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Playing the shopping game

October 23, 2016

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I love when you save more than you spend! I’m doing a four-week shop at Woolworths at the moment, spend $30 for 4 weeks to get 4000 bonus points, plus a $90 offer at Coles for 15000 bonus points. The Woolies shop this week was entirely markdowns and half price specials (the WW meals and the Vege Chips were half price in the catalogue). I got meat, pizzas (we ate two for lunch and one is in the freezer), a big bag of coleslaw with dressing, some vegetarian ball things, yogurt, pastries, Parmesan cheese, juice. Spent $30.80, saved $50.76!

Calculated carefully at Coles too, and spent $90.85, saving $50.76. That included staples that weren’t on sale like eggs, milk, plain flour (homebrand) and toilet paper (homebrand), plus more marked down meat and lots of catalogue specials. $43 at Spudshed (strawberries, apples, kiwi fruit, broccoli, kale, bananas, bread, pears, whole watermelon, 1kg of frozen mango, pasta 3 for $2, beef burgers) means we are about $14 over budget but the freezers are absolutely full, and the bonus points will be more than worth it.

One more week of the Woolworths one, two more weeks of the Coles one (next week I’ll buy $30 of phone credit from Coles so that will free up more grocery money), and that’ll get us $95 in rewards points. So far we already have about $350 in Flybuys dollars, plus I have $100 in gift cards on the way from surveys.

Saving it up for February when I have to take unpaid maternity leave. If we get to $600 in rewards dollars/gift cards that’s four weeks of grocery shopping we don’t need to pay for ūüôā

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Cheesy kale and potato

July 10, 2016

I forgot to take a photo but I’m blogging this so I don’t forget how to make it!

Ingredients

half bunch kale, chopped

4 potatoes, sliced thinly

half brown onion, sliced thinly

1 clove garlic, chopped/crushed

little chicken stock

salt & pepper

oil

handful grated cheese

 

Method

Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan, add onion and garlic. Saute until softened. Add potatoes and continue to saute for a minute or two. Add enough chicken stock to deglaze the pan and give some cooking liquid, keep stirring potatoes, making sure they get coated in liquid. Add kale and keep cooking, stirring frequently. When potato is almost soft enough, add cheese and chuck in the oven for five minutes.

 

Yum! This was dinner tonight with some silverbeet and feta triangles that I made yesterday. Super-cheap.

Life stinks sometimes.

July 8, 2016

I was happily looking forward to a tax refund this year, based on the fact that:

  1. My employer until May overpaid me as they pay by the month and I didn’t finish May with them; I obviously repaid the overpayment but it means I was taxed more than I would otherwise have been.
  2. I then started a higher-paying job for a month, where they withheld at a rate assuming I’d been getting paid that much all financial year.

So I plugged my figures into MyTax (by the by, it’s an EXCELLENT tool for uncomplicated tax returns) and could not work out why it was saying I OWED the ATO well over $1000. I put my thinking cap on and the only answer seemed to be that my former employer had not been withholding my tax correctly.

Suffice to say, one very pissed-off phone call later, I discover that even though I had ticked on my PAYG withholding declaration that I have a HECS debt (HR confirmed this for me), they had not selected that option on their payroll software, so extra tax wasn’t being withheld for that. NOT HAPPY – I budgeted within what I was getting paid, assuming Payroll were doing it correctly. $2200 in HECS repayments scuppered my tax refund and have left me with a debt that I have no hope of paying off in a lump sum.

Moral of the story: check and double-check! I went straight to my current Payroll person and asked nicely if she could double-check it was correct here (it is). I honestly could have cried though, I’ve been working so hard to live within my means only to discover it wasn’t my means after all!

Add to that a big car repair bill and our joint savings for the council rates in August are also decimated.

I put in the figures and as long as utility bills don’t go over the estimated amount (and since I did that budget, the water bill came in $30 under estimate), we stick STRICTLY to the $150/week grocery budget, and no additional expenses, we will have enough for the rates by August. No takeaway, no household purchases, if the pets need food that will have to come within the grocery budget.

Coles sent me another four-week FlyBuys offer, spend $110 for four weeks to get 10000 points. I’m in two minds, the first week is actually 10 days so we could just skip Coles this week or do very minimal so that we can do a bigger one for the Week 1 shop, but it would only leave us $40 to spend at Spudshed each week.

The freezer is full!

June 5, 2016

I’m still going with my Woolies gift card, just popping in and picking up markdowns only, got some good stuff this week, especially since I’m not feeling the best at present and therefore not very creative with dinners. Three pizzas from the supermarket still beats takeaway. When we have stuff like the chicken kebabs I just serve with a simple salad or steamed/roast veg so there is still fresh food in there – I just don’t have to think much about it.

This lot cost $166 all up, slightly over budget but M was well under last weekend when I was away, so we’ve had two weeks well under budget. The freezer is really full now, I rearranged and it was a bit like playing Tetris.

Here’s what we got:

The prepacked fruit and veg at Spudshed was:

  • big bag of apples $1
  • 2 sweetcorn $1
  • 2 bunches Chinese greens $1
  • 2 heads broccoli $2

Vague meal plan with these goodies/other freezer stocks:

  • tonight we’re having a chicken and vegie stir-fry. M froze the chicken breasts in bags of 2 so I’ll poach one for sandwiches/lunches too
  • quiche and roast veg – there will be leftovers for lunch
  • chicken kebabs, rice and roast veg salad using leftovers from previous night
  • hamburgers (vegie burger for Emma)
  • chicken schnitzels, potatoes, broccoli
  • chorizo/chicken/tomato pasta

I’m having a lot of porridge for breakfast at the moment; really can’t beat it when the weather’s cold. ¬†I just use the recipe from the bag of quick oats: 1/3 cup quick oats, 3/4 cup liquid (I use a little full-cream milk and the rest water). Microwave 1 min, stir, microwave until done to your liking. Add brown sugar to taste.

