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Day of rest?

March 21st, 2009 at 09:23 pm

I was on morning tea after church this morning. I meant to bake last night, but wound up going out to a free concert. So I was late getting up and decided to make some pikelets (Scotch pancakes) but found I'd run out of milk. So I had to buy 2 packets of cookies and some milk, nz5.99, tho I generally try to avoid shopping on Sunday.

In the afternoon I visited my neighbor to congratulate her on a great performance - she was in the choir at the concert last nite. I wound up helping her bottle pears, then unravelling and reknitting a hat she was making. She was very pleased and gave me a pot of apricot jam.

I still have some veges left, so made pumpkin cakes and cooked some black beans with the remaining celery.


March 20th, 2009 at 03:25 pm

This morning I walked 13 minutes in the rain to my own bank ATM so I wouldn't have to pay another bank withdrawal fee. After that I spent 25 minutes in the supermarket scrutinising all the bargains before buying
6 day old pumpkin seed buns nz1.00
sandwich tuna 1.30
quarter cabbage 1.00
can pineapple 1.10
peanut butter 2.00
I also went to the Asian food store where the legumes are cheaper and bought some black beans for 2.00
I also found .20 cents as a reward for being up bright and early. I was thinking what i could buy with it. I can get a knitting pattern from the Sally Army or maybe some popping corn from the bulk bin. I guess I will put it in the Christmas jar.

Full of beans

March 19th, 2009 at 12:49 pm

So I'm continuing to be creative with the pantry. This morning I did curried beans.

1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1 apple, peeled and chopped
Fry all until softened. Add 1 tablespoon flour and preferred amount of curry powder. Add milk to make a thickish sauce. Stir in one can of baked beans and heat thru.

This amount was more than ample for one person, but if You were feeding a family, you could make biscuits to go with it.

Don't walk pasta bargain

March 18th, 2009 at 09:14 pm

Was going to make today a NSD, but got a flyer saying pasta was on sale at my local supermarket, so bought 2 packets macaroni. That should keep me going for some time, and I still have .30 left over from my challenge.

this morning I made potato and lentil patties, with the can of tomatoes and tonite I made some gingerbread. I had one or two slices - okay, five. It was good.

And I found .70 cents.

Especially for Kiwis

March 17th, 2009 at 11:15 pm

I came across this useful website


for people saving money Down Under while I was looking for the info about the $21 a week grocery challenge. It seems they only do it for a week and mainly live out of what's in the kitchen, so not terribly helpful for living on a minimal amount long term. But some of the recipes look good so will try them out. I signed up for the free newsletter, and if it is any good I may look at paying the nz$47 membership.

Today I had pasta with the frozen mixed veg for my first meal, and pancakes with bananas tonite. I didn't get the oil hot enough before pouring the batter in, so they stuck to the pan and were a bit messy, but they tasted good.

First day of my new challenge

March 16th, 2009 at 09:27 pm

Like lessisenough I often only eat 2 meals a day -so did most of our ancestors until 200 years ago. The word luncheon was only invented in the 19th century, and it was for rich people. Because it is difficult for me to get up in the morning, I cook my main meal then. It gives me energy to face the day, and I go out feeling I've done something good for myself. And if I'm too tired to cook in the evening, I can just have a bowl of cereal.

So this morning I started with vegetable soup, made with barley, split peas, carrot, celery and potato. I made it really thick and had 2 good bowlfuls. I didn't have lunch but ate a handful of wild blackberries, and had a coffoe and a slice of chocolate cake at a friend's. This is not about turning down free food with some high minded remark about poor people ( heck, on my income I am a poor person) because I haven't paid for it out of my alloted nz3.00 per day. I intend to continue my normal way, just cut the usual grocery spending to nz21.00 a week.

I bought some salad bananas for 1.30 and apples for 1.10 because I had no fruit. This evening I made some banana porridge with cinnamon. I also had several cups of tea with milk, but I'm running out of teabags.

My $21nz a week challenge

March 16th, 2009 at 12:00 am

So I was checking out the blog of this lady who bought food for $1US a day.


