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Home-made Cornish pasties

May 12, 2016

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Most Cornish pasty recipes involve raw meat, but I remember them from my childhood as a way to use up leftover roast meat. I used leftover butterflied lamb from the slow cooker, shredded.

Just make a batch of basic shortcrust pastry – my recipe is 100g chilled butter, 200g plain flour, bit of salt, 50g cold water. Pop it in the fridge and make filling while it chills.

Saute a chopped leek in some oil – because I got leeks cheap the other week, otherwise use onion. Add diced carrot and potato and cook until just starting to soften. Mix through the meat. I added a little silverbeet from the garden too, to make them a bit healthier. Season with salt and pepper (plenty of pepper!).

Roll the pastry out thin, and cut circles – our cereal bowls worked perfectly – re-rolling to make as many circles as possible. Place filling in the middle of the circle and crimp/roll the edges. Brush with egg wash. Place on a baking tray and baked in a preheated oven at 180-200 Celsius.

These have been my work lunches this week – super easy, delicious and filling. I don’t understand buying frozen shortcrust pastry at all; puff yes but shortcrust is so easy.

This week’s dinners have been:

Monday – Cornish pasties

Tuesday – frozen fish (bought half price this week) with homemade chips and broccoli

Wednesday – frozen pizzas (bought cheaply 2 weeks ago, for nights like this where I couldn’t be bothered), homemade garlic bread

Thursday – chicken chow mein-style meal (500g of chicken mince bought at half-price $3.23, frozen peas, onion, broccoli, curry powder and a flavouring sachet from chicken 2-minute noodles, with rice, fed 5 of us for around $5 and the kids loved it. Bit bland for me so I just added some chilli sauce).

It’s been a stressful week with work so a couple of lazy meals snuck in there, but still better than takeaway.

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Under budget this week!

May 8, 2016

Bit of a smaller shop this week. We still have quite a lot of vegies from last week and winter fruit gets more boring so the kids don’t eat as much of it (we still have some oranges and green apples).

It  was the last week of having to spend $110/week to get 15000 bonus FlyBuys points (which will equal $75 off our shopping when we choose to use it), I also had a voucher from last week’s receipt for 1000 bonus points if I spent $120, and a voucher that came in the mail for triple points if I spent over $70. So this $123 shop will be 1369 FlyBuys points plus triggering the 15000 points.

I bought $10 pyjamas – Mother’s Day is the best time to buy women’s PJs – which I paid for with a $10 gift card from doing surveys. In addition to this $113 we spent $4 at the fruit and veg shop (broccoli, capsicum, pears) and $1 at the bakery, so under $120 from the grocery budget.

The meat was all half price – the cheap BBQ sausages aren’t great for us but make a nice easy meal that the kids like and at $4/tray each meal will only cost us $2 (of meat) for the 6 meat-eaters. The Old El Paso chili con carne ($3) we had for dinner tonight just the two of us, with brown rice & peas and corn. It was okay, wouldn’t pay full price for it. The lamb is in the slowcooker now for meals through the week.

$2 for 2L of choc milk which will get frozen and made into choc milk slushies in the Thermomix – the kids and I love this. The freezer is pretty full now and the pantry is stocked up with baking supplies and lunchbox snacks so next week should be a small shop, probably just Spudshed for fruit, vegies, milk, bread and a couple of other things.

Over the next few weeks I will have the $75 in FlyBuys $$, a $100 Woolies gift card  I got with my credit card points – I pay in full every month and pay no annual fee so the rewards are a bonus – and another $20 Coles gift card from a survey site, so that will help us save more towards the council rates due in August.

Got cucumber that needs using up, olives in the fridge and a bit of feta with this week’s shop so I think tomorrow night I’ll serve some of the lamb with a Greek-style salad. Other than that I am still thinking about the week’s meals!

