How to Repurpose disappointing Beauty products

Have you ever purchased or been given a product that was disappointing, didn’t live up to the advertising hype, or was just not suitable for your skin-type but you don’t want to throw it out and waste it?

Here are some ways you can repurpose those items:

Bath Salts:

  • Most Bath Salts are usually made from Epsom Salt (aka Magnesium Sulphate but check the ingredients list first).  A Tablespoon of Bath Salts can be dissolved into 10 Litres of water to add to your plants that have yellowing leaves.

Makeup Remover Facial Wipes:

  • Great for collecting dust!  Use them to clean your phone, keyboard and around your desk.  Most brands will leave you with a lovely scent.

Shampoo & Conditioner:

  • Pour these into your Liquid Handwash (Liquid Soap) dispenser
  • Use for handwashing your delicates like lace, stockings and lingerie if these products are not too harsh
  • Use instead of Bodywash
  • Use instead of soap when you shave your legs
  • Use to clean your makeup brushes to keep them hygienic
  • Use to clean your bath and handbasin
  • Use as Bubblebath if they don’t dry out your hair/skin

Face Creams / Moisturisers:

  • Use elsewhere on your body – neck, arms, legs, etc., as long as your skin has not previously reacted badly to the cream. It may be suitable to use as a hair mask

Facial Cleansers:

  • These products are designed for cleaning so why not cleanse your hands or body with them?  The same goes for Exfoliating products: why not exfoliate your shoulders, backs of hands and your feet?


  • If the foundation is too light to use all over your face, perhaps you could use it as a concealer
  • If you are unlucky enough to have some too dark and too light, blend them together to get the perfect shade for you

Liquid Handwash (Liquid Soap):

  • For handwashing your delicates like lace, stockings and lingerie if the product isn’t harsh on your skin
  • Otherwise, take to work (anonymously!) and leave it for everyone else to use. Never underestimate the attractive power of a freebie!


  • Apparently it is common practice for Makeup Artists to mix up to 3 lipsticks on their clients to get just the right shade. Why not do this yourself when you get a coloured lipstick which is either not the right shade for your skin-tone or you are just sick of using that colour?

Lip Balm:

  • Moisturise your nail cuticles rather than your lips

Shaving Balm:

  • I repurposed my hubby’s shaving balm for my legs after shaving.  Not only is it a great moisturiser, my legs have a nice sheen after applying and it smells good too
  • I have read that some people use this as a Makeup Primer but I have not personally tried this

Swap Party:

  • If you don’t like any of these ideas, perhaps have a Swap Party so that you can exchange your ‘goodies’ with friends, family and/or co-workers?


  • If you have received a product that you know you are not going to use, why not save yourself some money and regift it to someone else?  This could be to someone you know or even a local Charity.

Do you have other ways of repurposing unwanted/surplus Beauty products?

Here is a tip from a Reader:  “Once I had a few natural-based perfumes that evaporated quickly with my skin chemistry. I ended up spraying them in the bathroom in lieu of a room spray.  They worked quite well but the scent dissipated quickly”.


Until next time,


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Posted in bathroom, beauty, hair and beauty, Repurpose

How to turn a letterbox full of Junk Mail into something useful


I recently watched a YouTube clip on How to Make a Basket from Newspaper.

It inspired me to make my own, substituting used glossy, coloured catalogues as I didn’t want to get newsprint ink all over me.

Here is how you can make this one, too !


  • Cardboard   [ I reused the broad sides of a cookie box ]
  • Scissors
  • Paper    [ Catalogues, Magazines, Butcher’s Paper or Newspaper, as long as it’s all the same density and size ]
  • Wooden skewer
  • Spring loaded Clothes Pegs  [ about 4 ]
  • Wood glue:  A small jar’s worth watered down glue, around 3:1 glue to water – plus the original undiluted glue bottle
  • Small paint brush, or you can use your fingers
  • Something heavy to use as weights
  • Freezer bag (optional)

 Step 1:

  • Cut two identical circles from the cardboard depending on the size of basket base you want


  • Paint the watered-down glue around all edges of each sheet of paper so it will not unravel
  • Roll each sheet of paper around your skewer fairly tightly to look like a paper straw.  You are using your skewer as a size guide to give each paper straw the same diameter.  You will need to ease the skewer out a little after each few rolls of the sheet otherwise you lose the end of the skewer.

