Save like Nana did. Stage one rationing.

While Nana lived though formal - organised rationing today we are going to talk about what we all have done at some time or another...  quietly rationing things that are expensive, scarce or maybe because we are waiting payday to come around.   Nana was an expert at this because of living through much leaner times.   As kids we certainly never noticed any kind of rationing which I think means she did it so well!   And yes I know now it was there.... even Nans Sunday massive roast lunches for all the family must have involved a lot of planning and meat stretching but back then I had no idea.    Given the economic times this week I want to brain storm (and hopefully get everyone to join in)  on ways to stretch things so artfully that no one necessarily even notices!  

First of all I am never going to suggest skimping on anything involving child nutrition or well being.   

Second...  many ways we can cut back are actually going to make us healthier!  So bonus!

Third...  my rule for success is when you remove or limit something you replace it with something else.  Trust me this helps.  It is like deciding to give up coffee from later in the day (I had to do this because I can't sleep)  I did ok with this as I replaced that coffee with a herbal tea.  I still had the cup in my hand, warm drink experience.  So I didn't feel deprived.  So, you do some little swaps.   This could be a subject of it's own!  Make coffee before you leave the house and take it with you instead of buying it,  make a stack of pancakes for breakfast on the weekend instead of going out,  make pizzas at home instead of ordering them in and so on.

Some easy ways to give a feeling of abundance .... 

I make up a jug of iced water in the fridge with some lemon or mint leaves.  If we have guests I put a jug like this on the table with some pretty glasses.   It looks beautiful and tastes good.  All the kids in the family drink water.   They all have good drink bottles that keep their water cold.   We both take water wherever we go.  I don't know how much this saves and how much more healthy everyone is from drinking lots and lots of water!  

If you love iced tea or coffee... find a recipe to make your own.  These are both really easy, you can make up big batches.   The Cheapskates Club has a recipe for coffee syrup and it is just delicious.   In Australia it is the tradies drink.... tradies drink thousands of iced coffees.  I have no idea why.   I will even give you the link to this recipe... it is like gold!  Coffee Essence.   If you have bottles... make them up as gifts.  If you know someone who drinks Whiskey or Liqueurs ask them to save bottles for you.  Fabulous bottles make these kind of gifts look amazing!  When I find little bottles I make Vanilla Extract as any cook loves to receive this and I can add a pack of Baby Leaves from Mums tree.  I serve things in lovely glasses and beautiful jugs.  They just look so special and it seems luxurious.  But it's so inexpensive!   This is a bit like serving tea from a teapot.  People always say "oh wow"....  I have my pretty china out and a teapot,  creamer and sugar bowl.  One guest we have has "her cup and saucer" which is a pink set she loves.  She feels this is her treat.  Cost... nothing. 

I have met people who are particular about brands.   I am one of them when it comes to my tea!  But overall I would rather shop at Aldi and get what is on special.... so my cookies,  coffee,  baking supplies, laundry and bathroom supplies... are mostly in containers and no one has a clue about the brands.  This is the cure for that.  This extends to skin care.   A lot of the best moisturisers etc are very inexpensive... many are the same ingredients in less glamorous packaging than the very expensive brands.   For the ladies - Aldi Caviar range is gorgeous.   I can never lay my hands on the serum vials now I am not near an Aldi... but no amount of money beats those!   If you have something you completely love do an online search.... type in your product and "dupes" and you will get a list of bargain substitutes.  

When I was younger I was addicted to magazines.  I would hate to add up what I spent all up.  But now there is just no need to ever buy them... unless I see really sumptuous ones at the thrift store for 50c.   The internet gives us unlimited ideas and instructions for free.   If you like the comfort of a physical book then garage sales, the library,  thrift stores.... books are so inexpensive this way.  Many are brand new and make lovely gifts!   There is no having to give up anything but the price difference is incredible.

Fabric... you all know how I get most of my fabric.  Now and then I buy some in a print I just love but 95% of my sewing fabric is from thrift stores and mostly from bed linens or, sometimes,  curtains.   

When you are trying to feed a big family or crowd think strategically!  My friend had five teenage boys at home at once.   She timed the bread maker to be ready at breakfast then started it to be ready with another loaf as the school day ended.   She put a giant (and I mean giant!) baked potato on to their dinner plates before they loaded up on whatever the protein and other veggies were.   She made cookies... huge ones four to the tray.   

