Pig Tits and Parsley Sauce

Slash your grocery bill by living sustainably

What The Kids Ate

Posted by on Aug 31, 2009

When something new is suggested our natural reaction is to put up barriers resisting the change.  Most people seem programmed to question the new suggestion and I guess that is a survival instinct… you are going along OK as you are – why change? On the other hand, there is a small percentage of adaptable people who leap on board new things relatively quickly.  The rest of us watch these change-meisters to see if they sink or swim before we are ready to take the plunge.  And so, when someone suggests that you radically change your approach to the weekly grocery shop as far as cutting back by $200 or more – then, immediately, reasons as to why this is not possible spring to mind and lip.

 

Often the kids get used as an excuse.  I have heard this a lot lately.  ‘Gee, you are going well with your budget.  I don’t know how you are doing it. We’d love to try it but we can’t because of the kids – they would never do it!’ In my experience it is not usually kids who are inadaptable to change.  It is adults who get stuck in their ways.  Kids are probably one of the most adaptable things on the planet.

 

I credit my daughters, Danni and Stevie, as being the second most positive thing that allow us to live on just $75 a week groceries.  The first thing is the MAKE homemade cleaning products but more about that next week. The girls have been positive about the whole thing right from day one even though they have borne the brunt of most of the changes.  We no longer buy cakes and biscuits in the groceries, but instead of crying, the kids have adapted and now I often find them baking, which is something we never really did before.  Stevie (11) is a good cook and can whip up cupcakes at the drop of a hat.  Anzac biscuits are a favourite and I came home the other night to find Danni (17) making pikelets which was impressive. Toasted sandwiches seem to be the snack of choice and we are always eating fruit now, a lot of it donated by friends and family and gratefully accepted.

 

Instead of expensive cereal for breakfast I start the day with toast and often enjoy a bowl of porridge (rolled oats) which is yummy, filling and easy on the wallet. The kids are more inventive, making French toast or eggy-in-the-hole as a good tummy-filler before school.  In my opinion we are eating better on the budget than we were before.

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Our Changed Diet

Posted by on Aug 25, 2009

 

Slashing our grocery bill to $100 a week has to be the best thing I have ever done. All I wanted to do was save some money, for a change. Now, six months later, I am a successful columnist with my own website – www.pigtitsandparsleysauce.co.nz – and I’ve saved over $25,000. I’ve been on TV several times and have developed my own brand – Make (as in make your own household cleaning products and cosmetics) – started a company (albeit named Pig Tits and Parsley Sauce) and engaged a franchisee, Lynn Putt, to cover Coastal Taranaki. I’m also a teacher, a public speaker and a bookseller. Amazing, isn’t it?

The truly amazing thing is that with a little bit of forethought and discipline, I now spend in one month on groceries what I used to spend in a week and my family is better off for it in many ways.

Here are a few food items I will never buy again:

Frozen chips: what madness sees us spending $3 plus on a few frozen, crinkle-cut potatoes when you can buy a 10kg bag of spuds for $6 or $7 and chop them up yourself?

Bolognese sauce: I was pondering how bad the cheap no-name pasta sauce could be when some kind gourmet pointed out that you can joosh up a can of whole tomatoes ($1.30) in the food processor by adding a clove of garlic, onion and a herb or three and voila, have really nice pasta sauce. Why didn’t I think of that one myself?

Drinks: fruit juice, wine, flavoured milk – all loaded with sugar, expensive and fattening. We don’t miss those drinks at all. It’s just cups of tea, water and milk at our place now. We all had withdrawal symptoms for about a month and had to train ourselves to remember to drink water so we didn’t dehydrate, but quickly got over it and now water is easily our drink of choice as we’ve kissed those sugar-laden, money- wasters goodbye.

Some other things we don’t get any more include biscuits, roll-ups, muesli bars, strings, tiny teddies, Milo, processed meat, chips, ice cream, pizzas, dips, fancy breads, cheeses and cake. I can’t see it doing us any harm.

Next week: What the kids ate.

* If you want to get in touch with Lyn, you can email her on [email protected]

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$75 Budget Begins

Posted by on Aug 15, 2009

SPOILT for CHOICE

 

I might as well make it official, as of last week we are cutting the grocery budget again – this time to $75 a week.

pig tits stand

ROBERT CHARLES
Lyn Webster, left, with her new coastal representative Lynn Putt, in Lyn’s new sign-written car.

