The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Sunday 20 May 2018

The World Within our Walls. Getting ahead with meals.

We have talked about how important meals are to the comforts of home.  Not just filling bellies but the smell of cooking when family come in the door, meal times together. Celebrations.  Soup on a cold night.  There are so many beautiful family moments around the table.

Achieving all these meals is another thing!   There is shopping, budgeting, menu planning, leaning new recipes, using up left overs,  staying ahead of life little surprises like visitors, illness, storms and simply sometimes running out of time.

I am a member of quite a few Facebook groups and blogs and one thing I continually see are posts by people who are simply out of food.   They have children to feed and they have run out of money before pay day and the pantry isn't in good shape either.
Then of course there is illness and other things that go wrong where even if the fridge is full we are too sick to do anything about it!  There are too many reasons we might fail to get dinner on the table to list!   It happens.  It has probably happened to us all at some time.

If you are new here I have lots of posts on Pantries and Preparedness in my index.  I have spent a few years now building up my pantry and supplies so I always have lots of meals I can make even if the shops were shut.

Having a baking day or a baking afternoon is a great way to get ahead with meals. 
And use stuff up!  This is a post with some handy recipes.... The money saving baking day.

It was with the help of Laine that I really changed my shopping habits drastically.  I went from going to the supermarket and getting what I needed and coming home to shopping many different shops, markets and locations every month and menu planning from what I had, what needs using up and what great deals I have found. It kind of flipped grocery shopping upside down!  Shopping this way roughly doubled my stock or halved my bill whichever way you want to look at it.
You can read this post and Laine's menu planning here.

Once I got going on menu planning I developed a system where I keep a list on the fridge of all the ready to go meals I have in the fridge, freezer and pantry currently.  This list is always changing but I like to have at least thirty meals listed.
My pantry itself holds more possible basic meals but my list is usual meals I either have ready to thaw or cook from the fridge.   These are good backups but I also want actual ready meals too, meals that just need thawing with no work involved for times I might be sick or unable to think!
Once I did this it became both a challenge and a form of security.
All the time I am working on building up my list!

During a week I will cross off things as I have used them.   When I shop or do some cooking I will love to add all the meals to my list and get a few more!   Trying to do this has made me see many more ways to stretch a meal, use things up, create a new meal with left overs....  save something over for another meal. I will think about how I can add a meal to my list!
The list also stops me from forgetting something at the bottom of the freezer and later finding mystery packages that need carbon dating to identify!  So less is wasted!

When I cook up some spaghetti sauce this is a chance to freeze a few batches for later.

I will also make up a Lasagna. 
When it is cold it slices neatly and then you can freeze single portions. 
These are so handy! 

Saturday night Chloe came to watch the Royal Wedding.  I had a huge crockpot going full of pumpkin soup and I made pumpkin scones (gf) as I love soup and Chloe loves this pumpkin one.   Andy ate left over roast chicken pieces and scones.  This was all in front of the TV where we were snuggled up!   It wasn't a normal meal but everyone was happy.
Last night I had more soup and I heated up a Spaghetti Bolognese pasta bake for Andy.  I had one individual portion frozen from another time.  He loved that and I loved my soup.   Sunday nights are often a use it up night.  This is a breakthrough for me as years ago I though everyone needed to have the same thing for dinner (for some reason) and now if there are a few things left over then we will have a meal of this and that.

Other ways to build up some spare meals are to simply always double a recipe if you possibly can and put away a meal.

 I have had it where people keep coming back for more regardless of how much they just ate.  (Years ago I had this problem although not now.)    I learned to set it aside immediately and put it out of the way.  

Add a side to a dish that can be stretched to two meals.  And/or add a soup or a desert that will stretch it further into "enough".

To make up casseroles in the slow cooker and bulk them up with lots of veggies.   The left overs then make the most wonderful pie fillings.   Keep some puff pastry in the freezer.   Pies freeze as perfect instant meals.  You can make family sized pies or individual ones.  Little ones in muffin trays are lovely for children.   Pies are great emergency meals!

