Food for Thoughtful People

Food is not only a big part of Jewish life, but is necessary for everyone. If you are a working women, coming home and still having to make dinner can tempt you into buying fast food.

As part of the cooking section of Kasheringyourlife, I  be posting recipes that help you stretch your meals and will not cost you a fortune. Most recipes will also not take more than 30 minutes to make.

I will be posting my own recipes as well as recipes from guests, the topics will be wide ranging and so will the cost of these recipes. Not all the recipes will be healthy and some will definitely fall under the indulgent category.  They will also range from novice to experienced, vegan to carnivore, and everything in between.

If you read Facebook, you will notice that just about everything from tap and bottled water, to certain previously healthy foods, has come under discussion.  All the adverse effects and ‘poisons’ are highlighted to such an extent that it feels like we may be better off not eating anything and just taking a pill.  Just about everything causes ADHD, eczema, constipation, diarrhoea, and even, G-d forbid cancer, (spit three times here!).

I try to be conscientious about the foods we eat but eating healthy is often very expensive. The dietician costs money, the diet clubs cost money, recipes that are healthy often don’t cater to the South African palate or the ingredients are not available here and the measurements are imperial (USA) when we and most of the world use Metric.

guide to converting metric to imperial

I dislike exercising at the gym, as I hate being around sweaty people (all those germs- sorry I am nurse). I lack the discipline to exercise at home.  I know I am not alone in this. Exercise is great, it makes you feel good (once the pain stops) and it gives you energy. You won’t always lose weight while exercising because you may not be doing the right type of exercise.  What happens to the people that are too large to go to the gym and too shy? How do they get healthy?


I do not go by how much you weigh but I do go by your body mass index (BMI), this is especially good with teen girls, as peer pressure to be thin is very strong.  I remind my girls, as long as your BMI is within the healthy zone, whatever you weigh is the right weight, up to the age of 20.  Also go by your clothes. Those very tight waists on your skirt or pants – are they a little more comfortable, then great.

The formula to work out BMI is your weight in KG divided by your height squared (e.g. 55kg/ (160cmx160cm)= BMI), this is only for adults over 20 years old. has a downloadable Excel,  BMI calculator to work out the acceptable children’s BMI.

Please note that this is only a guide, pregnant women and athletes should not use this formula. Muscle weighs more than fat. Your BMI also does not indicate your percentage of body fat or muscle mass ratio. This would need to be measured by a qualified person. It does mean, however, that you could have a skinny person who is ‘overweight’ due to the amount of body fat they carry, or a large person who is ‘underweight’ as they do not have enough body fat.

I needed and still need to lose weight, so I spent a lot of time on the internet trying to work out how to go about this. Calorie counting has come up over and over again as a way to lose and keep your excess weight off.

Here comes the problem. We live on a tight budget, we also keep kosher and as stated I don’t exercise. Walking to Shul doesn’t count as exercise. Sorry.

The exorbitant price of kosher meat has always been in contention. I will not be getting into the subject on this.

For a lot of people it has become more and more difficult to cook with meat and fish is even more expensive per kg than meat.

Over the past few months I have been following a blog called  In it Audrey talks about her journey from 125 kg to 68 kg in one year.  She is unable to do a lot of exercise due to a medical condition. She designed her own weight loss program using calorie counting and meal planning. I am down 3kg with very little effort and no exercise.

The first thing to do is to plan your meals for the week or month ahead.  Secondly, count your calories. Women may consume between 1200-1400 calories per day and men 1800-2200 calories per day.  This also depends on your job.  If you have an office job, use the lower number in the range, if you are active, then you use the higher number, but never less than 1200 for women and 1800 for men.  Thirdly, increase your water intake (a problem for me as I really dislike the taste of water) Audrey suggests fruit infused water – not flavoured water. Lastly, and definitely very important, increase your physical activity.

Before putting children and teenagers onto a diet, they must, at least, see a dietician but should also see a paediatrician. Teenagers should also, as a guide, consume the same calories as an adult.

Remember, the more active you are, the more calories you burn. So even if you sit in a chair and watch TV, you can do simple things like leg raises and tightening your abdominal muscles (tummy muscles). has a nice set of exercises to do while cooking, but you can really do them anytime.

arm chair exersises

I have posted a mince recipe on the recipe page of the blog, with a calorie count.  It is suitable for diabetics and hyperactive kids as it has a low GI (Glycaemic Index) count. It also uses much less meat that normal.  It is really delicious.  I have adapted it from the book ‘Eating for Sustainable Energy’. Basic Mince recipe

Do you have ideas on how to cut costs and improve your health without cutting the quality of the food your serve, if you do please share with us?