You will need to make a minimum of 30 paper straws to get you started.  You may need to make more once you decide the height of your final project.

 Step 3:

Step 2:

  • Use your undiluted glue straight from the bottle to adhere an odd number of paper straws, radiating from one of the cardboard discs.  As you can see, I chose eleven.



Step 3:  

  • Adhere the other cardboard disc on top of the lot with your bottle of glue

Step 4:

  • Weigh down your project and let it dry overnight.  I placed a freezer bag between my project and the weights to ensure they weren’t adhere together.    The weights I used were ankle weights and dumb-bells

  Step 5:

  • The next day, remove the weights and freezer bag
  • Fold the paper straws upwards into roughly an inverted cone
Use a rubber band to assist you to hold your paper straws upright

Use a rubber band to assist you to hold your paper straws upright

I used a rubber band to hold the paper straws in place until I wove a few rows, to make them more manageable


Step 6:

  • Flatten out the remaining paper straws, leaving the ends of each unflattened for about 25mm  [ 1 inch ]
  • Flatten the leading edge of the first of these straws and use a dab of undiluted glue to attach it at right-angles to the first of the upright tubes.  Clamp with a clothes peg if necessary
  • Weave the first flattened paper straw, alternating between each upright tubular straw.  Dab a little glue on the inside of the open end of this first flattened straw.  Do not use too much glue as the paper will swell and stretch.  Repeat this process until you’ve reached your desired height
You are almost finished

You are almost finished

Step 7:

  • Once you reach your desired height, cut the upright paper tubes leaving at least 25mm  [ 1 inch ]  excess

  • Glue and fold the end under the last and third last woven rows on the inside of your basket
  • Your basket is now complete.  You can paint it to match your décor or keep it random, like this.


  • If you decide to paint, unless you want a “rustic” look, you would be better to use plain paper as the printing will show through

If you get stuck on one of the steps, you can watch the YouTube clip for instructions: 

Don’t let the Portuguese captions throw you;  the pictures tell you everything.


I hope this inspires you to build your own.


Until next time, Happy Recycling


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Posted in crafts & home, gift ideas

How To Repurpose Your Old T-shirts

tshirt yarn-balls

Normally, when a piece of clothing is past its wearable lifespan, it goes straight into my cleaning rag collection;  that is, until recently.  A photo similar to this one appeared in my Facebook page feed.  I had seen plenty of T-shirts repurposed into bags, scarves, headbands and even skirts. Most, if not all, projects required some kind of sewing.

My curiosity was piqued and I had to try this !

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I am not seriously into knitting [or sewing, for that matter].   I don’t  [or is that can’t?]  follow a pattern, so I only knit in straight lines. Hence I love knitting items like scarves and coathanger covers. Well, since we live in a warm climate, a scarf was out of the question, so the coathanger cover won.

I loathe plain wooden coathangers because I don’t like indentations in my clothes, or how some fabrics catch on any fine splinters. Hence most of my hangers are covered and then colour-coded to the outfit. It may sound a little OCD but when you need to distinguish Black from Dark Blue in your wardrobe, having them hung on a pale background makes the process a whole lot more time efficient.  Read How to Save Time & Money in Your Wardrobe for more tips.

I repurposed an old XXL T-shirt my husband could no longer wear in public due to the many holes it had acquired. So I laid it flat and started cutting it into strips.

TIP:    Now let me warn those who are non-knitters, like me, that the width of the fabric needs to matched up with the size of knitting needles you use.

I own one pair of second-hand knitting needles I purchased from a local charity store for 20 cents. They are a size 10.

I mistakenly cut the T-shirt fabric into about 10mm strips [just under 1/2 an inch] which was way too wide for such a heavy-density [all cotton] fabric.  I should have cut the strips about 7 or 8 mm wide in this instance.  Had the fabric been lighter density, like a nylon blend, I might have gotten away with the 10mm width. Trial and error is a great teacher!

What I also discovered, by trial-and-error, was that it was easiest to use purl stitch in this situation.

Anyway, this is what I ended up with:





Did you see the ring pull?

Read why it’s there:   How this Ringpull will Save you Money




I enjoyed this project so much, now that I am over the learning curve, that I have started my next coathanger cover with a lighter-density T-shirt using narrower strips.

