27 August 2017

The Week that Was 27th August 2017

The week that was debt free, cashed up and laughing....click through sit back with a cuppa and catch up
The week that was....sit back with a cuppa and catch up
A busy week and a very happy and productive one too. I love working around our home, it's something I really enjoy. I even like mopping the floors and scrubbing the bathrooms, and this week I did those chores and more.

I've just calculated that by pottering around our home and doing the dreaded-by-some housework I keep approximately $200 a week in our bank account. The housework didn't include the ironing. We don't have much, about an hour a week, but even so, by doing it myself our bank account keeps $25 a week. Doing the gardening, something else I really enjoy, keeps another $80 a week in our bank account!


It's been a while since I did the sums, but it really pays to spend a few minutes each day (about eight hours a week all up) to not spend $305! I'd have to work approximately 20 hours to earn that money (on minimum wage rates); by doing those chores myself the hourly rate is $38, more than double minimum wage. I'm so grateful to be blessed with the health, strength and motivation to be able to do this.

We've had visitors since Wednesday, so the house has been full of laughing and chatting and tea drinking and cake eating people and I've had a ball looking after everyone.

So here's how I saved us money, time and energy this week:

*Cashed in the money box on my desk and added $158.50 to our savings account. Those 5c, 10c, and 20c coins add up quickly.

*Dried the washing outside, in the sunshine and wind, two days. I almost forgot to get it in, I'm out of the habit as I've been using the clotheshorses next to the fire over winter.

*Juiced more lemons and froze the juice.

*Baked for our visitors and the weekend.

*Spent a lovely day with Wendy and Carol on Tuesday, making cards. I was able to put together two bags of cards to go to two different charities, 100 cards in one bag and 40 in the other.

*Gratefully accepted some craft supplies from a friend who no longer needs them.

*Very gratefully accepted some stamps for the Crafty Mums Co-op from a friend whose mother no longer needs them.

*Picked up another Moccona jar for 20c and a crystal ring stand for $1. I've been looking for the ring stand for a few weeks to finish off a Christmas gift.

*Used some yarn that was given to me to knit a tea cosy for a Christmas gift.

*Downloaded some vintage style pattern cover images to use as transfers on grocery bags. These will be Christmas gifts. I'm using transfer paper we were given, and the bags were 60 cents each on a mark-down table at Lincraft a few months ago.

*Spent a fun day working in the tea room at the AMRA exhibition, making cups of tea and coffee and keeping the workers fed and watered. Had a free lunch and lots of delicious coffee.

*Gratefully accepted leftover roast beef, roast chicken, corn, peas, baked potatoes, gravy and cheesecake. There is enough for four full roast dinners for our family, and 12 roast beef or roast chicken rolls with gravy for lunches or quick dinners. I've estimated not spending $210 and moved that from the grocery budget to the slush fund.

Still no photos folks, but as soon as I can get them uploaded I will.

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

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25 August 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 27th August - 2nd September 2017

Spaghetti Pie a budget friendly easy dinner Cheapskates style that uses pantry ingredients
Spaghetti Pie

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Beef

Monday: Vegeballs, mash, greens

Tuesday: Spaghetti pie, tossed green salad

Wednesday: Curried Nut Croquets, steamed vegetables

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Tacos

Saturday: Pumpkin soup

In the fruit bowl:  Oranges, lemons, apples

In the cake tin: Cookies'n'Cream Slice, fruit cake, Choc Chip Cookie Slice


60g grated cheese
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cups rolled oats
1 egg
1 cup evaporated milk
1 large tin tomato soup
1/2 - 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
oil for frying

Beat egg into evaporated milk. Add onion, cheese and rolled oats. Add breadcrumbs until stiff. Roll dessertsponfuls into balls. Fry in hot oil until browned all over. Drain on paper towel. Place in casserole dish. Mix tomato soup with a 1/2 tin of water. Pour over vegeballs. Bake in moderate oven until soup starts to simmer, about 30 minutes. Serve hot over spaghetti or with mashed potato and steamed veggies.