This week’s food shopping

May 1, 2016

Oh no, we went $10 over budget again! Ran around like a chicken with its head cut off at Coles just before they closed so we could get up to the $110 spend for FlyBuys, but probably should’ve just got milk, bread & eggs there to save buying them at Spudshed. However, I stocked up on laundry liquid (half price) and dishwasher powder (the Coles brand does as good a job as the more expensive stuff, in my experience) instead, so it will all get used.

Here’s the haul:

Receipts:

 

Scored 1kg bags of bananas at 49c each again to restock the freezer. The week’s shop also includes:

  • 1kg chicken breast (full price at $8.99/kg)
  • one pack chicken schnitzels marked down to $4.89, still quite expensive but was our Sunday dinner treat and I’ve saved some of mine to have in a salad for lunch tomorrow
  • 5kg carrots
  • 3kg potatoes (we can go through this in a week)
  • 2 frozen pizzas for a lazy night, at $3.25 for one (half price at Coles) and $1.99 for the other from Spudshed
  • laundry liquid half price
  • HEAPS of half price lunchbox items – GrainWaves, Vege chips, LCMs, vegan muesli bars. These will definitely last more than one week
  • chia seeds at $8.45 – expensive but a good egg replacer and a good protein source for Miss 13
  • 2 packs of Fry’s vegan thingys for Miss 13, again this will last at least a few weeks as I don’t like her eating soy meat replacements every night, but they were on special and rarely are
  • frozen dumplings & spring rolls half-price – good to have in the freezer, never buy at full price
  • half price Rice Bubbles – a staple cereal in our house and the real ones are preferred to the Coles brand. We’re not finished the previous box yet but will put this away so we don’t have to buy Coles brand next time
  • Almond milk, again I still have some in the cupboard but I buy one any time it comes on a good special as Miss 13 prefers this brand
  • pack of pads marked down to $2 (I mostly use reuseable but sometimes use disposable and Miss 13 only uses disposables. I foresee a time in the future where I may as well buy shares in Kotex when the younger three girls start menstruating!!)
  • 3 leeks for $2
  • 2 bunches of kale for $1
  • 4 zucchinis for $1
  • 3 burpless cucumbers for $1
  • some fancy mushrooms, $2, for a stir-fry tomorrow night
  • 4 bunches Chinese vegies, $1, for the stir-fry

I probably could save even more by avoiding some of the packaged items, however as we both work full time the trade-off is less time to cook. So when I buy packaged items, I buy the brands we like, but only when they’re on special. By being organised we rarely have to pay full price for them.

Vague meal plan for the week

April 25, 2016

I don’t really meal plan. It enables me to shop the specials and markdowns – then I work with what I’ve got. I do like to have a vague idea of what I might make for the week though.

Today (child-free, public holiday) I don’t need to cook any main meals. I just had a huge plate of chicken and salads for lunch – the carcass of that $5.43 chicken that made 3 meals is now boiling up for stock – and the pie just needs to go in the oven tonight. So I will bake some muffins for lunchboxes:

  • white choc and cranberry (packet mix with ‘real’ ingredients, marked down to $1, need to add two eggs)
  • banana muffins – I have an old favourite recipe that I am going to try and veganise so Miss 13 can eat them. Freezer still full of bananas from last week’s 49c/kg haul.

This week there will be three dinners with five of us here, one with four of us (me and my three children), and two with all seven.

My vaguely planned dinners are:

  • nachos – there is some thinly sliced steak in the freezer that needs using up. I think I’ll do that in the slow cooker with spices so it falls apart over the nachos. I’ll attempt to make up a bean mix for Miss 13. There will be leftover meat for lunches.
  • homemade sausage rolls. Again I will attempt a vegan version for Miss 13 and this should do her more than one meal. Should be leftovers for lunches.
  • chicken in a tomato sauce with pasta (minus the sauce for Mr 10) – should be leftovers.
  • homemade pizza
  • steak sandwiches using the small pieces of sandwich steak
  • chicken with rice and stir-fried vegetables

This may well change but I find it useful to have vague ideas in my head.

