Grocery Budget Busting ~ Week 3

3 weeks ago, I decided to attempt to save some money on my groceries. If you haven’t read my previous posts here’s the start, Week 1 & Week 2.

Money Spent: I’ve now gotten quite low on a lot of things thankfully. My regular shop has been able to be lowered to approx $100-$120 per week. However, I feel this was due to running out of a lot of staple items. Going forward, I will lower by regular budget from $180 per week, to $100 per week, with also putting aside $20/week for those items that don’t come up regularly (laundry detergent, toilet paper, cleaning items etc)

I’m hoping that I can lower this even further as I feel I have a better grasp on what my family actually uses and needs for a full, healthy diet.

Recipes Cooked:

  • Devilled Sausages – this was a delicious family fave!
  • Shepherds Pie
  • Nachos (bulked up with beans, which made it last 2 meals, even though the kids weren’t a huge fan of the black beans)

I also discovered The Healthy Mummy website. It has heaps of free recipes that I’ve really enjoyed. I’m glad I stumbled across this site and I don’t need to purchase a whole pile of strange ingredients that I won’t be using again…..

Food Wasted/Thrown Out: this week I went through my sauces. Some expired 4 years ago! Oh dear. But it’s freed up room in my fridge, and enabled me to rearrange it a bit – I like it much more now. Less is definitely more with my new grocery mindset.

This Week’s Amazing Discovery: I have 2, TWO jars of Red Curry Paste. Guess I better cook something with it….

I think this will be the last regular post in this series, as I have happily gotten my pantry, fridge & freezer down to a less cluttered, usable level. I have cooked more, my family has eaten out less and I have saved money, enabling us to use it on other things (like a belated Valentine’s Day experience, an Apple Slinky machine and also paid for new makeup and uniform staples for myself because I’m going back to an actual job that I need to get dressed for) that we otherwise would not have been able to afford.

I really hope you’ve found inspiration in my self-imposed challenge. I will sporadically do more challenges and report back once I’ve found my happy medium of a new grocery budget.

Christine xx

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Cleaning the Kitchen *groan*

Aghhh time to clean the Kitchen – again!! Tuesday is Kitchen cleaning day. I was busy on Tuesday this week, so while my kitchen is fairly tidy, I committed to at least doing the things on my checklist that I didn’t get around to last week. Because last week’s Kitchen cleaning day took me over TWO HOURS!!!!

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Progress Shot from last week. Dishwasher still dirty, Donation tub sitting in the middle of the floor, kettle and kick boards not clean and a pile of rubbish in the corner.

I timed myself, more then 2 hours. I couldn’t believe it!!! Surely it doesn’t take people THAT long to clean a kitchen! I mean, I’ve been doing my Daily Habits of putting on & unpacking the dishwasher, wiping off the benches and sweeping. Every day! How??

I’ll tell you how. By not regularly cleaning things like the kickboards (they were gross!), the microwave (I even lifted it up and cleaned underneath) and the cupboards (not only the doors but the edges/sides and underneath the bench, you know that little lip part, the underside of that) not to mention those things that were taking up space that I just didn’t ever use, so last week took me what felt like FOREVER! And I didn’t even finish all my tasks on my list.

This week, I went in with the intention of just finishing the things I didn’t do last week, because let’s face it, the kitchen WAS still fairly tidy and clean. And you know what, it took me 15 minutes JUST to clean off the shelf we have in the kitchen. Decluttering, putting things away where they belong, cleaning that disgusting greasy dust that seems to sit on basically every. little. thing in the kitchen, clean off that shelf on top & underneath, and then putting it all back up. Ahhhh much better.

Firstly, I make sure that I’ve done my Daily Habits as they are important and make getting this done much easier to then move onto Tuesday Kitchen cleaning schedule:

