Friday, 31 January 2014

Day 28 of Soap Shampoo Challenge

So I've reached the end of my first frugal challenge! And after a month of using soap instead of shampoo, my hair is in perfect condition - even without using conditioner once. I think it's pretty safe to say I will be using soap on my hair for the rest of the year. 

I didn't note the ingredients, but the latest soap I used was just an everyday Lux bar. For no other reason than I like using more natural products, I'll be using up the first and third bars before the others. I highly recommend you trying this challenge for yourself!
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Thursday, 30 January 2014

February's EXTREME Frugal Challenge!

In February I am going to be setting myself an EXTREME frugal challenge - I will only allow myself $100 for groceries for the ENTIRE month! I'm excited to stretch my resources and my imagination and REALLY challenge myself. And I want to show others how they can manage if unexpected bills arrive and there is hardly any money left over for several weeks. 

The Simple Savings crew are famous for their $21 Challenge - in essence, getting people to 'eat out of their pantries and fridges' for a week and using up existing resources, rather than buying more at the grocery store - with just a little buffer for things you don't have. I'm essentially going one step further and doing this for 4 weeks in a row! If you had COMPLETELY bare cupboards you might struggle with this, but most of us have pantries and freezers containing odds and ends that we never seem to get around to using.

For this challenge I will spend $70 for the first two weeks, and $30 for the next two weeks. Spending the bulk of my budget at the start will allow me to stock up on staples for the month and plan my meals better. 

As a reminder, our family is one adult and one teenager with healthy appetites.  I imagine a single parent family with 2 - 4 younger children would require the same amount of food as us.  A larger family will be able to follow the same principles and allow a little extra towards the budget.

I'm excited to share this challenge with you - I'll post my first update next Friday with my shopping list and the first weeks' meals!

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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

A Bag of Buns

Last week my colleague - a frugalista from way back - informed me that there were a couple of bags of buns out at our shared recycling area. After establishing with the company nextdoor that it was ok to take them and there was nothing wrong with them (they were just surplus to requirements and at their best by date), the above bag of buns was now mine!

I ate buns with peanut butter for lunches and snacks for a couple of days, until they were well and truly past their best! I then made a delicious bread and butter pudding:

And croutons for soup, to freeze:

This was a great find, and very much appreciated!
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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Love Soup Kitchen Rotorua

If you live in Rotorua and are finding it a struggle to get food on the table some days, Love Soup Rotorua serves free meals every Thursday night behind the Lakefront Cafe, between 6 - 8pm.  You can either bring containers and take the food away, or stay and enjoy the community spirit.

For more information, click here.

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Monday, 27 January 2014

How To Feed Your Family For A Week With One Chicken

Last week I set myself a challenge - to get a weeks' worth of dinners from one roasted chicken. And I not only achieved it, but I also uncovered some delicious meals that I will definitely make again! We are a family of an adult and a teenager with very healthy appetites, and we even had some lunches and leftovers that I froze, so a single parent family with several younger children would have easily got by on the same quantities as us. Larger families could stretch the meals to their requirements, bulked out with bread or additional starchy vegetables if needed. This was a Pams size 20 frozen chicken on special for $9.99.

Day One: Roast Chicken. A simple roast meal of chicken, potatoes, frozen mixed vegetables and gravy. Normally we would have more chicken on our plates, but it just isn't necessary.

Day Two: Chicken Pie. A creamy pie filling with shredded chicken breast and peas, topped with mashed potato and a little grated cheese. Yum.

Day Three: Chicken Pizza. Homemade pizza base topped with tomato purée, shredded chicken, grated carrot and a little grated cheese. I loved the end result, but making the pizza base was fiddly. I think next time it will be easier.

Day Four: Chicken and Rice Soup. I put the carcass, with plenty of meat still on the bones, in a crockpot filled with water overnight. The next day I stripped all the meat off the bones and added rice and veggies to the meaty broth. Served with homemade bread.

Day Five: Roast Vegetable 'Soup'. I put the chicken bones back into the crockpot and got another batch of chicken stock out of them overnight. I then removed the bones and added roasted pumpkin and potato, that I had prepared earlier, to the crockpot and let it simmer all day. When I went to mash the vegetables into the stock at dinnertime it turned out much thicker than I had expected, but I ran with it. This was delicious thanks to the crispy/oily/caramelised nature of the vegetables. You could make it with raw pumpkin and potato, but it definitely wouldn't have the same depth of flavour.

