Wednesday, 30 July 2014

How Little Can You Spend?

I am setting myself a challenge and I would like you to join me.

For the month of August I am going to see how little I can spend on groceries.  For me this includes everything that I would normally buy at the butcher, green grocer and supermarket.  This means almost all of the shopping I do.  As we buy our dog food and chicken food in bulk I know that we have enough to get us through the month.

I thought that following on from plastic free July it would be a good time to do this challenge as it means that because I have avoiding single use plastic in July I was not adding to my stock pile.  This means that going into this challenge I am relying on what I have on hand.
This is also a good time to give the pantry a good spring clean by using up the odds and ends that are floating around and the ingredients that I purchased on a whim for a special project/meal.
I know that I am going to have to get creative and we may be eating some interesting meals over the month, but I already have a good system going for menu planning which you can read about here, which should make it easier.

I do not expect that I will be able to go the entire month without shopping but I am hoping to keep it really limited.
The things I expect I will have to buy are: milk, some fruit, some veg, and a small amount of meat since our cow is still not in the freezer.
I find that it is really easy to get into the habit of shopping for things you like to eat instead of using up the things you already have on hand.  We do not have a lot ready for harvest in the veggie garden or orchard but if all I have to buy are a small amount of these items I will be very pleased.
Over the entire month of August I would like to spend less than $50 and hopefully less than $30.  But that is just for the two of us so your target amount might be bigger than mine.

I have left this post until right at the end of July because if you are going to join in you will not have time to stock up in advance as that is not what this is about.

So is anyone else up for the challenge?  
How little can you spend this month?  What will your target budget be?

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Black Bean Salad - Tasty and Frugal

I love black beans and this is such an easy and tasty salad that makes good use of them along with just a few other ingredients.  Like all meals that are made with beans this one is really easy on the hip pocket.
For this I used dried beans that I soaked and cooked my self (cost $1.50) a tin of corn (I grabbed a few of these when they were on sale for $1.00 each but normally I use fresh corn) a capsicum and some coriander from the garden.

Black Bean Salad

2 cups of Dried Black Beans Soaked and pre-cooked and cooled
3 Cobs of Corn or 1 tin
1 Large Red Capsicum
1 Bunch of Coriander, chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
1/4 Red Onion, finely diced
2 Tbs Sugar
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
Zest and Juice of 2 Limes
2 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper

If you are using fresh corn grill your corn cobs in a griddle pan until you get a light char on the outside and are just slightly cooked.  Then cool them and cut the kernels from the cob and add them with the cooked black beans in a large bowl
Dice you capsicum and add this to the bowl  of corn and beans along with your chopped coriander and mix together.

In another bowl combine the remaining ingredients and whisk together until the sugar is dissolved then pour over then bean mix and mix through.  You can eat it straight away but it is best chilled for a few hours or overnight to let the flavours blend.
I served it up with roasted chicken drumsticks.

Monday, 28 July 2014

The Weekend Kitchen

I am a list maker and it helps me to be very productive.  This weekend I managed to get through a huge list of jobs both inside and out, it was a really really productive weekend.

I made Yoyo's (also know as melting moments) and other than the one each that we taste tested they have been put in the freezer for eating a a later date when I need something for guests in a hurry.

I found a block of cream cheese lurking in the back of the freezer which according to the label should have been used up last November. Yep you read that right.  I knew it had been in there a while but I did not know it was that long.  When I opened it there was nothing wrong with it at all so I made a baked Lemon Cheese Cake.

I also made a Spinach, Smoked Salmon and Sour Cream Tart which was so delicious.

I made a yummy Black Bean Salad,

And some Sweet Chilli Scrolls for Hubby's lunch box this coming week.

I won't share all the recipes here but will include in posts over the next week so pop back if something caught your eye.  For now though here is the recipe for the Yoyos which are a biscuit I learnt to cook when I was in primary school.  They are very rich shortbread like biscuits that I am sure are not good for your waist line so enjoy as a treat.


175g Softened Butter
1/4 Cup Icing Sugar
1/4 Tsp Vanilla Essence
1 1/2 Cups Plain Flour
1/4 Cup Custard Powder

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla essence and then sift the flour and custard powder before adding to the creamed butter mix.
Roll teaspoons of the mix into balls and place on a greased baking tray.  Flatten with a fork and bake at 180 degrees for 15  20 minutes or until the edges just start to colour.
when cold sandwich together in twos with the butter filling below or eat as they are.


50g Softened Butter
1/2 Cup Icing Sugar
2 Tbsp Custard Powder

Beat all ingredients together until well combined.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Most Disturbing Thing On TV I Have Seen In A Long Time

In conjunction with Plastic Free July I would like to recommend that everyone makes time to watch this documentary.
I aired on Australian TV last week and at the time I did not see it so tonight I watched it online.  Within 10 minutes I felt ill, angry, revolted and ashamed to be part of a so called evolved and intelligent species.

The documentary which you can watch here (until the end of the month) is called 'The Men Who Made Us Spend'.

It is an eye opening account of how products are designed to fail so that we need to replace them and how we are encouraged to spend.
Sadly there is some graphic evidence of what happens to all the electronic waste as our society constantly upgrades, including all of the brand new un-opened boxes of computing equipment, that is thrown out as it becomes 'outdated'.

I know how different the life we live is compared to many people and that we are quite a long way removed form what is the norm (although far from what I call normal).  But one of the facts I found staggering was that over the 1990's to 2000's people in America went from buying approximately 34 pieces of clothing a year to 67 pieces which equates to a new piece of clothing every 5.4 days.
I don't think I have purchased that many new pieces of clothing in the last 5 years.

In the next episode they will explore how our emotions are manipulated and our anxieties exploited so they can sell to us which I think will be very interesting.

If you have already seen it what did you think?