About Me

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23 year old going on 50. I take my carry basket to the farmers markets every week and Avoid getting a tan at all costs. I also have lots of tattoos. Two beautiful children and a "Hubby". And an obsession with cooking - moving into a place that doesn't have an oven...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This Week's Tip

Don't go shopping without a list.
Well, number 1 - you end up spending over your budget ($70 - not tooooo bad) but then
number 2. You realise there are about a million things you forgot, you get frustrated because you didn't get them the first time around, you go back to the shops AGAIN, without a list, AGAIN and end up spending $100.
That's budget for 3 weeks, in one week!!
All because twice, I was too lazy to spend 15 minutes organising a meal plan and writing a damn list. Granted, my second shop had dog food, hand wash, body wash and $20 magnesium tablets, but at best that added up to about $35?
Thats still a whole $65 I shouldn't have needed to spend.
It's because the shops trap us. They throw so many colours and specials at us, we completely forgot what we needed in the first place and everything looks like a great idea.
I went there for some ham and chicken meat - came out with ham, chicken meat, a whole chicken, pork mince and smoked salmon!
Because my brain said "Oh, you can cook that whole chicken and it would be cheaper than buying a BBQ chicken" (brain is correct on that account - saved me a whole $3)

I feel so angry right now!
Especially since we have just taken delivery of our Car Baby - who is still nameless by the way - so that's an extra $130 a week we aren't used to paying. and granted, we can easily accomodate it in, but it would be so much nicer if it didn't need accomodating and just slotted into where grocery expendature used to be...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Curried Apple and Lentil Dal

I got this recipe from here

Very helpful blog when it comes to saving me money. Apparently, this recipe works out to be about 60c per serve.

1 Small onion diced fine (I used half a large one)
4 cloves garlic (TBS-ish of minced garlic)
tsp minced ginger (I guesstimated with dried ginger)
2 apples diced (I used granny smiths - skin on)
2 1/2 tsp garamassala
1 1/2 cup red lentils
2 cups vegetable broth (I used stock)

Recipe says to:
In large pot, heat onions, garlic and ginger until fragrant. Add apples and garamassala. Stir.
Add lentils, broth and stir. Drop to med low heat and simmer uncovered until lentils and apples are tender

What I did: chucked it all in the slow cooker for 4 hours on high... Will let you know how it turns out.

The website that it's from says that it needs no accompaniment. I think I'm going to do it with rice though.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Motivate Me

I've been suffering a serious lack of motivation lately.
It just seemed tooooooo hard to try and get under $50. So i didn't write my shopping list.

I didn't write my meal plan. I didn't even take my bags along to Aldi.

I did, however, still find myself gravitating towards the seconds trolley at the fruit shop before I went anywhere else. I did also take a big box from the fruit market to use at Aldi so I didn't have to buy any bags.

I really love Aldi. I know it sounds strange. I know people who HATE going there, because you can't get everything in one store and they hate having to do more than one shop. But I love groceries. I wait for every wednesday so I can go grocery shopping.

On the bright side. Even though I couldn't be effed to try and get under $50 - I only ended up spending $70. Which included a 1.5kg pack of chicken roasting peices and a 2kg bulk mince pack, which has been divided into four portions. So I guess I really didn't do too badly at all, considering this week once again, I will only need to buy fruit and veg (and bread).

I think the easiest part to sticking to the $50 budget is being flexible. There's no point being really strict on it, if spending a little bit more money this week is going to save you money in the long run. If you're not organised and divide it and freeze it as soon as you get it home, then buying in bulk is probably not going to help you at all. It does take a little bit getting used to. I used to just pack everything into the freezer and hope for the best. But I've found that being organised in the kitchen gives me a sense of accomplishment (kind of sad, I know). It might be because the Witching Hour is always terrible and having an organised freezer makes it just that little bit easier to handle.

