I welcome any correspondence to:

All correspondence that is not obvious spam will be answered, but please allow for a short delay sometimes due to family and blog and work related stuff.

you can always find me at Twitter:@120dollarsfood, please join in the chatter and our Facebook page is The $120 Food Challenge.

I love your feedback, recipe ideas and suggestions, questions, queries and concerns. There really is no such thing as a stupid question. If I don’t have the answer I’ll go away and do some research, I promise. Just don’t ask for a recipe using brussel sprouts or margerine anytime soon. We all have our limits.

171 thoughts on “Contact”

  1. Had to drop in and tell you how impressed I am with this site.
    I trawl food blogs for more hours than i spend in a kitchen, and this is one of the best I’ve seen.
    I do blog, just not about food {I’m more of a swearing, ranting and raving on the bikke tin type of person}
    Either that or dribbling about nothing!!
    I cook bucket loads and I’m damned good at it, I just don’t blog about it.
    I digress though!
    I’m always on the lookout for blogs to begging to be added to my bulging reader, and this one got there by express measures!
    Keep up the good work…please???
    p.s Brussel sprouts are my favourite vegetable of all time

    1. Anonymum, I will definitely be posting here until the end of February 2011, just to show that eating on a budget can be done throughout the year, despite the seasonal variations in foods. I have committed to this project and I won’t be going anywhere for the time being. After that, who knows?

    2. I quite like Brussels sprouts as well — cut the stalky bits off the bottom, use a sharp knife to score a cross in the bottom to let the steam out, and put them in the microwave for about 3.5 minutes with some butter, curry powder and water.

      yum =P

      But I don’t know what time of the year is seasonal for sprouts…

  2. Sandra,

    Gabby and I have just listened to you on Scott Levi’s show on the ABC. Really good!!!!

    Hope they get a link to your site posted on thier page.

    Keep up the good work.

    Mike & Gabby – Your passionfruit friends.

  3. hi Sandra I think what you are doing is admireable , I have a group on facebook,
    it is called buy australian keep it australian, and I was wondering if ti was possible to do a just australian product shop ,I would be very interested to see what the cost would be ,
    Well thats about it good luck with your endeavers
    all the best
    Sam Willcox

    1. Whever I can I buy Australian, particularly meat, seafood and vegetables. The main point of difference is in my groceries bill. Buying Australian would probably double my bill. Thanks for your suggestion, I will give it a go and report back


  4. Hi Sandra
    Could you let me know which state you are in.
    If you are in Brisbane there is an event later this year that you may like to attend. It is run in West End in Brisbane.


  5. Dear Sandra,

    im a 26 year old first time single mum of 1 flat out 15 month old daughter,
    i just saw the clip on today tonight and was very impress on how u shop so well.
    i was wondering if u could please give me a few pointer on how to shop like your self as i live in a small country town and we only have Woolworth and a local butcher 2 shop at witch is where i shop any way not haven a license and the nearest city is about 50 kms away our town is it . with nappies and wipes and personal items and cleaning products aside my shopping comes to about $150 to $200 a week i very really have any waist and if i do it goes to my do or my nabours cooks , and my daughter has alagys to eggs makes things a bit hard, im at school 3 days a week and my daughter is at child care on the same 3 days,
    i dont buy junk food or fizzy drinks i buy meat wen its on special and i buy alot of home brand itams un less they are more then name brands and i allwas look at how many kgs something is to its price to something elce of the same thing .
    i hope u can give me some advice .

  6. hi sandra,
    well done.i have also been using aldi as a saviour in times of budgeting.i was impressed when i saw you shop separately for your fruit and vegies as i find if you buy these from aldi the quality is poor.come on aldi pick up your game so we can save even more!keep up the good work sandra,spread the word that cooking can be tasty and simple full of nutrition.happy to swap you some fab recipes!

  7. I saw you on today tonight and think its great what you are doing, I love shopping at Aldi and since we became a one income family I think it has become our saviour. I have also realised how much money can be wasted on food that could be spent on other important things, good luck with the cook book

  8. Hi Sandra

    Congratulations! A great idea, well carried out with committment and passion. I have spent all night since seeing you on Today Tonight earlier this evening, reading with much interest.
    I recognised you immediately – from the days at Playgroup in Lidcombe, Lidcombe Public School, Lidcombe Churches Soccer and Pat Lynne Dance academy. Time has flown and evolved for us all it seems… (was Julie Starc)
    I will continue to read with interest and take on board lots of ideas and recipes!
    Congratulations again!

    1. Julie!!!

      Oh.My.Goodness!!! The people you meet! How lovely to see you here! Feel free to send an email to me (Check ‘Contacts’), I’m sure we have lots to catch up on.

      Much love to you and the kids


  9. Well done Sandra, truly a fantastic site and trust me i’ve spent hours trawling the net looking for… well… exactly what your site has offer!! As a first time mum, just getting my family started it’s so helpful to get real adivce, real recipies and just a general understanding as you’ve been there youself!!! Thank- you

  10. Hi Sandra

    Love your concept and website. I only wish I had this information when my children were young. I will be frequenting your website from here on in and will refer it to my daughter and anyone else who can benefit from it.
    Cheers and Well Done!!

  11. Congratulations I hope you are finding all our hard work being rewarded- you are doing a terrific job.
    I have seen you refer to breadmakers in some of the dough baesd recipes….have often considered buying one but did not want to add another appliance without considering how often it might be used and its cost effectiveness.

    Are there any recommendations on these on the site? I couldn’t spot it if there was.

    Any advice gratefully accepted- we have 2 hungry kids aged 10 and 12.
    Thanks again


    1. I don’t recommend any breadmaker in particular, mine is a Breville, about 12 years old and still going strong every second day. Check out Choice magazine or Simple Savings (on the blogroll) as there is often a great deal of discussion about this sort of thing.

      Also, other readers here may want to add their recommendations.


    2. Sandra – re bread making machines – there are fairly basic ones that have about nine programmes, for white, brown, rapid, jam, etc. I find the white rapid is good for most recipes. I costed it when I bought it the first one in 1997 – a 700g loaf cost 59c then. It takes me six minutes to measure the items into the machine, as easy as a cake mix. You get to tell by the sound whether to add an extra spoonful of water to get it to mix well. You must be really accurate in measuring, but its dead easy and I buy a 10 kg bag of flour, and add extra things like sultanas and grains for a change. Everyone loves it. Thoroughly recommend them. My first lasted for three years, the second is now 10 years old and going well. Cost about $90 nowadays, and I think you save at least $2.00 a loaf, pays for itself in weeks. Love the smell of newly cooked bread. Keep your bread things in a handy place together to speed it up. My machine lives on the bench, ready to go at all times.