Less mince for more meatloaf

This recipe doubles very nicely.  If doubling use 1 ½ cups oat bran, not the full amount.

Serves 4.

To cook meatloaf:  pre-heat oven to 120 C.

1 Tin red speckled (sugar) beans, mashed

1 clove of garlic crushed or ½ tsp minced garlic (dried or bottled)

200gm lean mince

1 cup chopped onion

1 apple grated

1 cup oat bran

60 ml tomato sauce

1 egg

1 tsp of dried mixed herbs

¼ tsp paprika


Roughly mash beans and combine the egg and tomato sauce together with the bean mash, then add the rest of the ingredients, except the mince, and mix well.  Lastly add the mince and mix well.

mash beans

Spoon the mixture into a medium loaf pan and bake for 1 hour at 180 C. Allow about 10 minutes standing time before slicing.

I serve this with either sweet potato mash or spaghetti (I mix whole wheat and durum wheat) and peas or beans.


You can make this into burger patties.  Just flatten a handful of the mixture which should be about 1cm thick and approximately 8cm in diameter (across). Serve on a roll with salad.

For meat balls, divide the mixture and shape into balls, bake in the oven at 180 C for about 45 minutes to an hour.  As there is no sauce they are a bit dry but are perfect to serve as a cocktail, part of a picnic or in a lunch box as finger food.

Including the spaghetti, the calorie count per serving, is 766 Calories. Since everything in this meal, except the tomato sauce is low GI, the meal falls into a low GI category, even if you make burgers and serve them on white rolls.

Bon Appetite!

Cutting through the Clutter

Today I am talking about, organising and cutting through the clutter in your home.

We have lived in our house for 20 years, and over this time we have accumulated a ton of junk. We hoard!

For instance,  I only just got rid of the baby stuff, although I still have the double pram, as it is missing its crossbar. Please note, my baby is 11 years old and the pram is 18 years old! The first time I sold all my baby stuff I fell pregnant 3 months later, so I have been too nervous to sell anything!

I also have an enormous collection of beads and beading accessories as I make and sell jewellery.


My husband collects magazines, old computer cables,  broken keyboards, mice, even an obsolete computer screen or two, and, of course, handyman tools.  He doesn’t actually have the time to use any of them to fix anything and how many times can one read a pharmacy magazine! I think we have every edition of Jewish Life since it was first published.




Except for my eldest daughter, my kids have picked up this habit too, somehow the gene skipped her, thank goodness.

I come by my hoarding honestly. My mother is a recovering hoarder. My parents recently moved from their 3 bedroom home of 40 years to a 2 bedroom cottage in a retirement village. My father closed his business and sold the building after about 30 years, where they made and repaired counter surveillance and other electronic equipment. I think he kept every piece they ever removed or repaired over the years and the potentially valuable clutter filled all three storeys of the building.

Every time I look at the clutter I feel despondent.  I even spoke to someone about coming in to do it for me, but even though her rates are extremely reasonable the amount of work to be done puts it out of my budget!

So I started following an amazing blog, In this blog the author, Taylor Spalding Flannery, started a program called declutter 365. I have been trying to follow her suggestions, because they are doable. Taylor talks about doing 15 minute sessions everyday. Once again, the problem is that our South African homes in South Africa are very different from America, in that we don’t have basements, attics and mud rooms or even laundry rooms.

egg timer

I have inconsistently followed her advice and my kitchen, dinning room and bedroom are looking much better already!

Decluttering your home is also a great way to generate money. All the things you are clearing out can be sold either on ebay, OLX or at a jumble sale.  The suggestion is that you plan your jumble sale to be held a few months later. This will give you time to collect everything.  I have given myself time and now need to get moving as I chose the first Sunday in December for my jumble sale.
Another suggestion if you have the space, (my stuff is in an outside storage room) is to put aside 3 boxes, 1 for your jumble sale, 1 to donate and 1 for trash. The trash box is emptied after each decluttering session as it is just there for you to put stuff in on the way out your door and into the rubbish bins.

storage boxes

It is going to take a while for me to draw up a program anywhere nearly as comprehensive or effective as Taylor’s, (which you can follow on the Facebook group  Declutter 365 or on her website as I mentioned) but in the meantime there is nothing that stops you from choosing a small cupboard or drawer to declutter.

Here’s how you do it:-

Put aside 15 minutes.

Set a timer for 10 minutes. Those 10 minutes are for decluttering, the last 5 minutes are for cleaning up and putting away.

