Dear family, friends, newsletter subscribers, Facebook friends and acquaintances and most especially, followers.
Some exciting news…. I now only work part time and am focusing on building my side business into a full time business.
For those who have been following me, you will know that 2 years ago I started a meal planning business called Kashering Your Life. I help people plan their meals according to their dietary requirements and draw up their shopping lists. This helps reduce,not only the grocery budget, but also the amount of food being wasted in households. My grocery spend is down 20% from 3 years ago when I started meal planning for myself and we waste a lot less food. While I cannot guarantee a savings of 20% I can guarantee that you will save money.
I have been on Chai FM radio with Alan Bender and The Yad Aharon show, as well as being interviewed for an article in People magazine South Africa. I have written guest articles for blogs such as anniemation.co.za. and beingme.co.za. I am a volunteer ambassador for the Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, which aims to fight obesity and food wastage worldwide.
I plan to hold workshops every 4 months on meal and menu planning including how to successfully use online grocery shopping. I have been working on my first new paid workshop which will be hosted as a private Facebook group and will run over 12 weeks. This will include a free 20 minute Skype session before and after the course, as well as live and recorded tutorials, workbooks and resource tools to help you.
18 months ago I started “We’re getting Sorted” a Facebook group to help me get my home more organised. This group is over 460 people strong, all with the aim to take control of their homes. I am now incorporating it into my business. I do not come into people’s homes and re organise or declutter; what I am doing is giving support for you to do it yourself, while holding myself accountable, by working on my home alongside the members of the group. As this group grows, I hope to invite experts in decluttering to give us advice and help, as well as hold competitions.
For 45 years being a nurse was my passion. I was 5 when I decided on my career path. Now my passion is helping people who would like to take control of their health and that of their family through meal planning.
With our rand in junk status, now more than ever, we need to find ways to make our money stretch. I am looking to help as many people as possible. If you are interested in working with me, or know of someone who could benefit from either a course or one on one sessions with me, please feel free to forward them my contact details.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
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.
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?).
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.
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.
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?
Going on a picnic can be both fun and exhausting. Fun as it is great way for family to spend time together. It is exhausting, as you need to organize the food and cold drinks, cutlery and crockery to take with you.
Planning a picnic is quite an undertaking, especially if you have small children.
Venues are important as you want somewhere where the children are safe can have fun running around, riding bikes and enjoying themselves, where you can relax and not worry too much. So avoiding places with large bodies of water might be a consideration.
A great venue with little children and babies, is your back/front yard. Very little traveling is required, you know it’s safe and if you forget anything it is not far to go to fetch it!
Then there is your comfort, beach chairs for those who prefer not to sit on the ground. Ground cover that is large enough for the rest of the picnickers.
Plates, cups and cutlery are also a consideration. Do you have a stock of disposable items to use at the picnic or are you going to use your normal everyday cutlery and crockery?
If you are using disposables, don’t forget the trash bag for your rubbish.
What to eat?
Now for the most important part of picnic, the food. What are you going to be serving at the picnic and how many people are joining you?
Salads are usually standard potato salad but what if you want a bean salad or a green salad with dressing? Containers need to suit your salad. Potato salad doesn’t need to be in an airtight container but a salad with a dressing or sauce will need to be properly sealed.
Are you taking cold meats or cold meat sandwiches? Cold meats are easy, you take them as they come packaged. If you prefer sandwiches are you going to prepare them at home or are you taking bread and spread with to make the sandwiches at the picnic?
The bee issue
Sugary drinks attract bees, so if you have anyone with an allergies then cups with lids and bottles that close are better than cans, water is better than either. If you are me though then water is not going to cut it on a picnic.
Serviettes (napkins), I always forget the serviettes! Hand wipes are a good idea for sticky fingers as ablution facilities are not always nearby.
If you plan for your picnic beforehand, not only will it be less stressful on you but you are able to plan a healthier picnic than you would in a last minute dash for the picnic basket.
When was your last picnic? I don’t think my family has been on one in at least 5 years, teenagers with a social life don’t seem to keen!
Planning for 3 meals a day is important when you are trying to follow a healthier eating plan.
Starting off well
Breakfast is purported to be the most important meal of the day as it helps to kick start your metabolism after a 6-8 hour fast (sleep).
One aspect of meal planning is that you are able to plan your meals according to you and your family’s activity levels.
What your first meal of the day should be, depends entirely on what activities you will be doing during the morning.
Fuel for the day
For adults at a desk job, who go straight from home to the office, or go via the schools, you want to plan a meal that is low GI and low carbs as you will not be expending too much energy.
However, you still need to eat something that will keep you feeling satisfied, at least until your tea break.