Another friend on a very limited budget told me she was so embarrassed because she was allocated to bring a cheese board to a large family function.   I suggested she reply and offer to do 1./ Garlic bread or 2./ Potato salad or 3/. Pavlova.   Any of these are delicious and pretty inexpensive to make.    This worked out and she could contribute and not blow her budget.   

I make fruit cakes at Christmas but although I have plenty of eggs the fruit and butter are quite expensive ingredients.   Last year I noticed the size, weight and prices of fruit cakes in the stores.  I saw a large cake similar to mine was making was $75!    So I reconsidered and made smaller cakes,  decorated them nicely and made quite a few individual cakes as well.   This gave me several more gifts.   I also made more of my Coconut Ice and Shortbread... as small packs of those look and taste lovely.    

I keep hand wash in pump bottles next to the sinks.  When they get down to near half way I just fill them up with water and shake.  Train children how much hand wash to use,  to do a good job.  It is not ten pumps!  And the same with toilet paper...  not half the roll!   Shampoo gets the same treatment.   In the laundry strictly use the scoop or lid, no "pour it in and hope" measurements.   I have heard women complain their husbands use too much product.  I am not sure what to say about this as when you are getting help well that is good but lets say teenagers might pour in half a bottle of detergent without a care in the world.   Teach them how much to use.  Swap out a smaller scoop if you think they are using too much. 

There are so many ways to quietly dial down consumption,  wind back the costs of eating out,  gift giving. Not everything has to be about cash.   I would never give money on the phone to someone claiming to be from a charity.   We have charities and things we support and make sure we give directly.  But there are many ways to give.  Help your neighbour.   Donate things you no longer use or need.  A lady in town has a succulent garden and several times a year she pots up all the little succulent babies and grows them up.  When they are ready she donates them to The Royal Flying Doctor" store.  They sell right away and this is how she supports this wonderful charity.  We can do different things.   We just need to think it over.  Many charities want you to sign up for an automatic debit from your bank account.   I research the salary of the CEO.  Then at least you know where the money is going.  

Just because we have always done something doesn't mean we need to die before we quit!  Stop giving to the ungrateful  complainers who never thank you.  You can get the same feeling for free by putting a fork in your eye.  Give them a card that tells them you bought chickens for a family in Africa... they will look really bad if they complain about that.  Or make cookies for someone who is lonely instead.   

We do not have to accept invitations that are going to cost a fortune.   While it is nice to be included,  for sure,  expensive weekends away,  retreats,  destination weddings,  de gustation dinners,  wine tours and more...  it is ok to say no.   Thanks but no thanks.  Seriously.   I honestly feel anyone proposing any of these at this time are not in touch with reality.   Not in touch with reality could be nice place to visit but I think we want to be really prudent and watchful instead.    

Living where we do many of our family and friends are farmers.  Some have been farming for decades.   Most have seen hard times before although not so much the younger generation.  They were used to low interest rates and good prices for stock.  Now there are high interest rates and bad prices for stock and absolutely everyone is tightening their belts and circling the wagons,  as we say.   Every week we hear of people losing their homes.   The rental crisis has hit the daughter and grandchildren of a friend.  They have exhausted every possible search for a home and are moving into a caravan.    

Whatever your circumstances...  some quiet rationing,  putting up supplies,  being thoughtful with useful and helpful gifts to both give and receive... ways to help others... these are the things I am thinking on as we approach Christmas.   Christmas was always just magical to us as children but I barely remember what the gifts were.  I remember the excitement,  loving glitter and anything that sparkles,  I was in my element.  We can decide to spend less but do more together.   Celebrating the birth of Jesus was central to the joy we felt.   To be with our family,  bless others and be grateful.  

There will be people reading this thinking they don't need stage one rationing, they are already on stage ten.   I hope as we go along we will have more encouragement and more ideas. 

I have thought a lot about how Nan had her brothers and sisters and they all helped each other.  They had a very strong community of neighbours and friends as well.  This was an immense advantage.  We need to build our support group as much as we can.  Sometimes to do that we have to step out and join a Church group or maybe meet people with common interests and try and build on that.  Sharing support,  resources, fellowship and love makes life so much more wonderful.  

If you have ideas on stretching things,  making a little into a lot,  making family gatherings and Christmas more about being together and less expensive,  then please jump in.   It is really an art to be happy and generous and do it all in a way that only those in the know ever suspect how carefully you had to be to pull it off!  But that is what Nana did and we were very blessed. xxx


  1. I love family gatherings and I think sometimes it is so fixated on food that inevitably people (I) overbuy. However, when I have a slight theme or activity - minute to win it games, craft evening etc the food feels like a part of the evening and not a focus. Great way to skill share and share hosting around too!

