KOO beans Budget beaters

Koo beans
Koo
My wonderful KOO hamper

One of my favourite budget stretchers just got even better!

KOO Beans! I love adding beans to food to bulk it up and now I have even more recipes and ideas to try out.

By chance, I saw a post on SA mom blogs https://samomblogs.co.za/ about KOO hosting an event to launch their new range of beans.

I haven’t been online much and had decided to check in and see who was posting what. I am so glad I did.

I went off to the KOO experience, just expecting to be shown the new range and listen to a talk about the brand and their new KOO beans range of products.

I never even thought about the fact that the venue happened to be a cookery school. I just thought it would be a good opportunity to meet the faces behind some of the other mom bloggers that I have come to know online through their blogs and in various blogging groups.

KOO beans experience
I really need to pay more attention!

I did get to put faces to names; I even met new faces and have a few new blogs and vlogs to follow.

The experience is not something I would normally get to have.

Keeping kosher usually means that cooking experiences and demonstrations happen few and far between. Even when I see an event that interests me I usually don’t go because it’s either on a Saturday which is the Sabbath or it is on a day when I am working.

Besides, what is the point when I can’t taste anything? That is definitely going to change.

 The event was sponsored by KOO and hosted by Margy Vally of the Olive Branch Cookery School, in Fourways.

Margy of Olive Branch
Margy Vally of Olive Branch showing us how to make truffles0

The meet and greet experience I was expecting was actually an interactive cooking experience using the new KOO beans range.

We all got to participate in making part of the light lunch that was served, lots of fun and delicious smells going on in the kitchen.

KOO Beans

The recipes KOO supplied were very easy and it didn’t matter whether you had no cooking experience or were a seasoned pro.

The menu was obviously very Mexican since we were using beans.

Spicy Nachos with KOO bean dip, guacamole and sour cream -KOO Black beans in Mexican style sauce

KOO Mexican tortilla cups – using KOO Black beans in Mexican style sauce

KOO Mixed bean and salsa salad- using KOO baked beans in tomato sauce, KOO Black beans in Mexican style sauce and, of course, KOO Whole Kernel corn

KOO chicken quesadillas and sweet corn salsa- using KOO Baked beans in Barbeque flavoured sauce

KOO Fiesta chicken burritos – using KOO black beans in brine

KOO Albondigas- using KOO baked beans in Chili Wors flavoured sauce

KOO Black Bean Chocolate Fudge Balls- KOO Black beans in brine, I cannot wait to make these!

I am so inspired and even though my meal plan for November is all drawn up and the shopping is done for the month, I actually have 99% of the ingredients in my pantry, plus we were given a very nice hamper. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/recipes/basic-mince-recipe/

This means changing the menu won’t cost me anything!

KOO beans Budget beaters 1
Black bean truffle

I think I just might try the KOO black bean Chocolate Fudge Balls first!

Beans are a staple ingredient in making food stretch; reducing the grocery bills and ensuring the family all get enough protein and fibre in their diet.

Pesach 2019

Pesach
Pesach 2019 2
Matzo, bread of our affliction

Pesach, a word that often brings tears to Jewish households everywhere. Not only tears for the story of Pesach but also tears at the thought of all that needs to be done.

I know we are still two months away but Pesach is an expensive endeavour to do properly and for those starting out it can be quite daunting. Starting early can reduce the stress a lot.

Pesach 2019 3
I have managed to earn enough points for a shopping voucher

During the year I build my Pesach fund by using WUHU deals and SNAPnSAVE as much as possible. Usually by the time Pesach comes around I have a few hundred rand saved and shopping vouchers from my points on WUHU.

Eezee coupons
Phone app from Checkers

I am one of those lucky people who have a separate kitchen, so when I see something on special that I will be able to use during Pesach I buy it and put it away.

Please check with your Rabbi for items that may be used during Pesach without the hechsher.

I have a little gas stove for Pesach so as soon as the week is over I fill it up. It is one less thing to worry about for the next year.