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20 August 2017

The Week that Was 20th August 2017

Sunday and Monday were glorious days, full of sunshine and blue skies, a little hint of the spring that's just around the corner. Those sunny days were a gorgeous break from the bleak winter we've had and they just put a spring in my step and a smile on my face. The days were so warm we let the fire go out for the first time all winter!

Then Tuesday winter was back and we lit the fire again.

Wayne's Dad will be here next week so I've been busy making jam and lemon butter and baking goodies for him to take home.

There were blackberries, raspberries and mixed berries in the freezer so they were all made into lovely jam. If you've never made jam, or have always thought making jam was hard or a real chore, trust me when I say it's not. Hannah has been making jam since she was nine, that's how easy it is. Bought jam, no matter how good it is, just doesn't compare to homemade. (The blackberry jam was too tempting and we opened a jar as soon as it was cool enough and had it on toast for dessert - very yummy).

Very gratefully accepted a packet of pickling spices, a large jar of Vegemite, some garlic and shallot pastes, mouth-watering Lindt chocolates, apple cider vinegar and some linseed meal, all good boosts to the pantry.

I spent a lovely day with the card ladies, laughing, talking, drinking tea and eating. We even managed to make some cards!

Added to our pantry with some herbs and spices and new jars (20c each from the new ADRA op shop in Boronia - an amazing bargain!) and new labels I made.

Started the September/October/November shopping lists to cover December and January. Also added extra to build the stockpile. At the moment most things are sitting at the usual (for this time of year) 5 - 6 months, but without sounding like I'm fear mongering, or a crazy doomsday prepper, I would really like to have at least 18 months of the basics on the shelves by the end of the year. I'll need to rejig our budget and scrounge some extra cash from somewhere, but I believe it's a part of my job to ensure that my family is prepared for hard times. Having lived for three years and two months without a regular income, I know how important it is to have at least a basic stockpile of food, toiletries, medicines, cleaning supplies, clothing, seeds and basic household items.qa20

Cooked all our meals from scratch.

Caught the shower warm up water and added it to the washing machine. I think this summer will be dry, and water will be even more precious, so I'm starting our own "water restrictions" now. Then, if the summer is as dry as I think it will be, we won't be shocked if water is suddenly scarce. And if it's not, being more careful with this very precious resource won't hurt and may even show an improvement in the water bill.

Filled the car just before petrol jumped 40 cent a litre and used a 4c off voucher.

Completed a 4 week Flybuys challenge to get a bonus 10,000 points. It was HARD! I rarely spend $50 a month at Coles, so to do so every week really was a challenge. I made a list of things we used that we buy from Coles and followed the half-price sales. Each week I went over the $50 by no more than $3 and we now have washing soda, laundry soap, dishwasher powder and oven bags to last two years and cheese, flour and sugar have been added to the stockpile. The plan is to cash in the points for a gift card to use at Christmas time.

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

(I'll put photos up tomorrow, I need help with them today)

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15 August 2017

Crumble Kits

Cath's Crumble Kits also found in the Cheapskates Club Recipe File Desserts Click through for more crumble kit ideas
Crumble Kits
I love anything that makes life easier, but I certainly don't like to pay the price for convenience.

Instead I MOO as much as I can and one of the things that makes my life a lot easier and saves us a lot of money is crumble kits.

We've fallen out of the habit of having dessert after our meals and it was showing in my grocery budget. The fridge fairies were striking overnight and food that was planned for another meal was disappearing.

A quick survey of the troops and I realised they were hungry and missing dessert after their dinner.

I try to make our desserts as healthy as possible without going overboard, so we have things like apple and rhubarb crumble or peach cobbler or fruit salad cake, steamed fruit pudding, lemon delicious, baked rice custard, fruit pies, and they're usually served with a boiled custard or cream (or in Wayne's case both), or  fruit salad, fruit platters with dip and so on.

I've shared before how I make up MOO packet cake mixes and how they are so convenient.

