Growing our own food – frugal food, self reliance and the learning of new/old skills.

Things are so tough for many out there right now and it heartens me to see so many young ones returning to the habits of older generations, growing some of their own food. This may end up a long post for regular readers who have heard it all before but this is for those who are thinking maybe they would like to try for a garden, or grow on what they are already doing.

When we moved here there was just lawn and we shopped like everyone else. This was 3 months after we moved in, a wee vegetable garden had been put in (bottom corner) Excuse the dead branches by the house, this was Roger thinning out a dead vine!

IMG_0033 Our garden has grown over the years but it was only last summer we decided to really go for it and see how far we could go with “eating from our section”. This has been a journey of learning self reliance….one thing leads to another and formally frugal habits have been replaced by simple living, making our own cleaning mixtures, less chemical exposure, an appreciation for nature and our environment, searching for more free foods, the trading and sharing of our excesses and helping others.last summer

So, here where we are now (actually taken last summer).

We are fortunate that Roger works on a farm and can get meat – for those of you who can’t work in farming though it’s all relative, he earns a low wage, the meat is counted in with it. I don’t eat alot of meat and basically no-one needs to eat alot of it. Much of our diet can be grown at home with eggs, vegetable, fruits and berries….nuts if you are lucky enough to have a large section. Our diet comes from a garden that’s probably 1/8 acre. This is why we do it, this was my shopping last week for two people.


I already had 2 bottles of milk in the fridge bought the week before on special. The avocados were cheap so I got 10. The spices and seals were for preserving. The wee tins of fish are for me. We can’t grow bananas. Roger prefers this brand of softened butter opposed to the butter/olive oil blend I make sometimes. Dates, raisins and raw peanuts are healthy additions to our diet. Basics like sugar, flour, vinegar etc are bought in bulk. The bread is Rogers favourite. Few of these things are necessities, but desires. I also had cheese already, and a little coffee I bought up on special. Just about everything I buy is bought in bigger quantities when on special eg the avocados here. I also don’t show the pet food here.

Seeds and buckwheat are bought from the bulk store and I will go every week or two and stock up on stuff like this…coconut, brown rice, dried beans, baking soda etc.


This is basically our shopping for the week…things like toilet paper and soap are purchased in bulk when cheap. We spend on average around $40 – $60 per week on our food and some weeks all we buy is milk. A few years ago our Health Dept put our a brochure for shopping on a low income and it was estimated $70 per person is the least a person could live on foodwise in NZ and this would be for a very basic diet, nowhere near as healthy as we eat.

Garden produce is either frozen, pickled, bottled or made into sauces, jams, chutneys…or boozy drinks! An old disused laundry has been crudely converted into a store room, a would be larder…(note the earthquake proof shelving as last year alot of bottles and jars just slid off shelves)



I still have a couple of months preserving to go then the majority of our food is stored for the remainder of the year. In fact, we could survive from our food stores and garden etc until next summer (9 months) if need be…and still be healthy.

I sometimes also make white bread for Roger and freeze some, three loaves can be made for $1.80.Image

Every few weeks I am tempted to buy something like this – a deli pack the supermarket sells cheap. This all cost $7.95 and their are foods we don’t get…salami, ham, quiches so I don’t have to cook tea a couple of nights. All of this can be frozen. Served with salad they all make a good meal for those nights Wendy doesn’t  be bothered  cooking / making her own quiche or Roger would just like toasted sandwiches for a change.



 Again these are just desires.

Truly we could survive from our garden if need be. We preserve summer fruits and vegetables to eat through winter. We preserve nice things to eat because we can, because they add variety, nutrition, a taste of summer through the cold months. If we wanted we could just freeze everything but we make our preserves because we appreciate the flavours on what could otherwise be quite a limited winter diet.


