Monday, March 7, 2011

Let's talk about menu planning

Happy Monday lovelies!  Hey! Don't you roll your eyes at me!  Monday is a fresh start to a new week, it means you have all week to get everything done before the weekend!  ;)

It also means I'm going to share my meal plan with you.  I know a lot of other bloggers do this, so I'm jumping on the bandwagon.

Before I show you what I have planned for my family this week, I'm going to explain a little bit about meal planning and how it can benefit you if you don't already do it.

1.  You will save money.  Plain and simple.  We used to spend upwards of $800.00 per month on groceries, and by the time payday rolled around, we would be wondering..."What the hell are we going to eat?"  Now, we spend about $600 (We're a family of 5) per month, and we've always got lots to eat, and extras to be used oon the next meal plan rotation.  You also won't be making numerous trips to the grocery store, or ordering out because you've got a plan, you know it's there, you just have to cook it.

2.  You'll eat healthier.  If you plan for 7 days (or 14, or 30, or however long you plan for)you'll have that stuff on hand, and like I mentioned above, you won't have to order out, and consume 1000 calories on two pieces of delivery pizza.  You can go in to more detail and plan your breakfasts, snacks, lunches, dinners, and evening snacks ( I did it this way for the first little while, it wasn't for us)and then you ONLY buy whats on your plan and you really have no reason to eat unhealthy, everything is planned for you.

3.  You'll save your precious time.  I plan up to a month in advance.  I don't buy a month in advance, we shop bi-weekly because that is when my spouse gets paid.  We make a trip to the city and do a major shopping trip at the Great Canadian Superstore, and Wal-mart.  As I browse online, I come across recipes and add them to the meal plan.  Usually on a Saturday or Sunday I sit down with some tea or coffee, and I plan it all out, check out the sale flyers to see if I can substitute with any sale items, make any changes and then I choose my coupons.  (You don't have to, but it helps.)  I make my list in order of the aisles of the grocery store.  So I group together the personal hygiene items, any medication/vitamins or first aid things, cleaning supplies, deli, meat, dairy produce, bakery (I don't usually buy anything but tortillas in the bakery, everything else is homemade.  (Note to self: learn how to make tortillas, lol)  Then I think back to the order of the aisles, and I write down everything I'll need from each one.  It's all in order, and we always go the same way when we shop, for this reason.

4.  I don't hear anymore "Whats for suppppppeeeeerrr" I have a big white board in my kitchen and I have a weekly menu section written on it, and I fill it in on Mondays. 

5.  You'll waste less food.  Which goes hand in hand with saving money.  Plan a leftover night!  Maybe cook one thing, like some mashed potatoes, or pasta, something cheap, and then add all the leftovers in your fridge.  Call it "Buffet Night" - kids will like that.  Let them dish up their own plates, like they would in a restaurant and they'll love it, and you'll use up your leftovers.  Also, if there are any leftovers that you *think* you are going to throw away - DON'T!  Save them.  Put them in something and chuck them in your freezer.  You never know when you might be able to use them.  Google is your friend.  I google EVERYTHING.  If you have a bit of leftover mashed potatoes, just google "leftover mashed potato recipes" and you'll have a ton to choose from.  Until then - freeze em'.

6.  Saving the best for'll spend more time with your family.  I don't think there is a person in the world who doesn't find comfort in a home cooked meal.  Cook your family up a delicious meal, sit down and enjoy each others company.  You'll be so glad you did - and you'll continue to do it.

So there are my seven reasons why I think you should menu plan.  It might seem like a lot of work at first, but it's second nature to me now, and I cannot imagine going in to a grocery store without my list.  I tried it once, I lost my list in the restaurant we had lunch in, and I panicked!  I couldn't find it anywhere.  I went shopping, and I got all but three things.  I wouldn't ever want t do it again, though.

Finally; I'll explain how you can make menu planning easier.  You can do it on your calendar in your kitchen, a piece of paper, your desktop calendar, or you can google one of many many many printable templates online.  There are so many options; do what works for you.  Like I said, I use the bottom corner of a big white board I have in my kitchen.  It holds my kids' chore list, a shopping list, menu, the "honey-do" list for Robert and a big area for  notes, ideas and reminders, etc. 

So, here is my menu plan for the week of March 7th - March  13th.

Monday:  Not sure what to call this.  It's round steak in the slow cooker with mushroom and onions and mushroom gravy.  I'm going to serve it with mashed potatoes & peas.

Tuesday: Homemade chicken burritos in whole wheat tortillas with carrot and celery sticks

Wednesday:  Homemade taco pizza

Thursday:  Slow cooker ribs, rice & corn with some veggie sticks

Friday: Kids are home with grandma for supper, so they're going to have pancakes and bacon with fruit

Saturday:  My daughter is having her 9th birthday party with her school friends, she's requested they make their own personal tortilla pizzas, with dessert pizzas instead of cake.  Fine with me!

