Category Archives: Budgeting

Our go-to homemade cleaning products

Okay, so I’ve actually been feel pretty terrible for a few days now. Head cold or something that Master Minion B has too, so instead of writing up a long and convoluted blog entry with my usual charming wit, you’re stuck with short and sweet instead 😉  Now, we have an 8kg washing machine, so you may need to adjust the amounts you use to suit your own machines :)

Miss Minion E is highly allergic to so many store bought clothes detergents, fabric softeners and cleaners, and I am pleased to say that she doesn’t react at all to any of these recipes at all.

I buy citric acid in bulk from a spice mart near my folks house, but you can buy it from anywhere that sells bulk soap making supplies as well.

Homemade Clothes Detergent – this lasts us about 2 – 3 months, depending on how many heavy loads we have had:

140g lux flakes (or you could grate Sunlight soap instead)

1/3 cup bi-carb soda

1/3 cup citric acid

1/3 cup washing soda

20-30 drops of Eucalyptus oil

Put all dry ingredients & essential oil into a 5 litre container – I use an old container from when I was buying washing powder – and mix together well.   Carefully add 1 litre of boiling water – watch the volcano happen!!! – and once the foaming has settled down, carefully use a stick mixer to mix together until soap flakes have dissolved fully.  Put aside until the next day.  The next day add 2 litres of boiling water and mix carefully with a stick mixer again, and repeat the next day until you have a full 5 litre container.  Allow to sit for one more day.

I use the scoop from this old bought washing powder, which is a little over 1/8th of a cup.  One scoop for a normal load, 2 if it’s a heavy load or really dirty one.

I do still need to use stain remover, but I’m working on a recipe for that too!


Homemade Fabric Softener

500g bi-carb soda

2 cups white vinegar

4 cups hot water

10 – 15 drops essential oil (I like to use patchouli, lavender or a light citrus scent)

Put the bi-carb soda and essential oil into a 2 litre bottle – I use an old fabric softener bottle because I use the cap for measuring.  Carefully – and I mean a volcano of pretty smelling bi-carb will erupt if you’re not! – add the white vinegar.  Wait for the bubbling mass to settle down, and then slowly add the hot water – it will bubble up some more, especially if you use boiling water.

I use 2 caps in our washing machine, which is equivalent to 1/3 cup.  You do need to shake this really well before you use it, but don’t do it while the bottle is still hot – it will foam up again.


Citrus Vinegar

Orange and/or lemon peel

White vinegar

This is so easy to do!  When you’re eating an orange or a lemon, simple add the peel to a 1 litre glass jar.  Add enough white vinegar to cover the peel, and then keep adding to it as you eat more oranges!  Once the jar is full, leave for 3 – 4 weeks, then strain in to another jar.  It only has a hint of vinegar smell after this time and you can use it by itself (50/50 mix with water) or in the next recipe!


Minion Mum’s Multi-Purpose Cleaner

3 tablespoons washing soda

1 tablespoon citric acid

30 drops eucalyptus or lemon oil

¼ cup dishwashing liquid

300ml citrus vinegar (white vinegar will work if you haven’t had time to make up citrus vinegar)

500ml boiling water

1 litre of tap water

In a 2 litre jug, mix together the washing soda, citric acid and boiling water (carefully, the citric acid will bubble up) and mix until dissolved.  Add the dishwashing liquid and essential oil, mix well.  Slowly add the citrus vinegar and mix well once the bubbles have settled.   Top up with 1 litre of tap water and mix well.  I have 3 x 500ml spray bottles of this around the house with the spare in a jar in our laundry.  One in each of our bathrooms, and one in the kitchen.  This stuff is fantastic – it even took black shoe polish off our driveway!!!



Hot Cross Buns

I nearly fainted while I was grocery shopping a few weeks ago when I saw Hot Cross Buns, 4 for $8!!!!  Whaaatttt????  $8 for only 4 Hot Cross Buns???  Honesty, I don’t care whose name is on them, if they’re not making it for me personally, they’re not finding their way into my shopping trolley!  Besides, according to my Minion Kids and Minion Hubby, mine taste much better than store bought!


Hot Cross Buns


  • 1kg bread flour (if you can’t find bread flour, make sure you get a bakers’ flour or strong flour)
  • 21g dried yeast
  • 450ml milk, warmed
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 3 tsps mixed spice
  • 2 – 4 tsp fine salt (to your own taste, I only ever use 2)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • Extra Ingredients:
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • Enough water to make a piping consistency paste
  • For glaze:
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Method: I always use a mixer for this. You could do it by hand, however as you all know, I’m a lazy baker and the mixer is always easier!!
  2. In a large bowl, place 350g of the bread flour, yeast and 450ml warm milk. Beat on medium speed for 3 – 4 minutes until sticky. Cover with cling wrap and a tea towel and allow to double in size, approximately 30 minutes.
  3. Add lemon rind, mixed spice, salt, eggs and honey and mix together with a dough hook.
  4. Add remaining 650g bread flour and butter. Mix with a dough hook at low speed until it comes together as almost dough.
  5. How you do this step depends on whether or not you’re a fruit or not person! We don’t do fruit or mixed peel in our Hot Cross Buns, so I skip adding the extras! Remove dough from bowl onto a lightly floured board. Spread out and add 1 cup currants and 1/2 cup mixed peel. Knead thoroughly until it’s a smooth dough. Put into a lightly greased bowl and allow to rise for approximately 45 minutes to an hour.
  6. Divide the dough into 24 buns and roll into balls – this will be easier if you dust your hands with flour first. Arrange close together on lined baking trays so they will end up touching when they are baking. Cover with cling wrap and a tea towel and set aside to rise for 30 minutes.
  7. Brush each bun with beaten egg. Add plain flour and melted butter to the remaining egg and mix well. Add enough water to this mix to make a piping consistency paste. Pipe the paste across the buns to make a cross – I find it easy just to pipe one long line across all of them in each direction.
  8. Bake at 180°C for approxiately 25 – 30 minutes.
  9. While buns are baking, make a glaze with caster sugar and water. Boil until sugar has dissolved and brush buns immediately after taking out of the oven, while they are still hot.
  10. Spread with butter, watch it melt and chow down!!! Hide the rest of the buns from the family, and you may just have enough left for the next day!
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It was very hard not to get stuck into these straight away!  I ended up scoffing half a bun before I could drag myself away long enough to take a photo!



