Monday, May 6, 2013

How We Save Money With Our $100 Food Shop - Lunch

The most common lunch we have is sandwiches. Partly because of a dear friend we can get free bread. But also because it's great travel food for kids going to school and DH going to work.
  • We have the basic sandwich spreads like Peanut Butter, Marmite/Vegemite(whatever is cheapest at the time), Honey and homemade Jam.
  • We use leftover meat from dinner for a sandwich filling. Like chicken, beef or bacon.
  • Leftover salads like coleslaw, green salad or tomato and red onion salad.
  • Fresh veggies from the garden, like tomatoes and lettuce when in season. Or sliverbeet finely sliced.
  • DH makes great Aioli with our chickens eggs, that can go on our salad sandwiches. I make chutneys, pickles and relish form our garden produce.
  • We make our own humus, and egg salad.
  • Having a little grated cheese can make a sandwich tasty too.
Our family doesn't always have sandwiches though. Sometimes we are home and can make cooked lunches. Have something more filling so dinner can be more simple at night.
  • Sometimes DH, DS14 and DS13 take leftovers from dinner in little containers they can microwave for lunch.
  • Homemade hot chips with Aioli and tomato sauce.
  • Toasted sandwiches with a fillings of cheese, baked beans, sweet corn, or leftover mince.
  • Salads like potato salad with some bacon
  • Homemade mini pizzas
  • Homemade hamburgers
  • Homemade soup with bread
  • Roast chicken, and mayonnaise on buns. Leftover chicken is used for dinner and stock.
For us its about using what we have first before buying extra for lunch. Using up leftovers, making our own condiments. There is more I would like to learn how to make our own of. I will be making our own peanut butter, to see if I can make it cheaper. Even want to try making some of our own cheese.
  • We buy cheese on sale 1kg blocks (last time time I got them for $6.50). And cut them up into 250g blocks, grate them in my food processor and bag them in zip lock bags for the freezer. They defrost faster, and ready to use for meals. That gives me about 8 weeks worth of cheese (that worked out about $1.63per bag) . I was also able to do this for Parmesan cheese, with a very good special on blocks of that cheese. Came to around $2 a bag of 200g Parmesan cheese (yummy in risotto).

Saturday, May 4, 2013

How We Save Money With Our $100 Food Shop - Snacks

Snacks are usually morning tea, afternoon tea and sometimes after dinner. They can be taken to school or work, and on trips. They help us to have a break or sustain us until a main meal.

The easiest and cheapest snack we have is popcorn. We always have popcorn on hand in the pantry, and with our popcorn maker (a birthday gift) it only takes a couple of minutes to make.

And thanks to The Food Truck we can make our own potato chips, it's not hard. It's easier with our mandolin slicer (another birthday gift) to slice our potatoes into thin slices. Season the potato and lay out on baking paper on a baking tray, spray tops with a little oil. Place in a preheated oven 150'C for 20-25 minutes or until golden and crunchy. I like these with garlic salt. Kids like chicken salt.

Fruit and veggies yummy, even better when they are homegrown. Sliced apples, scooping out fresh feijoa, kiwifruit with our free fruit spoons. Peeling mandarins, squeezing juice from oranges, lemons and grapefruit. Popping berries just picked, straight into your mouth in Summer. Carrot and celery sticks, though my kids will just eat a carrot as is most of the time. Eating seasonal helps to keep the costs down.