  1. Wipe out Microwave – to start with I clean out the microwave. Personally I use a mixture of vinegar & water in a spray bottle with a paper towel/microfibre rag. This includes inside, outside and the glass turntable. The first time, you may need to do the bowl of 2 cups water, 2 cups of vinegar, slices of lemon in a microwave safe bowl and set for 5 minutes. Once it’s finished, leave for another couple of minutes before wiping out with a cloth/sponge/paper towel. I also remove my glass turntable and wash in the sink.
  2. Wipe over the front of the oven and the draw underneath – spray with your choice of spray and then wipe over with cloth/paper towel.
  3. Wipe over cabinets/draw fronts – I do this as I go around from one side to the other.
  4. Wipe over Dishwasher & Fridge –  And while you’re at the fridge, give it a quick clean out of anything obviously rotten or no longer usable/wanted and take any no-longer relevant paperwork off the front of the fridge and put it where it belongs (filing cabinet/bin/folder etc).
  5. Clean stove top & kettle – I put these steps together as we have a gas stove top and a gas kettle. And boy does our kettle get greasy. It certainly took ample amounts of “elbow grease” to clean it off (third time lucky and now it looks brand new!)
  6. Wipe over shelf, window ledge, splash back & bench tops – I do this by moving a section worth of items at a time and make sure I clean from the top down with the bench tops being last. Then, I put the items back where they belong and move onto the next section, move, clean/wipe & move back/put away. If they shouldn’t have been on the bench top/shelf, they go where they DO belong. Where I would logically look for them.
  7. Clean windows – this takes next to no time at all in our kitchen, and I REALLY need to make an effort to clean the other side at some point! Window cleaner & newspapers work REALLY well. (Or next time you get a Bunnings or any newspaper type catalogue (today I got a chemist warehouse one that would be perfect), put it with your window cleaner)
  8. Check your canisters – I make sure to check my tea/coffee/sugar canisters on cleaning day and re-fill if necessary. This is another item that isn’t an every week one, but saves me getting to the middle of the week and realising I’ve run out of coffee!!!!!
  9. Clean out sink – I spray all over and wipe from the mixer (taps) to the bottom.
  10. Wipe over bin – For this I use paper towel and throw it out. This is (in my opinion) a silly job because, well, it’s rubbish. But the difference is amazing.
  11. Wash Mat – This probably isn’t an everyone thing. I personally have a mat that says “Keep Calm & Drink Tea” (I really wanted a drink coffee one, but couldn’t find one at the time) and I like to wash it once a week. I also change the hand towel and tea towels out at this time. Even if I had to do it yesterday, or the day before (I usually do this at least once or twice in between), I will do this again, because then I at least know it definitely was done on Tuesday.
  12. Sweep & Mop – Even though I do this every night, the nightly mop is more of a spot clean. A sweep is necessary because of any crumbs or dust that have floated to the floor. I also use my steam mop on Tuesdays (I have a red, triangle head Aqua Laser Steam Mop).

MONTHLY – The first Tuesday of each month I run a clean through the dishwasher and also clean all the kick boards (which is another reason the first week took so long). The second Tuesday of each month clean the fridge shelves and give it a thorough clean out and off. This includes the top especially if it has a habit of “gathering things”.

QUARTERLY – The 3rd Tuesday of the start of a new season (September, December, March & June) I am determined to clean the oven out as well as get up and clean that greasy dust off the top of the cabinets – every quarter. I did clean the oven last month and started on that greasy dust (but quickly got overwhelmed, so it’s down for “another time”) Hint: The baking soda/water/vinegar soak does NOT work when you can’t honestly remember the last time you actually cleaned it (see my embarrassing before & after photos below eek!).

The before and after shots of my oven! EEK!!!!!

 For my kitchen cleaning schedule, I personally use Spray & Wipe (the Ajax or Coles version, whichever is better priced) for most spraying, especially the bench tops. But having a spray bottle with vinegar & water is also handy to have on hand. I also purchased some microfibre re-usable towels that I’m intending on using from now on instead of so much paper towels.

And you know what, this whole process took me less then an hour and a half this week to not only do the extra tasks I didn’t finish last week, but also complete all the other tasks. This time also included finding the 2 fish (Thank you Mr L for thinking playing with the fish outside was a great idea). Taking into account that and the bits & pieces I didn’t even consider looking at last week, I think I did pretty well and could probably finish the whole kitchen cleaning day in future for about 30-45 minutes. Except on those rare weeks where I’m needing to clean the oven.

