Category Archives: Recipe

$70 Challenge, Update 4.

We’re wayyyy over in the last week!  Current spending today ( Tuesday; the 4 weeks finishes up this Sunday) is -$12.80.  We think we’ve got all of this weeks groceries other than bread so should only spend another $5 max. this week, unless we decide to do a fruit shop visit.

Why are we so over?  Specials!  And stocking up.  We’ve always bought groceries from the big supermarkets when they are on significant specials, e.g half price. We’ve got yogurt sachets and Salmon within the last week.   The Salmon was $15.50 at Coles for a bag of 6 frozen pieces (half price).  As we enjoy Salmon occasionally we snapped up a bag. I mentioned the yogurt sachets in the last post.

Today we bought lots of meat at Aldi.  1 kg Beef Mince, approx 1 kg rump, about 800g of Casserole Beef and Beef Sausages.  This is 12 meals for 2! This meat cost us approx $41 making it approx $3.40 per meal of meat ($1.70 per person).  This is over 2 weeks of beef for us, so the spending today takes us well into the next week.

As I said, we’ve always stocked up on groceries when we see specials.  I know for many this is simply not possible as their budget is so rigid.  We also have a lot of shops close to us (most within walking distance) so we can also easily go out whenever we want something rather than having to pay more to avoid going out more (which can be costly if you are using public transport).

Where could I do better?

Planning!  This is a great time of year to not spend additional money (I hate when not spending money is referred to as saving money) but a shocking time to try and implement new organisation.  In fact my current organisation is a bit out the window with getting orders out and trying to wrap up work (it’s impossible!) Ideally I should be sitting down Sunday afternoon and planning the weeks meals around my schedule as well as making sure my week is nutritionally balanced.

Incorporating more beans, lentils and chickpeas etc into my meals.  Nutritionally I should be doing this but I’m only really just starting to eat these foods and I’m still learning how and where I can use them.  I don’t love beans so figuring out how to disguise them is what I’m working on 😉

I can’t say we buy much junk food at all.  I was gifted chocolate for my Birthday which is still in the cupboard and we don’t often buy biscuits or chips.  When we do it’s a good special or a special occasion.  I sometimes pick up shortbread from Aldi (they’re $1.70) but as I go in to shops with a clear shopping list I don’t often vary from it and when I do it’ll be cheese or chocolate (headache makers!)

Knowing I’m doing this food challenge has really stopped me buying impulse items and I think it has really impacted both of us in so far as we’ve made changes to the quality of food we eat-FOR THE BETTER! We make sure we’re eating nutritious food as there is no point spending money on rubbish foods!

I’m keen to continue with the $70 challenge again after this 4 weeks is up but not straight away-first thing in the new year. Let’s get that pesky Xmas out of the way first.

 

$70 challenge, update 3

We’ve currently got only $30.44 left for this week and quite a few items on the shopping list that we’ll probably need before the end of the week.  And it’s only tuesday! The reason for the $40 spend… I was given a yogurt maker by my sister for my birthday and Woolworths had the yogurt powder sachets at 2 for $7 so we spent $14 on those yesterday.  This is 4-6 weeks worth of yogurt so we’re ahead on that.

We’ve been eating a lot of salad sandwiches lately which was something we started a couple of weeks before the $70 challenge.  Andrew worked out that we are eating about $1.70 worth of sandwich for each one we have (so $3.40 per day out of the $10 per day budget).  We usually have wholemeal bread, although pictured here is white bread (The One by Tip Top).  Our sandwiches have lettuce, carrot, sprouts (we sprout our own in a sprouter using an approx. $4 bag of mung beans, this probably makes each lot of sprouts 5 cents), beetroot (I pickle my own, here), tomato, cucumber, mushrooms, capsicum, celery, cheese and ham.  Andrew prepared the salad and makes 2 days worth at a time.

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I mentioned the hot chook, $8, we picked up last week which served us for 3 meals, 2 lots of sandwiches and a chicken soup.  These chooks go a long way and I have to say that each serve we had was more than enough.

Chicken soup recipe
*Chicken from a hot chook, make sure the bits of chicken are chunky
*2 chicken stock cubes OR 1 chicken and 1 vegetable
*some mixed veg.  I used carrot and sweet potato and frozen peas and corn
*Noodles (whatever you want, I used 2 minute style noodles)

Boil your hard veges in the stock, about 1 litre of water with the cubes.  They should be tender after about 30 mins.  Add the peas and corn.  Add the chicken and cook for about 5-10 minutes which enough to heat it through.  Add the noodles and cook til they’re done.
Super easy and damn tasty!  This whole meal would have been about $4 in total.

