Category: Money Management

Catch & Store Energy

catch

Catching and storing energy may have never been something you have busied yourself with. Don’t worry, I was the same.

One day I woke up and smelled the roses and thought, wouldn’t it be nice to lower my energy bill every quarter? Of course it would be and so we purchased a 4KW solar system and had it pitched unto our roof. Our bill is now significantly reduced. So much so, I no longer cry when it arrives.

Having solar panels or a water tank is an obvious way to catch and store energy. I don’t have a water tank so especially in summer I catch the shower water in a bucket and pour it over the garden beds or pour it in the washing machine. It’s nice to use it twice! I did carry out a water audit to determine how much water we as a family of 5 use. I called up the water company and the lady on the phone was immensely impressed by the lack of our water usage. Being European, I was taught to wash yourself by the basin with a wash cloth in the morning. This practice saves us 5X 10 min. showers, not every day, but a couple of times a week.

Another way of storing and catching energy on my property is through the windows on the North side of my house. In autumn and winter, when it is cold outside I use the heat of the sun that shines on my windows to heat up the kitchen area, BEFORE turning on the heater and using energy.

In summer to keep the north side cool I am growing a deciduous vine. In summer this vine gives lots of shade, keeping away the heat of the sun, whilst in winter it will let warm sun rays through the windows to heat up my living space.

How can you use the principle of cathing & storing energy to your own life?

 

 

Moroccan Spice

I have a lovely husband, who loves making meatballs in tomato sauce. It is a very simple recipe, but the spices make it taste so amazing. Moroccan Spice is a delicious mix of different spices which you can use in several recipes, such as meatballs, soup or a Moroccan Lamb stew.

I premix them and always have a jar on hand in my pantry, so my husband never has an excuse not to cook his delicious meatballs!

In a glass jar shake together these spices:

  • 4tsp Ginger
  • 4tsp Coriander
  • 4tsp Cumin
  • 4tsp Paprika
  • 2tsp Pepper
  • 2tsp Cinnamon
  • 2tsp Turmeric
  • 1tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1tsp Nutmeg

 

Pantry Item#8………Pantry staples from scratch

This very popular food is for some strange reason incredibly expensive in our country. I have written a post about it a while ago, but felt like including it in this post, since it is something most of us eat daily.

Of course I am talking about yoghurt! If you were able to make this yourself, which is by the way, not hard at all, you will save yourself a tonne. Instead of paying $5 dollars a kilo, you will only pay $1.25.

You can find the recipe here

PS: Technically this is not a “pantry staple”, please put it in the fridge 🙂

 

 

 

Pantry item#6……..

Here is a fabulous pantry item that is sooooo easy to make and will save you a significant amount of dollars. When I was no longer able to eat wheat and grains, I needed something else to make delicious muffins with. And since dairy was off the list as well, I also had to find another milk substitute. Well, these 2 problems became my solution. I started making almond milk, but after throwing out the pulp a couple of times, I realized that I was making a huge mistake here. I decided to dry it in the oven to see what would happen. Well, long story short, it became almond flour!

I was over the moon, because it meant that I could really enjoy my “bread” and “muffins” again, for virtually free. The pulp was the waste product of the almond milk anyway. Two birds with the one stone.

Here is what you will need to do to make your own almond flour:

  • 2 cups of almonds soaked over night
  • 6 cups of water
  • pinch of salt

Rinse the almonds the next day and put them in your blender together with the 6 cups of water.

Whizz together until well blended.

Pour the almond milk through a strainer or nut bag. You are now left with the almond pulp.

If you have a dehydrator, you can spread the pulp onto a teflex sheet and dehydrate it overnight.

Otherwise, spread the almond pulp on an oven tray and put in your oven set at 150 degree celsius, for about 15-20 min. check to see if it is done. When fully dry, put the pulp into your food blender and ground it.

Store the flour in a glass jar in your pantry or fridge. Now you can make these delicious almond flour pancakes.

