Your Cheapskates Club Newsletter 27:17
In this Newsletter
1. Cath's Corner
2. In the Tip Store - Easily Organised Fridge; Family Fun Doesn't Have to be Expensive; Tempt the Senses
3. Cheapskate's Winning Tip - Groceries...Invest your Time not your Money
4. Share Your Tips - You have to be in it to win it!
5. On the Menu - Quick Beef Stroganoff
6. The $300 a Month Food Challenge with Cath - Making Meals Cheaper
7. Cheapskates Buzz - Cheapskaters are talking in the Forum and on Cath's blog
8. Member's Featured Blog - Ready to Press Play Again
9. This Week's Question - I need help with pantry organising
10. Ask Cath
11. Join the Cheapskates Club
12. Frequently Asked Questions
13. Contact Details
1. Cath's Corner
Brrrrr, but it's cold! We had our first frost on Saturday morning, and from the look of the weather map it's cold everywhere and right smack in the middle of school holidays too. Keeping warm has been the name of the game in our house this week, I'm sure it has at yours too.
I made up a double batch of Cream of Anything Cup-a-Soup mix while I was waiting for tea to cook last night, ready for quick lunches and cups of hot soup for morning and afternoon tea to warm up. It's cheap, warm and filling and just the thing for these cold, wintery days.
The fire hasn't gone out for days and it is really, really nice to get up to a not quite freezing house in the mornings. A while back I was reading through a pile of old magazine and newspaper clips and I found a tip for keeping the fireplace bricks and tiles clean. Simply use an eraser to rub small smoke marks away! For bigger marks make up a solution of warm water, 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid. Dip a nail brush in the mixture and scrub over the marks. This works really well, the bricks around our fire look so much nicer now. And the scrubbing was a good way to keep warm too.
Enjoy your newsletter, stay warm and have a wonderful week.
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2. From The Tip Store
Easily Organized Fridge
I've found the perfect way to keep my fridge organized and clean, and it's saved me a lot of money too. I have put a shallow, 30cm square plastic container on the top shelf (you could use any size you like - this fits the shelf in my fridge best). It holds all the jars of mayo, jam, pickles, mustard, sauces etc. I just slide it out to get what I want. Keeping everything together in the one place means I can always see what is running low and what needs to be used up. On the bottom shelf I have a melamine serving tray. This holds the containers of leftovers, half used jars and packets etc. Again, I can easily see what is hiding at the back, meaning everything is used up and not wasted. Both containers not only keep the fridge organized but clean too. I just lift them out to wipe shelves and as they are dishwasher safe they are easily and quickly wiped over when needed.
Contributed by Lee Morris
Family Fun Doesn't Have to be Expensive
Spending time together as a family is important, especially as your children get older. As they grow-up family time gets harder to find (and often afford), but it also becomes even more important. A fun way to spend time together, without spending a fortune is to celebrate a holiday even if it’s not a holiday. Check the calendar and online and you'll find so many unusual holidays on which to peg your celebration. For instance, there’s a National Watermelon Day. Celebrate by gathering the family in the backyard or a park and eating watermelon (OK, you may need to wait until January or February for this one). But it's still July, so why not celebrate Christmas in July this weekend and turn your Sunday roast into Christmas Dinner? Or how about Wattle Day or Women's History Day or Mother's Day in September and Father's Day in October? It doesn't really matter what you're celebrating, as long as you are celebrating together. Make up a celebration just for your family and keep it as an annual family celebration, and build a tradition that will stretch into the future.
Tempt the Senses
The advent of winter means for most of us that windows and doors are shut, the air is damp and heaters are running. And that means that sometimes our homes, no matter how clean, become a little stale. Before you go out and buy mountain breezes in a can, try this. Soak cotton balls in concentrated essential oils such as vanilla, orange or lemon and tuck them behind photo frames, in small vases, inside cushion covers, on windowsills behind curtains - just about anywhere. If you have very curious small children or even pets, put them into small, plastic containers with childproof caps, punch lots of holes around the bottle and hide these throughout the house. They are cheaper than fresh air in a can and you can quickly and easily refresh them by adding a few drops of your favourite essential oil every now and then. The house will smell fresh all winter long, until spring arrives and you can open windows and doors wide to let the fresh air blow through.