  2. I have been taking a really good look at the leftovers we might have so they are being “repurposed/upcycled” into totally new and different meals. The mashed potatoes with Sunday night dinner became the topping on a Shepherd’s pie variation for dinner Monday night. I also made it in a 7” baking dish I got at an estate auction for 35 cents which meant that it didn’t generate huge amounts of leftovers! The potatoes were from garden, cheese shredded from a block I bought on sale over a year ago, shredded and froze ($2/pound), green beans- canned that a friend had given us, sale ground mince that I bought on Flashfood for $1.49/pound and pre-cooked and froze with dash of red sauce. I figure I had maximum $1.25 invested in that dinner for 2! Portioning, making use of what we have and acquiring at lowest cost! You’re singing my song!
    Gardenpat in Ohio

  3. Annabel, and Dear Bluebirds,
    Annabel, your Nan was amazing, I think that generation was outstanding in being frugal, stretching all they had as far as they could and then some.
    I was brought up by very thrifty parents, my one set of Grandparents lived next door and my other Grandmother with us. What I didn't learn from one I did from another.
    My Grandmother's Sunday dinner was always a roasted chicken, she made one chicken feed 10 people. She ran a corner grocery store and all the apples that were starting to soften were always turned into pies. Though she could just walk into the store and grab a box/bag of noodles, all hers were home made.

    We stretch things as far as we can here at home, sue to how we were brought up, waste not, want not mentality. I have always saved slivers of soap and either made hand soap of bar soap with them. We use foaming hand soap dispensers to use less soap. That soap is also made from scraps.

    We made the protein section of a meal last, even scraps that you don't think would feed anyone go onto a pizza, or into an omelet. I bake at home, when you look at the price at the bakery, it is only wise to bake yourself. I can make 3 batch of a dozen muffins for less than the store wants for 2 muffins. Even leftover roasted carrots will go into our muffins at times.

    When we make tea in cups, the tea bag gets reused, only when making a pot does the tea bag only get used once.

    Clothing is stretched for wearing numerous times by mending and re-mending. When something is finally to the point it cannot no longer get repaired, I cut the pockets out, buttons and zippers off and cut the fabric, either to be used for patching or go into the rag pile, where it progresses, from home use, to garage, to toss after use.

    For Christmas we reuse bows and ribbon, boxes, we only give practical gifts, useful, more needs than wants. For neighbors and workmates we bake cookies and make up small trays to give.

    There are so many other ways we stretch things, but I can go on forever.
    Prayers for all the Bluebirds.

  4. All of the suggestions are wonderful for stretching a dollar. My grandmother tracked food brought in and food eaten in a ledger, even though they owned a grocery store. She was a very prudent woman and always taught me to buy quality and maintain it. I struggle to find any quality in products today, however, so we do the best we can to maintain what we purchase.
    A huge pot of soup, with homemade broth, and a wide variety of vegetables is filling, less expensive and a wonderful meal for family and friends. I alter the recipe a bit and add hamburger if hearty eaters are going to be present. Taco seasoned hamburger is particularly delicious.
    Stretching a meal to look bountiful can be aided by small filling items, such as miniature meatballs with sauce and crackers with a cheeseball spread.
    Have a wonderful week, bluebirds.

  5. I find that as my husband and I get older we need less food. We both want to stay trim for health reasons. If we go out we share a meal. We used to drink two cups of coffee in the morning. Now we drink one regular K Cup and save it in the machine and use half the water and run it again. Half the caffeine. I save the pods and put the grounds in my compost and recycle the cup.

    Charity Navigators will tell you how a Charity does managing their money. One thing I found out recently. A very famous Evangelical Ministry. That is now run by the son. Has been donating to a very liberal political party for the last several years. This party has the complete opposite values and ethics we have. I will never donate to them again . So while a charity might manage their money well it doesn’t necessarily tell you who they are in bed with. You have to seek that out on your own.
    Growing up our neighbors would get together for coffee and cookies or cakes. No one would expect people to throw an expensive dinner party with cocktails. That is the norm now. You can still have fellowship and a cuppa on a budget.
    Acts of service for a Christmas gifts are a great way to give and it costs nothing but time and a little petrol.
    Offer to shovel snow or blow a driveway off. Take someone shopping or to a Doctors appointment. Babysitting for younger parents. Yard work is always appreciated. Small frozen meals are great for single people.
    One young lady we know started doing laundry and advertised on FB now she is turning away work. She charges more if they want ironing too.
    She has mostly single men for clients that hate doing laundry and now has a thriving cottage business.

