22 foods to freeze and save money

Saving money is awesome, especially when it is for items that you need can be brought on special or in bulk to save money! This is a list of not so known things that you can buy and freeze when you can and defrost when you need them.  Saving money by buying on special or in bulk but also by not having to go to the shop for one thing! Ice cube trays, baking trays and zip lock bags are a freezer-types best friend to make sure you get great results.

save money by freezing foods
22 not so common foods that freeze well

foods to freeze to save money

  1. Grated Cheese and block cheese, freeze in their bag and defrost in the fridge.
  2. Stock in ice cube trays, easy small portions for your next casserole.
  3. Wine in ice cube trays, easy portions ready to go (if you have any leftover;-))
  4. Yoghurt, in tub or portioned out into muffin trays for smoothies
  5. Cream, in tub and defrost in fridge, shake well before use.
  6. Milk and butter/margarine in the carton, make sure it has room to expand.
  7. Egg whites, crack out of shell and freeze in ziplock bags or containers.
  8. Herbs, store chopped up in olive oil and freeze in ice cube trays perfect for pasta sauce
  9. Fruit, freeze first on a flat cookie tray (diced or whole) and then transfer once frozen into a container or ziplock bag.
  10. Vegetables like fruit freeze easily. Prepare for what you will use them for eg – dice onions, cut up broccoli into florets, freeze on tray and then transfer into container or ziplock bags.
  11. Cookie dough – make a double batch and roll on freeze on tray. Once frozen transfer into containers. Ready for next to time you want cookies!
  12. Sandwiches – you can make a whole weeks worth of sandwiches and freeze them ready to get out for school lunches and defrosted by the time lunch rolls around.
  13. Juice – freeze in container just make sure there is enough room for it to expand. Or ice cube trays for lemon and lime juice.
  14. Bread – freeze in bread bag and then wrap in another freezer bag to keep fresher for longer.
  15. Tomato Paste – freeze in portions so you are ready to put into a a casserole or pasta dish.
  16. BBQ chicken – freeze in deli bag or break up and freeze in portions ready for sandwiches or meals.
  17. Marinade meat – if you buy fresh meat and know it is to be marinaded, marinate and then freeze  – ready to cook out of the freezer!
  18. Rissoles – make fresh and before cooking freeze them ready to go.  An easy dinner!
  19.  Buttermilk – portion out and freeze ready for your next waffles!
  20. Flour – freeze and keep fresh!
  21. Pesto and dips – freeze and defrost in fridge couldn’t be easier! Just make sure your pesto is covered in oil.
  22. Tortillas and wraps – freeze with waxed paper between each for an easy lunch!

TIPS –

  • When I freeze in ice cube trays once frozen I flip out and put into a zip lock bag for perfect portion sizes and leaves your ice cube tray free for your next thing to freeze!  That way you don’t need 8 ice cube trays!
  • Freeze your liquid in zip lock bags flat and then once frozen stand up to save space!

Any foods you freeze that I left off the list that help you save money? I love my freezer it really is the easiest way of keeping food fresh and saving money on food!

Budget Mum Blog

15 Free holiday fun activities

15 free & fun holiday activities

Holidays, an expensive time of year… A great time to make family memories but not a great time to save money.  Here are some suggestions for free school holiday fun!

15 fun & free school holiday activities
free school holiday activities
  1. Library.  Most public libraries have a special school holiday schedule.  Full of FREE fun activities for the little people, you will need to sign up to most events so make sure you are on their email list so you can be first in line.  While you are there stock up on different books and DVD’s!  Most libraries you now can go online a reserve books/DVD’s do it a couple weeks out to ensure you have what you want come school holidays – all without stepping inside the library!
  2. Parks and Picnics. Head out to a new part of town to a new park and pack a picnic.  A big day out at a new/different park is full of fun.  Check out your councils parks page to see if there are any parks you haven’t been to and check their facilities before you leave home.  Some parks are worth the extra travel time!