2016-04-01 17.12.35



No need for purl stitch this time.





Completed !

Completed !

Happy Repurposing!



T-shirt yarn ball Image courtesy of:

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Posted in Repurpose

How to Save Money & Improve your Health

gardening with people

Why pay to visit the gym when you can take up gardening. It’s a great form of low-impact exercise that can improve your health in many ways

Photo by: Ross Brown – Your Life Photographer

Get Grounded

The simple act of getting your hands in the dirt, walking barefoot on the lawn or sitting in your garden observing the sights, sounds, smells, touch and taste of the fruits of your labour, has many emotional, physical, mental and psychological benefits to your health

Think about common phrases like:

bring you back to earth” meaning returning to reality and“being grounded” meaning being fully conscious and fully present in the now

Relieve stress

Certain soil bacteria release serotonin [the happy chemical] into our brain, which helps to relieve stress.   Some soil bacteria are also natural anti-depressants and help to strengthen our immune system

You also receive a hit of dopamine when you see your garden flourish. Think about the natural high you feel when you pick a flower, vegetables or fruit. Dopamine is released into the reward centre of your brain and you feel that you want more, so you continue to garden

There are other positive benefits to being among your garden and green spaces; it has been proven to increase recovery rates from illness and surgery as well as lowering blood pressure and pulse rates, increasing liveliness and lowering mortality rates.

Photo by Dan Chung

Photo by Dan Chung

Reduce anxiety

Gardens and green spaces also help reduce anxiety and aid your concentration. Remember, some of our greatest thinkers and scientists did their best work outdoors: Plato; Aristotle; Buddha and Newton under his apple tree

Green healing does not stop outside. You can bring this joy into your home and workplace. Studies have shown that potted plants can reduce air toxins by as much as 20%.   Similar studies in Europe have shown potted plants in the office can reduce ‘sick leave’ by up to 60%


Boost your Health

Look at including these health-boosting plants into your garden:

  • Aloe vera: Break a leaf to reveal the sap to rub onto your skin to relieve burns, bites, itches and rashes. It is both an astringent and antiseptic
  • Coriander / Cilantro: Good for digestion and has been shown to positively reduce blood pressure
  • Lavender: The scent aids relaxation, sleep and nausea and it great at attracting bees to your garden
  • Mint: A calming and soothing herb. Use it to ease an upset stomach, indigestion and relieve bloating
  • Rosemary: Crush some leaves and inhale the scent. Traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, improve memory and concentration, boost your immune and circulatory systems.

So next time you are gardening or enjoying the fruits of your labour, think about how much good you are contributing to your own health and wellbeing.

Happy gardening!


Originally written for and published at:

Photos source from 

Leading photo by:  Marie-Sophie Tekian

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Posted in garden, health & fitness

How to Save Money in a Pet friendly Garden

dog in the garden

Boredom, loneliness and pent-up energy, especially among breeds of working and hunting dogs, are the natural enemies of your garden. With a little planning, however, your pets can happily co-exist with your garden.

Puppy in the SandDogs will look for activities to keep themselves entertained. To assist, build them a doggy sandpit placed in a position in your yard where they like to sit during the day. Bury treat-dispensing balls each day in a different position. Spending time seeking out treats will mentally and physically stimulate Fido, being rewarded for his/her efforts.

cat on a walled garden

For cats, install a scratching post somewhere up high, so that they feel safe from the world.


When pets see a bare space, they see this as an opportunity to use it; a place to dig a hole to stay cool, bury something or just roll around in the dirt. Fill bare spaces with hardy ground covers or coarse bark or stones if you wish to keep your pets off this space. Use rounded pebbles in areas where pets are allowed to walk so they don’t cut up their paw pads on sharp-edged mulches.

Leave spaces around the perimeter of your yard so that Fido can still carry out his duty of border control of your property.

Grow something especially for your pets, like grass that can be eaten by cats and dogs when they have an upset stomach. Cats enjoy herbs such as catnip, catmint or catswort.

If you need to deter your pets from certain areas of your garden, there are commercial formulas available, but you can easily make your own using household products such as cayenne pepper, turpentine, citronella and mothballs.