It absolutely would not be doable for me to do $1nz a day unless I ate only rice and potatoes, but I recall hearing on The Money Man that it is possible to get your groceries down to $nz21 a week, so I'm going to give it a go.

The usual start-wit-no-food-and-buy-a-dollar's-worth-a-day strikes me as a bit artificial. Most folks would have a few necessities like oil, salt and flour in their pantry. I don't go for the argument that you need a car and storage space to buy in bulk either. In India you see women walking 5 miles home from market with 25 lbs of rice or beans on their heads. Anyway, this is not just a 30 day trial, but will go as long as I can make it work. So I'll start with what I have at home, which is
frozen mixed veg
pea flour
herbs and spices
baked beans
old fashioned soup mix
can tomatoes

That should keep me going till the weekend. I spent $16.30 already, so put $4.70 aside in case I need more milk. Hmm, I can see already I'm probably going to have to give up drinking tea and coffee. I shall be amazed if I can do this as the experts at the University announced earlier this year it costs nz120 a week to feed an adult.

I actualy didn't need to cook dinner tonite as we had a lunch at Artsenta and I am full of sausage rolls and tomato sandwiches.


March 13th, 2009 at 08:06 pm

Bought groceries for nz$16.30. Zucchini is cheap at the moment, $3.49 a kilo, so am having zucchini fritters for dinner tonite.

The food trap

May 9th, 2008 at 12:34 pm

I have been warned of the "new worker's spread." There is lots of food at my new work place. We are provided with morning tea on Monday (cookies) and a fruit platter on Wednesdays. The trainer is handing out lollies as rewards and there is a snack machine plus baked goods for sale as a fund raiser. Not only could I easily spend a lot of money - I could get fat.

I went to the supermarket after work today, the 5pm crush is something I've avoided for a long time. I saw someone I knew and she had a deli cooked chicken, some salad greens and a bottle of wine. Her bill came to over nz$30. I asked her if the wine was for a special occasion and she said no, it was just a regular dinner. Guess I'm lucky I can't drink alcohol with my medication.

Price of food

November 20th, 2007 at 12:34 am

There has been a lot in the papers recently about the increased cost of food, so I decided to take a careful look at prices today. Fruit and vegetables have gone up, but as it is spring at the moment you'd expect that. Potatoes are expensive as we wait for the new ones, but rice and pasta are still cheap. We have the ridiculous situation where we are exporting food to other parts of the world, and in return a lot of the stuff in the supermarkets is imported from US and Australia. I need to check out the local farmers' market.

I came to the conclusion that a lot of the price increase is due to packaging. Instead of say, a can of plain tuna, there are a whole load of little cans with all sorts of added flavors, often lunchables with a few crackers and all done up in loads of cardboard and plastic. But if you buy the regular can it's just as cheap and helps save the environment. I found no difference in the prices of basics like oats, lentils and eggs. I think people's eating habits have changed and they're buying a lot more convenience foods.

The one thing that is more expensive is dairy products, I guess cos the Asian market is beginning to use more. But I did notice round campus, judging by the trash, a lot of students can still afford plenty of pizza and beer. Hmm, if the price of cheese keeps going up, will pizza become less affordable?

Apple pies

June 1st, 2007 at 01:59 am

"Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness." - Jane Austen

So I made a pie for dinner from the neighbor's windfalls. Very good and I am very happy. My mom was great at baking pies and we had them a lot. We grew our own gooseberries and rhubard, there were brambles growing up the lane, and an old abandoned orchard at the back of the yard. I remember when mom was going to bake an apple pie sis and I would run thru the long grass to gather up the windfalls, chasing away the squirrels and rabbits. Sometimes in the winter, if it was just getting dark, we would see a fox slipping along the hedge. When we took them home, we would watch mom to see if she could take the peel off an apple in one whole strip - she was very good at it. The pastry was made from wholewheat flour and she used maybe half a cup of brown sugar - sometimes she put dried fruit in as well. We seldom had icecream or cream with it, just homemade custard. It was a pretty nutritious dessert, looking back.

I used to love making pies with ds. You get a math lesson with all that measuring and weighing, a science lesson with the chemical changes, and a lesson in nutrition all at the same time.

