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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10 September 2017

The Week that Was 10th September 2017

This week I've been busy going through the pantry, stockpile and freezers, updating inventories and making up my shopping list for the remainder of the year. The plan is to have all the shopping finished by 30th November, as usual, so I can relax over the summer.

Started more seeds: lettuce, capsicum, zucchini, cucumber and tomato.

Tom helped me prep another two veggie beds, ready for planting.

Used cardstock and paper I had to make new labels for the containers in the laundry.

Stayed home as much as possible, for a few reasons:
1. It was cold and wet - much nicer to stay by the fire.
2. To save on petrol.
3. No need to go to the shops, I shopped at home and all we needed was milk, which I asked Hannah to pick up for me.

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

Caught the shower warm-up water and the sink warm-up water and tipped it into the washing machine.

Made a chocolate cake for Tom's birthday.
Homemade chocolate cake from the Cheapskates Club Cake Recipe File Click through for the recipe
Homemade chocolate cake, filled with homemade raspberry jam and whipped cream for the birthday boy!
This week we've been told to expect blackouts here over the summer. This has had me thinking of my freezer stocks. I talked to Wayne about it and we have decided to eat the freezers down as much as we can, focus on other methods of preserving for the time being and save the money we're not spending in the slush fund to top up the freezers later.  We have more than enough to see us through to the end of January between meat and chicken packs, dump packs and prepared freezer meals.

I picked lavender this morning, some to strike for new plants, and some to hang to dry.
Lavender from my garden Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing
Lavender from my garden in an old jug from Wayne's Granny
Bought a beautiful gift from the op shop for $4 - it's gorgeous and just right for the intended person.

Ask and you shall receive! This has been my blessing for the last couple of months, although I haven't really asked for anything. This week I was again given a lot of craft materials from friends and friends of friends who have either heard about or seen the cards, dishcloths and tea towels I've been making. My craft stash has been boosted with fabric, cotton yarn, stranded cotton, cross-stitch graphs, paper punches and dies and beautiful papers. These are all things that have been on my wish list for ages, and I'm so very grateful to everyone who thought of me when they were doing their spring cleaning.

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08 September 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 10th - 16th September 2017

MOO Butter Chicken from the Cheapskates Club Chicken Recipe File Click through for the recipe
MOO Butter Chicken
This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Lamb

Monday: Sausages, vegetables and onion gravy

Tuesday: Refrigerator Lasagne

Wednesday: MOO Butter chicken, steamed rice, pappadums

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Haystacks

Saturday: Stuffed potatoes with cheese, coleslaw, pineapple, sour cream

In the cake tin:  Lemon Coconut Slice, Fruity Tea Cake

Am I Australia's most Boring Grocery Shopper?

Am I Australia's most boring shopper? Click through to see how Cath from the Cheapskates Club does her monthly grocery shop for her family of 5 for under $300!
Am I Australia's most boring shopper?
I asked myself that question this afternoon after I wrote up my shopping list, using the IGA, Coles and Woolworths catalogues to round out what I wasn't able to get at Aldi (always my first stop for groceries).

There were lots of things on sale at all three supermarkets, but out of all the grocery items available, and there were hundreds, I put four things on my list.

The problem is I don't buy chips or Cheezels, blocks of chocolate, soft drinks, alcohol, sugary cereals, biscuits, washing powder, bathroom cleaners, deli items (well not regularly anyway), yoghurt, lollies, cakes and muffins or meat. OK, I do buy meat, but I buy it from Tasman Meats or Australian Butcher or Farmer Joe's, where it is half the supermarket prices.

My trolley is usually full of flour, sugar, milk, oil, butter, eggs, wheat biscuits, bran, milk powder, peanut butter, honey, baked beans, tomato soup, tuna, pineapple rings, beetroot, dried beans and soup mix, frozen corn, cheese and dried fruit.

My problem is each week when I look through the catalogues, I don't find very many of those things on sale.

So am I Australia's most boring grocery shopper? I get excited at half price shampoo and toothpaste; I go crazy and stock up on baking paper and foil when it's on sale; I jump for joy when I find mince for $5.99 a kilo and when tea bags are half price you won't get the grin off my face for days.

But cans of Coke for $18? Washing powder? Frozen lasagne? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I'm not even tempted.

I make my own washing powder - it costs 2-1/2 cents a load, a fraction of even the cheapest commercial powder.
Cheapskates Washing Powder the cheapest laundry powder you'll find does a great job for under 3 cents a load Click through for Cath's recipe from The Cheapskates Club
Cheapskates Washing Powder
There isn't a commercial lasagne that even comes close to my homemade from scratch lasagne, for taste or price, so why would I buy it, especially when it costs less than $5 to make 12 serves?