  12. Hi Sandra

    Terrific website. We shop at Aldi and cook our own food. You are right. It saves so much money and is far better for your health.

    Have fun cooking for your family and sharing your ideas.

    With the current economic climate, we all need to economise. The added bonus is that our family will be healthier!

    Yvonne Bere-Streeter

    1. Yvonne,

      I have cut out a great deal of your comment, but only because the recipes you have included are fabulous and I would like to post them as individual posts if you don’t mind. In future, if you or other readers have recipe suggestions (which are always welcome and I do everything I can to post them up and credit you as author), please email them to me directly rather than posting them as a comment.

      Thank you so much for your ideas and encouragement, I love the generosity of cooks!

      1. Sandra

        You are welcome to publish them any way you like. I put them there for you to share with everyone. The bread recipes save us heaps of money. I usually have about four dozen different types of rolls in the freezer at a time. They are great for a quick lunch at home or out. My favourites are the pumpkin rolls with a touch of olive spread from Aldi. I usually make a batch of them every week. When you can make them so easily there is no point in ever wasting money on buying bread again. We are empty nesters so we could never eat a whole loaf of bread at once.

        We also like making double batches of the Aldi Banana Bread packet mix with fresh bananas in it. However, instead of making it into loaves we put it into 4 large muffin pans and cook 2 dozen at once in the oven (180 degrees C for 20 minutes). We then freeze them as they make a great deserts heated for 15 seconds in microwave with some home-made custard using banana custard powder from Aldi. The Aldi make-it-yourself custard powders in vanilla, banana and chocolate are delicious and you get heaps of batches out of a 99 cent packet. We substitute Splenda for sugar and use Aldi’s light milk. You can do the same with their carrot bread mix. It also makes a nice easy desert with some vanilla custard.


  13. I think what you’re doing is fantastic, I’ve only just started planning meals and budgetting seriously and it’s a full time job!. Having your site as a resource is great!!! As owners of a fruit shop we’re lucky to have a constant supply of fresh fruit and veg but times are VERY tough and we limit our purchasing not only at the supermarket but also what we take from our shop. I noticed that you buy your fruit and veg not from the Supermarket but from a Greengrocer and for that I say YAY!!! We’ve only had our shop a short time and before that I always bought from the supermarket… never again. People would be surprised just how much they could save at their local shop and how fresh and longlasting the food is! Keep up the good work and I’ll be back regularly to steal recipes and ideas. Thanks for the hard work!

    1. I buy wherever I get good quality food at cheap prices. Sometimes the supermarkets can put in surprisingly good specials, but I feel more confident getting F & V from a green grocer. The people there are friendly and very helpful. The number of times I ask them, “what’s this? How can it be cooked?’ and they give some great meal suggestions – it is priceless.

  14. I meant to ask… have you thought about doing a section on leftover recipes? Tonight I’m doing a giant lamb roast I got on sale and I get very bored eating the same thing (even two nights in a row!) but it’s got to be eaten and rather than just making lamb sandwiches for dinner I’m trying to come up with a recipe to use the lamb and veggies. At this point it’s probably going to be lamb and veggie pie. Or have you done that already and I’ve just missed it???

    1. Check out the lamb ragout with creamy soft polenta recipe. Make a basic sauce and add the meat and any extra (leftover) chopped up vegies at the end of the time (cook the sauce and a few vegies over an hour or so to develop some flavours). There are suggestions for leftovers throughout the blog, but not necessarily a section on leftovers. Sorry about that.

  15. Thank you Sandra for doing this. I’m a mum of three and I struggle each night to put a meal together – I am hopless in the kitchen and as a result food goes to waste. I went grocery shopping today with your tips in mind and spent considerable less than I would have. I bought what I could from Aldi and the rest from Woolies. The most helpful was to buy in season and what’s on special and plan meals around that. I bought 6kgs of potatos for $3.40 ! I love how your site goes back to basics and dosn’t assume we can all cook ! I will be using it a lot from now on ! THANK YOU !

  16. was wondering if you have any recipes for the slow cooker? Is a great way to use cheap meat & make it very tender.

    1. Judi,

      there are lots of recipes here that can be made in a slow cooker, I would suggest you look under ‘Meat’ or ‘Chicken’ and have a look at the recipes for casseroles and braises that have already been posted.

  17. Hi just a quick question as i have many food related allergy’s for example carrot how what vegetable wuold you use to subsitute for it thanks

    1. Root vegetables such as parsnips or sweet potatoes have a similar texture and cooking times, but really Lea, just use what suits you and your taste buds the best.

  18. Do you have any Gluten Free recipes for bread, cakes and biscuits. I would like to make your bread but wonder which flours I should use and what substitute I can use for a Gluten bread improver. I will be making your Tuna bake in a couple of days, we have already had our tuna for this week. I just make a white sauce with onion, then add the tuna with the liquid and also add creamed corn and chopped up parsley. I serve it on rice.


    1. Shannon, I have to tell you my knowledge of gluten-free cooking is very limited. That said, you raise an interesting question, one I am going to do some more research on to see if I can find something that is a useful substitute. Please understand that it could take a while.

      Meanwhile I strongly recommend you contact the Coeliac Society in your state. Not only will they have a supply of useful recipes, they may well have a list of local suppliers (perhaps even online suppliers) of items such as gluten-free flour, bread and cake mixes and gluten substitutes such as xanthan gum.

  19. Hello, wonderful to find your website! I have a new baby and am currently in the process of planning meals to save money and brainpower and time! Your ideas are golden! Thankyou for sharing, it’s so great.

    My husband today showed me a site called Flattr, have you heard of it? I hadn’t but it could be interesting for you. Hubby donates a wee amount to a couple of sites which he follows who provide interesting and informative info to the public, and he likes to show his gratitude by offering a small contribution. People can donate money to sites of artists, musicians, food writers, etc. I thought that might be very applicable to your site. (No I don’t work for Flattr! Just and idea, maybe a good one, maybe not!)

