Winging it with a meal plan!

You like winging it in your kitchen. You want to meal plan but you hate recipes! No problem.

Meal planning with no recipe

Meal planning is about more than recipes, it is about a lifestyle change. Simplifying your life and making time for you to spend doing what you prefer. It also saves you money.

My Meal Plan
Meal plans don’t have to have a recipe

In a previous blog post we looked at themed meal plans and that is where not following a recipe will fit in. Dinner Theme Meal Planning

Your meal plan template allows you to go to the store and use your imagination for ingredients.

Using a template

If you step into a store with the idea in mind that your main meal ingredient is chicken, you then can decide while in the store or in your pantry what other ingredients you will be adding to make this into a healthy balanced meal.

 

You don’t need to only plan your main ingredient; you can even plan your cuisine. An example of this is Mexican + Meat. Now you can go to the store knowing you want to buy meat and spicy/tomato ingredients.

This method allows you to make use of specials, as well as not buying too much and having it sit in your kitchen and go to waste.

While this is a method I do not think I could use successfully in my home I do think that it would be very successful for single people, college/varsity students and possibly stay at home moms (as an excuse to get out of the house possibly?).

Singles

For single people meal planning can be a little tedious and most have a fairly fluid social life.

This means if you meal plan for more than a week in advance you will likely have food going to waste. Just having your template can work not only for meal planning, but also for your social life.

For example if you have Fish on your template for a certain night, then you can use this to help decide on a restaurant if you are going out for dinner. It can also be used to decide whether it is canned tuna or perfectly seared tuna steaks, whichever you have time for.

College/Varsity

For college/varsity students living either in an apartment with other students or on campus where you only have limited way to prepare foods, then this method will also help with budgeting and saving money.

Having a template and being able to use that to decide on your ingredients will be a big part of your life. Students living in res will usually only have a kettle and microwave and this can to a certain extent limit your options, go online and search for ideas to help you.

Going online to look for microwave recipes will help. Instant noodles are very versatile as a base for some great meals. These can definitely be bought in advance and then dressed up, with ingredients bought fresh on the day.

Choose your flavor of noodle and then add. For example choose a fish flavoured instant noodle meal and add some salmon off cuts and a tablespoon of cream cheese for a delicious supper.

Instant noodles
Buying instant noodles and dressing them up with fresh ingredients is a great way to budget your food bills

For those sharing, it will definitely help you with your food budgets.

Stay at home moms

Staying at home to raise your children is an amazing thing to be able to do. If you are the type of mom who wants to stay at home, and if your finances allow you this option.

There does come a time, however, when even the most dedicated moms need to get out. Going to the mall and buying your groceries can fulfill this need two fold. The first is retail therapy without feeling guilty for spending money; the second is feeding your family nourishing meals.

Shopping without a recipe can allow you to choose ingredients that are versatile in terms of the ages of each family member.

I love hearing how people go about deciding what’s for dinner, so why not let me know how you decided and what methods work best for you?

Meal planning and a sorted life

How does meal planning fit in with get sorted?

New habits

We’re getting sorted is all about clearing out the junk however, one of the most important ways to prevent the clutter from returning is to develop new habits.

This week we look at meal planning, this topic is one of my favourites. I have an entire blog about it. I offer online support on the topic. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/booking-form/

My monthly meal plan

Try this little exercise, write down everything you think you need to buy for your next 7 meals. Now go and look in your kitchen, the fridge, the freezer and the cupboards. What was on your list that you already have? Did you have more than one? Are there things that you had forgotten you even have?

This is part of my grocery cupboard all tidied up

Meal planning is about more than just knowing what is in your cupboard, it is about saving money, saving time and saving your sanity.

Take control

Planning your meals in advance is about taking control of another aspect of our homes and lives.

You don’t need a recipe book to meal plan, it is not set in stone.

What to cook?

Next week we will be sorting through our recipe books. Meal planning will give you a better way to know what cook books you want to keep close at hand, which ones you want out of the way and which you will be getting rid of?

Recipe books
Only recipe books I use are on this shelf and in my kitchen for easy access

An important part of meal planning is knowing what the family enjoys eating. If you don’t think meal planning is for you, why not try something simple? Take a piece of paper and write down everything you know your family loves to eat. You now have the start of your voyage into meal planning.

Organised meals

The most organised space in my house is my kitchen. Meal planning also renewed my love of cooking.

Gone are the days of coming home tired, opening a cupboard or fridge looking inside and closing it, then putting pasta on the stove, because it is easy and I am too tired to think or I forgot to take something out the freezer.

Now, even though I still often come home tired, meat is ready to cook because I took it out in the morning to defrost. I didn’t have to think about supper, my thinking was done when I had energy and put the meal on the menu.

There are still days where I look at the meal plan and think, ‘I don’t feel like this today’ and we land up with pasta of some type.

