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?