RAISING five children has made River Heads mum Jodie Tangikara a self-taught expert in saving money while keeping her children entertained.
Ms Tangikara is sharing her crafty tricks to keep your children amused while on a budget for this week's edition of Costbusters.
"Having children doesn't have to be costly and I know my kids prefer mum and dad time rather than money spent," she said.
Keeping the kids in good order with a bedazzled good behaviour chart, splurges are only made on paid activities when one of her kids reaches 100 stars.
The rest of the time, good old fashioned fun is in order.
Most Saturdays, a picnic basket filled with homemade treats is taken to the park to enjoy.
Fairy-bread, biscuits, cut-up fruit and cheap store bought muffins are chomped on making the perfect side-dish to an afternoon spent feeding the ducks or kicking around a ball.
Routines are also fun, with her two youngest sharing the tub for a splash. Hair washing is also done in the bath every second or third night to keep the water bill down.
The super mum is super organised with the Christmas present shopping done and dusted - she grabs bargains in the January sales and only buys toys heavily discounted.
While keeping hungry tummies settled can at times be costly, Mrs Tangikara has some great recipes to share.
"My kids prefer slow-cooked meals as they are lazy when it comes to eating and the slow cooker melts it right down," she said.
Her three ingredient recipe for slow cooked beef is shared below.
The home whiz also swears by leaving expensive cleaning chemicals alone.
"Instead I clean everything with sugar soap and vinegar," she said.
The older kids have active social lives, visiting friends for day activities at weekends.
Play dough a favourite every time
WITH hours of fun promised with each batch, play dough is the perfect way to get little fingers moulding and rolling.
Get creative with sparkles, gems, sticks, twigs and leaves.
Recipe is as follows.
1/2 cup salt
1 cup plain flour
2 tbs cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tbs oil
3 drops liquid food colouring
STEP 1 Mix all ingredients together in a medium sized saucepan.
STEP 2 Stir over heat until dough is pliable.
STEP 3 Allow to cool and store in a well sealed plastic bag or container.