Home Baking is a good way to have a yummy snack that doesn't have to cost a lot.
  • You don't always need eggs. Like in ANZAC, and gingerbread biscuits.
  • You can make sure a cake lasts longer if you make it into cupcakes and then kids can have 1 cupcake instead of 1 slice of cake
  • You don't always need butter. Like in Carrot cake, Pikelets, Lemonade Scones, ABC muffins and even a Chocolate Mud cake.
  • Buy butter on sale for under $3, and store in freezer for when you do need butter for baking.
  • Limit how many biscuits you are aloud to have at one time. For our family it is 2 biscuits at one time.
  • I buy plain flour and white sugar in bulk. So I don't have to buy every week. Last week I brought 5kg white sugar for $7.99 (so $1.60 per kg). Because we use less then 1kg per week (unless I'm preserving). I shouldn't need to buy for another 5 weeks. Next week I need to buy plain flour.
  • You don't always need white sugar. Like Fried scones and Honey cake uses honey and dates, no sugar. Or some recipes ask for brown sugar instead. Like Gingerbread biscuits and muffins, Date loaf, and ABC muffins.
  • If you are out of icing sugar for icing your cake, you can make your own. Add white sugar to a food processor, mix until you have icing sugar.
  • Sometimes you have to make do with what you have. One time I was making ANZAC biscuits and realised I was out of rolled oats (last had been put into our muesli). Was able to use our muesli instead, and it was yummy. Didn't have walnuts for a recipe, but did have cashew nuts, so used instead. Ran out of chocolate chips for chocolate chip cookies. But had some leftover chocolate from a present, chopped it up and used instead. Just didn't have enough plain flour for a cake, used some wholemeal to top up (could have also used some self raising flour I had in pantry too)
  • ABC muffins are a wonderful way to use up bruised (or half eaten) apples and bananas, that the kids won't eat into a muffin they all will have.
  • I also have some bananas that I was able to buy cheap, in the freezer. Waiting to become Banana cake or Banana Walnut Golden Syrup loaf :)
  • Freezers are also a great place to store baking. At the moment we have a Carrot cake in ours. Great to have on hand when you not in the mood to bake. All I have to do is defrost and ice the cake and  it's really for school lunches. This cake was half of a large cake I had made. We have also stored in the freezer before Banana cake, ABC muffins, even some biscuit mix that was ready to cut into slices and bake.
  • We use our lemons (from our tree) for making lemon cupcakes, and Wholemeal Lemon and Poppy Seed cake and Lemon slice. Don't see the point in buying them. And when we have so many that we can't use them fast enough, we freeze the juice for the times when we don't have lemons. We uses our oranges and grapefruit also as a flavour for cakes.
Sometimes it nice to have a drink with our snacks. It can be a hot drink like coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, or cold drink like water, milk, milkshake, and juice.
  • Milkshakes are usually made when we have leftover ice cream that is not enough for dessert. Add it to some milk and mix (we have two options a hand powered blender or powered one). It can make a small amount of ice cream become 4 cups of milkshake that the kids can have with their 2 biscuits.
  • Juice we usually make form our own fruit, it just to expensive to buy. Sometimes when I can get a box of cheap fruit from the fruit shop there will be some in there that can be made into juice.
  • In Summer I make Ginger beer, Welsh Nectar (like lemonade), and Winter I make Lemon & Barley Cordial
Lastly sometimes if I make it we have yogurt. Served in cups, since kids will take to much if in bowls.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

How We Save Money With Our $100 Food Shop - Breakfast

I was asked how do I keep our Food shop so low? And I hope I can answer that question over the next few days.
Firstly we have that limit of $100 (sometimes we spend less) because we want to pay off our debt. We have a goal and focus that helps us not to get caught up with the wants we can have when we walk around a supermarket. I can stand in line waiting to pay and not pick up that yummy looking chocolate bar, because I don't want that to mean we have use money we need to pay bills.

For those who don't know we are a family of 6 = Me DH, DS14, DS13, DD11, and DS8 (DH= Dear Husband, DS= Dear Son, and DD= Dear Daughter). DH works, and I'm a stay at home mum who is homeschooling our youngest. We have 6 chickens, a bunny, a cat (who is a great mouser), and fish with snails. We live in a little home in the city, with a veggie garden and 12 fruit trees, berry plants and herbs dotted around.