 Sharing food with others means they share in return. These pears and oranges came from friend, lemons we pick from an unowned tree down the street. These apples came from a wild tree by the farm.Image

At present I am doing a juice, salad and soup detox so am living on vegetables from the garden, along with dried beans/legumes and feeling good for it on the third week. I am not starving to death and am surviving well 🙂


Eggs supply alot of nutrition and with eggs and vegetables you always have a meal.


We also just got bees to get our own honey….this lasts forever, is a healthier alternative to sugar and the bees will help pollinate the fruit etc.


To put food, our shopping habits and what we really need to survive into perspective, I like this. The healthiest and happiest looking people I think are those from Mali who have (by comparison to western diets) a very basic diet sitting in front of them.

What people eat in different countries around the world

We grow herbs in the garden too, these can be used fresh, dried, used for skincare or remedies. I am still learning about the use of herbs and do not get enough time to really get into it but herbalism really interests me, I have a whole lot of learning to do in this area!


Rose and Calendula Hand Cream

Rose and Calendula Hand Cream


I recently bought a book on foraging in NZ and what wild weeds, herbs, fruits etc can be used and the making of medicines etc. This I found at a secondhand book store for $2.50, a quick flick through tells me I will be reading this avidly over autumn and winter to learn from. Besides personal interest in this sort of thing I have to say this – I am not convinced the economy will pick up any time soon, things could get alot harsher for everyone, us included. We believe it is our responsibility to be able to fend for ourselves if need be. Basic necessities in life are food, warmth and shelter…you have to add water. Many are living now on social security and benefits because of the high unemployment rates and existing poverty by the new working poor, so many in fact it is not sustainable.

Another depression or war would force so many to find food where they can. W want to learn how to survive if the need be. Sounds terribly pessimistic but I’d rather be knowledgeable than naive or ignorant if the “shit should ever hit the fan”.


This month I have been doing an e-course I won through another blogger, Lois, at Living Simply Free . The course has been really interesting and was offered through Handcrafted Travellers. This young couple are very inspiring and have a great ethos, that of living off the land. I am ashamed to say I have not finished the reading but have it all stored to do so, I have just simply been too busy but I feast off their site!

In this course we have learned about embracing simplicity, experiencing quality v quantity, resistance and learning to say “No”, chemical free cleaning, getting rid of plastics, herbal beauty, handcrafted and natural clothing, learning new skills, earthing, the importance of Vit D, limiting technology for your health and wellbeing…in general self reliance and living in harmony with nature. They have a beautiful site and have much of interest to say, they also run many courses.

Another blogger I follow and whose post I recommend here is Rohan from Whole Larder Love. Read here how he jackhammered through concrete slabs to start his garden and honestly, this guy has a lovely blog…he lives off the land, fishes, hunts, runs classes and sells his vegetables. Also very inspiring.

We also practice self reliance in other areas too, which will be the subject of another post to come, this is already too long!

And so, after 15 – 18 months, this is where we are at 🙂 I will stress here, we are not feeling we deprive ourselves of anything. If we want it we will buy it, we enjoy the food we eat, I cook really nice meals and we like the fact it costs us so  little.

Saturday in the Kitchen and garden….

Roger (aka Roboman) spent the week at work up in the hills spraying gorse. He has been exhausted at night but sleeps like a baby and this morning was up and out in the garden at 5.30. He weeded furiously for several hours ending up with a mammoth heap of weeds. Went to the shop, butchered a sheep, took rubbish to the dump, collected a huge ute load full of peastraw, came home, put alot of it around the garden…left a pile in the herb garden to finish later then took the car down the bottom where he unloaded it for the big garden… then had to repair a gate he broke in the process. Trimmed and bagged up 10 kg of onions. Helped me pick cranberries then got ready to go and play golf for the afternoon. Getting ready for his shower at 2 pm he walks past me singing “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey…” and plants a kiss on my head and walks off full of the joys of life…. and plenty of energy.

