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If you are looking for lunch ideas, you may firstly want to read these quick tips on how to save on bread. Every time I buy a loaf of bread at the bakery I stop to ponder the price. I have noticed that the cost of buying fresh bakery bread has risen quite considerably. I have investigated making my own bread to save money but, as a busy working mum, I decided the cost, time and effort involved in making bread would not be worth my while. Though I did imagine this would be a delicious weekend experience in the kitchen!
After ruling out making my own bread I had to come up with a compromise. I wanted to save money on this everyday item without compromising on my family’s daily bread experience and happiness!

This is what I am now doing to save on bread

  • Biggest tip: Buy bread at the end of the day at your local bakery
  • Purchase one bakery loaf for hubby who loves eating fresh ham and lettuce sandwiches daily
  • Purchase bulk sandwich loaves at $1 each for the kids. Make and freeze sandwiches immediately after purchasing the $1 loaves.

Lunch ideas – Here are some more ways to save

  • Freeze bread immediately after purchase to keep it fresh
  • Defrost bread in the microwave before use
  • Do not freeze bread if it will be consumed that day
  • I don’t each much bread so I just toast up the $1 sandwich loaf slices or I keep a fruit loaf in the freezer for a sweet treat
  • Make sure you always use up bread leftovers by making them into breadcrumbs or toasting up those little crusts left at the bottom of the bag

Finally, beware of marketing tricks for putting your lunch ideas into practice

I have also noticed that bakery departments in supermarkets have started cutting their sandwich loaves thicker. This could be a trick so consumers will eat up their sandwich loaves more quickly. Next time you purchase a sandwich loaf at the supermarket check that its thickness does not resemble a toast loaf. If it does, consider finding an alternative brand.

Consider your situation when thinking up lunch ideas

If you want to save money on bread be sure to consider your family’s situation. Consider who eats bread in the home and for what purpose. For example, if you only toast bread you do not require ultra fresh bakery loaves. Also, don’t purchase expensive bread unnecessarily. Read labels and compare fibre and carb content. Sometimes cheaper brands are just as good.

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Roast chicken is a great way to save. Picture this: It is 5.30pm, and if you are not using a menu planning system to organise dinner, you are probably fighting for a park at the supermarket. Perhaps you are on your way to ponder life in front of a convenient and warm roast chicken stand? Meanwhile, two-year-old Missy, who just lost her dummy under the banana stand, is randomly pulling packets of crackers off the shelves. And, Master seven-year-old is hanging off the end of the trolley pleading for a pre-dinner lollipop.
If you do grab the chicken while at the supermarket, I’ve got some great ideas to help you do something great with your purchase. Read on to discover quick tips for dealing with your warm chook.

Roast chicken: What should you do with the bird?

What should you do with this highly convenient bird now that you have it happily in your grasp? Surely, the family will notice if you deliver it to the dinner table again with peas, gravy and mash?
I prefer not to be plagued with these dinner dilemmas after a tiring day. I just want to make it home to the loving arms of a couch.

Here are my top five cheap, quick and wicked ways with a roast chicken

These will get you out of the supermarket and back on the couch before you can say ‘Glass of wine anyone? ”

  • Butter chicken curry: Add shredded chicken to a jar of butter chicken curry. Serve on rice.
  • Chicken pitas: Create a delicious warm chicken wrap using salad ingredients from the fridge and your favourite sauce or dressing.
  • Pizzas: Grab a packet of pita bread, add shredded chicken and your favourite toppings. Add BBQ sauce as a base.
  • Chicken stir-fry: Fry some veggies, add soy sauce, shredded chicken and serve on Hokkien noodles.
  • Creamy chicken crepes: Add chicken and veggies to a thick chicken soup. Serve in homemade crepes. Pour a little extra soup over the top of the crepes and add some grated cheese.

Done! Dinner is sorted!

If you want more ways to save by cooking recipes using a supermarket roast chicken be sure to check out FREEZER MEALS. which includes two cooked chooks in its planner. Save up to $400 each month on groceries.
Got great ideas for using up your bird? Leave them in comments below.