There are currently more than 12,000 great tips in the Tip Store
3. Cheapskates Winning Tip
This week's winning tip is from Jenni Sketcher. Jenni has won a one year Platinum Cheapskates Club membership for submitting her winning tip.
Groceries...Invest your Time not your Money
This is a tip probably most useful to newbie Cheapskaters. I find this the best way to budget for, and stick to spending a certain amount when shopping for the family groceries. Start with a menu plan (of course). Then I use an excel spreadsheet to list all the items I will need based on that menu plan. Have one column for each of the different options of store, i.e. one column for Woolies, one for Coles and one for Aldi. I complete the shopping list by taking advantage of Woolies and Coles online shopping (although I do not actually shop online) as their website allows you to get an accurate price for each item. Once armed with this info you can easily identify where to shop for different items. And by having the list in hand, when in store you can make sure you are getting the best deal and most importantly know that when you get to the checkout that the total amount will not be a shock. It's definitely working for me and although it takes that bit longer to prepare to shop I think it is worth it in the end And from week to week it gets easier to prepare the list as you do quickly learn which items do not really change in price (milk etc).
Congratulations Jenni, I hope you enjoy your Cheapskates Club membership.
The Cheapskate's Club website is over 2,000 pages of money saving hints, tips and ideas. Let's get together and make the Cheapskates Club Australia's largest online hint, tip and idea library. Share your favourite money saving, time saving or energy saving hint and be in the running to win a one-year membership to The Cheapskate Club. We publish a Winning Tip each Thursday, so enter your great money, time or energy saving idea now.
4. Submit your tip
The Cheapskate's Club website is over 3,000 pages of money saving hints, tips and ideas. Let's get together and make the Cheapskates Club Australia's largest online hint, tip and idea library. Share your favourite money saving, time saving or energy saving hint and be in the running to win a one-year membership to The Cheapskate Club. We publish a Winning Tip each Thursday, so enter your great money, time or energy saving idea now.
Share your favourite hint or tip that saves money, time and energy and be in the running to win a one-year subscription to The Cheapskate Journal.
Remember, you have to be in it to win it!
Submit your tip
5. On the Menu
Quick Beef Stroganoff
Sometimes life gets in the way of even the most flexible of meal plans and you just need to put something on the table in a hurry. Toasted sandwiches, beans on toast, omelettes and spag bol are a few quick dishes that spring to mind. They are all quick and tasty.
Occasionally though you need something with a bit of pizzazz and Quick Beef Stroganoff fits the bill perfectly. This is a quick dish so it uses a can of mushroom soup for convenience and speed. Canned soups are not a staple in my kitchen. They are expensive and homemade soups are always nicer. But when push comes to shove, they serve a purpose in an emergency and can be very handy.
If you have plenty of time you can slice 100g mushrooms and reduce them in a little butter while you make a cream sauce. Then you can use your MOO mushroom soup in place of the tin.
Quick Beef Stroganoff
500g steak, cut into 2cm chunks and browned
2 cups water
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small onion, finely sliced
1tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
300ml sour cream
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Cook beef in water until fork tender. Stir in remaining ingredients except for sour cream and warm over medium high heat until bubbly. Stir in sour cream and parsley. Serve over cooked noodles or steamed rice.
Note: Turn this into Chicken Mushroom Supreme by using 2 chicken fillets instead of steak - the dish will be cheaper too.
