stress free money management workshop

switching to aldi to save? shop at aldi the right way to save more on the groceries

How to get the most savings from Aldi | Frugal and Thriving

If you want to save money on the groceries, you pop into Aldi to shop, because Aldi is cheaper, isn’t it?

That’s certainly what the ad promises.

The problem with shopping exclusively at Aldi is twofold:

  • they don’t always stock a wide variety of goods, meaning you usually have to finish your shop at one of the Big Two supermarkets anyway
  • they are not always cheaper.

I’ve written before that I’m not a fan of Aldi, but I’ve slowly come around.

The change of heart is because our local Aldi has finally started stocking things that I would buy. It’s no longer just rows and rows of biscuits, cereal and cheap electronics.

And it’s no longer out of our way to get there -  we drive past Aldi on the way home from kindy.

After a few tentative forays, I’ve now made Aldi part of our regular fortnightly shopping routine and we’ve certainly saved more money on our groceries.

But I’ve found that Aldi is not always cheaper. Here’s an example:

Wholemeal pasta is a lot cheaper at Aldi, even when San Remo wholemeal at Woolies is on sale. It’s also organic. On the other hand, regular ol’ plain pasta (which hubby and the kids ask for occasionally) is much cheaper at Woolies (homebrand).

Tinned beans and tomatoes are cheaper at Aldi, but dried beans are cheaper yet, and our local Aldi don’t stock these. I’ve found Woolies homebrand block cheese is cheaper than the Aldi brands.

These are just a couple of examples.

Assuming that you have to shop at both Aldi and one of the Big Two supermarkets to supplement your Aldi shop how do you get the most savings with the least effort? Read More

wake up to a hot breakfast with porridge in the thermal cooker

Wake up to Porridge cooked in your own DIY thermal cooker | Frugal and Thriving

Imagine waking up in the morning to a hot breakfast already prepared for you. All you have to do is stumble out of bed and dish up.

Get the health and money saving benefits of porridge cooked the old fashioned way (not microwave sachets) with the convenience of cereal in a box.

Thermal cooked porridge has changed our kindy days from a mad rush to a more relaxed affair.

I even get to eat breakfast sitting down!

If you’re wondering what on earth a thermal cooker is, it’s like like a slow cooker, but it cooks your food without power (aside from the initial boiling).

Pop on over and check out the post about how to make your own DIY thermal cooker here.

You can throw together a thermal cooker in a matter of minutes with items you have around the house.

Now back to the porridge.

If you don’t like the clag-like consistency of rolled oats, try steel cut oats instead. Add an extra 1/2 cup of water when cooking.

Or mix things up a little by substituting or adding some quinoa, millet, buckwheat, semolina.

Oats, and grains in general, are more easily digestible if they’ve been soaked, so if you like, you can soak the oats in the water during the day or for a few hours when you get home and before cooking.

As a side note, the yogurt pictured is blueberry. To make: mix some Greek yoghurt, frozen or fresh blueberries and honey or molasses to taste in the food processor. You can thicken it with gelatine (I’m still perfecting this part). It makes a great frozen treat.

The porridge is also topped with: blueberries, strawberries, chopped almonds and a drizzle of honey.

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Category: breakfast · Tags: ,

51 easy handmade gift ideas for father’s day that kids can make or help make

51 easy handmade father's day gift ideas that kids can make or help make | A Frugal and Thriving Round Up

Time for another roundup?

It’s Father’s Day in just over a week and if you’re looking for frugal and easy gift ideas to make for dad then look no further.

Below are 51 ideas to choose from or inspire you – some of the best ideas from around the interwebs. There’s something here for every dad.

I’ve picked out a couple myself for hubby – the kids will love helping make them (I won’t tell you which ones in case DH breaks with habit and reads the blog).

Without further adeiu, the Father’s Day gift ideas: Read More

frugal food photography part 1– a simple set up for better lighting

Food photography on a budget part 1

I’ll be the first to admit that my food photography is very amateur. But I like to think that over the years it’s improved. I still have a lot to learn, heck, I learned new stuff just today, but I’m making progress.

You can spend a fortune on a photography set-up, I’ve seen plenty, but I’ve been focusing on taking better pictures on the tightest of budgets.

If you take pictures of food for your blog or for personal reasons (Facebook food porn?) there are lots of resources available on the web, but the best one by far that I’ve read is the book Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography and Styling. It comes in Kindle format, so you can read it on your computer or tablet.

Today and over the coming weeks I’ll share some of the things I’ve learned so far about how to get better results without spending a whole bunch of money or having to learn a whole bunch of technical details. Read More

save money in the garden and get better results with a diy seed raising mix

Save money in the garden and get better results with your own DIY seed raising mix | Frugal and ThrivinSpring is fast upon us, and if you want to get a head start growing vegetables, now is a good time to start germinating seeds either indoors or somewhere where it’s warm.

To raise seeds successfully, you need a good seed raising mix.

While you can buy commercial seed raising mix it can be either expensive or poor quality.

Raising seeds can be tricky enough without hindering the effort with a poor quality mix.

Which is why it’s good to make your own.

A good seed raising mix needs to be free draining but also hold moisture.

It also needs to be fairly fine without stones or large particles like bark to interfere with seed germination.

Making your own seed raising mix is quick and easy and relatively inexpensive, especially if you’re using homemade compost.

The three main ingredients in seed raising mix are:

  • compost
  • course sand or vermiculite; and
  • coconut coir

You can also add worm castings to your mix to increase the nutrients but this isn’t essential as all the nutrients a seed needs for germination is contained within itself.

Once they starts growing however, your seedlings will need extra nutrients. Usually the compost and maybe a light feed with diluted liquid fertiliser is sufficient, so if you don’t have a worm farm, don’t despair!