Cheap but not very frugal …

May 21, 2016

 

… that’s this week’s shopping. We had to go to the shops with my two stepdaughters as the elder one needed some more clothes that fit her properly. She has a difficult shape to fit. Lucked out with some clearance items at Kmart: a 3/4 sleeve top that’s much longer in the body than most (room for her belly) and because it’s 3/4 sleeve won’t swamp her arms – she’s 9, just under average height for a 9 year old, and wearing a size 14, and a pair of trackpants that I’ve chopped a few inches off the bottom. Since we were at the shops anyway we did the grocery shopping.

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There were lots of things we didn’t need this week as we still had plenty – any cleaning/toiletry products (except toilet paper, not in the picture), potatoes, apples, pears, carrots, spinach. The freezer was still pretty full of meat, I just picked up a couple of satay chicken thigh packs half price, and the fake meat was a good price.

Only $102 spent, so well under budget, but the other half picked up a couple of full-price items in the bakery section because, well, children.

There weren’t many good lunchbox items on special apart from the Vege Chips but I still have some in the pantry and can bake if need be. This sort of ‘low’ week is an important part of the grocery shopping cycle for me, no point in spending $150 just because it’s our budget. Staying under this week gives the leeway we need for weeks where we might need a lot, and we also have the council rates to save for.

This week’s meal ideas:

  • vegan nachos (bought vege mince marked down last week, so I can just do one lot that the whole family will eat, yay!!)
  • satay chicken¬†with rice and steamed greens
  • chicken/chik’n tenders with homemade chips/wedges

The kids and I are off to Bali Thursday night so I don’t need very many dinners. Yay!! Hopefully that will mean another small shopping week but I may have to trust M to do the shopping without me!

I also have my last day at my current job on Wednesday so I will bake them some cupcakes – maybe lemon meringue as the lemons on my tree are ripening.

‘Best before’

May 16, 2016

IMG_4334These are the Brussels sprouts I bought for 80c on Sunday (down from $5), with a best-before date of tomorrow.

I don’t know about you, but they look pretty good to me – nice and bright, firm, no wet bits. On the other hand, I’ve seen fruit and veg not marked down that looked awful – use your eyes and nose, no point buying food that needs to be thrown out. These are perfect and will easily last the rest of the week in a Tupperware FridgeSmart.

Tonight we had a tray of these, cut in half and roasted until crispy. We also had zucchini slice, and spicy lentils – there are easily enough leftovers for work lunches all week.

There were only two of us for dinner tonight, but here’s a cost breakdown:

Brussels sprouts (20c), olive oil, herbs and spices – negligible, always have in pantry.

1 cup dried lentils (50c Рmy Coles sells these heaps cheaper in the Indian grocery section than in the soup section), 500g sweet potato (90c), 1 brown onion (5c), 1 bunch kale (30c Рgot 3 for $1 in a markdown bag), rice bran oil, turmeric, garam masala, chilli, salt (always have in pantry) = $1.75

2 zucchini (50c – 4 for $1 in markdown bag), 6 eggs ($2), 1 red onion (10c), 4tbsp flour (negligible), half a chorizo sausage (50c – markdown tray), 100g grated cheese ($1) = $4.10

So, $6.05 plus pantry staples. It was delicious, fed two adults for dinner, and there are at least 6 lunch serves.

 

May 15, 2016

Just squeezing under budget this week at $148, IF you don’t count the $20 we spent on apples that we picked yesterday – I kind of don’t as that falls under the ‘family outing’ budget, it just comes with the bonus of 10kg of delicious fresh Sundowner apples. More about that later.

The $16 at Woolies is also kind of free money – I got a $100 gift card from my credit card rewards points (no annual fee, never pay any interest), but I don’t want to do my weekly shop there, so decided I’d pop in whenever I have time and just shop for markdowns. No photos today as I got home at lunchtime and everyone wanted lunch!

Woolies didn’t have any meat markdowns that I wanted but lots of others:

  • 4 meat pies for $3.50 down from $5.99
  • a 400g tub of green beans for $1, down from $4.98
  • 500g of brussels sprouts for 80c (I love them roasted)
  • sliced mushrooms $2.12 down from $5.30
  • 24 cookies for $2 down from $5
  • 1kg of ‘odd bunch’ avocadoes for $4.90, avos have been way out of our budget lately
  • a My Little Pony toy for $2 down from $10, which will go in the present drawer.

I had a FlyBuys voucher for bonus points if I spent $90 and managed – without adding up – to spend $90.37! Also used bonus vouchers for buying Coles frozen veg and mini marshmallows.

All the meat at Coles was half price or better:

  • 600g of chuck steak for $1.75 (75% off)
  • 2x500g Mt Barker red thai curry chicken steaks $4.95 each (my kids’ favourite)
  • 2 trays of rissoles
  • a tray of chorizo sausages

The two younger kids and I went to the footy this afternoon so the chocolate milks, chips, lollies and some of the biscuits were for that. The $1 bags at Spudshed were 2 bunches of kale, and 4 zucchinis. Zucchini slice with chorizo will be tomorrow evening’s¬†dinner, beyond that I haven’t really thought. Maybe a slow-cooker casserole¬†with the chuck steak and mushrooms?