Eating to exersise
On the other hand, if you are stopping off at the gym for a workout, you will need to plan your breakfast accordingly.
A cardio workout allows you to have a little extra in the carbohydrate department, while a strength workout would require you to take in a little more protein for your first meal of the day.
The midday meal
Lunch should be your biggest meal of the day. However, for most of us it is a hasty meal at our desks. Once again, when planning your lunch meal, you need to take into account what you will be doing in the afternoon.
A daycare worker may require higher energy producing foods than an executive, no matter how busy you are.
What’s for dinner?
The evening meal should be lighter and more easily digested than the midday meal as you will most likely be going to sleep a few hours after you have eaten.
This meal should also be the lowest GI as you want it to keep your blood sugar level fairly constant throughout the night.
A low GI food is a food that will keep you feeling full for longer as it helps to keep your blood sugars on an even keel.
When your blood sugar drops, you are left feeling hungry and often craving for something sweet. Eating fruit first thing in the morning can keep you going till lunch time but be careful, not all fruit is low GI.
Apples, oranges, peaches, cherries are a good low GI fruit, while watermelon is definitely not! If you are going to the gym then a banana would be good, along with raisins and other melons.
Healthy eating is about conscious eating and meal planning plays an important role in this.
If you are not following any type of eating plan, why not try a little experiment? For two days keep a food diary. Every time you eat anything, write it down. Next, try and create a meal plan just for the following two days and watch your eating habits change.
Remember that meal planning is best done after a meal, so that you are less inclined to put high energy or comfort foods into your plan.
One of the tricks that has got me through meal planners block, is theme nights.
I don’t mean elaborate themes, I just mean creating a template for yourself that will make meal planning, in all aspects, a little less stressful.
What is a theme?
A theme is whatever idea you want it to be. Some of the examples I have used are:
Countries of the world
Jewish dishes from around the world
I love Africa
Cooking shows I love
Success and failure
Some were harder to follow than others. For example, the dinner from Russia was a total disaster! Vareniki- I don’t know what I did wrong, but they were totally inedible.
Others, like my cashew nut chicken, are such a hit that they now appear on my meal plan once a month.
The homemade pasta that I learned to make from watching MasterChef and Gordon Ramsay were another rebounding success.
How to decide
Using current trends to create themes is another easy method. Meat free Monday, Banting and LCHF (low carbohydrate, high fat) recipes are another method. You don’t have to follow the diets themselves, just some of recipes that your family might enjoy.
A basic template can actually be used when changing lifestyle eating habits to control your food choices.
Creating a template for your plans can sometimes be difficult and other times quick and easy. However, once created, the actual meal planning time is cut almost in half. Monthly Menu Planner and Shopping List
Decide what night you will be eating which type of meal. Here is a basic example of a template.
Monday- Meat Free
Tuesday- Mince (any kind)
Thursday – Chicken
Friday – Red Meat
Saturday – eat out
Sunday – pizza
Weekly menu planner and shopping list
Love it or hate it
Whether you love cooking or hate it, whether you are a contender for MasterChef, or you can barely boil water, what a template allows you to do is cook within your preference.
I am one of those people who love cooking. I am also a pretty good cook and love to try new recipes. Thankfully I have a family who like to eat and aren’t too fussy about their food choices.
I use meat free Mondays to make mac and cheese, tuna or vegetable lasagne’s and often to experiment with vegan recipes.
For mince night, I have a standard set of about 10 recipes, some more involved than others, which range from Chilli Con Carne to Sloppy Joes, Taco’s, Bolognaise, Cottage Pie, Shepard’s Pie, Mince Pie, Meatballs, Meatloaf and a few others.
For fish night, I have a few standards that I dare not alter too much. Haddock and Spaghetti, Hake and Basil Pesto, Grilled Fish and Chips, Crumbed Fish Cakes and Crumbed Fillets. There are a few more but I don’t make them often as they are either too expensive or the majority of my family don’t eat it.
Chicken night is another favourite meal and I can use this to try out new recipes.
Red meat night could mean stews or roasts and is another time where I can play with recipes.
As you can see my family are definite carnivores. Saturday and Sunday nights, we eat whatever is going. In a house full of teenagers this means they are mostly all out on Saturday night and we pretty much scrounge in the fridge for left overs or we have eggs or I will make pizza for supper. Sometime it is simply soup and toast.
Find freedom from the stove
Your template does not restrict you, it actually allows you to play around. You don’t need to follow a recipe either. If you know that tonight is mince night, you can take your meat out the freezer, come home and make whatever you want.
Another advantage is, if you have a whole lot of recipes you like, you can plot them for a month or more into your chosen nights.
