Meal Planning Monday – 18th May 2015

Meal Planning MondayI don’t think our children go to school on any Monday’s in May – Today is Victoria Day so the schools are off. Luckily I have an excellent holiday club who step in and offer childcare on most of the holidays otherwise I would be absolutely snookered.

This week as our meal plan for part of the Meal Planning Monday linky, here is our plan:

Slow cooked pulled pork

Slow cooked pulled pork

Slow Cooked Pulled Pork – I had the pleasure in reviewing and taste testing the slow cooker range from Schwartz and it was so tasty. I do have a few extra tips that I will share later in the week in the blog.

Pork marinated in chilli & lime – We didn’t have this last week, so it’s on the menu this week. I don’t think Grim really fancies it, but we’ll see.

Ragu – This is a staple in our house, everyone loves it and we have it weekly – here is my recipe from the lovely Nonno Guiseppe.

Chicken Curry – We have a choice of curry sauces this week. We have ChilliPappas and Schwartz to choose from, I’m thinking we will have the chicken balti and the boys will have the mild tikka marsala.

Gorgonzola pasta – When we were in Italy a number of years ago, G chose a pasta in one of Mom’s favourite restaurants and ever since then it’s an easy week night meal to pull together. We have adapted it over time and find that fresh pasta works so much better and only takes minutes from easy prep to eating :)

Baked Salmon – G likes sweet chilli sauce over the top of his salmon and I like just some spices, then we package them up in foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes and serve with boiled new potatoes and green beans. So versatile and again an easy weeknight meal.

Garlic Beef Stir Fry – I am lucky where I work as there is a butcher in the foodhall. He is fabulous, there are lots of things we have tried and have rarely been disappointed. This stir fry is just fillet beef in a garlic marinade which we always fry up with a little onion and green pepper and it is absolutely delicious.

And that’s us for this week. We aren’t trying anything new this week. If you have any suggestions on other things we should try, comment below and let us know, I love hearing what other people have it gives me real inspiration.

Meal Planning Monday – 11th May 2015

Meal Planning MondayI can’t quite believe it’s Monday again! The weeks are passing by so quickly and the weekends even faster. I need to get in a better routine with the meal plans as I’ve got out of the way of batch cooking. I WILL start this again this week as I have a few slow cooking blogs that need written.

This week as our meal plan for part of the Meal Planning Monday linky, here is our plan:

M&S ready meal – as I said I’ve been lazy and not been batch cooking and as Monday’s are all about work then swimming & home by 7.30. It’s all a bit hectic. So I am rewarding myself with a healthy dinner from M&S

Chicken Balti – we have been sent loads of Schwartz sauces so we’re going to have chicken balti one night & let you know how we get on

Pork marinated in chilli & lime – a Tesco BBQ product that I got a few weeks ago when we had friends round. We’ll just have it with peas & new potatoes with this. Hoping that it’s good, it looks really nice. G isn’t so sure.

Pasta with pesto & rocket – we love this and I’ve got some wholemeal pasta that I got from work and it’s really tasty. We quite often have this for lunch too.

Slow cooked pulled pork – slow cooked pulled pork & salad. This is a favourite of mine & I can’t wait to try it :) This is another Schwartz product, so far we’ve liked everything we have tried from them.

And that’s us for this week. We aren’t trying anything new this week. If you have any suggestions on other things we should try, comment below and let us know, I love hearing what other people have it gives me real inspiration.

Meal Planning Monday – 27th April 2015

Meal Planning Monday

This year is going in so fast, it’s already nearly May and I only just feel that we had New Year – Still at least we are busy, the boys start new swimming lessons this evening, can’t wait to hear how they have got on. I’m presently stuck in a airport returning from my Grandad’s funeral.

This week as our meal plan for part of the Meal Planning Monday linky, here is our plan:

Ragu – This is a staple that we make monthly and then have once a week

Chicken Curry – we are having another chilli papas curry this week, the balti one we had was brilliant, so looking forward to this.

Chilli Baked Potatoes – A couple of weeks ago I made a really hot chilli so we’ll be having this in baked potatoes with cheese, so tasty.

Arbroath Smokie risotto – I’m going to make this recipe up this week as I have arbroath smokies in the freezer and they need eaten up, so I’m going to experiment – if Grim asks, I’ll tell him I’m following a recipe, he doesn’t like inventive cooking!

