Making the Most of Everything


At the end of my last post I mentioned that I would share some details of the food preparation that I do.

In the past few weeks I have been fortunate to score some great bargains on fresh produce. A food bargain is only a bargain if you actually use the food. This can be a particular challenge with fresh produce but with a bit of know-how and some time you can make the most of bargains that may come your way.

Today I want to show you how I used and stored large quantities of cheap bananas, pineapples and tomatoes.

I bought a 10kg box of perfect, ripe Roma tomatoes for $10. $1/kg was too good to pass up. I could have bottled them straightaway but they were so firm, red and perfect that we decided to enjoy them fresh for as long as possible. I spread them out on a couple of racks so that would be able to easily identify any blemishes or potential rotten ones. Fresh tomato salsa was served with at least one and often two meals every day. Here is a selection of our meals.

L to R: Chicken tacos, Mexican quinoa and Baked potatoes with refried beans

This strategy worked well for just over 3 weeks which is testament to the perfect quality of the produce. In fact, I have no idea why they were being sold for $1/kg.

The remaining tomatoes were diced and packed into jars to go in the freezer. These will be added to casseroles and other dishes instead on buying canned tomatoes.

Next were the bananas. These were also $1/kg and I bought 12.5kg in a box. The bananas ranged from partly green to overripe but the majority were ripe and flavoursome although the skins were showing blemishes. We eat sliced banana on our cereal every day so about a dozen of the least ripe ones were added to fruit bowl to be eaten over the next week.

Two very ripe ones became banana cake and the remainder were peeled, cut in half and frozen on trays. They can be sliced and added to cereal with no further preparation.

You can see the less ripe bananas in the fruit bowls in the background as well as trays ready for the freezer and two bananas in the bowl which were about to be turned into banana cake.

Finally, the pineapples. I spotted this box of 5 pineapples for $4 and knew exactly how I could use them.

Dried pineapple is a delicious treat so it was a simple matter of peeling, coring and slicing the pineapple and then into the dehydrator. We like it semi-dried (a bit chewy but not crunchy). I store it in a container in the refrigerator.

L to R: Fresh pineapple ready to dehydrate, dried pineapple, ready to store in the refrigerator.

I would love to hear your stories of bargains or gluts and how you make sure they do not go to waste.

Bagging a Bargain

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Most of us are trying to make the most of our grocery budget as food prices seem to be increasing on an almost daily basis. Extreme weather events driven by the impacts of climate change along with global conflicts are combining to disrupt supply chains.

This is the background upon which shoppers are doing their utmost to spend their food budget wisely.

There are not many, if any, items which can regularly be purchased for $1/kg. So, when I spotted Roma tomatoes for $1/kg at our local greengrocer, I took advantage of the bargain. Although the tomatoes were loose on a display stand, I discovered that I could purchase an entire 10kg box for $10. This was too good to pass up.

Here is my haul.

Of course, a bargain is only a bargain if there is no wastage. I have spread the tomatoes out on the kitchen bench and there are no soft spots or blemishes – all absolutely perfect.

Tonight we will have slices of fresh tomato on our pizza. Tomorrow I will make salsa to have with our bean tacos and I am sure they will feature in other meals over the next week. Other than that, I may dehydrate some, make pasta sauce and bottle or freeze them whole.

Making the most of seasonal and often cheaper produce makes good sense as we try to stretch our budget a little further.

A Lucky Find

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This morning we went out to do a couple of errands including picking up a few items from a nearby fruit and vegetable stall. Occasionally, there are boxes of cheap produce so it is worth keeping an eye out for a bargain.

Today I stumbled upon an amazing bargain. A box of passionfruit for FREE!! A quick look revealed that almost all of them had soft or rotten patches on them but I thought it might be worth seeing what I could salvage. I asked about whether I could have the whole box and my enquiry was greeted wholeheartedly. Here they are when we arrived home.

It was clear that I would need to process them straight away to prevent any further deterioration.

I simply cut them and salvaged the pulp from those that were OK. A small number were completely unusable.

The final haul was 2.5 litres of passionfruit pulp which is now in the freezer.

The trick is to be able to deal with bargains like this as soon as possible.

Bagging a Bargain

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Last week I bought 13 pineapples. Why 13, you may ask? There were 13 medium sized pineapples in a box at the front of the local fruit and vegetable stall where I shop.

It pays to keep an eye out for these occasional bargain boxes as you can see from this post from January this year. This time the pineapples were in perfect condition apart from being slightly odd shapes and I did not need to discard any of the flesh. My $10 box of pineapples yielded one which we ate fresh and 12 others at 77c each.

Some were sliced and others pulped. Here is the results ready for the freezer.

What’s the Obsession?


I am intrigued.  I read various posts from Facebook groups, blogs and various forums on the internet and am constantly amazed by some of the questions posed and resultant discussions.

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There are many questions about saving money and bargains to be had.  But is it really a bargain if you did not intend to buy it and more so if you have no idea of what you are going to do with it?  An example is, “Help, I bought a box of bananas for $5, what can I do with them?”  Invariably, there are lots of useful responses and I sincerely hope that the person manages to use them wisely and does not end up wasting their money.

It is even more odd when I read, “What else can I use shampoo for?  I have 4 bottles in the cupboard.”  I am tempted to reply with, “Use it to wash your hair”.  It seems that people stock up on an item and then want to use it up as quickly as possible.  I want to make things last as long as possible.

