Saturday, February 28, 2009

Simple Savings

Simple Savings is a website that is designed to do, well, just that. Save!

Here's a little bit of what they have to say:-

Most people pay too much money for things but never realise it, so they are always behind. They are always in debt and continually playing catch-up. It is a pretty horrible time-deprived way to live.

They do have a 'vault' and you can pay $47 to access all the tips and tricks members have put in there, but you can also browse all the other things they have for free, and learn a few things along the way just by doing that.

What I love is the monthly challenges they have in their "ATTACK YOUR DEBTS MONTH BY MONTH":-

January was 'Find a Better Deal' on your service providers for eg home phone, insurance, internet or credit card.

February was 'Find Time'. Finding spare time to then be able to think about what you're purchasing.

March is 'No Spend Month'.
Here's the blurb about this month.

Sometimes we need a big jolt to shake up our spending habits. So here's one for you! Your challenge for March is not to buy anything non-essential. The ONLY things you can buy this month are pure essentials such as basic food and prior bills. Ask yourself at the end of day, did you buy any non-essentials today? If not, tick the day as a success, well done!
I'll add the new challenge for each month to my blog, if only to keep myself reminded of what's in store.

Spring Hill Beef Hampers

A little info on Spring Hill Beef Hampers, if anyone is interested:-

At Spring Hill we guarantee 100% pure, hormone free, premium quality Angus cattle. Each steer is raised in the quiet, stress free environment in the misty green hills of the NSW Southern Highlands.

Here our cattle are treated with kindness and respect. Tranquil grazing on lush natural pastures ensures Spring Hill Beef develops a special taste and tenderness.

Spring Hill Beef is exclusively “Grass Fed”, guaranteed free of hormones and antibiotics. We DO NOT boom-spray weeds to ensure there is no contamination of the cattle’s pastures. Each steer is handed over to our local butcher within a life span of between 18/22 months which guarantees prime tender beef!

They do home deliveries in Sydney with a one off (first purchase) of $10 for a cooler bag. Home deliveries are free with hampers over $175. Delivery fees cost a little more in other places. Check their website for more details.

Dinner Menu Plan

I have found the easiest way to not waste food in my household is to do a fortnightly dinner plan. I've been cooking for them for over 9 years now, so it's not hard to figure out what they like and don't like, and by now we have favourite meals. My kids aren't afraid to try anything new either, and Matthew is excitedly learning how to cook.

For example this week, my dinner menu is as follows:-

Saturday - leftovers (hot pot, tuna bake, sandwiches, whatever is in the fridge that has to be used up)
Sunday - Family Chowder
Monday - Muffin Pizzas (Matthew's turn to cook) and Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Tuesday - a different Pasta Bake (different recipe from the one last week to add variety)
Wednesday - Spaghetti/bacon bread cases (again, Matthew's turn to cook)
Thursday - home made pasta
Friday - Shepherds Pie
Saturday - Leftovers (from a Huuuuuuuge lunch we're having that day)

So how do I do the dinner plan?
Depending on what's going on, how much money we have, how much I can be bothered spending, how adventurous I'm feeling, I'll do the following (or a combination of both:-

1. Sit down and look through my Super Food Ideas Magazines and come up with a few simple recipes. It keeps me motivated to cook, and their recipes are so easy to follow and fool proof. I started buying their magazines before they published monthly ones, and have so many now that I don't need to buy any more, and just re-read older magazines to 'trick' me into thinking it's a new one.

2. Look in my pantry and fridge, decide what needs to be used up and how quickly it needs to be used, what I have available, and design recipes accordingly.

My big meat shop is in just over a week to allow room in my fridge/freezer for this Saturday's BIG DO. I am going to try using Spring Hill Beef Hampers and that's why there's a lot of bacon being used in my menu this week. I'm clearing out my freezer, and I only have ham and bacon left, which is absolutely fine with me. I bought mince specifically today for Friday's dinner.

Get the kids involved. Mine really love to help as much as they can, and although sometimes it doesn't look as appetising, they have to start somewhere right?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spaghetti 4 Ways

I had to ask my husband to open a couple of containers of my food storage today. If anything happens to him, and I need to use my food storage for any reason, I need a huge hammer to smash the lids on these containers. They do seal really well, so I know I'm not going to get any bugs in my stuff.

We found quite a few cans of spaghetti, baked beans, corn, tuna, dried beans (much to poor hubby's dismay), dried peas (much to my disgust) and some dried instant mashed potato that came from my mother-in-law, use by date '99. Somehow, I think I have to replace the instant potato!

Got me thinking about the spaghetti though. We're talking about the type with sauce and possibly cheese, not the plain kind you have to cook in water. What would you do with the spaghetti. Surely you'd get sick of it after a while.