Sunday:  Chicken and vegetable stir fry with rice.  I'm going to attempt to make homemade fortune cookies that night.  If I can get the rice paper for spring rolls, I'll do those too.  I can never get them where I shop, but maybe this time.  *fingers crossed*

Which takes us to next Monday.  I'll post next weeks menu, next week!


PS: As I finished writing this, I decided to work on some printables.  Not only for menu planning, but other areas of organization I've been working on myself.  :)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Swag Bucks!

Today is  SwagBucks birthday!  They're having all sorts of things going on.  From what I hear, they'll be giving out a ton of codes, so keep your eye out for them!

If you haven't already joined SwagBucks, you really should.  It's like frequent flyers miles, just for using the internet.  You use swagbucks search engine, just like you would use google, and you are rewarded.  You search for codes, you get swag bucks, you refer people, you get swag bucks...etc.

Once you've let those SwagBucks build up over time, you can turn them in for cool stuff.  Amazon gift cards, money in to your paypal, even Wii's and things like that.  There are all kinds of things in the SwagStore.

So heres my referal banner.  You click that and you sign up, you get 130 swagbucks to start up (limited time offer)  Plus you get to take part int he birthday celebrations, and I get the referral points!


vvvvvvvvv CLICK HERE vvvvvvvvvv

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What I've been up to

So, last you heard from me, I had a post about couponing in the works...right?  It's still sitting in my "drafts" file, but it won't be getting past that state for about two weeks. 

Why you ask?

We're moving!  Yeaaaaaaah!  Finally, we're out of this tiny little house, and in to a bigger, better house.  This one will be going up for sale this coming summer, so we're ahead of the game, and out before we're told to find a new place...and this town doesn't have much to choose from, so - we're ahead of the game.  The landlord of the house we're moving in to live in Jordan,  and they don't plan on coming back to Canada, so we've been told that we can rent the house as long as we need to.  Nice!  they've hired the local real estate company's owner to act as a property manager, so we have someone local to deal with if we need it...but no nosy landlords popping in daily - I've had one of those.  Not fun.

Anyway - we've got the keys, I've got three rooms packed up and ready to go on the weekend, and I will be busy packing, moving and unpacking until the week of Valentines day - Im sure.  THEN - be ready for some pictures.  :)

Once we're settled, Ill give you the couponing post I've been promising.

Until then...

*Muah* ♥ x0x0x

Monday, January 17, 2011

What is bannock?

Recently I was asked by a friend "What is bannock?"  I guess I sort of assumed that everyone knew what it was.  I was wrong.   Now that I have read the (written) history of bannock, I see now, it's a Canadian thing.

The first time I tried a piece of bannock, I was 13.  It was served with moose meat soup, which is what bannock is usually served with - soup, of some sort.  It was pretty spectacular.  Soft on the inside, but crispy and golden on the outside.  The type I tried was baked in the oven.  The other kind is pretty much the same dough, just fried in oil.  I`ve heard of it being called fry bread, fried bannock, and new to me is grease bannock.  I suppose because it`s cooked in oil. (aka grease?)

So, some history and background on this deliciousness.

Bannock is the unleavened bread that is strongly associated with both Native and Metis cultures. The Fur Trade travelled on it, and it is a common feature at Metis, Native, and Northern Manitoba festivals today, and it is eaten in tens of thousands of homes.

The “Michif Dictionary" gives two alternative phrases for the English word “Bread”: “Li Paen” derived from French “le pain”: and “Puhkwayshikun” from the Assiniboine Indians. The word “Bannock” however is neither Matis nor Native. It’s the Gaelic word for Bread.

When the Scottish Fur Traders intermarried with Native and Metis women, they brought with them their cooking habits and terms. Today’s Bannock is probably neither the original Native bread, that was based on corn flour, or is it the same as the Scottish Bannock or Tea Biscuit.

It is an adaptation of old ideas to a new land for the Pioneers giving a distinctive regional food reflective of our mutual History.

So there you have it.  The history of bannock.  I know there is more to it, but my manic brain isn't able to focus on google for very long. If you want to add something - leave a comment.

You'll hear people give different definitions for bannock.  Some say "real" bannock is just flour, water, and baking powder, some add eggs, oil, sugar etc.

My version is as follows:

(I measured some of the ingredients with this blog in mind, usually I just dump it all in)

4 cups of flour
4 tbsp baking powder ( approx, I just dump in it, like I said)
*about* 1/4 cup of oil
some sugar (I'd guess about 1/8 - 1/4 of a cup)
some salt ( 1 tbsp) if I had to guess.
2 cups of cool water ( I measured this)
1 egg ( i think, i cant even remember if i threw one in, you can , or you don't have to, your call)

Like most recipes, you blend up the dry ingredients, and make a well in the centre, and add the wet ingredients.

Mix it all up so it's a ball of dough, and turn it out on to the counter, make sure you spread some flour around first.  Shape it in to a flat ... oval?  I suppose it could be called an oval.  I dont think the shape matters, just flatten it out so it's about two inches thick. A little excess flour on the outside of the bannock is a good thing.