I just loved this idea as it is not so overwhelming and you know you are not going to try and do an entire room at once!

For most of us 15 minutes a day is doable, whether it is after work or just before you go to sleep. Everytime I have finished one of my 15 minute sessions I feel a sense of accomplishment, and I can actually see the difference in my home! What a note to go to sleep on.

Just look at the blog post ‘I own my kitchen’ and see my cupboard!

Imagine how different cleaning for Pesach will be!

The 15 minute time limit is even short enough to get the kids involved, without them loosing interest.

Please try it and let me know how this method works for you!

Envelope Budgeting- money management for everyone

What is envelope budgeting?

It is basically dividing your money into different envelopes marked with different categories.

envelope budgeting

When you receive your salary/wages, pay your regular bills online. For example:

Rent/bond; Water & Lights; Rates & Taxes; DSTV; Medical aid; Insurance; school fees/ child care if it is over R1000; etc.

Exel spreadsheet

Then take what is left over and divide it into envelopes. I do my shopping online so I use my debit card for this but as I buy milk, bread, fruit and vegetables weekly I have an envelope for groceries.


How much milk and bread do you use in a week? We go through 6 x 2 litres of milk and 6 loaves of bread. I also have big fruit eaters so I budget for every 2 weeks. I buy the Pick n Pay in store bread as it is cheaper. I only go once a week – usually on a Sunday morning.


If it is less than R1000 per month, pay cash.


How often do you fill up your car? We fill up twice a month so I do this at the beginning of the month, when we get paid, and then put enough money into an envelope to cover the other tank in the middle of the month, plus a little extra (in case).


I put away a minimum amount so that, no matter what, we have the basics for Shabbat. 3 challot or 2 and a challah roll, 1 or 2 soft drinks, 1 cake/ or sweet pastry for Shabbat breakfast, as well as a Shabbat treat (I usually have a slab of chocolate to share). If you make your own challah then you won’t need to put aside as much.

Pocket money

I assign some pocket money for my two younger kids to cover school tuckshop and other expenses that come up. For the 2 older ones, my husband and I, I give a lump sum. Even though my son and I manage to save some of our money my eldest daughter and my husband are not great at budgeting.

Medical costs

To cover medical levy’s and doctors who want payment upfront. (You may not use this for a while but you need to keep this topped up!)

Shop cards

Truworths, Woolworths, Edgars/ Jet, etc.

I have made up some amounts for this example

Childcare: R1000                        Medical: R500

Petrol: R600                                Pocket money +/- R2000

Shabbat: R 520                           Maaser/tithe R1000

Groceries: R1150                         Shop cards: R2000

Prepaid electricity: R500

Total in envelopes: R9200

Set up rules as to how you want to use this system.

Here are mine.

1. Do not borrow from one envelope to use for another category

2. When the money is finished, too bad, you have to wait till next month.

3. Only take enough money to the shops for what you need. eg If you are only

going to buy milk and bread, then only take that amount of money with you

and no extra.

money in wallet

4. Put all the change back into the envelope.

What you might like to do is write on the back how much you put in and each time

you spend, deduct it from the total.

Whatever money is left over you can choose to roll over, put into a separate savings

envelope or account, or use it as a special extra treat.

Fun Money

Pro’s :

It really works! You can actually see what you are spending and, therefore, you are

more in control of your spending.

Discipline- you become more disciplined with your spending habits.

If there is an emergency – eg you have a burst geyser, need a new tire, you have the

cash on hand.

You have a tangible budget and you definitely tend to spend less when you have to

pay actual cash!

There is no overdraft. You can’t spend it if you don’t have it.

You don’t spend on unnecessary things.

You don’t miss payments


You need to convince the whole family to participate.

You have to go to an ATM or into the bank to draw the cash

In the beginning it can be confusing, where do you take the money for clothes from?

Or even furniture?

You don’t get ebucks or Absa Rewards for spending, although you may land up in the

end saving more than the points you would have earned.

Some people don’t like the envelopes, if that is you then use a small accordion file

with different sections.

accordian file home made

Allocate the money as soon as you are paid.

Stick to your rules, but be flexible until you have a system that works for your family.

Pick the categories where you tend to have the most trouble budgeting.

Give this system at least 3 months and watch it work!

Do you know where you are going?

Are you going out tonight?

On a Wednesday night I teach a jewellery making class.  We started talking about this new blog and how it was about – among other things – saving money.  One of my students mentioned something I have never heard about. It is called The Entertainment Book.