I know that this list will not work for everyone. Not everyone has their kitchen in the same order as I do. And while this isn’t exact, I generally go from top to bottom, start at one side (for me at the Microwave & Oven) and then move to my right until I get to the end of the bench and then move over to the pantry and fridge. It works for me, you may need to do some tweaking to make it work for you. And remember, the first one seems impossible to do every week, but it WILL get faster, and if you don’t finish it all this week, start there next week like I did. I’m looking forward to seeing how quickly I do this next week.

Christine xx

PS: Yes, I have made huge progress on my plastic container situation. I will be sharing this later in the week.

Daily Habits – 10 minutes twice a day?!? I can do that!

10-minutes

Yes, you read that right – 20 minutes. 2 lots of 10 minutes. Once in the morning, once at night. I started these daily habits in an effort to get myself more organised. Sometimes I can look at the house and feel majorly overwhelmed. But after I do these few tasks, the house looks so much better and I feel like I can get on with my day.


10 minutes in the Morning.

  • Bedrooms – Make the beds. I have 4 beds in our house, 3 that are slept in every night. Pulling up the sheets makes a huge difference to the whole look of the room and
    10-mins-2takes only a few seconds per bed. I change the sheets once a fortnight (unless the kids have had an accident)
  • Bathroom – Put on a load of washing if needed (and while it takes me maybe 5 minutes to hang out the washing, I still include this first step in my 10 minutes). I prefer to do my laundry every day to every second day. Some people do their washing weekly, and that’s great if that’s what works for you. Sometimes I do as little as 3 loads of clothes a week.
  • Kitchen – While I’m waiting on my kettle to boil, I unpack the dishwasher. This way it is empty and ready to re-stack during the day as dishes are used.

10 minutes at Night.

  • Toys/Bedroom/Lounge – quick pickup. This takes more time during the weekends 10-mins-3
    when kids are home, but I generally get them to help out with this (this is
    also when I
    pick up any stray dishes). And when you think about it 5 minutes per person in our house = 20 minutes worth of picking up!
  • Dining Room – after dinner, the table is cleared off, wiped down and dishes stacked.
  • Kitchen – Finish stacking and put on dishwasher, wipe down benches, wash & wipe the teflon pans (mine don’t like the dishwasher) and sweep. If there’s spots on the floor I ‘mop’ using a flat one that I purchased from Bunnings for approx $15 that has a spray bottle attached. It’s magnificent.

I also put away the clothes during the afternoon. Usually when the kids are having afternoon tea or playing. Because I’m doing a few loads a week, this only takes me approx 5-10 minutes each time.

When I first started this process, it took me maybe 20-30 minutes twice a day. But during my decluttering process and the more I’ve done this, I’ve gotten this time down more and more and can easily do all of this in 10 minutes. (I timed myself this morning and my morning routine took me all of 7 minutes 42 seconds and this included filling the kettle)

These are simple tasks, that seriously take a few minutes but are absolute life savers. I have a made a checklist so that I can check back if I need to. Mostly I don’t need to look any more. But it’s still good to have on my fridge.

Another good idea is to have a cleaning book, or add a note in your diary (I put mine in my Bullet Journal) and time yourself doing tasks. Once you’ve started, it’s easy to see yourself how quickly it is to get simple tasks done or how much quicker you’re getting and that “oh I can’t do anything because I only have 5 minutes” turns into, “wow! I can’t believe how much of a difference that 5 minutes made.” (More on this later)

Now I’m in the process of tidying my plastics cupboard & “the spares” ba-ba-baaaaaaa (i’ll share photo’s – it’s overwhelming!!!)

Christine xx

Is the Bullet Journal system for me?

As a busy mum, I always had notes everywhere and was desperately trying to get myself (and my house) organised. At the end of May / start of June I felt I was drowning so started searching for ideas. Thanks to Pinterest I discovered Bullet Journalling. It called to my creative heart with the prettiness of it and thought: Yes! This is for me!!!

“The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.” ~ Ryder Carroll

I won’t go through every little detail, as you can find lots of comprehensive guides online that I certainly couldn’t compete with, like the original method by Ryder Carroll or Boho Berry’s Bullet Journal 101 series or even join a Facebook group but here’s what I have personally done and found and my experience.

One thing you need to remember is, this is YOUR journal. I know you will compare it to others, but remember, this is your journey and if it brings joy, creativeness and helps you out with your every day life, then it’s absolutely perfect. You don’t need to spend big $$ (unless you want to) and I have managed to do this system quite reasonably when I didn’t get caught up in the hype of you have to have this, that or the other!

