Don’t forget your sprouts!

It’s easy to get out of habits. One I’ve just remembered to revive is the sprouts and microgreen habit.

At this time of year (summer in NZ) they grow really fast.

These photos both of the sprouts and microgreens are 3 days after planting. 3 days! That’s just amazing.

There are bean sprouts, alfalfa and radish sprouts. For the microgreens the greener one on the right is rocket (otherwise known as arugula), and a mix called “Vitablend”.

The microgreens will take a few more days to be ready to eat, but once they are, I’ll be able to cut them, and they will grow again to be cut some more.

Both are absolutely full of goodness, and hugely cheaper than buying packet sprouts or baby salad leaves. As well as being way cheaper, they taste heaps better too, and because they’ll be freshly harvested, will have more vitamins too.

I do have a sprouter I invested in some years ago, which has well and truly paid for itself now. This has a 5 tier system, with a layer to put the water in, and a layer to catch the water in at the bottom too. However, you don’t have to fork out for a sprouter, you can just use jars with a muslin or breathable fabric cover.

For detailed instructions on growing sprouts look here. 

To learn how to grow microgreens look here. 

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. – 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!



Not exactly cheap……Whitebait Fritters

Once a year, I allow myself a special treat. No, it’s not Chocolate! It’s WHITEBAIT!

Now there is no way, that Whitebait, even in NZ, counts as cheap – unless you catch it yourself that is!

I remember in my childhood, standing in the icy running water in the mouth of the Waikanae River, right beside where my grandparents were living at No 1 Field Way, with a Whitebait net and a bucket.

How exciting when you lifted the net and tipped all the little wrigglers into the bucket. It was normal  to go home with half a big metal bucket full of whitebait. I know we had fritters packed with whitebait, which is why it’s always been disappointing if I’ve ever ordered Whitebait fritters when out, to find a big lump of dough with a couple of whitebait somewhere in there!

However, there’s got to be a balance doesn’t there? If you’re constantly eating on the cheap, it can become a bit of a grind. You start to feel a bit blue and fed-up – so guess what happens then?

You have a blow out. You end up spending more than you really ever wanted to, on things that you don’t really need, and all because you’re feeling deprived.

So, every so often, if I’ve been tight enough with the rest of the budget, I allow us a treat! Having the odd treat stops you feeling so deprived, and so you’re less likely to go on a binge shop!

Whitebait is so expensive, it’s a once a year treat. Scallops might also be allowed once a year. While they’re not exactly cheap, if you compare it to the price of going out for dinner, you come out way on top. That’s how I justify it to myself! And I do have to be extra stingy for the rest of the week, so that it can happen.

Anyway, there’s not much to cooking whitebait. Usually an egg, a tiny bit of flour, mix and cook on a non-stick surface.

This year, however I tried a recipe which separated the egg, and only used the white, which you beat until stiff. I actually really liked these fritters, because the whitebait have such a delicate flavour, that an eggy taste can dominate it. However, without the yolk, that flavour comes through much more strongly, so that you get much more of the whitebait taste.

I used Annabel Langbeins recipe. 

Mine looked slightly different to hers. Maybe she could afford more whitebait! I had 100g of the little wrigglers. And NO, you are not allowed to cut their heads off!

Whitebait Fritters

  • Servings: 2
  • Print

  • 2 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 heaped tsp flour
  • 1 cup fresh whitebait
  • 1 tbsp neutral oil and 1 tbsp butter to cook

Whisk egg whites to form peaks.  Add salt, flour and whitebait and gently fold to combine evenly.
Heat the oil and butter and cook heaped dessert spoonfuls of the mixture over medium heat until golden and puffy, adding extra oil and butter to pan between batches as needed.

Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Happy People Don’t Compare

Happy People Don’t Compare.

This is the title of a great column in the BITE section of the NZ Herald this morning. It was written by Life Coach, Louise Thompson . I’m a bit of a critical thinker, and I often DON’T agree with everything a columnist writes, but on this occasion I am 100% with Louise, as I think this relates very closely to the Cheapskates theme!

Being a Cheapskate, is, after all, a mind game. I’ve been finding I’m quite enjoying finding ways to be cheap, and if I find something particularly cheap, or have a particularly happy time “on the cheap”, it gives me a buzz!

Charles Dickens, in his book “David Copperfield” famously says,

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

It’s not about how much you’ve got, it’s about not spending money we haven’t got.

Having less than others, or less than you used to have, isn’t the issue, it’s having enough for what you need that matters.

Many of us on benefits, do not have enough for what we need. I’m seeing that, even if you’re as Cheapskate as you can possibly be, that you get one big bill for something unexpected,  that it totally screws up your budget. I don’t have an answer to that, except for paying things off a little at a time.  At the moment, my answer lies in selling things, but I guess there will come a point when you don’t have stuff left to sell.

However stressful that can be, I don’t think we should let it stop us being happy.

Write a list of the things that make you happiest.

First on my list, and I bet on most people’s lists, is your family/significant other/friends.

Spending time with the people we care about is absolutely the most feelgood thing.  I know the ones we love aren’t always near, but we can spend time with them on Skype. Even if you can’t afford the internet, you can always go to the library and write (and read) messages from your free web mail account. Make sure you choose things to do with your nearest and dearest that aren’t expensive. Share food, rather than eating out. Play silly games. Make music. Talk. I guarantee you’ll come away feeling richer for the experience, and with a deep sense of satisfaction.

Second on my list, is my spiritual well-being. 

Whatever your spiritual beliefs, spend time working on them. Whatever belief system you have, get more involved with it. Become a greater part of your spiritual community. Your spiritual well-being is not affected by a lack of money.  If you have a demanding group that is wanting a lot of your money, I suggest you change the group, because spiritual well-being is not finance dependent. You’ll find that your whole life is enhanced by living more in the spirit, and developing relationships with other people who share your belief system.

Third on my list, is my physical well-being.

Physical activity makes you feel good. There is no arguing this. It makes you feel good emotionally, it makes you feel good physically. It gets you out of the house and into the community. You meet other people doing the same things. You don’t have to spend money on it. Try a Green Prescription from the doctor – this gives you access to activities at a reduced price, and there may be low-priced exercise classes where you can meet others in the same boat.

Fourth on my list, is being close to nature. 

In Auckland, it is very easy to get close to nature. We are blessed with easy access to beaches and the bush. If you don’t have those nearby, there are always parks. Gardening is an activity many find a great deal of pleasure in. I’m not really one of those, but even I have a vegetable garden as that helps the food budget so much! Even if you don’t have a garden to plant things in, you can grow things in pots, or seek a community garden near you. Community gardens are great places for getting to know people who live in your area. Having your hands in the dirt is very grounding. Wear bare feet on the grass and the beach to ground you.

Fifth on my list, is eating! 

In fact, primitive beings that we are, eating is the one of the biggest priorities we have! Keeping the engine fuelled with healthy food to keep us going, is absolutely crucial. I’m finding as a Cheapskate, that this takes more time and energy to research and plan ways to keep the costs down than I really want to spend. However, being a foodie is an interest of many, which is I guess why TV programmes such as Masterchef and MKR have been so successful. Enjoy finding new dishes that are economical and tasty.

So, in Summary – don’t compare. Seek out the things that make your heart sing, and focus on those. Don’t waste time envying those who have more – money doesn’t buy happiness. Seek your happiness in small things around you. I guarantee those small things will lead to big happiness.

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