Friday, 15 February 2019

My Routines for Saving Money on Food

Working part-time takes me away from our home for a significant portion of the the week now. That's a lot less time in the kitchen but I am looking for and finding routines that see us continuing to save money on food. Given food can be one of a household's biggest expenses, I am trying to make sure the amount we spend doesn't blow out with last-minute takeaways!

One of the routines that I find really works for me, in terms of keeping homemade food on our table and in our lunchboxes, is baking on Sunday mornings. I get up early, when all is still quiet, and bake at least two items ready for the week ahead. Biscuits, slices, muffins and cupcakes that freeze well are popped into lunchboxes for morning tea and are ready for a hungry, high school boy to "gobble up" after school.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Being organised for breakfasts is another routine that is working well. There's always eggs and either baby spinach or leftover roasted veggies for omelettes at our place. This is my favourite breakfast, as I really believe that it's important to have some veg at brekkie time. I am NOT a fan of boxed cereals as they typically have significant amounts of sugar in them, so on my days off work I make homemade granola and batches of breakfast muffins. I adore Jude Blereau's muffin recipes as they are made with healthy and nourishing ingredients.  I have a tub of her breakfast muffins, from her cookbook Whole Food for the Family, in my freezer right now and it's just so easy to take one or two out to defrost for a quick breakfast if I'm running late. Faster that a drive through queue even!  

 Homemade Granola
(A lot less sugar than supermarket cereals.)

Using up the food we do spend our money on is something else that I am trying to keep on top of. If I buy fruit in bulk, like the tray of mangoes I bought earlier in the Summer for a really good price, then I chop them up and freeze portions. It's easy then take out a portion of frozen fruit chunks for smoothies. There's always at least one banana in our fruit bowl and at times they reach that over-ripe state where the only thing I think they are good for is banana bread. 

 Making sure food, like these over-ripe bananas, doesn't go to waste...
 Banana bread instead!

Freezing extra fruit. 
(Ready for quick and easy smoothies after school.)

Making breadcrumbs from the ends of loaves.
(I use these when I'm make meatballs.)

Another routine working for me is doing my grocery shopping on Friday mornings straight after school drop-off. I don't work Fridays so this means I am not rushing around the shops and I have time to spot bargains. I picked up some bottles of our favourite pasta sauce (and one with a much lower % of sugar than many on the shelves) for half price last week. I bought bulk and have these stored in my little stockpile. 

 A bargain on our favourite pasta sauce.
(I now have many bottles in my stockpile.)

When I do forget to defrost something for dinner, which I inevitably do, then these bottles of pasta sauce come in very handy. One of my go-to meals, besides homemade pizza, is to fry up a chopped onion with some diced bacon and capsicum (if I have it). I then add lots of diced zucchini (I always have zucchini) and fry that until it's cooked but not squishy. I usually throw in a handful of frozen peas too! I then turn the heat down and add a bottle of this pasta sauce. While all that is happening, I boil some pasta. Mixed through the pasta, and with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, it's yum and it costs a lot less than takeaway.

Leftovers are still making it into lunchboxes though we have 'tweaked' the lunch-making routine somewhat. When I wasn't working, I would pack lunches each morning. Now, my sweet hubby makes his own lunch the night before, popping leftovers in, making sandwiches and getting fruit and yoghurt ready. I still make my lunch and my son's lunch early in the morning but somehow, only having two to pack instead of three seems to work better up at our kitchen bench. I have no idea why!

These are the routines working for us at the moment. I think those working and trying to save money at the same time would have their own routines that work for them. I'd love to hear what you do at your place!


Friday, 8 February 2019

Saving Money on Work Clothes

Returning to work has the decided advantage of extra income but it would be easy, if I abandoned the simpler and more frugal things we do here, to fritter those additional funds away. We are keen to save as much of our extra pennies as possible!

So, after spending much of the past four non-working years in shorts and T-shirts, and the occasional skirt if I had to "dress-up", I needed some 'fancier' clothes for work. Rather than spending a small fortune to buy brand new clothes, I looked at what I already had, sewed a few extra things myself and found a few bargains at the local op-shops.

A fully-lined dress with a little belt I already had.
(I love these colours!)

 A creamy top and a $7 pair of sweet little shoes.

A versatile, pleated skirt.
(I can match this will lots of different coloured tops.)

 A light and cool Summer dress.
($18 for an expensive label.)

What I paid at the op-shop for these well-made clothes was but a fraction of what they would have cost at the dress shops. Clothes that would retail for much, much more but cost me far less and they are in new, or near-new, condition. My purchases also saved adding to landfill and the money I spent supports the charities, Vinnies and the Asthma Foundation, who run my local op-shops.  More money left in my pocket, purchases that are better for the environment and community and clothes that I will wear often. Bargains!

How do you save money if you work outside the home too?


Saturday, 2 February 2019

Some Catching Up To Do

It seems I have some catching up to do!  Time has been slipping through my fingers of late, funny how it can evaporate. I've been engulfed in a wave of busy-ness that I'm not enjoying really and I have been quite conscious of its impact on aspects of my life. 

Over past weeks, while I've been away from this space, I have made a return to permanent part-time teaching and subsequently experienced the inevitable load of all that constantly influences the education realm. My beautiful boy began high school and I felt a bittersweet ache, and swell of pride, at watching him make the beginnings of that transition.  Both of these are significant changes and they have had their impacts as we seek to keep things as simple as possible in the midst of our new routine.

Just what our new routine will be is still a work in progress. Some things are showing signs of neglect, besides this blog of mine. A menu plan is non-existent, my garden is parched and wilting from lack of attention during this long, hot and dry spell we're having. I have not added a single stitch to the sampler I began stitching on holiday and my knitting needles have fallen silent. These things, among quite a few others, reflect the fact that I now have far fewer precious hours here at home. 

Very slow progress on my sampler.
(Charlotte Lyon sampler)

The last book I read. 
(I highly recommend it!) 

Still waiting for me to finish it!

It's impossible to conjure up extra hours in a day so I will need to prioritise and decide just how I want to spend the time I do have at home.  I am trying to develop routines that work for us and that are sustainable during the year. Thankfully, not everything has fallen by the wayside. I am still cooking homemade meals, packing homemade lunches and baking for morning and afternoon teas on Sunday mornings. Our food scraps are still making it to the compost bin and the worm farm. The housework is getting done, albeit at times it's a quick "once-over". Sir Steve dog and I go for our late Summer afternoon stroll each day for there is no way I could disappoint a lovely old Labrador who would sulk indefinitely without his walk;) And, I still tuck myself up into bed each night with a library book but I am tending to fall asleep now before I've finished the first page! 

Reading my favourite blogs and writing here have been two of the things that have fallen away somewhat. It's been easy to think I will leave it 'til later but then later never comes. A routine I'm going to try, to keep me in touch with this lovely blogging community I now belong to, is to post once-a-week on a Friday. That will leave some time on weekends for visiting those of you who write too. 

I have been wondering how Cheryl's orchard is going, what soaps Nanna Chel has been making, how Emma is going up at her farm and what Sally's doing down on hers, what delicious aromas have been wafting from Fiona's kitchen, what gorgeous knits Stephenie has created, what thriftiness Nil has been up to and whether Chris has had any rain out her way  not to mention what Melissa has been stitching and what else I can learn from Rhonda (who I am sure would have very sensible advice on how to marry together a simple life with a working life.)  Definitely some catching up to do! 

See you on next Friday...