Posted February 8th, 2006 by Penny Wise

I have been experimenting with all kinds of money savers lately! Having an abundance of tomatoes, I decided to use some of them to make semi-dried tomatoes, using Laura Diete's recipe from the Vault. What a result! They are so simple to make and absolutely divine - so much so that I had to hide them from myself to avoid polishing off the whole lot! While drying my tomatoes, I also used the opportunity to make some home made muesli that I had been meaning to try for some time. It is a recipe from Destitute Gourmet's 'Stunning Food from Small Change' and is called Judith's Muesli - it is aimed to try and encourage youngsters to eat a healthy breakfast but is just as good for adults! This recipe makes enough to fill one of those large cereal containers:

6 cups medium rolled oats
½ cup coconut
½ cup oil
1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp molasses (optional - I didn't have any!)
12 Weetbix, crushed
1 cup dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, apricot, banana chips, whatever you fancy!)

Preheat the oven to 180C. In a large bowl combine the rolled oats and coconut. Melt the oil, honey and molasses together and stir through the oat mixture until thoroughly combined. Toast in two or three batches in a roasting dish for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven, add the dried fruit and crushed Weetbix and mix through. Store in an airtight container.

Neither myself or the boys are big cereal eaters, but this one is really delicious and just seems to taste so much yummier being home made!

One experiment I tried in fear and trepidation really paid off and involved our tropical fish tank. Even though the tank was just a few months old, we had been having trouble with 'green water' since way back in October and there was no sign of it abating. I tried everything to try and fix the problem - reduced the lighting, rang countless pet shops and experts and had numerous 'magical' products couriered out to me but nothing did the trick. The tank was as clean as a whistle and everything was working as it should, but still the poor fishies were swimming around in pea soup. Last week in desperation I brought up the subject yet again with the local pet shop lady, who couldn't believe that the regular products hadn't done the trick. She suggested as a last resort that I try a pond conditioning tablet, which I was a little perturbed about, but as she said, there was nothing left to try! A single tablet was enough to treat my 200 litre tank and cost just $3.00. It was a chance I had to take as the fish couldn't remain happy and healthy as they were, so I dropped in the tablet and crossed my fingers that the little green square wouldn't kill them all off once and for all. 24 hours later I wasn't impressed. By 48 hours I could see the back of the tank - I could not believe it, I was able to see fish that I hadn't known whether they were alive or dead for FOUR months! I rang the lovely lady at the pet shop and gushed down the phone at her, she was delighted but I don't know who was more surprised, her or me! After all the expensive tropical products I had tried, one measly $3.00 pond tablet did the trick and the tank looks fantastic and crystal clear.

I have also been experimenting with health insurance following an interesting feature in one of the Simple Savings newsletters a couple of months back - based around the question 'is it worth it?' We used to have private health insurance several years ago, but when we hit hard times it was the first thing to go. With two children being born since and my recent costly bone scan experience I was seriously considering looking into insuring our family again. Not having anything like iSelect in NZ to glean information from, I perused the Consumer website (www.consumer.co.nz) which is akin to the Australian Choice website I should imagine. There I found heaps of interesting and helpful information which I was able to print off and read through with Noel. It even narrowed down all the various providers to give us what they considered the best options cover, premium and claim wise for our family's requirements. Of course I had great delight in informing Noel smugly that we could save even more on insurance premiums if he would give up smoking!

Scored a great unexpected saving this morning when I visited the Warehouse looking for a birthday present for my little niece. Having two hulking great boys I was struggling big time trying to find anything suitable for a two year old girl, but finally settled on a My Little Pony playset for $39.95. I was dead impressed when I reached the checkout and the computer scanner brought the price up at just $20 - a saving of 50% - and no I was not going to query the price! I couldn't wait to check my docket to confirm my saving. I was also really impressed that I had managed to survive a visit to the Warehouse and ONLY bought what was on my list, resulting in a very brief visit. The only thing I wasn't so impressed about was my main visit for having to go to the Warehouse in the first place, which was because I washed Ali's curtains in his new room yesterday (they were all musty where the room had never been occupied), only to pull them out of the washing machine and found they that the stuff used for the curtain backing was definitely not suitable for washing! They were completely ruined, so a trip to the Warehouse was necessary to buy new curtains. At least I managed to save about $40 by buying roller blinds instead of replacing with regular curtains!

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