But before I tell you why, I have an announcement to make.  My home-made cleaning products, recipes and the associated classes and group demonstrations have been an unequivocal success. Demand nationwide has been so great that I felt obliged to cater for people who wanted a piece of this knowledge but because of their location are unable to attend my Tuesday evening classes in Waitara. My answer to this was to offer a franchise type arrangement to people around New Zealand (and beyond) love the home-made cleaning products enough to enthuse others about them.

 

Lynn Putt from Perth Road was an early adapter who recognised value in the MAKE range and is particularly impressed with results delivered by the home made laundry powder, so much so that she has become the Coastal franchisee.  Lynn is offering two classes on a Wednesday, 11am and 7pm, to cater for people from Oakura to Opunake who want to learn how to save big bucks by quickly and easily making their own cleaning products

(ph: 06 752 4033).

 

Discovering how to make effective home-made cleaning products for a fraction of the price of the bought stuff eased the pressure off the $100 budget.  Now most of our hundred dollars is spent on food, so when I found myself throwing away rotten pineapple and mouldy tomato paste the other day it reminded me of the bad old days, when we spent a fortune of groceries and than chucked most of it away. A tight grocery budget limits the choices available in your household.  If you have the choice between bread and cake – most people go for the cake and the bread goes mouldy. If there is only bread, then you eat that and you are grateful for it. The wasted food in our house recently signalled to me that we were getting spoilt for choice again.  $75 a week is extreme… I’ll let you know how we go.

 

Next Week:  Our changed diet

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Three Different Supermarkets… Same List

Posted by on Aug 11, 2009

pig stand
 
Surprising result: It’s not where you shop, it’s the choices you make.

Three different supermarkets, same list: which was cheapest?

For this experiment, I used a list of things we needed at the time.

I was pretty sure I knew which supermarket would be the cheapest and I expected it to be so much cheaper that the cost of the distance travelled to get there would be justified.

Wrong! Since shifting in June to Taranaki’s best-kept secret, the awesome little town of Waitara, I have vowed to shop locally. But I did wonder if that would put pressure on the $100 budget. However, someone pointed out to me (and quite rightly, too), that the cost of travelling into Countdown in New Plymouth or even The Valley should be taken into consideration. This led me to shop for my listed items locally at Waitara New World, Waitara Bin Inn and Countdown New Plymouth to see which came out the cheapest.

Here’s the list, which interestingly and unintentionally bears a close resemblance to the food bank list that appeared in the paper recently:

Coffee (90g), tea bags (200), a dozen eggs, tin of cream corn, tin of tuna, white vinegar, chocolate mousse sachet, pink iced buns, spaghetti, two loaves of bread, bananas.

Who do you think won?

It was actually a surprise to me to discover that all three bills came within $1 of each other. The total cost of that list was around $30 in all three shops. The items were all priced quite differently, but the bottom line was practically the same. This has led me to conclude that there are bargains in all supermarkets – it’s not the shop, it’s the shopper selecting the items off the shelf that dictates the size of the final bill. So instead of whingeing that you live in, for example, Stratford, and there is only one supermarket and it is really expensive, have a think about the way you shop. By making a conscious effort to select the least-cost acceptable item to fulfil your shopping list, you will be amazed at the savings you can achieve. Just because the supermarket stocks expensive luxury brands and places them on the shelf right in front of your nose doesn’t mean you have to choose them.

I’m just off now to have 600 cups of tea.

Next week: Spoilt for choice and the $75 grocery budget.

* If you want to get in touch with Lyn, you can email her on [email protected]

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Attitude Is Everything

Posted by on Aug 2, 2009

pig standTwenty-two thousand people have hit on me. I’m kidding – they have hit on my website, www.pigtitsandparsleysauce.co.nz.

In six months, Pig Tits has snow-balled from an idea in my head to a media event. Sometimes I wish I had thought of a different name – too late now.