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Weekends have taken on a new meaning for me now that I’ve written Freezer Meals. No longer are my Saturday mornings or evenings taken up with shopping and hunting down food for my family. I’ve got the kids’ fun food sorted for Friday night and then it’s all relaxation from here on! Yey!
This week during my free evenings I’ve been spending that hour or so, I’d normally spend cooking and washing up, on getting on top of all the other stuff in life.
For example, I’m getting these things done:

Did in front of the telly

  1. Sorting paperwork
  2. School permission slips
  3. Folding laundry

Time with the kids

  1. More cuddles
  2. Spent more time helping with homework
  3. Started playing Tennis with the kids at the local club!

Me time

  1. Actually sat down and read a book
  2. Did some nice pamper treatments
  3. Worked on my novel
  4. Enjoyed finding and posting life hacks for my readers

Now that I’m on top of all the little things in that dinner hour, I thought I’d share with you my personal list of what I usually aim to have done by Sunday night for the fortnight ahead (at a minimum).

Here’s a peak into my life:


10 things to do by Sunday night

  1. Dinners: Sorted for the fortnight and month (Freezer Meals)
  2. School lunches: (Sandwiches) made ahead and frozen for the fortnight
  3. Super juice packs: I juice up to a fortnight’s worth of juices (done in one batch) – I detest cleaning a juicer and prefer to do that job only once in a while!
  4. Cheese: Grated and packaged up for easy use during the week
  5. The fridge: Cleaned out and sparkling on a Saturday morning
  6. Grocery shopping: Any items I need scheduled online for the week ahead to arrive midweek.
  7. Washing: All closed washed and put away (by Sunday midday)
  8. Sheets: New sheets on beds
  9. Bags and notes: Packed for Monday morning
  10. Bills: All bills paid up and papers organised before the week starts

Tip: Here’s what goes into my super juice

  1. Celery
  2. Watermelon
  3. Ginger
  4. Apple
  5. Kale
  6. Lemon

Note: Based on the Green Lemonade juice from the Raw Food Diet
This weekend I’m adding oranges to my super juice. Should be delicious!


Like the Savings Room on Facebook

I’ve got plenty of life hacks coming up this weekend. Like my Facebook page to get highly-focused life hacks for making life easier.


Here are two life hacks from today:

  1. Juicing: How to peel an orange fast
  2. Cooking: How to peel an onion without crying

http://facebook.com/savingsroom


Got some great tips for Sunday night? Share them in comments below.

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If you love cooking in bulk, discover some great food shopping tips for cooking in bulk this weekend. Saving money on groceries and saving valuable time is easy if you plan ahead, purchase groceries in bulk and batch cook.

Bulk food shopping tips for this weekend

Meat & poultry

Buy meat in bulk and find wholesale suppliers in your area. Money saving meat purchases include budget mince, sausages and stewing meats. Purchase chicken fresh or frozen and try to get your chook for under $5.00. It is cheaper to buy a chicken, roast it and shred it for meals than it is to cook up fillets. Roast chicken is also delicious in a pasta or a soup! If you have to buy fillets buy them in a big pack at a wholesale poulterer.

Vegetables

Buy onions, potatoes, garlic, ginger and fresh herbs (for freezing) in bulk.

Kitchen Gear

Buy a big community size cling wrap and aluminum foil that will last you months! It is much cheaper to
buy products like this in bulk. I sit my cling wrap at the top end of a large bread board so it is easy to access when making the kids’ lunches.

Grocery Items

Items on your grocery list should include oils, oil sprays, sauces such as tomato sauce and soy sauce.

Herbs & Spices

Fill your spice rack and keep it well stocked with all the spices you require for the coming season and year. Also include beef, chicken and vegetable stock powder.

Milk & Bread

Buy long life milk and bread for the freezer. This will reduce unnecessary trips to the shops where you will likely spend $30 or more on items you were not planning to buy.

Canned Goods

Stock up on diced tomatoes, soups, chick peas, lentils and the like.

Freezer Items

Stock up on pastry, frozen peas, mixed vegetables, frozen corn and spinach.

