Mix it up!

If you’re a Granny like me, then you’ll probably remember the Kiwi food of the 50’s and 60’s. (If you don’t, you didn’t miss anything!)

Blah, Blah and more blah. (Don’t tell my Mum!) Sausages and Mashed potatoes, Boiled mutton with Parsley Sauce, Shepherd’s Pie with the left-over minced mutton (actually I really like Shepherd’s Pie, but like to give it a bit of pizazz!) Fish and Chip Friday, Corn on the Cob with bread and butter – not exactly an inspiring mix was it!

These days, with the InterWeb, and TV Travel Cooking shows, it’s easy to find recipes from all around the big wide world, and lots of these are very Cheapskate friendly. Many cultures eat a lot less meat than Kiwi’s tend to, and don’t appear to suffer from it! Since meat is often the most expensive part of the meal, having less of it is bound to help the budget.

I have two approaches to my shopping – in one approach I plan frenetically and make a list and stick to it. In another approach, I look for the specials, and then I find a recipe to suit. While the making the list thing is good, I think because I buy extra ingredients for the lovely recipes I’ve found, it can be slightly more expensive than finding the specials, and adapting recipes to what I have.

This week, I found a great special on Lamb Mince. I got 350 grams for $2.50! That’s because it was on it’s last legs. It had that sticker on it that says, “Use or freeze today!” So I throw it in the freezer, and make sure I use it the day I get it out.

So I then got on the web, and found an awesome recipe. I may be jumping the gun here, because I’ve asked the owner of the blog I got it from if I can share it, and haven’t heard back yet.

The recipe is, Hummus with Lamb, and Nagi suggests it as an appetizer, but we had it for dinner and it was great.


It also suggests eating it with Pita Bread. I hummed and haa’d over whether to buy Pita bread, because actually I find store-bought Pita bread tough, stale and expensive. So I didn’t. I set to and made my own. Pita Bread is really quick and easy to make, particularly if you have a Breadmaker, so it’s worth doing. I had enough for the dinner, and now have a stash of a half a dozen pieces in the freezer for future lunches and hummus dipping!

This is a link to the Pita Bread I made, but there are heaps of recipes out there.

Never, ever ever buy hummus. It’s so quick to make, and so much better! The Recipe Tin Eats Hummus with Lamb  recipe, does of course have the recipe for the hummus.

The recipe has spices in it, but is not particularly strongly spiced. However, if you’re concerned, you can halve the amount of spices.


Cheap Books

I like a good book.

I don’t like paying the expensive prices for them! I always get a shock when I go to Australia and see so many cheaply priced books there.

I have three solutions that work quite well for me. At least I get to read.

  1. Book Depository – The Book Depository is a web-based store in which you can order online – often at very good prices, and they send you the book POST FREE. This is amazing because when I’ve previously bought from Amazon or wherever the postage turns out to be the most expensive part. I only buy an actual book if I need it for study, and I can’t access it any other way. Mostly, I try to get rid of stuff, not get more stuff!
  2. Bookbub.com – with Bookbub, you will be reading e-books. You don’t have to buy a Kindle. If you have a smart-phone or an ipad, or a computer, you can read e-books. You sign up to bookbub and select your favourite genre. Then they send you a daily email with free and very cheap options that you can then download. You can set up your AppleID so that you don’t have to enter your password all the time for free items. I’ve been downloading a book a day lately, so this saves the hassle.
Bookbub. Sign up to get free and very cheap books to read on your device.

3. Local Library –  Your local library has all sorts of stuff. As well as free books, they have CD’s, DVD’s, computer access, magazines. Sometimes I even get to read a magazine that’s brand new! (By dint of being there when the librarian was putting the new mag on the shelf!) If there’s a new bestseller out, you can pay $5.00 for the read. Or wait. Either way, it’s cheaper than buying it. Libraries now also have deals on magazines that you can read online. 

All those fancy recipe books that you couldn’t afford?


From the library. With a generous 4 week lending period, if you renew it, then you’ve got it for 2 months. Plenty of time to try out recipes and see if you like them. If I do, then I take a photograph and store it in Evernote.  (Evernote is an online notebook which you can store all sorts of things in, and then they’re available on all your devices. I love it.)

If the grandchildren are coming to stay, a visit to the library is one of the first things we do, to get stocked up, set up and maybe find a book with activities they want to do. The library also runs all sorts of other activities that are either free or cheap.