Here's a little tip I was given in the storing of meat - bacon in particular - because we buy 1kg at a time but only ever use about 3 rashers at a time. So a Tupperware tip (although you'll notice it's not in tupperware, it's in chinese containers) Roll it. like so:

Then, when you need some, you can just clip of what you need rather than trying to defrost it partially so you don't have to use the whole thing and end up with chunky bits missing from your bacon. I thought it was genius.

Also, I got my new Car Baby. She doesn't have a name yet, but she's red and sexy and smells pretty. I will wash her then take a photo for you all to see and be jealous. Hehe.

Drove her down to Newcastle on Friday (the day after I got her). I shouldn't have gone, but I'm glad I did. It was for my Aunty's 40th birthday party and we ended up leaving 9:30pm saturday night (party night) because Dex wasn't sleeping, didn't sleep the night before until 11:30pm and up at 6am and my anxiety said "I just want to be home." Didn't end up making it home, got to Bonville to my parent's house (about 20 mins away) and crashed there.
Glad to be back and have Dex sleeping though. He slept for 5 hours today. FIVE HOURS. And, is back in bed at 8:30pm tonight. Poor little guy must have been exhausted.

I have no recipes for you today, I still haven't gotten around to making my Curried apple and Lentil Dal, so I will do that this week and let you know how it goes.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Where's the Tupperware?

Ok, I'll admit it. I sell Tupperware. And you know what? I REALLY enjoy it. It gives me something to talk about other than poo and wee (because admit it ladies, if you have kids, that's what the majority of your conversations are about) and it gets me out of the house for some adult time. (it also puts some extra money in my pocket, but that's just a bonus)

Before I sold Tupperware, I didn't get it. I didn't see the big deal. I didn't understand how spending money on some plastic could save me money. I only signed up to get my free stuff and leave. That was about 3 months a go. Why? Because I believe in it.

So this week ladies, that's my tip. Buy tupperware. Fridge Smarts to be specific. Why? Because on average, we buy 3 bags of groceries a week (fresh fruit & veg) and most families throw out 1 1/2 - 2 bags a week from it not being used. I've kept mushrooms in my fridge for 4 weeks. Same with shallots.

That capsicum? Three weeks in my fridge. That's all I'm going to say.

Ok, enough advertising. I've been living without facebook for a while (ok, two days - feels like a while) and I always wondered how I'd cope without it. I'm a social networking kind of creature. But you know what? Sure, there ARE people I miss chatting to. And I wonder how many people will read my blog now that I'm not going to be sharing it on facebook, but I'm enjoying not having it.

I'm amazed at the amount of time I now have. My house is CLEAN. Not only is my house clean, I'm getting through That List. You know, the one everyone has? Cobwebs, clean out the cupboards, wipe down the cupbaords, clean out the toybox *shudder*. Yeah, I'm making progress on that. AND We're having dinner earlier. We're spending more time outside. I'm playing with Dex more - which is sad to admit. I didn't realise that he missed me until I started playing with him. And you know what? I missed him too - which is a stupid thing to say, seeing how it was self inflicted. But I'm making up for lost time. We've been cooking together, Trying to train the dog (she's just too damn intelligent. She knows what she's meant to do, but is too cheeky to do it).
Tomorrow, we're making play-doh!

I'm going to go check on my Vegetable Bolegnaise sauce (more that napolitana - more vegies, less than bolegnaise, no meat... what does that make it?)
So I'll leave you with a couple of really easy, pretty cheap recipes:
Because it's the party season, everyone needs a couple of good dip recipes. It always feels nice to say "I made it from scratch" so:

PP Dip
Block of cream cheese - room temp.
440g tin crushed pineapple, drained
Packet frnech onion soup mix.

Chuck it all in a bowl, mix together - bit of a summery, sweeter take on French onion dip.

Taco Dip
Small container (homebrand) sour cream
Taco seasoning packet.

