Once of the most benificial things for us in maintaining a lower grocery budget has been learning how to make things our selves. This has also involved purchasing some of the right "contraptions" to use to make things. Some of the things we have bought (and a few we plan on buying) in order to make our grocery bill a little cheaper or to just cut out those "mid week" runs to the shop and late night trips to the service station:
Soda Stream Machine:
I highly reccomend it. We dont drink *alot* of soft drink but when your own the road there are alot more opportunities to relax and rest and alot more people willing to indulge in "happy hour" each afternoon with you. Having a few soda stream bottles in the caravan fridge filled with cold water means that at any given time we can use the soda stream to fizz them up. We can then use them to make cola to mix with alcoholic beveridges or to make a nice cold bottle of fanta or creaming soda to enjoy with a picnic lunch. We have saved alot of money by avoiding the odd late night trip to the service station on a Saturday night to get extra Coke.
A bread maker:
I tried making bread without one and I failed EVERYtime. My mum ended up buying us a breadmaker machine for christmas (a compact one). Its FANTASTIC. When you are on the road and can end up having to buy bread from service stations etc you can expect to pay in excess of $5 a loaf. Not anymore! I can set the bread maker the night before and it will have a warm, fresh loaf waiting for us at the crack of dawn which will do our breakfast and lunches once we arrive in the next town. A breadmaker (for those who fail at handmaking bread, like myself) is a definite investment!
Easy-yo Yoghurt Maker:
I havnt bought this yet as I heard alot of negative feedback on the price of the sachets. They ARE good for convenience but the savings arent really phenomenal, unless of course you consult the "Stay at Home Mum" webpage ( http://www.stayathomemum.net.au/ ) and use their "Home Made Yoghurt Recipe" with your yoghurt maker, then the savings are more than phenominal. Im buying one of these tomorrow and plan on making all of my own yoghurt from scratch now.
A slow cooker:
These are very common now and are fantastic. Especially if you arrive in a new town and have a big day of exploring planned, you can just pop the food in and when you get home that afternoon absolutely exhaused, dinner is ready! Wonderful invention! The list of dishes you can make in them is growing everyday so dont think you have to miss out on variety if you use one. They are uber economical too.
Icey pole moulds:
This is super simple, obviously when living in a caravan you have a teensy weensy refridgerator and an even smaller freezer. Keeping some of these on hand means that when you have some fruit thats on the blink you can juice it (or process it) and freeze it up, shove them wherever they will fit in the space that have appeared in your freezer midweek, YUM! Great for when your in the outback too and when your on the road travelling these are fantastic if your like me and stop at servos to fuel up, see the ice cream fridge while your paying and INSTANTLY crave a cold, sweet snack. Your combinations are only limited by your imagination, you can use yoghurt, frozen berries, fresh fruits, fruit juice, cordial, milk and milk flavourings, a genuine home made ice cream recipe etc.
Potao chip maker:
Today, during my grocery shop I discovered a "microwave potato chip maker". Potato chips are basically the last "prepackaged snack" we had left to elimenate for a "home cooked" version. Obviously when I seen this contraption I HAD to try it, so we purchased one. We brought it home, used the included slicer to chop up the potato slivers - popped them in the "thingy" (pictured above, lol) and popped them in the microwave. They came out fantastic. The only challenge now is finding some interesting - cheap - seasonings for them.
I will add more to this list down the track as there are many things that can help you to be able to have your favourite snacks, treats and meals along the road for a low cost and a high level of convenience.
Some of the other items I like to keep well stocked are:
- ALL baking ingredients
- bread mix (for the breadmaker)
- long life milk (I use long life milk for baking, I also use it in place of full cream fresh milk when we run out)
- lots of butter (for baking)
- eggs (you can make ANY type of meal from eggs, breakfast, lunch and dinner!)
- lemon cordial (particularly handy for when your stopped in a town with water you arent used to)
- a big, home brand, block of tasty cheese. (much cheaper to grate it yourself then buy grated)
- I keep pizza bases and the ingredients for pizza frozen, this way when we crave pizza instead of ringing dominoes we make it ourselves, this saves us about $50 a time as when we buy from dominoes we also purchase other junk food items we dont need)
- tinned items like baked beans, spaghetti and soups/stews (just incase you are stuck somewhere without adequate supplies)
- toiletries - these can become quiet expensive if you end up forced to buy them from mini marts in small towns or from service stations. It's always good to have at least one spare bottle of each if you have the room for it.
- water - I keep some homebrand bottled water for the same purpose as the lemon cordial. If you are somewhere and you REALLY dont like the water then you have the bottled water to drink. We havnt really come accross this problem yet but the bottled water has been useful for in the car (until we purchased drink bottles which we now keep in the fridge).
I will update this list as I think of more things to add to it.
What does "living the simple dream" mean to me?
I always hear people from our generation saying "Ahh, living the dream" when they are doing somthing our of the ordinary - for example: sipping cocktails in a spa of a fancy resort or perhaps they post "living the dream" as the caption beneath a photo of them moving into their new $500,000+ mansion-esque home they have just mortgaged their life away for. At first I was confused by how simple my ambitions were. All I wanted was to live in a caravan and be able to spend as much time enjoying the outdoors with my husband and son, without my husband having to be at work all the time. So for me, this became my simple dream. I find myself having those "Ahh living the dream" moments when I am sitting in a natural hot spring with my husband and son, drinking a beer, ten feet away from a crocodile infested river. Now mine, my husbands and my sons life is all about chasing our simple dream.