I am also able to store my spices in the small freezer to use again, without needing to buy more.

Last year a lot of supermarkets put the previous years stock on sale for amazing prices and I stocked up. I am watching carefully for this year.

One of the ways is to buy early and store is to use a trommel (trunk) that can be used to store your purchases. Air tight containers to keep spices fresh in your normal freezer are a good idea if you have the space.

Expiry dates are often just when the manufacturers no longer guarantee the quality of their product. To read more about this go to my article http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/how-old-is-it-2/

I always have a list at the end of each Pesach of things I would like for the next one. The wish list doesn’t always get fulfilled but I sometimes manage to get one or two items.

One day I would like to go on one of those Pesach retreats where I wouldn’t have to worry about, cleaning or preparing for the Seder’s. After 25 years of hosting Seders though I am not sure I would know what to do with myself!

Are you ready for Pesach 5779?

How to coupon in South Africa

How to coupon in South Africa 5
Couponing in SA
Coupons are a great way to save money

South Africa doesn’t coupon! We are far too advanced for that! We use apps!

Most South Africans haven’t got time to sit and cut out coupons. I have to admit I do prefer the apps as we already have too much litter on the streets.

Couponing helps you get your home sorted by making sure you have a shopping list and that you buy what you need. It also helps you reduce your grocery bills and some apps help you put away money. This money can bve used for emergencies or during months that last longer than your salary.

My two favourite coupon apps are SNAPnSAVE and Wuhu deals. I think they give the most value for money. In this article I am only going to cover SNAPnSAVE.

SNAPnSAVE

Here’s how this coupon app works.  Using this code Adrienneb713, (yes I will earn money on your first snap but you will get your own code to pass on to your friends and family).

This will prompt you to set up your profile.

Go to the App store on your phone and download the app. When you have done that login with the password you have already created.

You are now ready to start shopping. I must admit that there are items listed occasionally that I have no idea where to buy that particular brand.

They have staples each month which include bread and milk, although I did notice the eggs have been taken off.

You get cash back on all sorts of items from fresh produce to beauty products to power tools and more.

You can pretty much shop anywhere; they do have some independent stores listed as a supplier.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Once you have downloaded your app and logged in, it is time to coupon!

Draw up your shopping list, you will need it for this app and for Wuhu deals.

You can now ‘book’ your items, some items are for multiple deals but you don’t have to use them all.

Some items are so popular they may not be available at the time you want them, not to worry click on the notify me and the app will send you a message when that coupon becomes available.

YOU’VE SHOPPED, NOW WHAT?

While you are shopping you can open the app and go to your booked items.

As you put an item in the cart mark it off by touching once on the coupon. Remember to buy the correct size, brand and flavour that is listed on the coupon.

Pay for your groceries, there is no cash back at the till.

Now for the tricky part, snapping your slip. I try and do this before I even unpack my shopping otherwise I forget.

I have lost a lot of money forgetting to snap my till slip. Your picture needs to cover the entire slip, it must have the shop name, the date, the invoice and the vat numbers.

If you have a long till slip what I suggest is folding your slip into sections and taking lots of pictures.  Each picture must have all the details listed above for it to be valid.

Submit your pictures and sit back and wait. It usually takes two to three days for the cash to show up in the App’s virtual wallet.

HOW DO I GET MY MONEY

You have two choices on how to use your money back. One is getting the cash deposited into your bank account and the other is through a WiCode.

If you would like the cash, just register your banking details. Transfers are on Thursdays each week.

Your WiCode can be used at any PicknPay or Checkers store, from the liquor stores and the small stores all the way to the Hyper stores. The code can also be used at Dischem.

On the last Friday of the month SNAPnSAVE have super deals which are usually 50% off, so be sure to remember to check that out.

I keep my cash back and use it once a year. I am Jewish and our most grocery expensive Holyday is Passover, so this is when I use my money. I think using it for either Christmas or to buy stationery at the beginning of each year is a great way to prevent getting in to debt over gifts and school books.