    Free holiday fun Gold Coast
    GCCC photo – Pirate park
  3. Beach. Pack the dog and your picnic rug, beaches are fun all time of year.  Back all the things needed for sand castles, picnics and scavenger hunts!
  4. Cooking day.  Plan some fun things to cook that the kids can do with minimal help.  Think honey joys etc for some great creative fun for the kids, plan a picnic the next day and you have your snacks sorted!
  5. House Swap, do you have a relative with children too? Do they live in a different town or part of your city?  Offer a house swap, you can pack all your own food so there is no cost but a change of scenery, different toys and new parks to explore! Win Win
  6. Craft.  Collect up all your craft supplies to be used up and start making!  Wrapping paper and cards are great because they save you buying for birthdays etc.
  7. Play date.  Having other peoples kids over can be tiring but it’s worth it when your kids go over there and you get a day off.  Split it over a couple of weeks so the kids don’t get sick of each other.  Great for Christmas holidays so you get a day to finish off the shopping.
  8. Bush Walk.  Get out into nature and enjoy the FREE fresh air!

    GCCC Photo - bush walking in Tallebudgera
    GCCC Photo – bush walking in Tallebudgera
  9. Camping in the back yard, a oldie but a good one.
  10. Movie day.  Set up some inside cubbies or invite the kids into bed with you and bunk down for the day.  Pick a nice raining day and make some hot popcorn.  Swap some movies with a friend for some FREE entertainment.
  11. Shopping centre events – nearly every shopping centre has free school holiday events, check out their web site to find something that interests your kids and have a free morning out.  (Or the cost of a donut and bottled water from home and you have a nice morning out)
  12. Start a collection.  Ask your kids what they love in nature, maybe its leaves, flowers, rocks and start collecting on your adventures.  It sounds basic but when your adventure has a purpose it is much more exciting.
  13. Look up family days.  Normally on a weekend but a family day can guarantee FREE fun.
  14. Local Picking Farms.  Do you have a local farm where you can pick your own fruit?  Not quite free but it is a nice change of pace and a great learning experience for the kids.
  15. Museums and Galleries.   If you live in a large city you will have a great selection of museums and galleries.  Most have some sections that don’t have any entry fees.  Check it out in your local area but it can be a great time waster and start some interesting conversations with the kids!

TIP – For older kids – every school holidays encourage your children to clean up their toys, anything they no longer want they can sell and keep the money for school holidays.  Go to a car boot sale and sell the selected items.  The first couple of times the kids may not understand what is going on but after a few goes they will understand the more they are happy to get rid of the more money and activities they can do on the school holidays! Everyone is happy – less junk at home and the kids have their own spending money!

Budget Mum Blog

No Spend Month – APRIL

We have a fairly tight budget, we are a one income family.  Until very recently I was still receiving some leave payments from my work (I took everything (all possible leave) at half pay). So that has dried up and I still have 6 months of leave without pay left until I’m (expected) back at work. (It is one of my goals not to return). We love our budget and most weeks follow it to a tee, but even with a fully stocked bills account and emergency fund we have come up short! Cue a NO SPEND MONTH.

No spending
No spending

Reasons to have a no-spend month

  • We have received a $950 electricity bill for this quarter! (It’s obviously has been a scorcher of a summer in QLD but that is over and above our budgeted amount by about double).
  • Our house insurance has gone up from $2700 to $3500. Which was unexpected and they also gave us 3 weeks to pay it! (lovely)
  • We also have had to replace a back fence thanks to a very (un)helpful Beagle puppy.

So our regular bill account has been wiped out, which means that we need to built it back up, from basically scratch – this is what prompted a no spend month.  Drastic times call for drastic measures.  Our regular budget is tight but I think for the month of April we will have to stop spending on everything except groceries – and even then I will need to be using these recipes and these recipes to make sure I am coming in under budget.