* Originally posted on April 19, 2014

Our first week using a Monthly Menu Plan

In my last post, I mentioned that we are going to be trying out monthly shops every second month.  Well, in order to do this, Minion Dad and I sat down and worked out our menu plan for the month, including a baking list.

Our menu for last week was:

Monday:  Banana, Blueberry & Weetbix Smoothies –  it was my shopping day, and on shopping days there’s no cooking!

Tuesday:  Open Hot Dogs with Tomato, Onion, Bacon and Mushroom – these were supposed to be just ‘normal’ hot dogs, but the buns split when we toasted them, so they became ‘Open Hot Dogs’ instead!

Wednesday: Chicken Cacciatore – from scratch, but the recipe I found needs tweaking a bit, so if anyone is willing to share an easy and delicious recipe, I’m open to ideas!

Thursday: Gourmet Tomato Soup – I spent this day at the Mater Children’s Cardiology Unit at the Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic for our oldest Minion (he has a rare heart/lung condition and if you would like to know more, here’s my blog about our families journey called ‘Saving Jules’), so Minion Dad made up his delicious Gourmet Tomato Soup for dinner; my folks picked us up from the hospital (after a very long day) and drove us home and of course we invited them to stay.  This fed 4 Minion Adults and 4 Minion Kids, with enough left over for my folks to take home for their lunch the next day!

Friday:  Homemade Hamburgers – Friday night is movie night, so Minion Dad and I decided that Friday dinners would be ‘take-away style’ meals.  Very easy to make yourself and much cheaper than buying them!

Saturday:  Roast Pork and veges – I bought a 2.4kg Rolled Pork Roast (sadly, crackling is nigh on impossible with a Rolled Pork Roast, so despite being absolutely delicious, we did feel that something special was missing that night!) on special for $18.79, so not only was this for dinner it was also made into Toasted Pork, Gravy and Cheese sandwiches for lunch on Sunday, and then for the kids lunches today.  There’s still about 1/3 left, so that will be frozen for pasta later in the month.

Sunday:  Tuna, Rice & Veges – so easy, especially if you have a rice cooker.  We cook up enough rice for all of us, steam some frozen beans, peas and corn and mix it all up with a tin of flavoured tuna!  It’s delicious and the Minion Kids love choosing their own flavoured tuna, which is a huge bonus because we never hear  “But I don’t like that”!

For snacks for all of us, I baked 5 Cup Slice, Banana Bread, Muesli Bars and Rice Bubble Squares.

I think we did well for our first week . . . now I have to go, ‘cause Minion Dad is trying to steal my avo on toast!

Full boot!

Monthly versus Fortnightly Shopping

Aldi shop
Aldi shop

There seems to be more food waste in this house than us adult Minions are willing to put up with any more.  Last week, I saw somewhere that a lady manages to shop once a month for only $300, feeding her family of four pretty darn well for that month.   Needless to say, I can’t do that with our family of six, but I figured that we could come close for $500, which is our normal fortnightly grocery budget.


Coles Shop
Coles Shop

In order to do this, Minion Dad and I sat down and worked out a monthly dinner plan so we knew what we absolutely needed for this shop.  We’ve also decided what I would be baking, and what easy snacks we could do up for the little Minions that don’t involve turning on the oven.  We shop at Aldi, Coles and occasionally Super Butcher, and I usually Eftpos each time.  Today, I stopped off at an ATM and withdrew my budgeted amount instead, so there was less chance of temptation or impulse buys.  I’ve put $100 aside for next fortnight, which will cover milk, bread, fruit and vegetables plus a few items I’m sure I’ve forgotten about!

Full boot!
Full boot!

We won’t shop like this every month.  We’ve decided to try it out for alternate months, and in between we’ll make sure we stock up on meat and specials each fortnight so we can stick to our new shopping budget . . . keep your fingers crossed.  I’ll make sure I keep you up to date on how we’re faring.  Any tips and pointers to help us out will be much appreciated!!!

* Originally posted on the 11th November, 2014

* Note:  We didn’t actually keep up with this, life got hectic and it was easier to go back to the same old, same old way of shopping.  Transferring from my old site to my new one has renewed my motivation to start up again though, and I will definitely be getting back into this once I have family life organised once more!