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My friends are amazed at how small our household operating costs are in comparison to theirs....and yet we are constantly complimented on the great meals we have.

This blog is about saving money, eating well and staying healthy in tough times. It's for the healthy-minded, budget conscious household.

Please contribute your ideas and join in the journey with us.

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Sorbolene Cream - Best Moisturizer in Oz!

Oct 21st, 2008 by | 0

I’ve been using sorbolene cream for 20 years. My first encounter with sorbolene cream was in 1985 as a result of suffering with eczema on my eyelids. Split, cracked eyelids are reasonably painful and since a dermatologist advised me to use sorbolene cream on my eyelids and as an all over body moisturizer…I did and what a relief it brought! So that was when I first learnt about sorbolene cream, started using it, and still do today.

Twenty years ago sorbolene cream was available in a 1kg tub for a couple of dollars. It was awful…totally thick and gluey. Fortunately my dermatologist told me to dilute it with water to a consistency that I was happy to use. That wasn’t at all hard to do because the cream absorbs water readily and I figure that is part of what makes it a good moisturizer. It was astonishing how good it still worked diluted and that first tub of full strength lasted me the good part of a year!

Eventually the news about sorbolene cream as a high quality, low cost and effective skin moisturizer spread. The more people found out about it the more it appeared in supermarket shelves. Over the course of time it became harder and harder to buy the 1kg tubs of full strength as that version was replaced with watered down, pump action versions…which, by the way, are more expensive.

If my dermatologist hadn’t clued me in, I too would have been buying the more expensive, water-down versions of the good stuff. Today I simply refuse to buy that grade of cream. To me, it’s like buying yoghurt that has been diluted with water or petrol mixed with ethanol. It’s just not on. So, I still hunt around for full strength and buy a few tubs whenever I find it.

Terry White pharmacies are one of the few places that still stock full strength sorbolene cream. They have a 500g tub for around $4.00 Using about 80g of full strength and 420ml water this will make up into 500ml pump-able, light, version which is good for face, legs, arms and so on. This is less than one quarter the price of purchasing the “No Frills” version of sorbolene cream. And much less than a named brand of the same product.

Try it for yourself. Its a great money saver. If in doubt read through the product labels and convince yourself that it isn’t worth spending your hard earned dollars on water in a bottle (unless of course, its the kind you can drink).


1. Don’t get sucked in by smart advertisers selling water in a pump action bottle

2. The softer and lighter the sorbolene cream is, the more water has been added and the less you should want to pay for it!

3. You can add water to your full strength sorbolene cream for free

4. A $4.00 500g tub of full strength sorbolene cream can last you up to six months!

Mouse Brain Salad

Oct 16th, 2008 by | 0

Our family have a slightly twisted sense of humour. When Steph was ten, like all children, she asked one evening, “what’s for dinner?” I was preparing a Waldorf Salad and looking down, it struck me how similar the walnut halves looked like a small brain. Knowing that Steph loves quirky observations, I told her we were having “Mouse Brain Salad”. She thought it was hysterically funny, and the name has stuck ever since. Here is our family recipe for “Mouse Brain Salad”.

  • 2 granny smith apples chopped into small cubes
  • 4 sticks of celery, washed and slighted thinly on an angle
  • small handful of fresh walnuts cut in half
  • low fat mayonnaise to mix (we use Praise)


  1. Make immediately before serving. It’s best that way.
  2. Make only what you need as it doesn’t store well.
  3. Buy the walnuts from a market. Avoid the packet kind which are often bitter because the oil in the walnuts has gone rancid.

My favourite place for buying walnuts is Sydney markets where there is a lovely “nut lady” we visit. The nuts are fabulous and once we tried these we couldn’t go back to the packaged kind in the supermarkets…and, they are cheaper at the markets.

(photography by: Alexander Wallnöfer)

Compare the Pear!

Oct 16th, 2008 by | 0

fresh pearI was amazed this morning when opening a can of “No Frills” pears. Usually these are good value at $1.90 for an 825g tin in my local supermarket. Not a bad price when the named brands and fresh pears are twice that amount in the same supermarket.

When I took off the top of the tin, I noticed that the pears were bobbing up and down in the juice. Now that’s not a good sign. I expected the pears to float, but bobbing freely about is another matter altogether. I was totally suspicious.

Separating the fruit from the juice and weighing each part, it was shocking to see there was 50% juice and 50% pears. Hmmmm. Now that makes the cost of the pears a lot more than what I had thought. The real price is: $1.90 x 2 = $3.80 (for less than a kilo).

Although pears are in season at the moment, the prices vary considerably where you shop. Supermarkets have them up to $3.99 a kilo, and at Sydney markets (my favourite produce shop in Sydney), they are currently around $1.49 a kilo. Looks like I’ll be buying fresh pears from Saturday markets for my breakfast cereal instead of tinned.

It certainly pays to compare the pear.

Key Points:

1. Notice what you are buying - don’t take the contents for granted

2. Compare with other ways of buying the same item - it might be cheaper

3. Shopping for convenience (from a tin) is sometimes twice as expensive

How to tell if your eggs are fresh

Oct 14th, 2008 by | 0

Determining whether an egg is fresh is quite simple.  Rather than spoil the meal you are preparing and before you waste expensive ingredients with a bad egg, try these simple tests.

