Thursday, 31 March 2016

Eating for Free on Your Birthday

Mr 10 with his free birthday balloons and lolly bag from Miss Maud.

 Because it is my youngest son's birthday this week, I thought I'd share some birthday freebies for you all. Nothing beats free! Our family have been taking advantage of some of these offers for a few years now and it has become a tradition to take the birthday person out to pick up their free Subway lunch and Baskin Robbins ice cream.

So here are my top picks for eating for free on your birthday- no strings attached! I have included hyperlinks in the sub titles and have also listed whether it is an online club or if you have to go in store first. Enjoy!


Join the Subway Club online and receive a free 6 inch sub and drink of your choice.

Free 6 inch sub and drink.

Nicholsons Bar and Grill

Register online for their birthday club and receive a free meal to the value of $30 during Monday- Thursday on the month of your birthday. Or on Friday, Saturday and Sunday get $15 off a main meal. I have eaten at Nicholson's a few times and find the food to be very good quality and you do get a very generous serve.

Miss Maud

Kids under 12 years old can join their mailing list and receive a card in the month of their birthday. This card entitles the child to a free smorgasbord lunch or dinner, free balloons and a huge treat bag filled with lollies. We have found the cheapest option is to allow 1 adult to accompany the child and this parent buys them self a meal from the menu and drink water as we find the smorgasbord to be really expensive. This year it was hubby's turn to take Mr 9 and he bought a steak burger and chips which came to $21.50, it was a huge serve. All up not a bad price for a really nice lunch out for 2 people.

 At one point I did start to think that it would be "nice" for us all to go out for lunch there as hubby and I would eat there regularly in our pre-kid days.  I did the math and for our family of 5 to eat there this would cost $180 for a weekday lunch or $225 for dinner. That's more than my fortnightly grocery shopping. No thanks, I'll stick to the free meal! In saying that though, the staff there are always really lovely and the food is amazing.

Mr 9 enjoying his free Miss Maud lunch last year.

Baskin Robbins

Join their  Club 31 online and receive a voucher for a free scoop of your choice.

Free ice cream!

Muffin Break

Free introductory coffee, plus a muffin on your birthday.  You will need to pick up a Muffin Break card in store first, and then register online.

San Churro

Free churros for 2 worth $13.95. Sign up online.


Grab a card in store and then sign up on line to get a free meal.

Cold Rock

Sign up online and get a free ice cream scoop.


Grab a Vibe Club card in store, activate online for a free birthday juice.

 Outback Jack's

Another online sign up. 6 months out from your birthday you will receive a 1/2 birthday meal voucher via email. This will entitle you to a FREE* $35 meal voucher at your local Outback Jacks store. 
Birthday month.  BOOK A TABLE with your local Outback Jacks store and present this email to receive the $35 meal voucher. I checked the fine print on this one and a minimum of 2 adults must dine.

Jamaica Blue

This is a loyalty style program. Pick up a card in the store, apply online and get a free slice of cake on your birthday.

Sumo Salad

A free regular salad on your birthday. You must pick up a card in store first and activate online.


 Receive a free burrito after getting a card in store and activating online.

One year I got a free burrito, coffee and muffin.

I hope you like my list of birthday freebies. Are there any other birthday offers you know of that are  missing?

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Hot Cross Bread and Butter Pudding Recipe

Some of you might know that we are able to get free reclaimed bread and rolls from a local op-shop. This bread is picked up by volunteers from bakeries and supermarkets then available for low income families to collect from the op-shop. This saves us a lot of money and is such a great idea as this bread would normally end up in the bin and you all know how I feel about food waste!

In the 6-8 weeks leading up to Easter we have access to a lot of hot cross buns. This is because stores have started baking early and not many consumers are buying. I have been told there are literally skip bins full of just hot cross buns wasted.

When there is an abundance this is when I will grab a few packs and put them in the freezer so we have free hot cross buns over Easter. Generally we end up with extra packs and so I started thinking of different ways to use up the buns and came up with this recipe. It tastes equally good with fruitless and regular hot cross buns and my kids just love it.