If we want a fizzy drink I make it, there's nothing as refreshing as homemade gingerbeer or cordial or real lemonade  and there's nothing artificial in any of them.
Overnight Ginger Beer cool refreshing easy to make and cheap Click through for the recipe from the Cheapskates Club Drinks Recipe File
Overnight Ginger Beer
Biscuits? We tried some bought biscuits last week. I was told everyone was raving about how good they were. I didn't mind them, but my family? No, they did not like them at all, and were quite adamant that homemade are much, much nicer. For me, homemade are cheaper too.
Homemade ANZAC Biscuits tasty easy to make and cheap from the Cheapskates Club Biscuits Recipe File
Homemade ANZAC Biscuits
Using the boring ingredients I buy each month I can make biscuits, cakes, breads, scones, pancakes, jams, soups, casseroles, stews, pies (savoury and sweet), sausage rolls, cordial, ginger beer, yoghurt, cheeses, sauces, gravies, dressings, even sweets and lollies that are full of flavour and devoid of rubbish ingredients. And all for much less than buying them.

If I am Australia's most boring shopper, so be it. I probably spend less for those boring ingredients a month than most families spend in a week, and we eat so much better.

I can live, happily, with that.

07 September 2017

Fruity Tea Cake

Fruity Tea Cake Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing Cheapskates Club Recipe File
Fruity Tea Cake
 This is the quickest and easiest fruit cake you'll ever make and it tastes great! Slice and serve with butter or freeze for a quick grab-n-go snack. It's cheap too. This tea cake costs $1.80 to make. I buy my baking ingredients from Aldi.

Fruity Tea Cake

2 cups cold tea
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.


Chocolate Tea Cake: Use 2 cups chocolate milk to replace the cold tea.

Orange Tea Cake: Use 2 cups orange juice to replace the cold tea.

Spicy Tea Cake: Add 1 teaspoon mixed spice with the flour.

Sultana Cake: Add 1 teaspoon lemon essence with the cold tea. Use 2 cups sultanas to replace the mixed fruit.

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03 September 2017

The Week that Was 3rd September 2017

Homemade MOO blackberry jam Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing Cheapskates Club Jams Pickles Relishes Recipe File
MOO Blackberry Jam
Made a batch of blackberry jam using frozen berries a friend gave me. Yum! I've been having blackberry jam on toast for breakfast this week.

Kept the fire going on Sunday and Monday and dried the washing on the clotheshorses.

Dried washing on the clothesline Thursday and Friday, using the wind and sun, and dodging rain showers.

Ate leftovers for tea two nights, free food we were given, and it was delicious. I moved $10 to the grocery slush fund.

Gratefully received some sliced bread sticks, left from a dinner we went to, and made garlic and herb bread. We had some with our dinners during the week, the rest is in the freezer for other meals or snacks.

Opened the windows and doors for a couple of hours on Thursday and Friday, to let the sun and wind freshen the house.

Made a batch of Shake'n'Bake to use up cracker crumbs and cereal crumbs I've been saving in the freezer.

Used wheat biscuits crumbs instead of biscuit crumbs to make a No Bake Lemon Slice. I had wheat biscuits, I didn't have any plain biscuits; it turned out just as nice as the one made with biscuit crumbs.

Gratefully received some craft materials from a friend who no longer uses them. I've been busy sorting to make sure I'm not doubling up. Put aside the "doubles" for the card ladies to go through on card day.

Sold a set of Christmas cards and put $12 into the grocery slush fund.

Went through my shed to find paint for my washing table. Waited until Friday, when it was sunny and warm, and then painted the table. This table was a hard rubbish find about 15 years ago and I love it, so I try to keep it spic'n'span. I found two cans of the same white spray paint, just enough to give the table two coats of paint, so this was a no cost renovation and it cleared some leftover paint from the shed.

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

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02 September 2017

Cath's Meal Plan 3 - 9 September 2017

Easy Cornbread from Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing and the Cheapskates Club Bread Recipe File, to go with chlli or just to enjoy Click through for the recipe
Easy Cornbread

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Garbanzo bean casserole, mashed potato

Tuesday: Spag bol

Wednesday: Chilli Con Carne, corn bread

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Hamburgers

Saturday: Toasted sandwiches, tomato soup

In the fruit bowl:  oranges, apples, lemons, bananas

What's on your meal plan this week?