1. Does the egg float?

Gently pop the egg into a large glass of water.  A fresh egg will sink to the bottom and stay there.  An egg going stale will float slightly and an bad egg you will see straight away because it definitely floats!  Why? Inside the egg is a sac at the wide end.  As the egg ages air from outside seeps through the sheel and gets trapped between the sac and the shell.  This is what causes an old egg to float in a glass of water.

2.  Count the “whites” in the egg?

One “white” is stale and two “whites” is fresh.  What do we mean.  Well,  crack an egg onto a plate without breaking the yolk.  A fresh egg will have too distinct “whites” ….the outside of the egg will be a thinner “white”, then there should be a thicker “white” sitting on top of the first “white” and then the yolk will sit high and proud.

If the egg is getting old, the two whites break down becoming more like one.  If you can’t see two distinct “whites” then, either your egg is old or you need more practice looking at eggs.  Therefore, step 1 is the safest test until you get used to this.

Does anyone else have any good ways to telling if your eggs are fresh.  Please share.



Shake, Rattle & Roll Those Eggs

Oct 13th, 2008 by | 0

Stephanie….If I could make a video on this and put it onto Youtube I would.  But, in the absence of that technology, today’s lesson is around buying eggs from the supermarket.  This applies to all types whether organic, free range or the basic no fills kind.

broken eggAlways check for cracked or broken eggs before you buy them. If you assume they are all OK at the supermarket, you’ll probably find one or two broken when you get home….especially when you need to use them.

Here’s three easy steps to ensure all your eggs will be usable when you get home. While you are still at the supermarket:

1. Turn the carton over and look for wet spots on the bottom. A sure sign of a broken egg or two.

2. Gently rattle the carton slightly to see if all the eggs move in their containers.  If one is cracked and the egg has leaked just a tiny bit it will be stuck to the bottom of the carton and it won’t wiggle in the carton.

3. Finally, gently touch each egg with your finger and see if is moves freely in the carton.

If in doubt, put the carton back and start over with a new carton until you are sure all your eggs are still whole.  This will save you buying a bad egg.

Tomorrow I will show you how to tell if the eggs in your refrigerator are still fresh.

Oh yes,  eggs are a good source of Vitamin B12 which is important vitamin in the regulation of moods (amongst other things, see: )

Weight Loss Breakfast Clubs

Oct 13th, 2008 by | 0

Some people have asked about a Breakfast Club in their area.  We have heard of a small but growing network that is having good success.  They started on the Central Coast of NSW and others are now picking up on the idea in other locations.  We don’t know of a directory of central list, but if you want to let us know where you live we can enquire if there is one in your area and pass on that information to you.    And, yes, reports have been very positive so far.

Relaunch! Phew it was a big effort.

Sep 12th, 2008 by | 0

Hi everyone,

Well, we are exhausted.  We’ve just relaunched our website.

Please take a look….and let us know what you think.  We have completed Stage 1.  Further work will appear, but this is a major milestone.   Would appreciate your feedback. Let us know.


Websites for Healthy Recipes

Jun 10th, 2008 by | 0
vegiesWhile preparing our family’s evening meal yesterday I felt a little jaded and lacking inspiration. To me, this is a warning because if I don’t do something about it I could fall into a lazy food preparation pattern….read: carbohydrates and loss of variety with fruit and vegetables. *Must have variety*

So, having taken a fresh look at some of the more exciting healthy food preparation sites on the web, it is worthwhile sharing some of my favourite websites with others. Here is a short list from me. (More will be added next week).

If you have other healthy recipe website that you love, please share them here with other readers.

Better Health Channel - Hundreds of nutritious, easy to prepare and tasty recipes.

Sydney Markets - Creative recipes using a broad range of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Food Wishes - Not a weight loss site, but a very interesting array of food preparation videos. Choose carefully if wanting to lose weight.

Mayo Clinic - The site is great, this section is fantastic. Find hundreds of healthy recipes, including low-fat recipes, low-sodium and health healthy recipes.

Meals Matter - Developed and supported by the Dairy Council of California this site has tonnes of recipes and meal planning tools.

Start Cooking - This site has been developed to help busy people learn how to cook.

Simply Recipes - A family project to record recipes which has taken on a life of its own. Worth a visit.

And, of course there are great recipes on Weight Loss Health

Get Your Kids Moving to Lose Weight

Jun 6th, 2008 by | 0

When I was a child my mother would say “turn off the TV and go out a play”. And, we did. However today, living in Sydney it hasn’t always been safe to send my daughter outside to play. Roads, strangers, two working parents and long commutes for all of us has meant there has been little time for activity for my daughter.

So how do we get our kids active to help them avoid weight gain and unwanted health complications from sitting at the computer forever? Quite frankly, it starts with us as parents making an effort to make activity an important part of the family routine.

If you are having difficulty in fitting “exercise” into your family’s routine….try with some of these ideas. More…

Publish Your Recipes!

Jun 6th, 2008 by | 0

Our readers love recipes…and we can’t get enough of them. If you have a favourite healthy recipe that you would like to share with others, simply register and post on this site. It’s free! Well balanced, healthy dishes will be selected for publishing and sharing with others.