Want to know more visit http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/couponing-south-africa/Do you use coupon apps?

Are specials really special?

Are specials really special? 7
Are specials really special? 8
Those sale sheets, should be looked at and you shopping list planned around the sales items

You see specials listed somewhere and think wow I should go buy those. I used to have that mentality, especially before I started meal planning. It cost me a lot of money in wasted food.

Is it available at that price elsewhere?

I have found sometimes that a favourite supermarket chain marks something like a special, only for you to find another supermarket chain sells the exact same item at the same price, not on a special deal.

Remember that comparing prices is important. If your store has online shopping, log on and do a price comparrison.

Do you really need it?

Often just the word ‘special’ gets us wanting to go shopping. Before you even step out of the house, think carefully.

Do I really need it? How far am I going to drive to get it? Distance is not only your time wasting factor but also your petrol cost. If the mark down is not 10% or more travelling 20 minutes to get something isn’t worth it. Unless it is literally highway driving only.

Are you going to use it?

If you are going to buy the item just because it is on special, then you are wasting your money. If you can incorporate it into your meal plan fairly soon then buy it.

I used to be guilty of this. I would see something on special and buy it, then it would sit in the fridge going off, or in the back of the freezer. If it was canned goods or pantry goods, it often sat quietly in the back of the cupboard inching it’s way towards the best before date or becoming a weevil breading ground.

Can you use it all?

The fruit and veg stores are often the best ‘offenders’ with their bulk specials. Their specials are truly special, however, unless you have a large family or are prepared to spend time prepping, blanching and freezing at least a 3rd is going to be wasted. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/in-your-fridge-and-in-your-freezer/

I know I can easily use 10 kg of potatoes or butternuts but 5 kg of carrots is going to be a bit of a push.

Bulk buying
Are you able to only buy the specials or do you buy extra?

This week one such place is running a special on tomatoes 2 x 1 kg tomatoes for R 25, which is a good price, but unless you make your own tomato sauce or your family eats tomatoes as the fruit they are, you will be throwing out quite a bit.

One way to take advantage of these types of bulk specials is to connect with family or friends. Buy the bulk specials and then divide them and split the cost. Everybody wins this way.

Not only food

Remember it is not only food items that are on special. The same questions do apply however. Are you going to use/wear it? How far are you travelling to get it? Is it really a special price?

How often do you fall for the specials available? When it comes to food specials how often to you throw out that special product because you didn’t use it and it went off?

Dinner time sorted

My very neat pantry
Dinner time sorted 9
Meal planning

Using meal planning you can get you sorted in the kitchen.

Good intentions

It is still the beginning of the year, and good intentions and resolutions are still quite strong for most of us.

As the year moves forward those intentions begin to wane due to the pressures of everyday life and we forget about them.

Developing organisational habits will helps you stay on top of all the stress.

The family calendar and daily routine were the beginnings of getting sorted Now we look at setting up a weekly or monthly routine.

What do you want to plan for?

Whether your meal plan is only for dinner or you are planning for 3 meals a day, life is just a little easier when you know what’s for dinner. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/know-whats-dinner/

Having a meal plan helps you keep from buying unnecessary food items. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/i-own-my-kitchen/ 

Dinner time sorted 10
13% of children under 12 in South Africa are obese!

Meal plans and diets

For the many of us who have dieted in the past will have become familiar with meal plans because all ‘successful’ diets come with at least a one week plan.

We stopped dieting at home when I started meal planning because we were eating better with a plan.

When I first started meal planning it was through an American blog.

How was meal planning going to help me get sorted?

Meal planning has been one of the best habits that I have cultivated. The first step was that my pantry cupboard, fridge and freezer need to be sorted through. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/freezer/

Within the first month of meal planning my husband and I started losing weight. We weren’t dieting, we were still eating carbs and other supposedly unhealthy foods. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/lessons-learned/

With meal planning, the portion sizes were reduced and now there are often no leftovers for second helpings, this was the reason for our weight loss.

What are you cooking today?