  20. Hi – Isnt it a pity that so many dont like Lambs Fry? It is such a cheap nutritional tender meat – less than $4 which is enough for 4 people. Personally I love it and it makes my favourite gravy – cooked the usual way with bacon and mashed potato/ sweet potato. Maybe it is like brussel sprouts – needs a different way to cook and serve.

    1. I love it bella, but many don’t. No wonder gastropubs around the country do such a good trade in lamb’s fry and bacon – it’s often the only time I can eat it without my kids’ ‘ewwwww, yuck’ remarks.

  21. Hi Sandra – Thanks for putting up a great blog. I live in WA where we dont have Aldi, only the big stores Coles, Woolies & IGA. This means that its a lot more expensive. And coming from Sudney it has been a rude shock!! πŸ˜› Do you have any readers that know of cheaper alternatives? I shop for my greens at farmers markets & I tend to buy as little processed food as possible.
    Thanks Sandra

  22. Hi Sandra, are you OK. Suddenly the recipes stopped! Every morning I check out the recipe for today and yesterday there was none and again today, Tuesday 24th. I hope you are OK and not suffering from the dreaded “lurgie” that everypone seems to have. Please keep up the good work. Maree

    1. Hi Maree, I’ve been battling the Lurgy, it’s true. I’m happy to tell you recipes will recommence tomorrow morning. Thanks for your good wishes.

  23. Hi Sandra,

    I love the website and have cooked many a recipe using your ideas! Trying to pay for a wedding so being able to cook some awesome meals at home takes the edge of not being able to afford eating out. I really hope you hang around after Feb 2011!

    Just wanted to put one suggestion out there – and aplogies of its already been covered – but I think one great money saving event happens every weekend and a lot of people tend to forget about it and that is the Fruit and Veg Market. I have been (in Perth) picking up Strawberries 2 punnets for $3, 1kg of Pink Ladies for 99c, bunch of Bananas 99 and thats just the tip of the iceberg. So I guess I just wanted to put that out there and not only do you get great cheap produce but you support the local farmers!

    Anyway thank for the recipes, the ideas and this website!!


    1. Many thanks Kristian. Farmer’s Markets are fantastic for local food at great prices and I really encourage people to get out there each weekend and check them out. Not everyone has access to them, but they are worth it to go if you can.

      I’m delighted this site is helping you save money, and I hope you stick around. As for this blog continuing after February next year, who knows? I’m sure it won’t be the last you see of The Challenge.

  24. Hi Sandra,
    My family and I recently went from 2 incomes to 1 due to bad health. We all of a sudden realised how badly we needed a budget to get things paid on time or have anything left in the bank at the end of the month.
    I recently set myself a goal to spend $99 a week or less on EVERYTHING. For a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids under 6yrs).
    I’m happy to report I’m managing to keep it under $140-160 per fortnight for ALL our shoppoing (inc nappies, wipes, cleaning products, toiletries, snacks, breakfast, lunches and meals etc). I try to keept it under $140/ft allowing $20 for fresh bread tops ups and ingredient replacements. We only eat out twice a month (simple places like Maccas, KFC etc) and this isnt included in the $140.
    I recently watched you on Today Tonight and you have inspired me to try and cook more fancy meals (instead of just the basics…sometimes with little ones just the basics are only eaten).
    I never thought I would hear myself saying it but it’s incredibly exciting trying to beat your docket every fortnight and budget.

    I would love to put you in touch with an incredible lady I recently met who lives not far from you (although I’m new to the area so I may be wrong!). She runs nonprofit programs to teach people healthy eating, lable reading, budgeting, meal packages, banking and meal planning. I recently attended some of her cooking classes.

    1. Amy, I feel your pain regarding the need for plain meals due to young eaters. All I can tell you is that it does get better as they get older and it never hurts to introduce good tasting food as often as you can. I said good tasting, not expensive!

      I love that you try to best me with your shopping dockets, I think that’s a delightful compliment. Feel free to refer your friend to me, my email address is on this page if she would like to contact me.

  25. Hi, I just recently celebrated my birthday. I now have leftover BBQ meat..Including sausages and bbq steak. I was wondering if u had any recipes that would help use up the meat??.. Thanks πŸ™‚

    1. Check out Sausage Quesadillas (you will need to adapt the recipe to add the meat at the end, rather than cooking it) in the Meat section. For steak, try Fajitas (also in Meat section), or cut the steak up into long slices and top a pizza base with some tomato passata, beef slices, some finely chopped tomato and finely diced red onion. Place under a medium-hot grill and re-heat the meat slowly for 15-20 minutes. Top with a spicy salsa or guacamole, some spinach leaves or rocket or some labneh (in the Basics section) and a squeeze of lemon juice. We did this last night and it was fantastic!

  26. Hi, do you have a section for slow cookers?? i may have missed it if you do πŸ™‚ I have only just discovered your website, but oh my it is FANTASTIC, im a cook by trade, but still love trying other peoples recipes and yours are making us drool as we read them πŸ˜‰
    thanks Amy xx

    1. Not a slow cooker section as such, although many recipes in the Meat or Chicken sections can be easily adapted. Many thanks for joining in, feel free to drop by whenever you can.

  27. I heard you on ABC Radio 702 with Deb Cameron and was so impressed that I immedately went to your site! And WOW again I am impressed! Clever, insighful, fanastic recipes – I am a fan. The world needs smart thinking women like you Sandra. Thanks! I am up for THE CHALLENGE πŸ™‚

  28. Congratulations Sandra. Just read about you in this month’s Masterchef (October).
    I have 4 children – two teenagers – and I am always looking for new ideas and how to rein in the grocery budget, your thought are pretty clever. I shall try out your strog recipe tomorrow. Good luck with your book,
    All the best,

  29. Hi Sandra, I’ve just returned from spending the last 5 years living and working overseas and I’m just learning to cook again after a hiatus from the kitchen. I stumbled across your site purely by accident and I am so happy I did! The tips about stocking your pantry etc are particularly handy as my fiance and I are currently setting up our new kitchen and the recipes I’ve flicked through so far are really easy to follow. What a fabulous blog! Thank you!

  30. Sandra,

    My son and nephew LOVE cooking but it seems like most of your kids cooking recipes are sweet. Any suggestions for some savoury recipes? Or do you know of any good places to find “healthy” kids cooking?