I was sitting at this time pondering the mess in the kitchen and wondering if I really wanted to go back in there. I am still sitting… I have decided it might be a good time to post photos and listen to music!

This, folks, is my kitchen at the moment:


Another shot:


There is a little bit of everything going on there. Cooking in the pots is a batch of tomato sauce and in the other scrap meat for the dogs. On the other side of the bench is a big pile of dishes, in the oven is jars for sauce. 2.5 kgs of plums still need bottling, the smaller zucchini are ready for freezing. We did not grow those huge tomatoes by the way – ours are only just beginning to ripen and we needed sauce so I bought some over-ripe tomatoes at a farm gate.

Bottled peaches and Drunken Plums



For Drunken Plums, layer fruit and sugar in a sterilised jar right to the top. I halved these to make them fit better and not use too much sugar. Once full pour gin or vodka over. Use a knife to get rid of air pockets and fill to the brim. Lid and store for two months, shaking or turning daily. The plums will float to the top, these can be eaten and the liqueur can be bottled and drunk! (Recipe from HOMEGROWN: NZ Gardener Magazine) I have never tried this before and wanted to make it last year but didn’t get 1 plum.

 Pickled onions and peach vinegar


Zucchini have been done for freezing, these are the marrow after not picking all week.


Our first pick of cranberries this yearImage

 1.5 kg to go into the freezer until I do something with them, put in a pretty bowl for a photo 🙂


 This year our two big peach trees gave us not a peach but grew heaps, really disappointing fruit wise. Our little dwarf peach gave us around 5 or 6 kg.


 The blackberries are growing well but ripening slowly.Image


Bigger onions to store in old onion sackIMG_3302

We have friends who work on a farm where garlic is grown, they are allowed to glean all that is left after the harvests. This is the box they dropped off, we swap for whatever we have available. Some will be pickled, some used for cooking, the biggest saved for seed garlic next season.


Sometimes I moan that summer is taken up by days like this (in our spare? time) but when I look at these photos I know this – we could not afford to buy most of these foods. Zucchini, garlic, onions…yes, maybe occasional peaches or plums if we wanted to eat floury, flavourless things. These fruit trees were self sown, the blackberry a cutting, the cranberries were purchased, 12 at $1.25 for seedling sized plants – they are now ready to have cuttings taken off for a hedge down one side of the vege garden. This is good food, grown cheaply, eaten year round.

We bought 2 freezers for $1 – or less

For month’s we have been looking out for a cheap freezer, and it needed to be cheap! We have one upright one and a fridge freezer, this isn’t enough for what we need to do this year. Last week Roger had said that our hogget was due and we discussed again that we need another freezer…it ended with me saying “Something will come along, it always does” and we left it there. Narf (another blogger) and I had this conversation several months ago, when we need something it strangely arrives, somehow. Sometimes it takes a gamble, it may pay off – or it may not!

Friday evening I was absolutely shattered, I haven’t been sleeping well with the heat and had had my granddaughter all week, I was a weary Nana. I went to bed at 8 pm leaving Roger looking on an auction site for a freezer, nothing cheap there he tells me. “Ok” I reply “I am off to bed, darling can you guys (meaning him or the dogs, because it’s a rare morning one of them doesn’t wake me at some ungodly hour) not wake me in the morning, I need a decent sleep”. “Sure” he smiles 🙂

Saturday morning, 5 am,  Wendy is dead to the world……….”Sweetheart, wake up, I need you to help me with something”

I open my eyes and stare at him, notice the sweetly apologetic look on his face (and the fact it’s still dark) as he says “Sorry :(”

I turn over onto my tummy, put my head in the pillow to stop me yelling. “What?!”

“There’s 2 freezers on TM for $1 buy now, they just want them taken away. They’ve been stored for ages but were going. They’re only $1!! I can’t buy them on the computer, you need to use your laptop and get them for me”

I turn over, look at the clock, turn back, face into pillow “Why can’t you use your computer?”

