15/03/2017

March Budget Family Meal Plan - Week 2

March meal plan, week 2
Total food spend $100.70



Cooking from scratch is cheaper than convenience packs.
It's an age old debate that will probably never be definitively proven across the board. I can give you a number of meal examples that are cheaper to make from scratch and I could probably match that with an equal amount of meals that are not. The biggest downfall in convenience cooking is that it limits you in choices.

When you work primarily with base ingredients rather than premixed packs, you’ll find you have a broader range of meals to build on while spending the same if not less.
A bag of flour becomes a batch of biscuits, a cake, scones, sauce thickener, roux, bread, a crust, a batter….the list goes on. A premixed cake mix, on the other hand, becomes...well...some form of cake, one cake. Sure, you can vary it slightly but ultimately, it's going to make the same sort of thing.
A packet of taco seasoning will give the same flavour, no matter how you use it, where a selection of herbs of spices has unbridled potential.
And, a lasagne is a lasagne whereas its individual ingredients can be So. Much. More.




Buying whole chickens rather than fillets or pieces can work out much cheaper. Even better if you decide to make your own stock as well.

Dinners:










Lunches: ham, shredded chicken, mayo/mustard, lettuce sandwiches. Leftover burritos.

Snacks: apples, grapes, carrot sticks, date and oat balls, fruit scrolls, raspberry coconut biscuits, corn chips.

Breakfast: cereal, oats, toast.

More meal plans: March meal plan week 1
2 weeks of dinners for five budget meal plan #1
                                            budget meal plan #2 
                                            budget meal plan #3 
$200 in 2 weeks - The fresh start/empty pantry challenge                       

08/03/2017

March Budget Family Meal Plan - Week 1

The new year didn't start out quite as well as we had planned for, financially at least. Life doesn't always play fair and we know that as well as anyone. Still, we continue to make plans because we know, whatever life throws at us, we will get through it. We’ve been through tougher times, really shitty, rock bottom times. These last few months have been a little stumble in comparison.

With every plan that fails there is a lesson that needs to be learned. We cannot hope to move forward until we accept our own mistakes and resolve not to repeat them. 
Keep trying, keep believing, keep treading water until you find your way forward.


Total food spend: $86.98


Every few months, the freezer gets a good clean out. When a 430L fridge freezer is all you’ve got, minimising clutter is essential. This week is clean out week and that always comes with a bonus. Using up what you already have is a great way to make short term savings.
If it's not on the list, we already had it. We never go into any one week with nothing at all.




Dinners:








Lunches:
Ham, lettuce and grated carrot sandwiches.
Strasbourg and tomato sauce sandwiches.
Pastry pizzas (salsa, bolognese from freezer, cheese)

Snacks: Apples, pears, grapes, carrot sticks, homemade muesli bars, homemade choc chip biscuits, potato chips, bbq biscuits.

Breakfast: Cereal, oats, toast.

23/01/2017

Raspberry Yoghurt Loaf

This recipe inspired by: Coconut and Lemon Yoghurt Loaf from Kidgredients  


Raspberry Coconut loaf

Raspberry Coconut loaf
By
Simple yoghurt loaf cake with coconut and rasberry.

Ingredients
- 2 cups self raising flour
- ½ cup dessicated coconut
- 1 cup natural yoghurt 
- ¾ cup raw sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup rice bran oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1 cup (crushed) frozen raspberries

Method
•Preheat oven to 160°C

•Combine all ingredients  thoroughly. This will make a thick batter, don't be concerned.

•Scoop into a lined 28cm loaf or 22cm cake tin and bake 45-50mins. Cake is cooked when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

•Remove cake from oven and allow to cool in tin 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Delicious served warm or cold.

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Yield: 24
Calories: 122
Fat: 5.9

27/10/2016

Moroccan Spiced Beef with 3Veg Couscous

Both beef and vegetables in this recipe can be cooked on the barbecue and making the couscous could hardly be called cooking. It's a perfect meal for outdoor and indoor cooks.