This week we will be eating:
Sunday: Roast Chicken
Monday: Fishcakes, gems, coleslaw
Tuesday: Vegetable Pasta Bake
Wednesday: Spanish rice, salad
Thursday: MOO Pizza
Saturday: Pepper steak sandwiches
In the fruit bowl: mandarins, oranges
In the cake tin: muffins, white chocolate fudge
There are over 1,500 other great money saving meal ideas in the Recipe File.
6. The $300 a Month Food Challenge
Making Meals Cheaper
Classic cottage pie - leftover mashed potato, cooked mince, peas, carrot, onion and gravy
How do you make meals cheaper? If you follow a recipe exactly it can really blow your food budget right out of the black and into the red, often with just one meal.
I've seen the ads on television for $10 family dinners and I can tell you that not only are they over-priced but my budget runs to $5 per dinner, $3 per lunch and $2 per breakfast per day. I don't include the cost of the vegetables we grow; I take the cost of the seeds from my mad money, gardening really is something I enjoy and see as relaxing so that is free food.
These days I automatically make recipes fit my budget. That means they must be cheap. They must be nutritious. They must be quick and easy to prepare. And they must pass the Family Approval Test.
So how do I make meals cheaper without starving Wayne and the kids?
Portion control - if a recipe says "serves 6" then I make sure I get six serves and put the "spare" in the freezer for a freezer meal.
Measure accurately - when a recipe says half a cup or one tablespoon that's what I use. When it says to use a pinch of something then a pinch is what I use - a pinch being the amount I can pick up between my thumb and index finger. When it says 700g meat - I weigh out 700g and use it. Measure accurately and your recipes will be a success and you won't be wasting ingredients.
I buy meat in bulk. Real bulk - a minimum of 10 kilos chicken fillets/mince/steak/chops/sausages/roasts at a time and I only ever buy when it is on sale - I never, ever pay full price for meat.
I always pull the tenderloins off chicken fillets to use them in another meal. They make great skewers, can be diced for enchiladas, crumbed and baked whole, minced to make pie filling, poached and shredded to make chicken salad - you are limited only by your imagination and recipe collection.
For my family of five I use two chicken breast fillets per recipe for casseroles/enchiladas/pies/stir fries/apricot chicken/cacciatore etc. That is plenty of meat for the five of us, with two small fillets weighing around 400g - 500g. If the fillets are large I use one fillet and two tenderloins.
Those chicken fillets are diced into small chunks. Chunks go much further than serving a whole breast per person.
For chicken schnitzels, a breast fillet is sliced through to make two portions and then pressed out with my fingers. If it's a larger fillet I get three schnitzels from it. And they are easier to slice if they are partly frozen.
A mince based meal is 750g of mince and bulked out with more vegetables, pasta, rice, fresh or dried silverbeet, minced mushrooms or rolled oats.
Leftovers are always planned, never an accident. They are used for another family dinner, as the base of a new family dinner or for freezer meals on an MCBB night.
A roast chicken is used for tea on Sunday night, a stir-fry or pies or enchiladas later in the week and the frame is then used to make soup or stock. If it's a big chicken there may be enough meat left to make chicken salad for sandwiches too.
Roast lamb or beef is similar. Tea on Sunday night (we always have a roast on a Sunday), then the rest of the meat is sliced for another dinner and the scraps are diced into a curry or a French Shepherd's Pie and the bones (if any) used for soup and stock.
Because we grow most of our vegetables there is very little to waste. Tonight, for example I ran outside and picked a Chinese cabbage, a red capsicum and some spring onions for the stir-fry (and we're having the sloppy joes that were on the menu next month).
Sauce bottles are rinsed with a little water, cream, milk or vinegar depending on the type of sauce to get every drop out.
Bread ends are used for stuffing and to make dried bread crumbs or bread fritters.
Veggie peelings go into stock, to the worms or to the compost bin.
Bones are composted in the Bokashi bucket after all the meat has been pulled from them and they have made stock.
And of course, I use my favourite spatulas to scrape out jars, cans and bottles. Scraping the peanut butter jar provides enough spread for two more sandwiches! The Vegemite jar is rinsed with warm water (not hot, it will explode) and used to make a rich gravy. Jam jars get rinsed with milk to make yummy milk shakes.