Now here is the math for you:

I get Insecticide Free Almonds through our Whole food Co-op for $10.62/kg

2 cups of almonds = 280gr. and makes 1.5 ltr of milk

1 ltr of milk = $1.98
 

Pantry staple #3……….Coconut Butter

Artisana_coconut

 

Just lately in the world of health food a “new” product is being marketed, called Coconut Butter.  Back in the days of my raw food adventures, coconut oil and coconut butter were the same thing. But when I kept seeing these ads for coconut butter,  I realized that this was something different than coconut oil. Really it is a product which I believe has been re-namend and re-marketed. I did some digging and found that it also goes by the name “coconut cream concentrate”, which is the hard layer you will find on the top of your can of coconut cream.

However,  if we are to believe that this indeed is a new and trendy ‘must-have’ item and an impossible one to make at home,  you will be confronted with a price tag that is higher that the tree from which the product  came.

Let me tell you the truth about this trendy coconut butter. All it is?  Shredded coconut blended for a minute or 2 in your high speed blender. That is all there is to it. Absolutely nothing fancy, whatsoever.

What does this cost at the shops, you might want to know? I did some online shopping for you and found several different brands of coconut butter going for around $37.90 a kilo! That is more expensive than coconut oil. Shocking, considering it is an easier process to make the butter than it is to extract the oil from the flesh of the coconut. Go figure….

I made some of this delicious butter the other day in my blender. Once it was creamy I transferred it into an ice cube tray and put it in the fridge where it became really hard. After dinner I popped one out and ate it. It was so satisfying and it literally melted in my mouth. I immediately thought of all sorts of ways for which I could use this incredible ingredient. First thing that came to my mind was of course……CHOCOLATE! I will be experimenting with this as soon as I find some time to do it. I promise I will share with you the things I made. There are many other ways this butter is used. You can put it on your toast or drizzle it on your veggies. You can also cook with it and use it in baking instead of using butter. Or you can just eat it by the spoonful, like I do. It is also an anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. Natures anti-biotics!

Here is what it really costs, when made at home.

1 kilo of Organic Coconut Butter = $8.00

Want to know where you can purchase Organic Shredded Coconut for that price? Check out our Whole-foods co-op, in the Hills District NSW.

 

Pantry Item #2….Here is a money saving tip.

freshcoconut3

 

I have been itching to make this for ages and yesterday, when our very first Co-op order arrived, I finally had the chance to do it. I get so excited about real food, it is almost sickening. And when I find a way to make things myself without going to the supermarket, I get even more excited.

I love coconut milk and I buy lots of it in evil BPA lined tin cans from the Aldi. I have found the Aldi one contains the least crap and has the most yummy layer of cream on the top. In fact I use that layer to make whipped coconut cream and even chocolate filling to put in between a macaron or a cake. Oh yeah, I can taste it right now and I am salivating. However, it is not organic and it is in a tin can, lined with BPA and as we all know by now this is toxic, as are many other things……and it is 0.89 cents per 400ml tin. Being Dutch, I like to save money wherever I can. I know ya’ll think the Dutch are tight as anything, I would like to suggest I am frugal. It has a much better ring to it, don’t you agree?

So, when my 10kg bag of the most beautiful organic shredded coconut arrived, I headed to work and made myself some nice coconut milk. And it was quick and it was easy and it was also money saving!

I boiled 1 liter of water and poured it over 2 cups of organic shredded coconut.

I let it sit for 2 hours to cool down and then whizzed it in a high speed blender.

Then it was ready to be strained through a nut bag. The pulp sits in my dehydrator at this very moment and later tonight I will store it in a glass jar. And guess what, it is now coconut flour! Tada! You can of course put the pulp on a tray and chuck in the oven to dry it, if you don’t have a dehydrator. Or you can leave the pulp in the milk, this will create that yummy creamy layer on the top.

Of course I would like to share the math with you:

400ml of home made certified organic coconut milk = 0.53 cents!

If you dry the pulp you have “free” flour as well, which is especially exciting for those who are gluten intolerant and grain free. I remember paying $18.95 a kilo for coconut flour before I started the Organic Whole food Co-op. Thank goodness, those days are over!

To join our co-op, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Save with pantry staples you can simply make yourself.

Have you noticed that buying convenience is a whole lot more expensive than making your own? And have you noticed also that buying these foods can have a detrimental effect on your health and the health of your family?