Well, I make up crumble kits too and they are really convenient as well.

When I want to make a crumble I take the fruit off the pantry shelf or out of the freezer, grab a crumble kit from the pantry, add the melted butter, dump it all in a pie dish and bake it. Easy! I can get a crumble in the oven in under five minutes, fantastic for busy nights.

I use my big baking dish to make crumble. It makes enough for at least two nights of desserts and a couple of lunches - about 14 serves. I just put the leftover crumble into a Tupperware container and keep it in the fridge. The next night I reheat however many serves we need in the microwave.

As a bonus, crumble kits are great for camping. I make them up in large ziplock bags and they store flat in the tucker box.

Crumble Kits

Into a large ziplock bag add:
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
3/4 cup coconut
1 tsp mixed spice

Seal the bag.

On the front of the bag write:
To make up melt 125g butter. Add to dry ingredients. Mix well. Spread evenly over the top of fruit. Bake 30 - 40 minutes until topping is browned and fruit is bubbling.

I usually make up a dozen or so at a time and keep them in the pantry. Without the butter added they are shelf stable for months.

If you have freezer room you can add the melted butter and make the topping. Store the packets in the freezer so the butter doesn't go rancid - it will if you keep them in the pantry.

To use the frozen crumble kits just take one out of the freezer. It will be a solid block. Let it sit for a few minutes then either crumble it over the fruit with your fingers or use the coarse side of a grater to grate it over the fruit. Add 5 - 10 minutes to the cooking time.

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14 August 2017

Where I Shop

Where I shop to get the best value for my grocery budget dollar. Click through to see where I do my grocery shopping the Cheapskates way
Where I shop
Jilly emailed and asked me if I stuck to the same supermarkets for my shopping or if I divided it up between others, and she asked if I shopped around for groceries like I do for other things.

The short answer is I am not supermarket (or brand) loyal, I shop where I'll get the best value for my dollars, and yes, I do shop around between supermarkets, butchers, greengrocers, wholesale outlets and even suburbs.

If I have to go out of my suburb for shopping, I combine the trip with other errands to make it money, time and energy friendly. Often just going to a supermarket a couple of suburbs away can save money on grocery items.

Where we live we are blessed with all the major supermarkets within just a few minutes. We have Coles, Woolworths, IGA, Aldi and Foodworks within a 10 minute drive, so shopping around the supermarkets for the best specials is easy.

We also have four excellent greengrocers and two fantastic butchers close by.

If I choose to travel about 15 minutes I have another excellent butcher and a great market.

Travel 20 minutes and I have Dandenong Market on a Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, where the fruit and veg are excellent quality and price. The market is great too for clothing and household items.

But for a normal month, here's where I shop:

For groceries (in order):

Food Factory Sales (SPC Outlet), Bayswater
Reject Shop

Specialty Herbs & Spices in bulk:

Hindustan Imports, Dandenong

For Meat:

Australian Butcher, Boronia
Farmer Joe's Boronia
Tasman, Mt. Waverley

For fruit and veg:

Pellegrino's, Wantirna South
Farmer Joe's, Boronia

For bulk wholefoods:

The Full Pantry, Croydon

For toiletries:

then Coles, Woolworths, Priceline or Chemist Warehouse depending on what is on sale and the best price

For bulk cleaning supplies:

Aurora Cleaning Supplies, Dandenong South
FGB Natural Products (Bosisto's)

These are the places most likely to get my shopping dollars. Of course it all depends on what I need and what price it is when I need it. Occasionally there will be exceptional prices at a store/outlet I wouldn't normally shop at, but I do for super special prices.

I tend to shop around, and I do travel out of our local area for great specials, but they need to be cheap enough to make it worthwhile (cover the cost of petrol and extra time as well as being cheaper).

I also try to combine as many errands as possible into each trip to save money, time and energy.

