Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Being Flexible

Being keen as anything to get going on my challenge of cutting food costs, I made a menu plan and a shopping list, hah, that all went out the window when I got to the supermarket.  Normally, I would have used a brochure they stick through the letterbox in the weekend.  Somehow it didn’t arrive and I assumed that the usual specials would apply how wrong I was!

First of all I intended to buy lamb as that has been on special for ages, no it was up to $34 a leg!  No way! I cast my eye along the chiller, oh pork! Yippee!  A good price too.  Such a good price that I am seriously thinking of going to town after my physio on Friday, and get some more joints, as also (I discover that I can see the specials online) the legs joints are even a better bargain! 

There were quite a few bargains that weren’t on my shopping list such as avocados at 89 cents each; Jarrah coffee reduced down to $4.00, normally it is about $7, and potatoes they have been about $2.99 a kilo, I got a 2.5 kg (5 lb) bag for $4.00.  Maggi cup of sups for $1.99, (quite often I will just have a cup of soup and a piece of toast for supper.  Quite a quick and cheap meal, (there are 4 in a pack.) Tasty Cheese $10.00 instead of $12.00'

I quickly realised as I was going around the shop that my menu plan was not valid anymore and also that my actual needs for the next fortnight were only about ¼ my budget.  So I am able to replenish my stock as well.  Well mostly!  I did plan to make a quiche on Friday as I have a friend coming for lunch and she is vegetarian.  I would have used up the butter I have for the pastry, However I could not believe my eyes it was over $5.00 a 500gm block. (Normally you can get it $3.50, what happened?  So, I will make impossible quiche instead and save my butter!  I went on line and the other supermarket in town has it for $4.50, STILL!?!!

Here is my budget and menu plan, I promise, promise you I will not bore you with it every fortnight, I just wanted to list it to show that even when food is dear in your area, if you have a well-stocked store you can be thrifty. As a matter of interest Winz (state benefit people) calculate that when giving out a food grant to its clients, $100 for a single person a week is sufficient!  PLEASE I AM NOT SAYING IT IS TOO MUCH, THESE PEOPLE ARE VERY NEEDY and NEED HELP WHEN UNEXPECTED BILLS COME IN, THEIR BENEFITS DON'T MAKE ALLOWANCE FOR THE UNEXPECTED. (I have been there!) I am only giving this as a benchmark. Also I wanted to show that you can eat really well on my budget.  Yes there is an initial outlay to build up your store, but that can be done gradually during the weeks you have a surplus.

Fortnightly needs:

Pork 2 kg (4 lb) - $14.22
Chicken  1.3 kg (2 ¾ lb.)- $9
½ Cauliflower - $2.70
Eggplant - $2.49
Sour cream 250 gm (8 oz.) - $3.00
500 gm carrots - $2.22
500 gm Onions - $1.47

Total $35.10

Store cupboard

Potatoes $2.50 kg $4.00
Tin diced tomatoes - 80 cents
UHT milk 1 litre - $2.00
4 packets Maggi soup of soups - $8.00
1 Watties Tortellini Sachets 350 gm - 3.00 (stand by treat)
Jarrah Vienna latte coffee - $4.00 (treat)
Bread (el cheapo) -- $1.00 (I like to have a loaf in the freezer in case I don’t get round to making a loaf!)
Tasty cheddar 700 gm - $10.00, will cut it up into 4 pieces and freeze.

Total $32.80

This leaves $32.10 of my fortnightly budget of $100 (US $70) for perishables and replenishment of stores.

Menu plan

Tuesday Roast chicken, potatoes, kumara, carrots and peas, strawberries
Wednesday –Cold Chicken, potato salad, lettuce salad, fresh peach
Thursday – Broccoli and feta fritters, garden salad and fresh peach
Friday – Impossible Quiche, garden salad and fruit salad with yogurt
Saturday – Chicken Pilaf, lettuce salad, yogurt and berries
Sunday - Roast Pork and the trimmings, Bread and Butter Pudding
Monday - Black Bean`Quesadillas, Fruit salad
Tuesday – Cold pork, broccoli, carrots and Jacket Potato, rest of Bread and Butter Pudding
Wednesday – Chicken curry and rice, yogurt.
Thursday – Stuffed zucchini (mince beef), rice, carrot salad, preserved apricots
Friday – Sweet and Sour pork, noodles and stir fry vegetables, apple
Saturday – Broccoli/cauliflower soufflĂ© and garden salad, apricot crumble
Sunday – Chicken risotto, using last of chicken and stock made from the carcass, chocolate mousse  
Monday – remains of risotto made into a patty with a pocket of feta cheese, chocolate mousse
Breakfast is usually toast and vegemite or jam, or a cereal, such as cornflakes or weetbix, milk and preserved fruit.
Supper will be the cereal if toast is had in the morning or a cup of soup and salad sandwich. I will make ratatouille to have some days as a change.

Today’s main meal I had this evening as it was too hot to eat at midday!  I still haven’t eaten the peach, but will have it later perhaps.  I have planned for desserts but quite often I will miss them. They are there if I want them.
With this plan I have not used all my pork, I will have at least 6 meals lfor the freezer. And I probably will have some vegetables left.  There were only 3 meals that made heavy use of what was in store. 

