, Soup Mixes etc.:

Rice x 15kg
Spaghetti x 18kg
Noodles x 3kg
Lasagne Sheets x 2 boxes


Mint Tea
Coffee Pods
Hot Chocolate Drink Mix

Condiments, spices, herbs, sauces, dressings:

Peanut Butter x 8
Honey x 2
Vegemite x 2
Jam x 37
Tomato Sauce x 2
Barbecue Sauce x 10
Mayo x 11
Olive Oil x 4L
Salt x 2kg

Here's what's in the freezer:

Meat, Chicken, Fish:

Mince x 10 meals
Steak x 3 meals
Chops x 2 meals
Corned Beef x 5
Sausages x 2 meals
Whole Chickens x 3
Chicken fillets x 17 meals
Roast Beef x 1
Leg of Lamb x 2
Crumbed fish fillets x 1 meal

Prepared Meals, Sauces:

Pasta Sauce  x 10
Soup  x 6
Meatballs  x 3
Haystacks x 4
Freezer Meals x 11

Bread, Pizza, Pies:

Crumpets x 2 packets
Pizza Bases x 6
Pastry Sheets 4kg

Fruits & Vegetables:

Apricots 3kg
Onions x 19 1/2 cup packs
Beans x 7 bags
Cauliflower x 13 bags
Broccoli x 9 bags
Rhubarb x 5 bags
Mixed Vegetables x 5kg
Zucchini x 23 1/2 cup packs
Tomatoes x 23 bags
Carrots x 4 bags
Casserole Packs x 6

This week's shopping list:

2 x 3L milk $5.98
1 doz eggs $2.79
1kg Tasty Cheese $6.00
500g Butter $2.78
5kg potatoes $3.99
Total $21.54

I'll be shopping at Aldi for everything other than the potatoes which I'll get at Pellegrinos because they're on special today.

I'll be baking bread today for the weekend and picking tomatoes from the garden and looking at that list there will be absolutely no need for me to  go anywhere near a supermarket, butcher or green grocer next week.

14 April 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 16/04 - 22/04/2017

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Mini meatloaves, salad

Tuesday: Spaghetti & meatballs

Wednesday: Mock Fish & Chips, salad

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Hamburgers

Saturday: Pot Roast

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09 April 2017

The Week that Was 9th April 2017

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

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

Defrosted and restocked the small freezer.

Cooked all our meals from scratch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rebuilding the Stockpile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total cost was $106.32

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The pantry is looking a little better now.

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

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

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

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

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