Moms - save our rising generation from the threats of obesity, diabetes, and the loss of precious domestic skills! Don't take them to McD's for a lump of fried sugar that is falsely labelled - feed them real apple pies and show them how to make them! Then, and only then, will our civilization rise again!

slips into Winston Churchill imitation... We shall bake to the end, we shall make pastry in the kitchen, we shall place pies in our kids lunch boxes, we shall make apple pies with growing confidence and growing strength, we shall defend our homemade desserts, whatever the cost may be, we shall control the amount of sugar, we shall plant our own apple trees, we shall ignore advertising in the papers and on the TV, we shall save money in the process; we shall never surrender.

Take it with a grain of salt

May 31st, 2007 at 06:21 pm

Today I visited the University library at which I have alumna borrowing priveleges. There was a display of rare books, including an 1822 biography of Napoleon and a first edition of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary. He was a character who came up with his own opinionated definitions. The book was open at the one which reads: "stockjobber (ie broker) a low wretch who makes his living buying and selling shares." Given the unregulated market of his day, he was likely correct.

I took out a book on Salt, Health and Diet by a couple of medical professors. I'm finding some fascinating information about the history of salt and the role it played in the economy, as well as the effect on the body. Some snippets:

- Salt is not necessary in the diet. Many primitive tribes don't use it.

- The top cause of death in the 19th Century was apoplexy, or stroke, caused by high blood pressure from eating so much salt preserved food.

- Salt played a role in the South losing the Civil War. They didn't have enough to preserve the meat the troops ate, so the Confederate soldiers were starving and couldn't fight well.

- Manufacturers add more salt, and MSG, to cheap meats like sausages and luncheon meats because it is largely mechanically recovered ground meat and fat, and doesn't have much flavor. Another reason is that salt can absorb more water so they can make it more cheaply.

- Salt makes you thirsty so that is why bars serves salty snacks and fast food giants serve soft drinks. Many manufacturers of salty snacks also own soft drink concerns.

- Cutting down on salt in your diet helps you lose weight. Part of it is loss of body fluid, and also because you are cutting out high calorie foods like chips.

The other book I borrowed was Planet India: How the Fastest Growing Democracy Is Transforming America and the World by Mira Kamdar. Only flicked thru this, but it deals with the effects of jobs offshore on Americans, the rise of the Indian middle classes and the impact of technology on their economy, and the consequences on the poor Indian villages and the landless who flock to the cities for work. Having seen this at first hand myself, I look forward to reading what an Indian economist has to say about it.

Heh, I'm getting the equivalent of another degree - for free. Oh, and found 40 cents coming back across campus. Think I'll start a running tally in the side bar.

Wandering round the shops

May 28th, 2007 at 04:31 pm

There are two schools of thought about this. One says; stay out of shops as much as possible to avoid temptation. The other says; keep going back to get the best bargains. I shilly shally - actually I do like browsing to see what's on sale, but I impulse splurge far less than I used to. (I used to be one of those ooh-a-bag-sale-at-the-thrift-store-I'll-get-five-bags-of-stuff-I-don't-need shoppers)

But today I got lucky - thrift store was selling herb plants. I got some basil and lemon balm at a dollar each. I also saw two new stores had opened. One was a consignment store. Wow, did they have some lovely stuff! Many garments with the original price tags still on them - up to 80% off. Of course they were horrendously overpriced in the first place, which is why the store of origin probably went bust - but still good quality. Will definitely go back there when I am earning again.

The other place was a new Asian food store. Lots of very cheap convenience foods - catering to local Asian students. I prefer the one in town where I can buy mung beans, big bags of rice, vegetables and other real food. I ocassionaly get some soy or other sauce, but all that MSG does me no good. The only thing I bought today was some soy milk for nz$1.70

Going past McD's drive in I remembered I had some packets of their ketchup still sitting in the pantry - it was from when a friend came round with burgers as a treat, but he doesn't eat ketchup - So when I got home I made a risotto with the last red pepper and squeezed in McD's blood for some flavor. Well, let's just say I'm glad I've got some herb plants now.