My Meal Plan
Meal planning apps can help

How many of stand if front of the fridge trying to decide what to make for supper or school lunch or after school lunches or even what to take to work for lunch? http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/fall-in-love-with-eating-lunch-at-your-desk/

I meal plan for the month, my plans include school lunch, after school lunch and dinner. This is because I prefer to do online shopping for thing like my non perishables and freezer goods. I only go once a week for items like milk and bread.http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/10-reason-grocery-shop-online/

Monthly Grocery Budget
Do you know how much you spend each week?

Getting a meal plan sorted before payday is also a good way to set a food budget for you and your family. This is because you are no longer buying things you don’t need. You also tend to waste less food. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/printables/weekly-planner/

I now have a subscriptions service where I send out a weekly dinner menu/plan along with the recipes and the shopping list. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/meal-planning-subscription/

Do you meal plan? Do you wing it? How do you thing your life would change if you could meal plan?

Home shopping

pyjama-shopping

Home shopping unlike you have ever known. My version of home shopping is actually going to save you money!

You have created your meal plan, now it’s time to shop!

What’s in the cupboard

The first stop in your shopping is your kitchen cupboard!

When you begin meal planning you follow a set of steps to help you plan easier.

What does the family like
Get ideas from your family of what they like to eat
  1. Find out what your family likes to eat
  2. Draw up your template
  3. Draw up your meal plan ( for a week or a month)
  4. Find your recipes
  5. Draw up a shopping list
  6. Take an inventory of your pantry
  7. Plan your shopping route

Today we are looking at numbers 5 and 6 on the list, shopping and inventory.

The first stop is your kitchen. Take an inventory of what you already have in the kitchen. Then mark those items off your shopping list.

You’ve got it

You just did your home shopping. It didn’t cost you anything.

The first time I did a kitchen inventory, I didn’t have to go to the shops for pantry items for nearly 3 months. I had so many duplicates and cans of food that had expired at least 2 years before.http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/how-long-has-it-been-for-you/

Pantry Inventory (2)
What’s in your cupboards?

Don’t only do an inventory of your pantry though. You need to take an inventory of you fridge and freezer too. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/nothing-to-eat/

You will be amazed at how much you actually have in your kitchen after having listened to the kids telling you there is nothing to eat.

Home shopping also includes for me, online grocery shopping.

I like online grocery shopping for a few reasons. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/10-reason-grocery-shop-online/

  1. No closing time
  2. I don’t have to speak to people I don’t like
  3. No queues
  4. No grumpy tellers
  5. Ladies you don’t have to wear a bra
  6. You can dress in your pajamas
  7. You can have a glass of wine and no one will judge you
  8. There are no children screaming for treats
  9. No parking hassles
  10. No car guards

You just have to know a few tricks to successfully online shop for your grocery. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/10-tips-help-save-when-shopping/

Have you ever tried shopping in your kitchen?

I Theme tonight

Beef Wellington
Varineky
Vareniki- a russian dumpling, ravioli type meal, this was an epic fail

Theme ideas for meal plans are a great way for adventurous home cooks to expand their repertoire.

love it or hate it

Also for those who don’t enjoy cooking, it is a way to add ideas to your cooking.

Over the years my themes have changed and some have become part of my meal plan template. The meat-free theme is now my standard Monday Vegan meal.

Around the world in food

This year I have chosen the theme of around the world. I have chosen a different country for each week.

This way not only do I stretch my cooking skills but my family and I get to learn about different countries.

What are the traditional dishes? Does the country have more than one dish, occasionally I have found a country whose traditional dish is most unappealing to look at never mind try and cook!

The theme works well as I only make one meal a from that country on the day that it fits in with my template.

Another way this could work for you is if you like to eat out, why not find restaurants that cater to different cuisines.

The adventure would not only be in trying the new foods but also in searching out new places to eat.

Teach the children

Get children involved in looking for countries and foods to try is a great way to a fussy eater interested in trying new flavours.

