Posts tagged ‘working women’

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.

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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.

Chili-Cheese Hoagies-The Karen edition

I live with a man who for years has been asking me to make sloppy joes…….However our biggest issues is that I’m a bit more discerning than your average bear, and that can of ‘Sloppy Joe’ mix, is not on my list of acceptable dinner alternatives. I can’t for the life of me find a Sloppy Joe recipe that I like, so on Friday after shopping I decided to try the Chili-Cheese Hoagies recipe found on Pg: 92 of our Budget Cooking Bible.

Now not unlike every recipe that I touch, I did change a few things. Instead of French-Style buns, I chose Kaisers. I prefer these buns, not only for their taste but also because nearly every store is bound to have a great price on this standard bakery bun. They were easy to hollow out as the recipe suggested, and held up to their end of the sandwich bargain quite well.

I started by chopping green onions, one medium sized onion, half of a green pepper, a small bunch of Cilantro and 2 cloves of garlic. Then, as per the recipe, I cooked all but the cilantro with the ground beef in a large skillet until the ground beef was brown. After removing the fat, buying extra lean ground beef helps with this step, I dumped in my can of tomatoes and stirred the cilantro in.

Forgive my blurry pictures...I'm a writer not a photographer

I let this cook down for probably between 30-45 minutes on medium heat. This gave me time to make two batches of oatmeal chocolate cookies, and hollow out the buns. Cookies always get me extra brownie points with my man….however I’ve learned to cook twice as much as you tell him you have and hide the difference, otherwise they will all be sacrificed to the video game gods. In the end they came together quite nicely, next time I’ll do them as open-faced sandwiches with a salad or fresh veggies. My boyfriend tells me that they were spicy and the cheese held it together nicely. I chose to replace the cumin with chili flakes that I picked up from the dollar store of all places, which really seemed to pay off. I liked the bite that they had, and they were filling, one sandwich later, I was stuffed…we had cookies and milk for desert and settled down for a night of Mad Men.

Clean up was phenomenally easy….here, all clean and put away, you will find all the dishes I used to cook this dinner.

Necessity is the mother of invention

Like many out there, I live on a budget, and often from paycheck to paycheck. It’s easy to see that you can save money by cooking at home, but that often takes quite a bit of leg work and most of us don’t have that kind of time.

To be truly efficient in the kitchen one must be dedicated. I’ve realized over the years that in order to live a less stressful life, I need to be more organized. While I was working full-time I struggled with things like meal planning and shopping on a budget. To be consistent with that is difficult so I looked for short cuts.

Meal plans are great, and I love the idea of going onto a website and finding it all in one place, but then the question becomes where do I buy all of the stuff and how much is it going to cost? Sometimes they say ‘budget’, but that is only if you have a fully stocked cupboard. While many of them are directed to American Consumers and might not apply to us up here, I’ve yet to find one that I could use and that featured recipes my family would enjoy.

So I’ve decided to create my own meal plan, partly to help me stay organized, but also to offer anyone out there, a map through a really handy cook book. One that features real, simple, tasty food for those of us who might not have a huge food budget.

With my meal plan you will get a shopping list of all the things you should need. I might leave out small things like salt, ketchup etc, as those are items that we stock up on.

Take some time to go through the front section of the cook book regarding your pantry. Before a shop it’s a good idea to pull out or check out what you have so that you’re not spending money you don’t need to, but also to ensure that nothing can be thrown out and to remind yourself of what you need to use before it goes bad.

Every time I go into my fridge and see vegetables going bad or throwing out left overs I hear my mother say something about the starving children in Africa in the back of my mind. I hate to waste food, and if at all possible we use left overs some way, some how.

The shopping list contains most of the items you will need to create 3 meals per day for 3-4 people. The prices you will see are current prices from The Real Canadian Superstore. I find that this is the most efficient place for me to shop, the prices are near to the best you will find and for most of their products the quality is decent, if not quite good.

I did a poll once on my Facebook asking where people liked to shop. The consensus was that Superstore was great for dry, canned, hygiene and household products, while Save-on-Foods was cheaper for pharmacy items and had a better quality meat selection. Safeway had the best service etc, etc.

I choose to do the bulk of my shopping at Superstore to save myself both time and effort. If the meat is not the greatest quality, I’ll opt for a roast that I can season and shred for sandwiches or ground beef I can turn into a chili or stew. Use what’s available and in your price range and play with spices. See our Tools of the Trade section for more on spice racks.

The only exception to my Superstore purchases would be my vegetables. I like to support my local economy and find that most local, family run green grocers have a great selection of fruits and vegetables that are locally grown and very inexpensive. For $25.00 I can purchase the fruits and vegetables that we will need for a 14 day period. I would greatly suggest sourcing one out in your area, this will reduce your budget, support your town and give you great tasting seasonal greens for your meals.

So check out our first Meal Plan and Shopping list and get ready for Karen’s Shredded Pork Donairs.