Monday, 28 November 2011

Cheap and easy meals...

I have now been on maternity leave for over 9 months so am now receiving no money at all so we are completely dependent on my husband's salary. Course this would be the month the tax office decide my husband has underpaid them by £300 but that's another story. Therefore we are now trying to live MEGA frugally whilst still having enough money to go out and enjoy ourselves a bit.

So this week, rather than going to the supermarket, rushing round in a state of panic throwing as many things into the trolley as quickly as possible (think supermarket sweep with kids) before someone (possibly me) starts screaming; today I PLANNED what I was going to buy. I wrote a list.

Here is my menu (for family of 4)

Day 1 - Sausage casserole
Pack of sausages (cheaper in butchers)
1 carrot
1 swede
1 parsnip
sweet potato chips.

Fry sausages in a pan until browned, chuck in rest of chopped ingredients, pour over boiling water, add stock cube, bring to boil then simmer for an hour.
20 mins before hour is up cut sweet potato into chip shapes, shove on baking tray and drizzle oil over top. Roast for 20 mins.

Day 2
Lentil and Squash thai curry
200g lentils
1/2 squash
1 red pepper
jar red thai curry sauce (make own if can be bothered)

Fry off squash chopped into cubes and pepper. simmer lentils for an hour
Pour sauce over squash and pepper and add in lentils. Boil rice.

Day 3 - Spag bol

1 onion
Buy cheapest pasta sauce, 39p in Asda. It makes it taste much better.
Small pack of beef mince
a grated carrot
4 mushrooms (chopped very very small so cannot be seen)
1 red pepper (as above)
courgette unless children have phobia of "green". (mine does).
baked beans (small tin own brand)
Smart price style pasta

Fry onion til soft then add mince on low heat. Then add all other chopped veg. Add sauce and beans, simmer for as long as poss min 1 hour. Serve with pasta.

Day 4 - Chicken dinner
Best done on Sunday but I do it any day I have time as I hate that Sunday feeling.
Chicken from butchers spend around £5.
2 carrots
milk about 500 mls.

Cook chicken for desire time. Roast potatoes with skins on takes about 40 mins. Boil carrots in mug in microwave. Boil cauliflower for about 10 mins on low heat. Make cheese sauce - fry knob of butter, add tablespoon of plain flower, slowly add milk on a low heat. Stir lots til goes thick. turn off heat then add lots of grated cheese. Drain cauliflower well, add cheese stick in oven. 
You could make proper gravy or do what I do and use bisto.

day 5 - Chicken leftovers.
Risotto rice
2 mushrooms
any leftover veg e.g. squash.
1 onion

Fry onion til very soft. Follow instructions on risotto packet. Add veg and simmer for 1/2 hour.
5 mins before end add shredded chicken.

Much cheaper than usual shop, any other ideas for cheap, easy, nutritious meals?

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Center Parcs

We are going on holiday to Center Parcs soon and I can't wait. I love Center Parcs, even though in recent years it has become a bit pricey. I suppose more people are holidaying in the UK at the moment what with the Eurozone being a bit pricey for us at the moment, therefore demand must be higher for places like Center Parcs so up go their prices! Anyway we have managed to get a week at Elvedon in a super duper lodge for £419.

Talk about sunshine indoors, it's perfect for small children and parents alike.

Although it has to be said it's not really a "holiday" when children are involved as every parent knows...

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Duvet Day with Children....

I remember the days before I had children, thinking how tired I was after work and how all I wanted to do was lie on the sofa and groan with the lights on very low. These days when I finish work the true work is just beginning! First I have to go and collect the boys, a mission in itself after battling through rush hour traffic. I am very lucky in that my parents look after my children for free whilst I am at work. I don't know how we would pay for childcare if they didn't live so close as for both boys it would be over £1000 a month. It really wouldn't be worth me working at all! When we get home I then plonk Son 2 in his highchair while Son 1 slinks off to watch TV while I hurriedly through some stuff in a pan, otherwise known as preparing a meal. Son 2 wails in his highchair the whole time as I thrust bread sticks in his chubby fists and desperately race round wishing I was still at work. After lots of clanking of pans, the inevitable dropping of a couple of plates etc I then summon Son 1 to the table. 9 times out of 10 this results in an argument. Finally after using a variety of methods, he eventually agrees to come to the table and sits slumped with his head on his arms. I then have to spoon feed Son 1 (who is 3 and a half) as he has no interest in food and seems to have some form of toddler eating disorder where he needs no food to live. Son 1, 8 months, happily feeds himself although makes sure he gets as many crumbs into all the nooks and crannies of his highchair as humanly possible. I stuff some food down my throat then attempt the mammoth task of clearing up. Shouting is inevitably involved at this stage. After about 10 minutes I give up and assign that job to "Daddy" who is making the hour and a half trek home from work completely exhausted. Bed time is equally as traumatic, not helped by living in a 3 storey house with about a million stairgates.

