Category Archives: Food and Concoctions

The things I like to create in the kitchen

Getting that grocery budget down.

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The grocery budget finally seems to be under control.  Our 20 points for getting it right (for us anyway):

 Budget at the beginning of the month before you are paid.  We do it a few days before salary comes in.
  1. The grocery budget then is divided over four weeks.
  2. We only major shop once a month.  It makes a huge difference not to be popping into the shop every week.  You waste less money on things you should not buy in the first place. This also means our poor baby is not getting PnP animal cards.
  3. Menu plan.  We menu plan and cook ahead so that there are good meals ready and waiting.  This avoids having to buy something you can cook quick, because most convenience meals tend to cost more. This also avoids the take away thing. (this is a post on its own)
  4. As an aside, we have budgeted two take away meals a month, or one sit down meal at a restaurant.  We make the most of it, and because it is limited, we carefully pick what we want to do. We prefer the take away, because then we make it a family movie night thing.
  5. We no longer sale shop (because we find that it actually wastes money more often than not.  I remember thinking that was nonsense, until we stopped doing it.
  6. Our grocery budget includes non food items like dish washing liquid and toiletries. It also includes the cat food.
  7. Yo do not have to buy everything at once. If there is something you want to buy that is not on the list, write it down for the next list.  Then the next time you will end up seeing if you really needed that, because the impulse is gone.
  8. Some things we do buy in bulk:  Meat, because it is cheaper like that.  We eat loads of game meat, because it just has so much less fat than any other red meat we have come across. So if we bulk buy the game meat, then that is the meat.  We normally don’t use it all up in one month.  With the menu planning it is so much easier to balance the meals, because you know what you are eating over a long period.  We ensure all portions have enough veggies. Also, because starch cannot be frozen, we eat less of it.  Not because we believe in Banting, but because it is icky defrosted. So if we did the bulk game this month, next month is will be chicken.
  9. We buy frozen veggies for cooking and only what fresh veggies are in season.  They just are much better quality and priced when you buy in season.  The same goes for fruit.
  10. We only buy fruit once a week, and then it is one or two at a time.  We only get as much as can be eaten in one week.  I eat about two or more portions of fruit a day and HB two, and Hubby we have to force feed. Fruit is a huge money waster.  You buy too much because it looks yummy in the store, and then it ends up going bad at home.
  11. We have an A4 white board and marker next to the fridge.  As soon as something is approaching finishing, we write it on the list. This is the only shopping list (other than the one menu planning weekend).  We stick by this list very strictly.  No deviations allowed.
  12. HB and Hubby get lunch at work and school, so I am the only one needing lunch everyday…I tend to eat leftovers.  HB’s snack box is standard and stays mostly the same: Yoghurt, biltong, cheese, crackers,fruit, sandwich..and it varies only slightly.  We buy all the snack stuff monthly as well. (Not yoghurt, and I do homemade yoghurt for myself)
  13. Breakfasts are also very standard in our house…oats or bread.  And then pancakes or eggs, etc over weekends.
  14. We make our own burger patties, meatballs and planning sausages as well.  We are not super healthy earth types, but it just tastes better when we make our own.  A burger and chips is a good substitute for when the take away craving hits.
  15. Like mentioned above, the biggest thing to reduce the grocery budget is the menu planning.  It so easily becomes a part of your life, that there is no other way.
  16. On a weekend, we will cook something that has starch in it…like a breyani or curry that include potatoes or something like that.
  17. DO not be afraid of leftovers, they are your friend.
  18. We have a deep freezer, so we are able to freeze ready made meals and buy meat ahead.
  19. You also have to make a hard decision, that you just cannot have some things.  Yes we can buy it, but it is not in the budget.  If we spend it all, there will be no money saved and nothing extra to the home loan.
This can only work if the whole family is committed to it.  You have to work at it together and make sure everyone is happy.  No one wants to feel like they cannot move an inch…so you need a tad bit of float in that budget to be human.
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The Cookies

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OK here we are with the cookies. I am not doing sweet filled party packs because parents seem to not like them (even if the kids love them). Here are the cookies that are going into the party pack. I am just doing the cookies for school and I want to try out a cake I saw. If the cake turns out well, I will send it to school, otherwise it will just be cookies. For the at home party we are doing the same cookies and the capes masks.

The cookies did not turn out as I hoped. I had a vision of actual Spiderman, but I realised that I would have to invest time and money into getting those right. I thought about it for a long while and eventually decided to just do with what I have. So here is what I produced.

The Cookies

The web cookie looks like a snowflake because I could not get a deeper blue and the black will not set. I have decided if I have time to make some red cookies too.