The website is attracting people worldwide: China, Bahrain, UK, the United States and heaps from Australia. People are interested in buying my money-saving cleaning product recipes, fantastic baking soda and white vinegar books, and the Aussies are chasing my franchise so they can have Pig Tits across the Tasman. And all I wanted to do was save a bit of money.

I have raised a bit of dosh by running classes and selling recipes and ingredients. I am also finding a niche as a paid public speaker. Farmers in Invercargill is flying me down for a night in the deep south as a fund-raiser. It’s called An Evening with Lyn Webster and the organisers will charge $20 a head. They expect more than 400 people! To me, that is amazing. I’m going to show them how to make their own laundry powder, so I hope it’s not an anti-climax.

I am happy to go along with this strange phenomenon and interested to see what will happen next. I’ve invested the proceeds of all this work into sign- writing my car, so look out for the Pig Tits car, which will be on the road soon.

I’m not too busy to do my Tuesday night classes (7pm) and am getting organised with some franchisees who will be taking the money-saving cleaning product demonstrations out to more far- flung areas (like Coastal Taranaki) for people too distant to attend night classes in Waitara. August is getting booked up with group presentations, but I intend to provide these as long as there is an interest – so contact me on pigtitsand [email protected] or 754-8600 if you are not an internet person.

None of this would have happened if not for the positive response Jonathan MacKenzie, Robert Mitchell and Deb Sloan from the Taranaki Daily News had to a scruffy sharemilker who wandered in to their newsroom in January with a half- assed idea about a weekly budgeting column. It also would not have carried on without the positivity of 21,999 people who have shown an interest in the Pig Tits concept. Nothing makes you feel more positive amidst the uncertainty of a recession than having some spare cash in your savings account. And if you have the power to slash $200 off your weekly grocery bill, as I have, then give it a go. There is no downside. See you at the Shine Festival (all weekend in Oakura). Next week: three different supermarkets, same list. Which is cheapest?

* If you want to get in touch with Lyn, you can email her on [email protected]
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Good Morning New Zealand

Posted by on Jul 25, 2009

pig standGOOD MORNING NEW ZEALAND

When you are up to your neck in cows and calves at the beginning of spring, the last thing you can do is down tools and pop off to Wellington for a day of filming at Avalon TV studios.

However, thanks to some clever flight  scheduling and the help of my  good friends and former farmers  Jim and Katherine Watkins, that  was exactly what I did last  Friday. After all, it is not every  day the Good Morning show  (TV1) invites you to be a guest  and when it does happen, you  don’t want to say no.

So I scrubbed as much green stuff off my hands as possible, chucked on the new outfit hastily purchased the night before and boarded the plane to the capital. Raxa, the show’s driver, collected me from the luggage area and 40 minutes later I was in make-up, getting sorted out for my on- screen experience.

The make-up technician managed to off-set the ruby hue of my wind-burnt farming face (clever lady) and within minutes I was on the couch with Steve Gray, elaborating on the ups and downs of surviving on $100 a week worth of groceries. Six minutes of filming went by in a flash with no major muck-ups, then a quick change of clothes (to pretend it was another day) and I was demonstrating on camera how easy it is to make your own cleaning products at home. Steve was amazed how easily I whipped up a kilo of laundry powder for less than 5 cents a load, the same amount of automatic dishwashing powder for the same low, low price, and then I showed him the Yuk Home-Made Toothpaste.

Steve is a brave, brave boy, boldly sticking his finger into the unknown white paste and – aaaagh – licking it. The cameraman noted that Steve’s face said it all – that toothpaste packs a punch! However, after the initial shock, he was pleased with how fresh and clean his mouth felt and all for less than 10c a week.

He also commented on how white my teeth are (I’ve been using Yuk for about three months now). Filming was over and I was suddenly surrounded by the entire Good Morning crew, who were fascinated by the home- made products and their ease of making. I packed up samples of the products I had made and everyone went home with some to try. Steve commented that he had never seen the crew take such an interest in a product demonstration before. One camera guy even gave me $10 on the spot and I emailed him the recipes when I got home. I hope the rest of New Zealand reacts with similar enthusiasm.