Day Six: Roast Vegetable Red Curry Soup. I took half of the leftover roast vegetable/chicken broth mash and added to it a can of coconut cream and a tbsp of red curry paste. I think I could eat this soup every day of my life! Served with homemade bread.

Day Seven: Leftover Fritters. Leftover mixed veggies and gravy from Day One, mixed together with roast vegetable/chicken broth mash and egg/flour, pan fried in oil.

So there you have it! A weeks worth of dinners (and some lunches) from one humble chook. I also have some chicken pie and rice soup in the freezer for quick meals later on. This personifies Frugal '14 entirely. Why buy several different types of meat for the week when you can get by with only one, bulked out with vegetables and flour/rice staples? It also is a good reminder of how much money you can save by making everything from scratch - and it's much healthier too. If you also served porridge for breakfast, and peanut butter sandwiches for lunch the days you don't have leftovers, then you're looking at an extremely low bill at the checkout. I hope this inspires you to set a challenge for yourself and get creative in the kitchen - and save yourself $$$ on groceries at the same time!

Tip: Freeze leftover tomato purée in an ice tray.

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Friday, 24 January 2014

Day 21 of Soap Shampoo Challenge

Day 21 and still going great! My hair is completely fine! The soap I've used for the last week is another natural one:

Aloe Vera & Lemongrass Soap

~ Olive oil
~ Aqua
~ Coconut oil
~ Palm oil
~ Lye
~ Lemongrass essential oil
~ Biogenic Aloe barbadensis

The best before date is smudged out but the packaging was quite tatty which makes me wonder if the date has passed! But this has probably been the best soap so far. My hair feels clean and shiny and this soap smells like I've walked into a beauty salon!

For the final week of this challenge I'm using an everyday Lux soap. See you in 7 days!
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Thursday, 23 January 2014

Portioning and Rehoming

Pre-portioning out food is not only convenient, but it also makes it stretch further. This week I bought cheese, butter and bacon, and portioned them all out. For the cheese, this meant cutting the block into approximately 100g wedges. I then froze most of them in reusable snap lock bags, and kept a couple in the fridge. Having the wedges ready to go means they're already a good size for grating for pizza etc. If I were feeling more industrious, I would have grated some of the wedges before freezing.

With butter, I etch out 100g portions and cut off one at a time, to keep in a container in the pantry. The rest goes back in the fridge. I've never had butter go rancid in the pantry, even after several days in summer. Soft butter is so much more usable than hard butter!

The bacon was on special at 900g for $5. 900g gave me 7 lots of 2 slices. I portioned them off into reusable freezer bags and froze them all for future use. This kind of rindless bacon is better for use in recipes than for eating on its own.

I also rehomed a swan plant on the weekend. I'm no environmental warrior, but I do have a healthy respect for nature. I had a bit of a disastrous experience with a $1.50 swan plant (all six monarch caterpillars died) and I was left with a scrawny plant that was of no use to me.

I didn't want to let it die so I took it to a grassy area next to my apartment building and transplanted it there.

I then reused the pot for the silverbeet plants I bought at the farmers market.

Sometimes being frugal isn't just about saving money, it's about being responsible with what you have.
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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Frugal Eats This Week

As I mentioned, one of my frugal finds were blueberries for $1 per punnet. These were past their best but still suitable for smoothies. The first day I made a blueberry, apple, tangelo and almond smoothie, and the second day was blueberry, apple, tangelo, banana and linseed. It was good to use up fruit that was getting past the point of being appealing to eat.

I made chickpea, potato and pea red curry:

And some delicious cornbread:

As well as regular bread, half white half wholemeal:

I roasted a chicken for multiple meals this week:

As well as tried my hand at Sri Lankan breakfast roti - topped with peanut butter! The recipe made enough for four, at a cost of around $1 - a great frugal weekend breakfast.

It can be messy business:

But the after is very satisfying:

Handy tip: Annoyed because you can't find a funnel? Make one with a toilet roll:

Tomorrow: Portioning to make your groceries stretch.
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