Anatomy of a $167 grocery shop

April 25, 2016
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This week’s groceries

Total spend this week: $167. On track for 15000 bonus FlyBuys points, plus this shop got me 660 bonus points from the coupons I got in the mail.

There were probably a few things at Coles I could’ve held back until next week’s shop given that I only had to get to $110, but I didn’t get the meat markdowns until the shop was about to close. $167 is over budget but we were way under last week ($59.65) so it evens out. The story goes: the markdown guy was in the fresh produce area checking salads, and I asked him if he was going to do the meat. He said it was already done and I said I’d noticed a couple of things with the 26/04 on – Coles being closed on the 25/04 for ANZAC Day. He said if I could find anything with that date on, bring it to him and he’d mark it down for me. Well, I found:

  • 1.2kg chicken thigh fillets
  • 2 large chicken breast fillets
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 4 chicken drumsticks (81c!!)
  • 1 tray round steak
  • small tray Angus rump steak
  • 1kg lean beef mince
  • 500gm pork mince

so he acknowledged I won that round. I think the meat guy’s going to get a talking to …

I also found marked down for the public holiday:

  • family size beef and red wine pie $5.20 down from $13
  • superfood salad bowl 49c (90% off – who would pay $5 for a bowl of salad from the supermarket?)
  • 3 tubs of deli salads – had these before, they are yummy – 99c (83% off)
  • 2L apple and mango juice 50c (what we don’t drink today I’ll make into icypoles)
  • 1L milk 19c (date of 27th so we should get through it by then, if not – freeze)
  • Italian pasta marked down from $1.50 to 50c due to new packaging coming in
  • another pack of the granola seed bar mix on clearance, $1 down from $3
  • a box of cereal $2 down from $6 on clearance

The only items in the Coles shop that weren’t on special were the toilet paper (this is very nice toilet paper for the price, I buy it if nothing is on a better special, 20c/100 sheets), the salt, and the Coles brand items: frozen berries (160 bonus FB points), butter, sugar, paracetamol, coconut, and canned tomatoes. The total savings never include markdowns, just the catalogue specials – in total the save was about $135, not $45.

It’s only the two of us until tomorrow so we will eat the three deli salads (couscous & pumpkin, wild rice, and quinoa with feta) plus the ‘superfood salad’ with the last of Saturday night’s roast chicken (which was $5.43, fed 2 adults and 2 kids for Saturday dinner and then in wraps/salad for Sunday lunch, and there’s still some left) for lunch today, then with pie for dinner tonight, then we will take pie and salad to work for lunch Tuesday. All will be used up by the 26th, the best-before date.

At Spudshed my $1 prepack item was a huge shopping bag full of red apples, maybe 2.5kg? Most are fine, the others I’ll use for cooking or feed to the guinea pigs. The $4 prepack item was 5 avocadoes, these have been super expensive lately ($2-$3 EACH) and both M and I and his elder daughter LOVE them so 5 for $4 is pretty good. The pizza was a markdown, $5.99 to $1.99 and they are nice pizzas which can be frozen. Chicken mince was a 50% off markdown too. Frozen meal M takes to work, not too bad a price all things considered (I won’t eat them). Fruit and veg all very cheap as you can see from the receipt. We still had oranges, green apples and some bananas left for fruit, and a couple of zucchinis, capsicum, sweet potato, onions, carrots, baby spinach left for vegies.

1 chicken breast, 4 people

April 21, 2016

Four omnivores and one vegan to feed tonight. Had one large chicken breast in the freezer (probably about $3? I buy from Spudshed at $8.99/kg if I can’t get markdowns), 6 slices of bacon left that needed using up (I buy the 750g/1kg packs of shortcut when they are on a good special at Coles), and one chickpea patty for the vegan. So I cut the chicken into tenderloin-sized strips, and wrapped it in bacon. I had a bit more chicken than bacon as I cut the chicken into 8 pieces (two each), so two of the pieces were unwrapped. Seasoned with a little dried basil and chilli flakes. My kids being my kids, Mr 10 and Miss 8 complained that I had combined chicken and bacon even though they like both things *sigh*

Rice and broccoli in the Thermomix. Silverbeet from the garden, sauteed in oil with onion, garlic and more basil. Not a lot of meat but filled up on greens. I still feel a little hungry now so I might eat a small piece of zucchini slice before bed. I prefer this to eating huge meals and feeling over-full.