13 August 2017

The Week that Was 13th August 2017

The Week that Was 13th August 2017

I had lovely long chats with Annabel and Wendy this week, via messenger of course, as we can't easily get together in person. If someone had told me 22 years ago that I'd be so comfortable with technology that I'd be chatting to a friend in another state or one who lives about 25 minutes away in another suburb I'd have laughed. Back then I couldn't program the VCR (I still have a bit of a problem with double recording on the DVD recorder today!).  So, other than paying for our usual monthly internet connection, those chats were free. It really is good to be alive in 2017.

I did lots of baking to feed the hungry hoards, fill the freezer and keep the house warm. Cup cakes, chocolate slab cake, coffee cake, sausage rolls and four loaves of bread fed us this week.
The name says it all Simplicity Coffee Cake easy to bake and easy to enjoy from the Cheapskates Club Recipe File Cakes
Simplicity Coffee Cake
Made 30 Minute Buns for our hamburgers last night. This was a new recipe that I adapted to suit our tastes and it makes great burger buns. I'll be posting the recipe soon.

Made burgers "with the lot" for tea last night. Burgers at our local fish'n'chip shop are $9 each! I made the five burgers and a side of wedges for less than the price of one. That's $41 we didn't spend on takeaway food, plus the cost of petrol to go and pick them up. And my burgers really are better with my secret burger sauce :)

Juiced more lemons and froze the juice in ice cube trays.
Fresh lemons waiting to be juiced
Fresh lemons waiting to be juiced
Used lemon peels to make lemon scented cleaning vinegar. Using this vinegar to wipe over benches and bread boards, baths and basins, leaves a lovely fragrance through the house and it costs nothing extra to make, you use the peels from lemons you've juiced.

Used lemon peels to make lemon scented air freshener (just add clean lemon peel to a bottle of rubbing alcohol and let it steep for 3 - 5 days). I love the fresh smell of citrus, especially lemon, in the house. It's wonderful during winter when the windows and doors are mostly closed and the fresh, cold air is blocked.

Dried the washing by the fire on Monday, then outside in the wind and sunshine on Wednesday and Thursday. The wind leaves the washing so soft, even the jeans are softer when they're line dried on windy days.

Opened the windows and back door on Thursday when it was warm to let some fresh air into the house. It was windy, so they weren't open wide, but the breeze was lovely and really freshened inside.

Worked on some crochet projects for the present box.
Some crocheted projects for the present box
Made 12 cards for an order. They were a combination of easel cards and twist'n'pops.

Gratefully and happily listened to the rain on the roof. It filled the rain barrel I use to water the garden, watered the garden of course, and softened the ground which made weeding and digging so much easier.

Cooked all our meals from scratch.

Stuck to my grocery challenge and bought just milk this week.

Hannah and I went op shopping. Oh the bargains we could've had if we'd taken all our spending money with us!

I splurged on four large Moccona coffee jars for $1 each. I couldn't believe the price, these jars are getting almost as expensive second-hand as they are new and full of coffee. They went straight into the dishwasher and then into the present box. I really like these jars because the seal comes off the lid if you are very careful, so you can get the whole jar clean before you gently put the seal back into place. I also bought some linens and a basket I had asked the ladies to put aside for me.

Combined a few errands into one trip on Friday. It took about 3 hours all up, but I was able to cross all errands off my list and get in a few extras. This was a time saver, as well as a petrol saver. If I hadn't combined the trips and done a loop, there would have been six separate trips next week! It pays to think and plan ahead, even for shopping and bill paying.

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

11 August 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 13th - 19th August 2017

Lemon Chicken and Parmesan Rissoles from Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing, a tasty way to add rissoles to the meal plan without being boring. Click through for the recipe.
Lemon Chicken & Parmesan Rissoles
Chicken fillets have been very cheap here lately so of course I took advantage and stocked the freezer. For the Lemon Chicken & Parmesan Rissoles (which are so good) I whizzed two chicken fillets to mince rather than buying it especially for this recipe.

We get bored if we eat the same thing all the time so I like to mix it up a little every now and then, so on Wednesday we are having our own version of Yum Cha with homemade spring rolls, dim sims, samosas and salad, just for something a bit different.

