Green and Thrifty

This week in green and thrifty news I went to talk to the vet about ways to reduce the cost of Benson the Wonder Puppy's allergy medication, and she told me that every time I get the prescription refilled there is a $20 dispensing fee (I do this once a month) that I had no idea about. She gave me a bulk discount on four month's worth of meds and on top of that I will save $60 in dispensing fees over those four months. It is so worth asking!

I used left-over pickle juice to flavour potato salad. Yum!

I have been walking everywhere I can these last few weeks. It's not always possible or practical to walk, but it turns out I can walk a lot more than I had been! 

I was determined to make the 'empty' toothpaste tube last for another week, and I did.

I have gaps to fill in my 'bee garden' next to the vegie garden, and I transplanted some flowers from other parts of the garden, including viola and love-in-a-mist seedlings which like to seed themselves in the brick path. Gardening for free is my favourite!

Not quite gardening for free - but close - I bought 16 packets of vegetable seeds for $22 from my favourite seed company, The Seed Collection. They offer very cheap seeds which have good germination rates, and they do free shipping in Australia when you spend over $20. I am very excited about growing lots of food this year. My nemesis is succession planting to have a constant parade of greens and veg, but this year, I will crack it. Almost definitely... I'll be doing my first seed planting at the beginning of August, indoors of course, as it will still be freezing here in Tasmania at that point.

Speaking of which, Paul brought me a load of wood in the back of the old Volvo this week. It's amazing how much he stacked in there. I am being warmed by beautiful logs of a big old gum tree that just fell over one day in the bush at his place two years ago. It is now well dried and keeping us warm and cooking the beans at the same time. As always, all my kindling and little logs that I use to get the fire going in the morning come from Paul's place. I go up there every couple of weeks with my chainsaw and fetch some more. Rosy brings me newspapers from the cafe she works at for me to light the fire.

My friend Carla gave me eggs from her happy chickens and for lunch this week I have been frying an egg, served with wilted greens on toast ('wilted greens' being spinach and rocket from the garden). This is followed by an orange, which are very cheap at the shops right now.

Today I made a tiny bread and butter pudding for lunch, with the crusts from a loaf of bread and left-over cream from a dessert I made for dinner with Paul's mum.

Blogger will only add this photo sideways. Sometimes I hate Blogger.

I have been cooking my morning porridge on the wood stove, and today the white beans I soaked overnight for this week's soup are simmering over the fire. When I say simmering, they are either boiling madly or just sitting there in hot water, depending on how the fire is going. Cooking over the fire is not very reliable, but the beans don't care.
Blogger also refuses to left justify this paragraph. I still hate Blogger.

I often make a meal that lasts me a week. This week it was vegan chili. I cook a cup of brown rice to serve with it, and that lasts for three serves, so I cooked chili once and rice twice to last for a week of dinners. Now that is my kind of cooking:) Today I will make a vegie soup, featuring pumpkin, sweet potato and carrots, which are the cheapest vegies right now. I will add red lentils and white beans for protein, and that will be my dinner for next week. 

Vegan Chili, as made up by Jo:

Saute onion, celery and garlic in a large pot until soft. If you have fresh mushrooms, add them as well. Add a tiny dab of chili powder (my current chili powder is SO spicy. You add however much chili you normally use), and a couple of spoonfuls of a mexican/taco spice mix. Add two cans of chopped tomatoes, and three cans of beans. I used black beans, kidney beans, and a soup mix which was on sale and has four different kinds of beans. Add any kind of chili flavouring you can find. I put in a jar of salsa that I made in 2020. I found them in the pantry recently and have several more of them to get through. Very yum. I also added some chili jam which has been sitting in the back of the fridge for a couple of years now. 

Then I crumbled in some accidently dried mushrooms (accidently dried mushrooms is what you get when you leave them for too long in their paper bag in the fridge. But only if you store them in the fridge part. If you store them in the vegie crisper you just get mouldy mushrooms, which can't be revived in any way). Last I added a few handfuls (two? three?) of pearl barley which thickens everything up. Then simmer everything for half an hour or so. If it all gets too thick, add more tomatoes or some stock. I like corn in my chili, but always add frozen corn at the last minute when reheating, to keep it crisp and sweet.

Serve with brown rice, and salsa, if you want it, and lime wedges if you have nice friends with lime trees, which I do:) This is so yum. 