“Because I haven’t been able to log in since we changed providers” he says matter of factly “I think I have told you that before”

I sit up “What do you mean you haven’t been able to log in since we changed providers? It doesn’t make sense?!! You must be spelling it wrong”

“NO, I AM NOT!” all defensively “It’s only happened since we changed providers, you didn’t sort it on my computer”


He sighs, looks at me as though I am truly missing a great point – that he has been extremely patient with me over the fact that I have neglected to do something important for him on his computer but he doesn’t want to argue about it right now “Do you want to get up and buy 2 freezers for $1 because we need them”

Ok, yep, we need them and he can’t spell to save his life, so I shall get up at 5 am because if he’s willing to take a gamble and go to the trouble of hauling 2 freezers onto the truck and all the way home to see if they work, I can get up and help him. SIGH!

“What are you going to do with these things if they don’t work” I ask as my dressing gown goes on

“One of them should go, the other I will make your cold store in the garden 🙂 :)” A bribe. When I mentioned this idea a year ago he was horrified I expected him to dig a “bloody great hole in the garden big enough to house an old freezer!!”

So, I get on my computer, read the ad which sounds promising – possibly 2 functioning freezers, buy them for a dollar.Then I ask Roger to show me why he can’t log on on his computer – an old geriatric desktop he clings to because he can’t figure the lap top out.

You know the automated addresses that come up when you log in on sites? Yep, for 10 months he had been trying to log in with a misspelled new email address. “Sorry” he says again with the same angelic, apologetic smile 😦 “I’m really sorry I ruined your sleep in 😦 Would you like me to make you a coffee now you’re up?”

Later that morning he goes in, gets a friend to help him get these things onto the truck. Tries to give the guy his dollar and is told he wants nothing but to have someone take them quickly as he is leaving the area. He brings them home, plugs them in while still on the back of the truck to see if they go because……to get them downstairs is going to require a mammoth task because he dug up the bottom drive to extend his vegetable garden which is now in full summer growth. We no longer have the back property access we had when we moved here and just had a normal back yard like everyone else.

The outcome? Two working freezers. They’re old, one is very shabby, they both need a good clean up but they are in good working order and the seals are good. Now, we just have to get them installed down the very bottom corner of the house in the laundry. This will not be my problem thankfully 🙂 🙂 I can haul large secondhand windows for a glasshouse AND DAMAGE MYSELF DOING IT, but freezers are beyond me.

Second hand – new to us!!

Regular readers know of my / our love of second hand and thrift shopping, we never buy new. After a long period of making do or going without we decided to go in to a car boot sale which is a regular Saturday morning event in town… treat ourselves our version of retail therapy 🙂 And we needed vegetable plants, this is the cheapest way to buy them. While Roger is far more likely to buy things that we are needing I tend to be rather more emotive in my buying – I like old or interesting things we don’t need. He comes home with useful bits and pieces, I often just come home with cheap but exciting “treasures” I can’t wait to put up somewhere.

This is what we got for $53, along with vegetable plants, coffees and a couple of hours entertainment poking around,  wandering in the sunshine listening to lots of good music and chatting to lots of people we knew. I also saw a very elderly couple drive right through someones stall then attempt to back back through it, turn around in a confined space right next to me and park to go and help clean up….they reminded me somewhat of Mr Magoo lol.

A 1970’s velvet patchwork look-a-like double bedspread. I stared at this for ages wondering whether I could justify the $15 and decided I couldn’t leave it for someone else when I just loved it.Image

A cow milk jug to replace one we lost in the quakes for $1


Two painted wooden spoons – $1 and two old enamel folk art painted spoons $2


 3 oven dishes to replace some broken ones, $11 for all


A framed dry flower picture, not perfect but done by someone with care $6


We were rapt with these, 4 very large jars for $10. This photo is quite deceiving, they are 12″ – 14″ high.