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Lamb

Monday: Lemon Chicken  & Parmesan Rissoles, veggies, gravy

Tuesday: Mushroom & Parmesan Risotto

Wednesday: Finger food– spring rolls, dim sims, samosas, salad

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Frugal Haystacks

Saturday: Homemade Subs

10 August 2017

No Bake Lemon Slice and Our Favourite Variations

No Bake Lemon Slice and our favourite variations a budget and family friendly easy to make no bake slice. Click through to get the recipe
No Bake Lemon Slice
Annabel and I were talking about MOO Condensed Milk and she mentioned she was going to give it a try in No Bake Lemon Slice. And that had me thinking (and wanting lemon slice).

No Bake Lemon Slice has been around for ages. I remember my Mum making it during summer when it was too hot to have the oven on. Then I started making it after we were married, again, usually in summer, when it was too hot to have the oven on (those Riverina summer days when it topped 43 were far too hot to bake).

Over the years I'd go to make No Bake Lemon Slice and realise I didn't have any plain biscuits. One day there was a packet of ginger nuts in the pantry. We love ginger in anything, so I used them instead. Oh boy! was that slice good. I put lemon icing on it and it was sensational. And it fast became one of our favourites.

Another time the only biscuits in the house were plain chocolate so I used those and made a No Bake Choc Coconut Slice. Spread with chocolate icing and sprinkled with shredded coconut it went down well.

Did I mention we love ginger? After Christmas a few years ago there was some shortbread biscuits left. I used the shortbread to make biscuit crumbs, added some chopped glace ginger and we had No Bake Ginger Shortbread Slice.

I've even used Oreos to make a No Bake Cookies and Cream Slice - this one is Hannah's favourite.

Good things happen when you take a basic recipe and, to borrow a phrase from a good friend, make it your own.

Here's the basic No Bake Lemon Slice recipe:

No Bake Lemon Slice

125g butter- melted (or margarine)
½ tin sweetened condensed milk
1 packet of Marie Biscuits
1 cup coconut
Rind of 1 lemon

Crush biscuits. Combine in a bowl, spread into a tray and pat down and set in the fridge. Mix the juice from the lemon with icing mixture to make the icing. Sprinkle coconut over the icing to finish.


No Bake Ginger Slice - Use ginger nut biscuits instead of the Marie biscuits. Ice with lemon glace icing.

No Bake Choc Coconut - use plain chocolate biscuits instead of the Marie biscuits. Ice with chocolate icing and sprinkle with shredded coconut.

No Bake Ginger Shortbread Slice - replace the Marie biscuits with an equal quantity of shortbread. Add 1/2 cup finely chopped glace ginger.

No Bake Cookies and Cream Slice - Substitute Oreo biscuits for the Marie Biscuits. Ice with vanilla buttercream and sprinkle with crushed Oreos.

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09 August 2017

MOO Instant Custard

MOO Instant Custard recipe saving you money time and energy shared with the Cheapskates Club Recipe File Desserts
MOO Instant Custard

MOO Instant Custard

4 cups powdered milk (skim, low fat or full cream)
1 cup cornflour
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp vanilla sugar

Combine all dry ingredients. Whisk well to combine. Store in a clean, dry jar or canister.

To make 1 litre custard put 1-1/2 cups mixture into a dish. Pour in 900ml boiling water and whisk well until mixture is smooth and thick. This makes a medium weight pouring custard. If you like a very thick custard you can cook for 1 minute in the microwave, then whisk well.

To make 1 cup of custard use 1/3 cup MOO Instant Custard Powder to 3/4 cup boiling water. Whisk well.

07 August 2017

Sausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls
While the oven was on this evening I took some sausage mince out of the freezer, whizzed up a couple of brown onions, crumbed some stale bread rolls, beat some eggs and grabbed the mixed herbs from the spice cupboard.

Then I remembered the pastry and quickly raced around the bench to get it out of the little freezer (you can't have sausage rolls without pastry, at least not in our house!).