You will need:

Pack of 6 regular or 9 mini hot cross buns, any flavour.
3 eggs
2 cups of milk
300ml of cream
1/4 c white sugar
Butter for spreading

Grease a baking dish with some of the butter.

Cut each hot cross bun in half and spread some butter on each of the cut sides.

Place all of the "bottoms" of the hot cross buns butter side down, into the baking dish. I used mini buns and just cut them to fit my dish, leaving a bit of room for the liquid mixture.

 Place the "tops" of the hot cross buns directly on top of the "bottoms".

 Place the eggs, milk, cream and sugar into a bowl and whisk until well combined.

Pour this mixture over the top of the buns. It will seem quite liquidy. Don't worry. Let sit for 10 minutes to let the mixture soak up.

 Bake in a 180 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until the custard is just set.

My Frugal Tasks 27/03/16

Taking time to slow down and enjoy tea, in a cup from a friend.

Mr 14 came home from his Wilderness Trek on Wednesday night, tired, hungry and dirty. Once he had washed up and well fed, he told us stories of his 5 day adventure. This included walking 20 kilometers each day, plus physical challenges like pulling a 4 wheel drive by hand for 6 kilometres, eating only very nutritious but not tasty food like seaweed, lamb's heart and liver, anchovies, entire parsnips and lots of vegetable juice. The also did not sleep with any pillows or sleeping bags but simply a yoga mat and a piece of tarpaulin. Despite these difficulties he has come home with renewed appreciation for our home and the food I cook. He also has developed a better relationship with the other students he went on Trek with. Lots of learning all around I think!

Other than that, it's been another slow and steady week here. I've come to realize that if  I just keep plodding away at the little things that need to be done, it all adds up. Thankfully I always seem to have enough to write up at the end of the week :)

My frugal tasks this week were:

-I finally decided what to do with those little felt woodland animals I made a while ago for a baby shower gift. I strung them up onto some sticks and made a mobile. I am really pleased with how it turned out.

-Finished sewing the scrap bunting. Just in time for Mr 9's Birthday next week.

-Baked some Easter biscuits using my vanilla biscuit recipe. I also made a bread and butter pudding with some hot cross buns, and cheese crackers which were really yummy. I found the recipe on this YouTube channel which also has some delicious looking recipes.

-Planted some silver beet, kale and Chinese broccoli seeds.

-Packaged some of the Easter biscuits we made for gift giving. I also gave away some tomato relish, candy eggs and jellybeans to friends. These were bought cheaply from co-op. In an upcycled paper bag of course!

-Miss 17 does not start her next studies until July, so is doing some volunteering at a local nursing home to fill her time. She gets lunch while she is there and often brings home leftover meals, which would otherwise go in the bin.

-Yesterday hubby took Mr 9 out for a free birthday lunch at Miss Mauds. We don't normally eat out because it is too expensive but this is a great birthday freebie, and I will write a separate post on Birthday freebies soon. With this offer, kids under 12 get a free smorgasbord lunch, bunch of balloons and huge lolly bag. Hubby ordered a burger from the a la carte menu which is cheaper from the smorgasbord. All up it cost $21.50, which is great value for 2 at a restaurant.

-Stuck to my budget of $25 for Easter chocolate for the 5 of us. Our kids don't get Easter gifts from family so I like them to have a few different things. This year I bought us all a $1 bunny, a box of hunting eggs and a bag of small eggs to share. I also bought the kids a big block of chocolate each which I got half price for $3.25. My best friend who lives interstate, also transferred $5 into my account to buy us all a $1 bunny, which was so lovely of her and much appreciated!

- We pulled out our Easter box and decorated the house for Easter with ornaments collected over the years. I have since been inspired by Wendy's beautiful decorations at My Abundant Life
I have some eggs on picks that would look lovely in a vase or jar like she has done. I also a small box of  eggs with ribbon for hanging but just leave them in the crate as a display. Some I hang up on a green metal jewelery stand from Ikea, but I'm thinking the others would look nice strung up on wool like a garland. I will go through my stash and try to make more use of the items I have ready for next Easter.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Easter weekend! x

A homemade gift for friends.

The finished mobile.

Mr 9 doing his home ed, while I sew.

Cutting out some Easter biscuits.