A $5 beanbag for Bob which has never been used, I think he likes it 🙂


 A pluggy thing? for the workshop and another sprinkler for the garden, $1 each


These sprinklers are $30 new at least, we have 4 which we only paid $1 or $2 and all were barely used. I know many people who wouldn’t dream of buying secondhand stuff but this sort of buying suits us just fine. We can get old and charming, original stuff no one else will have and we can buy what we need on a low budget without stressing over how much it cost.

Baking Soda around the home

As many of us use Baking Soda in a myriad of different ways I thought I would do a post on it’s many uses. Baking Soda is an economical, versatile and natural ingredient with a mild alkaline level which makes it effective but gentle to use. I generally buy it from the bulk store where it’s cheapest.

How do I use it?

Laundry : I do my laundry with baking soda, 2 tablespoons in a large wash. It cleans very effectively, it’s gentle on clothes, leaves them soft and removes any odours.

Shampoo: I use it as a shampoo sometimes, 1 tsp in a container and I add warm water when I am ready to use it. This froths up so allow for this. This leaves here very soft and removes any residue from products, however my hair is very dry and I find I need something with more nourishment to use this on a regular basis.

Cleaning: I use it with white vinegar for cleaning, or alone for it’s gentle scouring action.

Deodorant: 5 tablespoons coconut oil, 1/4 cup cornflour, 1/4 cup baking soda, few drops essential oil or perfume (opt). Melt the coconut oil and add to combined dry ingredients, add choice of perfuming if using. Pour into a mold and refrigerate till solid. I just keep mine in a container in the bathroom cupboard and it lasts over a month. Use lightly or it will put greasy marks on clothing, and don’t leave somewhere where the sun will shine though the window on it (and yes, I have done this! ). This is very effective and much cheaper than commercial organic deodorants. Some people find the cornflour irritates and arrowroot powder can be used in place of this.

Toothpaste: I have used it as a toothpaste along with coconut oil. This works really well however I found it sets very hard in a jar and a wee bit fiddly to use. This article has instructions and discussion on baking soda/coconut oil toothpaste (someone suggests beating this with an electric beater to make it easier to use)

This makes a great carpet deodoriser. With two dogs in the house who often come in wet etc, I am inclined to use this quite often. Put baking soda in an old shaker container, add a few drops of preferred essential oil and shake well. Sprinkle on carpet an hour or two before vacuuming. It can be rubbed into stubborn areas without causing harm.


Deodorising smelly shoes: Sprinkle liberally in shoes and leave for a while, shake out excess before wearing.

Fridge: In a small dish to get rid of fridgy odours.

For many other ideas, click on this link:

                                            How do you use baking soda?

Frugal Food – please share your tips :)

I have been wanting to do a Frugal Living post for some time and have decided to do this in a series of posts that I am hoping others will add to from their own store of tips for cutting living expenses…because I consider that those who read my blog (and myself) are a community of like-minded people and I often receive comments from others sharing their wisdom on frugality. Please do feel free to add yours in the comments section.

So, because my blog is mostly about food I’ll start here with a few of my own tips for eking out my food dollar.

1. Has to be growing whatever we can ourselves, wherever we can and with whatever we have at our disposal. Not everyone has a garden but there are many containers we can use to grow in from buckets to shopping bags to juice containers. Seeds can be taken out of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini etc to start off new plants. Explore the net for ideas and inspiration. I have articles here on frugal gardening for beginners.

There are other articles in the gardening section reblogged from others for ideas and inspiration.