They pay, you read, sounds a good Cheapskate solution to me!



Fast Food Cheaper? Update

I was delighted to read Nikki Bezzants column in the Herald on Sunday this morning, where she too debunked the idea that Fast Food is cheaper than home cooked food. I think it also showed that the newspaper had picked out a statement which actually didn’t mean that people thought it was more affordable to use as their headline. She at least had the full data which we didn’t get in the article, and was able to put this in perspective.

She also focussed on the health aspects which are important. Thanks Niki!



Food writer, healthy cook, editor-in-chief of Healthy Food Guide magazine, columnist NZ Herald

Niki Bezzant Niki Bezzant

Fast Food Cheaper than Home Cooking?

I was totally shocked today to read an article in “The Herald” saying that more than 50% of NZ’rs think that fast food is cheaper than home cooking. They also think that the price point of NZ$15.00 per person is about right!  If this were correct, it would mean that to feed 3 people for one meal would cost NZ$45.00. How can anyone think that this is cheaper than home cooking?

My tonight’s meal, didn’t set out to be extraordinarily cheap – I’ve been focussing on putting more beans into our diet, after reading about the “Blue Zones” where the longest living people on the earth are, and that their primary diet is often based on beans. However, after reading this, I’ve worked out the price of the meal. Two of us ate it, but there is enough left over for another meal for one.

Meat – Lamb steaks $8.80 – (I got the supermarket to take some out of a larger packet for me, as there were only too large packets available.)

1 tin butter beans $1.00

1 tin tomatoes $1.00 (It was supposed to be cherry tomatoes, but at $5.99 a pkt that wasn’t going to happen.)

1 onion – 35cents

Mint – free from the garden.

This brought the total for 3 meals to $11.15 – which is $3.71 per person.

Quite a bit different from $45.00 don’t you think?

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it.

Lamb and Beans

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


400 gms lamb steak

1 tin butter beans (450gm)

1 tin chopped tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes, or tinned cherry tomatoes)

1 onion

large bunch mint


Brown lamb in hot pan (can add oil but I used my non-stick frying pan) for a few minutes,

Add chopped onion and cook for another minute.

Add some of mint leaves and allow to wilt for a minute. Add the tomatoes and simmer on a low heat  until the meat is tender and the tomatoes nice and saucy. Could be 10 to 20 minutes. Add in the drained butter beans and heat through. Serve and top with remaining mint leaves.

Lamb and Onion Browning
Lamb and Onion browning
Tomato added
Tomato added
With butter beans
With butter beans
Served with Mint leaves
Served with Mint leaves

Cheap Box of Fruit and Veg

Yesterday at my local fruit and vege store, where I was buying a couple of things for our next days meal, I spotted quite a big box of fruit and veges which were on sale for NZ$1.99.

Once I got it open, I found a bunch of bananas, all with black bits, but I’m lucky, my husband likes over-ripe bananas, and doesn’t mind cutting out a couple of black bits. The last lot I bought cost $6.99 and lasted about two days, so even with just the bananas it’s a good win! The apples I immediately turned into apple sauce to go with the (on special) pork chops I had bought at the supermarket.

Apple Sauce Recipe

Slice apples into a pot. Put in a slosh of water to cover the bottom. Simmer on a low heat until they’re soft. 

Add in a couple of walnut sized blobs of butter, a slosh of lemon juice, mash together. Done. 

I like my apple sauce to be quite thick, and not over-mashed. I like it on toast for breakfast as well as with my pork. 

There was also a rotten strawberry and kiwifruit which I’m afraid went straight into the bin for my worm farm. I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do with them. I wonder about juicing but I think it was too late for them.

There were a couple of Chinese Aubergines which I chopped the bad bits out of and sauteed with a couple of potatoes which also had bad bits. There were quite a lot of potatoes of the red-skinned variety, but I discovered they were totally green inside so inedible. They’ve gone into the compost heap, where perhaps they will grow and produce potatoes for Xmas – we’ll see!  There were four other potatoes which don’t look to have anything wrong with them at all.

There was also a pear which was mostly edible, and a half-dozen oranges which look totally edible. If you see a box like this at your fruit and vege market, don’t hesitate to snap it up! You may have to use it quickly, but it’s a good save!

I feel for NZ$1.99 that I did pretty well!

Box of Fruit and Veges
The box with potential!
Price Label $1.99
Cheap as!