I am more likely to cook what has been defrosted than not as I don’t want to waste it and let it go off, so the family is eating much healthier Take out more than once a month is not in my budget.

Do you meal plan or do you wing it?

Pass da Homemade Pasta

On the shelf

About 15 years ago my mother bought us each a pasta maker.  I tried it once or twice but all that happened was that the dough got wrapped around the rollers and clogged up the machine. I put mine in a packet on top of my kitchen cupboard and mostly forgot about it.

In December I need surgery that would have me home for a six week recuperation period. For the first three weeks I did absolutely nothing except sleep and watch series.

My inner Chef

MasterChef Australia 2015 and 2016 became my drug of choice. I will probably never make 99% of the foods that were shown. I did, however, learn some techniques. As I started to feel more myself, I decided to try pasta again. Almost every contestant in the top 20 makes either ravioli or tortellini in at least one challenge. To me this meant that it wasn’t as difficult as my previous experience has led me to believe.

Homemade pasta
The first successful batch of pasta

The dough recipe is simple and quick.  It is getting the machine not to chew up my dough that proved the most difficult. MasterChef showed my how to fix this. You need LOTS of flour on your rollers. This tip has improved my pasta making skills significantly.

Homemade spaghetti and meatballs
Everything from scratch spaghetti and meatballs including the pasta

Now if I plan a meal with spaghetti, my children request my homemade spaghetti rather than the box in the cupboard.

Cleaning up

Cleaning this machine has now become my biggest challenge, because I still sometimes forget to put the flour on often enough and dough gets stuck in the machine. The only way to take apart the machine is with a screwdriver and that’s not going to happen. One occasion where I wasn’t able to clean the machine properly landed me with maggots in the machine! I am slowly learning and improving.

I can now make tagliatelle, spaghetti and lasagne sheets! Next up, to work out how to use the other attachments to make macaroni and other noodles. Once I have mastered the basics of all the shapes I will attempt to make coloured and flavoured pasta’s.

One of the good things about making your own pasta is that it can be dried and stored for later use; it also cooks quicker than store bought pasta.

Have you ever made your own pasta? Did you use a machine or did you roll it by hand?

 

 

Who are you?

Once again I am on assignment, to improve my blogging skills and make your reading experience better.

 

Assignment number 4 was to write a blog to our ideal reader and include a new element. We needed to identify who this reader was.

 

My ideal readers are people like me. It is for every South African who wants to make their lives a little less stressful.

party snack food

I enjoy cooking, so I follow a lot of cooking blogs and Facebook groups on cooking. My house needs organising, so I follow blogs and pages on those topics. I need to save money, spend less and eat healthily, so I follow blogs and pages on saving and losing weight. Yet with all these blogs I struggle.

lounge

Most recipes have to be adapted from Imperial (US) to Metric, (almost all the rest of the world). Sometimes it was just too much work, and if I feel that way then so do a lot of others. The ingredients are also not the same, Shallots are spring onions, Kale is spinach and spinach is baby spinach, the list goes on.

winter vs summer

Organising my house, while the blogs talk about getting ready for summer vacation, I am looking for hats and scarves. They’re cleaning out the basement and the Attic, I am not sure I have ever seen either in a South African home. We do Xmas in summer so no snowmen for us. Independence Day is not in July it’s in September and called Heritage Day or National Braai (barbecue) Day!

braai day

Saving money by using your coupons? We don’t really have that here. We have Pick n Pay which offer smart shopper points and coupons only if you are over 65 and only for a Hypermarket, Vitality and momentum points to be earned at Pick n Pay (Vitality is at Woolworths too). Ezee coupons, which are the app for Checkers, that almost no one knows about and Groupon, which doesn’t apply to groceries and neither does Takealot.com.

smart shopper card

I believe Amazon finally has started delivering to South Africa. Do any South Africans know what Swagbucks are?

swag bucks

Costco, Walmart, Asda, Ikea? Who are they? We have Makro (which I believe is part of Walmart the group), Cash and Carry (but I don’t know anyone who has been there recently and then I think we are done with superstores. Hypermarket, Hyperama, Game are the next big sized store.

Walmart  Makro

OLX is similar to Craigslist, eBay is popular, but South Africans who use online markets are not the majority. Almost nobody has heard of Etsy.

Our schools start at 7:45, our jobs at 8:30, a large majority of middle and upper class families have domestic workers, either part time or full time, whether the mom is a stay at home or not.

6 am

This is the South African lifestyle; it is different from the rest of the world. This is why I felt I needed to write a blog just for us.

 

I do add a Jewish element to the blog as this is who I am, so all my recipes follow kosher food laws and never mix milk and meat in the same dish. I will write about upcoming Jewish holidays, but I will also write about non Jewish holidays.

shabbat

To see what I like follow this link to my pins on Pintrest: https://www.pinterest.com/adiesdesigns/moms-helpers/

 

I really hope that people like me, ordinary South Africans looking to make their lives simpler, find my blog useful and join me in my journey to ordering my chaos.

