Posts tagged ‘planning’

Saturday Morning

This morning, after rising early enough to make a healthy breakfast for my boyfriend before he jetted off to work, I sat down with my coffee and built my shopping list and clipped coupons. In my world clipping coupons really means planning far enough ahead I can use sites such as Websaver.ca, Gocoupons.ca and Save.ca to pre order my coupons before I go grocery shopping. While Save.ca is usually good about sending out coupons the next business day, they often don’t arrive for 2-4 days, the other sites are recent discoveries, and I have high hopes for how fast these with come.

I’m also trying to plan far enough ahead so that I can participate in what I hope will be a helpful event for both my girl friend and I. With my oven on the fritz, I’ve been limited in what I prepare for dinner each night, not to mention unable to bake our goodies; while my friends specialized diet, requires time and planning she doesn’t necessarily have the energy for each day. So, when I suggested we get together for a day of precooking and stocking up, it was a chance for us to motivate each other and hang out together.

I’m a big fan of this, especially for people who find meal planning and cooking intimidating or time consuming. Grab some friends and have some fun. You are able to keep each other motivated and prevent a lot of midweek stress. For those on specialty diets due to health or diet constraints, cooking your own frozen dinners will help you to keep on track without getting discouraged by the time your meals take.

Hopefully we’ll have some pictures up of our cook out later this week.

The Search For Allergy Friendly Foods

Over the course of the past few months, my boyfriend and I have been weeding out foods that aren’t working for us. We both seem to have food allergies, and without going and getting tested for the whole kit and caboodle, we’ve simply kept track of what we eat and how we feel afterwards.

We’ve narrowed out the following foods, much to my chagrin:

  • Beef
  • Processed ham, possibly all pork
  • Cheese
  • Pea’s (Ask my mother, I’ve been “claiming” to be allergic to pea’s since I visited my grandmother at 6 years old)

While this may not seem to be a lot, it was still a bit of a lifestyle change as beef and pork are two of the cheaper meats, and the ones I grew up with as a child. Almost every year, my family would purchase a quarter of a cow, and we would receive a large package of a variety of cuts of meat. This was common for our area, as in the heart of farm country; butchers featured fantastic prices on beef due to its abundance.

So, as much as I love the Better Homes and Garden’s Budget Cook Book, I was running out of recipes for Chicken and Fish, and decided to branch out. I picked up the Cheap. Fast. Good! Cook book by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross.

This book has a ton of great tips and recipes, my next meal plan features all of their recipes and although we haven’t had many yet, what I have tried is quite tasty.

Meal Plan 03-10-11

Using the Cheap. Fast. Good! Cook Book, I’ve put together my meal plan for the next two weeks. You can find the Meal plan and ingredient list here.

 

Check back in the coming days to find out how these new recipies have worked for us.

The beauty of No-Recipe Recipies

Nothing is more chaotic than real life, take mine for instance. Starting a small business is crazy, so much of your time is eaten up by one aspect of the business or another; while I’m not complaining (having work is better than no work), I’ve had to rework my life once more.

The key for me is flexibility, yes some days I want to get creative and build beautiful, tasty meals from one of my cook books, however the reality is that sometimes I don’t have the time to think that far ahead. In times such as this, I fall back on the no-recipe recipies, to make fast, affordable meals that don’t stress me out.

Last night while battling the computer gods, I decided on grilled chicken ceasar sandwiches. By grilling the SuperStore no-name Chicken breasts on my new grill, and adding cesar dressing, parmesan and grilled onions with a side of asparagus cooked in olive oil and sprinkled with parmesan, I was able to eat a tasty, some what healthy meal in under 30 minutes.

If anything, not having a recipe inspires me to be creative. So the next time you’re strapped for time and don’t know what to cook, open up your pantry and experiment with what you have inside. It doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive or time consuming, you just have to use your imagination.

Those who can’t do….get take out

So, I am bad for getting consumed in one aspect of my life and not focusing on all of the others. It’s times like this I find we eat out, or badly more often….of course this is usually the time we can least afford it. I know there are things I can do to make dinner easier, but that usually involves an initial sacrifice to the Time Gods, which easily enables me to procrastinate.

However, today I took the time to make that sacrifice, and I’m sure tomorrow I will be grateful.

On today’s menu was Chicken Alfredo Pot Pie on page 200. I’ve now made this pie twice, once right after my last post, and then again today. Both times I doubled the recipe prepared to make two pies. However I realized that the Pillsbury pie crust I purchased may say 2, however that means the bottom and top of one pie.