Assign a designated toilet area in your yard if you want to keep your lawn green and “landmine-free”. Train your animals to use this location. Install an in-ground pet poo composter. Easily made with a metre of plastic pipe; drill lots of holes into the pipe so that your garden worms can compost the waste. Bury your pipe and place a tight-fitting lid on top or use a pipe cap-end so you can add to your pet poo composter daily while keeping houseflies away.

Health Warning:   DO NOT put this type of compost on anything for human consumption.  

Position shrubs with burrs and thorns away from the edges of the garden so that your pets do not get their fur caught; otherwise you will be left to remove them or worse still, you face an expensive trip to the vet.

Use and store chemicals and fertilisers out of reach of your pets so they do not accidently ingest them, especially Snail and Slug pellets which are relatively common poison vectors due to their resemblance to some dry dog foods. Keep Blood & Bone fertiliser up high, especially if you own a hunting dog. It is better to seek natural alternatives to deter pests from your garden, anyway.

Beware of toxic plants. Avoid these plants if your pets like to chew on your garden: For example:

  • Anything with a bulb  [daffodils, jonquils, lilies, tulips]
  • Aloe vera
  • Coleus
  • Cycads
  • Hellebores
  • Impatiens
  • Locoweed
  • Mandina
  • Tree Philodendron

A little bit of time now, with a bit of low-tech thinking, saves your garden and your hip pocket!

Happy gardening!


Originally published at:


Terrier photographed by Shannon Richards

Puppy in the sand photographed by Andrew Pons

Cat photographed by Carol Hu

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Posted in garden

How to Repurpose your Food Scraps and Green Waste

recycle nature

Everyone should compost their green waste. It makes economic and environmental sense.

There is a method to suit every household, whether you live in a house, townhouse or apartment.

Composting Methods:

  • Lidded Bin System
  • Tumbler
  • Worm Farm
  • Hot Composting
  • Fermentation Bucket or Bokashi Bucket

Top Tip:

To save time, keep a sturdy, lidded container beside your sink, under it or near your kitchen tidy-bin, to visibly remind your household to compost waste. Empty regularly into your chosen composting method.

My Lidded Compost Bin

My Lidded Compost Bin

Lidded Bin System:

Purchase a compost bin from a hardware garden centre or repurpose something UV-stable that you already own, e.g. a disused wheelie-bin, garbage can or plant pot with the base cut out. Cover with a lid to shelter worms, keep your system moist and inhibit vermin.

Gardener’s Secret:  

If you have a large household, and you fill the compost bin quickly, use 2-3 bins in rotation.


compost tumbler

Compost Tumbler:

If you want fast breakdown for your leaves and grass clippings to kill the grass seed, this is your best method. It’s also perfectly sized for small gardens and courtyards. You aerate the compost each time you turn it, which hastens decompositon. There are many shapes and sizes available on the market to suit your sized garden.




worm farmWorm Farm:

Worms convert your kitchen scraps and garden waste into compost. You can purchase readymade farms or make your own by repurposing a bath. The worm castings (aka ‘worm poo’) make excellent fertiliser.


Photo source:

‘Worm wee’ can be drained and bottled, weekly, to mix with water for use as liquid fertiliser. Gardeners will pay up to $2.50 a Litre, if you want to make money from your waste.


Top Tip:

Cover your worm farm with a natural, breathable fabric to keep your worms dark, active, cool and moist.

Three Bay Hot Composting SystemHot Composting:

This is best suited to larger backyards in evergreen-dominant areas. Create a 3-bay structure from a commercial pack or create your own by repurposing old pallets.

Fill one bay per season using a mix of green and brown waste. Green waste is things that breakdown quickly, like your kitchen scraps, garden waste and fresh grass clippings. Brown waste is materials like dried out leaves, larger tree prunings, straw, cardboard & paper, which are slower to breakdown. The ratio should be around one part brown to four parts green.

As you add to each bay, each bay-layer will be at different stages of decomposition, so each week you need to blend and aerate these mixtures with a garden fork or aerating stick.

Depending on the season, It takes 8 weeks or so before each bay’s mixture decomposes enough to use as garden mulch.

Photo source:

Gardener’s Secrets:  

  • If your mixture starts looking dry, hose it until it is moist, to keep the fermentation process going 
  • Don’t plant new seedlings into fresh compost that is still hot. This burns delicate roots

bokashi bucketFermentation or Bokashi Bucket:

This is the ultimate method for small yards, townhouses and apartments, as the bucket permanently sits on your kitchen bench.