Shepherd’s Pie – When I was coming back from Tae Kwon Do last week, we took a detour into Tesco and picked up loads of cheap cuts of meat for 20p – 50p so we are having shepherd’s pie as one of our meals this week.

And that’s us for this week. If you have any suggestions on other things we should try, comment below and let us know, I love hearing what other people have it gives me real inspiration.

 

Meal Planning Monday – 6th April 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Nearly back to normality, have had to take time out today to look after Buddy as the school holiday club is closed and it works out just fine because Bubbles finishes at 3pm so would have had to have picked him up regardless. It’s gorgeous weather as we start our Easter mini heatwave.

This week as our meal plan for part of the Meal Planning Monday linky, here is our plan:

Ragu – This is a staple that we make monthly and then have once a week

Chicken Curry – We have lots of Chilli Papas sauces and they are fab and really easy to use so we’ll be having this one night this week. They even have a non chilli vindaloo so anyone can try it!

Chilli Baked Potatoes – I’m using my slow cooker to make the Hairy Dieters version of chilli, there will be enough for the boys and two meals for us, so we’ll have the salad and tortilla baskets as per the Hairy Dieters recipe next week.

Mushroom pasta – We are making this with a small tub of double cream as the recipe states it’s better, so we’ll see. It’s dead easy to make and we will use mushrooms that are on offer rather than wild ones. I serve it with pappardelle pasta, so tasty

cheesy beanos – Anyone who went to school with me will recall making this at high school, it’s basically beans on toast with melted cheese on the top. G is at boot camp on Monday and doesn’t want anything too heavy so not only is a budget meal, it’s also quick and easy to make and pretty light after his exercise.

And that’s us for this week. If you have any suggestions on other things we should try, comment below and let us know, I love hearing what other people have it gives me real inspiration.

 

Meal Planning Monday – 30th March 2015

Meal Planning Monday

So today sees me off with Bubbles, he was sent home from nursery along with 15 of his friends with chicken pox. Apart from the spots, you would think he was fine. He is hyper as anything, the only thing that’s suffering right now is me, I’ve had two nights no sleep due to him wanting me to be with him and him tossing and turning and itching all night. Still some have crusted over this am so hopefully we are on the mend!

This week as our meal plan for part of the Meal Planning Monday linky, here is our plan:

Ragu – This is a staple that we make monthly and then have once a week

Chicken pieThis is a simple weeknight meal, I got the idea from a Jamie Oliver recipe and you don’t even need to make a white sauce for it, you just add some flour then creme fraiche and use spring onions instead of white onion and it’s super easy and using up whatever I have in the fridge.

Crispy Chicken A hairy dieters recipe that I love – Grim is away on business this week so I’m having things that I love, this is so simple, chicken dipped in natural yoghurt then parmesan breadcrumbs and baked in the oven. I have it with salad, so super healthy and delicious to boot!

Mushroom pastaI always have this the same week we are doing our chicken pie as between the two recipes we use all of the mushrooms and creme fraiche.

And that’s us for this week. If you have any suggestions on other things we should try, comment below and let us know, I love hearing what other people have it gives me real inspiration.

 

Love Food Hate Waste – My Top 10 Tips

Ever since I worked at Friends of the Earth Scotland, I’ve been very aware of the importance of saving not just our money by not wasting food but also the environment, the amount of food that we waste is staggering.

Every day in UK homes we throw away , equivalent to (approx):
– 5.8 million potatoes
– 1.4 million whole bananas
– 1.5 million tomatoes
– 24 million whole slices of bread
– 1.5 million sausages
– 1.9 million slices of ham
– 1.1 million eggs

I am not going to pretend I don’t throw things out, but I try, as best I can to minimise the waste by following these golden rules:

1. Use glass storage in your fridge, this way you can see exactly what is inside the containers. Always pop lids on things too, this stops the food smells transferring to other food.

Meal Plan Chalkboard2. Meal plan – this is the single biggest way that we have saved, I read a magazine about 4 years ago that had a meal plan for four weeks and what it taught you was to plan this far in advance so that you could double up on things. For example, make the mince beef base, it’s the same for ragu, chilli con carne, mince and tatties, mince tacos and cottage pie. Then freeze it and it not only saves you wasting the mince, but it also give you a half made meal later on in the month. We always meal plan by looking through what we have an making the meal plan from there. We have standard things, like if we are having a creamy based pasta sauce we’ll not need all of the creme fraiche so I make a chicken pie that week too that means we have creme fraiche to make the sauce.