    Thanks so much for your website! I’m finding it an absolute minefield of inspiration!


    1. Try any of the frittata recipes, or the listing for vegetable rolls, sausage rolls, (under pies and tarts) or some bread rolls like cheesey scrolls or potato foccacia (breads and pastries). They can always make their own pizzas or calzones as well. All recipes are listed in the index, just type in a key word into the ‘search’ box, that should help.

  31. Hi, Im wanting the recipe on how to make White chocolate truffles?? Does anyone have it?? Its the ones that u roll in coconut and also contain Condensed Milk….



  32. Hi Sandra

    Love your site!!!! I would love to see a list of vegies and fruit available for each season to help me save money/time and choose the correct produce for each time of year. So I can print it off and pop it on the fridge. XOXO

    1. A seasonal list of the best fruit and vegetables is actually going to be part of the book Sarah. In the meantime, I suggest that each week you go shopping, have a look at the weekly specials, especially those at the very front of the shop. They are invariably local, seasonal produce. This week, my local specials included bananas, navel oranges, NT mangoes and silverbeet. All of which is pretty well spot on.

  33. Hi Sandra,
    Just wondering what you would spend a week as a whole on food and all other groceries, ie: toilet paper, cleaning products, etc, ? I am trying to get a general feel for what is a practical amount, as it is a struggle at $200 a week with 2 girls, 2 adults and a nana, 3 pets.
    I don’t now what I am doing wrong, as I don’t buy anything fancy, or pre-made, we try to eat heathily and I am always watching out for specials, and seasonal goods. We usually run out of plenty of things before the week is up, like fruit and snacks . I even plan my meals, and never buy things on special just for the hell of it if we don’t actually need it that week.
    Wonder if anyone can tell me what they spend a week, on all supermarket, fresh fruit and veg, and meat, etc:
    I am sick of this struggle. I don’t mind a challenge, as I am a good cook, and usually enjoy it, but this constant trying to afford things is depressing me. Sorry to sound so woeful.

  34. Hi Sandra,

    I am a single mum who is about to be unemployed in 3 weeks. I am also on a strict calorie controlled diet. I have a teen girl who eats more than me and a 10 year who eats like a bird. I would like to start your challenge on the holidays. While I am still on full-pay, do you have any recommendations on what I could buy?



    1. Hi Regina,

      Stock up on pantry staples, a list of which you will find under “Stocking a Pantry” post in the Basics category. Also, a bulk buy of meat will really help your budget. Anything that you can do to stock up on freezer staples are always useful, such as pastry sheets, frozen berries, breads and bread rolls, meat and seafood, frozen vegetables (but NOT prepackaged meals, as they are too expensive).

      If you can, set some money aside for Christmas eating, especially when ordering meat for Christmas. Many butchers and fishmongers will even let you pay off some early, a bit like lay-by. If you can buy Christmas goodies and set them to one side, do so, but it’s very hard with teenagers as I well know!

      I hope you find work in the New Year and in the meantime, good luck with the Challenge. With regards to your diet, stick to lots of fruit and vegetables in season – summer is alwyas an abundant time with lots of variety – and you will help both your diet and your budget.

      Good luck! xx

  35. Hi Sandra,

    So glad to have bumped into you again, been far too long.
    I have just spent ages wandering about your site, Congratulations I just love it.
    I will be following progress with avid interest.
    Best wishes for 2011, xxxx

  36. Hi Sandra, I thought I’d drop you a note to tell you how impressed I am with your website. I met you at a pre-Christmas lunch and it’s just as I expected – I could see straight away you’d be a natural at this.

    I tried your sesame chicken with the addition of hot spicy dukkah instead of straight sesame seeds as a topping – it was all I had, but was very yummy (yeah I know, maybe not suitable for the youngens!) Also, as a lover of old-style puddings I will try Butterscotch Pudding on my25 and 28 y/old ‘kids’ – it’s just up our alley!

    Happy New Year, Kath

  37. I’d say you are getting a lot of web traffic, make the blog work for you and put some google adwords to earn some cash. In your “My account” settings of your gmail account. Just my 2 cents.

  38. I’m not a great one for reading blogs but the article in the SMH spiked my interest and now that I’ve read your blog (and downloaded a recipe already), I’ll be a regular visitor. All the best. VC

  39. Just love the site. hope you make a fortune from it πŸ™‚ I have passed it on to a few friends πŸ™‚

    Good luck


  40. Thank you Sandra,

    Your story is inspiring and have also given me peace of mind re: feeding a young family and husband. I look forward to reading more of your Blog and to learning better ways of living within a tight budget.

    Cheers again,

  41. Get a job.
    I can’t believe you are using Centrelink to finance this.
    They’ll be told, get a job.
    I want you to pay everything back.
    Horrible person,
    Welfare leach.

    1. I refer you to a reply I made earlier this afternoon that addresses some of your concerns. Please go to the page called About Sandra and scroll down towards the end of the comments – there is an extensive explanation of the last year of my life including the many many ways centrelink have been kept informed along every step of the way. Oh and Fred? Try and have a nice day.

    2. Fred – get a life buddy! Surely you have something better to do than search through the internet causing trouble. If you have so much time on your hands maybe you should consider getting a job and if you have nothing positive to contribute to society – like Sandra – then dont contribute anything at all!

      Sandra your doing an awesome job and I am so glad you are back on line! Went down the Butcher especially for Roo! Great recipe!


    3. Fred, you’re a swine. You’ve clearly never raised children, which is a good thing, as our society is only strengthened when cretins like you don’t breed. I hope if you ever break your f*****g neck, mate, nobody is prepared to support you through it when you can’t work.

    4. Hi Sandra just like to say to all those folk posting negatives comments “go get a life” i think its fantastic what you have the article in the SMH and will be checking your site out…i am an average cook and need some inspiration ..Good luck with everything . Bridget

    5. You must have a lot of time on your hands and a lot of negativity on your mind. Your poor comment reflects on your life – cynical, bitter, and probably not that well off financially because you think that people are leaching off your tax dollars.

      If you were leading a happy life – who cares how others are living? One thing for sure, I’m a high income earning professional and I find that this site enables me to save even MORE money which I can use to fund stuff I enjoy like overseas holidays and real estate investments. So why be so BITTER?