On the other hand, if you do have a worm farm, by all means throw in a handful of worm castings when making your mix!

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how to cut your own hair and save

How to cut your own hair and save. Start with a trim to practice and then get more adventurous when you're more confident. |Frugal and ThrivingThis is a guest contribution.

I used to hate going to the hairdresser.

I’d pay an exorbitant amount of money to have someone massage my scalp, cut my hair and make it pretty, only to find they’d not done it quite how I wanted, and that the next day my hair looked just as flat as ever.

When I was about 19, I decided to start cutting and dyeing my own hair. It was quick, easy, and I got what I wanted without the huge price tag.

Since then, I’ve almost exclusively cut my hair save for a few times in the last year after my daughter was born when I was tired and just wanted to be pampered. As of this month, I’ve gone back to doing it myself.

The best way to start cutting your own hair is to start with a trim.

You use the same technique as for cutting, but only take off a centimetre or two from the ends. The more casual your hairstyle, the easier it will be to cut – and the more you cut it yourself, the more skilled you will become.

To start with, you’ll need a quality pair of hair shears from somewhere like Hairhouse Warehouse and a comb.

If you plan to do this regularly, don’t get the cheapest pair – sharp shears will make it quicker and easier to cut, and be less likely to cause split ends.

It’s easiest to cut your hair while you’re in a towel or your underwear because tiny tufts of hair, like sand, can discover crevices on your body that you didn’t even know existed – and they’re really irritating!

Pick a chunk of time you know you won’t be interrupted. You’ll need to wash your hair first, then take up residence in front of a big mirror in a brightly-lit room.

I cut my hair and let it fall onto the floor before sweeping it all up at the end, rather than aiming for the sink, because it ends up half on the floor anyway. If you can set another mirror behind you, that’s even better, but I’ve never had that luxury myself.

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Category: personal care · Tags: ,

frugal ways to chill out and get it together

“A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?” W.H. Davies

frugal ways to chill outI’ve never been very good at doing downtime.

Oh, I do downtime. But not without the nagging thought that I ‘should’ be doing something more constructive.

Ah, that was a good book. But I probably should have been exercising / cooking / sewing / cleaning / playing with the kids / spending quality time with hubby / working… instead.

It’s a common theme, busyness is a popular 21st Century pastime.

And it’s not healthy. It’s not the way to live a thriving life.

At some point, we need to look at the big picture. Have we taken on too much? Do we need to say no more? Do we need to simplify? Downsize? Declutter our schedule?

Do we really want busyness to define our life?

But even when if simplify our life, there will always be times when life gets hectic.

When you don’t get enough sleep. When you’re not feeling your best. When the proverbial poo hits the fan.

Great, add another cleaning job to the to-do list.

And you will need ways to manage those everyday stresses and get back that feeling of calm sanity and the confidence to cope.

That’s where these frugal ways to chill come in.

They’re quick and easy to do – some can be done anywhere, anytime. Most cost nothing at all; the others just a few cents.

But they can have a huge impact on your wellbeing and current state of mind.

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Category: health, motivation, personal care · Tags:

oatmeal sultana and pecan biscuits

Oatmeal, sultana and pecan biscuit These bickies are a variation on the traditional Anzac biscuit.

They’re a favourite in our house because they are quick and easy to make, they aren’t too unhealthy and they don’t contain egg, which we have to leave out of our lunchbox due to allergies at kindy.

I also leave out the nuts or switch them for seeds for a nut-free version for kindy, but for home, the pecans are such a yummy treat. If they’re not on sale though, I leave them out.

I use rapadura sugar (sold now as Paella in the supermarket). It is dehydrated cane juice and retains the vitamins and minerals from the sugar cane. It’s still sugar, so not a health food, but it’s slightly healthier than it’s more processed counterpart.

I also use molasses instead of golden syrup for the same reason. We like the deeper caramel flavour the molasses imparts. Use golden syrup or even honey (which is nice too) if you don’t have molasses.

From the original recipe I also switched wholemeal flour for the plain, making the bickies a bit more filling.

And I add vanilla, just because I love it, you can leave it out if you like. A neighbour adds cinnamon (I think) and her bickies are delicious!

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Category: baking · Tags:

food for free–regrow celery from the scraps

Celery grown from scrapsLast week I shared a recipe for celery soup that was very inexpensive, especially with celery in season and on sale.

But the savings don’t stop there.

You can regrow your own celery easily and for free.

Just need one stalk for a soup or stew base?

Once your celery has grown, you can harvest a stem or two as needed from a pot or from your garden.

Gardening and growing your own food doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

While buying punnets of seedlings is still cheaper than buying the same amount of produce, you can also plant your garden for free.

One way to do this is to regrow vegetables from scraps.

Of course, you could compost the scraps or turn them into stock, both of which reduces waste, but I love how this adds a new dimension to the common saying:

refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, regrow!

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Category: gardening · Tags: ,

recovering from the perfectionist parenting epidemic

recovering from perfectionist parenting - how to thrive as a parent | Frugal and ThrivingA couple of weeks ago I took a little ride in an ambulance and spent the evening in emergency.

Chest pains.

‘Chest pains’ sounds rather innocent. Like leg cramps. Or honey, I have a headache.

But think intense stabbing pain in the chest, back, down my left arm and up my jaw, and oh my god, I’m going to die! and you’ll be closer to the mark.

This was my first ever ride in an ambulance. I had three paramedics, including a paramedic in training.

“I need to lift up your shirt and place this electrode on your, er, breast.”

There was a small smirk from the other paramedic.

“Your heart rate just went up, mam.”

Well, it’s not everyday a good looking young man asks to lift up my shirt.

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Category: children, thriving · Tags: , ,