Eat the pantry

I’m trying to save money. With birthdays coming up, saving for Christmas, saving for a home and hopefully taking my kids on a short holiday, I’m trying so darn hard to save what I can.

I’ve been eating the pantry and shopping the freezer. Sometimes, until you look, you have no idea what little gems can be found. Some unmarked freezer bags with savoury mince, tuna pasta sauce, and cans of five bean mix hiding in the back of the cupboard.

I managed five meals from one cook with the dubious art of ‘use what you’ve got’. One slow cooked beef mince stew gave me the base to make five different meals for my family. Some extra cooking required on the day, but with the base complete, it only amounted to boiling pasta or spuds, or making a dough and throwing it in the oven.

And all from stuff I had on hand. No visit to the supermarket, no rushing out for take away (which we don’t have here, anyway) and no stress about what to cook, with five meals done (I put two in the freezer for another time).

A little thought, and a lot of hope, made my day. I’ve saved money, used up some of the odds and ends, fed the kids healthy meals (sneaky veg included) and I’ve realised that I’m getting better at this frugal stuff. Yay for me, yay for my savings plans.

Tuna Pasta Cheat

Some days food is a lot like hard work. And if you haven’t planned ahead, the work seems to multiply exponentially.

I had a cleaning day on my own, and the kids all had lunch at their respective school/kinder/daycare so the only person I had to feed was myself.

I looked in the cupboard for that elusive item to jump out and say ‘eat me!’, and for the first time ever, something did.

Tomato chutney.

Weird, I know, but pairing it with pasta, tuna and passata I got a really good tuna pasta.

And it was easy. I cooked my pasta, drained it and threw two tablespoons of chutney in the saucepan, half a cup of passata and some tuna. Gave it a quick mix to warm it through, dumped it on the pasta, grated some cheese and woo hoo! Lunch.

Simple, cheap and filling. Also pretty darn tasty.

If you don’t laugh, you’d cry

Some days just do not go well. It’s lunch time, and I haven’t completely lost my marbles yet. I should have.

  • My two youngest broke the roller blind in their bedroom. Beyond repair. Now I have to find room in the budget for a new one.
  • They are each on their second outfit, mud puddles plus walking the dog equals wet fun (and extra washing I hadn’t really planned on).
  • Worried phone call from mum asking if I could drive to their place and turn off the stove as she won’t be home until late and doesn’t want the soup to burn.
  • Breakout the vacuum to clean the lounge, and it’s just not sucking things up. Half an hour later I’ve finally removed the hair tangled around the rolling brush in the bottom (am I the only one who never knew I had to do this regularly?).

On the positive side, I was so angry about the blind that I couldn’t even yell at the kids. Instead they got the “go and play, I’m too angry to be nice to you” while I collected myself. The dog got a walk, and he loves wet day walks. The soup mum is making won’t burn, because I did make the 20 minute round trip just to take the stock off the stove, and mum makes great veg soup (I plan on eating some next time I visit). The vacuum is now cleaning the way it should. I will have to actually take it apart and give it a proper clean soon, but it’s fixed enough to get the house clean.

Some days just don’t go well. It’s true, but it’s also a matter of perspective. I could let this series of inconveniences get me down (and I did, for about an hour), or I could realise that it could be worse.

The blind could have broken a window as the kids pulled it down. The dog could have been hit by a car as we walked (thank heaven for retractable leads). The kids could only have one set of winter clothes. Mum’s house didn’t burn down from leaving the stove on while she went out. I could have no vacuum and be using a dustpan and brush to clean the carpets.

In reality, these aren’t big issues, but when we let them build up, they can become big. Stress is something that I deal with every day. Big stressors and little stressors add up to physical ailments. But do I want them to? No. No, I don’t.

So today, while it may not have gone well (and there’s still time for it to go south), I’m choosing to fix what I can, work around what I can’t and know that tomorrow at least I can look forward to a walk to the library.

Water, water everywhere

It rained yesterday. Really rained. All day rain. It’s something we haven’t seen here in a while. For mid autumn, we’ve been fairly rain free, and I’m grateful it’s finally back on the weather agenda.

Most of my home is run on tank water, and if it doesn’t rain, we have no water. So behold my joy when we go almost two inches in twenty four hours.

Sometimes my crunch is only semi-crunchy, other times it gets extreme. When the options for water include carting it in at great expense or hooking a hose to the mains to fill the tank, extreme crunch is the option I’d rather take.

So here are my extremes:

  • catch water in clean buckets to use in the home or garden
  • use the water to bucket flush the toilet, feed the animals, half fill the bath or sink
  • use the water to rinse/soak laundry
  • use the water to wash the floors or car
  • use the water for cleaning around the house or bathing pets

Okay, some of it isn’t extreme and is merely sensible, but any water you don’t have to pay for is a bonus. For me, tank water is a great option, even if you only use it in the laundry, it’s a cost saving, and grey water can be reused in the garden.

So yes, after the rain yesterday, I now have buckets full of water roaming around my garden. Yes it looks weird, but I have dog water now that I don’t have to pay for, or empty the tank for. Yay me.