Our finished biscuits. I only had red food coloring so used that and cocoa powder to colour the icing.

Delicious homemade cheese crackers.

Leftovers Miss 17 received.

Bread and butter pudding made with hot cross buns.

All 3 kids in one shot, helping decorate the biscuits.

Felt Easter bunting I made. We hang this up every year.

Decorations the kids made when they were small.

Mr 9 added an Easter touch to the nature table.

Easter ornaments bought from the $2 shop.

The table all set up for Easter Sunday morning.

The Easter bunny left some paw prints!

A bargain bunting from the $2 shop I reuse every year.

Another cheap decoration from the $2 shop.

I love these jars given to me from a friend.

A crate of plastic painted eggs.

A special Easter breakfast.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

My Frugal Tasks 20/3/16

Sculpture at the AGWA

- Mr 14 and I took a train into the city because he wanted to buy a new top he had saved up for. He is away with his school on a Wilderness Trek this week so it was nice to have some time with him before he left. While in the city, we visited the art gallery and Kakulas Bros, which is the cheapest place in Perth for whole foods. I bought some red lentils, chickpeas, textured vegetable protein, Himalayan pink salt, red kidney beans, garlic powder, turmeric, garlic bulbs and some nettle tea. This came to a little over $30-much cheaper than buying them from a supermarket and will last us for months.

- A friend took me to a new op shop shes been wanting to visit for a while. I found some great bargains including $1 sheets which I will cut up and use as fabric to make something else, a 50c travel mug which will be a birthday gift for a friend and a big Dora doll for my little niece who is coming to visit in May. These came out of my gift cash envelope.

- I called into Spud Shed to pick up some fruit and got 2.5 kg of bananas for $2, a 10 kg bag of potatoes for $1.99 and 16 kg of carrots for $7. My friend thought I was crazy buying so much! but for 40c a kilo this is a great saving. We peeled, chopped and have frozen most of them.

- I boiled some chicken bones left over from a meal and made some chicken stock.

- We made a lava lamp for Mr 9's home ed science this week. Using ingredients I already had in my pantry.

- Mr 9, hubby and I baked custard biscuits and brownies for this week's morning tea.

- I started sewing some bunting from old and ripped clothing I have kept. I thought it would be handy to have some ready in our party box. It is Mr 9's birthday next week so I will hang them up and surprise him.

-I stitched  a little rabbit and bear for Mr 9's birthday. He has been watching make all these felt creations for others and asked for some of his own!

-I bought some thread from a fabric shop and also needed some bias binding. They had a sale of buy 2 get 1 free. Which meant I got 2 reels of cotton 2 meters of the binding absolutely free!

-On Wednesday we went to an Easter family night at Bunnings. Dinner was provided so it was great to have night off from cooking! Unfortunately I developed a tooth ache and spent most of the night in pain.

- Decided to go to our local government subsidized dentist for my toothache after a night of bad pain. This works on a first in, first served basis. I got hubby to drop me off at 7 am, ready for the clinic to open at 8.30, I took a notebook to sketch in and a book to read. I ended up being number 3 in the queue and needed the tooth removed. Thankfully I and was out of there by 9.30. I have pretty bad dental anxiety made worse by lack of sleep the night before. On the bright side, 75% of my cost was covered by the government, so my out of pocket expense was only $50. I still have pain in my jaw and gum, so have been taking things easy over the last few days. 

-Defrosted a tub of lentil soup, for an easy dinner.

Lentils and other cheap goodies from Kakulas Bros.

Potatoes and carrots bought in bulk.

We ended up chopping, dicing, blanching and freezing 12 trays of carrots.

Mr 9 excavating dinosaur bones at the Bunnings Easter night.

My bargains from the op shop.

Homemade brownies, never last long in this house!

Felt friends made for Mr 9's birthday.

My bias binding and cotton ready for crafting.

Making bunting.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

My Frugal Tasks 13/3/16

My desk area all tidied up.

I had a good tidy up this week. Reorganized my laundry which is prone to clutter, dusted our wood furniture and gave it all a polish with my homemade beeswax polish. I also rearranged some ornaments and wall hangings in our games room and Mr 9 tidied his home school shelves and set up our Autumn nature table. I gave our computer desk a clean up too and re potted an aloe plant to bring indoors and brighten the area up. I also cleaned and dusted our bedroom and changed the sheets.