Free food diet

May 26th, 2007 at 04:35 pm

I went to a 50th party and ran into an old college friend. She complimented me on my new trim figure (tho the way I was eating the weight will go back on soon!) She told me about a new diet she'd heard of - the free food diet. You only eat if someone gives you food, not buy any. She reckoned it was doable in her case as she and her hubby go to so many business and social events where food is provided. Just think of the money you'd save on groceries and dining out!

Out of curiosity I kept an eye out for free food as I went back home across the campus. You wouldn't believe the amount of partly eaten burgers, fries, sandwiches, pizzas, fruit etc, which I'd be happy to grab if I were a street child in Mumbai. Also saw a couple of well known winos collecting bottles and cans. Also found $1 which I did pick up. These are the kids which are forever whining about their student loans.

When I got home a neighbor had left some windfall apples and walnuts for me. Now those I was happy to take.

Oh and I totalled up the amount of food I'd eaten at the party on fitday.com - 3508 calories! Maybe this free food diet could wind up being fattening ...

Using my noodle

February 19th, 2007 at 03:59 pm

Today New World had 2-minute noodles on sale at nz.20 per packet, normally nz.35. There is not much nutrition in them, so I tend to avoid them, but they are handy to have in the cupboard when you need a quick meal. I sprout my own mung beans and add an egg for a cheapie stir fry. So I bought 10 packs.

Broccoli was on special and I got some reduced price carrots, so will make a noodle-vege-cheese casserole tonite. I don't buy canned soup, but will use the flavor sachet with the noodles to make a sauce.

I love being poor in New Zealand!

February 15th, 2007 at 11:22 pm

Tonight some friends had a potluck. All of us are on disability or work parttime. We had:
shaved ham
chocolate cake

sounds like a feast to me! We were talking about the old days (most of us 40-55) and recalling how our parents used to grow veggies, hunt and fish, bake goods, and make our own clothes. I have to say, I think a lot of the poverty we hear about in this country is because people have lost those skills.

I once met a Russian who had jumped ship in a NZ port. He only had a knife, but he made his way inland, and spent several months living off the land, before he got legal status and wound up being quite a successful landlord. He always said this was a wonderful land of opportunity and he didn't see what people had to complain about. Even without money, life here is so much better than in other parts of the world.


February 14th, 2007 at 11:50 am

Not what you think! Went to do my grocery shopping today. I was looking for some curry powder. I found the branded packet was selling at nz$1.95 for 30 grams. The supermarket own brand was nz$0.85 for 40 grams. Quite a difference, and it shows why I seldom bother with coupons. The unbranded product is usually cheaper even without the discount.

On the topic of Indian cooking, I have taken to making chippatis instead of bread, as it is quicker and uses less power. I tend to make them with milk or peanut butter for added nutrition. If I have any leftovers such as dahl or yoghurt, I toss that in the dough as well.

This morning I made some carrot marmelade to go with my chippatis. Peel and chop one orange (the peel is traditionally finely chopped and added, but don't do this if you're concerned about insecticides) coarsely grate 2 carrots. Add a little water and half a cup sugar, and I like to add some ground ginger. Cook for 2 minutes at a time in the microwave, stirring between bursts and adding more water if it gets too stiff. The consistency should be that of jam. Keeps in the fridge.


February 4th, 2007 at 12:35 am

I grew up in the stone fruit growing district, and much of my high school vacations were spent picking apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, and nectarines. As a result I am spoilt for life. When you have tasted ripe, sweet, juicy fruit straight from the tree, warmed by the sun, you lose all interest in the underipe, chilly, bland things you get in supermarkets. And they are expensive. Cherries cost $13nz for a kilo. So usually I only eat them when I visit my hometown.

But today I had to provide something for a potluck. I noticed that some entrepreneurial types had brought down a lot of freshly picked cherries, and were selling them on a street stall. I tried one and they were delicious. So I bought a bag for $5nz. My friends were delighted.

Planning to save

January 29th, 2007 at 03:10 pm

I usually shop at the New World nearest my place because I can get reduced to clear fruit and veges cheaper, but when I'm in town I pick up the specials at Countdown, especially canned goods. i spent some time this mornign checking their prices. They have some good deals, but I did notice 2 small packets of milk powder were cheaper than one big one, and their so called special deal on popping corn was more per unit than from the bulk bins. OTOH, their bulk bin of red lentils was more per unit than I pay for a bag at my home supermarket. So it pays to take a calculator. I am working up a price book, but they keep changing the deals round.

