Skinflint Sunday: Use what you have.

The challenge I’ve set myself to pay off the house in 5 years is huge.  It’s a big ask to put more than 60% of our budget onto the mortgage when the kids are so big, hungry and busy. Yet I can’t tell you how much I’m loving it! I feel like my brain is alive again.

I’ve been haunting the Simple Savings website for menu ideas and organisational ideas as well. I can’t function properly when I’m surrounded by disarray and clutter and this has slowly crept up on me. I’ve started a price book from the ‘Tightwad’s Gazette’which has already saved me some money with my shopping, and I’m menu planning. It’s so much fun. My frugal nature is shouting, “Hey world! I’M BACK!”

Last weekend I was idly reading a thread on the forum at Simple Savings about pies or something, when someone posted a comment saying that when she was young her mother used to get bread rolls, pull out the insides, fill them with pie fillings and cook them in the oven till the bread rolls were lightly browned and the fillings were warm.

I gasped in admiration.

Every Tuesday night after school we take 3 laundry baskets and drive to a local bread shop, where we get all the bread, cakes and buns that have not been sold that day. We’ve been doing this for over 10 years and I can’t even begin to guess how much money this has saved us over that time. We keep what we want, we give a basket of bread to our next door neighbours who also have 4 kids, we give another basket of bread to David2’s friend Dan’s family (where we stay and have a good long chat) and I take the buns, scones and cakes to work the next day for the teachers.

Every week the boys select a big bag of bread rolls, we bring them home and then 2 days later I’m usually throwing most of them out. This annoys me because I hate wasting food, but often we can’t fit them into the freezer. So I thought that this idea was brilliant! I vowed to try it on Wednesday night and it would save having to use up a packet of puff pastry which I use in the pie maker.

It worked brilliantly. As luck would have it, Wednesday was a “meet the parents” night at work and as a year 7 teacher I was there till 6.30. I came home, made the meat pie filling, (so quick, easy and absolutely delicious) while David2 got the bread rolls ready, then we spooned the mixture into them, put them in the oven and waited for dinner to be ready.

They were just lovely. The bread rolls were crunchy and tasted really nice (though you really wouldn’t want to over cook them), the filling was gorgeous as always and three bread roll halves each filled the boys up. I was a bit worried that the bread rolls would get soggy or something as they cooked but that didn’t happen.

“These are nicer than the pie maker pies,” Evan4 said and I’m inclined to agree with him.

What I can’t believe is how many bread rolls I’ve turfed, when we could have been doing this with the slightly stale ones. I feel like such a fool because… let’s face it… it’s not exactly a rocket science-y idea, is it? Still, all great ideas seem so obvious once you hear them.

Here’s the recipe for the meat pie filling. It’s an absolute corker of a recipe: quick, easy and it tastes really good.


1 tbs cornflour

1/4 cup tomato sauce

2 tbs worcestershire sauce

1 tsp Vegemite

1/2 cup water

1 tsp olive oil

1 large brown onion, chopped finely

500g beef mince (I also use 500g of diced beef cut into small pieces… very nice this way.)

Combine cornflour, water, tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, Vegemite, salt and pepper in a jug and mix until the Vegemite has dissolved. (I use boiling water to try and help this along.)

Heta oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion for a few minutes until soft, add the mince and brown it. Stir in sauce mixture and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes,

Set aside to cool. (I don’t do this…. who has time for this when there’s 4 teenage boys who’ve smelt dinner cooking and are circling?)

Then place mixture into your hollowed out bread rolls/ pastry for a family pie/pastry cases in the pie maker and cook as usual.

(I also add chopped up spinach, because we’re still going through all of the spinach that I harvested last year from our winter veggie garden. It’s been fabulous to have all of these little bags of spinach in the freezer to add to all sorts of things.

Also a cup of frozen veggies (I like the Aldi peas carrots and corn) would add bulk, as would some red lentils, though you’d have to cook the mixture for longer and add a little more water to it to soften the lentils.)