I have to admit: by the time winter draws to close I am over this whole cooking thing. It's hot meals every single night. It's puddings, it's stodge and it’s endless hours in the kitchen.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to eat, I am not over that at all. When it's cold outside that comfort food is a welcome ending to the day and so worth the effort but, when the sun is shining on fresh green shoots and vibrant colours, our kitchen window is not the best vantage point to enjoy Springtime.

Our barbecue on the other hand…..
We may live in a crappy old house but this view, even on a cloudy day, will never get old.


I don't use the “H” word very often but surely I’ve nailed it with this one?!
High in iron, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, zinc….. that's all healthy stuff, right?

But who cares?!
It's damn delicious and that's enough for me!

Moroccan spiced beef


Moroccan spiced beef
By
A flavoursome spice blend suitable for beef, chichen and lamb.

Ingredients

- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 pinches salt
- 2 pinches pepper
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch cayenne powder
- 1 pinch ground coriander
- 1 pinch allspice
- 1 whole clove, ground or 1 pinch ground cloves
- Olive oil
- 350g beef rump steak (or other BBQ suitable cut)

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Yield: 5
Calories: 175
Fat: 9.9

Method

• Mix spices together, drizzle meat with olive oil and rub spice mix onto both sides of the steak.
• Grill or BBQ meat to your liking.
• Allow to rest before cutting the meat into thin slices.

Roasted 3Veg Couscous


Roasted 3Veg Couscous
By
Warm cous cous salad, completely adaptable to suit your own preferences or produce availability.

Ingredients

- 400g pumpkin - any kind
- 200g broccoli
- ½ a capsicum
- Olive oil
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cup couscous
- ½ teaspoon beef stock powder *optional

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Yield: 5
Calories: 194
Fat: 2.6

Method

•Roughly chop pumpkin into small chunks, broccoli into small florets and capsicum into two pieces.
•Toss vegetables in a light coating of olive oil and place in a baking tray, capsicum skin side up.
•Bake for 20 minutes or until pumpkin and broccoli are lightly browned and capsicum skin appears blistered. Dice capsicum (you can remove the skin if you prefer it off).
•Pour freshly boiled water into a large bowl, add 2 teaspoons olive oil and stock powder, then sprinkle couscous evenly into the bowl.
•Let couscous sit for 3 minutes before stirring with a fork. Stir in the vegetables and you’re done!

This recipe is completely adaptable to suit your own preferences or produce availability. 

22/10/2016

Homemade Burger Buns






A homemade burger deserves a fresh baked hamburger bun and this soft bread roll recipe is the perfect solution. Soft and fluffy with just the right amount of salt and sweetness, the way bread should be.

Soft Burger Buns

Makes 8

---Ingredients---

12g dry yeast 
(3 teaspoons)
20g caster sugar 
(1 teaspoon + 3 teaspoons)
125mls warm water 
(½ cup)
125mls milk 
(½ cup)
1 large egg
30mls vegetable oil (6 teaspoons)
½ teaspoon salt
450g plain flour (3 cups, firmly packed)
15-20g butter (1 tablespoon)


---Method---

•Place yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl and gently whisk in warm water. Set bowl aside in a warm place for five minutes or until mixture bubbles into a froth on top.


•In another small bowl or jug whisk milk, egg, oil, salt and remaining sugar together.


•Combine both mixtures and in a large bowl/standing mixer, mix flour with wet ingredients until mixture begins to come together. Use kneading hooks to work dough until smooth and elastic (about 4 minutes).
If you are kneading by hand, 10 minutes on a floured bench or dough board.

•Turn the dough out onto your clean, floured surface and divide into 8 equal portions.
Place each one in a lined or lightly greased baking dish or lined tray. Allow dough to rise (proof) for about 30 minutes before baking.

•Preheat oven to 190°C and place a bowl of water on the lowest shelf.

•Melt butter and brush over the top of each roll and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

14/10/2016

Fried Rice

A truely authentic fried Rice this is not. Fast, simple and versatile is what it is.

The measurements in this recipe are not terribly important. The amount of oil to rice is really the only detail that needs attention. There should be just enough to coat the rice and give it a nice glossy shine. Too much and the dish will be greasy. Too little and the rice will stick to itself and the pan. All other ingredients are not only flexible in quantity but can also be substituted or simply omitted. 