When I was going home past the new Domino's Pizza, I found $1.10nz! Maybe I could try living on the money I find in the street! THAt would make my blog famous! I am convinced there is a Power in the Universe that wishes us well, if only we would become aware of it. But the secret is to be willing to share with each other, instead of clutching tight and saying mine, mine, and being envious that others have what we haven't.

For lunch I am having a pb and banana sandwich, and a dish I just cobbled together from half a dozen cookbooks. Toss chopped green pepper, red cabbage, and grated carrot in a little heated oil. Add a dash of vinegar, a spoonful of brown sugar and a generous shake of chili flakes. Clap lid on and leave to simmer until barely tender.

From one month to another

January 29th, 2007 at 11:52 am

It's not quite the end of the month but I don't think there'l be any more financial transactions.. I downloaded pearbudget at the beginning of the year and these are the results of January spending:

Variable $228.28 (budgeted $240)
Regular $373.78 (budgeted $381)
Irregular $235.00 (budgeted $125.)

Total expenses $842.06. I had $819.06 saved from last month, so only had to dip into savings a little -that pesky wasps' nest! I have recieved the money for my last job, $837.21, to live on for this month. Work and Income will not renew my disability allowance, so I will be getting unemployment of $168.62 per week after that. Hope to get another job before then.

So I decided to only take out $30 a week cash and use that for groceries and toiletries. Everything else can wait. I don't think I will get as bad as that guy who decided to live of $30 a month, but it will be a challenge to see how frugal I can be while still eating healthy. This morning I checked my pantry and saw I had some coconut cream and some cardomom, so made a stovetop rice pudding for breakfast.

Staying Home

January 27th, 2007 at 09:57 pm

It has been a strange summer weatherwise. You never know in the morning how the day will turn out. One day it is stinking hot, the next chilly and damp enough to think about turning the heaters on. We have even had icebergs off the coast for the first time in over 60 years. Today was a drizzly day, so I didn't go out: sat at home and started knitting a shawl with a cone of wool I bought a while ago at the thrift store for a $1. So another no spend day. I can't think of anything I need offhand, so will try not to spend any more money this month. Better stay out of the thrift stores!

To warm myself up I made orange soup: Gently cook 1/2 cup rice and some cumin seeds in oil until the rice turns white. Add 1 pint water, 1/2 cup orange lentils, a handful of chopped dried apricots, and celery salt to taste..Cook for 20 mins. Cool slightly and puree in blender.

Found Food

January 3rd, 2007 at 12:30 am

As it's a wet summer here and the garden is growing like crazy, I spent some time in it this morning with the help of my wonderful neighbour. I discovered a potato plant growing by my back door, and when I pulled it up there were several little white murphies. So we boiled them for lunch. P (my neighbour) calls them "volunteers". I am planning once all the weeds are cleared away to plant swiss chard, which grows very easily here. We call it silverbeet.

It's Party Season

December 9th, 2006 at 12:37 pm

I went south 200 miles with some friends and met up with some more friends to have a feast and a gift exchange. I took some cream cheese and ginger sandwiches. Ironically we were meeting in a Catholic church hall but it didn't stop us committing the sin of gluttony. Several of us have resolved that we will fast every Friday next year. In my case, I think it will be a good plan to make every Friday a no spend day too, just to overcome lust for all those material goods.

I used to live in this town so went for a stroll round with my friends to see how things have changed. It seems a lot larger and there are a lot of new shops, all the big chains, which they are very proud of as sign of development. I came across one bookstore where they were giving away old posters. I got a couple with pictures of cookbooks on them, to put in my kitchen. Hmm, did I say I was fasting next year? For the moment, however, I will eat drink and be merry.

The Compact

December 2nd, 2006 at 12:30 pm

I have been learning about this group

They have decided not to buy anything new except essentials like underwear for the next 12 months. A very good idea for saving the environment, and also for saving $$$. I support it in principle, but I think I've borrowed my neighbor's pruning saw often enough, so I bought one for $nz19.99 at a closing down sale. Also I did buy a very nice navy 2 piece at the Presbyterian Social Support shop for only $1.