There are so many people doing wonderful things with cookies, but I do not have the experience or equipment. I just used one old fashioned syringe thing with one nozzle tip. I was not going to buy a whole set for one birthday…and the fancy food colours are so expensive. I figure the 3 year olds’ will not mind my wonky 3 or snowflake web thing. They will just lick them and eat them. I used lemon flavouring in the icing to try to counter-act the sugary sweet of the icing.

I was happy the icing dried nicely. I was really worried I would not get it right.

Another one of those boring posts

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It has been a crazy week and I think I have not commented, even if I have read. I will drop by to catch up.

I have decided to do a post about trying to make a different lifestyle work. I know there are so many of these posts around, they are boring, but it helps me keep track of everything.

The LCHF eating has become a way of life mostly. I was sceptical at first because it looked like too much fat and meat. I am not sure how everyone else is doing it, but I have found that I am actually eating a greater variety of vegetables than I used to. I think it comes from paying more attention to meals instead of flinging random things together because I am too tired to make dinner.

Hubby is such a great supporter. In fact he too has fallen partly into LCHF eating because I am doing it too. He likes the meals and has not fussed at all. Hubby is the one that keeps me supplied with all the wonderful veggies. Even things I have never eaten:

Waterblometjies

Shimeji mushrooms

Baby savoy cabbage

Broccoli and cauliflower

Aubergine

Fresh baby gherkins

Zucchini

Leeks

He has also been buying milk on sale so I use it to make yoghurt and paneer which we all enjoy. I have about 15 blocks of cream cheese in the freezer too (we got these practically free). I know you are thinking one cannot freeze cream cheese and you are partly right. It cannot be used as is or for spreading because it loses texture. Like veggies, you can still use it for cooking without any loss of taste or texture. You can still use it for sauces or baking. There are advantages to Hubby working for one of the largest supermarket chains. Certain items are marked down and sold to staff only which is where we score on the price of food.

The exercise is going well and I am feeling better. I do not know if I have lost any weight because I have not weighed myself and I do not plan to do so. My weight never bothers me, it is my size. So I am happy just to fit comfortably into my clothes and not have to buy anything bigger.

I decided to track my food and exercise on one of these online diaries, but I think it is fake. According to that thing, I should really be losing weight effortlessly. I am apparently eating less calories than required for me, and my carb intake is averaging at 80g per day. I know all that sounds complicated, but the online tool works it out for you. I am pretty accurate with logging everything I eat and the formal exercise. I do not track walking up and down stairs or to the store as part of exercise. I guess I just assumed I ate too much bad stuff and the diary makes me realise my eating habits are not that bad. I think the big thing was stopping all the sugar in my tea. It all started when I was breastfeeding but I do not have that excuse anymore.

According to the diary, my biggest carb/sugar food is the milk I drink. I love milk so I am not sure if I would stop drinking milk.

My aim with the lifestyle is to be healthy because diabetes is a reality in my family with my sister (who is not overweight) being pre-diabetic and she is only 18 months older than me. My Mom is a confirmed diabetic who cannot get her blood sugar levels under control (she refuses to modify her eating and I know she is heading for insulin).

I think it is working for me and I do not feel restricted in what I eat. I am not terribly strict and I am not trying to make fake bread or pasta. That works for some but I do not have the time, budget or patience to make substitutes. Runnermom has been making some interesting things and I admire her perseverance. If I want bread, I will eat a slice every now and then. I think my aim is to maintain health.

Enjoy the weekend all. It is perfect cuddle weather.

Cook and fixer

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This cold would not let me go so I had to have another day off to try to sleep it all away (which worked). Honeybear and I had the weekend to ourselves and we decided to just vegetate a bit. A bit of TV, some time on the floor with blocks and Lego and bit of colouring in. He can now understand the concept of colour in the lines, but does not yet possess the co-ordination to hold the crayon and make it move where he wants it to move.

He has grown even more attached to me, and while I love the kisses and grabbing my hand, I also worry that we are working hubby out of the relationship.

Hubby is having a contentious relationship with Honeybear at the moment. They are at the fighting stage still. While Honeybear and I still fight, we understand each other better. We spend so much time together, we know what will set the other of. I can head of a tantrum (most times)…hubby cannot see it coming. Honeybear understands my tone of voice and is likely to respond sooner. The reward thing is working really well and he knows the box is sitting up there filled with goodies. With me, I can offer one reward and he understands it is one. With Papa he pushes and pushes and will throw a tantrum for another one. Poor hubby, I think he is feeling a little on the outside, but I find it is always the case when he has been working all weekend. The two of them will catch up tonight and spend some time reconnecting.