Have a use it up night and create a pizza, fried rice, soup or something with all your odds and ends left over.  Make extra and fill the lunch boxes for tomorrow.

Serve up lots of left overs Indian style in little bowls,  add some rice, bread, salad or something to make it go further.

Have a toasted sandwiches,  eggs on toast night.   Toasties and soup used to be one of my favourite dinners.

Save ingredients for another time.  Mimi mentions this... be aware of what is enough and save something for another time.  Over time you get extra meals this way.

Half your expensive ingredient and double the rest.   i.e. if I am making something like Blueberry Muffins I will use a single recipe amount of the berries and I will double the rest.  Same with chocolate chips etc.  No one notices, you just get more!   This recipe will use up a tiny bit of anything and turn it into a tray of muffins....  Miracle Muffins.  (sweet or savoury)

When you have an abundance have a cook up.   These were cobblers I made in my last house when I had lots of apricots.  I would just make as many as would fit in the oven....

They were great on soup nights!

The same with baking....  if dinner is a smaller meal I have fruit cake on hand to offer.

Then I am glad I had a baking day and stored these away!

Right now I can get extra meals by having a quick look in the fridge and crisper.  I can freeze some portions of soup giving me a couple of emergency meals.  I know I have two zucchini to use.  I will see what else.... then make a plan to use these up in the next few days.   Doing this I very often get a couple of extra creative meals.  I can build my list!  

The slow cooker is a big help to me as when you make soup, a casserole, curry etc you can add so many things that are left overs...  my pumpkin soup on the weekend had a bunch of broccolini stalks thrown in.   My last casserole had a few tomatoes added that needed to be used.   Spaghetti sauce is a place you can hide all kinds of grated veggies.   So is meatloaf, sausage rolls, hamburgers, rissoles... you can fill all of these with veggies that need to be sued up and greatly bulk out your meat.  (and also trick kids who are being difficult!)

How do you speech ingredients and make more meals from what you have?
Do you have tricks to get ahead and save?   
I think our Mum's and Grandmas were experts at this!   My Nan used to make a tomato bake Nans Tomato Pie  that consisted of zucchini, onion, tomato, bread and cheese topping.  She also make great stuffing!   These were served with roast meals.  I LOVED them both.  It took me years to realise she was stretching the meat much further by all the sides she served! 
Other cultures do this wonderfully... the English add Yorkshire Puddings.
Asian cultures tend to add lots of little bowls of sides and the meat part is actually quite small but it goes such a long way!  You have wonderful sauces and condiments, rice and veggies... the meat portion goes a mile! 
We can learn a lot from this!

However you achieve it having meals to fall back on when you need them adds a lot of peace and security to your home.  I look at my list on the fridge and think that actually when I shop I need nothing.  The only money I will spend is on absolutely fantastic deals.  With luck these will get me further ahead!

I hope you have a wonderful week!  I have lots of plans including a further afield shopping day and seeing Hilde.... this always builds up my pantry. xxx


  1. I think I am starting to understand this concept, but I haven't grasped it fully. Do you mean that when you visit a store, you don't really have a list or plan for what you will buy there? So you buy what is on sale and what looks good, and then go home and figure out what to make with it? I can see how, with experience, this could really save money. As long as you have a stocked pantry of basics you can get creative each day by incorporating fresh foods (that were on sale) that need to be used up with other leftovers into a new meal. I know that when I shop my usual way, with a long list of ingredients to make the next 7 days of meals, I usually end up with all kinds of odds and ends and no plan to use them up. But on days when I am putting off another trip to the store and just working with what I have, it seems I can make an abundant meal out of nothing more than a little creativity.
    Thank you for this advice; I will work on shifting my thinking a bit to reach this point!