You can add ‘anything that has lived’ (even most of the No-Nos below) into your bucket, including protein and oil. Sprinkle with fermentation granules daily. Fermentation takes about 2-3 weeks, yielding a liquid which you can dilute with water to fertilise your plants. The residue is full of nutrients, microbes and enzymes that can added to pot plants.

You can purchase commercial system or make your own with two buckets, one with a tight-fitting lid and drill drainage holes in the base.

What can you compost:

Anything that has grown, like:

  • Fruit, vegetables and their peelings and the water you used when washing them
  • Nuts and their shells
  • Tree and lawn trimmings; even sawdust
  • Eggs and eggshells (smash for quicker composting results)
  • Coffee grounds and tealeaves. Teabags take a long time to break down so only add to your compost bin if you take a long time to fill your bin.
  • Shredded Newspapers, non-shiny paper and cardboard
  • Weeds that don’t contain a bulb
  • Hair, nail-clippings and pet fur
  • Waste water from cooked vegetables and pasta
  • Empty your kitchen sink strainer into your bin
  • Crumbs leftover in packets


  • Anything proteinaceous like meat and dairy (fish is okay)
  • Large meat bones. Small ones are okay as they contain calcium but take a long time to breakdown. Consider burying them
  • Citrus fruit and peel
  • Sick and Pest infested plants, fruit and vegetables
  • Pet excrement (not even in the Bokashi!)

Top Tip:

If it is too cold, wet or you are just too time-poor to go outside each day to empty your kitchen compost bin, keep a lidded container in the freezer into which you can add, and empty when full

Gardener’s Secret:  

If your compost mixture stinks, it has become too acidic. Add a handful of agricultural lime, dolomite, or even barbecue/fireplace wood-ash.

I hope these composting tips give you the confidence to compost your household’s waste

What is your preferred method of composting and why?

Abridged version originally blogged by me at  Check them out for further gardening tips and tricks

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Posted in garden

How to take the LBD approach to making Stylish Décor Savings

housing row

Decorating your home can cost a motza if you slavishly follow and purchase all the latest trends. However there are some things you can do, without busting your budget, to update the look of your home.

A home should, first and foremost, tell a story about its occupants. Place the possessions that you love the most on show, not only so that you can feel proud when you see them everyday, but to announce “This is who we are” to those who visit you.

Small changes,  Big impact:

The simplest and most cost-effective way towards a ‘new look’ is to simply rearrange what you already own.

Changing your room’s layout allows you to look at your spaces differently and get a new perspective. Try repositioning your bed or sofa at an angle or against a different wall.


Change your knick-knacks and décor items with the seasons.

  • Soft furnishings: Have a soft blanket or throw on the sofa to snuggle up with in winter and then put it away in Springtime
  • Cushions: Purchase cushion covers, not whole cushions, which cost the most, especially if filled with duck down. Mix and match them for a new theme or colour scheme
  • Decals: There are removable decals available in all sorts of themes and varieties including magnetic and chalkboard coatings
  • Photos and Pictures: Rotate your collection from room to room to keep your home looking fresh. If you use the same or similar frames for all your pictures [the simpler the better], it provides consistency and brings ‘the look’ all together, especially should you decide to group them
  • Mats & Rugs: There are some beautiful designs around now that will not only suit the floor, but are also good enough and light enough, to hang on the wall
  • Indoor Plants: Having a living plant always creates a sense of homeliness; just remember to water it, or pot up a succulent if you are time-poor. Potted herbs in the kitchen can be useful; easily watered and they add scent to the room
  • Change the Lighting: Lighting has a huge impact on a room’s look and feel. Use a mixture of overhead lights and lamps to create mood and drama; even better if you have your lights and lamps fitted with dimmer switches. Use flameless candles and fairylights for a romantic vibe. Have a collection of lampshades, which you can rotate from room to room to give your areas a new look
  • Scents: Add scented candles, incense, heavily scented flowers, oil burners, homemade room sprays using essential oils or polish your wood furniture with scented oils and waxes like eucalyptus, orange oil and sandalwood
  • Mirrors: These can be used to reflect light into a room or an outside view, inside. A large mirror that you can either lean against a wall, or hang, can be moved from room to room
  • Bring Nature indoors: Complete ‘your look’ with some natural items; be it flowers [fresh or silk], foliage, branches, a bowl of pinecones, seedpods or fallen leaves
  • Swap: If your budget is really tight, have a swap party with like-minded friends and create a new look with other people’s furnishings