      BTW Sandra, you absolutely ROCK! My mum was a stay-at-home and we weren’t well off at all, but like yourself she cooked some absolutely delicious food on her small Centrelink budget. This enabled her three children to grow up strong and healthy in order to study hard at school and make something of themselves. I truly adore your website and visit it several times a week! I’m really glad that you found success with your book deal and your growing media reportage. Please continue to ignore sad people who have time to put you down.

      Love your work.

  42. Sandra, I have only just come across your blog and I have to say I am very excited about trying your recipies and ideas. Our food bill is huge and im looking forward to giving your recipes a go. Not only do I now have the inspiration to cook decent food for the family, but i also look forward to saving a few dollars here and there.

    I think you a doing a great job and I will definitely be visiting regularly

  43. Hi Sandra,

    I don’t cook and probably never will, so I’ll never visit the site again. However, you’re doing a fantastic job. Try to ignore the internet warriors. As Josh Lyman said of them “It’s Lord of the Flies in there!” Or better yet, use them to spur you on and inspire you to bigger and better things!

  44. This is the site I have been waiting for. Well done Sandra I wish you every success. I will be a frequent visitor. Best regards, Rachel

  45. Wonderful,refreshing…love your attitude….keep it coming….only have half your mouths to feed on a pittance.One Lab, one 18 yr old.Nice to see you haven’t given up.

  46. I am just letting you know that I read the article about you in this week’s Good Living (SMH) and was totally impressed and inspired not only by your personal story but your recipes…I have been horrified to see some of the ridiculously negative critical nonsense coming your way…as an Australian taxpayer I am delighted that you have used such a crossroads in your life and a little bit of govt support to generate a positive contribution to society and a positive career path for yourself and your family…to my mind this should be celebrated and promoted! Lady you rock! xx

  47. Hi Sandra, Good on you? I was impressed by the article. I was surprised to see that people reacted negatively. Usually, people in your situation wallow in self pity and never get out the poverty cycle. I think you should be used as an example of a person who with the use of a little help turned your life around.

    Well done. I just wish that everyone had the same courage as you? All the best and may God bless you with all the success in your life.

  48. I’ve been cooking in a similar fashion to you for the past 35 years and there’s not a lot I don’t know about eating well on a budget but, I’m finding your site so inspiring. Keep up the good work!

  49. You might be seen as a bludger, freeloader, etc, but when you come to think of it, showing that it IS possible to feed your family quite well on a shoe-string budget has got to be a good thing.

  50. Sandra, I read about you in the SMH. I think you are fabulous and I am impressed by the ideas and the layout of your blog.

  51. Hi Sandra,

    I came here via the smh article about your blog. I just wanted to say that I think your $120 challenge is a great idea, and I wish you all the best with the book deal! Please don’t listen to the Grumpy People — I think you’re a great role model for your children, and I hope they grow up learning to strive for a life that makes them happy, not a job that makes them dull =)

    All the best, and keep up the good work!

  52. Hi Sandra,
    Loved your article in Good living and wish you well with your future career, whatever it may turn out to be. I’m enjoying your blog, and it’s great to know that there are still creative cooks like you out there who have the ability to make wholesome and tasty dishes out of basic ingredients. I too was lucky enough to have a mother who taught me the value of ‘waste not want not’, and from her experience as a professional chef she gave me the ability to do what you are doing. Although I now don’t have to be frugal where food costs are concerned, I find it a challenge to do so, and, like you, take pride in my ability to make ‘something out of nothing’. I often think of my mum’s ability to make six things out of one chicken. This ranged from using the meat, the giblets and the bones for stock. I’ll watch with interest to learn what your future holds, I think it will be something wonderful. In the meantime I’ll be trying some of your recipes.



  53. You Go Girl!!!! Your recipes and tips are fantastic and I could so use them at the moment. All really good advice and I thank you for it and all the very best for your book. smiles Michelle

  54. have saved my bacon!!

    Do not pay any attention to the nay-sayers. Such negative comments breed from insecurity and fear and a distinct lack of compassion- you have done what many people want to do but are too afraid. I am glad its working out for you. Its called taking control.

    I’ll turn up to your masterclass any day!

  55. Hi Sandra – I was really disappointed to read in the paper this morning about the negative feedback you have received. I stumbled across your blog a little while ago and I felt nothing but impressed by the effort you have made to get back on your feet. What you are doing in creating the blog while on benefits is no different to undetaking a training program to prepare yourself for a new career. Keep up the good work and good luck in the future. Kind regards, Rachelle

  56. Hi Sandra,
    Only found this blog off a newspaper article about the negative press you copped after being on TV this week. Love your work, this blog and the stuff in it is inspiring stuff, so healthy and cheap I’ll be trying your methods for sure! Don’t let the haters get to you and keep up the GREAT work.

    1. For the record Suz, the only TV interview I have done to date was conducted with Today Tonight in August 2010. A story that was filmed with ACA to air just before Christmas was axed by production staff. The assumption that I was interviewed on ACA comes from the very first sentence of the article written by Fairfax reporter Natalie Hambly who wrote: “It turns out A Current Affair was right, Australians just love to hate dole bludgers.”

      No attempts to correct the assumption that I was on ACA have been made by Ms Hambly.

      The online commentary actually started from an interview conducted for Good Living magazine which was published in The Age on Tuesday 25th January.

  57. G’day Sandra

    Just popped in from John Birmingham’s blog where he’s rallied some support for you against the pinheads. Good luck, hope the book is a success, you’ve done the work and deserve whatever you reap.

  58. Sandra, I’m really sorry to see some of the negative comments people have been making. I fear it is a bad case of tall poppy syndrome, and just because Centrelink is involved people feel they have the right to pass judgement. I, for one, cannot get enough of your blog and the recipes, I think they are fantastic and I pass on your web address to anyone who might be interested, both in Australia and overseas. One thing I have learned – I am safe to make any of your recipes – after trying many of them and not finding one I don’t like, I can’t go wrong!
    Please keep up the good work, I’m sure this is very stressful for you, and I’ m looking forward to seeing the book!

  59. Hi Sandra,
    I just read about your blog and the current horrible-ness that you are going through and I just wanted to send you my love and give you my support.
    I am a single mum who took a voluntary redundancy 5 months ago to spend time with my boy before he started school. I now have to look for a job and am getting stuck with possibly having to go back to the same field I was so desperate to get out of!!
    Anyway, I wanted to say that I think you are brilliant and your blog is wonderful.
    Hang in there,

  60. Just wanted to leave a message of support for you. Found your blog through the Good Living article and am very disappointed to read that you are receiving negative feedback from people. Keep your chin up and good luck with your book project.