2. Foraging. Easier if you live near rural areas, there may be wild blackberries, apples, nuts etc just growing wild around you somewhere. This is a great article on food foraging I can tend to be a bit shy about doing this but my husband is not, he is very quick to notice fruit trees that are un-owned and to raid them 🙂

3. Develop a from scratch mentality and rely little on convenience foods because we pay dearly for that convenience. For the price of pancake mix we can buy a bag of flour and a packet of baking powder that will yield a whole lot more than one batch. Make your own yogurt for 1/4 the price Seeking information, improving our own cooking and baking skills pays off big time over the years, I am 54 and have raised my family but am still always seeking new, better, cheaper ways of doing things. I buy things like chickpeas, lentils and pulses because they are cheap and nutritious to cook with. Buying them dry, cooking a whole pot and freezing in cooking sized portions means I am unlikely to buy them canned for convenience sake.

4. Shopping. I buy house branded (cheap branded) flour, cocoa, toilet paper etc etc rather than more expensive brands, the quality is often the same, they are often packaged by the same companies. I get to the checkout and look through what I have…there is nearly always something I have picked up on impulse that I will return because I no longer feel I need it. I stock up on different things on special each week and will forego something else in order to buy 1/2 dozen (or more) somethings that are extremely cheap if I use alot of it eg coffee on extra special. I check that an item on special (often a leading brand) isn’t still dearer than a cheaper brand. I don’t buy anything I couldn’t make myself cheaper. We don’t get coupons here now but I remember years ago spending ages before I went shopping cutting out coupons. I base meals around what I have and what is on special rather than just buying random foods to make up meals I feel like and I always write a list of what I NEED, there is always room to accommodate specials too good not to stock up on.

5. Make use of the freezer. I will buy something like a 1 kg packet of bacon on special and split it down to use in odd recipes to eke it out. I use mine alot for freezing leftovers to use for another meal eg a smallish amount of meat or chilli sauce sauce can be mixed later with pasta and topped with cheese sauce for another meal. Excess grated cheese can be frozen. A large pot of soup can be frozen in serving sized quantities, Fruit given from a friend can be cooked and frozen, extra sausage rolls, leftover homemade scones, milk bought cheap…virtually anything can be frozen.


My Provident journey has started a series on using the freezer, find the first one here

6. Minimise food waste: Don’t purchase more than you can realistically use, store well, either freeze or plan leftovers for another meal. Be creative…my husband cooked a few nights ago and used leftover sliced lamb on toast with barbecue sauce and cheese, grilled…I thought it sounded weird but it was delicious, leftover sausages are nice like this too or sliced, dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and fried lightly. Fritters, quiches, frittata, pies, soups are all good ways of using leftover meats and vegetables.Baked goods can be refreshed in the oven, or re-crisped. Turn over ripe bananas into cakes, breads or fritters…I will also make a carrot cake or dog biscuits out of softer carrots , or they go into soup. The list in endless here.

7. If using alot of citrus save the peels in cheap white vinegar for cleaning.



8. Porridge is the cheapest breakfast cereal on the market and is nutritious. Rolled oats are great in baking and homemade muesli and muesli bars. I wouldn’t be without rolled oats in my kitchen, or shredded coconut. These form the base of muesli and many times I have made it just because I have odd quantities of dried fruit sitting in the cupboard (or lots of my own dried) This recipe will use any dried fruit, nuts etc in the cupboard

9. Preserve, make jam, sauces etc. If you have access to large amounts of fruit or vegetables at times learn the skill of preserving, jam making etc. I buy jars from thrift shops, garage sales…friends save them for me. If you can’t bottle them they can be cooked in syrup and frozen, some fruits such as berries and plums can be frozen as is. Your first ever batch of homemade jam is something to be proud of…I will just share a story of mine 🙂 I was very young and left a large plastic salad server in the pot to stir with – never to be seen again and that batch had to be thrown out, trust me no one can do worse than that, so give it a go!! Only months ago I lost a whole batch of cranberry jelly to the floor, I am still trying to be an expert preserver!! If you are dreading Christmas  now is the time for many to make homemade jams etc that would make nice Xmas gifts, they keep for over a year.