    1. Dear Leigh, Yes, like last week I made lots of pumpkin soup as I got pumpkin on such a cheap price. So I bought lots and made soup, roast and scones. I could not shop for several months now really except fro a few fresh things and milk. But I keep the ball rolling with the best deals. It took a while to get ahead to be able to shop this way but it saves at least 50%. it was also for me a moment when it clicked in my brain. Thanks to Laine mostly. Follow the link to Laines post... that explains it quite well. I had to really change my ways but was quickly amazed how much more food I had and for so much less. Its an on going process. But I would not plan a meal then go buy the ingredients as how do I know the price they will be? If something else is half the price I will buy that! Like on your days where you create a meal and it turns out so well, just do that often and use what you have. In the meantime watch for those good deals! I hope this helps, with love

  2. Annabel, I love this post and the examples of your cooking...yum!!! Food is an area in which we can save so much time, money, and energy while still loving and serving healthy meals to our families and to ourselves.

    I recently learned how to bake brown rice in the oven! Spray a baking pan with non stick spray, and use 2 cups water for every 1 cup of rice. Cover with foil, and bake for one hour at 350 degrees F (176 degrees C). I could never get a rice cooker to work with brown rice. Well, you don’t need a rice cooker, just a glass or ceramic baking pan and aluminum foil. Happy week Bluebirds! Love, Teresa

    1. Dear Teresa, Thank you for this tip on brown rice. I have never owned a rice cooker. I love to cook up heaps of rice then freeze it in portion amounts. Then I have my own ready rice. It can be really handy. I love fried rice! A tip for that is to let it dry out a bit on a baking tray or paper towel and then when you do your friend rice it is never mushy just really good! Sometimes these little tips help so much! Thank you for this one! Love

    2. Dear Teresa
      Thanks for the tip! My family loves rice. I used your method today and made a huge batch of basmati rice that will be portioned out and frozen. Because basmati cooks faster I lowered the time in the oven. Came out perfect. Blessings Cookie

  3. Very timely post as usual, Annabel!
    I just got back from CA (2200 miles from my home in Ohio) on Tuesday after a week spent with my daughter and son-in-law and their children. They bought the ticket to bring me there specifically to teach them how to meal plan effectively!
    They had already started to transition from eating out almost every night (they can afford to) to making a meal or two per week at home. Those initial meals that they were “making” were mostly commercially made, ready to pop in the oven ones.
    It was really gratifying to see the two of them actually take notes as I went through the basics of first making an inventory of what they currently had in their fridge, freezer and pantry shelves. Then, seeing what meals they could make from those ingredients exclusively or by adding just one or two other ingredients. Then checking sale ads (they told me they never shopped at a certain store because the prices were too high but were surprised when I showed them loss leaders on the front page of the ad that were excellent prices), we looked at recipes using those ingredients on hand and on sale to make a menu.
    We worked on making duplicate meals to put aside in freezer beyond the week’s menu. We also spent about 90 minutes making ahead breakfast options- French toast sticks, muffins, sausage, egg and pepper muffin cups, breakfast burritos, etc.
    They were amazed at how a little advance planning (I suggested that after kids were on bed) would help them be ready for a smooth grocery shopping session and then how they could do their meal prepping in little pockets of time (kids at school, baby napping) !
    In just that week, we were able to streamline their menu and meal shopping/planning and they were shocked at the $$ savings as well as the time savings!
    This was a terrific time for me!!

    1. That is wonderful GardenPat, what a blessing you were to them. "Teach a man to fish ...."
      :-) Deb

    2. Dear Gardenpat, What a wonderful time and that they want to learn. How nice to be asked and get to spend this time too.
      I am not sure of the costs in the US but here it is quite expensive to eat out but also less healthy usually especially the cheaper options. So getting cooking and menu planning, shopping etc skills is so important. Also then teaching them to the kids as they grow. I would say you have made a lasting impression and made a big difference. If you ran classes we would all want to come! With love