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I think too many people are seduced by the crowd – shop for a bargain, stockpile, use it up, downsize, declutter.  Whatever the catchcry of the day, they seem to feel the need to jump on the bandwagon.  It is no wonder they feel confused.


My advice is to think independently, decide what works for you, make your own choices, forge your own path and don’t be sucked in by the crowd.

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The only things I buy are what I know I will use.  I buy larger quantities of items where I have to travel some distance or out of my way simply to avoid having to do that every week.  I have enough food to feed us for weeks, or in some cases, months.  Fruit and vegetables are bought locally each week so I try to buy only what I need in an effort to eliminate any waste.  If there is cheap produce, I will buy it if I have the time and skills to prepare and store it.

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What is your experience?  Do you stockpile or keep the bare minimum?  Have you changed your shopping habits/philosophy over time?

Stop the Sabotage


It occurred to me recently that many people are constantly sabotaging their own decluttering efforts.


They are hauling garbags of ‘stuff’ to the op shop, filling the rubbish bin each week and trying to find time list items on eBay in a vain attempt to claw back some of the money they have spent on unwanted items.  Yet, these same people are often using every strategy possible to score a good deal on clothes, shoes, bedding, magazines, cosmetics and anything else that comes their way.  It is only a bargain if you truly need it.

Overflowing wardrobe

I feel that cheap or bargain-priced items are the nemesis of decluttering and minimalism.  If you need to outlay a significant amount of money on an item you are more likely to stop and think twice about whether it is really worthy of a place in your home.

Utensil drawer

So, how do you resist the plethora of bargains?

Top drawer

  • Unsubscribe from all of the emails from shops and shopping sites – this is a continuous process and you need to be vigilant
  • Make sure you have a ‘No Junk Mail’ sticker on your letterbox
  • Do not buy magazines
  • Do not buy newspapers
  • Limit viewing of commercial television
  • Deactivate your eBay account
  • Set financial goals that require you to limit your discretionary spending in order to achieve them
  • Remember that shopping malls are not entertainment venues
  • Take things to the op shop – do not bring more stuff home
  • Shop with a list (and stick to it)
  • Send someone else to do your essential shopping
  • Buy 1 or 2 good quality items instead of 10 cheap versions – t-shirts are a perfect example

Op shops

Do you have any other ideas for keeping the clutter at bay and the money in the wallet?


Bargains and Collecting


Even though I was working from home for part of the day yesterday I did not get around to posting.  It may have had something to do with how cold it was.  The temperature did not make it into double figures all day and although we do get quite cool days here things are not really set up to cope with that kind of weather.  It was grey and overcast as well which did not help my mood.

Anyway, I am back and keen to tell you about my latest acquisitions.  When I went into Maleny to do some errands and shopping I popped into the 2 op shops we have here in town.  I dropped some thing off to the first one and then had a look at their buttons.  Apparently any garments that are not fit for resale have any buttons cut off (still attached to a strip of fabric) and these are all tossed in a basket.  I went through the stash and found these to add to my collection.  They cost 5c each.

Then it was off to the other op shop to see if they had anything that caught my eye.  I was in luck and picked up a pair of jeans for Izz for $3.95.

They don’t look anything out of the ordinary from the front.  But the back view…..

… rather cute.

As I was heading back towards the counter I saw these for $5.95

A pair of unworn Clarks leather shoes.  They will not fit Miss O for a few years yet but too good a bargain to pass up.  They will be great with jeans when she is a bit older.

For those of you who are interested in my dialogue with Origin – I rang yesterday and they will be sending the bill as a priority so I should get it in the next week!  I did establish that the 1 month free is the offer I signed up for and it is an average of our usage over the past 12 months.  It is a credit of about $35 – every little bit helps.  I have changed the bonus offer so that we actually get 5% discount on all electricity used from the grid for the next 12 months so that will make the differential between the amount they pay for what we generate and  put into the grid and what we draw out even more substantial.  Bring on the savings!  I also asked how I could claim the credit from our solar panels.  Once we receive the bill/statement I will know much credit we have and I then ring and ask for it to be credited to us.  I am not sure yet whether it is paid as a cheque or directly into our account.  More on that another day.

Back to Work & Bargain Hunting

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I am pleased that it is Friday and the end of the working week.  This has been my first week back at work after 3 weeks of holidays.  The problem with holidays is that no-one does the work – it is just there for when you get back.  I have spent most of the week catching up and am now pretty well back where I want to be.

Despite being busy with paid work, I have managed to achieve a few things.  We ate meals cooked from scratch each night for dinner and The Duke and I both took our lunch to work each day.  I bought and posted books to a friend, made a hair appointment for next week, had some medical tests, mended the hem of a beach towel, did 2 loads of washing, took a bag of stuff to the op shop, picked up some framing, stripped and changed the bed.

Tomorrow I will need to do a big basket of ironing, clean the kitchen and get stuck into the sewing for Miss O and Izz that is on my list from things to do before Sunday.  Speaking of Miss O and Izz, I managed to pick up some bargains at the op shop yesterday.  A gorgeous denim dress for Izz,while for Miss O I found a ‘hoodie’ and a pair of summer jeans.  They have been washed are are on the line at the moment but I will post some photos tomorrow.  All of the items are in excellent condition and cost less than $16 for the 3 things.