  61. I love your blog and your recipes! Great work, and you should be proud of yourself.
    Don’t let them get you down, small minded and ungenerous people not to be taken seriously.
    I look forward to the resumption of your blog.

  62. My husband Michael baked your bread from the SMH Good Living last week.We were going to friends for dinner and he wowed them all with his home baked loaf.Turned out just like the photo and tasted delicious.Hopefully will be first of many great loaves to come!!!
    I have just looked at your website for the first time and look forward to trying many of the recipes.
    Well done with such an innovative idea.
    Regards Marian

  63. I havent read the negative articles or seen the negative comments but I just want to say ignore them – please!!! Since hearing you on radio I have your recipes plastered all over my kitchen walls and am definitely saving money by following your lead. You are an inspiration and a motivator. I adore your recipes and my 11 yr old is also following the challenge and loves the meals we are now eating. He congratulates me and told me how proud he was and he has accepted the “no junk food” rule – I have been battling that one for years. I cant thank you enough for what this has done for us. Please ignore the negatives, there are so many of us out here who are following this with enthusiasm. You are doing something that most of us just wouldnt do and that is sharing your experiences to help others. There are a lot of us in life situations we didnt think we would be but so be it, lets make the best of it!!! Go Girl!!!

  64. Hi Sandra – miss your recipes and ideas so much – haven’t been able to get a meal together lately – it had become my habit to log on daily, with a rumbling tummy, to again be inspired for the evening meal, so please don’t be away too long. Thinking of you.

  65. Hi Sandra,

    I only found your blog a few weeks ago, but I totally enjoy reading it. I hope all these vicious comments in the Sydney Morning Herald and elsewhere don’t keep you from blogging. I’m sure your blog is a valuable contribution to society and makes a lot of people happy, which is something that rarely can be said about a regular full time job.

    Best wishes from Germany

  66. Dear Sandra,

    I only learned about your blog via SMH and am very glad to see it. As a new mother I would like to learn good recipes but on a budget.

    I also sympathise with your need to quit your job at a council. My husband worked at one council for 3 years but was mainly miserable and finally quit a couple of weeks ago. While he is looking for another job he is enjoying spending time with his baby daughter and is a lot happier. Staying in a bad job is not worth it and now look where it has led you!

    Good luck in your endeavours and thank you for sharing your cooking talents with us,


  67. Hi, Justs a quick message to tell you how much I love this site! My husband has just changed jobs and there has been a decrease in salary for a couple of months (hopefully it will increase soon). So we have have been living off $50/week grocery shops. I wish I had found this site sooner. You recipes look wonderful! All the best with your new cookbook, I can’t wait

  68. Hey just read your new post today – I have no idea what went down but it sounds like it has been pretty rough for you, whatever it was. Sorry you’ve had to deal with it, and keep up the good work on the blog πŸ™‚

  69. Hi Sandra,

    I’ve only just discovered your site – sorry, I’m definitely a latecomer! – and I wanted to write and encourage you to keep your site up even after you’ve finished posting recipes.

    I work part-time, have three small children and am horrified by our weekly grocery bill. I love to cook but, clearly, I need to learn how to do it better and in a way we can better afford. I’m very inspired by your site and thank you for the extraordinary effort you’ve put into writing and developing it.

    Well done, and I wish you great success with your upcoming book. I’ll be buying it to support you.

  70. Hi Sandra

    Some celebrity cooking shows are all very well. But for most of us going to the supermarket and buying, say, a dozen ingredients that we would not normally use is no joke. The great thing about your recipes is that most, if not all of the ingredients are already in the pantry.

    On Sunday I made the Braised Chicken and Tomato. My family of fussy-eaters just demolished it.

    There are so many recipes here….. I don’t know how I’m going to try them all !


    1. In a post late last year called ‘Year of Wonders’, I referred to the way I compose recipes, making sure that ingredients would be readily available. I call it the Dubbo Test. In toher words, will the ingredients be available in a one-supermarket town in regional Australia?

      I’m glad you liked the Chicken Terry. There are a lot of recipes, I simply suggest you try them one at a time. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it…

  71. Hey
    Love the site…. i am looking at making chicken breast wrapped in bacon with a mustard sauce tonight… do you have any good recipies?

  72. Hi Sandra, I love reading your website and look forward to your regular updates. I usually check out your site on my iPad, and I noticed this evening that you have revamped yourwebsite, which unfortunately is a bit slow and lagging in loading, which makes the website less user friendly. It isan attractive new site, but I really loved the user friendly format of your old website! πŸ™ i still love you food and awesome food photography!

    1. Hi Liz,

      As it happens, I haven’t touched the site at all, and all the themes, fonts and codes are exactly as they’ve always been. I do however have plans to revamp it in the next couple of months, but mostly to tidy things up and make it generally easier to navigate – a change of font might be in order but the photos, recipes and writing will stay. I wonder if the lag is because of the number of recipes now on the site?

      1. Hi Sandra and Liz

        I had noticed the same thing on our iPad but had only a chance to glance at the ‘glamorous’ presentation before being distracted by a 4 year old πŸ˜‰ I’ve since worked out that it seems to be WordPress as another blog I read regularly has done the same thing – no change in a standard browser but looks completely different (and the same format as you Sandra) on the iPad. Fonts different too. Some sites are automatically detecting if you’re on an iPad or smart phone and giving you a different version of the site – maybe that’s it.

        Anyway, that’s my 2 cents. Still loving your recipes and your writing Sandra. I looked at my recipe book stand on the bench tonight and print outs of your recipes are overflowing everywhere… Cheers to your continued good health and success!!

  73. Hi Sandra

    great site hope it continues to inspire you, it has me, I have tried to email you a few times but for some reason I keep getting it back, do you know why that would be ?


  74. What fantastic work you’re doing, and so great to see that what so many people are struggling with every day is getting such good coverage in the media – finally some sensible suggestions that aren’t based on fried rice and coupons!

    I’ve noticed from my time in Australia that pies are not very popular? They’re such a good way of using leftovers though, I’ve taken to roasting a chicken on the weekend and then making a pie with ham ends from the deli and a leek and covering it with puff pastry – it’s really cheap and stretches enough chicken for a few sandwiches into a meal for 4. Chicken pies are good summer eating too.