First party of the month, a pot luck. I took along the crackers and dip, but there was so much food I wound up bringing it home again. As I am going to be on my own this Christmas, I have decided to invite all my single friends to my place and bring a dish.

End of the week

November 16th, 2006 at 11:50 pm

As New Zealand is ahead of the rest of the world, I have finished the working week before everyone else!

Today I found 30 cents at the bus stop, and spent $nz1.20 coming home from work.

I went out for a potluck tea with some friends tonite. I made my lazy cook's fudge;

Melt 4 oz butter, stir in 2tbs sugar and 1 tbs cocoa powder. Cool slightly and beat in 1 egg. Crush one packet Girl Scout cookies and mix the butter with the crumbs. Press into a foil lined baking tin. Refrij for several hours (overnight if poss). Next day cover with chocolate icing and cut into squares.

As I had all the ingredients at hand it didn't cost me anything.

Frozen goodies

July 25th, 2006 at 01:39 pm

One of our supermarkets packages up its near-their-use-by-date frozen goods and sells them in $NZ5 mystery packs on Tuesdays. After a friend told me about it I thought I would check it out. I got a huge bag of peas, loads of beef patties, and a box of raspberries. I was quite plaesed. but I'm going to have to get a hustle on to eat in all in time and i think I may get a little sick of peas and patties. it would be a good buy if you had a family, but for a single person it is rather a lot.

Eating out

July 17th, 2006 at 02:39 pm

I very rarely eat at fast food joints, but Burger King has been running a win-a-prize promo. A friend got a ticket for free fries which she gave to me as she was on a diet (I didn't ask her how she came to win the prize lol!). So I went to the mall for my fries. I haven't been to the food court in some time, and I was pleased to see a new Indian restaurant had opened up. I like Indian when i eat out. A curry fills me up nicely and is very cheap. I never want dessert after. So there is where I will go when I have my once a month splurge.

Weekend at camp

July 9th, 2006 at 02:21 pm

This weekend I attended a health camp arranged by my support group. It cost $NZ40 and I was involved in the organizing. $14 per person per night for accommodation, which left us $120 to buy groceries and cleaning supplies for 10 people for the weekend.

Breakfast: oatmeal, cornflakes, toast and jam, tinned fruit.
Lunch: eggs,cheese, tinned salmon, bread, baked scones.
Dinner: chicken, potatoes, pumpkin, coleslaw. Fruit pudding with icecream.
Snacks: bananas, kiwis, apples and everyone brought some cookies
Drinks: Coffee, tea, milk and powdered juice.

Everyone enjoyed it very much and there were no complaints. We even had leftovers for people to take home ( I got some margarine, kiwis and a pack of frozen mixed veg.) But it is becoming more and more difficult to find nice camps at a reasonable price. There are so many health and safety regulations passed by the govt, that it costs the owners a fortune to do the alterations. So increasingly, people are selling the traditional campground that families have stayed at for generations. There are a few left, mostly run by church groups for needy groups in the community, but I don;t know how much longer they'll be around.

Plenty for money

July 4th, 2006 at 11:23 pm

I shopped for groceries today, mostly fruit and veg,potatoes, pasta, dates,flour and milk powder. It came to $18.25. as I will be at a community health camp this weekend, I didn't need so much. The checkout girl commented on how much I had for my money. The woman ahead of me had some diet coke and precooked chicken, then she wanted a carton of cigarettes, which took her bill to over $NZ50.

Stocking pantry

May 29th, 2006 at 05:06 pm

As I'm single and have a small house I can't stock too much bulk food. Besides I have no car so would struggle to get it all home. So what I do is buy one item for the store cupboard each week. I make sure it's something on special that I will really use, like canned tomatoes or teabags. Then, if I'm having a tight week, I make use of my supplies.

Today I made this recipe out of the pantry and frig.
Cook pasta and frozen peas. Make white sauce with half milk and half drained juice from canned pinapple. Add cottage cheese and pineapple to sauce and heat through. Combine.

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