The thing I am thinking about at the moment is that it is really essential to spend time planning meals as well as thinking about what foods you need to make sure you eat to get the correct nutritional requirements.  I feel that if we were more on top of the planning part of it we’d be able to spend at least a little less.

$70 challenge, update 2

Last week, our first week, we spent $67.41.  This week we’ve spent $12.25 so far (it’s Tuesday).  I will need to pick up Spinach tomorrow (for the bird) and we do need veges.  This week we’ve spent $8 on a chook from Coles and $4.25 on a loaf of bread and 1l milk. The chook has fed us for 3 meals.  2 lots of chicken sandwiches and tonight I’m making chicken soup.  That’s $2.66 per meal.

As we had chook for lunch yesterday we had roasted vegetables, Jaipur Vegetables and rice last night. Jaipur Vegetables are by the brand Tasty Bite and can be found in Woolworths with the Indian foods (they are in a sachet and are microwaved for 1.5mins).  When they are half price they are $1.50.

We’ve definitely been eating what we normally eat but we’re paying a little more attention to what things cost and how many serves each food is, especially meat. A few weeks ago we started doing salad sandwiches for lunch.  My partner doesn’t like salad sandwiches without ham so we have bought those Bertocchi ham pieces that are shrink wrapped. They last about a week and provide us both with plenty of ham across the week for sandwiches as well as we used the last piece of it in a pasta carbonara.   I do think the ham is a little pricey but I’m interested in seeing how they price out across the 4 weeks.

I’ve been using the eatforhealth.com.au website to get nutritional info to make sure we’re getting the right foods each day.  In fact since we started eating the daily salad sandwich I’ve been feeling very contentedly full most of the afternoon and usually just want something small for afternoon tea.  So far my afternoon tea’s are my normal Weetbix (yes I have Weetbix for afternoon tea and I love them!)

In the next post I’ll post a bit more about our day to day eating habits.

$70 challenge update

It’s Friday and we’ve spent $61.41.  I don’t think we need to buy anything else this week. If we do it’ll be a visit to the fruit shop.

We’ve been to Aldi twice to pick up general groceries.  Cheese, bread, milk, muesli, etc. We even bought a brownie mix from Aldi and I made that yesterday.  Aldi brownie mix is $2.99 and is really yummy for a packet mix. Making brownies from scratch is actually quite costly as it has so much sugar, eggs and chocolate in it.  We bought beef mince at Coles which for the 2 of us is 2 meals, 2 left overs.  It’s $7 a pack for the 4 star stuff.  I made Taco’s last night and we’re having the left over’s tonight.  I chucked 75g of red lentils into the Taco mix (as well as lots of veg).  Adding lentils adds protein and is also part of a serve of fruit/veg and a meat substitute.  I think it’s something I’ll be doing a lot more.

For the taco meal we used an Old El Paso box, I only ever buy these when they are half price.  I can’t remember the exact price but its around $3.25.  This has the soft taco’s, seasoning and salsa.  Of course you need mince, or a meat substitute& some veg (onions, grated carrots, grated zucchini).  I made a tomato salsa mix to add to the Taco’s.  We grow tomatoes so I had heaps to use.  I also love picking green tomatoes for salsa.

Salsa
Tomatoes cut into little bits, mix of red and green if possible
Capsicum
Salt
Sugar
Splash of Apple cider vinegar
Pepper

We recently tried the Lyttos Greek Yog from Aldi and it’s really yummy, and cheap!  We used the yogurt as a sour cream substitute as we always throw out sour cream left overs.  It was pretty yummy.  I think this yogurt will be really versatile for sweet and savoury meals.  We don’t eat yogurt by the bowl full but usually have it in smoothies or a spoonful here and there.

Andrew, my partner, has made some notes of what we’ve eaten and thinks that between us we’re having $8-$12 of food between us a day.  I’ll later do some posts telling you what kinda things we’re eating and what we’re buying. This is already long enough!

$70 a week food challenge

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long while, a cheap eating food challenge.

My partner and I almost always add up the cost of each of our meals to see how much $$ we’re eating.  So from today, Monday 14 November, we’re doing a 4 week challenge where we can only spend $70 a week on food.

The Rules
*$70 per week for 4 weeks.  If we spend over one week we have to spend under one of the other weeks.
*We will still be eating food from the freezer/pantry but we will keep tabs on what we use and what we put back in.
*Shop where we normally shop.
*If someone else buys us food that’s fine, but we’ll tell you.
*We must eat nutritious food.