Put the pastry to thaw.

Dumped everything into a big bowl and got my hands dirty. The easiest way to mix up sausage rolls is to use your hands (wash them first - hygiene and food safety and all that are important).  I squished and squeezed and rolled and folded and squished and squeezed some more until everything was nicely mixed up and the mixture was smooth. We don't like lumps in our sausage rolls.

Three sheets of delicious, buttery, puff pastry were cut in half.

The mixture was divided into six.

A big dollop of sausage roll mixture was dropped onto each piece of pastry.

Then I washed my hands again and used them to make the "sausage" in the sausage roll.

Rolled the pastry over each sausage and carefully lifted them onto a baking sheet.

Another egg was sacrificed to make a golden egg wash.

The six long sausage rolls were stabbed with a fork (helps with letting steam out when they're cooking, keeping the pastry crispy and delicious) and cut into four. We like medium sized sausage rolls - more than a mouthful but not too big to handle.

They were coated in the egg wash and straight into the oven to bake to golden sausage roll perfection.

I set the timer for 10 minutes and turned them. Set the time for 10 minutes and turned them and swapped shelves. You might have a fantastic oven and not have to do this. My oven is old. It works, but it has it's eccentricities I have to tend to. Set the time for 10 minutes and dug around in the cupboard for the cooling racks.

Once the timer went off those golden logs of sausage perfection wrapped in pastry where whipped out of the oven and carefully (but quickly, I didn't want soggy bottoms) lifted onto the racks to cool.
Sausage deliciousness wrapped in golden puff pastry - homemade sausage rolls
I'd made 24 mouth-wateringly good sausage rolls (but only 23 made it into the fridge - ooops!).

Everyone has put their orders in for sausage rolls for lunch tomorrow so as long as the fridge fairies don't strike overnight packing the lunchboxes tomorrow will be easy.

Cath's Sausage Rolls

500g sausage mince
2 medium onions, grated
2 bread rolls or 4 slices bread, crumbed
1 egg
1 tbsp mixed herbs
3 sheets puff pastry
1 egg extra, for egg wash

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Combine all the ingredients until mixture is smooth. Use your hands, it's easier. Cut the pastry sheets in half. Divide the mixture into six and drop onto the pastry sheets. Use your hands to form the sausage. Roll the pastry over the meat. Place seam side down on the baking sheets, three to a sheet. You need to leave lots of room between each sausage roll to allow the pastry to cook properly and evenly. Cut each sausage roll into four, not quite all the way through. Brush with the egg wash. Bake 30 minutes, turning regularly so the pastry cooks evenly. Remove from the oven and place on cooling racks immediately.
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06 August 2017

The week that was 6th August 2017

Do you remember the John Denver song Some Days are Diamond?

Well this week, in our house, some days were diamond and some really were stone. Thankfully diamonds sparkle and make even the dullest, darkest spot bright with just a little light. One of the diamonds was when Wayne surprised me with a beautiful flower arrangement. I love flowers in the house, and in winter I'm usually happy with the silk and dried arrangements, but I crave fresh flowers. Wayne knows this and he knows what the week was like, so he brought me home this gorgeous surprise. Just because. How sweet is that?
Pretty flowers were a surprise from my darling this week
This week we saved money, time and energy by:
Handmade birthday cards - shabby chic and lollipop styles
Sending handmade cards and presents for a birthday.

Drying the washing on the clothesline on the sunny days, and by the fire on Thursday and Friday when it was cold and wet.

Kept the fire going and the ducted heating off. It hasn't been on at all this winter and the gas bill is showing this. The gas budget is in the black, I will be able to move some of it to the Emergency Fund soon.

Cooking all our meals at home, from scratch, using food we had on hand.

Saving the water from the showers and tipping it into the washing machine.

Picking a few more mandarins from the fruit tree.