Entertainment book

This is apparently something well known in Australia, so I looked it up.  What a fantastic thing.


If you like going out to the zoo with your family, want to treat yourself to a spa day, stay somewhere nice on vacation, or even go out for supper, (RTG and Next door are both in there, but no other kosher establishments), go to movies, adventure golf and the list goes on. There is a voucher for it, things like 25% off your bill.

I watched the short video clip they have on their site and one of the things that intrigued me was that 20% of the cost is donated to charity. You can buy your book membership for around R 300, and it contains R 60 worth of voucher valid till this time next year. They say it is available at hospitals, so tomorrow I will ask at the hospital where I work. I searched the internet to find specific places to buy the book but found none listed. I will keep searching.

If you enjoy going out, get the book

I must admit that, if you are like my family and rarely go out, or  on holiday, it may not be worth it, with only the two kosher food options available.  If you like to eat out there are some well known restaurants listed that even a kosher girl like me has heard of. Signature of Sandton, a well known African restaurant, and Adega.

So even though I won’t be buying one yet, I will look into it for you and your family, because it sounds quite worthwhile.

Available from

Here is the site:



I own my kitchen, do you?

I own it!

The importance of simply staying in control of your kitchen cupboard and the freezer, can’t be emphasized enough in helping you stay in control of your budget.


I am following a blog called storage solutions 101 and in it the writer, Taylor
Spalding Flanery, wrote about decluttering your house and planning your meals against the inventory in your cupboard. That way you don’t buy things in duplicate unless they are on a really good special.

Today my monthly groceries arrived from Pick’n Pay. We save over R1000 a month by NOT going into the store. I specify that it must be kosher and on some things I stipulate no substitutes.  This month I only need to return the 2 blocks of cheddar cheese and a bulk pack tomato and onion mix which were incorrectly delivered. I am very careful to only go as far as the customer service desk and not into the store itself. You do earn points and you can redeem your vouchers. Only VIP vouchers must be redeemed in person.

Online shopping

I do not order my milk, bread or fresh fruit and vegetables from them. For the milk and bread (needs to be Pas Yisroel, for school – baked by a Jew/ under direct supervision of a Jew), the fruit I buy from Fruit and Veg City as they are much cheaper, I know they are not always the best quality and don’t always last that long, but I have a way around that, which I will talk about another time.

I buy milk and bread once a week and freeze. I would buy more but that is all my freezer can hold. We average 1 ½ loaves of bread and 1 ½ litres of milk a day and more during holiday time (like now!).

Buying Kosher meat

I buy most of my meat from Meat on Main. The advantage is that it is cheaper, the disadvantage is that you can’t see what you are getting till it is delivered. If I want to buy chops or steak I would go into the butchery as going by the Kg won’t work in that situation. I buy a lot of marrow bones for cholent, from the butchery. You can make a delicious cholent using mostly vegetables and still get your protein and flavour from the bones, even if you don’t eat the marrow.

I decided to do my inventory today as I needed to pack my freezer to hold a month’s worth of groceries and the grocery cupboard is over flowing. This is some of what was in the first two shelves of my grocery cupboard.


Lasagne sheets to last a while!


I found 2 more sealed boxes after I took this picture.

This is what the shelves look like now! I admit that there is stuff behind what you see, but not much. I also threw away some stuff that expired 3 years ago. With products that say “best before: —“,  you can use them for a while longer, but I think 3 years is pushing it.  Products that say ‘use before’ should not be used much after the expiry dates.


Something else I discovered while emptying out the cupboard is that I have over 600 teabags, because one 200 bag pack was buried at the back and I ordered more, complaining that we were using too many teabags (400 per month). Turns out we weren’t! Then I found that I have 4 different types of chamomile teas and a whole assortment of herbal teas.

Playing tricks

Two members of my family are coffee drinkers and insist on Nescafe. I learnt a trick from my mom a while back and no one has cottoned on. She put Frisco into the Nescafe jar!  She also has a bottle of real Nescafe in the freezer and takes this out when guests come to visit.   It lasts ‘forever’ and the granules stay separate. So that is what I did today.  Frisco is nearly a quarter of the price of Nescafe and the family have not noticed the difference!


I didn’t manage to do all the shelves tonight, but I am happy with my progress.

The freezer is full and with the repacking I found 3 packets of mincemeat and some falafel mix which I did not know I had!


I have put the fruit and vegetables away. I am grateful that 3 of my 4 kids like fruit, so even with the short shelf life the ‘fruit and veg’ produce has, we use it before it goes off.