Having the bottom and top on this particular pie makes it a breeze to put onto plates. Using the ready-made pastry is easy and stress free, which is nice because I’m usually so worked up by the prospect of overworking the dough, that I overwork the dough.

I opted for the Classico Roasted Red pepper Alfredo, much to my families delight, it was a bold flavour that worked well with the Sage. However I did add the McCormick’s garlic and herb seasoning to the Chicken as it was cooking. The only other change that I made was to add fresh garlic and diced onions to the chicken as it was cooking. Personally, if I have onions, I through them in.

The end result was a hearty, veggie filled pie that we all loved. Carrots, broccoli and cauliflower were a nice change from the standard meat pie veggies like peas and corn. The pie took all of 20 minutes to make and 12 minutes to cook, couple this with an extra for the freezer, or my parents and you have my new favourite save-time-during-the-week-dinner.

So for all of you busy ladies and gents out there who greet hump-day with a bag of McDonald’s, try putting this gem in your freezer and let me know how it works for you!

**Note, believe it or not, I did take photos…..however I must remember to delete old photo’s off or it won’t save the ones I take…(Slaps forehead with the palm of her hand)**

The Art of Shopping

Navigating the Grocery Jungle

I’m probably one of a few women who dislikes shopping. While I enjoy new things, I’m too overwhelmed by the shopping experience. I don’t enjoy crowds; and because I am cautious with my money I like to take my time, making me a self-conscious shopper.

So I created some rules for successful grocery shopping. What makes a successful grocery trip? If I leave the store in a relatively short period of time, not ready to tear my hair out, within or under budget, without forgetting a critical item, I consider myself successful.

Rule 1: The early bird survives the experience.

Early mornings are my favourite time to shop. Any time before 9am you should have shorter line-ups, a quieter store, fully stocked shelves, and none of those people who suddenly stop in front of you expecting that you can see their break lights.

Rule 2: Preparation = Success

As with most things in life it’s always best to go prepared. My shopping list is written in a purse sized, spiral bound note-book which is easy to carry and sturdy enough to write on. I have my list on one side and an adding column on the other and a mechanical pencil. Without a list you run the risk of forgetting something or overspending, it is also handy to have on hand for comparison shopping and your household budget.

Rule 3: Who says you would never use math in real life

When counting I round-up to the nearest dollar and add between $15-$30 to my total to account for the taxes. This just helps me to be sure that I am staying within my budget and won’t be surprised by the total when I get to the till. I also like to refer back to these when I’m planning my shopping list so I can budget accurately.

Rule 4: Don’t be rash, use cash

When budget shopping if you have a tendency to over spend, I recommend that you take what you want in cash, and leave all cards behind. With credit or debit cards it’s so easy to ‘forget’ your budget, and nothing is more embarrassing than to realize that you have gone overboard when you get to the till.

Rule 5: Eat first, shop later

Shopping on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster, trust me. Instead of following your list, you will be tempted by the pre-manufactured dinners, junk food and boxed meals. These are filled with preservatives and while they may be great time savers they are not really worth the money. If you mix some low quality items like these with meats and fresh vegetables they aren’t so bad, but all in all I vote NO.

Rule 6: I used to hate to shop alone

I have a girlfriend who will not go shopping unless her boyfriend goes with her. She dislikes shopping and likes to have him for both company and someone to help her carry heavy items. I learned not to long ago that I prefer to shop alone, if my boyfriend comes with me he does nothing but push the cart and sigh, oh, and ask if we are done yet. I like to take my time, I like to follow my list and I like to be able to back track if I forget something without having to hear about it.

To all of those stressed out mom’s dealing with crying kids in the cereal aisle, buddy up with another mom and take turns shopping, you will be so much more relaxed, and at the end of the day that is so much more important than being Super-Mom.

Rule 7: One is the nicest number

While I like to support local economy and shop at local small businesses, I have to admit that one large shop will save you more time and money than a few or many small shops. Some times it will be cheaper to visit more than one store, but most often than not if you are shopping at multiple stores quality is your main concern.

If you like the one stop shop then I suggest the Real Canadian Superstore. While the produce and meats are not as high quality as Save On Foods or IGA, you will have more options, and a better price point on just about everything. Coupled with the fact that they deal with everything from clothing, health and beauty, home and garden, books, office and automotive supplies, grocery and pet items, you can’t find a better selection anywhere.

Rule 8: Grab you headphones let’s party!

Shopping doesn’t need to be a dreaded event, I like to take my mp3 player with me. I have an upbeat shopping play list that helps me to make this chore fun and relaxing. Give your self a break from the house. If you are prepared, shopping will be a breeze and you can go for a walk, listen to some music and enjoy some time out of the house.

Bon Voyage!