I can see again, as I have my new glasses and I was amazed at how much I had been missing with the old glasses. I briefly toyed with the idea of using contact lenses again, but I am not keen on an eye infection, so I have left it for now.

The LCHF thing is going better. I am not at the point where I have cut out everything forbidden, but I am doing way better. I do not miss bread anymore (I do not know how long this will last). I have decided not to try to substitute, because nothing can live up to the real thing. I am not too strict, and I have allowed myself to use the weekends to “cheat” However, this weekend I did not feel the desire to cheat. I find that if I have planned ahead and have the right food available, I am less likely to be tempted to eat things I am trying not to indulge in too much.

I have also decided to not try to shop via recipe and to just stick with my original and usual shopping plan. We buy what is on sale and what is in season. I then decide what to cook with what I have available. I am not necessarily a brilliant cook, but I am an adventurous cook and I can make things up. They may not be good enough for restaurants, but then I am only feeding my family.

I find stews and soups are a great way to get all the veggies in. The same with stir-fried veggies. When I do not know what to cook, frittatas are quick and easy and everyone loves them. My rule is one protein and then to make the meal as colourful as possible. I figure, this way, I can make sure we are getting as many nutrients as we can. We are less likely to fall off the wagon if there is variety. These LCHF foods freeze better because there is less starch, as long as the dish does not have too many eggs. So I can make a double serving and freeze it for another time so we are not stuck eating the same meal for too long.

Hubby and Honeybear still eat bread and sugar etc, but not as much as they used to.  I do not think bread and sugar is evil, just something we need to moderate more.

We have bought a whole heap of cream cheese on sale and it has been helping me to make the food taste better. Eggs and cream cheese are great binders to hold thing together. I am not keen on eggy taste so the cream cheese is working really well.

On the cooking front, I have got my pressure cooking working again. While hubby was out shopping for a new one, I managed to find the spare parts and fix the old one in 2 minutes. Hubby was very impressed, because pressure cookers cost far more than they used to back in the day when we bought ours.

Work is getting busy and I my lunch is finished, so it is time to crack the whip. Take care all.

How I hate house work

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I just cannot understand why our house gets as dirty as is does. We do dishes, laundry and the floors every day or at least every second day (if there is not too much waiting).

Yesterday, I almost did not want to go home. I knew there was a mess waiting for me and I just did not have it in me to clean up. I almost wanted to cry.

Hubby works really long hours, so I cannot really expect him to pitch in with 50% of the chores, but sometimes I just want a break. OK I can have a break, but it also means I have to pay for that break later, because nothing cleans itself.

I also do not feel comfortable ironing when Honeybear is awake and running around, and to be honest, when he is sleeping, I also want a break, I do not want to be doing house work.

I always say there are more important things in life than a clean house…but sometimes I just cannot face it. I hate housework.

Anyway, I deemed crying over a dirty house was really silly and I walked in. I sorted Honeybear out with toys and snacks and I started cleaning from Honeybear’s bedroom out. I started at 17h00 and I worked through, only stopping to give Honeybear dinner and call my sister. I was still busy when Hubby arrived home at 21h30. I have not even finished. I still have the kitchen to fix this afternoon. I just want overhaul all the cupboards and see what is what.

Come this weekend, I do not want to think of housework. Just some laundry and dishes, but that is about it.

On the LCHF front: It is not going too badly, and there are enough things to cook, as long as I have planned ahead. I have almost worked potatoes out…we have not bought any for 3 weeks….we did buy 5 for our camping trip but I can see a life without potatoes, we do not need to eat as often as used to eat it.

Bread is still a challenge. I have thought about trying those recipes you can get for grain free bread but I have not come across anything I really want to do yet. They are either too expensive containing almond flour, or just look gross. I think I just have to get out of the idea of sandwiches and then we should be fine.

Rice and pasta were never huge on our menu, so that is not bothering anyone yet.

I have talked about this way of eating to hubby and while he thinks it has merits, he does not want to change. However, he has not realised, yet, what I am doing.   I cook and I usually control the shopping lists, even if he is buying it. He never pays enough attention to what we have in the house to make up the shopping list. He does not question me. Let us see were we go with this.

I have totally disregarded the fruit thing for now.

I have to be honest, this way of eating is actually more expensive. The meat is the cheapest part of this diet. The vegetables on the list are the higher priced range, compared to the things you are not supposed to eat. If you look at mushrooms which are at R90/kg compared to potatoes which are R9,99/kg. All dairy is expensive, but we ate that anyway so it is not affecting the budget. Buying butter is way more expensive than buying margarine spread. Have you seen the price of ghee? It is way overpriced if you compare it to good old sunflower oil.

Anyway there are ways and means around everything. I just have to find them.