… since I’ve posted – firstly, my apologies!
I started my Master’s degree at university, so time has been lacking lately when combined with a full time job. I love it though – definitely no complaints.
I have exams in a week, then I’m on a break until March. Let me tell you, I cannot wait!
That does mean it’s “that” time of year again though … just over a month until Christmas, when everyone’s wallets start to shrink and money seems to hemorrhage out left, right and centre.
We’ve already managed to get ourselves off to a very broke season. Between booking flights to go home for Christmas, paying car registration, and all of our quarterly bills hitting at once (funny about that) – we’ve had next to nothing leftover. Perfect.
Now that we’re (mostly) past it, I thought I’d share with you some of the things we did to keep ourselves fed and watered over the past month or two.
I hope you can get some good ideas, but please feel free to share your own below too – love to hear from you!
Food is a tough one. You want to eat nice food that’s healthy and nutritious, but when your grocery budget is $50 for an entire week, for two people, that’s a little tricky – especially when you’ve already used up all of the emergency reserves!
We’ve become masters of tuna bake. It’s (reasonably) healthy, and easy to make with only 3-4 ingredients depending on how much you want to throw into it.
My favourite jar sauce for tuna bake is the Dolmio version. I’m a bit of a bargain hunter/hoarder so whenever I see the Dolmio jars on special, I stock up (budget permitting) – then I’ve always got some on hand. They’re usually $4.00 a jar when they’re not on sale.
If you’ve got the Dolmio brand, all you need then is spiral pasta (well, any pasta will do) and a big tin of tuna.
You can buy spiral pasta for $1.00 a packet these days, so it’s very cost effective and cheap.
Coles and Woolworths make their own brand of tuna in springwater which I happily use. My theory is that there’s no ‘Coles-brand’ tuna swimming in the sea – they’re all the same fish. I am sure there are differences in how they’re processed and manufactured, but it hasn’t bothered me yet – and when I’ve only got a little bit of money to spend, I don’t have much choice!
The prices between Coles/Woolworths and other brands can be as much as $3-$4 so it’s worth considering the ‘home brands’.
The Dolmio suggestion is to add cheese on top when you bake it. Grated cheese can be stupidly expensive – $5.00 upwards for a packet – so sometimes I’ll leave this off if we don’t have any in the fridge.
All up, it can be about $10-$15 to get all the ingredients. It usually lasts us for two dinners for two people – pretty inexpensive meal!
The only thing I don’t like is the lack of vegetables in it. I sometimes put in frozen peas & corn, but if we have any money for vegetables, I’ll buy fresh carrots and broccoli and steam those alongside it.
That brings me to my next point – fruit & vegetables. They’re essential but can add up to being the most expensive part of the grocery bill.
I tend to shop around – compare our grocer, with Coles, with Woolworths and figure out which is the cheapest. I won’t buy heaps of different types of vegies, but lots of the cheaper options. Generally we end up with loads of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and potatoes.
Similarly with fruit – apples are often cheap, plus anything else in season. Lately blueberries have been really cheap so I stock up on those – they’re great on muesli/porridge for breakfast, and as a snack during the day, and they’re really good for you too.
This is where we came a little unstuck in the last month. Normally I’m on top of the household things like dishwashing liquid/powder, toilet paper, shower soap etc. This month, not so much.
Let me set the scene. We live in a tiny apartment with a tiny kitchen sink. We have a dishwasher. I’d stacked it lovingly and carefully, only to realise that we had a) plenty of dishes left over to handwash and b) we had no dishwashing tablets/powder.
I handwashed what I could, but I’d put all of the stubborn dishes in the dishwasher – little bit out of laziness!
Of course, dishwashing tablets and powder is expensive. Our last lot, I’d bought on sale – 90 Finish tablets for $30.00! They’d just run out though, and I couldn’t afford the $15.00 upwards for more.
In desperation, I got a box of 20 from Woolworths for $5.00 – I figured they’d be fine for a week … as it turns out, they work brilliantly! They don’t end up gooey and stuck to the tablet holder like some of the Finish ones, and the dishes are sparkling. I will happily recommend these, and buy them again myself.