Anyway, back to the duvet day. Both the boys have a bad cough at the moment, since Son 1 is asthmatic I have to watch him very carefully lest we end up in hospital again on one of those machines they have for asthmatics. Son 2 has two aims in life at the moment - get hold of and destroy my mobile phone, and deprive me of as much sleep as possible. Of course when they are ill, I am ill too. Currently my throat is on fire and I have an eye infection to end all eye the time when I actually need the most sleep, I am getting hardly any as am nursemaiding my two little ones....welcome to parenting.....

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The boy with the beautiful voice....

I think all parents must think their child is a genius of some sort or another. I have met a lot of parents over the years and it is easy to see those with large egos - those are the ones whose child can do no wrong (even when hitting other children over the head with a postman pat cow!), they see their child as an extension of their perfect self. They wax lyrical over the perfect babyhood, wonderful sleeping habits, make a fuss over the slightest sniffle.  These are the parents who seem to think their child is in some way more entitled than other children. Sigh.

Anyway, I am just as bad, as I am convinced my oldest son is some sort of child prodigy in the singing department.  It isn't just that he can hold or a tune, or that he loves music, it is the lovely tone of his voice, it is angelic! He especially loves music from "the shows" - Les Miserables is one of his favourites along with more child friendly ones like Lion King.  I got a letter from his school the other day about a stage school local to us where they can attend from 3 years old with "affordable fees" (it is an after school type thing). Now my last venture into the performing arts with him failed miserably. Indeed I think it was a relief to all (including the other children) when I eventually removed him from his ballet lessons.  So I'm wondering whether I should pursue this or not, he could have total tantrum style meltdown upon entering, or could love it and it could change his life. He recently started swimming lessons during which I spend my whole time hoping he will not call the teacher "poo poo head" again.

I definitely don't want to be one of those parents who live out their own dreams through their children. As a child I was always out and about doing something, ballet, horseriding, brownies, swimming, recorder club, orchestra, guitar lessons, flute lessons, piano lessons, various other dance classes. I was completely exhausted all the time! But doing all those things also gave me confidence and a large circle of friends. Where is that letter again....

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

More Budget Wedding Ideas!

So I've been having a bit of a think about budget wedding ideas. Most of my ideas seem to be based around buying stuff from ebay. Before I used ebay regularly, I used to think it was only buying stuff second hand. Now I realise there are various "shops" on ebay where you can get new stuff.

  • Pashina as a cover for bridesmaids- recently I bought a lovely gold pashmina for £10 from ebay. It is cashmere and beautiful. Supposedly it was a "second" but I can honestly say there is nothing at all wrong with it. Anyway the shop is called Pashmina Paradise
  • Presents for bridesmaids - it is always nice to buy something for your bridesmaids that they can wear on the day. I actually bought myself some pearl earrings from ebay the other day (not second hand obviously) for a couple of pounds. I figured that in trendy jewellers pearl earrings are about £20 so they must be quite cheap from source, I was right.Anyway I bought these ones 
  • 785 I am wearing them now, have had no itching or discolouring and think they look lovely! Pop them in a nice box, they make a perfect gift.
  • Alternatively you can get a champagne glass handpainted like these ones here which work out at about £11. There are loads of different shops on ebay doing these so is worth having a look and getting the right one.   

  • For father of the bride and groom, I love cufflinks. These can also be bought for the best man and ushers.  There are loads on ebay, but these are the ones I like (no p&p cost) for £7.99. They are just like the ones I got my dad, but they were £20. (can't get the picture to come up on these sorry!)
  • Tiara - I'm not really a veil girl, I consider them old fashioned and also a little irrelevant bearing in mind most couples have lived together for years before tying the knot! But I do love tiaras. Get a hand made one rather than buying one - I had mine made from scratch to match my dress and it looked great and was just mine. This is one thing I wouldn't buy second hand as I think they are pretty cheap new anyway. I've just had a look online but there are so many I can't choose. I used Linzi Jay and the tiara was beautiful.  
Makes me wish I could get married all over again! Minus the cost of course.


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