Most Popular Hints

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Here are the ten highest voted hints from the Vault:

Cheap pasta sauce recipe

I make this vegetable pasta sauce for three reasons - it's cheap and healthy and it uses up leftover vegies (cooked and uncooked) so I save three times!

Whenever I serve up a dish of vegies for dinner (usually broccoli, carrots, beans and zucchini in my house) and it isn't all eaten, I put the leftovers in a ziplock bag and throw it in the freezer. Then, when my fresh vegies are starting to get to that 'oh dear' stage, I start cooking!

In a big pot, with a bit of olive oil, I fry onion and garlic and add all the 'oh dear' vegies - sometimes there is a fiddly bit of broccoli that is too small to use in a meal or carrots that are starting to wilt. Other vegies I have added include celery, cauliflower, broad beans, spinach, cabbage and capsicum. I chop and cook all of this - in summer I add fresh tomatoes, in winter I throw in a couple of cans of Home Brand tinned tomatoes. To this I add the frozen leftover vegies, a squeezie stock concentrate or stock cube and some water.

I cook the whole lot until everything is soft, and then I blitz it in a food processor or with a Bamix until it looks like pasta sauce. I then freeze this in meal-size portions and use it for everything - I add it to mince for bolognese, or just use it neat. My kids don't know it's full of vegies - they just think it's another jar of commercial pasta sauce!

by: Clare Mckenzie 19 responses in the members' forum

Cheesy Ham and Corn Muffins

I make these Cheesy Ham and Corn muffins, which are delicious and at only $0.44 each to make, give me and my family something tasty, cheap and healthy in our lunchboxes. They are yummy cold, or heated up in the microwave.

Makes 12

1 x 310g can of corn (reserve can for measuring)
½ cup reduced fat milk (1/2 ‘can’)
2 eggs
2 cups of self raising flour - I use wholemeal (2 ‘cans’)
Pinch of salt
2 cups reduced fat grated Australian cheese (2 ‘cans’)
2 slices ham, cut into strips
2 teaspoons English mustard


Whisk together corn, milk and eggs in a large bowl until combined. Add remaining ingredients and stir until just combined.
Spoon mixture into non-stick ½ cup muffin tray.
Bake at 200c for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

by: Spud 43 responses in the members' forum

Make baby fruit gels at home

If your baby or toddler enjoys Heinz fruit gels, you can easily make your own at home. The benefit is that you know exactly what you are feeding them and it costs you a lot less! You will need:

2 cups of fruit juice (apple, blackcurrant or whatever you choose)
1/2 teaspoon Agar powder (you can buy this from health food shops; don't be put off by the cost as it will last a long time). You need to measure the ingredients exactly to get the right consistency, otherwise the gel will be either too firm or too runny.

Put the juice in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Then sprinkle the Agar over the top and let simmer for about 30 seconds. Pour into jars or containers and let set in the fridge. This should make around eight serves depending on the size of the containers. Unlike gelatin, Agar will stay firm if the gel is taken out of the fridge. You can also mix pureed fruit like apple, and it won't affect the recipe. For toddlers or older children you can mix two fruits and it is just like the jelly fruit cups you buy in the supermarket.

by: Mum 2 Three 30 responses in the members' forum

EasiYo yoghurt without the sachets

I make home-made yoghurt in my EasiYo maker for as little as $0.50c per kilo. You don't need to buy the special sachets, all you need is milk powder and a couple of tablespoons of plain yoghurt. I just use 1 and 1/3 cups of milk powder and two heaped tablespoons of yoghurt (saved from the last batch). Easy, cheap and delicious!

by: Kathleen Gaza 36 responses in the members' forum

'Bench-top notes' keep families on the same page

Here is a hint that has saved our family time, money and arguments, not to mention countless wasted scraps of paper. This year we purchased a large diary for family use, labelled it 'Bench-top Notes' and sat it on our bench. In this diary we write notes to each other that in the past, would have been on scrap pieces of paper that would often be missed or mislaid. Anything from appointment reminders, details of missed phone calls, housework or instructions for our teenage boys, or just simple but personal notes to each other such as 'Hi sweetie, have a great day, I love you, see you at 5.30!' and so on! It has tidied up our bench-top, kept us all organised and an added bonus is that we can look back on our entries for confirmation of bills being paid, appointments kept or cancelled with the reason why and smile at the little love notes to and from each other. This diary cost about $12 but it now contains the priceless and lifetime memories of our 'Bench-top Notes'.

by: Sonia White 11 responses in the members' forum

Inexpensive egg McMuffins

For a great-tasting, quick, healthy and inexpensive breakfast, make your own egg McMuffins.

Fry six eggs, using egg rings, (if you don't have any, check your local discount store), fry bacon if you wish, and toast your muffins. Once all ingredients are cooked, assemble egg McMuffins, including sliced cheese and bacon if you like.

Once assembled, wrap each muffin in alfoil and freeze. In the morning, simply take the muffin from the freezer and cook in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. For an even quicker breakfast, unwrap from alfoil and wrap in paper-towel. Place in microwave for at least one minute, depending on microwave.

My kids love these for breakfast, and they only cost around $0.60c each!

I buy Home Brand English Muffins which are around $1.60.

by: Jennelle Dupuy 54 responses in the members' forum

A super easy menu plan

I have read heaps about menu planning but found it all just so overwhelming. Choosing a menu for a whole month seemed like a lot of hard work but I have found a way to help even the most disorganised person.

Starting on the first day of a new month, and using a calendar or diary, write down what you have for dinner each night of the month. You will soon see what meals you eat on a regular basis. You can then transfer this information to the next month in your calendar or diary, and there is your monthly menu plan!

by: miss A 10 responses in the members' forum

Adopt an elderly neighbour and save

I recently noticed my elderly neighbour was unwell and no longer able to drive or leave the house; relying on taxi services to deliver food (often expensive pre-packaged items), or he would have home delivered takeaways. Being a fussy eater, he was reluctant to consider 'Meals on Wheels', so I volunteered to shop for him and cook him three different meals a week. Each week he gives me enough money to cover the costs of his meals (soups/stews/freezable casseroles) and I make up bulk amounts of each dish. I deliver half to him and keep half for myself, as suggested by him for payment. Not only is he saving money on taxis and home delivery, but he is eating healthy food and my family is also provided with three meals a week as a bonus for giving up a little of my time. Often cooking for one is not inviting, but cooking for others encourages healthier eating habits and helps regain social contact. Often a lonely person will gain a new lease on life to boot. A great savings all round, and using recipes from the Vault saves me even more!

by: Laree Thorsby 10 responses in the members' forum

'Grandma's Day' saves $30 a week on groceries

My husband and I have began saving up to $30 per week on our grocery bill since we invented 'Grandma's Day!' When we go to the supermarket we ask ourselves, 'would Grandma have been able to buy this item in her day 60+ years ago?' If the answer is no, then we decide we don't need to buy it either! This saves us money on a whole range of items such as fancy dips, designer coffees and biscuits. We used to pay over $3 for a pack of 10 biscuits, now I can make 12 biscuits for around $1. Using plain yoghurt as a base we are even making our own dips; there are so many websites with great dip ideas. Now we are saving valuable money and our waistlines too!

by: Kitty 8 responses in the members' forum