We have no birthdays or events in April so we won’t need to buy anything but we will be celebrating our Wedding Anniversary with no gifts but we will be going out for dinner.  That will be coming out of our personal spending accounts (our allowances).

For me this a fairly drastic move, it’s not something that I am looking forward to, but something that I would like to consider doing possibly twice a year, depending how this turns out.  I function well in a budget knowing that  have enough to pay the bills etc, but I am nervous about not spending on anything but groceries and necessities like medical.  Have you ever had a no spend month?

Budget Mum Blog

How to pay off $10,000 in a year

When I was younger I would see something I liked and I would buy it.  It really was that simple – I had a lovely lifestyle and a huge amount of debt. I had great friends, we would do breakfast, go shopping, go clubbing . Whatever we wanted and then occasionally I would go to Uni. But that lovely lifestyle costed a lot of money that I wasn’t making.  I worked part-time at Coles but that wasn’t enough for my champagne lifestyle so I got myself a credit card, and then another one.  You can see a pattern – I don’t need to go on!  But fast forward to when I met my now husband and things were not looking great for my finances.  So I had to pay off $10000 in a year.

I was roughly in about $23, 000 debt. A couple of credit cards, a car loan and a loan from my sister (I had a lovely 6 week European holiday!) and I was tapped out! My now husband (My Minister of Finance) was mortified! So I needed to clean up my act quickly! We bought a house after dating for 8 months, and we were in tough times because I was finishing uni and had to drop back my hours at work.  So after I graduated it was time to as my father would say “tighten the belt” and sort out my finances. So I focused on paying off as much as I could as fast as I could – I paid off just over $12,000 in the first year after graduation.  Here is how I paid $10000 of debt off.

paying off debt quickly
paying off debt quickly

How to pay off debt

  1. Set a goal and stick with it.  Don’t stick your head in the sand and think that it will go away or you will win lotto.  Chances are you won’t and you will have wasted precious time.
  2. Live within your means! – no more credit cards!!! Cut them up – that’s it. If your serious you need to stop over spending ASAP.
  3. Start and use your budget ASAP. (You will need roughly $200 per week just for debt)
  4. I combined my credit cards into one – massive help.  Although it’s annoying I also shopped around for rates.  I was a stickler for interest free and then a month before it ran out I would apply for another interest free and transfer over.  Is it a hassle? YES Is it worth the hassle? YES YES YES. By not paying any interest you are paying off your debt quicker and you can pay off more.  So you are saving money on interest but you are also saving money on fees by only having one card.
  5. Combine other debts if you can or have to, but only if you are going to be able to pay them out and not be penalised or have huge account fees.
  6. prioritise your debt – you will need current balances and the interest rates they are attracting. Also keep in mind any interest free periods that may be close to expiring (the interest rate after the interest free period is often extremely high).  Organise from highest interest down to lowest interest.  If you have two or more debts with the same interest rate organise them from smallest amount to largest amount.
  7. Make a list of the order and amounts to pay off.  Put it up somewhere, in your study, next to your fridge, beside the bed so you have a visual.  I would cross each one off when paid off, so I could see how close I was getting to my goal.
  8. Start paying them off, you will need to have these built into your budget. But by starting with the highest interest rate you are saving future interest, by paying off the smallest amount first is to inspire you to keep going by getting results sooner.
  9. Once you have paid off one, roll that amount into the next debt on your list to keep up momentum.
  10. At the end of your pay week pay week I would always use any extra in my allowance account. (my own spending account – I get $50 per week) To pay off a credit card up to an even $10.  So say my balance was $657.56 on my credit card -over and above anything else I had paid that week I would pay off the $7.56.  Not a massive amount but that was the point.  Out of my little spending account I hardly noticed but it could add up to nearly $500 extra every year that you have paid off!  And if you are paying interest long-term it is even more!
  11. Any extra money goes into the debt – your tax return, overtime, pay rise, side jobs every little bit helps! Check out some side jobs here. I got myself a second job, packing boxes in a factory.  Not the most interesting job in the world but it was flexible hours so 2 afternoons a week I would work after my ‘real job’ for 3 hours. I bought in just under $100 and that went straight on my debt.