10. Distinguish between wants and needs. Supermarkets are chock full of yummy things we’d all like to be able to afford and this can be hard to begin with but when things are tight we can’t afford to come out through the checkout with a heap of not such great buys in favour of good nutritious NEEDS and staples. I used to drink only ground coffee but that is no longer affordable and now instant seems perfectly fine (yes, in this house coffee is needed), I don’t need the magazine I often go to throw in, neither do I need the flower oil I used to use in my hair. These are only things I desire, not needs….realising of course that very OCCASIONALLY some little thing is needed as a morale booster because sometimes you need chocolate, or the magazine. Sometimes I get fed up with going without but generally I can manage to get through with only the milk and toilet paper I went in for! I haven’t always been like this and had to learn alot of discipline but it’s actually really rewarding to end the week well knowing I have managed to shop this way.

11. Develop a survivor mentality in dire cases of needing to save money.  There is poverty and there is voluntary simplicity and I have done both…at the same financial level. I am now choosing to live at a level I previously found very stressful (but I’ve been worse) and we are thriving….it’s just taken a different mindset and we work hard at making it work because it needs to. In saying that I have always had a roof over my head. Most would agree there are 3 basic necessities in life food, warmth and shelter and I am always aware many don’t have these things and I am gratified I am not one of them. We can afford shelter, we get free firewood and grow most of our own food. We both agree we live abundantly, but we live within our means and it all takes work. We can afford insurances etc only because we buy few groceries. Not everyone can do this but thinking outside the square and doing what YOU can do well can make a difference.

There was an item on our news yesterday about a primary school in a poorer area of our country who are teaching life skills such as food gardening, cooking from that garden for lunches many of the kids can’t supply themselves, making fire bricks from shredded newspaper etc. These children are already learning how to make something from nothing, how to be self reliant etc….the teachers told how the kids are so much healthier for it, how much more animated they are and how they are all striving to learn as much as they can. I loved this because God knows, it’s needed there, it’s needed everywhere at present.

So please, do share your tips here or link to your own blog of a similar nature, my list is nowhere near comprehensive and there is alot to be learned from each other. Food tips only as I will do another for household etc. Don’t be shy, your tip might be the only one another can use:)

Chicken, Bacon, Mushroom and Spinach Penne

This is an easy recipe to cook, takes 15 minutes and has a creamy garlic sauce.


As always, apologies for the photo quality!!

This recipe is for two meals.

3 boneless chicken thighs (or breast meat) sliced

3 rashers of bacon

1 – 2 cups sliced button mushrooms, to taste

baby spinach, to taste

3 – 4 cloves garlic

1 tin of evaporated milk

around 3 cups cooked penne


1/2 tsp salt, good sprinkle black pepper

Put the penne on to cook in boiling, salted water.

Saute the chopped chicken meat, bacon, garlic and mushrooms in oil till cooked and turning golden.

Pout the evaporated milk over, season with salt, pepper and parsley and simmer very gently until pasta is cooked.

Tip in pasta and spinach, and bring back to simmering. Done.

This meal generally follows a stir fry or curry for us so I can make 1 packet of chicken do two meals. I keep small packets of bacon in the freezer for use in odd meals when needed (it’s terribly expensive here!) Spinach from the garden, mushrooms are always in the fridge.

Generally our meals revolve around what’s in the garden, what’s on special…sometimes you just want something different but being on a tight budget it takes some planning – do others plan their meals like this?

Our weekend ….and this is how my husband “shops” no-shop style

No secret we are secondhand shoppers only. Everything we own is recycled from free or secondhand. Myself and another blogger were just saying a couple of weeks ago how everything you need turns up somehow if you are prepared to wait. Rather than impulse buying at malls we just have a list of items we need…and we need to buy them as cheaply as possible because we have little spare money. My husband takes a trip to town every Saturday morning and spends the week searching under $1 auctions on our most popular auction site, he’ll bid on things we need and hope to get stuff for $1-$2 so he combines collecting his treasures with dropping in at odd garage sales. I don’t generally go with him – he leaves at 7.30 am while I am still sitting in a zombie state trying to wake up, it’s winter here and outdoor shopping doesn’t appeal at present, he spends hours looking at tools and other very exciting junk which is actually very boring for his other half and he probably enjoys having me tag along as much as I love having him underwear shopping with me….rolling eyes and lots of sighing!! These are his latest purchases.