Mix taco seasoning into tub of sour cream - amount depends on required flavor. Remeber, less is more, start with a 1/4 of the seasoning pack and go from there - you can always add more flavor.
Serve that one with corn chips.

Do you have any favourite fail-proof dip recipes?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blow the Budget

That's what I did this morning. Completely blew the budget.
Not on food though - Not on us. For us, I bought some bananas, muesli bars, 4 chicken thighs, potatoes and peaches.

The rest? I bought things for people who can't buy it for themselves. All those poor, strong, amazing, inspiring people who are refusing to be broken even after they have lost everything.

I imagined it was me who had just lost my house.
I imagined it was my dog I couldn't find.
I imagined it was my son telling rescuers to save his little brother first.
I imagined it was me, recieveing a phone call from my sister while she was waist deep in water waiting to drown, calling to tell me she loved me.

How can we do nothing? We don't have a lot of money to donate. We have bills to pay, rent, electricity, all that menial stuff. Things that really, in the big picture, don't really count to much at all. But they have to be paid.
So what I CAN do, is spend my weekly budget on someone else. Because we have food in the freezer, we have family we can visit if we need a meal. These people have NOTHING. Not even the clothes on their backs are worth staying in.

So we bought toothbrushes. We bought toothpaste. Soap. Tampons. Pads. Insect repellant. Bandaids.
Can you imagine, having lost everything, having to ask for pads as well? Losing the last dignity you have left?

I can't do much, but I can do this.
You can too.

Imagine if it was you.
Yes, they do need money. But right now, they have nothing to spend it on. They need dignity too. And we can help them. Being able to brush your teeth or wear clean undies - the little things we take for granted are VERY important when it's all you have.

Ill be posting my care package this afternoon. I encourage you all to do the same. Even if it's one pair of socks - think how much that will mean to someone that could have been you.

*I'll put the postage address up as soon as I recieve it from a friend*

Address is:
Flood Relief Donations
43 Lagoon St
QLD 4390

Sunday, January 9, 2011

To train, or not to train?

Well, I never wanted this to be a foodie blog. Which is what it's fast becoming.
So, for something different, I'm not going to mention food, my budget or anything along those lines tonight.
*I am going to tell you that I have Chicken Basil Pesto cooking and it smells Ah-May-Zing!*

We have been considering toilet training for a while now. we have tried on and off. Not really tried, more we sit him ont he toilet when we think about it, if he does something hurrah. If not, no biggie.
But, seeing as how we use MCN's (modern cloth nappies for the uneducated - definitely worth looking into for ANYONE with a baby in nappies. Excuses about cloth is too hard will go out the window) I'd like to have Dex out of nappies by the time his little sister decides to grace us with her presence. Not because I have a problem with washing that many nappies, but because I don't know if my clothesline is big enough to hold that many =s
So the other day, a cranky, just woken up Dex was sitting on the toilet, with Daddy supervising. Dex was slouched meaning the rounded bit specifically designed to accomodate their "bits" wasn't doing the sheilding job it should. Cue Dex wee. Pat, shouts, because Dex gets his arm. Dex bursts into tears because he thinks he's in trouble. Me, trying to say over Dex crying (without shouting) No, you're such a good boy! Mummy is SO proud of you! Dex, still sobbing, still weeing, each sob shoots wee in a different direction, Pat yells more, Me, shoving marshmallows into Dex's mouth for "positive reinforcement" ... Sound familiar?
Please tell me someone else had this experience with toilet training? Someone else has a hubby stupid enough to shout when they get hit with a little bit of wee? It didn't scar your kids... Did it? Stop them wanting to toilet train for years to come?
He's really funny actually, he watches me on the toilet (not in a creepy way, in a learning way) and he's started to pick up the use of toilet paper etc. He grabs the paper when he's "finished" and shoves it down the front of him, then says "up".

Other news, I think my blood pressure is playing up. I'm almost 23 weeks now and I haven't had a dr's appt in about 8 weeks, because I guess I just slip through the cracks. I see them on friday and am going to demand more better-er monitoring.

