Extra-cheap Grocery Week!

Last week, we had almost no money for groceries. (Thank-you Christmas and Summer Holidays!) This is when you “Shop the pantry”,  “Shop the garden”, and “Shop for whatever is in season and there is a glut of,” . This is our weeks menu. I hope you like corn and courgettes!  We’re not vegetarians as you can see by the bacon, but I do find that if we need to live really cheaply that eating veges, especially the home-grown variety is lot more economic!

  1. Corn on the Cob – my husband found 5 corn cobs for NZD$5.00. Nice one. Neither of us was particularly hungry because we’d had a late lunch, so he ate 3 and I ate one, and a piece of bread and butter. Butter is an outrageous price in NZ right now, so it’s spread thin. Still, it was delicious and filling enough. This was a meal my mother used to give us when we were children. Now I know why!
  2. Kumara and Corn Fritters with Bacon and Maple Syrup –This is my go-to recipe for Corn Fritters. We love it.  I wrote about it in another blogpost here. Made completely with things already in the pantry and fridge.
  3. Courgette, Parmesan and Garlic Tart with Green Olive Dressing – This recipe is not for the faint-hearted or those who are time poor. However, it IS delicious! However, by the time you make the pastry, grill the courgettes, roast the pine-nuts, make the herb pesto, and the green-olive dressing it does keep you busy for an hour or two!  I had almost everything for this either in the garden, fridge or freezer, and only had to purchase the Green Olives for about NZD$2.15 and a packet of Pine Nuts. NZD$5.50.  (Used half the packet.)  We ate 2/3 of it for dinner, and the rest for lunch the next day. I made my favourite cheap and easy Pastry Recipe and while it’s not as flakey as bought Flakey Pastry it was still delicious. I prefer pesto without too much oil, so reduced the olive oil amount in the pesto by half. It was really good, especially with all my freshly picked herbs from my own herb garden. I used chives, lemon balm, flat-leaf parsley and mint. Served with garden salad.

4. Sweet Potato, Corn and Black-Bean Hash – For this, the only thing that I had to buy, was a tin (can) of Black Beans. NZD $1.80 It made enough for a lunch as well. I micro-waved a some poppadoms I had in the pantry to eat with it, which made a nice texture change, but some people like it with Tacos, Sour Cream and Chives. I’ll make this again. I halved the amount of cumin, and didn’t put the Jalapenos in because I can’t eat hot and spicy. I might put a bit more cumin in another time, as I couldn’t really taste it with only half.

5. Pesto Pasta – I’d only used half the Pesto I made for the Courgette Tart, and it smelled so delicious, I boiled up some dried Fettucine from in the pantry, and stirred the Pesto through. I added a bit of Olive Oil to make it a bit juicier, and used the last of my grated Parmesan from in the freezer. I served it with salad from the garden. Very tasty!

Another day, a kind neighbour gave us a fish he had caught. Fresh snapper yum, yum!

Day 7, we were helping out/attending a wedding for a lovely couple, who invited us to lunch, so we had a long three-course lunch, and had absolutely no need for dinner that day!

Phew! So we made it through. Did you add up what we paid out for dinners? (and a couple of lunches.)

NZD$14.45!

It takes a bit of time looking through the pantry and checking what you have already, and then looking for recipes which include those things. I was really delighted with our meals and we felt well fed, and healthy afterwards!

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Summer Holiday Travels on a Shoe-string.

So you’ve managed to find a way to get away. You’re in a strange town. You’ve got little or no budget to spend. What do you do?

First of all, do some RESEARCH. Find out about the town, find out it’s history, read the tourism booklets, which believe it or not, include free activities! Visit the information centre. Ask advice. Make yourself a list of things you think would be interesting and fun to do. My kind daughter did this recently when we went to stay with her in Perth, Australia, and it was great. When we weren’t sure what to do, we checked the list. We didn’t even get through all of it.

Secondly, do the FREE stuff first. And yes, there is often heaps of free stuff. Galleries, Museums, Churches, Botanical Gardens and Parks are often free, or very cheap, and sometimes they have Prime positions for views, and really interesting stuff in them. Look up: Free things to do in ……. There are heaps of websites dedicated to this!

If you are in a new town, and you feel tempted to pay the $40.00 odd dollars for a hop-on, hop-off bus to go and see the sights, forget it! Check out the route if you like. Get a brochure, and see where they go. Then use public transport to get yourself around. Perth had free public transport within the city centre, and other cities do this too. Use those free buses to get from one tourist site to the next. If the free buses don’t go where you want, public transport is often very cheap. Art Galleries have free galleries, and if you decide you want to pay for a special exhibition, you may well find that it doesn’t break the bank, and will take half a day to see.

Often cities have free concerts, or free outdoor movies. Get informed and get there, and you’ll have heaps of fun without paying a penny.

We’re talking summer holiday here, since it’s summer down-under. Of course the best thing to do in summer is head to the beach. I was a bit disgusted to find that in Perth, it’s often too hot in January to go to the beach! A “nice” day in Perth, is one that’s a bit cooler. That’s say, 32 degrees Celsius rather than 39 or even 46! Walking a white sand beach, the cool waves lapping round your feet, you can’t get much closer to heaven than that, and what does it cost???? Nothing at all! Swimming in the crystal clear water, keeping cool in the waves – amazing. And FREE.

Do go prepared. Chill your water bottles, take them in a cool bag. Make your sammies, or B & E pie, whatever. Just DON’T buy food out. Take snacks, nuts, muesli bars, fruit….just don’t pay for food. If you have got a small budget, and there’s a nice cafe just where the view is best, then go there by all means. Drink tap water, buy something VERY small, and sit there and sip and nibble and enjoy the view and the ambiance without breaking the bank!

DON’T go shopping. Unless you’ve got an iron will that is, or specific things that you need that are cheaper where you are than they are at home. Once you go shopping, you will turns to custard, and you end up buying drinks, eating at a cafe, and buying stuff that you then have to find a way to fit in your suitcase to get home again.

Instead of going out for activities, play games at home with whoever you’re with.

Look up friends. I often find it’s the people that make a place special. Hanging out with old friends or new, is actually what you tend to remember most about a place. They might even have ideas of what you can do together.

There IS FUN to be had for FREE.