LOL my daughter just reminded me I can use the dried peas to feed the fish "For their dinner". Thanks for that tip! Yes, goldfish ARE vegetarians and yes, they do love de-shelled peas, broken up a little depending on the size of your fish.

Back to spaghetti. I thought of a few things you could do with the spaghetti if you were simply rotating your food storage.

1. Spaghetti, cooked bacon, bread baskets (cut crusts of fairly fresh bread, cooking oil spray a muffin tin, put bread into muffin pans to make 'baskets', bake until just golden). Add spaghetti to cooked bacon, fill bread baskets and bake a little longer. Add cheese on top if you so desire. Not overly healthy, but my son can make this on his own!

2. Spaghetti bolognaise. Brown an onion and some mince, add perhaps some Italian Capsicum (see below post) and add your tin of spaghetti at the end to warm through.

3. Spaghetti, cheese and ham jaffles. Butter bread on 'wrong' side, fill with spaghetti, cheese and ham and cook in jaffle iron or those new jaffle makers that I always see, but never have the cash on me at the time. Then when I go looking for one, they're never around.

4. Spaghetti parcels. Cut a square of puff pastry up into 4 smaller squares, spoon tinned spaghetti in the centre. Fold up the corners and bake in a 200 degree oven for 15 - 20 mins until pastry is golden brown. My kids love this, and I love puff pastry so it keeps us all happy.

I have to note that we don't eat this type of food all the time. Tonight, for example, we had lamb hot pot with potato dumplings. Looooots of veggies involved, but on occasion I just can't be bothered cooking. Usually it's after I've already spent a day in the kitchen and I'm knackered. Takes two seconds to do something with a can of spaghetti though, and that's something to be happy about.

Happy cooking

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Di's Photos

Getting Organised with your food storage

Everyone has a different way of viewing their food storage. I do it firstly because I think it would be really stupid not to have a supply of food stored away in case of emergency. Everything is going along so well right now, hubby has a great job, we're in reasonably good health and we are in a position to be able to do something about food storage. Don't leave it until you actually need it!

First things first. You need to take a look at what room you have to be able to store your food. It's no good going nuts and buying heaps of food if you have no-where to store it.

Do you have containers to store your food? You don't want to be attracting mice and cockroaches, and it can cost a little bit of money to get the containers/mylar bags/oxygen absorbers before you can start storing your food away.

If you have a supply of food already, take stock of what you have. How long until the use by date? How much more would you need? Are there any bugs/rodents/moisture getting into what you already have? Have you been rotating it? Are you storing what you would normally eat?

So I already have a about 3 months worth of food. 52 kilos of rice, about 20 kilos of wheat, cans of spaghetti and baked beans, 10 kilos of honey and a few other bits and pieces.

Next big item to buy on my list before I get started on my own food storage (I had a little bit of help last time) is a food sealing machine (a pouch sealer), oxygen absorbers and mylar bags. This will let me seal up what I buy, because I'm planning on buying dry goods first, which can be sealed up for long periods of time in mylar bags.

The pouch sealer I'm going to buy is $586.85 AUD which I know seems alot, but I do have RSI, and I have trouble using my hands for long periods. This particular pouch sealer has a foot pedal, less work for my poor hands to do.

Oxygen absorbers are $19.50 for a pack of 100.

Mylar bags are $152.50 for a pack of 250 (which will last me quite a while).

While I'm saving up for those, I'm going to have a look around and see if I can get any cheapish storage containers that are suitable for storing my mylar bags in. Mylar bags can be chewed through by rodents. You will need to store then in something like those big clear plastic tubs with handles for easy transporation, in case you have to move them somewhere. If you have heavier grains in your mylar bags, store them in a slightly smaller container for ease of lifting.

Happy Storing!

Italian Capsicums

I'm really in love with my food dryer, and I had a kilo of capsicums sitting in my fridge that I picked up from Aldi last Saturday. They had kept really well, so I decided to dry them for 8 hours in my food dryer, and stuff them in a few sterilised jars with the following:-

1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
about 1 1/2 cups olive oil, until the jar was full, and covered the dried capsicums.

Stick the jars in the fridge, and they should keep for up to 6 months.

Use in pasta sauce, in pizzas, sauces, or as an antipasto with feta cheese, olives and whatever else pickles your fancy.


Well, this is my trial blog. Just a test really to see if I can set one up, before I start my big food storage rampage. So excited, it's just around the corner to go out on a limb and start all by myself, firstly by ordering a food sealing machine, then to organise some storage space while I save up for Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. Then I can really get stuck into updating my food storage. Can't wait!