If you missed out on yesterday’s show, my demonstration will be shown on August 7. Otherwise, check out the Good Morning video posted on my new website, www.pigtits andparsleysauce.co.nz

* If you want to get in touch with Lyn, you can email her on [email protected]

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Supermarket Tricks 18 July 2009

Posted by on Jul 19, 2009

After nearly 30 years of shopping, I have discovered that I don’t have to give away all my money to the supermarket. Here are some ways of getting around the supermarket and walking out with some cash left in your pocket.

First, remember that the supermarket is not your enemy: it’s a convenient, one-stop source of nearly all household needs. However, approach with caution. Going supermarket shopping without thinking is a sure-fire recipe for blowing the grocery budget. Have you ever gone in for just two things and ended up spending $100?

Before instituting my $100-a-week grocery budget, there was no planning, no list, unlimited funds and easy eftpos access to pay for it all. At the end of the spree, I didn’t know what I had bought, what I was going to do with it all, how long it would last and, most importantly, how much I had spent. If this sounds like you, don’t worry, it’s easy to change.

Remember you are up against some evil marketing while grocery shopping. Using catchy tunes, clever layouts and pretty packaging, supermarkets lure you into spending without thinking. Well, I don’t do that anymore and I am reaping the rewards. You can, too.

Here are some easy hints:

Work out how much you are currently spending – and be honest. Then set a sensible limit (mine is $100 a week).

Stay out of the supermarket when you can. Investigate the cheaper alternatives – Bin Inn, the Moturoa Four Square and other bulk-buy outlets, butchers, fruit and vege shops and stands for seasonal produce. Veges can be grown.

If you have to go to the supermarket, write a list of exactly what you need and stick to it. If the kids/partner pressure you into overspending – and kids are experts at getting around their parents – leave them at home.

Take cash and no plastic. If you only have $100 in your pocket, you can’t overspend.

Know what things are worth and look for the cheapest acceptable alternative.

Look on the lower shelves. The tempting, expensive, luxury items are at eye-level.

Forget most specials. There are usually generic items always at lower prices than those advertised.

Take your time to think before you shop – you’ll be amazed at how much money you can save.

Next week: What it’s like to be on Good Morning TV1, screening July 24 and August 7.

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$100 Budget 27/6

Posted by on Jun 26, 2009

Photo by Robert CharlesTo survive in modern times, we need to adapt to change.

Lately, with recessions  and so forth, this means getting out of  your comfort zone on an almost  continuous basis, which is tiresome,  particularly for no-longer-young-folk who  are happily stuck in their ways. But how  secure is your future?

The $100 a week grocery budget has been a great tool for me to fight back against the recession and see some cash build up in my bank account where no cash lingered before. Although for me the budget was borne from lack of funds, that may not be the case for all of us. What I am trying to say is that the concept of paying more attention to how much money is going out in grocery bills applies to all of us, rich and poor. Money wasted on unnecessarily expensive packaged products is better off in your own pocket, no matter who you are.

Here are some reasons I’ve heard why various people resist cutting back on grocery spending:

We’ve got plenty of money, so we don’t need to.

I have a teenage son.

My husband will have a fit.

My wife won’t do it.

I work, so I don’t have time.

The facts are that we don’t like change and so we dig our heels in. Here’s a hint: recognise that you are likely to be resistant to changing your spending habits. Set a lower budget and be prepared to feel uncomfortable in the beginning. Accept the feeling of anxiety but resist the temptation to return to your old ways. Look forward to the day where you feel confident using your new knowledge and skills, you’ve integrated the lower budget into your lifestyle and are enjoying feelings of familiarity, mastery and accomplishment. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

And this week, a camera crew came to visit from TV3. Watch out for me on Monday night on Campbell Live at 7pm.

Next week: Do you really know how much things cost?

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$100 Budget 20/6

Posted by on Jun 20, 2009

Instead of being frittered away on  unnecessary grocery items, my  hard-earned cash is staying in  my pocket. Here’s an example of how to trim your grocery bill  down without missing out on  much. Imagine it’s one of those  expensive weeks where  everything you need has run out  at once. Here are some actual  prices of middle-of-the-range  items randomly selected in my  local supermarket: Ordinary shopping list:

Loo paper 12 rolls, $7.99

Dishwashing liquid 1litre, $3.79

Laundry powder 1kg, $7.99

Spray cleaner, 1 litre $5.29

Toothpaste Max White, $5.59

Deodorant, $5.69

Mouthwash, $11.89

Shampoo, $7.99

Conditioner, $7.99

Moisturiser, $12.26

Bread – 10 @ $3.70, $37

Pet food rolls 3 @ $7 $21

Total: $134.47

Save money shopping list:

Loo paper 12 rolls Homebrand, $4.58

Dishwashing liquid 1 litre, home-made, $0.43

Laundry powder 1kg, home- made, $2.66

Spray cleaner 1 litre, home- made, $0.06

Toothpaste Yuk White, home- made, $0.68

Deodorant, home-made, $0.06

Mouthwash, home-made, $0.10

Shampoo, home-made, $0.45

Conditioner, home-made, $0.15

Moisturiser, home-made, $2.50

Bread – 10 Homebrand @ $1.49, $14.90

Pet food rolls at Matador Fresh (best deal in town) 5 for $10 $10

Total $36.57

I hear you shriek: I haven’t got time to make all those things myself. How gross, washing hair with baking soda. I haven’t got time to go to Matador Fresh to get cheap pet food and that Homebrand bread tastes terrible.

Well, it only took about five minutes to make all that stuff, my hair looks and feels better with baking soda than ever before, I get some great deals at Matador Fresh, not just on pet food, I like Homebrand bread and I’ve still got $60 left to spend on food.

Classes on making your own cleaning products at home are now running every Tuesday at 7pm or I will come demonstrate to groups of 10 or more people at your venue.

Just look at the money you can save.

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$100 Budget 15/6

Posted by on Jun 15, 2009

I have saved more than $15,000 since starting this project in January. This is mind-boggling for somebody who has never saved a cent in her life. Of that, $5000 is squirrelled away in KiwiSaver, so it’s not going to be much use towards the deposit on a rental property, but it’s still there. The rest of it is building up in a managed fund that I have always contributed regularly to, but always ended up raiding for bills like car rego, WOF, car repairs, or – my favourite – the unexpected major appliance meltdown.

My next challenge will be to keep out of these savings. If you are not a dairy farmer, you may not be aware that Fonterra has, in its wisdom, prudently decided to protect its balance sheet by withholding major amounts of income from suppliers. As a result of this, I am without an income until August, with all the normal bills still rolling in. Am I worried? Not really. Thanks to the budgeting skills I have developed over the past six months, I’m confident we can easily survive. We have become so accustomed to a disciplined approach to daily living that, as the kids say, “We don’t even notice the $100 thing anymore.”

Someone asked me if I were going to write a book, supposedly so others could learn some of the great wisdom that comes from this experience. All I can say is that it would be a bloody short book – a one-pager. To save piles of cash out of money not spent on groceries, apply the following: Set a goal (ie, I want to save $12,000 in one year). Limit your grocery spend (ie, $100 a week). Stick to this limit. If you accidentally overspend, adjust your next week’s limit accordingly (eg, Oops, I’ve spent $120. No worries – your next week’s spend will be $80).

That’s all you need to do.

Next week: How to save $100 off a typical grocery bill.

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$100 Budget 6/6

Posted by on Jun 6, 2009

The kids brushing their teeth

The kids brushing their teeth

The kids are revolting! Actually,  they’re rebelling and it’s the the taste of  the home-made toothpaste that is  revolting. I made the toothpaste myself,  for a few cents, using my new pal  baking soda, and must admit it needs a  bit of fine-tuning in the taste department. However, it does a good  job of cleaning teeth and after the  initial shock has worn off, even Danni  and Stevie will admit, your teeth feel  clean and white and your breath stays  fresh. And that is the main aim of  toothpaste.

Baking soda alters the pH in the mouth, making it less desirable for bacteria to hang out in there. So I’m sticking to my refusal to buy toothpaste anymore and I’m hoping we will soon get used to the home-made stuff. After all, you aren’t supposed to eat it.

Baking soda is also useful as a personal deodorant/talcum powder and body spray. Pre-budget, I bought some lovely talc ($20) and body mist ($15) from The Body Shop. I had a good think about what was really in these products for the price and I can’t really justify the amount I spent. It was really all about the fragrance. A teaspoon of baking soda and a few drops of your favourite essential oil in 200ml of water produces a fragrant body spray for only a few cents. The deodorising effect of baking soda means most of us could also get away with this as deodorant – and ladies, a real advantage is that it doesn’t sting when you apply it immediately after armpit shaving.