These are just a few of the ways I make a recipe cheaper. They work for my family and they certainly work for our grocery budget. This year the aim is $80 a week for the five of us and so far, we are on track.
How do you make meals cheaper? Log in to join the conversation in the Member's Forum
The $300 a Month Food Challenge
The Post that Started it All
7. Cheapskates Buzz
Most popular forum posts this week
Plastic Free Tips
Decluttering Tally Game 2017
What did You do Today that Saved You Money?
Most popular blog posts this week
MOO Bisquick and the Convenience of MOO Packet Mixes
Organising Finances on an Irregular Income - the $400 Rule
Why I Bought Crumpets at Coles instead of Aldi
8. Members Featured Blog
Platinum Cheapskates Club members have their very own Cheapskating blogs, and they are wonderful and inspirational and encouraging and even funny. This week's featured blog is written by barbw7.
Ready to Press Play Again
If you saw my last blog post you would know I was feeling guilty about slowing down on my cheapskating ventures. I seem to go through stages like that button the last week or two I have thought it over and I realised that I was still doing a lot of the things I have learnt since I became a Cheapskate. I have still been meal planning, I have still been doing my spending plan and following it. I have also been using miracle spray, refilling my foaming hand wash pumps and reusing plastic bags.
I have been to Aldi this week and am encouraged to shop there more often, I got some wonderful bargains and realised that Aldi is worth shopping at for the savings but also for the interesting food such as gourmet sausages and chicken mini roasts. I never buy these things and have been lacking inspiration for meals so this will add some interest.
I was so caught up in what I hadn't achieved that I didn't focus on what's important which is what I have done. I am saving for Christmas, I am almost debt free, I am learning new things every day. I still make my own cards to use and have a good craft stash I am using up this year in Carols use up your stash challenge. I am using rewards cards to my advantage, shopping sales for needed clothes only.
I am also shopping sales for food and only items I need according to my meal plan which is flexible according to what I find on special.
I buy as much as I can reduced to clear but only what I can use. I am mooing more than I ever have, for those who are unsure of what that means and who think I have turned into a farm animal, it actually means make our own! But my fellow Cheapskates would know that and probably think I am being silly Barb again!
I am slowly reading through the revolution lessons again and have bought a special notebook, on sale of course, I will use this book to write my revolution answers again.
I am determined to press play again and to continue the revolution.
I feel stronger, happier and better prepared to face the future now. I just needed to press pause for a while to prepare myself and gain strength and now I am ready to play again and to face all the wonderful possibilities out there waiting for me.
Thank you to my fellow cheapskates for believing in me and thank you to Cath and Wendy for all your advice, wonderful examples of cheapskating and your encouragement.
It's time for me to face the future, I am off to work on my inventories of my pantry, freezer and fridge this afternoon. Oh, it's so good to be back on track!
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9. This Week's Question
"I have very deep pantry shelves (60cm deep) and only two of the shelves are at a height that I can see well into without standing on a step. I'm really struggling to work out the best way to organise it so that I know what's in there and can easily get things out from the back of the shelves. Cans in particular are a problem, they're currently up on a higher shelf and I just have no idea what's up there. We're in a rental house as well, which limits what I can do to the pantry to make it more user friendly. Any ideas to help would be gratefully appreciated!"
Do you have the answer?
If you can help Emma let us know. We'll enter your answer into our Tip of the Week competition, with a one-year membership to the Cheapskates Club as the prize too.
Send your answer
10. Ask Cath
We have lots of resources to help you as you live the Cheapskates way but if you didn't find the answer to your question in our extensive archives please just drop me a note with your question.
I read and answer all questions, either in an email to you, in my weekly newsletter, the monthly Journal or by creating blog posts and other resources to help you (and other Cheapskaters).
Ask Your Question
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13. Contact Details
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