So after a tight year I paid off $12,000 from my debt.  I still had a little way to go (ok half) but I beat my goal and I was happy with that.  After that I continued to pay off my debt by using interest free credit cards.  Then I prioritising them and using any extra money to pay them off.  I no longer worked my extra job but instead looked for other ways to make money at home and continued to pay off as much as possible.

I hope this inspires you to start paying off your debts so you can start saving and living! Once you have paid off your debt it is a wonderful feeling to be able to buy something knowing that it is all yours!

Do you have any other tips on paying off your debt quickly? Happy saving! I hope this helps you pay off $10000 in a year.

Budget Mum Blog

A list of 5

If you follow me on instagram you would of seen that this week I decided I needed to get more stuff done!  You know be more productive, more organised, but mainly be more accountable.  As a stay at home mum, days get away on me, making baby food, doing washing, cleaning the kitchen table… AGAIN.  So I decided I needed to make hay while the sun shone.  I return to paid work in October and I want to have a couple of things done before then.  Not major things but just things that have been on my to-do list for too long.  Like cleaning the light switches – this is seriously on my to do list but I am yet to do the whole house yet… Abysmal I know.  So I have started a list of 5.

becoming more organized and productive
an attempt to become more organised and productive

Organisation is the backbone of living a budget lifestyle and not wasting money. So I have decided to make a list of 5.  5 things to get off my list this week. Is it a lot of things – no.  But I don’t want to scare myself off or worse make myself feel like a failure.  5 things is achievable for me but still feels like I have done something.  5 smallish jobs that have been hanging around and you would like to get done – not daily jobs but a job that would make you feel like you have accomplished something.  You are taking a small step/s in the right direction. EG – clean one drawer, organise one cupboard, make a dentist appointment, etc.

How do you stay for organised and accountable?

So I’m asking you to join me – I recommend a #listof5, but maybe you are a lot more organised than me and your to-do list is not as large so maybe it’s a list of 2 for the week.  I would love to create a community so we all can become that little be more productive and accountable – So join me on instagram with your #listof5 so together we can be organised and accountable!  Follow me here

Budget Mum Blog

 

Starting a Price Book

A price book is a budgeters best friend!  It can help you know what is a good special and predict when the item is going to go back on special.

Using and setting up a price book to save money and keep within your budget
Using a price book to save money

What is a Price Book?

First I’ll explain what a price book is.  It is a note book that you write all the things you buy regularly.  For example I buy our dog Purina Supercoat dry dog food.  It goes on special regularly at Coles, Woolworths and Big W.  But not all specials are equal, for example the supermarkets have 30-40% off every month (frustratingly normally in the same week) but occasionally 50% off. Big W have had just over 50% off time to time. So being dog food – I can stock up and keep it in the garage.  It is an easy saving to make and buy up big and save.

Why have a price book?

If you had a price book, you would know when the next sale of this depth would be and you could buy enough to get you through so you wouldn’t need to pay full price again.  Or worse buy a special you think is a good deal, only to realise in a couple of weeks that it wasn’t as good as first thought and something better has come along.

Does this inspire you to start a price book or do you have a price book and how much do you think it saves you?

Budget Mum Blog

5 things you should ALWAYS buy from ALDI

Aldi, you either love it or hate it.  I am firmly on the love it side but not for everything!  I love the prices for most things but sometimes I get carried away on their weekly specials! (story of my life!)  So this is a list of things you should always buy from Aldi.