Staples

Stock up on rice and pasta. If you keep your pantry well stocked you can save much time avoiding extra trips to the supermarket for groceries and more time in the kitchen cooking up beautiful bulk cooked meals for the family!
Hope you liked my bulk food shopping tips! Good luck with your next cooking adventure!


Can’t be bothered working it all out?

If you want a great resource for cooking in bulk and stocking your pantry check out Table Tucker or FREEZER MEALS cookbook. Table Tucker delivers annual, seasonal and monthly pantries for 52 weeks of budget dinners for the entire year! You will never have to write a pantry list ever again. Freezer Meals is a savvy bulk cooking system, which will save you up to $400 on your monthly grocery spend.


Got some great food shopping tips to share? Add them to comments below!

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If you love speed cleaning tips and you would rather eat donuts, watch TV or sit on a porch drinking tea then take a moment to read this life-changing article.
There are plenty of ways to attack a task and and I’m putting my bet on ‘the fast way’ over ‘the slow way,’ when it comes to stacking dishes, washing grime off plates and wiping crumbs up from underneath the toaster. But fear not. I’m on a mission to get the job done and fast.
These are my hot tips on how to get out on that porch and sitting in ‘relaxation’ pose and fast.
The key to any speed-cleaning expedition is to prepare properly. A busy person must have a clear mental picture of what should be done and must stick to a plan (yes, using an egg-timer), and then attack the job with speed and precision. 
 
Here’s how:
No matter what the scenario at home (i.e. Missy pulling at your clothes while you are cutting onions) every challenge should be tackled successfully. Just focus. Take a quick bite of that donut for an energy boost and divide the job into a few simple steps.
Here is my quick four-step system for cleaning a kitchen in five minutes:

Step 1 | Line up your buckets

Set up three bins or buckets on the bench for:

  • Recycling
  • Rubbish bin
  • Things that don’t belong

The main reason this is important is the fact that you don’t want to be running around the kitchen, backwards and forwards unnecessarily. This is vital to achieving this speed cleaning job in less than five minutes.

Step 1 | Group like items together

  • Focus on like objects. For example, start with rubbish and discard all rubbish in one sweep.
  • Put all ‘things that don’t belong’ in that dump bucket.
  • Stack all plates near the sink and run a sink of hot water.
  • Place all pantry items back in the pantry at once.
  • Place items for the fridge and freezer back in one sweep.

Step 3 | Do the dishes

Once the bench is clear of rubbish you can start on the dishes.
This is to make sure all the dishes are done in one action. Another reason is that you need to focus on this bigger job so that you are not and running around and wasting energy aimlessly.
Rinse dishes for the dishwasher or wash them by hand. Do this as quickly and accurately as you can using the right tools including a good sponge, scourer and liquid cleansers.
To flesh this out somewhat, again wash like items together.

  • Wash all flat plates at once or place them in the dishwasher.
  • Wash all cups at once or rinse them and place them in the dishwasher.
  • Wash all cups at once and all knives and forks at once.
  • Make sure you have soaked pots after use to make sure cleaning them is easier.
  • If you need a system for this step simply work from the big items to the small items. This way the bench will clear faster as the bigger items disappear.

Work the same way when drying items and putting them away. Work big to small and then you will have an easy system to work to.

Step 4 | Wipe down surfaces

Finally wipe down benches using a drop of Eucalyptus or tea tree oil in hot water and empty the kitchen rubbish bin and recycle bin into outdoor bins. Also, take your ‘things that don’t belong’ bucket into the next room.
When you believe you have followed these steps attentively, you have succeeded in creating a beautifully clean kitchen in just five minutes! Wow!
Now you can move into another room, where you will decant items for that room from the dump bucket and place items that don’t belong in that room into the dump bucket. (Note: Square plastic buckets with handles work best.)
But first, congratulate yourself and make yourself a nice cuppa. Enjoy sitting in your beautifully clean kitchen with a feeling of clarity and accomplishment!
If your kitchen was really dirty and you didn’t achieve this task in five minutes, don’t dismay because practice makes perfect! There are many minutes in a day and you can keep practising until you achieve this goal!
Want more challenges and methods for saving time, money and sanity? Visit the Savings Room for over 10,000+ saving tips in the one room!