  6. This really got me thinking. Thank you for writing it all up for us.

    This year I am stuffing all the stockings with snacks and treats. I am waiting to see the faces of our family when they see all the goodies. I have been watching for deals and stocking these items for weeks so that I have a variety but spent little money.

    I cut sugar back by a third in most baked goods. You won't miss it and it saves money and health. When our kids were growing up I often started out meal prep for supper by cutting up a plate of raw vegetables and putting it on the table. Then I ignored them sneaking in and eating them. This kept my produce cleared out and helped fill up those starving children. At lunch time I cut up a plate of fruit. The banana that no one wants to eat because it has spots or the apple that has a bruise always look nice and appealing when they are all sliced up and arranged on a plate. If I thought a meal might not be enough I quickly got a pan of biscuits in the oven to round out the meal. Our teenage boys could really pack those away! We rarely snacked and still do not. Cooking full meals keeps us going until the next one.

    I think the store being full of so many precooked and prepped foods has convinced many that simple foods are difficult to make. Paying $5 for tray of mashed potatoes that don't even taste good is crazy when delicious fresh ones can be made in 25 minutes or so. When I peel potatoes I always peel and cook extra to round out another meal. It's so nice to have a container of cooked potatoes in the fridge to quickly brown in a skillet to begin any meal.

    If supper time is approaching and I have not planned well that day I get some potatoes prepped and in the oven. Then I look around and see what I can add to that. Even a potato stuffed with bits and ends from the fridge and a salad is a nice meal.

    Sweet potatoes will be so inexpensive in all the ads next week. I will buy a lot and bake all of them. I let them cool and then package them whole and freeze. They just delicious thawed and reheated with a pat of butter.

    I save every bit of stale homemade bread. Slices are frozen for French toast, cubes for stuffing or casseroles and the ends for croutons for our salads. When I make a loaf of bread I cut it in half as soon as it is cool and put half in the freezer. This keeps our bread fresher.

    I hope I have helped someone with these ideas.

    1. Thank you. You did indeed help & got me thinking in other directions also.

  7. I have finally taught Husband the value of not letting the water run while waiting for it to get hot. We have a bucket in the shower that catches the water which is saved and used for watering plants or adding to the clothes washer. A pitcher near the sink does the same thing and that water is used to fill the dog bowls or for cooking. It's clean water, right? That water is metered whether it's used or just going down the drain. The water bill has went down about $5 a month for only a small amount of work. Five dollars isn't much right? That's $60 a year. I don't know anyone who wouldn't pick up three $20 bills off the ground. We've been doing this for about five years now--that's $300 dollars

  8. I have chickens who occasionally lay eggs. It is winter in the US and the hens are molting which means fewer eggs. My neighbor is a talented woman and she cuts my hair. She only knows one haircut but it looks good. I trade two dozen eggs for a haircut and give her eggs the rest of the time. The woman can bake, wow, she can bake. Those eggs come back as apple cake. Warm apple cake is the best. I give eggs to our pastor because he's the hardest working man I've ever seen and he loves the Lord. I don't have much to share but those hens (when they cooperate) bless others and that blesses me.

    1. I am so touched by your humbleness and spirit of giving.

  9. For me, living as a single person household, the best savings (and method of self-imposed rationing) has been purchasing and canning products in sizes that fit my household. I don't have a ton of freezer space, so I DO need to take that into account. I may purchase meats in bulk (family packs of meat, for example), but will individually package and freeze, so I'm only thawing what I need -- single chicken breast, 2 Italian or Polish sausages to a package, rather than the 5-6 that regularly come in a package, a family pack of ground beef in 1/2 lb. vacuum sealed packages. If I'm getting fresh meat or deli, I'll buy in increments -- 1/2 lb. bulk sausage, a single pork chop, 1/4 lb of deli ham, 10 slices of salami ... or for deli salads, it is OK to order 1 single scoop of this or 1/4 lb of that. It's a great way to get a small amount when you have that craving for something that you know you won't use a lot of. For canned goods, I'll purchase the product to fit the amount I'll use -- I may pay a few cents more per ounce, but if it's something that I won't use up before it goes bad, the larger bottle/can is not the best buy. For example, I had a taste for Polish sausage and saurkraut last week. A large jar (32 oz) of saurkraut runs $3.49 on sale; a 14 oz. can is $1.49. Yes, the 32 oz. is cheaper per oz., but I'll never go thru the 32 oz jar before it turns. So, for me, the $1.49 can is the better buy. The same goes for breads. One brand we have here, from Lewis Bakery, sells half-loaves and sometimes they have hamburger and hot dog buns of 4 to a pack, instead of 8. When compared to a regular loaf, the quantity is better for me for using it up before it gets moldy and the price is still less than the full loaf. With frozen vegetables, once the package is opened, the rest are parcelled out into single-portion vacuum seal bags for the freezer -- portion control AND the elimination of freezer burn. When canning, I preserve tomatoes and spaghetti sauce in pint jars, not quarts; juice is done in pints, not quarts; diced fruits and applesauce in 4 oz. jars for individual servings. If I need more, I can always open a second jar. I've also learned to cut my recipes to cook 2 servings, not the traditional 4- or 6-servings in most recipes -- one for my main meal and one for lunch the next day (or to be repurposed for lunch). With snacks such as trial mix or another snack mix, I'll parcel the mix into single-serve snack bags or snack-size containers to have throughout the week. This prevents that one bag from being consumed all at once (or once and then having it go stale). Hope this helps other single-person households.