The key to this is being flexible, go for the bargains and then plan your meals.  Take enough time when you are going around the shop to think what if I have that what else would I need.  This shop was done in only one supermarket; no doubt I could have pared it down even more if I shopped around more.  But we are in the middle of a heat wave and no way was I going to traipse down the other end of town!  I will check it out on Friday.

One bit of good news, the company that is fitting my heat pump in is doing it next Tuesday so if the heat wave is still here I will have air conditioning. Yay!

Crochet news – I have been working on a shawl from some wool I unraveled from an op shop jersey. I am using two strands and it is coming on well.  However I would love someone to tell me how to stop unraveled wool looking like spaghetti junction!

I fell in love with shawls last winter and I do have another one on the hooks, but have put it aside as it is too hot to handle wool comfortably, so, I have been making some doilies.

They are quick and fun to make.  This is made with no 10 cotton and a 1.75 mm hook.  I got the pattern from Ravelry, I must put a link to my project pages on the side bar.  I am not sure if you can see it if you don’t have an account with them, but for those of you that do, you can access the pattern links.

In the Garden

It is too hot to be in the garden much, but I have had to clear the bed against back of the house, so they can put in the unit for the heat pump.  I will start again as the plants are overgrown and rather shaggy.  The Geraniums had got taller than me!  So, a good excuse putting in a new plan for that area.
Tonight I will take some time out to read with a herbal tea, I am reading David Baldacci’s Zero Day, I love his books.  After I have posted this I will strip the chicken carcass and freeze the meat and boil the carcass to make stock. 

Life cannot get any better than this!

Thanks for visiting and have a lovely day/night.

PS I want to thank Jane over at Hope and Thrift for inspiring me to take the plunge.


  1. Your crochet is lovely!

    Glad you found some good bargains at the store. Butter is expensive, here, too (Southern California); $4.49/lb. for the store brand; more for other brands. It was on sale for $3.99/lb. when I bought some, with a $.40 cents off coupon, so my final cost was $3.59. Not good. I try to stock up when it goes on sale, but it hasn't gone on sale for a long time. My monthly grocery budget is $75 (US) for 1 person and I find myself doing very well for that amount. I enjoyed reading through your menu plan. Hope you have a lovely week ahead.

    1. Thanks for your visit. I think what grated with me was that the week before I saw some for $3.20 and I was going to grab some but decided not to as I had half a packet in the fridge!!! Hope you feel better soon.

  2. You did amazing, Sharon! And your menu looks fantastic. I guess butter is expensive everywhere. A few weeks back, I found some in the reduced for quick sale bin at a local grocery store. You can be sure I snatched it all up and froze it. Otherwise, I would have gone with margarine. Even that is getting expensive. Maybe I'll be forced to go back to Grandma's day and use schmaltz (chicken fat). Ha!

    I know what you mean about the reclaimed yarn. I've read, but haven't tried, that if you wind it into long skeins and get it wet, then hang it out on the line to dry, it will go back into it's original shape. Usually when I start these new projects, I'm too excited to start to have the patience for that. BTW, both your shawl and doily are beautiful. You do wonderful work!
    Have a beautiful and thrifty week!


    1. Thanks very much Jane. In my grandmothers day they used lard (pig fat)and dripping (beef fat). Hope your visit to the dentist went off okay and that you were able to have some treats after! Have a great week. Sharon

  3. hi sharon,
    your crochet looks beautiful.
    and your menue plan sounds good, food prices are high in germany,especially fruits and vegetables. but potatoes are very cheap.this week gives irish butter on sale 250 gram for 1,11€,I will
    buy a few.My monthly bugdet for 3 adults is 320,00€.I buy with this money food,hygiene article,clothes,seed for my little garden,heating oil,fuel for my car.
    Have anice restweek,

    1. Thank you for visiting Regina. That is a very good price for butter!. You do very well with your budget. Have a nice weekend.

  4. Hello, Sharon. I learned of you from Jane's blog (Hope and Thrift). Your shawl is beautiful!! I am thinking about taking up knitting. I have never knitted but would love to learn as I am getting older (I just turned 62). I live in a cold area and would love to make sweaters, socks, gloves and hats.

    I agree with you, and Jane, that you go to the grocery store THEN decide what your meal plan will be depending upon the sales. I try not to ever buy anything that is not on sale. My husband and I have a small income and are trying to buy a small home and, as we all know, the only area it seems you can cut back at times is in the grocery bill. You can eat well on a small budget but you have to plan and use the sales.

    I am glad Jane pointed me your way. Will catch up on your back blogs!


    1. Thanks for your visit Cate. Good idea on learning to knit or crochet, You Tube have wonderful how to's on both, that's how I learnt. Homemade stuff seems somehow to be warmer that shop brought! Yes it does take a lot of planning, but I am saving $50 a week so its adding up quick, makes me hang my head in shame to think how I wasted my money before.

  5. P.S. Your meals sound delicious!