Put it on a cookie sheet that has been lightly dusted with flour and bake it at 350 for about 20 - 30 min.  When you take it out, you can brush it with some butter, or leave it, it's up to you.

(Please ignore the indent on the left side...I had a helper and she decided she would try to rip it apart while I was shaping the ball of dough, I was in a hurry.)

Now, let it cool a bit, cut a piece off, slice it in half, and put your favourite topping on it.  I like margarine & jam, or honey.  My kids like peanut butter &'s whatever.  Your choice.

So, that was the baked kind, the other way to do it is to roll out the dough (same recipe) and slice it in to square like pieces, and slice a slit or two through the centre (to allow the oil to get to the top) and fry it in hot oil.  A lot of people cook it in a frying pan on the stove, but I don't like to risk a grease fire...and I also have a deep fryer, so I do it in my deep fryer.  Fry it up until it's golden brown, when you take it out of the oil, it's good to put it in a bowl lined with a paper towel or something to absorb the excess grease.

From here, there are so many possibilities.  You can dip in powdered sugar, or mix up some white(or brown) sugar and cinnamon and roll it in that.  You can sprinkle salt on it (I would eat this every day if it wasn`t horrible for me) or you can just slice it open and d like you would with the baked variety.  Another way to eat it is to form them into large circular shapes and fry them.  After that, you top them with taco toppings and that my friend is one delicious taco.

So there ya go.  That should answer your question.  ``Whats is bannock?``  Go and make some...and while you're at it, make some soup.  It's good for your soul. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Use your coconut!

While we were grocery shopping yesterday, the kids spotted a coconut, and had all kinds of we bought one.

After school  all three girls lined up at the counter, and watched in anticipation as I broke it open.

The water went EVERYWHERE, and I quickly grabbed a coffee cup to let it drain in to.  They were so surprised that it wasn't "milk"  I think they were a bit disappointed.

I let them each have a sip, and each of them replied with a "yuck".  We came to the conclusion that coconut water tasted like "an armpit with coconut perfume on it"  After that, we scooped out some of the insides, and they each had a taste of that...this tasted much better, apparently. 

So after that, they lost interest and I was left wondering what the hell to do with the rest of it. 

It's now in the freezer, waiting...until I come up with something to do with it...

:)  Any ideas?  Use your coconut!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Biggest Loser - Season 11

So it's been...awhile.  Christmas is over, kids are back in school, and it's back to normal, if you want to call it that.  

We have a new show that we plan on watching as a family...and that show is 'The Biggest Loser'! It's only two episodes in to the season, but the kids and I have watched enthusiastically both times, and this time, Robert joined us - kind of, he was asleep about 1/2 way through.  Oh well, his loss!

Anyway, after tonights episode, I went on to the Biggest Loser website and found they made a cookbook.  I know, I know, there are a million out there JUST like it.  You're right, but THIS one, is ALL dessert.  Sweets are my weekness.  I need them, I crave them...I just - do.  They give you a sample recipe and it sounds soooooo good.  I'm going grocery shopping tomorrow, and you better believe those ingredients have been added to my list! 

I think this book will be well worth the money.  Sweets are what knock me off the clean eating wagon every single time, and if THESE guys made it, one would think it might be a good resource. 

Anyway, here's the recipe, the nutritional info, the website I got it from AND a link to buy the book.  :)

Raspberry "Jelly Rolls"

½ cup low-fat buttermilk

½ cup whole grain oat flour

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon water

Butter-flavored cooking spray

2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons 100% fruit raspberry spread

1/8 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)

In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, flour, egg white, baking soda, vanilla, salt, and water. Whisk until just blended. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat until it is hot enough for a spritz of water to sizzle on it. With an oven mitt, briefly remove the pan from the heat to mist lightly with cooking spray. Return the pan to the heat. Pour two 1/4-cup dollops of batter onto the skillet (half of the batter should remain). Cook for 2 minutes, or until bubbles appear on the tops and the bottoms are golden brown. Flip. Cook for 2 minutes, or until browned on the bottom. Transfer the finished “cakes” to a cutting board or flat work surface. Re-spray the pan and cook the remaining batter to make 4 total.

Place the finished “cakes,” with the sides that were cooked first, facedown on your work surface. Spread each evenly with 2 teaspoons of the fruit spread, leaving about 1/2" of one edge bare. Gently roll each “cake” from the filled edge to the bare edge into a tube shape, being careful that the spread does not gush out. Arrange them on a serving plate, seam sides down. Transfer the cocoa powder, if desired, to a fine sieve or sifter and lightly dust the tops of the rolls evenly with the cocoa. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 84 calories, 4 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates (7 g sugar),
1 g fat, trace saturated fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 351 mg sodium

and the link to buy this little gem, containing over 80 recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Also, if you missed the season premier, you can watch it here


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Long time no talk!

I haven't posted in about a week, but tomorrow is a new day and Ill post to let you know what we've been up to!