In some ways I don't feel like I achieved much at all, but the house is really clean now! I every week I do the same jobs, like cooking every meal from scratch, eating from our pantry and freezer, hanging washing out on the line or on airers, so I only try to add the different tasks I do on here.

Some of this week's frugal tasks were:

- I was able to put a bigger additional payment towards our debt this week thanks to selling some items and using the vouchers I earned to put in my grocery envelope and using the cash on the mortgage instead.

-I put an empty bucket in the shower to catch the water. I have been using this to water our seedlings. I used to do this years ago but got slack! Thanks for the reminder Wendy.

-Did lots of baking. I made a banana cake, sultana tea cake, strawberry pudding, zucchini slice and 2 dozen chicken pies- one batch went straight into the freezer.

-Earned another $50 in supermarket vouchers from completing online surveys.

- Brewed and bottled some kombucha.

-Stitched some more Jack Skellington ornaments.

-Made great use of our leftovers. One night I cooked steamed potatoes with a cheese and broccoli sauce served with carrots. There was enough cheese sauce left to make a pasta bake the next night. I just added a small tin of tuna, rocket from the garden and some leftover peas. Yum.

-Cooked a big pot of lentil soup for dinner and froze half for another meal. I also put a couple of serves into ziplock bags for single serves. My best friends dad has recently had surgery and will be coming home soon. I will take some of the soup and individual serves of cake when I go and visit him.

-While we still had fresh fruit and frozen vegetables, we had run out of fresh veg. Most of my grocery money is now in vouchers thanks to doing surveys but I find supermarket produce to be heavily overpriced. I only had $10 in cash in my grocery envelope so went shopping at Spud Shed. With the goal of trying to get as much bang for my buck! I was able to buy 5 kg carrots for $2.99, 4 kg of potatoes for $1.99, 4 zucchinis for $2, 2 cucumbers for $2 and 2kg onions for 99c. Just under my $10 budget!

-Today I am catching the train with Mr 14 into the city, he has saved up some money from working and wants to buy a shirt. I will make a visit to Kakulas Bros, my favourite store in Northbridge for some spices and bulk goods.

Hope you have had a great week!

Banana cake, strawberry pudding and zucchini slice.

My $10 budget veg shop.

Kombucha bottled.

Mr 9 cutting carrots ready to be blanched and frozen.

Our Autumn nature shelf.

Chicken and vegetable pies with mashed potato and peas.

Lentil soup.

Frugal Bugeting Tips

Today I am sharing some of the things our family does to save money. Here are a few of the things we do to stay on budget:

-Make notes. I keep a book for our house finances. This is just a cheap exercise book which I write our expenses, budget and cash envelope totals in. Because I constantly am checking our budget and seeing what works and getting rid of what doesn't, this is great for keeping track.

- Implement a cash envelope system. In August last year I noticed we were spending more money on little things which all add up. Then I started using a cash envelope system for day-to-day expenses. I love this, because it means I can only spend the amount that is in the envelope. Basically I have a designated amount for areas like groceries, petrol etc, and put cash in the envelope. I can only spend less or equal to what is in that envelope. Obviously if the money isn't spent in one fortnight it just rolls over to the next which I find is a great saving initiative! I will make another post on how much goes into each category of the envelopes.

-Compare bill providers: I regularly change phone/internet and insurance companies. Last year I also changed gas providers and our bill is down by $40 quarterly already! Don't be afraid to do some research and see if other companies can offer a better deal. Doing this saves us hundreds of dollars per year.

-Reduce bill costs by using less:

Water: Limit showers to 4 minutes- I have a timer with a suction cup that sticks on the shower screen which I bought for a couple of dollars at Bunnings. I also put a bucket in the shower to collect the warm up water. this is used to water our seedlings.

Gas: When using the oven, try and cook multiple foods to make use of the heat. When dinner is in the oven, whip up a batch of muffins or a cake for later in the week. Cooking in bulk is a great time saver too. If I'm making a zucchini slice, I'll often make an extra one for the freezer. When cooking on the stove top, adding a lid to a boiling pot helps keep the heat in too.