Using lemons we were given to make cordial and lemon butter, then putting the lemons in the dishwasher to clean it.
MOO Six Minute Lemon Butter Quick economical frugal and easy this lemon butter recipe is in the Cheapskates Club Recipe File
MOO Six Minute Lemon Butter
Split a box of cream with a man at NQR. The box of 12 x 600ml was $5, and I didn't have enough room in the freezer for 12 bottles so we went halves. It's amazing what can happen when you speak to people in shops, on the street, at the doctor, wherever you are. If you don't speak up you may miss out on something great, as the man at NQR and I would have.

Hannah picked up an Easiyo thermos for $2 from a new op shop - ADRA in Boronia. She was so excited to finally find one, and even more excited at the price. Then we spent a few minutes explaining what it was and how to use it to make the best ever yoghurt to the women in the store - two didn't know you could make yoghurt and one didn't know it was so easy!

Started to put together the gifts I've been making. We have lots of birthdays between now and the end of the year and of course Christmas. Right after Christmas we have five family birthdays and our wedding anniversary - a very busy time present wise.

Added some Dove soap/not soap to my gift stash. Terry White Chemists have it on sale for 99 cents, but The Reject Shop (which is right next door at our shopping centre) has it for 90 cents a bar. I added five to the present box to go with the knitted soap sacks and trimmed face washers I've been making.
Knitted face cloth, crochet trimmed face washer, knitted soap sack, hand towel with crochet trim and topper
Made a hand towel with a crocheted topper for the present box.

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

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04 August 2017

Best Ever Need a Great Dessert Brownies (and a Grocery Shopping Update)

Best Ever Need a Great Dessert Brownie If you need a great dessert that won't break the budget and that will satisfy that chocolate craving this is the recipe. Click through for more ways live life debt free cashed up and laughing.
Best Ever Need a Great Dessert Brownies
Hannah and I did the grocery shopping for the month today and let me say straight up - I failed! I didn't go over budget, but I did buy some things that weren't on my list, and didn't buy some things that were.

I bought six bottles of cream from NQR, that weren't on the list, for $2.50 - that's 41 cents a 600ml bottle - too good to pass up and all I could fit in the freezer.

Then I made the mistake of checking out the Pelligrino's Friday specials and bought 5kg potatoes for $1.99, bananas for 99c/kg, two ice berg lettuce for 99 cents each and a cucumber - total $9.78. None of these things were on the list - failed again!

When I saw the price of butter at Aldi I had a little, tiny, in my own mind, tantrum. How can 500g of butter be over $4? At the rate it's going up in price I think I'll buy shares in a butter factory - it has to be a better ROI than gold or oil! Or buy a house cow and make my own.....hmmmm.... raw milk for cheese and drinking....real cream......shame we live in the middle of suburbia.

I didn't buy all the milk on the list, not enough freezer room and the milk available at Aldi expires on 9th, so I bought two and put $24 into my slush fund purse to buy more next week. And I only bought three blocks of cheese as we had a half a block in the fridge. I put the $6 in the slush fund purse in case it's needed before the month is up.

That leaves $45.22 in the slush fund purse for top-ups during the rest of the month.

I chose this month to not buy groceries, knowing full well that we would have visitors all through the month. We have friends coming for dinner this weekend and I need a dessert that will be mind-blowingly delicious, that will feed nine and that uses ingredients I already have in the pantry.

These brownies are perfect!

I have all the ingredients, I know everyone loves chocolate and honestly they really are the best brownies ever. They're moist and gooey, fudgey, rich, delicious and cost just $3.40 to make!

I'll clarify the cost and let you know that all the ingredients, apart from the cocoa and the choc chips, were from Aldi. The cocoa is Woolworths generic and the choc chips are Cadbury that were bought on half-price sale at Coles. If you use full-price and/or brand name ingredients then the cost will rise - substantially. Unfortunately the end result won't reflect that increase in cost so go generic ingredients if you can.

I am generous and cut this dessert into 10 squares, although the original recipe said it would make 12. For 34 cents a serve, it's a budget friendly but extravagant dessert for special occasions.