3. When using peppers, I always cut them in half and keep the half in the fridge with the stalk entact, this will last an extra few days for another meal.

4. Use your freezer – Anything that is fresh in my fridge that looks like it might not last, I either cook and freeze or pop in a bag in the freezer, and example of this is my smoothies. I have a breakfast smoothie daily and so I cut up the fruit and veg for this and ensure that I have at least 5 days worth. I don’t even defrost it, I just pop it in my nutribullet, add almond milk and chai seeds, blast it and viola – breakfast shake in minutes. This saves on washing up too as I’m making them in batches in advance! We even freeze our baking, so we make banana bread and then freeze them in individual bags. take them out in the morning and they are defrosted by lunchtime. This also works for sandwiches – if you want to make them up at the weekend for everyone for the week and they will defrost by lunch!

5. Use portions – so for example, for an adult you need about a quarter of a cut of rice per portion, then add double the amount of water – you can also use scales, all of the pack have recommended portion sizes on the pack. THis is not only good for ensuring no waste, but helps you not over eat too!

6. When your bread is getting a bit harder, then either toast it or blitz it up and pop in the freezer, you can use these straight away for coating chicken and fish or adding as a topping to your pasta bake. We also do this with the heels of the bread, cause noone seems to like them!!

7. Passata – I always buy the cheap version of passata, I find it does the job and is an instant tomato base for either pizza or left over puff pastry – I pour the rest into baby storage containers and freeze them. If the boys want pasta or pizza for dinner, it can be defrosted in seconds and it never seems to go off.

8. Be aware that use by dates and best before dates are not the same. You can still use products after their best before date, this date only signifies that the quality is best before this date. Use by dates on the other hand are for safety and you shouldn’t eat something past these dates.

9. Get creative – Have a look in your fridge, I am sure between that and the dry ingredients you have in the cupboard you could make some really tasty things. I love this and have often helped people on social media come up with a plan for their dinner – so please do message me if you need help. Our favourites are fridge soup – anything in your fridge (pretty much!) will go into a soup, so why not make lunches for everyone for the next week. I have a few staples in the cupboard to help, so we have have pasta, stock cubes, potatoes and cans of beans. I also add in left over veg to dishes, so tonight I’m making chilli, but I’m popping in a green pepper that needs used up and some mushrooms, these then add to our 5 a day, don’t get wasted and mean that you need less meat per portion. I bet there will be leftovers to portion up to put in the freezer for next week too!

Here is our pizza that we make easily from things in the fridge, the kids love making them up too. You can use anything from left over passata or pesto for the base or mackerel or half can of tuna sprinkled over the top. Good for using up ends of cheese too!

Homemade fridge pizza

10. Batch cook – If like me, you work full time and find that when you get home, you are absolutely beat, then use your time wisely. I batch cook most sundays, using both my hob and my slow cooker and then freeze in portions. If my husband was doing this the portions would be bigger than what they are, but I try to limit these and add a side salad with the meal or a quick slice of garlic bread and this bulks it up for the people with slightly larger appetites.

Here are a couple of videos of me chatting and showing you some of the tips.

I’ll also blog my favourite left over recipe using puff pastry and left over veg and pop the link in here.

For more information about the campaign and even more tips visit

Disclaimer: we were sent a token to buy some food to reimburse us for this blog. We are part of the Markettiers4DC blogger outreach programme.

Meal Planning Monday – 9th March 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Back to work today, have enjoyed my few days off and made me realise how much I miss the days off to potter in the house and cook & bake.

This week I decided to give Aldi a try – Everyone is raving about it, and I have been before, but I have never done my full shop there. I had my full list and they had everything apart from Bubbles’ goats milk, so that’s not too bad. Normally in Tesco my shop is anything between £60 and £80 and this week it was £38. That was with a few random extras in there, so let’s just say – I’ll be back!!