Today I'm going to look at BREAKFAST FOODS

For breakfast we mostly have porridge in Winter and muesli in Summer. I can buy a bay of 1.5kg rolled oats for $3.99 and have it last for a couple of weeks. The muesli costs more, I get a bag of 650g for $3.99. I bulk the muesli up with a couple of cups of rolled oats and coconut. And if I can get dried fruit and nuts on special I add them too. It makes the muesli last longer. We also have weet-bix in our pantry as a back up. DH and DS14 like to have it as a snack to tie them over between meals. For the younger kids we sometime buy a packed of Homebrand Honey Puffs 425g or Budget Coco Pops 600g for about $3.99.
But breakfast doesn't always have to be cereal. In the weekends or holidays we can have meals like Toast and a Hot Drink, Bacon and Eggs (our chickens eggs), Pancakes (great with our lemons), French Toast (great way to use stale bread), English Muffins (homemade), and Fried Scones with Golden Syrup.
  • Our Chickens don't cost us a lot to look after and feed. They love to have fresh grass and sliver beet. They eat our leftovers (like rice, bread). I even keep them crumbs and seeds from our grainy bread. But a big help is my mum and dad give us large bags of chicken food for the eggs we give them each week. At the moment we have been getting 4 eggs a day, but sometimes goes up to 6 or down to 2. When we have a lot to use, having bacon and eggs for breakfast is a good way to use up eggs.
DH makes the best pancakes, I try to take turns making them but they don't turn out the same. Jamie Oliver has a cheap and easy recipe for Pancakes, called ONE-CUP PANCAKES.
Using one cup or mug measure 1 cup/mug of self-raising flour, and 1 cup/mug of milk into a bowl. Add 1 egg and whisk together. and there is your pancake batter. you can serve pancakes so many ways but our favorite and cheapest is icing sugar sprinkled on with the juice of our lemon picked fresh from the tree.
  • I make up milk powder for baking in a glass jar (about 1 litre), it is keep in the fridge for the week ahead. It saves money buying fresh milk all the time. This milk is great to use with making pancakes.
 DS14 like making French Toast, it simple and can be served savory or sweet. Sweet can have with golden syrup or jam. Savory can be with bacon or a pickle. It's a good way to use bread at the end of the week before you get fresh bread for the next week.
The English Muffin recipe I have I'm sure is from the Destitute Gourmet website. And is like my Fried Scones, so which one we make is based on what ingredients we have on hand at the time.

4 1/2 C plain flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tsp butter
1 1/2 C milk
oil for shallow frying (I like to add a bit of butter for taste)
Shift together flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add butter and rub in with your finger tips. Stir in milk, until a soft dough is formed. Knead lightly and roll on a floured board.
Cut into rounds 2-3cms thick with a cookie cutter (or a small tuna can that has both lid and bottom off works). Heat oil (butter) in fry pan and fry the scones gently on both sides until golden.
These are great with golden syrup.
  • Another good thing to have with breakfast is fruit. It doesn't have to be fresh fruit on muesli. Sometimes the kids don't eat their fruit for lunch, or there is some fruit in the fruit bowl that has a soft spot. Even going in the garden you can find some fruit fallen off the tree, but not enough to fill preserving jars. Or you have been to a fruit shop and they have had a box of fruit for $2 but you can't eat it all before it goes off. Cook it up, add some sugar and keep in a jar in the fridge for breakfast. We have done feijoa and apple, pear and peach even a berry mix, so no fruit goes to waste, and breakfast is filling.
Lastly DH and I like to have a coffee every morning, and sometimes the kids like to have a cup of tea or hot chocolate. It doesn't have to use a lot of milk, and tea, coffee, and hot chocolate doesn't have to cost alot. The last time I brought tea bags it was a 100 bags of Bell tea for $2 (reduced to clear). We are still going through it as we either share a tea bag or add 2 bags to our tea pot and fill. Hot Chocolate we use Homebrand drinking Chocolate 400g for $3.79. At first the kids went through that very fast. But since I don't buy it often, they have gotten better at making it last.
  • Coffee beans can be brought cheaply if you buy green beans and roast them yourself. DH likes making a good coffee. He buys the beans from the Green Bean House, the price can change with what they get (and you can choose). It can range between $15-$26 including delivery with the beans we get. That's for 1kg of green beans that swell a bit when roasted. DH batch roasts them in a cast iron fry pan. It doesn't take long, and we grind them while reading the news or talking together. These beans last us over a month and I like it better then brought coffee from cafes :)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Making More In My Kitchen