Yes, it is easy to go to the shop and buy a box of A, B or C, but is it really beneficial to our lives and health? Would it not be a wonderful thing to pass down some basic life skills, such as cooking,  on to the next generation? It is such a tragedy, that some of today’s kids and even their parents struggle with sickness and obesity, simply because we have been led to believe that buying box A, B or C is easier, more convenient and not an unhealthy option.

It might be easier to open up a box or buy a cake mix from the store but at the end of the day it does not teach our children anything other than, “food is not important for our bodies” and “We must spend more time on activities and work, than on keeping our bodies healthy” and “If we are sick, we will buy another box from the chemist to fix us quickly” (but makes us sicker in the long run).

I wonder how we ever got into such a mess? Even with the economic climate we find ourselves in today, many of us still spend a lot of money on convenience foods rather than on basic ingredients to make these staples at home. The amount of debt that the average Australian carries is a very daunting statistic. And with a high rate of mortgage foreclosures in my area,  I wonder what can be done to teach parents and children the basic life skills of healthy home cooking.

Healthy home cooking certainly does not need to be expensive at all, I believe I spent less on my monthly budget than the average family in Sydney. We have a family of 5 and spend around $600-$700 a month on food.

The majority of the food we eat is organic and delivered to our house. I used to be part of this wonderful co-op for quite a while as you may have read in my previous post, but when I got sicker I decided to go onto an organic diet to heal myself. I changed from spending $50 a week on fruit and veggies to $90 a week on organic fruit and veggies.

We spend around $180 on organic beef every 3 months. I am really stretching that meat as far as I can. Some weeks we eat no more than 1 kilo of beef a week, shared between 5 people! But it is worth the stretch. And truth be told, our bodies don’t need anymore meat than that to function at it’s peak, no matter how much the man of the house thinks he needs it!

I also receive lots of bones from these organic cows from which I make delicious soups and stocks. This is an excellent and very frugal way to prepare nutritious dense foods. I purchase around 2 kilos of organic chicken carcasses for $12 to make stock with. Again, nutritious dense food for less. Stocks these days are mainly purchased in a carton or a can a cube or powder form. But when the butcher cuts all the meat of the chicken carcasses, he has no purpose for the carcass which to him is a waste product. To me it is real food, which I turn into golden liquid to strengthen my families bodies!

We used to spend $15 a week on raw milk and made kefir and yoghurt with it, unfortunately I no longer drink milk and have decided to deprive my whole family of it as well. I now make Almond milk for my smoothies instead or coconut milk, which I am experimenting to turn into yoghurt!

In the next few weeks I will share with you a few food items I make from scratch. These items are almost always bought in boxes, jars or cans from the supermarket. If you only had these basic ingredients in your cupboard you can make anything you desire……..well almost!

So, stay with me and learn some nifty tricks, to keep you away from the dangers of additives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making yoghurt

When I moved to Sydney 12 years ago, the first thing I noticed were the high prices for groceries. In the 12 years that I have called Australia home, nothing has really changed in that department. In fact, it seems that prices just keep on rising…..and quality keeps dropping…

It wasn’t until 2 years ago, that I decided that I had more than enough of paying $5 a liter for natural yoghurt. In Holland my family pays only 0.75 cents for a liter of yoghurt!!! I now pay $1.75 for 1 litre of yoghurt, if I make it myself and if  you buy the homebrand milk, it will only cost you $1.25 a litre.

This is all I use

  • pot
  • cooking thermometer
  • thermos flask or bowl with lid
  • towel

Ingredients

  • 2 liters of milk
  • 2/3 cup of milk powder (opt.)
  • smidgen of yoghurt culture

First cook your milk at 90C for 15 min. to kill all pathogens. While your milk heats and pasteurizes, add the milk powder and stir. When your milk has been cooked at 90C for 15 minutes, let it cool down to about 37-40C. Now, add your smidgen of yoghurt culture and transfer this to your lidded bowl or flask. Wrap a towel around it and keep it overnight inside a turned OFF oven.

When you wake the next morning, your yoghurt will be ready for you to eat.

How easy was that!!

 If you are as lucky as I am and have access to raw milk, you can leave out the powdered milk.

Instead of using a yoghurt culture, you can use a couple of tablespoons of good quality organic yoghurt to start your batch.

Make sure you keep some yoghurt to start your next batch!