All images straight from Google.

Do you know me?

This is a long blog post. I felt that it was necessary to reintroduce myself to everyone. I wrote and published the first Kasheringyourlife blog on the 28 June 2015 and already 5 weeks later I have over 180 followers (thank you all). I read a blog about blogging and in it they said that people need to know why I am doing this blog and why they should read it. So this is my story.

I started a journey a while ago (10 years ago) and I haven’t got very far.

bead room
My very messy beading area

My house is a mess and every TV show or blog or self-help book about hoarders and clutter says that your environment reflects your feelings and affects your home life.

This is true, when I looked at the mess my house had become, with one room totally uninhabitable, I knew it was time to get pro-active and start cleaning. Coming home was depressing.

Also we were struggling financially. We are a family of 6 and we keep strictly kosher, which is expensive, and then the kids were all in private Jewish day schools.  I am a nurse and I don’t earn a big salary.  We are in debt and have been for years (our own fault). We needed to fix this and we are still working on it.

There were a few problems with putting my plan into action.

I worked long hours, leaving home at 6am and getting home at 5pm or later. Then I went back to studying and my hours changed once more. Class was once a week, so on those days I left home at 6am and got home at 5pm and still had to do homework. On the days I didn’t study, I had to work, as the hospital was sponsoring part of my tuition. I am a nurse so the shifts are 12 hours (7 -7)  and 3 days a week I would leave home at 6am as you need to be at work 15 minutes before shift change for patient handover, and return after 8pm (not everybody arrives on time for handover). I worked every 2nd Sunday.

shabbat
Friday night, Shabbat ingredients

Saturday, in the Jewish religion, is Sabbath and no work is done on that day. The Sabbath actually begins on Friday night at sunset until Saturday night after sunset. I know for some of you this will be hard to believe but we don’t use electricity on that day, so no cooking and everything must be done before Sabbath starts. If you want a hot lunch for Saturday, you can use a slow cooker and keep an urn on for tea or coffee.  No cell phones and no fixed lines. No shopping and no cars. You walk to Synagogue (Jewish Church), then walk home for lunch or out to friends for lunch.

cell
Jews don’t use cell phones or other electronics on Shabbat

Due to the time I left every morning, my husband was responsible for getting everyone to school.  My domestic was responsible for all the cooking. She is a competent cook but almost every meal was pasta. On my days off I was just too tired to do anything, plus I still needed to study.  My mother and mother-in-law luckily do all the fetching from school.

car pool
Lift schemes to get everyone home from school

I have 4 children (1 boy – AYB is 18, 3 girls ZSB is 17, LBB is 13 and AYB is 11) plus a husband who has a full time job and a part time job at the Synagogue.  My house has just kept getting more and more full. My house wasn’t and isn’t dirty.  I have a domestic worker but she cannot be expected to know what papers to keep and what to throw away, so the clutter builds.

I love to read and I love the internet, so I started reading blogs on household management, decluttering, organising.  I watched TV programs on cleaning, I bought books on cleaning and I drew up detailed cleaning schedules for myself and my domestic help. Even the lady who does the washing and ironing got a schedule.

schedule
Having a cleaning schedule is an important aspect of housekeeping

Now, with any job, no matter what position you hold, most of us, if we don’t have a deadline or a supervisor watching, get lazy or only do half a job and that’s what happened here. I was too tired to check if the domestic had followed the schedule and after a while she stopped. Me? Well, I didn’t even get started.

All these books and blogs I read, and shows I watched,are for people in America and England but there is nothing for South Africa. Our lives here, in this amazingly diverse country, are very different to those of people overseas. I could find lots on cooking and a few articles on home finance and budgeting, mostly from financial institutions. This wasn’t working.

self help
A lot of research went before the start of this blog

I now have a new job. I work 8:30 to 5pm around the corner from where I live. For the first time since 2008, I can take my kids to school in the morning and I am home to cook supper at night.

We eat a lot less pasta! I enjoy cooking and from some amazing blogs I have learned to plan a monthly menu, I do my shopping based on this and I am starting to see the savings.  I am even losing weight! YAY!

loose weight
Weight loss and getting healthy is easier with menu planning

I have reinstituted my cleaning schedule and I am clearing out the junk. I am throwing away the broken, the damaged and obsolete, giving to charity and selling some things. Slowly but surely it is getting done.

I would love to have feedback from people who read my posts, or try the recipes I put out. I would really appreciate anybody who has implemented their own cleaning schedules, or started menu planning, to share your successes and failures with us.

I am hoping that by this time next year the blog will have grown and my house will be less messy and I will have the credentials to feature professionals that align with this blog. In this blog I want to cover mainly household management, budgeting and share recipes and tips for your kitchen and occasionally, write about Jewish Life.

RECIPES

NOVICE RECIPE

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

Method

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.

spaghetti

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!