Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Simple Living and Being Organized

We all know that the art of simple living requires focus, organization and commitment and when I'm not organized or focused things fall apart like the odd take away food is much easier than shopping and having a meal late on a Saturday night or I'll resort to buy a packet of biscuits from the supermarket because I haven't stocked up on my home made ones.

I'm implemented a number of things over the past few years or so but every now and then you will read something or see something that reminds you to get organized and stay focused and for me, this week there was two things on TV that is a reminder that it's totally the way to go.

The first one was a story on A Current Affair (ACA) on Channel 9 about a Thrifty Australian Family.  We all know there are a lot of families doing similar things to save money but I really enjoyed watching the story and it was a reminder that you can save money, enjoy a good life and have so much satisfaction in the process.  This family is a family of 4 and both the Mum and Dad lost their jobs at the same time a few years ago and had to watch every cent.   They have a combined income of $40,000 and in 5 years they were able to pay off their $100,00 mortgage and also a moderate car after that.  They have chickens, a small veggie garden, shop at Aldi, save water, electricity, the two daughters pay for their own mobile pre-paid phones with their part time jobs and they buy clothes and hand bags from the op shops.

Lots of things they mentioned like making your own laundry powder, meal planning, veggies from the garden, no take always, pay TV, fancy mobiles etc. all help towards what they have achieved and these things are not new to me.  Most of us would know of Rhonda's blog "Down to Earth" and there is a mountain of information over there on simple living, cooking, gardening etc. however I personally didn't think you would be able to pay off that sort of debt and run a household and live off $40,000 so that part of the story was truly inspiring.  The spend $270 a month, yes.... a month on groceries.  This one I couldn't work out as I know how much I spend at the supermarket a week and they spend only $270 per month.  I'm sure I need to refine my meal planning even further.

For myself, I know how to budget, get better deals, try and buy petrol when it's at it's cheapest however the cost of electricity, rates, water, house/contents/car insurance and petrol alone before food seems to be a huge amount in 2014 and electricity is going up again.  For me, years ago I would have classed electricity as a household expense however in 2014 it's classed as a necessity but it's also a luxury item.  I struggle keeping this one down and cannot afford solar although I would love it.

I think I'm going to have to be smarter with my shopping and shop at Ali first then Woolworths second.  For me for convenience of everything in the one shop I tend to shop just at Woolworths.  I love Aldi but for me fruit and veggies is no good because I hand pick a few potatoes or onions for the week depending upon what we are eating as we are a family of 3 and Aldi has bags of things.  I did however buy 4 boxes of Kleenex tissues from Aldi for $1.89 each and the best I can do at Woolworths is about $2.00-$2.50 on sale so that one was great.  I know cheese is way cheaper at Aldi as is their Yoghurt which the kids like.  After these school holidays I'm going to get more organized to reduce my food bill because cheese is cheese and Yoghurt is Yoghurt and the money is better off in my bank account for a rainy day.

The link for the video from A Current Affair is here and worth a look.

The other thing I saw on TV this week was an interview with Jody Allen of "Stay at Home Mum" who has written a book called "Once a Month Cooking".  I am a freezer kind of girl and happily make slices and biscuits and meals and freeze them so the concept is not new to me.  When I was first employed in the workforce living at home I would buy a loaf of bread and pressed chicken meat on the weekend and make up my sandwiches for the week and put them in the freezer so I could just grab one out to take to work with me each day.  Having 7 people in the family the kitchen was pretty busy in the mornings to having my lunch out of the way saved me having to get in between all those people and fight for some kitchen bench space to make my lunch.  Jody talked about making the school lunches on the weekend but only using the freshest of bread and it reminded me of that process I used to do for myself back when I was a teenager.  I left school at Grade 10 (as you could in those days) and got a job when I was 15 in an office and left that company 13 years later.

Jody also talks about meal planning which is nothing new to myself or probably most other people reading this however making savory mince and using that in different recipes is something I don't do.  I tend to make one large meal and freeze it however with savory mince you could make sausage rolls, pizza pin wheels, and a large family pie or individual pies to freeze.   I need to start thinking like that in my meal planning rather than making a double batch of spaghetti bolognese.  I'm not going to be cooking one whole day once a month however it reminds me that I most certainly can be smarter with meal planning.

I was really inspired by these two interviews I saw this week and I need to make some soap and laundry powder and I'm going to get my Aldi Cookbook out and get the kids to pick some recipes and they can each help make a meal or two of their choice in the holidays.


  1. Hi Kathy , great blog. I didn't watch but saw the ad for the family with a grocery bill of $270 per month, I spend that per week...definitely doing something wrong...... we eat organic but it still wouldn't account for our huge grocery for thought. Your homemade biscuits look delicious. :-)

  2. I agree Suzie I've already spent about $130 this week alone so I need to challenge myself to do better. I do enjoy diet coke in a can and I don't buy grog so that's my treat however I only buy the box of cans from the supermarket when they are 50 percent off but that being said if you took that amount away when I buy that (which is not weekly anyway) my food bill is still high.

  3. Hi Kathy, Great post I blogged about meal planning here and you are right being organised makes all the difference.
    Maybe you could look at things like tissues and see if you really need them. We have a single box of tissues in the house in case visitors need them or if we need one in a hurry but for the most part we have gone back to using hankies. We spend a bit less than they do (about $200 per month) but then there is just the 2 of us. We make our own laundry liquid and use green and home made cleaners. Good luck with your meal planning.

  4. I loved your post, it was the best reading i had in a while.
    And the video about the family was GREAT! I dont know why some people dont understand the concept and makes jokes about it ... its a style of life. And a good one.

  5. Wow I spent so much more than that on just feeding 2 people! I find that produce and quality dairy products end up being so expensive but I definitely think I have room for improvement in meal planning

  6. This is such a timely post Kathy! It's something that's been on my mind a lot lately... I'm a big fan of Aldi and always go there first... but thinking I could do better as well!

  7. I'm off to watch these, thanks for the links Kathy. Oh and I made your chocolate coconut slice and it was dangerously good!! Jan x

    1. Jan that's great that chocolate slice is the best and I've made a few in my time. Kathy

  8. Is that your fence? What a wonderful colour! Your plants are just thriving. Oh, the thought of cooking (my least favourite activity) just once a month sounds bliss! I really need to think about this and you have given me a welcome nudge. Great post, thank-you!

  9. Sounds like you are doing a great job! We found that reducing our grocery costs was a gradual thing. I also found that we had to change the way we ate a fair bit. We don't eat all the same things we used to because we plan meals and snacks around what we already have in the garden or pantry. Buying food in bulk really helps too.