It also teaches children where foods come from and how they are made. It is surprising how many people don’t know that tomato sauce is actual tomatoes and that french fries are made from potatoes and don’t come from France, or even that crisps are made from potatoes.

No fish at work
Japanese night, sushi for supper! Photo by Mike Fox on Unsplash

How adventurous are you in you cooking and your eating? For more articles go to http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/dinner-theme/

The Template

The Template 12

The meal Plan template

The template is where I start my meal planning. I have written a few articles on this previously, it is such an important aspect for my planning.

The template is the guide you use to help you draw up well balanced weekly meal s. It helps you organise your thoughts and meals and makes feeding fussy eaters just a little easier.

My template changes from time to time, mostly because I enjoy cooking and like experimenting but the basic principle stays the same.

Meal Plan Template
A blank template that I use 

For the last year or so my dinner template has been:

Monday- Vegan (meat-free)

Tuesday – Fish/vegetarian

Wednesday – mince, this includes anything made with ground meat/chicken

Thursday and Friday I alternate between red meat and chicken

The weekends are basically fending for yourself days. If there are leftovers help yourselves otherwise there is cereal or eggs.

This year based around my meal plan I will be making foods from around the world, so each week we will be trying a traditional food from another country or inspired by the flavours of another country.

The template can be made to fit either dinner only or you can add lunches to the plan.

Remember the template is only a suggestion of the main ingredient, what you add to it is what makes your meal memorable.

The template also works if you hate meal planning and prefer to wing it.

You know that Tuesday is fish, so after work, you step into the store, no plan in place. The first thing you need to do is choose your fish, from there you can wander the aisles.

Choosing what you are going to make with the fish that you just chose became easier.

I even know of someone who does not cook at all but eats all meals out, what they did with the template is choose eating places that have specials on those nights. So it’s Spur for Monday, John Dory for Tuesday etc.

While this may work for you, especially if you are single or a couple without children, it may be a little too disorganised for some.

Since I am feeding between 6-8 mouths most nights, I use my template to draw up a complete menu, find my recipes and create my shopping lists.

Here are some links to articles I have previously written on this topic.10 things you need to know about being a working parent and meal planning

How would you use the template?

There’s nothing to eat!

There's nothing to eat! 14

Aren’t you tired of hearing, ‘there’s nothing to eat’?

I know when I started meal planning it was something I heard all the time. Along with ‘there’s no food’ and ‘what’s for supper?’.

Inventory

I had just changed jobs from a 7-7 (6-8+) to office work where I had time to plan. I decided to put into place some things that I had learned from reading American blogs such as http://www.household-management-101.com.

While this is a great source of inspiration for household organisation, some of her advice can’t be applied to South Africa. The other issue is the seasons, when she is gearing for winter, we down south are getting ready for summer.

Her first instruction in the management of your kitchen is Inventory your cupboards, fridge and freezer!

My very neat pantry
My Pantry cupboard is still the most organised place in my house

The pantry

I emptied everything out of my grocery cupboards and gave them a long overdue wash. I roped in my eldest daughter to be my scribe.

To respond to the statement, ‘there’s no food’, there was plenty! The problem was that it all had to be added to make it into a recipe.

I also had to throw out a fortune of expired food. How old is it?

My daughter and I wrote down the inventory, then repacked the shelves.

Fridge and Freezer

The next move was the fridge and freezer. We unpacked everything and then wrote down what we had and threw out what was no longer safe to eat.

I sadly threw away a lot of money (food)!

Finding the recipes

Once my inventory was done, it turned out there was plenty to eat. The question was what to do with everything? Finding the recipes turned out easier than I thought.

Three websites came to my rescue. The first is http://www.myfridgefood.com you type in what you have on hand and it finds the recipe for you. The other two sites that I continue to use are http://www.allrecipes.com and http://www.yummly.com

I barely needed to go shopping! See my article. How long has it been for you?

Shopping in your kitchen

I called this shopping in the kitchen. Once everything had been inventoried and tidied away, I suddenly had enough ‘stock’ in my kitchen that I would base my meals on what I had on hand and only have to go to the store for fresh produce.