If you are after any number of very cheap meal ideas, YouTuber  Ardent Michelle will steer you in the right direction. She has tried many challenges of eating for one or two dollars a day, and as a bonus she has a lovely, gentle voice, which is very soothing among the social media cacophany:)

Eating from the garden this week: lemons, rocket, spinach, parsley, silverbeet.

Edible Weeds: Chickweed

Gifted: Eggs from Carla, potatoes from Carla, firewood from Paul.


Anonymous said…
Jo, it made me smile to open this post on thrifty living and see a picture of Benson and the cat. It's funny how, no matter how tight the budget, some of us always manage to have a dog and a cat. We also have said dog and cat, and I'm working on a rescue greyhound. So far I'm being told "no!", due to the small size of our cottage. I don't think that's a very good reason, do you?

Thanks for the link for seeds, I've recently let my membership to a popular gardening club lapse and cheap seeds that germinate (unlike some more expensive ones last spring) would be wonderful.

Jo said…
Madeleine, I think it is important to point out that greyhounds are very thin, and take up almost no space from the front! You could fit half a dozen greyhounds into your cottage without noticing, as long as you always stand in front of them..
I have found The Seed Collection to be very reliable. They are a small Australian company based in Victoria, and their mission is to bring no-frills seeds cheaply to as many people as possible, which sounds fine to me. (The no-frills refers to the packaging. The seeds themselves are very good!)
Anonymous said…
I received my homeowner's insurance renewal notice, so ... creativity continues in order to find ways to save, and make do. Often, my thrifty actions are really inactions: no driving, no shopping, no going out to eat, etc.
I did have friends over for "Happy Hour" and adjusted the original menu to accommodate not only the ingredients I had, but also limit the use of the oven as to not heat up the house. The feeling of accomplishment this gave me, is note worthy!
After doing research on: "How to grow and Harvest Bananas," I transplanted a non growing, non producing banana tree to a better spot in hopes that it will thrive. I am hoping this will do the trick.
Have a wonderful week!
Jo said…
Patricia, I could write a really short book about saving money. It would say, Stay home, Work in the garden, Read library books. The End.
But I see you have no need of such a volume:)
Kudos on entertaining on a budget:) and all the best for the great banana recovery. We grew bananas in our tropical garden when I was seven. In my recollection they just grew themselves, but that would be because I wasn't paying attention. When they were nearly ripe Mum cut them down and stored them in the outside wash house until they ripened, and they harboured enormous numbers of enormous spiders and also scorpions, so I wasn't a fan. But I trust your experience won't be as terrifying..
Anonymous said…
Jo: thanks for the heads up on possible spiders hidden in the banana bunches. My daughter/roommate is an arachnophobe. It would not be pretty...
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Vet's don't tell you, but they can provide a prescription and you can then order pharmaceuticals for your dog online. I've heard that it's much cheaper, but haven't tried that option. Vet's tend to be short staffed, under constant work load and emotional pressures and they have to be everything to everyone (doctor, surgeon and pharmacist) so I pay what they ask, but don't go unless absolutely necessary. I know people who take their pets regularly for check ups, and don't get that. Possibly they need to train more vet's, but that's a different story and there might be resistance to that due to driving wages downwards.

Out of curiosity, what's Benson allergic to?

Sometimes changes to diet can make a world of difference. I add a small quantity of coconut oil to their breakfasts (and make about half of what they eat) and they all seem pretty healthy and never suffer from fleas. Although, they do have to be wormed regularly due to their err, awful, propensities for eating unmentionable (in polite company such as here! :-) ) things.


Jo said…
Chris, I just checked online and you are absolutely right, buying in bulk there makes it much cheaper. Thank you! Benson has what might be grass allergies, as it is much worse in summer, and makes his skin very itchy and painful. This seems very counter productive for a dog, and not a good evolutionary strategy! The vet offered a $200 one-off allergy 'vaccine' at the beginning of the season, which would be cheaper than the meds, and apparently very effective if it works, but you don't know if it works for your dog until you try it.. still thinking about that one.
And, thanks for reminding me about the oil - a vet once did recommend fish oil but I had forgotten till just then. I'll get onto that, and maybe try some coconut oil as well.
Cheers to your lovely dog crew from Benson the Wonder Puppy:)
Blueberry said…
Jo Very good book for the gardener Fertile Soil by Robert Parnes, Ph.D. on line as a PDF. So no walking or driving to check out a book. Does a great job of explaining soil science that even I can understand.
Jo said…
Blueberry, thanks so much for this! How did you know that soil fertility is one of my favourite subjects??:) I downloaded it and have started reading already:)

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