Power: Heating and cooling are the biggest causes of a high power bill. In summer use fans instead of an air conditioner when possible. My air con costs 70c and hour to run compared to my fan which is only 6c an hour. 70c an hour might not seem like much but if the air con is run for 6 hours a day that comes to $4.20. If it was run every day of the week that then becomes $29.40! In a 3 month bill cycle our power would be $360 higher- just from using the air con! Also turn power points off at night when not in use. Most appliances like TV's and DVD players have a standby mode that when plugged in still use power. When we first did this a few years ago we noticed a significant reduction in our power bill.

We have a clothes dryer, but it is only used in an emergency. Washing is hung outside or on airers to dry. 

-Aim to reduce the amount spent on groceries. It's taken me a few years but I am now happy with our budget. We eat a minimal amount of meat, I shop around to make the most of the specials and buy primarily generic brands. I can also pick up fruit at a local orchard for $1 a kilo and will bulk buy and freeze large amounts of produce when I get a great deal. We also grow as much of our own fruit and vegies as possible. Cleaning supplies can take a chunk out of a grocery budget, so why not try and make your own? White vinegar and bi-carb are great budget and eco friendly cleaners. Recently I have started doing online surveys and cashing my points in for supermarket vouchers, which is like free groceries. I also save up my Fly Buys points and use them at the end of the year to buy our Christmas food.

-Eat at home. We eat out probably once a year. I am a decent cook and just can't justify spending money on overpriced food, when I can cook a yummy meal at home. A meal of takeaway can cost our family of 5 over $50. I could buy heaps of groceries for that price.

-Free entertainment and frugal hobbies.  Since implementing our new budget, I've allowed no money for entertainment. Instead we can watch movies for free at home, go to the beach, on picnics or day trips, visit friends or pursue frugal hobbies like gardening, cooking etc. There are often free events held at our local library, and we can borrow books and movies from there too.

-Buy second hand when possible. We recently needed a new fridge and upright freezer and saved hundreds on not buying new. Check out Gumtree, buy, swap and sell sites or op shops before buying anything new. Also we have inherited used furniture that friends have been happy to get rid of.

-Use what you have. Make do and mend, that kind of thing.This applies to all resources you have before buying new. Get creative! Take some time to think twice before buying into the endless cycle of consumerism. Upcycling can be fun.

-Have a present stockpile and make gifts. I have a couple of shelves in my wardrobe which are for this purpose. I also make a note of when my family and friends birthdays are and write them on my calender, so I can see at a glance who's Birthdays are coming up. This way I have a gift ready to go and it stops the mad rush of running to the shops and impulse spending $20-$40 on a gift. Sometimes I'll buy items at end of year sales or on clearance. I also make presents during the year and put them away, adding a few "bonus" presents for the kids friends or unexpected events.

-Put money aside for bills. In the beginning I wrote down all the bills we pay over the year, not including the mortgage. Then for each one I worked out how much that costs over the year and then divide it by 26 because we get paid fortnightly. For example we pay:

Home insurance $38
Car Insurance $13
Gas $30
Power $20
Rates $42
Car Rego $11
Amulance Cover $5
Phone/ Internet $50
Licences $5
Water $5

Total- $  220

Each fortnight this amount is transferred into a savings account and bills are paid from there. Doing this stops me from stressing out when bills come in as there is already money ready to pay them. At the start it was tricky as bills were coming in and because there was only a few hundred dollars there I had to just pay the necessary bills and put only a bit towards the others. Eventually there was no bills for a few months and this allowed the amount to build up. Currently the bill fund sits on a little over $1000 most of the time.

 Everyone has what I call a "frugal comfort zone". Some people may not be comfortable with making too many changes in order to save money or might think some of the things I do to save money is extreme. That's okay, any kind of changes you make to save money will definitely make a difference. 

I'm sure there are many more things we do to save, but these are the basics. If you have any to add, feel free to leave me a comment. 

$1 a kilo fruit at our local orchard.

Homemade laundry gel costs 20c a bottle.

Hubby's vegetable seedlings.

Homemade gifts for the stockpile.