Thursday, July 31, 2008

Only 2 Packs of Aussie Rice Left

That’s it. These are the only two packs of Australian grown ‘Koala Brand Long Grain Jasmine Rice’ that I have left. No more after this. In fact, I have been trying to save these two packs for a special event and have been eating Thai grown Jasmine rice from ALDI for a little while now. I find Aussie grown rice denser and starchier, while the Thai grown rice seems lighter in texture. That’s just my personal opinion. I heard that Aussie rice farmers were hit hard because of the drought. I hope one day they will return to growing rice when there is more access to water. ‘Koala Brand’ is still my favourite rice, but I have temporarily stopped buying because they now source their rice from Thailand. I think they did that in 2006 as well but after a while the Aussie grown rice made a comeback. So meanwhile, I will be on a lookout to see if my favourite Aussie grown rice makes a sudden return to Safeway or even Coles one more time.

Monday, July 28, 2008

How and Where We Shop for Groceries

We used to take a list with us when we went grocery shopping. Then we got slack and bought whatever we fancied at the time. We ended up choosing less healthy options and wasting money unnecessarily. I think the only positive in the way we have been eating in recent years is the greater inclusion of vegetables. I do really mean a whole lot more. This was the result of having a darling little Guinea Pig. Since we bought top quality vegetables for him, we also ended up eating more of the good stuff ourselves. This good habit stuck even though he has gone on to heaven.

I began to notice the price of things going up steeply from around this time last year. By Christmas, I was complaining to my parents about the price of eggs. When things just continued to go up and up, we chose to go back to shopping with a list again. This time, I planned two fortnightly menus of the meals we have, and then made 4 weekly shopping lists for everything required according to the menus. The idea was to buy only items listed on the very list that we are shopping from on the day. When planning for the meals, I made sure that some of the meals in the second fortnight were different from the first fortnight to give M variety. I think that unlike me, he doesn’t like eating the same thing over and over. I have a feeling that he is not going to agree with what I have just revealed about him when he reads this. LOL.

We shopped mostly at Safeway in the city in recent years. Then when Safeway opened up in South Melbourne at the end of last year, we began shopping there, alternating between the two. M likes the wide aisles of South Melbourne’s Safeway and the close proximity to South Melbourne market. There is an ALDI in the city (behind where the old ANSETT building used to be on Franklin St) and we used to pop in there only once in a blue moon. Our home is also close to 3 IGAs but we tend to go to the one closest to us mainly because they are friendlier. We used to only go there for when we run out of things like milk, bread or when we crave for junk food.

I recently had to replan the menus and shopping lists because we needed heartier meals in Winter. We no longer shop mostly at Safeway since this change over. To drive every dollar further, we now shop at ALDI first. Whatever we can’t find at ALDI, or if something is cheaper at Safeway, we then get the rest of the groceries at Safeway in the city. As for Asian foods, we continue to shop at the two grocery shops in Chinatown or Laguna inside the QV shopping centre.

I find that the pre-packed chicken thigh cutlets have chunkier pieces per pack at Safeway in the city. The chunkier the pieces, the more it adds to the weight and the pricier the product becomes. We don’t need chunkier pieces. So when I pop down to the Spotlight store in South Melbourne monthly to check out their specials, I duck into the Safeway store to buy the pre-packed chicken thigh cutlets from them because the smaller pieces per pack makes them a little cheaper than in the city. I usually buy enough for what I need for the 4 weeks.

We do not use the car when we go grocery shopping. We used to walk to our destination and then take the tram home. Nowadays, we walk there and back. The bulk of the groceries are usually wheeled home using our Shopper Trolley while the rest are carried home in a green bag and the backpack. I used to think that we were going a bit eccentric by doing this but then I began to see more people doing the same. Some of these people are actually people/neighbours from the same building as us. Not only do we save money by not using public transport, I like the freedom to not have to lug our shopping into peak hour trams. You should see the way some commuters stare at people with bulkier luggage. I can’t stand that. Now they have more room to chat and look cool without people like us getting in their way and we get to bring our groceries home less stressfully.