 

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Homes get messy when there’s a lack of systems and storage to keep areas free. I’ve been getting pretty frustrated lately because due to our renovation project and the lack of built-in storage and places to put things right now – I’ve been running around like a madwoman trying to contain all the items a nice built-in wardrobe or cupboard normally would! I’ve been driven mad by this and with a little bit of time up my sleeve (due to the school holidays) – I’m taking control! This is the first in a series of posts on how to get your home in order if you have a lack of storage, whether you are renting or in a renovation like me. First stop is my back to school project – the kids homework station. Prior to creating this beautiful room (which I am now so in love with – I want to use and live in it myself) our living room and second living area was a mess. We were struggling on school mornings because all my kids’ important and regular items were at the end of a long hallway and far from where we would regularly use them.

See below for the inspiration, tips and my experience with building this lovely room for my kids.


How to create an awesome kids homework station

Organise pens, pencils and stationary items


Portable ideas

My home’s hallway is so long I clean my home with a trolley! I love the functional and time-saving ability of a trolley. Trolley’s are also great if you are limited on space or you need to move your office around from time to time, which can be the case in modern space-deprived living areas.

Children need inspiration too

Just like adults, kids need daily inspiration and motivation. Make your kid’s homework station a colorful and happy place to visit. Personally, I didn’t want to put too many distractions in the room and as you’ll see below, I’ve maintained the happiness without the clutter! However, depending on the needs of your child, place wall charts or items according to what they might be studying or focusing on.
IMG_8102


Sort similar items or shapes together

My big tip for home organisation generally is to sort similar items or shaped items together. For example:
  • Put crayons with crayon
  • Colored pencils with colored pencils
  • Markers with markers
  • Place long thin items like rulers in one spot for example
  • Place square with square and round with round

You get my drift…
IMG_8113


Give each child their own area

I couldn’t really achieve this in the small space I had, however I each child did receive their own seat, which was great! We have to be grateful for the little mercies 🙂 Still, my space looks cute and it is highly unlikely both my children will share the homework station at the same time due to their age differences (10 and 4). Do what works for you and your space.

 IMG_8107

Create the space away from bedrooms

Kids bedrooms get messy on a daily basis. The goal should be to create a separate space for the homework station so kids will always have a clutter free zone when doing home.
IMG_8115


Create a great system for completing and returning notes and homework

This is a great idea, which I hope to implement soon. Mine will include homework only as I prefer to keep kids notes on my desk for when I need to do admin. I keep a folder for each child on my office desk so I can quickly check what needs to be done for them – when I am organising other family administration jobs.
IMG_8109


Create an easy to access spot to place homework books

Alternatively do something cute like this. A simple space for kids to place their homework once taken out of their bags.


If you don’t have the space create a simple portable and personlised solution to keep your child focused

If you are very short on space you can easily make your child’s homework more enjoyable by creating a little box like this. This can be placed on the kitchen counter or dining table for when your child is doing homework. Setting up little systems like this will help your child feel focused, happy and loved!


Create a tidy solution for digital devices

This is an absolute must in a modern home. Personally with all the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi an Wireless out there – I’m not sure why there are still so many cords in my house! However, scroll down to see the two simple solutions I achieved with this, which were:

  1. A place to charge digital
  2. A place to dump digital devices, cords and headphones.

Keep items within arms reach

A highly functional kids homework station should give your kids access to their stuff. Make sure the items are within arms reach. See below for some fabulous storage ideas.

Hang inspiration on the walls and change quarterly

Hang some motivation on the walls. Give your children some affirmations and sayings that will stay in their minds and keep them focused even when they are not doing homework. Keep their minds active and inspired daily. I suggest changing the sayings every season – to spark new ideas in their active and growing minds. Note: Work in progress for me!
IMG_8114


Keep the space as clutter free as possible and void of other distractions

As mentioned above – keep the space clutter-free. Make sure that the space itself is not too cluttered up with stuff. Keep the design as minimalist and distraction free as possible.