Upcycle items you already own:

  • Cushions: appliqué, embellish or make your own covers with scarves
  • Slip Covers: Make slip covers for your chairs from clothing that you love but does not fit anymore. Don’t limit yourself to one set when you can mix and match for each season
  • Paint: If you are not allowed to paint your walls, you can always paint your furniture and décor items a new colour

LBD audrey hepburn


If some or all of these ideas remind you of “The Little Black Dress” strategy. That is, they look timelessly attractive without obviously [and slavishly] following fashions which are out-dated before you know it.





How do you save money when decorating?




Photo montage source:

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Posted in home décor

What I found out about my Neighbours

keeping a secret

Since my hubby has been laid up, it has been my responsibility to empty our Garbage/Waste Bin, Recycle Bin and the Compost Bin.

In our local area, the Council is responsible collecting our Garbage/Waste and Recycle Bins. They provides two 240 Litre wheelie bins like below:

wheelie binyellow lid wheelie bin


The green one is collected each week and the yellow-lidded one gets collected every fortnight



The one thing I have noticed is we hardly throw anything into the Garbage/Waste Bin whereas our neighbours have bins that are almost overflowing each week.   Most cannot put the hinged-lid down on their bins.

I wrongly presumed that my neighbours were like our household and limit their waste as our region attracts hippies, alternative lifestylers and green changers so I am guessing none of my neighbours fit into these demographics.

A few days ago, I was reminded about a statistic that said studies show the average First World household wastes around 20% of all fresh food purchased. That’s like purchasing 5 bags of shopping and throwing 1 bag into the garbage/waste bin each week!

Our household must be far from ‘Average‘ as we hardly throw out anything.   If a meal doesn’t work out it is repurposed into another dish. Leftovers are eaten the next day, the day after or frozen for a quick meal in the near future [ well that is the plan anyway ].  All of our food scraps go to the compost bin for our garden. I do not consider this waste as the worms repurpose it for me.

brushed potatoes


Even the water that washes the brushed potatoes gets reused on the garden as it contains local soil.   Waste not, want not! is what my grandmother used to say


A little thought and small steps all add up to saving you money.  Food scraps becomes enriched soil once the worms, bugs and microbes do their thing. This saves me going to the garden centre or local hardware to purchase garden mulch.

Are you Average or do you need to review your Zero Waste plan?  What  are you  doing as part of your recycling responsibility?

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Posted in waste

Save Money by Shopping in your own Pantry

pantry cropped

If you have been following my $21 Supermarket Challenge you will know that I have cleaned out my freezer of ‘forgotten food’ and am now working on clearing out my pantry.

Chef  [my husband, still on crutches]  normally does all of the food shopping and cooking so I had to do the stocktake of our walk-in pantry in his stead.  Well! I must say I have found a mountain of items … that is an understatement.

This is some of what I found and used in our pantry this week:

Mug of Soup

32 Twin-packs of Cup of Soup:

Don’t limit yourself to using these as a convenience individual soup. You can use these as flavour bases for your own bigger’n’better feed-the-family soups when you want to use up leftovers. By adding fresh ingredients, especially in-season vegetables, to bulk it up, you can enjoy this as a main meal.

You can also use them as a flavour base and thickening agent in your slow cooker, casseroles, sauces or livening up plain mince in hamburger patties, sloppy joes, chilli dishes etc.   Let your imagination be your guide!

hard taco shellsTaco Kit  –  13 months past its Use-by date:

This taco kit contained hard and [thankfully] soft tacos. The oil in the hard taco shells had gone rancid, and the compost bin ate well. We were, however, able to eat the soft tacos which we supplemented with corn chips [ yet another pantry discovery! ] in lieu of the hard tacos.


Chilli Con Carne WrapsA tin of chili con carne:

I am not sure how old the tin was but I know that tinned items do have a long shelf life.  I simply added this to beef mince to liven up the mixture and make it go further.  This mixture was then rolled into the soft tacos as mentioned above.   