I still have some of the zucchini slice I made on Monday; enough for both adults’ work lunches tomorrow. The lemon slice is all gone and there’s a few granola squares left.

I need to make my shopping list for Coles on Sunday; we have to spend $110 as if I do that for four weeks I get $75 worth of bonus points which comes in handy around birthdays or Christmas (the FlyBuys dollars can be used at Kmart and Target, or we can use them at Coles for the shopping and then use the actual money somewhere else). We will add up the total as we go around so that we spend just over $110 but not too much over.

Shopping on a budget

April 20, 2016

With one thing and another over the past year, we’ve ended up on a pretty tight grocery budget. Many people I speak to can’t believe we feed two adults and five children (13, 10, 9, 8 & 7) on $120-$150/week, even if the children are not with us 100% of the time. My three kids are with us about 60% of the time, and M’s two kids are with us about 30% of the time. Miss 13 is a vegan now, Mr 10, Miss 9 & Miss 7 eat like horses (but are fussy) and Miss 8 eats like a sparrow (and is even fussier).

Well, last week we actually did the week’s food shopping for $59.65. We didn’t need meat, as the freezer was full of markdowns from previous weeks. By the end of the week, we won’t have much meat left and will need to buy more, but I still expect next week’s shop to fit within the $150 budget easily. I don’t pay more than $10/kg for meat unless it’s a very special occasion, and 90% of the meat we buy is marked-down (buy on marked date and freeze – never had a problem).

Some of the bargains we got last week included:

  • bag of 5 zucchinis for $1
  • bag of 5 capsicums for $1
  • 1.5kg bananas at 99c/kg
  • 1.5kg ripe bananas at 49c/kg
  • 2kg apples at 99c/kg
  • 2kg potatoes for 99c
  • 500g shredded cheese $3.99
  • sliced bread 99c x2
  • pack 6 rolls $1.69

On Monday I made butter chicken (2 adult dinners and 2 adult lunches) with 1 chicken breast, a meal kit that had been reduced to $1.50 in Coles weeks ago, and cream that I’d bought marked down and frozen a few weeks ago. Cooked frozen peas and corn kernels with the rice. I also made a large zucchini slice which I still have most of, to use for work lunches using 2 of the zucchini, six eggs from 18 I’d bought marked down last week (still in date). I used another 6 eggs and some lemons I was given by a friend to make a lemon slice. Bananas in the freezer for smoothies and ‘ice cream’ desserts. Baked nut & seed granola bars from a packet mix marked down to $1 a few weeks ago (made these vegan for Miss 13). This will keep the kids in snacks for the week given they’re on school holidays, along with the fruit of course. We still had oranges and watermelon from last week. Tuesday’s dinner was pork meatballs (pork mince marked down 50% after Easter and frozen, carrot, onion, celery & homemade breadcrumbs made from the crusts of bread), pasta and sauce made from tomatoes that needed using & 1 of the capsicums. Tonight we had a big barbecue – lamb koftas, peri-peri chicken skewers, sausages – all marked down, approximately $9 in meat for 6 of us, plus potato, sweet potato, broccoli and cauliflower.

THIS is how I feed all of us on this shopping budget. We eat plenty and often fit in treats, they’re just half-price treats. I snap up markdowns when I see them, freeze or cook that day or the next, and always have an inventory in my head of what’s in the freezer/fridge while I’m shopping. I have my favourite brands but I buy them when they come on half-price specials. Knowing the catalogue cycles, I rarely pay full price for items like toiletries.

Except coffee. $50/month on freshly roasted coffee beans for home and freshly-ground filter-roasted coffee for my Aeropress at work. Priorities! Fits in the $600/month grocery budget 😉