  10. Dear Annabel and Bluebirds,
    Well, you gave a great listing of things but the best was the “fork in your eye” about charities! 🙀😂So true! I remember reading where one family picked a single charity each year and not be overwhelmed by all the envelopes filled with cards, etc. Nice as they are!!
    A friend has a mentally challenged sister who loves picture puzzles! I watch for them at thrift stores and she’s just as happy as if they were new!!
    I like to give books and it’s amazing what you can save buying used! I like Thriftbooks, who have an app. Shipping is like $1.49. I always look for great or like new for gifting. Remove their tag and who knows? Another thing some might wrinkle their about, but when I buy those inexpensive pillow covers with clever designs. Well, they usually take an 18” square pillow form! Try pricing THOSE! So, I just look for used pillows at thrift stores. I carry a small tape measure. If they look and smell ok. I just stuff them in as is! No one ever suspects and no cutting and fitting or tearing apart!! Easy peasy!
    Another savings, here at least, is bonuses for getting shots at grocery’s pharmacy. I get $10./shot (flu, pneumonia, etc) or sometimes a free smaller turkey! I got two one year!!
    And something you’d know about is substituting. I had wanted powdered milk for a nougat recipe but $10. for small box! Yikes. Then I read using powdered coffee creamer instead! Giant jars are cheap! Works a treat!!
    And while in the grocery, I always check the marked down rack! So many items that are only marked down for inventory reasons not spoilage! Since when did bar soap, etc go bad? Crazy! Also in discount stores - a whole aisle!!!
    In the garden, I planted leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, nasturtium seeds, and small yellow potatoes in pots this time! Then I cut up a big stem on one of my orchids. Got 15 potential seedlings (fingers crossed!) Oh, did I mention 3 pineapple tops and 2 papaya seedlings? Inside, I made PB cookies with lots of crushed peanuts inside and on top plus a 2 year old box of Hines walnut brownie mix. Came out a dream!! Everybody ate some at my daughter’s plus 2 more containers I sent to my other daughter’s work. Had the brownie mix and extra walnuts so my cost was $1 for cookie mix and a cheap canister of peanuts with lots left!!
    Well, have a wonderful week one and all and “thanks!” Annabel as always for a great read!

    PS Donna home from hospital with only a kidney infection and not stones! Plus leg swelling way down! So your prayers and thoughts are much appreciated!
    With Love to all,
    Rick from Florida and
    Donna from N Indiana

    1. Better World Books is another one, usually free shipping if you by 3 books (sometimes 5 books). And you can often select from new, like new, and used but in good condition, making their books suitable for gifting. Used books (esp hard cover) are almost always library discards. If you sign up for text messages, they let you know in advance of sales and/or deals for free shipping. Proceeds support literacy programs.

  11. I have a friend who was one of eleven children. She said her mother served bread at every meal (garlic bread, muffins, corn muffins, rolls, etc.) and also a dessert at every dinner (often a sheet cake or pudding.). Jars of homemade pickles and jams were also on the table, and a starch like rice, potatoes or pasta, as well as two vegetable side dishes, or a vegetable and fruit. All of these were ways of filling up hungry children while keeping the servings of the main protein smaller. Starting every meal with a soup course is another way of filling up, nutritionally. It seems fancy or elaborate to have all these 'courses' but can be a big money saver.