Photo source:

can water chestnutsA tin of sliced water chestnuts:

I finely diced the water chestnuts and part of a brown onion and added this to 500 grams [18 oz ] minced pork with a tablespoon of Hoi Sin [ yet another find in the pantry. It was an open half-filled jar ] plus some chopped Coriander/Cilantro straight from our garden. I then rolled this mixture into balls and pan fried. This was such a hit that, (at the Chef’s request!), I made this a second time with the remainder of the ingredients.         Photo source:

Lessons Learnt:

The biggest lesson I have learnt about saving money on food is to designate one day per week to do the shopping. This has been our downfall in the past. Previously when we have run out of say bread or milk, we would have immediately headed to the shops. This is where we (to be fair, not just the Chef) fell into the trap of ‘ I’ll just pick up a very few items or Specials whilst I am here’. So instead of purchasing one or two items, we’d leave the supermarket with basketsful of items which then crowded everything already on-hand to the back of the pantry.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but to save money, you do need to spend a little extra up-front on some back-up items to cover or substitute for items that you regularly use, but which you always seem to run out of, at the most inconvenient times.

For example:

  • Have some UHT long-life or powdered milk in the cupboard
  • Freeze a few slices of bread as your emergency stash and have some packets of bread alternatives:  long-life flat bread; tortillas; rice cakes or even a bread mix to make your own
  • Keep some emergency tinned items from which you can make a meal, like fish, vegetables, baked beans, etc

Have you tried the $21 Challenge yet?


P.S.    The main photo is not my pantry [ I hope it will become this organised in the near future ]     This photo was sourced at


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Posted in food, kitchen

How to get Fit on the Cheap


Staying active is crucial to good health but it can also make you poor as the costs of memberships and classes can really add up.  To help save some cash, try these cheaper options for getting an inexpensive but effective workout:

Try before you buy:  

Loads of gyms, Pilates and yoga studios offer free or reduced-rate trial periods, to road-test their facilities and classes.

If you are located in a large city, you can probably take advantage of all of them.  You may find you can try a different one each week for a year !

Fitness websites, YouTube and Instagram:

You can access videos and tutorials on just about every fitness topic imaginable, including free workout videos that you can watch and follow in the comfort of your own home.

Download an App:

There are also plenty of apps around that will serve up workouts to your phone. Choose anything from yoga to a kettlebell workout.

Share a Trainer:

Having a personal trainer is a great way to achieve your fitness goals but their cost adds up, especially if you’re having multiple sessions each week. To save some cash, why not share a Trainer with some friends or workmates?  A group training session can be a fun way to work out, the group will be small enough so you still feel like you’re getting personalised attention and it is much cheaper to split the cost between a few people.

Outdoor gym:

Outdoor gyms are now starting to pop up in local parks and along beachfronts for you to use to train for free while you spend time with Mother Nature.  Most of this equipment requires you to exercise using your own bodyweight, which is one of the most effective ways to train.

Join a free group fitness class:

Go to the website and type in the name of your city.  Check out their listings for any free fitness classes in your city.  There is everything from bootcamp sessions to running groups and boxing classes.

Walk or run:

Walking and running are great cardio workouts and best of all, it does not cost anything to take part. Enjoy Mother Nature; explore your neighbourhood or map out a route on Google Maps. You can keep track of how many calories/kilojoules you are burning and the number of steps you are taking, by downloading a Free fitness App onto your phone.

Borrow a DVD from the Library:

Visit your local library and check out if they have any exercise DVDs that you can borrow for free

Set up your own home gym:

Hand weights:  Purchase adjustable hand weights to start. You can purchase heavier weights over time as you become fitter.  Alternatively make your own:

Yoga Mat:  Cheap, and a great way to use your own body weight to do floor-based exercises from downward dogs to sit ups

Swiss Ball:  A great investment where you can exercise all of the major muscle groups from stomach crunches to push ups

Skipping Rope:  Jumping rope is a great cardio workout.  It’s cheap and portable.  Can be done indoors or out

Resistance bands:  A cheap and portable way you can exercise your entire body.  You can even travel with them

Step ups:  Use your household stairs for step ups or push ups

Bench press:  Repurpose a low bench you already own


How do you save money whilst getting fit?


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