Add a few drops of the same fragrance to a small shaker and there you have a deodorising powder that is also great to put into smelly shoes. Baking soda can also be used to wash your hair – and although it’s not what I’d call conventional, it works well and doesn’t strip the natural oils from your hair, which actually gives a better result.

All these quick and easy-to-make products are either naked or use recycled packaging and cost next to nothing. The hardest part is getting your head around the fact that you don’t have to spend much money at all when the marketing gurus have been brainwashing us for years and successfully convinced us that we need the expensive bought stuff.

Enrol for my lessons – they’re starting soon.

Hair Washing

Wet hair, sprinkle with baking soda, massage in, rinse out.

Optional: Rinse out with small amount of white vinegar before final rinse. Leaves hair looking and feeling beautiful and surprisingly, leaves no smell.

Conditioner

1 egg, beaten

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/ Mix together with warm water.

2/ Apply to hair and leave as long as desired.

3/ If this leaves a residue, rinse off with white vinegar, then water.

Toothpaste

1 Tbsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

A few drops of glycerine

Peppermint Essential Oil to taste. (experiment with the amounts to get a taste you like. You can add a tiny amount of artificial sugar if you really can’t stand the taste)

1/ Mix to a paste in a small container and dip brushes in it. Should last one person about 10 days.

Mouthwash

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

500ml water

1/ Store in recycled Listerine container, because you won’t be spending money on that again. There is now one less plastic container in the landfill.

2/ Rinse out mouth as you would with commercial mouthwash, but at a fraction of the cost.

Smelly Feet Remedy

4 Tbsp baking soda

Enough hot water to cover feet in a container.

1/ Soak feet to dissipate odour, and bring comfort to your tender toes. Baking soda may also help with athlete’s foot.

Next week: How much could you save a week on groceries?

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$100 Budget 16/5

Posted by on May 16, 2009

There you have it: A fortnight’s worth of groceries for less than $200.

This can be achieved week in, week out, but some skill and a small amount of shopping around is required.

If you are affected by brand snobbery, this type of budget may prove beyond your reach. The products listed here are mostly Home Brand and sourced with much backstrain from the lowest, most unpopular shelves in the supermarket.

The products are not all from the one shop, either. Four local outlets, I have discovered, consistently deliver the lowest prices for certain things. The time taken to shop around between Countdown, Matador Meats, Spudz and The Kiwi Butcher is minimal and well worth the effort.

The astute home executive will have already noticed the absence of milk and cleaning products from the list. Up until now, I was lucky enough to meet the family milk requirements directly from the cow – one of the few perks of a sharemilking job. Now that I have dried my cows off, I will have to factor at least 6 litres of milk into the budget – more on that next week.

In my quest to save my money, I have found that for minimal outlay, an absolute fraction of what has been spent/wasted previously, I can make my own soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, washing powder, dishwashing liquid, window cleaner and more. If you are interested in more detail on practical, environmentally friendly, everyday household products made quickly and easily at home, saving literally thousands of dollars, contact me via the Taranaki Daily News and I will share my secrets, or you can wait and read about them in upcoming columns.

Next week: The price of milk

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$100 Budget 28/3

Posted by on Mar 28, 2009

Sometimes I feel like I live in a nursery rhyme:

Old Mother Hubbard

Went to the cupboard,

To give the poor dog a bone:

When she came there,

The cupboard was bare,

And so the poor dog had none.

Don’t call the SPCA, but our pets are being affected by the credit crunch. Because the humans are economising, the scraps, which made up a considerable amount of the dog, goat and chicken’s diets, are no longer being wasted. It’s not that the girls and I are reduced to eating scraps – although Danni and I had a close eye on Stevie’s apple core the other day – it’s just that a weekly grocery budget of $100 means we can no longer afford to throw too much away. These days, our meals are more carefully planned and the leftovers are eaten the next day instead of being left to fester. Between you and me, I confess, I am totally ashamed of my wastage and excesses of the past. I was a greedy pig.