    1. Dear Cindi, This is what my Nana did too. Cook books back them all had first course/soup recipes, mains and deserts. This did slow people down and fill them up! I think soup as as starter is really very smart! With love,

    2. Debby in Kansas USA16 November 2023 at 06:26

      Cindi, I think that was common everywhere because it was so smart! IMO, if men have a choice, they will always go for more meat. My Grandma always put out a basket with warmed tortillas, a small bowl of pinto beans, some butter, and whipped honey. If you wanted savory, you went for the beans. For sweet, it was the butter and honey. Much less expensive than meat and oh so tasty! Additionally, she always left the basket of tortillas available for a snack grab. No constant opening of the fridge.

  12. I've taken to wrapping gifts for family in cloth bags that I make, tied with leftover fabric strips made into rope braids. The fabric for the bags is from craft store bargain bins, estate sales, and yard sales.
    Another thing I do is water products down just a bit. My daughter grew up not knowing what full strength grape juice tastes like; I would add an extra can of water to the frozen concentrate, and then she could have two glasses of if she wanted. The hand soap dispensers also get some extra water.

  13. Hello Annabel and Bluebirds,
    Thank you for all the wonderful ideas. I'd like to share my method of making use of some of even the smallest portions of leftovers. I have a plastic lidded container that lives in the door of my refrigerator freezer compartment. When there is only a spoonful of so of vegetables left after a meal those are emptied into this container. The same is true for any meat juices and small bits of roasted meat. The container may be a mixture of green peas, corn, roast beef , pork, chicken, carrots, potatoes..?just a real hodge podge. When it is filled it is added to the soup pot with csnned tomatoes, broth if necessary

  14. All great suggestions!! I’m always surprised at how many of the under 45’s know these, to me, logical, solutions.
    I am interested in how you make your vanilla extract if you’re happy to share?

    1. Thank you! I usually make it in a large jar (with a lid) with a dozen or so vanilla beans. Before you put the beans in you run a knife down along the middle to expose the inside of the bean. Stand your beans in your jar and pour over vodka... enough to completely cover the beans. The rest is time. Put the jar somewhere you will see it so you give it a shake every day or at least a few times a week. The vodka will go from clear to a rich very dark brown... over the months. I think you want 9 months or so at least. Then you are ready to pour it into little bottles and label it. It is so good. Your remaining soaked beans can still be used again in such things as baked egg custard. You can also place them into a smaller bottle and cover with a smaller amount of vodka and get a second batch. I hope this helps!xxx

  15. This is such a great post. Did you know that when you eat out your plates are smaller. My dinner service is a good 25% smaller. So simple changing your plates to a smaller ones. Just don’t let on.
    The thing my Nan did was to make a pie with left over meat and she would add veggies from Sunday lunch. This would feed her family for 2 more evening meals. I don’t think anyone went hungry, Nan would always feed anyone that was they at meal time. One of her best tip was to out up meat put it into a Yorkshire pudding. As a child I loved this, she make a cake over the weekend and grandad would have a slice every day in his pack up. I don’t think she every had shop brought cake at home.
    My mum is 85 and she still cooks for herself every day and they is always a cake in the tin. Denise

    1. Dear Denise, The plate tip is brilliant! Smaller plates and smaller bowls. Your Nan did things similar to mine... very similar! And the cakes! There was always a cake. So lovely! Good for your Mum too she sounds wonderful! With love

  16. I, too, laughed heartily at ungrateful gift recipients feel like a fork in the eye. We found that year after year we were dropping off Christmas presents for grandkids or having them mailed from the company. This was because we were NEVER invited over for any holiday dinners or even coffee and some cookies at any time in December. It hurt, so we stopped sending gifts.

    All of the grandchildren come from families with comfortable incomes, have very good lives and certainly didn't, and don't, miss our offerings. Apparently, we aren't much wanted in their lives so we stay away. An unintended consequence is a greatly reduced Christmas expense.

    1. That is very sad to be excluded like that. Anne I hope you can find joy in Christmas by gifting to or helping someone needy or lonely. There are people who would appreciate you very