The thing that gets me about this idea is that it makes the food I have stored in my freezer last that little bit longer. I have 2 packets of frozen puff pastry that can live to be eaten another day, if you know what I mean. It’s obviously not a big saving, but every little bit helps. I’ve long been a big fan of using up everything that we get for free. The bread shop is one example, as are the boxes of fruit and veg that Tony gives us, though of course that isn’t to be depended on…. we’re not getting a great deal at the moment because he’s cross with me about talking to him about Evan4’s braces. Still, the kids still manage to bring home the odd pineapple and packet of pasta, bless them.

Tonight we’ll be having Butter chicken from a new recipe I found on the Simple Savings website. I’ll be chopping up a whole chicken for this, then we’ll save the bones and a bit of the meat and use them to make stock for a corn chowder that I’ll be making on Tuesday night to eat with fresh bread. Using the chicken for two meals is another little way to make food go further.

Though I laugh when I see people advising how to use leftovers. What leftovers? By the time I dish up dinner, then quickly put some of it into the fridge in a container for lunch for me the next day, there’s usually very little left. If there is, it magically disappears by the time Ryan3 goes into the kitchen to put his plate in the dishwasher. He and Evan4 are growing like crazy to the point where hugging either of them is like hugging a skeleton. A tall, hungry skeleton.

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14 Responses to Skinflint Sunday: Use what you have.

  1. You might like this new website…

    I found it via mamamia.

  2. frog says:

    Leftovers are non-existent here, too. On those nights when the bloke misses a meal because of a rehearsal, I have to fight off the lad to save his father’s meal.

    Imagine how much that child will eat once he’s a teenager.

  3. persiflage says:

    How clever and admirable. I am afraid that I over-cater, and have a very fussy husband who says frequently he does not want any dinner, thus mucking up all my catering arrangements, and then later he goes and grazes extensively. Evidently teenage boys are much easier to feed than elderly blokes.

  4. Marita says:

    Brilliant idea. My girls might prefer bread roll pies to pastry ones.

    Also could use the left over bits of the bread roll that is pulled out to make breadcrumbs which can be used in so many wonderful ways.

  5. Fe says:

    I had a big *duh* moment when reading this post! I can’t believe that I had never thought of this before…. when tossing stale bread rolls on a Thursday or Friday.

    Will be gratefully putting these in front of my ravenous boys this week!

    ThankYou! xox

  6. Jayne says:

    Love this idea 🙂
    Leftovers…what are they? lol

  7. Mad Woman says:

    SO I googled the NZ version of that website and I have to say, I’m smitten! Thank you so much! And I’ll be trying those bread roll pies later this week. I think I might hit up the bread store here and see if they’d let me do something like that. I can think of a few families other than mine that would benefit and I’d happily do the pick up and divvy up. You rock!

  8. andi says:

    You are the tight arse of the century.
    Beautidully done.
    Andi x

  9. river says:

    Meat pie rolls huh? Certainly sounds better than mixing and rolling pastry. (can’t stand that premade frozen stuff).

  10. libby says:

    ooohhhh yum. got a hubby who is a big meat eater and is often looking for snacky things such as this. I often buy rolls and then they go off them, so this would be a good way to use them up!! thanks froggy

  11. Like MW I’ve checked out the NZ website – will be very useful.

    Great idea, FD, as is your mince recipe. Single me puts bones and ignoble bits left from chicken pieces I cook into a bag in the freezer until have enough to make chook stock. As freezer space is limited I also reduce the stock heaps once it has been strained.

    So impressed by your weekly afternoon bakery visits, so sensible and so yummy for all the recipients.

    I hope this coming week is kind to you,
    Michelle over the ditch

  12. Urspo says:

    You are going about this all wrong
    Rent out the children for light slavery and yard work. Money comes in; kids are away – a win-win situation for all.

  13. moonspun says:

    Those are all amazing ideas!

  14. Dave Freer says:

    Whatever you do don’t feed the stale bread to ducks (they’re very senitive to some of moulds). I use extra elderly bread as a casing in a caserole dish – bread-pudding style with egg and milk… and no sugar ;-). works really nicely and you can layer it in too (cheese and tomato-glut filling) Even fed our bottomless pit boys. My mum used to dry it and crumb it (and keep jars of it) for bread crumb coating – but my B doesn’t like breadcrumbs.

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