And lastly, I serve them with a dollop of cream, but you could use ice-cream or a nice thick dollop of Greek yoghurt (I like this, it cuts the sweetness beautifully).

Best Ever Need a Great Dessert Brownies

¾ cup cocoa powder
1- ½ cups sugar
1 cup plain flour
½ cup dark chocolate chips (or milk or white - whatever you like, they're all good)
225g butter, melted
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a 20cm square tin or casserole dish with baking paper. Sift dry ingredients, then add eggs, melted butter and vanilla. Mix with a wooden spoon to combine.  Pour into pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven while centre is still moist and gooey - DO NOT OVER BAKE! Let cool in tin before cutting.

Serves: 10 - 12 (go on, be indulgent - cut it into 10, you know you want to!)

Meal Plan 6th - 12th August 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 6th - 12th August 2017 Need inspiration for budget and family friendly dinners - click through for delicious meal plans
Divine Burgers
Our meal plan this week will make it easy to stick to my current grocery shopping challenge - everything is either already prepared and in the freezer, or the ingredients are!

The pantry and fridge are full of veggies, prepped and vacuum sealed in meal sized portions. I do this on shopping day and it saves a lot of time during the week, and makes getting side dishes ready easy - just pull a bag out of the crisper and cook (and sometimes, depending on what's in the bag, they can even be cooked in the bag - washing up is made easy).

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken with baked potato, sweet potato and onion, with broccoli and corn, gravy

Monday: Fish, wedges, Freezer Coleslaw

Tuesday: Spag bol with garlic rolls and salad

Wednesday: Cream Cheese Patties, salad

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Divine Burgers (rissoles, lettuce, tomato, red onion, cheese, burger sauce)

Saturday: Kebabs with salad, tabouli, hommos

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02 August 2017

It's a no shopping month for me!

My pantry is full. My freezers are full. The fridge is almost full.

There is food in abundance, in the form of ingredients, just waiting to be  turned into delicious meals and snacks for us, so, apart from milk, eggs, butter and cheese, which I will buy tomorrow from Aldi, I won't be grocery shopping during August.

Tomorrow I'll be buying:
3 x 1kg blocks tasty cheese from Aldi
2 x 500g blocks of butter from Aldi
2 x 500g spreadable butter from Aldi
8 x 3L bottles of milk from Aldi
2 dozen eggs from Aldi

And that will be that, barring any unforeseen food emergencies. The budget is $100 (our 2016 grocery budget), more than enough to cover my shopping list and with a little left to cover those "food emergencies" if they happen. If they don't the slush fund will get a boost at the end of the month.

I won't be buying any cleaning products or toiletries (the stockpile is well stocked with these items).

Towards the end of the month I'll start to pick lettuce and silverbeet from the garden. The leaves will be small, but the more they're picked the longer they last and will be a nice fresh boost to our meals.

The orange and mandarin trees will have more fruit to pick for the fruit bowl.

There is yeast and plenty of bread flour for bread and rolls; the bread maker will be getting a good workout.

Breakfasts will be:
Ground rice porridge
All Bran
Toast with jam, lemon butter, Vegemite or peanut butter
Pancakes with syrup or jam or honey
Stewed fruit
Toasted cornbread with fruit
Lunches will be:
Sandwiches or rolls - tuna, Vegemite, peanut butter, egg, ham
Impossible quiche
Sausage rolls
Cornbread muffins
Fresh or tinned fruit

Dinner will be as per my meal plan for the month.

Snacks will be:
Fruit cakes
Cup cakes
Pita chips and dip
Yoghurt and fruit
Fruit will be:
Tinned fruit salad

Drinks will be:
Hot Chocolate Drink Mix
Lemon cordial
Orange cordial
Ginger beer

We have visitors two weekends this month, boosting our family to nine one weekend and seven the next.

The remaining $220 from the grocery budget will be split, half to the slush fund and half to buy seeds, veggie mix and, if there is some left, some seedlings to give the summer veggie garden a boost.

Well that's my plan. I'm trusting that it will work and August will be a great month for not buying groceries.

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