Ok lovelies, hit me with your tt tragedies... Make my night =]
Going to eat my Chicken Basil Pesto (which is delicious, by the way)


Thursday, January 6, 2011

So, I was thinking...

I don't do it very often (think, that is) but when I do, it's usually something worthwhile thinking about.
I was thinking about a friend who has their grocery bill for 5 down to $100 a fortnight. It made me think "why can't I feed three of us on that? It just doesn't make sense." Then I looked at last night's meal. Three people ate it last night. Pat took lunch to work, which he'll probably bring half home because there was so much in the container. I've had some for lunch. And guess what? There's still a whole container of it left!

That's my problem. I'm convinced. I make meals that can feed at least 6, pretty much every day. So, is this a good thing, or a bad thing? I guess in a way it's good, because we have a continuous stock pile of leftovers in the freezer ready for nights Mummy just can't be bothered cooking.
It's also in a way bad. Why? Let me tell you the contents of my freezer atm (just meals) 3 serves Lasagne, 2 butter chicken and rice, 2 honey mustard chicken and rice, three lots of pesto ready to be added to pasta and a loaf of pumpkin bread. WHO NEEDS THAT MUCH FOOD?!?! I could almost start up some sort of lean cuisine franchise solely based on what's in my freezer.
If I don't buy anything next week, and just eat the leftovers in the freezer (And there will be more coming from the meals planned this week as well) does that mean I've actually fed my family on $70 for a fortnight? There's an extra $20 there because I went to the fruit shop and raided the seconds trolley - Tip from afformentioned friend with the $100 fortnight family.

I honestly didn't think when I started this that I'd have so much to think about. And it's only been a week! Already I've confronted how much wasteage I usually have when I cook food - Although I didn't record it for you guys. The three pesto's ready to go in the freezer? Usually, I'll make the one that I need, forget about the rest of the bunch and throw it out in a couple of days when it goes a bit manky. This time, I prepped it when I bought it. Same goes with Necterines. I got 2kg for $4.50 off the seconds stand. Some were bruised etc and usually, I'd just throw the whole thing out. This time, I chopped the bruised part off and pureed or cliced the rest up and froze it for adding to yogurt, smoothies and ice blocks.

It is really empowering to realise that I am literally throwing money away when I do that. It's shocking to see how much I was actually wasting. It's scary to think if I hadn't set myself this target, I'd still be doing those things, because it's easier.

In completey different (but sort of related) news, I'm utterly convinced my life would be easier if I had a dishwasher. I was constantly washing up yesterday, because I was running out of places to prep things! If I had a dishwasher, I could load it during the day instead of stacking on the sink, turn it on at night before bed and then pack it all away while waiting for the kettle to boil of a morning. Ahhhh, the luxury. A girl can dream, huh?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


So, here you have my receipts from today's shopping expedition. I failed.

You'll notice I've crossed off some items, because it's completely stupid to include these things in my $50 budget. if that $50 had to include toiletries and general household items, there will be weeks we can't afford even a bag of homebrand rice to live on. So, minusing those out, we have 69.21 - 9.57 = $59.64
You'll notice I've underlined the bacon as well. This is because I bought a kg pack. This week alone will not have 1kg worth of bacon eating in it. So I am going to quarter this $ to reflect what I'm actually going to use this week (I'm stretching to be inside the budget, I know).
Comes to $5.09 (the remaining 750g which brings the grand total down to....