Electric jug $2 – Two years ago we were bought a jug as a gift. It cost $89 on special and I know this because it broke down 2 weeks later and we had to return and exchange for another. Two weeks ago this expensive jug started leaking. Roger picked this one up this week at a garage sale.Image

Cast Iron Frying pans $15: Normally he wouldn’t spend this much but these have been wanted for a long time. The large one is the same as one he dropped and broke the handle off last year….which wouldn’t have mattered too much but it took a big chip out of the side. These are hard to find and usually much dearer than this.


280 bricks $1: He bid on these and no one else did. We wanted something to make a path through a muddy part of the garden. Image

Last week he had bought something else from these people and got talking to them on Saturday. They owned a free range chicken farm but were getting rid of everything to try something else, the recession had hurt them. They had 1000 chooks they were selling cheap so Roger bought 3 red shavers for $10. He was then GIVEN 2 automatic water feeders (something we were wanting) and a aluminium sliding window to add to his new collection of recycled windows for another glasshouse.



25 kg bag of animal food nuggets $1: People had bought them for their sheep but they didn’t like them, it only had a little taken out of and Roger got it for pig feed.

So all this cost him $29 and the women with the chickens asked him if he was needing any chicken wire (and yes we do!) and on Sunday he is going to help them take a whole lot down and he can take it away. Roger would never ask for anything (except from mates if they were throwing stuff out) but he stops and yaks to people and comes home with all sorts. (I have grave fears for the state of our property as all sorts appear in ever growing heaps waiting to be tidied and stored somewhere out of eyesight!!)

So, me… I did the housework and some baking, planted mustard and cress in containers…actually the old trays of an old discarded beehive I found out in the wops. This is how they look this morning after a neighbouring cat used it!



I went to my granddaughters birthday party an hour and a half’s drive away. This is what I drew for her in my quiet times over the weekend. I send her a picture every week.


Now, these are the 3 dogs we have at present, the grey one is my son’s whose holidaying with us at present. This is what happens whenever you sit down to eat.Image

This is Bob. Bob is 18 years old and this is his beanbag bed. He loves it, it’s like his “blankie”.


This is what can happen when you go and help your husband unload 280 bricks off the back of a truck and try and secure your chickens back into their run, AND you leave 2 big dogs inside with a beanbag (because they chase chickens).Image

So this is how I spent yesterday evening, mending a beanbag with Bob sitting waiting patiently, on the beanbag, on the sofa.


Simple Pan Fried Potatoes, Bacon, eggs….

This doesn’t get much easier (or economical) and is delicious. Pan-fried golden potatoes with bacon, garlic, onions….with eggs.Image

4 medium potatoes

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

3 rashers bacon

4 eggs

Scrub potatoes and chop into smallish pieces. Heat oil in a pan and throw in potatoes, sliced onion, chopped garlic and chopped bacon. Add salt and pepper.


Saute on medium heat, cover with lid if possible to hasten cooking, turn once browned on the bottom. When potatoes are soft and everything is golden make 4 hollows in mix and break in the eggs. Continue cooking another 3 minutes or so until eggs are cooked but yolks are still soft. Serve with homemade tomato sauce 🙂

This is a great weekend meal and the servings here are what I use for just the two of us. It’s nice with mushrooms added, or baby spinach…tomatoes, leeks or pumpkin, lots of fresh herbs. This basic recipe can be used for a multitude of different ingredients to add flavour and variety…it’s also great accompanied by baked beans!

Simple but good food.