Meal Planning

With the help of the websites, I was able to plan my meals in advance. I would write them on the board in the kitchen and direct the family to the menu for the week.

There's nothing to eat! 15
This menu plan has breakfast, lunch and supper on

I continue to meal plan the change is that my grocery bill is down, the family have learned to check the weekly menu board instead of asking me.

They also have learnt that they need to check before taking something from the cupboard or fridge in case it is needed for a meal.

Do you know what’s in your cupboard? Is there really no food in the house or is it more a case of that there is no junk food or ready-made food available?

10 things you need to know about being a working parent and meal planning

Slow cooker

You are a working parent, every morning you go off to work and spend the time worrying about what to make for dinner. Should you stop and get something readymade or get take out?

How late do you have to work, are there extra murals, do you have time to make a full meal?

Let me start by saying that as a working mom, without meal planning my family lived on pasta.

Sometimes the pasta had cheese on, sometimes tomato sauce, sometimes pasta sauce, add some mince, tuna or chicken and you had your meal.

Not only is this diet a little unhealthy, it is also kind of boring!

Then I started meal planning and life changed. My husband and I lost weight. The children weren’t sick as often as previously, they had more energy. The amount of food that went off in the fridge dropped dramatically and so did the food bill.

Here are 10 things you need to know to make your life easier.

Invest in a pressure cooker or hold out until the Instant Pot arrives in South Africa.

A pressure cooker or instant pot can cut hours off your cooking time. The longest it has ever taken me to make a meal in my pressure cooker is an hour and that’s only because I am cooking for 8.

Slow cooker
Start your meal before you leave for work and come home to a cooked meal

You don’t have to worry about food burning. The only warning I have is to be careful of which pressure cooker you buy. I have a Kambrook (South African, not Australian) and I hate it. The instruction manual does not match the pressure cooker and I can only do a few things in it so far.

My old-fashioned stovetop pressure cooker is the one I use more often. I am looking into getting an Instant pot when they arrive in the country, I may have to save up but it will be worth it.

 

Use your slow cooker, if the cable is intact it is safe to leave on while you are at work.

Slow cookers are excellent for cooking entire meals all at once. They are perfect when using tougher cuts of meat.

One of my favourite meals to cook is chicken and rice. The whole meal cooks on slow over 6-8 hours.

Just put everything in the pot, either the night before or just before you leave for the day. Turn it to low as you walk out the door, and walk back into a fully cooked meal.

Repurpose your leftovers

I don’t mean just reheating them to eat the next day, although you could do this. Repurposing is taking that food and turning it into something different.

Leftover mince can be turned into a mince pie or a cottage pie or sloppy joes, if there is enough why not freeze and use for another night.

Vegetables left over can be turned into a delicious vegetable soup, or roasted.

If you have ever watched the TV series ‘Chopped’ the contestants are often given ready-made food that they have to turn into a restaurant worthy dish.

We just need to make it edible. Go online and search for recipes, there are so many out there. Throwing away leftovers just cost you money.

Meal plan for the month, not just the week

Everybody tells me, they don’t know if they can do a whole month in advance, that I must be so amazingly organised. This is so not true.

I hate shopping. Planning for a month means I can buy all my non-perishables and freezer goods in one shopping trip and only need to rush in and out for the rest on a weekly basis.

I’ve tried weekly planning and what happened is I would get to the next week and have forgotten to draw up a plan.

By planning for the month I can plan around payday, extra murals, times when we have functions to attend or just want to go for date night.

It’s a lot easier to get into the habit of meal planning when you do a month at a time rather than a week at a time. Meal plans are not written in stone, so you can change them to accommodate in-store specials.

Shop during those extra murals

When dropping your children off at ballet class, karate, cricket, netball, soccer or rugby, you have an hour or so to kill. Using this time to get your shopping done is practical and time-saving.

With the price of petrol constantly going up, it is better to try to get as much done as you can, rather than driving up and down.