    A friend mentioned that she adds oats to mince to stretch it further too.

    Last point (!): I know some people are a bit funny about using kangaroo which I’ve never really understood – it’s cheap, great quality meat, and environmentally it uses far less water and affects the topsoil less than the beef industry. But mostly it’s really cheap πŸ˜‰ Makes a damn fine lasagne too!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge with us, it’s much appreciated x

    1. You will find a whole category on Pies and Tarts to the right of this page Cate, and no doubt as the weather cools down, you will see more of them featured. I’m a fan and always will be.

  75. Hi Sandra

    I love your blog, but one minor picky thing: would you be able to do the ingredients as a list, rather than a sentence – it makes it a bit hard to tell at a glance if I have everything.

    Keep up the great work

  76. Hi Sandra,

    Just wanted to pop in and tell you how much I love what you are doing.

    I went through a similar situation a few years back and it really changed my life. My husband and I set a budget of $100 for all grocery items for each week. I basically went through the same processes as you: pantry audit, meal plans etc. We survived quite well. Now that we’ve been doing it for so long and with my garden overflowing with veg, we can manage to do it on $50-$80 (possibly less). It’s the general household items that are hard to get around. Fresh produce and dairy items aside, we are now only going to the supermarket about once in 4-5 weeks. It’s amazing how much your waste is reduced when you start getting serious about this business and how your goals evolve too. We now find that we can manage to put the bin out every second week simply because we compost, have a worm farm and bulk buying means we have so little packaging. For instance, we didn’t put the bin out last week as there was only 1kg of packaging in a little bag and this week we have only about the same amount. We could probably hold onto it for another week. (btw, I only weighted it last out of curiosity because there was so little and FYI any perishables that we don’t compost go in the freezer until bin night)

    Anyway, Good luck. I hope your message gets out to many more people out there.


  77. Hi I was just wondering if you have thought about putting a 14 day meal plann together with the price. As I work nearly everyday and long hours it is hard to put new meal planns together and work out the budget. I know in some mags they give you a 5 day plan with the shopping list with quailties as if you don’t have anything in the cardboard. Thanks

    1. Hi jane,

      Short answer – no. Sorry. I do everything I can to list meals together in fortnightly sections and each recipe is costed at the time I purchase ingredients for the meal, as accurately as I can. You can follow a menu plan by simply following the meals as they are listed, in order from Day 1 through to day 14, or you can select your own meals according to the food in your cupboard and the food preferences of your family.

      I realise that menu plans would be very popular, but realistically it’s too big a job to fit into what is already a crowded and hectic work schedule. It shouldn’t be too difficult to do it yourself, but I understand that it does take a little time before you then compile your shopping list from the meals listed. It’s STILL worth the effort you make to do it and will always save you money. Good luck!

  78. Hi Sandra
    When I was a child I loved a chelsea bun. I could buy one at the school canteen. It was a scroll that had jam in the roll up part & then a gorgeous pink icing on top. I have been searching everywhere & can’t find it or if I do spot one it tastes bland. Do you have a suggestion on making them? I was wondering if I could adapt your cinnamon scroll recipe? Also my son has decded he doesn’t want to eat processed biscuits like Tim tams & tiny teddies & shapes by Arnotts as they have palm oil & are hurting the orangutans that he loves. Any suggestions on how I can replace these items?

    1. I can definitely help you with the Chelsea Bun recipe and will post a recipe for you in the next few weeks – I agree, it’s too good to ignore.

      As for the biscuit recipes, that’s going to be much harder to replicate. Can I suggest you research alternative brands and see if there is a suitable alternative? Not sure what else I can suggest.

  79. Dear Sandra, Diabetic Dad has come to live with me. Do you have any advice or ideas about which of your recipes I can still use? Any help greatly appreciated. Maria x

    1. Maria I am not a nutritionist or dietician and am reluctant to specify which recipes are useful and which are not – it can vary quite a bit according to the needs of each person. I would suggest that you have a chat with a Diabetes support group or dietician at your partner’s local hospital – there would always be one attached to any major hospital, and I’m pretty sure there would be a phone number you could call as well. Have a chat with them about the most suitable meals to make.

      What I can tell you from observing diabetic members of my own family is that carb loading is critical both in the amounts that they have it and when in the day they have it – it’s important to get the right balance of food at the right time of the day. Good luck Maria. xx

  80. Maria,
    I agree! DO see a Diabetes Specialist! They are wonderful and often, there is one pharmacist at a Drugstore/Parmacy who has taken specialized training in it, and the advice is FREE but try and speak to both if you can, 2 heads in the same health arena are better than one πŸ™‚ I have been a Diabetic for many years. Please do your Father and yourself a big favour. Go to a good Search engine, or even http://www.ask,com and type in Glycemic Index. This index will give you better choices between carbs, such as Rye bread is better for a diabetic than ordinary brown or white bread, and everything is rated by numbers. It is a HUGE help and can help you Father be not nearly as restricted in what he can eat as it will help him and you to Balance Carbs. I still eat hambergers, sheesecake and chips, but my Diabetes Specialist, and the Pharmacist and the Glycemic Index taughyt me how to Balance them, AND not feel like I was ever restricted in what I could eat! Little tips like, if you eat a carb, try and have a protein with it as it helps your body to do what it needs to with carbs. Like, if you have a slice of apple pie, or an apple or pear, have slice of cheese with it! If you have a hamburger and chips, have a double burger (lean if at all possible, but…) with cheese! LOL Yep, tough job but someone has to do it! Of course you can’t eat like that every day! But when you do have treats, you can help your body deal with the Diabetes. By the way, I am in Canada, and I don’t know if you measure your glucose in the same units we do, but in 1 year, through finally learning to MANAGE my Diabetes, I have brought my Glucose down from an average of high teens and low 20’s to between 4.5 and 5.5. Consistantly…every reading, every day. PLUS I have lost OVER 90 pounds!!! I am now only 27 pounds from my ideal weight my doctor and Diabetes Specialist and I set for me. AND I have done it at a time when I shall be 60 next year!