  17. Dear Annabel,
    This topic just sings to me. So many great suggestions. I make butter go further for table use is beating 1/2 cup of butter with 1/2 cup of olive oil, or avocado oil, or yogurt. This recipe is only for table use and not bakiing. You can also do it with 1/2 cup water until the water is incorporated and the calories will be half. For baked items that only need one or two eggs, I sub flaxseed eggs thus saving eggs to be used as a meal. Flaxseed eggs are 1 TBSP of ground flaxseed to 3 TBSP hot water. Mix and let sit until cool and use as you would use an egg to the recipe. If you make your own mayonnaise, which I often do, the egg can be replaced with the flaxseed egg. I also make my own seasonings, such as seasoned salt, poultry seasoning, Italian seasoning, etc. Leftover homemade stir fry becomes the basis for Summer rolls, or egg rolls served along with soup for a wonderful meal. Instead of buying sour cream I puree cottage cheese, which I always have on hand, and use that as a topping instead. I saw a recipe recently for airfryed pasta instead of chips. Next time I make something like bowties or other shaped pasta I will make extra. It gets drained, drizzled with oil, salted and then put in the airfryer to crisp up. I think it would also be interesting using cut up wide noodles. I also make vanilla and other flavorings using citrus peels. Apple cores and peels get saved and boiled to make apple juice without a juicer or that juice can be turned into jelly. Cookie

    1. Thank you Cookie! I am going to try the butter and olive oil! I ordered the book you was expensive to get here so I got it on Kindle. Now I am set to start studying it! Thank you! Love all your

  18. Dear Annabel, The fork comment gave me a giggle. Just this week I said No to my soon to be SIL hen's weekend. A two day party in our capital city staying in a flash motel. (You read right TWO days). I must say my SIL was gracious about it and must have expected my answer which helped. I am happy that my husband's family have decided to do Kris Kringle for the children as we have 9 now. This was also appreciated by me as I was wondering how to say I wasn't giving gifts this year and my daughter is excited to pick out something special for one cousin. As a bonus I already had something very appropriate for this little person in my gift cupboard so my daughter can add something small to this. Family/social expectations have been one of the hardest things for us to deal with over the years. We are the only one income family on my husband's side and it has been a difficult balancing act at times, particularly for my social fun loving husband. Thankyou for this post, I need to put more effort into your rationing/stretching idea. I am out of the habit of making laundry stretcher (making one bottle of laundry liquid into 16 bottles). Now is the time for me to do that again. Right now am off to dehydrate my chive flowers - there are so many this year. Love Clare

    1. Dear Clare, I cant even imagine what two days, meals and activities in the city would cost! I am glad your sister in law to be was nice about it. A hens party to me is something like an afternoon tea (at home) with lots of fun and baby gifts!
      The Kris Kringle sounds great. How lovely to have so many chive flowers! EEk it is almost Friday again! With love Annabel.xxxx

  19. Dear Annabel,

    I just loved this post. You are bang on, as usual, and I killed myself laughing at the "fork in the eye" comment. I don't know if I have anything new to add here for stretching or quiet rationing, but I agree with and/or do lots of these same things. There are some great ideas in the comments, too. My mother always halved the amounts of expensive ingredients (nuts, chocolate chips) in cookies...we still had them in, but not in such copious quantities. And every once in awhile, a big pot of beans with sliced bread was on the menu...nice and filling and super cheap! (Although I have to add as an aside...has anyone else noticed how even cheap foods have gone thru the roof? Dried beans here have just shot up astronomically over the last few weeks! So much for cheap protein!) More water in the soup pot!!! And bring on the filling carbs! Also, yes, I agree with the smaller servings...we get used to it!

    Looking forward to future posts on increasing levels of rationing! But I loved this post's suggestions for Christmas.

    xx Jen in NS

  20. Dear Annabel,

    Thank you so much for everything you share. I learn a lot from you all and also get motivated at the same time.

    This is nothing do to with stretching but guess I need to share it with you in case there are some people out there not aware of their exact peak hours. Sometime back when I checked with our electricity provider for peak hours, it was from 7am-7pm weekdays (or so), and until very recent I had the notion this was forever. I happily ran my d/w & w/m etc. at 7pm. You get the picture. On a recent bill, my peak hour usage was almost the same as off-peak hour usage. When checked, peak hours appear to be be the same on their website. I was so worried as I had been very careful with timing on my electricity consumption. So I asked them about peak hours and long story in short, they said it changes from area to area. Mine is between 3-9 pm as the most demand for electricity is between these times. I was flabbergasted. I had been happily & purposefully consuming electricity mostly during peak hours. Got the shock of my life and decided to check with them every few months in case they change it again. Unless you know your peak hours for sure, please be careful and check with your provider. Hope this would be of help at least to one person.

    As this is a late comment, your followers might miss this. If you think this information is of some use to others, please ask them to be sure of their peak hours when you write about energy saving again.