So far the cats’ diets remain unchanged. I am spending approximately $17 for 3kg of dry feed for them ($5.70/kg) and plan to source cheaper brands and alternatives. A 3kg bag lasts Yoda and Millie about two weeks (or 60c each a day).

I was blissfully unaware of how much dog roll costs. My pre- budget attitude to grocery shopping was, if I want it, I’ll have it – who cares how much it costs, so I never looked at the prices. Now I am forced to pay attention. Dog roll at the supermarket can cost over $7. A similar product at the farm supplies shop is $5.50. The cheapest dog-roll I have found so far cost $2.50 at the butcher’s. The dog likes them all equally. One dog roll lasts Kiedis about a week (or 42c a day). He’s surprisingly cheaper than the cats.

Deduct the animal food off the weekly spend and it leaves $88.50 for humans (or $4.21 each a day). It doesn’t sound like much, but at least it works out more than the daily pet allowance.

Next Week: How $100 a week is affecting our family.

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$100 Budget 23/3

Posted by on Mar 23, 2009

Slapped cents-less by the global recession, we’re counting on a strict weekly food budget to bring us back to our economic senses. In the holidays, our $100 worth of groceries easily lasted a week, making our goal of buying a rental investment property next year look possible. Then something happened: it was back to school.

“What can we take for lunch, Mum?” was the question of the week.

Staple lunchbox favourites of biscuits, chippies and yoghurts are now an expensive luxury. A pow-wow decided that a can of fruit is a healthy, easy and economic food item to plan lunch around. Just don’t forget the can opener. I thought the girls might get mocked at school for their tin of peaches, but apparently, it’s catching on.

But food wasn’t the only problem. Can you relate to the horror of the extensive, expensive school stationery list, an expense multiplied by the number of students you are buying for? Even before the budget, I dreaded both the boring hunt around the stationery shop to locate the 3B1 notebook or the 1E8 (7mm) maths book and the ensuing large bill. Strictly speaking, the back-to- school stationery items are not officially included in the grocery budget, but every penny counts.

I was intrigued when Danni, 16, and Stevie, 11, announced they had reduced the stationery lists to mere shadows of their former selves by recycling items barely used from previous years. They sifted through the art cupboard’s pens, pencils, half-used books and drawing supplies. The remaining stationery requirements became so minimal that I was able to throw them in the supermarket trolley and still remain well under budget for the week. Who knew an exercise book could be purchased for 29 cents? The grand total expenditure for a year 7 and a year 12 student was $5.11. It’s amazing what you can do if you try.

Next week: How our pets are faring on $100 a week.

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$100 Budget 14/3

Posted by on Mar 14, 2009

Surviving on a grocery budget of $100 a week while keeping the family happy, healthy and clean at both ends is my challenge.

A family meeting ascertained our staple list of grocery items. Brainstorming saw pasta, tuna, apples, veges (lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, avocados and capsicum), bread, butter, cheese, tinned fruit and meat on the list. Milk is not listed – sharemilkers can pinch that from the vat, which I hope will deter me from popping out to the shops for the things that invariably accompany the milk purchase.

Groceries don’t stop at food.

Toilet paper is an obvious necessity, cosmetics and bathroom, laundry and kitchen cleaning products are unavoidable purchases. At this early stage of budgeting, we have supplies of half- finished cleaning products, so we’ll finish then and then replenish the supply with a minimum of low-cost replacements.

I plan to locate the cheapest products available using the newspaper and the internet. Unfortunately, the amount of time I can spend on this is limited. If you know of any fantastic special deals, particularly on cleaning products, please contact the paper and let me know. The Plan:

Avoid shops.

Stick to a list.

If you can’t afford it, do without! Buy bargains.

I don’t want to fall victim to harsh economic times, so it is important for me to economise. My strict grocery budget allows annual savings in excess of $10,000. That is money that previously went down our throats or festered in the fridge for a fortnight before being binned. I hope this disciplined approach to household spending results in a lifetime of better habits. If I live till 82, that’s $400,000 – even if I keep it under the mattress. With this budget, I have nothing to lose – except maybe some extra weight!

Next Week in Pig Tits and Parsley Sauce: Back to School. How we amazingly got food, filled two school stationery orders and remained under the $100 budget.

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