  1. A cheap NOTEBOOK will be absolutely fine. I personally have this one from Kmart for $5 – budget friendly with PLENTY of pages. It is lined, which bothers some people, but not me. I did feel like I was doing “something wrong” by not using a grid or dotted notebook, but I couldn’t find any in my smallish town and I certainly wasn’t willing to fork out the money for these journals as most are quite expensive. And honestly, at the start, I wasn’t sure I was going to stick with this whole Bullet Journalling thing, so cheaper was certainly a great place to start.
  2. PENS – I use my Pink Parker Pen with medium nib black ink.I purchased it years ago when I was working in an office. This is my every day pen, I also use some cheap Glitter Gel Pens for headings and decorative features when I have the time or need to de-stress. I know a lot of people prefer fine line pens, and I do use these occasionally (and again, I just use the Faber-Castell from Kmart which are fairly cheap).
  3. HOW DO I START? Well, that’s easy:
  • A Key for your journal. Mine is fairly simple and sticks closely to the original key for my lists
    and to migrate tasks etc. This is right at the front of my journal.
  • Next I went with a calendar overview for the next 6 months with the school holidays in a different colour (because now that Miss S is at school, I need to know these dates). This is just like the calendars you see on your fridge, nothing fancy and nothing really on there except that.
  • Index – My index has item first, and pages last. Eg: Cleaning – 35, 49-53, 76, 101 This way if I’m after something to do with cleaning, I simply refer to my index and am able to flick to those pages and find what I’m after.
  • Future Log – this just has the months listed with blank spaces, anything that is a future event and I need to know but haven’t set that month up yet, then I put it in here.
  • Month Title Page – this is my pretty page to mark the start of a new month. I sometimes add goals that I want to achieve that month. This month (October) I haven’t done that, but may go back to it next month.
  • Monthly Overview. This is basically a calendar for the month. I add in all my upcoming events transferred from the future log and when I’m setting up my weekly spread, I refer to here as well. Again, this month I didn’t include this as I have set my whole month up together. So I transferred from the future log directly to the appropriate page.
  • Daily To-Do List. My Bujo (Bullet Journal’s nickname), has the date and then my to-do list. After the first 2 months, I had a really good idea on how much space I generally used per day and now do my own version of a weekly spread. So I set my whole month up together, separate the days with narrow washi tape, put in the dates on the top, transfer items from my future log and then my set up is done.
  • Collections/Spreads – A lot of people (including me) chooses to add collections or spreads. Some of the ones I have made in mine include: Budget Tracker/Dave Ramsey Baby Steps (slightly altered to suit our personal situation), TV Series trackers, Book Shelf, Long Term Goals (including money, Level 10 Life, Ultimate Travel List etc), Zen Art Challenges, Jamberry collection, Spring Cleaning etc. (I may go more into these at a later date)

Every night before bed, I sit down for a few minutes and write out my next days to-do list. I have found this method really beneficial and definitely have started sleeping better as there isn’t 1,000,000 things running around in my head when I’m trying to sleep.

Decorating, making it pretty, unique and mine. I love using washi tape on the edge of the pages, I do a different theme/colour for each month. I really feel a sense of achievement seeing my Bujo getting “fatter” and crossing things off my list. I can just sit down and realise that I did make progress. Every day. Even if I done nothing but chase my tail. And yes, I DO sometimes add things that I’ve already done just to cross them off hehe.

Do I still use my Bujo daily? Absolutely. Has it helped me? No doubt. There’s just something about putting pen to paper, feeling the crinkle of the pages and crossing off items from my to-do list that is just satisfying. I know I could probably find an app that will do all of this, I much prefer this method. It’s motivating! And although I have had to skip my ZenArt Challenge this month due to time restrictions and wanting to spend a bit of time setting up my Blog, I still need to finish September’s Challenge and will start fresh for November. Honestly, this process takes next to no time at all (unless you want it to of course) and I have found I have been much more productive, sleep better and feel happier.

Do you use a Bullet Journal? How have you found it? Would love for you to share your pics.

Christine xx

PLEASE NOTE: This is my personal experience and opinions. There are NO affiliate links posted above and would not recommend any items I have not personally used.