    1. Thanks Millie this is a really good tip! xxx

  21. Fantastic ideas, Annabel. I’m trying to scale back presents for teachers this year. One year the class did a collection and the teacher received a gift of over $700 in vouchers… I know personally that teachers work hard, but this seems over the top. I’m planning to give smaller gifts, but more of them. Crocheted edged Christmas kitchen towels, pickles, soaps, chutney and biscuits are featuring. I am also cutting back on snacks and for the hungry little one is getting 1.5-2 sandwiches for lunch, instead of more snacks. Lower meat meals are in the menu too. Left overs aren’t left overs, but more food. They are dinners/ lunches for us, then can be given to family and then our dog. I have a container that sits on the bench for our peelings etc and it gets buried in the soil or compost heap. Some fresh veggies are used as veggie stock.Lots of love, Lily

    1. Dear Lily, I think the best thing a teacher can get is a letter of appreciation and hearing how they made a difference to your child. And yes something homemade is beautiful. One snack I used to make is a stack of pikelets (mini pancakes with butter) they are really good and inexpensive and a good after school snack too. Well done on using all the left overs and your hand made items! With love

  22. I do so appreciate and enjoy these Nana posts and comments. I started rationing during covid when I saw everyone buying up toilet paper. I knew food would be more important. I started dishing up everyone's plates at meal time instead of putting all of the food I had cooked on the table. If someone wanted a second helping, they could have it, but not having it on the table within reach helped avoid that temptation. I have stopped doing that, but I'll do it again if need be. (Like you said, I'm not willing to skimp on child nutrition or anything like that. Just a way to stretch what we have to make sure we keep everyone fed in a time of scarcity.)
    Another thing I do is wear my clothes more than once if they are not dirty before throwing them into the laundry pile. In the winter, I don't really sweat, and because I dress in layers, the outer layers never even touch my body. They get hung back in the closet or draped over the footboard to be worn again the next day. The same goes for church clothes that only get worn for a few hours of non-activity. This makes my clothes last longer and stretches the laundry detergent.

  23. Some habits from my deeply frugal years are still with me. I always opt to add in vegetables to stretch meat if I can. For instance, making spaghetti with meat sauce, I'll toss in shredded zucchini, tiny bits of broccoli stem, grated carrots, green bell peppers, onions. I've even been known to slice and layer eggplant and zucchini in lasagna to make it all go further. I add the same veg to meatloaf.

    I have always served from the stove mostly due to lack of space, but it also allows me to control portions and to note what is left. If there appears to be enough meat for another meal, I might well come to the table with my own plate (which I serve last) and say, "I'm saving the meat for another meal but there are plenty of potatoes (peas, rice, etc.) to let the family know what they might eat. If a meal looks skimpy, I'll open a can of fruit and slice bread and set that out to expand upon the meal.

    I went on a mission a couple of years ago to eliminate as much food waste as possible and I have done so well that I've astonished myself. I've always saved chicken frames to make soups/broth and picked over the bones for any excess meat that I might find. I save end pieces of bread to make crumbs, croutons, and strata or puddings. I have a whole list of low meat casseroles that I can choose from when I want to use a smaller portion of meat to feed the family. I save the scrapings from carrots, end pieces of onions and celery in the freezer and that is how I season my broths when I'm cooking them.

    I note food trends and then I look at the recipes and ask, "Is that really necessary? Is there a substitute that might work better?" For instance, everyone wants heavy cream these days (I believe double cream for some of you). There are subs for heavy cream that might be used, such as whole milk and butter, both of which I usually have on hand. I happen to have an allergy to a thickener used in heavy cream, so I never buy it! Cream cheese adds something to some dishes but in many others, it's just being used as a substitute for heavy cream. I love cooking and read through recipes but if you want me to use 2 pounds of cheese in a dish that serves six, forget it. I'm not making that recipe!

    I've been cutting tubes and lotion bottles open for years and digging out lipstick and such from not quite empty tubes. I have been adding water to my shampoo and conditioner and hand soap bottles (kept purely for the children...adults use bar soap).

    For all of my frugal ways even now, I know that there are many more rationing means I could be using but don't. However, I try to periodically touch base with my habits and see if I'm measuring things correctly or eyeballing ingredients incorrectly, making notes of possible savings I might make in various ways, just to keep me in touch with what is possible rather than feeling it is all impossible.

  24. One way to stop kids using so much handsoap I saw , was to put a elastic band under the pump squirter ! It means they can't push the pump down the whole way ! My mum always kept leftovers in the fridge for another meal ! She would often mash it up on Sunday for what we called "bubble and squeak" mashed potatoes made into shapes in a pan or put on toast ! Now I'm in my 40s no kids, I see how wasteful people are with food ! Sonia in Australia


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