    Good Luck with your research and work coming up on the Diabetes. You will probably find your whole Family benefits from the new knowledge! AND see your Medical Professionals, you won’t regret it! πŸ™‚

  81. Oh, and a quick note, too, to the person who was wondering what they could use instead of wheat flour. I have a Friend with Celiac Disease (I think thats the right name) and she can’t have wheat. She uses rice flour or Chickpea (Garbanzo bean) flour most of the time. Obviously because of differences in flavour, at times one will be a better choice than the other. I also remember having brownies at her home during the summer and they were WONDERFUL! She used Turtle Bean (Black Bean) flour! Who’d a thunk it? LOL

    My Friend said a Lady clerk who owned a Health Food Store she was in looking for some Soy Pasta items talked to her about it who was a wealth of help! Where ever it came from, the Brownies were a definite success! You probably have a diatician at a hospital who can also answer questions like these and who can tell you whether or not a suggestion of a possible option from ombody might be right for you, specifically, if you can’t get in to see your doctor about it right away.

    Hope that helps πŸ™‚

    PS: Sandra, I AM enjoying your site! Thank you so much! ummmm…. but where is the spell check? LOL πŸ˜‰

    1. Yes, it has been a long time, but living between houses and with no kitchen to work from will do that to you I’m afraid. The good news: I’m moving back to a place of my own and the recipes will be back and running from 17th December. In the meantime, a review of the best of Christmas Recipes will feature next week. thanks for your continued patience.

  82. Sandra

    I read the post about your hairdresser’s cheats Christmas cake. You sense of humor made me laugh.

    I would like a copy of your book. Is it going to be sold through a brick and mortar store or online? Any chance of getting a copy before Christmas?


    1. The book will be released on Jan 25th, in time for the first post-Christmas credit card payment when saving money really counts! (Or maybe that’s just in my house). It is not available before this time. It will be available through all good book sellers and at least Booktopia onlinbe store. RRP $29.95

  83. I bought the book yesturday in a suburb of Sydney near by where I live and spent most of the afternoon and night looking at the book. So I decided to try one reciepe today with what I had in the fridge and cupbourds. ait’s the spicy steak and the chips with the homemade mayo. The steak is marinading in the fridge and will cook that for dinner tonight and see how we go. I have another planned for tommorrow with the chicken and cheese in the tomasto. Some of the reciepes my friend might go after as I’m his carer and somewhat getting fussy about what he eats and doesn’t eat much. So I am really going to try this book out well and truely.

  84. By the way I know I’ve mispelled a couple of words in my last comment. I do a lot of knitting and if I can sell what I knit I can by certain things that will help to cook any dish that I come up with and to buy that extra item for a reciepe as well. Or even that book I might be after. Most of what I knit is for sale. I make scarves, hats, mostly, some jumpers/sweaters and if there’s anything else that I can make I’ll do that too.

  85. Sandra thankyou for a wonderful site. Im on a parenting plan for the first time in my life after my marriage ended. While looking for work I am finding your recipes and tips inspiring. Congratulations on the book. Maryann.

    1. The post wasn’t actually meant to go up today Vicki – it’s yet to be finalised and edited. It will be posted towards the end of the month. x

  86. Hi,
    Just a bit of feedback. We’ve tried 3 of your recipes, and they’ve all been really good. As a result, my wife has bought your book as a gift for her sister. None of the 3 recipes were in the book, so I’m printing them out from the web to add to the gift.
    Can I suggest that you provide a PDF version of the recipes, that way they can be formatted well and are a lot easier to print and subsequently read.
    Also, I haven’t been through all your recipes, so I don’t know if you do this all the time, but it is AWESOME to see ingredients measured in weights!

    1. Thanks for your feedback Alex,

      Since writing the cookbook I try whenever I can to include weights as well as measurements, as my editor insisted on both! It certainly makes for a more accurate recipe.

      As for the suggestion to print a PDF format, I am currently redesigning the website to include some terrifc new features as well as a fresh new look. It’s taking a little more time than I expected but I hope to include your fantastic suggestion in the new format.

      Again, many thanks for your feedback.

  87. I am trying to get some advise re quince jelly. I have used Maggie’s recipe and everything has worked well and looks great. The colour is beautiful and the taste divine I just cannot get the jelly texture right. It sets when tested just fine but on cooling is more like a Glucose consistency that can be purchased in jars in chemist shops etc
    What am I doing wrong????
    Thanking you

  88. Hi Sandra, just wanted to say a big thank you for your latest menus – the format is so accessible. I also have the cookbook which is a hit in our household. Also, I was a winner of the Sony Cybershot Camera in May last year which I gave to my Mum and she absolutely loves it, so thank you – I think she has uncovered a new talent. Thanks again! Take care, Kay xo

  89. Hi Sandra, In signing up to receive your emails I found that after every letter or symbol I typed I was taken to this site I eventually go to the end of my email address and have subscribed. It was rather a frustrating process. Perhaps the problem is at my end though I don’t see why it would be. If you have noticed a decline in people signing up via email recently this may be the cause.

    1. Hi Beth,

      Thank you for alerting me to this issue.

      I’ve spent most of the afternoon trying to sort this out, but it appears to be a WordPress problem rather than something I can fix at this end. Until this issue is resolved, I’ve deleted the contact link to avoid any further confusion. Meanwhile you can still subscribe via the RSS links on the home page. Once again, thanks for the heads up and I’m sorry for the inconvenience caused.


  90. My goodness, what an amazing person you are! I just discovered your site today and am just blown away by your talent. I realize you are an exceptional cook, but you are an extraordinary writer. If you ever wrote a novel, it would be a best seller.

    1. Thank you Jeanne, you’re very kind. Several people have suggested I turn my attention to a novel, but I’ve not come across a suitable story as yet. Perhaps one day …

  91. Hi Sandra,
    I found your website though The Age article posted just recently and was wondering if you’d be interested in doing a guest post for on some of your best tips to save food. You have some fantastic recipes and are even beating me on how much money you spend each week (we’re under $120pw but there’s only two of us!) so I’d love to hear how you do it. Either way I’ll certainly be using some of these recipes though!

    Mortgage Mutilator

  92. Hi there, would you be interested in turning your website into an app in the Google Play store and the Apple store so your followers could gain from getting push notifications from your site directly on their phones or tablets? Normally Google Play costs $25 just for an account and Apple is $99, but we are running a $37 special where we develop and publish your app all in one. Contact me if you are interested at You can also find more info here:

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