Which isn't bad for my first week.
But, has anyone noticed the major FAIL in my shopping?
There's hardly any fruit! Sure, we get the vegies we need (almost), but not our fruit.
Now what am I going to do?
(I'm going to go to the fruit store tomorrow and buy fruit, but I'm more referring to in the long run)
I'm not really a fan of buying tins of home brand fruit salad to reach the quota. However, when I buy fruit, it usually goes gross before it all gets eaten and there's the problem. How do I buy enough that we get what we need, but not so much as to damage the budget and be throwing food away.
And yes, I do keep it in Tupperware =p I just end up forgetting about it. hehe

How do you make sure your kids get the required 3 & 5? Do they even get it?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Food for Fifty (dollars)

So, up until now, that ^ has been my plan.
But looking at our bank account this morning, which contains a grand total of $4.28 I figured I may need a more detailed plan to becoming a scrooge thrifty.

So, my plan is:
Number 1 - buying an easy-yo (? I think that's what they're called) yogurt maker. These are about $19 and the cost isn't coming out of my weekly $50. Why? Because then I'd have to feed us on $30. No, it's actually not, because I count this into preperation costs.
Number 2 - (quite simple, really) write a shopping list and STICK TO IT.

The stick to it is the hard part. I'm not sure why, really. All that product placement temptation that has me subconsciously buying more expensive brands.... Who am I kidding. It's because I'm weak willed and I go for whats easiest.

So, the meal plan for the next week. We have:
(keep in mind, I do have some ingredients in my fridge already e.g. cream that need using)

Curried apple and Lentil Dal (w/ rice)
Fettucine Cabonara
Chicken Basil Pesto
Vege Spaghetti
Chickpea Curry
Wild Rice Casserole
Spinach & Ricotta puffs.
Going to make Chocolate Wheaties and Muesli Bars for snacks too.

The curried apple recipe I got from: http://http//cheaphealthygood.blogspot.com/2009/01/65-cheap-healthy-one-dish-meals-with.html
Which has been a real inspiration to me to set this task for myself.
And the Chickpea Curry recipe is one that I found:

1 onion (diced)
Minced garlic
1 tsp cummin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 TBS garammasala
1 can chickpeas
1 can diced tomatoes
1 large sweet potato

Peel and cut up sweet potato into chunks. Throw everything except the Garamasala into the slow cooker on low for 8 hours. Add garamasala just before serving.

(keep an eye on it through the day and make sure it doesn't dry out. You can use vegetable stock or plain old water to keep it going)

I added the sweet potato to the recipe. I also usually add pumpkin and maybe snow peas, depending on whats on sale/what you like. Maybe capsicum would be nice? It's a good base recipe to add things to and play around with.

And to the person who sniped me on eBay for the Joovy Caboose pram that I really wanted - Sucks to be you. You paid $270 and I found out where to get them Brand New for $320. Sniper.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The who, when and why

I always hate these.
Because everything you read tells you different things about what these first posts should include.

So I'm going to do my own thing, a sort of who we are, why I'm doing this and when the Doll is due.

I'm Jess, mother of one and a half. One, being my 16 month old son named Dexter, who is currently driving his lawnmower into the front door which he just slammed shut. Life is always noisy interesting with him around. Half being the little girl I'm currently incubating. Due in 4 months - 11 May 2011. A very short time away.

Like I've said - We're not poor, but if I don't stop spending, we will be. It's just so easy to spend money. It's hardly ever on myself, usually on my son and Doll-to-be. Or Hubby, who get frustrated becasue he'd rather continue wearing the undies with holes in them that are worn and comfortable, than have me spending money. Especially since he's just bought me a brand new car. I've never had one of those before!

So, this is us. Me, setting myself the goal of spending only $50 a week to feed the three of us. Will be interesting. My plan will be once I'm at $50, that's it. I'm not allowed to spend any more. Probably a couple of Weetbix dinners for the first couple of weeks while I figure it all out.

And, trying to prepare for the Arrival, whilst spending the smallest amount possible... I still need a double pram, a capsule, another car seat, nappies (cloth) and all those other wondeful bits and bobs that must accompany children.

Oh yeah, going to try toilet training my son in the midst of all this too.

So there you have it. If you like it, welcome, stick around. If you don't, GTFO