The cheapest and best value things to buy from ALDI
Best things to buy from ALDI

Top 5 things to buy from Aldi

  1. Feta Cheese 200g Greek or Danish Style Feta 200 gram = $2.59 in other major supermarkets $4.74 or $3.00 for generic for 200 grams. SAVE $2.15
  2. Bocconcini Cheese $3.49 200 grams or $5 20o grams. SAVE $1.51
  3. Steak Scotch Fillet Grass Fed = $30.99kg or $40.00kg SAVE $9.01
  4. Steak Rump Grass Fed = $21.99kg or $27.00 SAVE $5.01
  5. Nuts Silvered Almonds 125 grams = $3.99 or $6.11 for 110 grams SAVE $2.12

TOTAL SAVINGS = $19.80

This comparison was done on 29 Feburary 2016 in Queensland, my opinion is in comparison to other major supermarkets.  As always double check with your local suppliers especially if you can buy in bulk.

As much as I love Aldi there are still some things you should avoid such as brand named items that they stock.  EG coke – you will nearly always pay more because it doesn’t go on special in Aldi.  It is important even in Aldi to use your price book (start one here), some items I know are cheaper in major supermarkets if you buy generics.  Grated cheese was one of these items that surprised me considering most of there other cheeses are cheaper, grated tasty was still slightly cheaper if you buy generic at a major supermarket.

I rotate where I shop from week to week to get the best out of the 3 major supermarkets.  As much as I love Aldi I do not shop there every week, in the coming weeks I will share how and why I rotate my supermarkets.  What do you buy from Aldi and love the savings of?

Budget Mum Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 ways to save on groceries

If you come here often – you will notice there is definitely a theme about cost cutting on your groceries and keeping to your budget.  Groceries for me is constantly the area I need to watch – if I am going to go over in our budget chances are it will be in groceries.  So some weeks I pull out every trick I know to keep on track.  So here are some great ways to save on groceries.

8 easy ways to save on groceries - budget mum
8 great ways to save money on groceries

8 tricks to help save on groceries

Here are some tricks that I use almost weekly –

  1. Shop at night or early morning – find out when your local store does markdowns these are very helpful to keeping costs down – especially in the meat department where it can help cut costs drastically.  As an added bonus you won’t get trolley range with other people that have no sense for the world around them.
  2. Know your prices.  Create a price book if you haven’t already so you know what is a good special and what isn’t.  A normal notebook will do with a page for ‘regular’ items you buy consistantly.  Set it up so you know what the special cycle is and when it is a good price or not.  The benefit is knowing and buying a good special when you see it.
  3. Never shop hungry! Just don’t you will end up with a whole snack food stash if you’re not careful!

    shopping meme
    from www.meme.com
  4. Have a list. No brainer but seriously have a list.  I’m not saying stick to it or else but without a list you will start putting things into the trolley with good intentions that go nowhere and you will end up having to either going  back to buy more ingredients or throw out ingredients you didn’t use.  A menu plan will help with a complete shopping list before you leave the house!
  5. Be flexible, have a certain part of your grocery budget to buy specials.  Buying cheap bananas instead of apples will help your budget – knowing what you need (see point 4) but also being able to think on your feet and being flexible.  Roast pork on special instead of roast beef etc will help keep the budget in check.
  6. Have a slush fund.  If your budget for groceries is $150 then try to have $15-$20 for specials.  This way when your price book tells you it’s a good price you can stock up and save buying it full price next week.  It may take you a while to have enough space in your budget to create the slush fund but it is worth perservering. Start with not spending $5 per week of your budget to start building up your slush fund for specials.  For items like washing up detergent and dog food there is never any need to pay full price.
  7. Don’t be afraid to mix it up.  I rotate between Coles, Woolworths and Aldi. I get the catalogues and look what I need/want and go from there.  Some weeks I’ll go to all three is time/money permits to buy specials.  I know that this isn’t possible for everyone but it works for us.
  8. Try generic brands.  Honestly don’t start with the toilet paper! HA. But I bet there are at least a couple of things you wouldn’t even notice that is was generic.  Give a couple of things a go eg – cereal.  If you hate it chances are it was only a couple of dollars, but if you love it – perfect!  I actually prefer a couple of generic items – choc chips $1.55 YES PLEASE!