Keeps well, covered, in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Fried Rice


---Ingredients---
1 ½ cups uncooked rice
(Or 2 ½ - 3 cups cooked rice)
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup cooking oil
¼ teaspoon salt *optional
(Or 1 Tablespoon soy sauce)
1 red onion or spring onions -diced
200g Ham -diced
1 ½ cups frozen peas and corn (drained if canned)

---Method---
To cook the rice: Place rice in a medium saucepan with  2½ cups cold water. Bring to the boil uncovered then turn heat down to low. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and give it a quick stir before replacing the lid and letting it sit for about 5 minutes.
This can be done the day before but it is not essential.

•Heat 1 teaspoon of oil, to medium heat, in a large fry pan or wok, pour in egg and fry until just cooked. Remove egg and cut into small strips or dice.

•Heat remaining oil, to high heat, in pan and add rice, tossing/stirring quickly to coat rice with oil. *Adding salt or soy sauce optional here. Continue stirring for 2 minutes.

•Mix in remaining ingredients (adding the egg last) and continue to stir until all ingredients are heated through.

07/10/2016

Cheeseburger Scrolls

Originally, I had thought this would be great recipe for using up leftover burger patties but, as time (and burger nights) went by, I realised how ridiculous the notion was... There's no such thing as leftover patties! If, by some miracle, you do happen to have some, just break or dice them into small pieces.



Cheeseburger Scrolls

Makes 22

---Ingredients---
Need a yoghurt free dough recipe? Try this one.
Scroll Dough
1 cup Greek or Natural Yoghurt
2 cups Self Raising Flour
1 teaspoon Caster Sugar
Filling
1 Tablespoon oil
300g Beef Mince
½ teaspoon Salt 
½ teaspoon Pepper
1 medium Brown Onion, finely diced
60mls* Tomato Sauce (¼ cup)
30mls* American mustard (⅛ cup)
*according to your tastes
2 cups grated Tasty Cheese

---Method---
•Pour yoghurt into large bowl. Add sugar to flour and mix flour into yoghurt, ½ cup at a time until dough is a rollable consistency.
You may need to add a little more flour if dough is too sticky.
•Roll dough into a rectangle, about 8mm thick, approximately 25x40cm
•Lightly score dough’s surface with a fork.
Heat oil in frypan, on high. Add beef mince, salt and pepper. Brown mince well adding diced onion halfway through cooking.
•Preheat oven to 180°C
•Spread beef and cheese evenly over dough, press down lightly.
•Drizzle tomato sauce and mustard evenly.
•Roll, lengthwise, into a log, firmly but careful not to push the filling out the top.
•Using a sharp serrated knife, cut roll into sections about 2 ½ cm thick. Place each scroll on a lined baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes. Scrolls will be golden brown and aromatic.


06/10/2016

Degradation = Popularity. No Thanks!

I may not always get it right in my personal life but when it comes to what I say on this blog and my public pages, I do tend to overthink it. Usually that's considered a bad thing when it comes to writing, particularly from the heart, but I have come to learn that in my particular area of blogging (budget and food) sensitivity of diversity is a severely lacking trait.

Yesterday I watched a Thrifty Blogger fall from grace with one single indiscretion laying insult to a large group of readers.
This lady has a reasonable sized following (although smaller now) and the opportunity to empower a great deal more but, disappointingly, has chosen to put down the very people who need her support the most. I won't go into detail but essentially, it was suggested that a lot of families make unhealthy choices simply because they are lazy. After an overwhelmingly negative response to her post, she removed it, but offered no apologies.


This is where I become disillusioned by the blogging world. The larger the following, the less they care? It's not true of all, I know that well enough. But it is true of, at least, some and it remains to be seen which is more dominant.

Is this the future for the internet? 
Does the duty of care for others cease to be important once a brand has been established?

People make mistakes. I sure as hell do. But I want to make this promise: I will not assume to know what is best for you, your family or your situation. I may not be sure of the direction I am going but I definitely know which road I do not want to take!

If you are a blogger or regular sharer of helpful advice, wouldn't you prefer to lift up one person than put thousands down?