Shopping within a time limit, when you have a meal planned, can save you a lot of money, as you will have to stick to your list and not have time to buy unnecessary items.

Shopping with a time constraint without meal planning and therefore no shopping list will cost you between 2-5% more, each visit.

This is because when we have no list, we impulse buy, you are hungry, tired and in a hurry, you let your emotions shop for you and then you get home, look at what you  bought and either don’t feel like cooking it, it will take too long to cook or nothing you bought is actually suitable for a meal.

Let the children learn to cook

Letting your children help with the food prep is not only a good way to get help in the kitchen, it also tends to get them interested in new flavours.

Mine started with learning how to make scrambled eggs, my 22-year-old son makes the most incredible omelets, he is also good with steaks and roast chicken, he is learning new flavour combinations.

My 0ldest daughter will cook an entire meal really well if you force her to, it is sometimes a surprise what comes to the table on these rare occasions as she prefers to use recipes as a suggestion rather than instructions and may alter quantities and ingredient as the mood strikes.

Then comes my 16-year-old daughter can when threatened with hunger use the snackwich maker (jaffle maker) to make toasted tuna mayo or toasted cheese.

The baby is 14 now and she is our resident cupcake and muffin maker, she is also a vegetarian and lactose intolerant. She makes amazing gluten-free banana pancakes.

You have to taste!

One thing my children all have in common is that they are prepared to taste new foods before making up their minds about whether they like it or not. (My oldest daughter says ‘we are forced to taste the food. We are not allowed to turn down food unless we have at least tasted it!)

Children can begin cooking under supervision from around the age of 9, there are plenty of blogs and YouTube videos available to teach them to cook.

I now have a Thermomix, which has changed my life. It is simple to use with touchscreen technology and recipes on a chip. Just about anyone can use it to dice, mix, saute, steam and whip amongst other things. No worries about burnt food when the person cooking gets distracted as the temperature and cooking time are set.

Thermomix
Thermomix

Cook in bulk and freeze

The important thing to remember with this is that you must separate what you want to freeze before you serve supper.

If like me you have a few big eaters, leaving even a little in a pot means there will be no leftovers.

I also have grazers, which means that they will keep going back until there is nothing left.

Cook once, eat twice. This is what bulk cooking is all about, cook double today and freeze one portion for later in the month.

Remember that if you can buy it frozen in the store, you can freeze it at home. This can make food prep easier too. Just Google ‘how to blanche ……’, you can do any vegetable if you know how.

Keep a pantry stocked with staples

A few standard supplies in your pantry cupboard can translate into an emergency meal or salad. Pasta, stock powder, bottled sauce, tuna are ingredients that can be turned into a meal.

Canned vegetables also come in handy, one of our favourite salads is a can of garden peas and a can of corn kernels drained and mixed with a little mayonnaise.

Frozen vegetables are also an absolute necessity, quick cooking, they can be eaten as a side dish or hidden in a pie or even turned into soup.

Buy pre-cut vegetables

While pre-cut vegetables may not be great for your budget, they are amazing time savers when you need them. They can be roasted, boiled, steamed or mashed. The problem with these is they often don’t last very long in the fridge.

precut veg
Using pre-cut vegetables saves you time

Cook according to a theme

I have a meal plan template. Each night of the week we have a different theme. At the moment I am using Mon-Meat free/vegan; Tuesday- Vegetarian (Fish); Wednesday – Mincemeat; Thursday- Chicken or red meat and Friday- red meat or chicken.

I used to also add a country to each week. One week we would take a country and I would make food according to my template based on the cuisine of that country.

This didn’t always work out, sometimes the meals were terrible and sometimes they just took to long to cook. What I did learn from this is that my family are fairly adventurous eaters.

Meal Plan Template
A blank template that I use for ideas for themes

They enjoyed the Indian, Chinese, Mexican and South African foods the most but gamely tried the Russian disaster (we ended up eating cereal that night).

These 10 simple tips will help you less stressed about getting food on the table each night at a reasonable time.