Budget Mum Blog

What else do you do to help keep you within your grocery budget?

How to save $1000 in one afternoon

An easy afternoon with your laptop and your insurances and utilities to save you thousands of dollars in just a couple of hours in your own home.  Sounds to easy to be true – but it is possible, how to save $1000 in one afternoon!

Saving money on insurance and utilities
Want to save $1000 in one afternoon?

How to save hundreds of dollars!

I’m not a fan of the phone, I much prefer email or messages where I can because I guess it’s more impersonal? Anyway in one afternoon you could save thousands of dollars doing the boring stuff online!  Gather you bills that you can use different suppliers for – unfortunately not rates or car registration but pretty much everything else. Here are a list of things that you may have –

  • House Insurance
  • Contents Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Car Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Mobile Phone
  • Home Phone
  • Internet
  • Subscription TV (Netflix, presto, stan, etc)
  • Electricity
  • Credit cards

ALL of these things can be easily compared online – make sure you are comparing like with like.  Have you policies with you so you know how much you are insured for and how much your excess is.  Once you have a new quote get it emailed to you.  You can then contact your existing supplier and tell them you are thinking of leaving them because you have a better quote – many will meet if not beat your new quote! It is easier to keep an existing customer than get a new customer! And if they won’t beat your price – change supplier! It’s that easy.  You will be surprised how quickly the savings stack up!  I have personally saved $380 in one insurance, the cheaper supplier was also our contents insurer so I got a further 10% off! So don’t forget about bundling together insurances for further discounts!

https://www.comparethemarket.com.au/

http://www.iselect.com.au/

http://www.creditcardcompare.com.au/

http://www.energywatch.com.au/

You don’t need to even wait until your insurance is up for renewal to enjoy the benefits – you will get a refund from your other insurance policies if you change.  Pick an afternoon and get to it – saving can be fun!  If this is something out of your comfort zone – make your self a deal!  At the end once you have contacted other suppliers tally up how much you have saved and give yourself a 10% bonus to enjoy!  It could be a bottle of wine or even a massage!  Let me know how much you have saved on you insurance swap afternoon!

Budget Mum Blog

$60 weekly vegetarian menu plan

A couple of weeks ago I made a budget weekly menu plan for a family of four for $60 It’s here.  A basic meal plan for those weeks when it seems like you won’t make it through because it’s bill city.  It’s a very basic food plan but it will get through! So this week is it a vegetarian option – as requested -for those weeks when there isn’t much cash left for the groceries!

$60 budget grocery list and vegetarian menu plan
$60 budget grocery list and menu plan

7 Budget DINNERS

  • Corn and zucchini fritters with poached eggs (eggs, corn, zucchini, eggs, relish)
  • Fried rice (rice, 500 g veg, soy sauce)
  • Tomato pasta (pasta, 500g veg, tomato pasta sauce)
  • Tofu Pad thai (rice noodles, 500g veg, pad thai sauce, tofu)
  • Pesto Pasta salad (500g pasta, pesto sauce)
  • Nachos (corn chips, salsa, cheese, beans, sour cream)
  • Bean wraps (beans, salsa, cheese, wraps, sour cream)

Budget BREAKFAST

  • Porridge (oats & milk)

Budget LUNCH

  • Sandwiches (bread & jam or relish)
  • Carrot sticks
  • Hommus

As always this is very carbohydrate loaded which is because of the budget restraints.   But I think you can understand in the circumstance, this was done on Coles Online so if you shop in store prices could be cheaper, but also check out stores such as Aldi and local green grocers for cheaper options. And always “shop your pantry first” to see if there is anything you could there first. If you have any left over money, I recommend lunchtime food.

Budget Mum BlogI hope you enjoy the $60 vegetarian menu plan for 7 days of groceries!