Because of the way we do our shopping, I have been wondering about ways to lighten our load. We talked about getting another backpack for shopping purposes or another Shopper Trolley. The latter option is cheaper. Then I rediscovered our good old local IGA (the one closest to us). I was craving for Smarties and went there to get some. After paying for my naughty snack, I grabbed a copy of their latest weekly catalogue. Margarine was on sale that week for only $0.99! I went back to get two. In last week’s catalogue, the large (not XL) SPC Baked Beans and Spaghetti were only $0.99 per can! We need a few cans of those every 4 weeks. So M was sent to get some. By buying them from there, we not only saved some money but now that we have a supply of them sitting in the pantry, we won’t need to buy them when we shop in the city. Bringing them home from across the road is a lot lighter than wheeling them home all the way from the city. OK, I know that a few tins of canned food do not weigh much but when there are other groceries as well, not having them can lighten the overall weight quite a bit. The distance we wheel/carry our groceries is a lot longer than unloading them from the boot of the car in the driveway to the panty of a house. From now on, we have decided to give IGA first priority. We plan to check out their discounted items every Monday and buy whatever we need according to our list if their price matches our expectations.

We are happy with our shopping arrangements for now. It may seem complicated but it is working for us. Physical work in Winter is easy but the whole experience might turn nasty come Summer time. LOL. I don’t really like doing chores on hot days. What I am looking forward to next year is the opening of the first Costco in Victoria/Australia. I heard that it will be in Docklands. Woo Hoo! With fingers crossed, I hope that Costco will open on time. If this blog is still around then, I will definitely blog about it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Watched ‘The Dark Knight’

M didn’t have to go to work until later in the afternoon on Tuesday, so we went to watch ‘Dark Knight’ before he left for work. Batman is one of M’s favourite DC Super Heroes. When we first talk about watching this movie about a month ago, frugal me didn’t really want to go at first. I had wanted to go to another exhibition and opted to not watch the movie by waiting for him at a bookshop nearby. Luckily we were able to make it to the 10:20am session at Melbourne Central’s Hoyts. Being Tuesday, the ticket per adult was just $10. In the end, we both got to watch it together and the cheaper tickets made me feel less guilty. If there is another good movie coincidentally scheduled to be on a Tuesday when M gets a late start, we will definitely try to make it there in the morning. Not only did we save money, we actually felt that the air inside the cinema was fresher. LOL. The crowd that watched the movie with us were mostly students from universities nearby and senior citizens. Not only did we enjoy the movie, the overall experience was surprisingly pleasant as well.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Two Months On...

Yesterday marked two months since our little Guinea Pig's passing. We missed him every day. He may be small and Guinea Pigs may be insignificant to many people but this little one played a big role in my life. He was a great companion for the last five years. Pets, even small ones, can be a rewarding source of love.

I went to bed around 1:00 am on Monday morning. Missed him so terribly that I cried to sleep. Nothing Moosh could do to rid this heartache. Spent the whole of Monday keeping myself busy. It was hard not to think about the little fury one.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

‘Boring Housewife Look’

While looking for a gift at Big W, I overheard a lady describing how ugly the shopper trolleys look and was adamant to not ever be seen using one. She was referring to the exact model that we bought. That was the only type there. While she is entitled to her opinion, I am glad to learn that I am finally beginning to grow out of pleasing strangers. Instead of being constantly bothered by how people see me if I use a certain thing, I am increasingly thinking that it is quite OK at my age to value practicality a little higher than just the looks of things. This is definitely a pro in the ageing process. The shopper trolley makes it so much easier for me or M to wheel the groceries home. With so many of them being wheeled around on the streets, it is obvious that many people agree on their practicality as well.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Grass Roots Magazine Found

I mentioned reading a magazine called Grass Roots at the State Library on Mothers Day. I actually enjoyed it very much and have been looking to buy the latest issue. If anyone is looking for a copy of this magazine, I suggest you go look for it at McGills. That’s where I bought mine.

Since the magazine comes out once every two months, I have to ration my reading so that I don’t run out too soon. So far, I have enjoyed reading about living on an island, building a mudbrick home, keeping Boran cattle and collecting free stuff.

My favourite article so far is the one on island living. When I was little, my mum would occasionally tease that I am better off living on an island on my own. On many occasions when I visited my dad’s office, I would look out his window to survey the sea to see which island I would like to buy someday. I always picked the small one closest to the shore and my dad would pretend to discourage me because that island is apparently full of sea snakes.

At just $5.95 per issue, the magazine is not only fun to read but affordable as well. It offers city slickers like me glimpses of what a greener lifestyle and self sufficiency are about. Although I would like to, I can never see us setting up home in a country town or rural setting. Two centuries of peace may be ruined by the presence of someone like me. LOL. However, this magazine still has a lot to offer those of us who are cooped up in concrete pigeon holes. While my balcony is definitely not big enough to keep a miniature cow, it is potentially large enough for me to begin growing my own herbs and some vegetables. That could be our start to a little bit of Self Sufficiency.