My partner and I usually eat at home.  I think we only eat out once a fortnight at most so we aren’t spending crazy $$ regularly just for some avocado on toast, in fact I’m allergic to avocado.  Also, I have GORD so I do watch what I eat most of the time and I’m never too keep to eat out (apart from the odd visit to Hungry Jacks).

Why do this challenge?  It’s personal.  I want to force myself to think about food and spending more.  To not waste money buying junk food as well as making sure I am well nourished by the food I am eating.  I want to take these 4 weeks and learn a bit more about what a serving is & what I should be eating.

I also hope others will read this and get some value, whether from a recipe, or be inspired to think about their own eating habits.

So, today is day 1.  I’ll post again in a few days about how we’re going.

Homemade Taiwan Style Soup

My partner and I absolutely love the Taiwan Style Beef Soup from Yang’s Cuisine (Pinelands road, Sunnybank Hills).  The soup is unbelievably delicious and I’ve wanted to know how to make it for long a while. Recently I spotted the Campbells Soup bases (the tetra packs, like the stock) which include a Chinese base.  I grabbed one while they were on special and set about making my own Taiwan Style Soup and oh my was it delicious!

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Ingredients
Soup Base (Chinese)
Beef Chuck
Dumplings (we got some frozen ones from woolies, pork ones)
Noodles (I used  dried Udon)
Carrots
Bean Sprouts
Chilli Flakes
Beef Stock Cube
Ginger
Garlic

Method
I slow cooked the Beef Chuck in about 200ml of the soup base plus a beef stock cube and extra water (enough water to come up the sides of the beef but not submerge it). To this I add fresh ginger and garlic roughly chopped and chilli flakes (to taste!) This cooks for about 7 hours.

In the last hour I chopped a carrot and popped this in.  The Yang’s soup has one wedge of barely cooked carrot but I added quite a lot to this and they were well cooked.  Cunning Fellow pointed out my error.

In the last 30 minutes I started to boil the rest of the soup.  I par boiled the dumplings and the noodles in plain water before plunging them, and the beef and carrot and the liquid from the slow cooker (I strained this liquid) into the soup.  I allowed all of this to boil away until the dumplings and noodles were done.  Throughout this I checked flavours and did add extra chilli and a bit of extra water.

Too delicious!

The left overs were lunch (with mushrooms added).

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How to Pickle Beetroot

So, for those that don’t know the Beetroot you buy in the supermarket that is in tins and jars is pickled.  You might be reading this and saying “well that’s obvious,” but I’m telling you because a lot of people I told that I was pickling beetroot did not know.

I’d been pickling the odd beetroot here and there  but on a solo trip to the fruit shop my partner decided to buy about 5 kg’s of beets.  We often head to our fruit shop, Rochedale Markets, and come home with large bags of stuff.  We once bought 12kg of lady finger banana’s for $5.  All of our family benefit from that and I ate so many banana’s!

Back to the Beetroot.  So, at first I’m like FML, I don’t feel like pickling that many beetroot and left them sit on the bench for a couple weeks.  Beets have pretty good longevity so they were still looking fine when I eventually did these 5 jars.  There are still about 1/3 of the beetroot left.

Ingredients
Fresh Beetroot
1 tablespoon Salt
2 tablespoons Sugar
750ml Apple Cider Vinegar
300ml water

Specific Tools
Glass Jars, sterilised
Measuring jug

Peel your beetroot and slice.  If you have large beetroots (too big for the jar) quarter them.

Boil your beetroot for about 3-5 minutes. It gets a bit softer with 5 minutes, or 3 minutes for crisper beets.

Fill your jars with the boiled beets.  FYI, the boiled beets stained my hands a horrendous dark brown so wear gloves if you have a job where people might see (and judge) your hands, they look disgusting.

Boil the Salt, Vinegar, Sugar and Water. I like to reserve red liquid that the beets are boiled in (about 100ml) so my vinegar mix is red but this is not necessary.  Also, if you need less liquid just use the same ratio’s for the smaller amounts.

To make it easy for you pour your boiled liquid into a jug and then fill out your beetroot jars. Put the lids on nice and tight.  The buttons on the jars might pop themselves down once the jars cool but if not you can press them down during the process and they’ll stay popped in.

Allow to cool and refrigerate.  If you are a slowpoke to eat things you ma want to put on the date you made it.  They don’t last long enough in my fridge to bother.

Homemade pickled beets really are yummy so if you’ve been thinking about it (and looking for a recipe) just do it! You won’t regret your pickled beets.