This week as our meal plan for part of the Meal Planning Monday linky, here is our plan:

Ragu – This is a staple that we make monthly and then have once a week

Veal schnitzelI got these from the local butcher at Dobbies, Melville

Meatloaf This was an additional at Aldi – I wanted to get something the boys would eat too and they are so fussy – I picked this up for £1.99 and totally looking forward to it

Roast LambThe butcher at my work, Dobbies, is fab, was chatting to him about what to have for a roast, he suggested leg of lamb – totally looking forward to it

The other nights G and I are out at other things, so on those nights it will be chilli pasta or cheese and beans on toast – not very exciting but they are quick and easy and once you’ve been out doing some exercise you don’t feel like a full on meal.

And that’s us for this week. If you have any suggestions on other things we should try, comment below and let us know, I love hearing what other people have it gives me real inspiration.

 

Meal Planning Monday – 2nd February 2015

Meal Planning Monday

Back to work today, have enjoyed my few days off and made me realise how much I miss the days off to potter in the house and cook & bake.

This week as our meal plan for part of the Meal Planning Monday linky, here is our plan:

chilli con carneanother staple and done in the slow cooker it’s absolutely fabulous and makes a great topping for baked potatoes which Buddy is just starting to enjoy

Chicken CurryWe love curries and when I went to the Coop the other day they were selling off their truly irresistible range for 50p so I grabbed myself some of them to give them a go

salmon – Grim’s favourite is salmon, I’m not sure what we are going to do with it yet but I’m sure it will be yummy

Chicken fajitasAnother tasty favourite, easy week night meal too, fast & easy to do before my jewellery party on Wednesday

Ragu – This is a staple that we make monthly and then have once a week

And that’s us for this week. If you have any suggestions on other things we should try, comment below and let us know, I love hearing what other people have it gives me real inspiration.

 

Meal Planning Monday – 19th January 2015

Meal Planning Monday

This week is a tad of a busy one for me as it’s launch of spring this week at work so I’m tooing and froing from our Livingston store.

I am secretly hoping that G will do all of the cooking this week as think I might just want to sit down, but we’ll see.

This week as our meal plan for part of the Meal Planning Monday linky, here is our plan:

paparedelle with mushrooms & cream This is from The Greedy Italians recipe book and OMG it is so simple but so so tasty.

Chicken CurryWe love curries in our house and Grim is making this from scratch, I am looking forward to it. Going to use my Pampered Chef Rice Cooker that gives us perfect fluffy rice every time.

salmon with chinese topping – Grim’s favourite is salmon, He made up a topping the other day with five spice, garlic, fresh ginger and lemon juice and it was extremely good.

Chilli tomato pastaThis again is from The Greedy Italians recipe book and it’s so simple, there are barely any ingredients but the taste is immense. This is possibly the most simple recipe we make.

Chorizo meatballs These are meatballs that Grim bought from Costco, they are so simple to make and taste just like massive chunks of chorizo. I love the flavour of them and add in a simple tomato sauce and serve with spaghetti. They are quite spicy but we have been giving Bubbles left overs for his dinners the next day at nursery and he wolfed these down last week.

And that’s us for this week. If you have any suggestions on other things we should try, comment below and let us know, I love hearing what other people have it gives me real inspiration.

 

Meal Planning Monday – 5th January 2015

Meal Planning Monday

So it’s a New Year – Happy New Year all!

As I’ve been on holiday I’ve been planning things, so this week we are off to a good start and today I made all of the lunches and dinners until Wednesday. I know that is not the whole week, but it’s a start and I want it to continue as this is the only way I’m going to eat healthily, I find that if I don’t take food with me to work, I snack on naughty things. Can of coke being the first choice (so naughty!)

This week as our meal plan for part of the Meal Planning Monday linky, here is our plan:

Chicken casserole I made this in the slow cooker, not sure what it will taste like. There is enough for all four of us and some left over for next week, so I hope that it’s good.

Ragu – we have this once a week, the boys love it and I have to say it’s great, I love it

salmon and green beans – Grim’s favourite is salmon, so we are having this as part of the meal plan this week. I am just having it plain but Grim will have sweet chilli sauce over the top before we bake it in the oven.

mince tacos – last time I had this was at my brother’s and his wife made it. It was so tasty so we thought we would give it a try this week. I think the boys will love it!

Chicken & pancetta pie – We cheat and make this majorly easy chicken pie .

And that’s us for this week. If you have any suggestions on other things we should try, comment below and let us know, I love hearing what other people have it gives me real inspiration.