If short on space consider a functional and hidden homework space like this

I like this idea for a small hidden homework space. It works if you are short on space! Get someone handy you know to build it or check out places like Ikea for solutions.

IMG_8116

Finally – consider a simple box or shelf just for library books

Library books are easily lost around a busy home – so create a spot for them. If you don’t have a caddy like this and are on a budget – do what I did and use a simple bag hanging on a door. I recycled a cute nappy bag to keep my kid’s library life in check.
IMG_8117

Drumroll….

Scroll down to view our new amazing home station!

Note – Due to renovation the area had to be temporary!!!

First: Here are my notes from my experience in creating this space…

Note: Your shopping list are the items listed in BOLD – if you’d like to try this…

Challenges:

  • Budget – Less than $20
  • Space – Limited
  • Time to set this up – 2 hours

Stuff I have that can be recycled

Furniture I can recycle:

  • A white desk that is not in use really
  • A few large spare lamps we don’t use
  • White plastic party chairs we have quite a few of lying around in the backyard
  • White bookshelf in the bathroom – remodel
  • A large wooden wine rack I’d like to repurpose

Smaller items for the project:

  • Ample pens, pencils and stationary – just need sorting
  • Several colorful kiddy storage boxes I have lying around in my storage cupboard
  • A set of plastic party cups for organising pencils
  • A set of unused yellow trays for organising pencils
  • Wrapping paper for the walls (they’re currently unpainted due to the renovation)

Items for digital setup

  • Extension cords
  • My child’s laptop and cords
  • Chargers
  • Pouches for housing iPads
  • An area for each iPad for each child

Tools

  • Sticky tape for wrapping paper on walls

Goals – The space needs to:

  1. Be in a quiet place so my child (10 year old) can concentrate on his homework
  2. Another spot for Miss 4 – so she can use it too
  3. House all digital charges and accessories
  4. Provide a spot for library books and DVDs etc
  5. Provide an area for pens, pencils and stationary items – organised
  6. Include a lamp for both guests and desk lighting
  7. Be set up for a computer near plugs for easy access
  8. Be functional enough to not look messy and cluttered when not in use
  9. Be a colorful and happy place for my children to spend time in
  10. Include a wall chart for ticking off weekly homework & reading done (In progress!)

Quiet place

I have two children and I live in a six bedroom house (sounds great – but cleaning is harder!). The living areas of our home are starting to take form but bedrooms are located at the front of the house where the renovation hasn’t started.  I’ve chosen the guest room, which is closer to the living/ kitchen area as it is quiet but not so far down the hall (which is long) my children can still access me for questions. It also has a relaxing view of the park next door.

Multipurpose

I like rooms with a multipurpose. Since guests don’t stay all the time – this room now works as a double-whammy. When we do have guests (usually my mother or mother-in-law) tend to visit out of school days and hours anyway – so in theory, this should work! Plus my guests get a bit of a ‘hotel’ feeling when they stay because they get a nice lamp, desk, stationary and a happy place to relax in!

Do this: (1 hour)

  1. Clean out guest room first
  2. Move large furniture items in
  3. Wipe them down and clean them
  4. Place smaller items on kitchen table
  5. Organise pencils and stationary into containers / cans
  6. Go to guest room and arrange items as you see fit

Result

My simple and functional kids homework station!

Cost: Zero!

IMG_8120

The above space includes:

  • Desk and chairs with organised stationary within arms reach
  • Lamp for desk and kids
  • An area for the charging of digital devices for the kids
IMG_8121

The above space includes:

  • A dumping box for each child for digital cords, headphones & other random belongings
  • A space underneath to place kids homework books
  • In progress: Filing system for kids homework and papers
  • A recycled cut nappy bag for library books hung on the door

To create your own awesome kids homework station do this:

Copy and paste my notes section – remove my notes and add your own. You’ll have this job stitched up and fast!


Coming up

Stay tuned – I’m getting my renovation zone decluttered one room at a time. I’ll be posting all my projects from summer 2014 / 2015 soon.
Don’t forget to check out my Pinterest Board below for other great ideas for creating