Why not give it a try and see how easy meal planning can be?
How does meal planning fit in with get sorted?
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/
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?
Meal planning is about more than just knowing what is in your cupboard, it is about saving money, saving time and saving your sanity.
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?
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.
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?
The diet plan
A 7 day meal plan is included in practically every diet known to woman kind and a few men.
Dieticians draw one up for you, Weighless® and Weight Watchers® have full books of weekly meal plans. Then there is The Real Meal Revolution, the Atkins diet, the Hollywood diet and about 100 others. Also the diet for bodybuilders who are trying to build muscle, they also have to stick to a strict eating regime in conjunction with their weight training.
Why do they all have meal plans? The answer is simple, knowing ahead of time what you are going to eat for the week helps you better to stay on track.
While nothing will beat will power itself, it is still easier to stick to your diet with a meal plan.
Meal planning for good eating habits
When I first started meal planning for my family, it had more to do with budgeting, food waste and time management than anything else. Once we started this new way of life, my husband and I stumbled across a benefit that was obviously known to those who create these diets. We both lost weight!
It doesn’t matter if you are with a dietician, following a popular diet or trying to go it alone. Meal planning is the best way to start your new healthier lifestyle.
An important step to meal planning for weight loss is to plan right after breakfast. This is because you are no longer hungry and you will be able to plan with your brain instead of with your stomach. If you are not hungry, you will make better food choices on your plan.
1, 3, or 6?
For most households, planning dinner is often enough but if your plan is for weight loss or weight control, it is important to plan not only your 3 meals for the day but also your snacks.
This planning also helps if you are combining good eating habits with gym. You can plan your carb intake to coincide with your cardio workout and your protein intake to fit in with your weight training.
Understanding the basics of calorie control and the difference between good and bad carbs will help you plan your meals better.
Are you trying to get healthy or lose weight this year? Why not try a meal plan, whether it is from the dietician, or a book, or you are doing it yourself? Without it you will get nowhere.
One of the aspects of meal planning that people often find difficult, is recipe searches and looking for ideas on what to make.
Modern technology can help you out here.
There are a lot of meal planning apps out there for you to use, some are paid for and some are free. All are useful in one degree or another.
Today I am writing about some apps that I have tried out either paid or free.
The first one is on my computer, not my phone
Plan to Eat
This is a click and drag app that allows you to plan 3 meals a day plus snacks. I use the snack option to plan school lunches. It also creates your shopping list.
The only problem I really have is that they only have American stores listed. Obviously they can’t list from the entire wold. They do have a blog that goes along with the app, so that you can read more on meal planning.
One of the things that I have had to do is create ‘recipes’ for school lunches which enables me to click and drag, otherwise you need to type in the ingredients for every single item in order for you to generate an accurate shopping list.
You can share you recipes with friends who are using the app or keep them private if you wish. You can also import and save recipes from your favorite websites (except mine for some reason). Not to worry though most of my recipes are on my profile and are accessible to the public.
The app is $5 a month and for me it is totally worth it. https://www.plantoeat.com/
The next app works on both your android phone and computer. This is a free app
You need to create a profile on the computer and then sync it to your phone to use it.
The biggest problem I had was that I could only import a recipe from one of their supported sites. This meant that any recipe that was from another site had to be manually inputted.
Once you have your recipes uploaded you can then plan your monthly meals and the app generates your shopping list. Since the app syncs to your phone, you will always have your shopping list with you.
My favorite feature is that if you are having a special event or gathering, this app allows you to plan the menu, starters, mains and desserts, once again creating your shopping list. https://www.pepperplate.com
This phone app is great for converting your recipes from Imperial (US) to metric (most of the rest of the world), whether it is fluid or weight that needs converting. It is also great for when you need to use a recipe that feeds for but there are six of you or only 2 of you.
I have only been using it for a short time but I have found it very useful. You can find it in the play store on your phone
There are two other apps that have good reviews but I cannot test them out as they are only available to iOS phones via the iTunes store and aren’t supported by android.
This app is apparently more of an inventory app than a meal planner app. I love the idea of having an inventory of my kitchen on my phone. You would avoid buying something you already have. Found on iTunes
This is the second iOS app that I found which had great reviews. It is apparently a combination of Pepperplate and Cloud-Freezer. It takes time to set up, but it is apparently worth the effort. Found on iTunes
Disclaimer: I have not been paid to review any of these apps.
I would love to hear if you are using a meal planning app, which is it and what you like about it.
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.
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.
Now if I plan a meal with spaghetti, my children request my homemade spaghetti rather than the box in the cupboard.
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?