 With the kids home because of school holidays, its very important to have the cupboards full with baking. It stops the temptation to buy things we don't need, and makes great bribes (I mean encouragement hee hee) to behave and be helpful. Yes even the teen boys :)
I started with making Afghan biscuits, don't need a lot of ingredients for these. A great use for our walnuts :)

Next Gingerbread Men, DS8 helped with the icing. Next time will make car ones. As DS8 does like his Gingerbread cookies :)

Then I made Feijoa Jelly. This is my first time, and I was please to see it's as easy as making Crab Apple Jelly. A great use of fruit that kids weren't eating (the small sized feijoas, that a teaspoon don't fit). Now I know they will eat on pikelets and scones (with some fresh whipped cream YUM!)

Look at those beautiful Autumn colours. Feijoa and Crab Apple Jellies make a pretty stain glass window for my kitchen :)

Now I can focus on catching up on washing (got behind after boys came back from camp), and cleaning. Need my lounge back :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Autumn In My Kitchen

Do you love the colours of Autumn? I sure do :)
Even better when you find them in your kitchen with the autumn flavours to go with them.
Washing crab apples to make crab apple jelly. I love the red, oranges and yellows.

The finished Crab Apple Jelly is also very pretty with the sun shining on them. Had them by the kitchen window to cool.

Orange of carrots and the browns of walnuts. Getting ready to make carrot cake.

Homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing. YUM! Perfect for an autumn afternoon tea (or dessert)
Also made chicken stock for tonight's dinner, more for comfort food then colours. The carrot cake I made double batch so half could go into the freezer for a day when I don't have time to bake.
Came away from the kitchen today very happy. now DH has cooked us dinner :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Country Drive = Cheap Food

Our family driving through the Karangahake Gorge. Love our country :)
 DS13 and DS14 have been on a christian kids camp as junior leaders. The camp is at Waihi Beach, a lovely place (beautiful beach). It means having a country drive to and from, but well worth it. The boys had a great time, and we got to pick up some cheap fresh food.
The results from a night of cracking walnut shells.
There was a couple of cute kids selling walnuts on the side of the road. We had to stop and buy a bag. It cost a $10, but well worth it when we almost filled to jars with them. To buy them from the shops and fill the same jars would cost over $28. So plans are to use them for carrot cake and yummy dinners of Bacon and Walnut Gnocchi. Also should make a batch of Afghan biscuits with walnuts on top :)
But that was not all we got. At a fruit and veggie shop heading home (before the city) , we picked up some carrots and onions. 20kg onions for $6.99 and 15kg carrots for $7.99.
At another shop brought 500g of garlic for $5, we love our garlic.
Now I need to prepare some of our carrots for the freezer, to make them last like our broccoli we did. With this type of buying I might be able to get our grocery budget lower than $100 per week. That would be helpful.
Waihi Beach on the day I dropped the boys off to their camp. Could of stayed there for the week myself :)

Baking Soda Shampoo

Ok baking soda is not really shampoo, but it sure has been doing a great job with my hair. Many times I had trouble with shampoos, my skin reacting to them. Then buy the ones I didn't react to cost more money.
Then thanks to Pigs Tits and Parsley Sauce, I gave Baking Soda a go. And love it, it's cheap, easy and I feel so clean afterwards. And then using vinegar for conditioner is a bonus.
But just this week I read about Apple Cider vinegar instead of white vinegar. (Was a blog post from last year) Got to give that a go :) Found in my pantry Honegar - naturally fermented from New Zealand apples with raw honey. Mmmmm sounds good for a conditioner :)

My baking soda and vinegar bottle. Easy to use in the shower.
Amazingly I don't smell like vinegar afterwards. But my hair is easier to manage, and no skin reactions. Kids happy to use too. Now if I wasn't so scared to try, I would make my own soap.