  4. Dear Annabel, this is a topic close to all of our hearts here I think. It's difficult to fathom how one could not have food in the house, nor money to buy any, but it happens. I think sometimes, it's lack of imagination not lack of food. If you have rice or eggs you have a meal. Heck if you have rice you have a meal, forget the eggs. As a child I recall having some VERY frugal meals that were tasty, filling and nutritious, but would not have made it on to any restaurant menu. And therein lays the problem. Families think they need to eat like royalty every night. Menfolk sometimes are the worst for this. It's a case of baby steps, tiny changes, finding 'meaty' vegetarian meals. Ethiopian, Thai, Indonesian, South American, Mexican and Islander cuisines revolve around vegetables, pulses and fish, which of course is hand caught. Not meat. My Thai sister in law has eaten squirrel, lizard and other things we would never touch, because where she grew up, that's what was abundant and easy to catch. However, accepting that change is slow, and that we will not eat lizard, and that squirrels are not an indigenous species here, what to do? Yes to stocking up on pantry staples. I can make a dozen things with flour, water and eggs if I have too. Yes to having the knowledge to do that. Google is your friend. Type in what you have on hand and a recipe will pop up. Yes to buying just one pantry staple a week for your stockpile. And if all else fails, then that is the time to set pride aside and ask for support from the charitable organisations. That is after all, why they are there. Adults can miss a meal and not suffer greatly. Children cannot and should not. I love crepes for using up small amounts of food these days, and if you have a bit of this and a bit of that, then well, you've got Tapas or Yum Cha, haven't you ;-) Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Mimi, yes rice!
      As a child I loved rice, milk & sugar as an occasional treat!

    2. Dear Mimi, Exactly right. We do not have to have fancy stuff all the time. Eggs on toast, baked beans are still nutrition. Also like you and Jacqui said... I love baked rice custard! Yum! I think knowing some skills like how to make a stock, a basic soup, scones and pancakes and very simple things goes a long way. A boiled egg with toast to dip in it... all perfectly ok for a child to have for dinner.
      You should run classes honestly Mimi but your blog is like a class and believe me I have many of your recipes printed out!
      Many thanks! Love

  5. Dear Annabel,
    Lots of great ideas here for keeping the family well fed while saving time and money. I like your idea of the list of meals on the refrigerator. I sometimes do something like that in a notebook and list foods with possible meals, especially with meats I know are in the freezer and things I know we need to use while still fresh. I may give your idea a try so it will be easily seen. A variation I heard was to make a list of quick, easy meals from things on hand for those times when you can't think what to fix. Thank you for the muffin recipe. They look delicious! I look forward to trying them. Sometimes I look online or in my recipe books for new ways to use specific foods that we may be a little tired of or aren't used to preparing.
    Hope you and the rest of the bluebirds have a lovely week!
    Elaine from Arizona

  6. Gardenpat, I can't believe that families eat out every night. That is amazing! That is so great that you were able to pass on your tips for saving money by preparing food yourself and looking out for the sales. Good on you.

    Annabel, I just love looking at your cooking. I do envy you for having that big freezer you must have. LOL! Your girls are so blessed to have you in the same area so that you can share your wonderful meals with them.

  7. Hi Annabel and a wonderful post :).

    We don't meal plan here but we do have a really good stock of basic staples that we have 6 months or more supplies on and are building that up to a 12 month level as we see good specials. The 50% off or more food sales are our friend and we can stock our pantry for mostly 50% off sales or as in February we got a Woolworths voucher off eBay which saved us 16.66% off everything we purchased being staples that usually don't go on special.

    Lately we are far more vigilant now when we go shopping and look for marked down meat, dairy and any other things we can find and we are not shop loyal and will shop anywhere close to home or on the internet for the best prices. It is amazing just by taking a few extra minutes to really look just what you can find on clearances that you can freeze immediately. Another thing we do is check all the weekly sales brochures of all the supermarkets to see if there is anything on sale we can use and stock up on those.

    We do cook ahead though and normally when we plan to cook a chicken/boneless pork roast/beef roast we cook 2 at a time and break off/slice/dice the meat into meal sized portions for the freezer. Most of our garden produce is washed, chopped, blanched and frozen in meal sized bags that we can just add to already cook meat parcels in the freezer or with rice or pasta. Our pumpkins we pick from the gardens are pureed in containers in the freezer and then we add all the other ingredients to make a soup/scones etc with.

    We have 1 400lt upright freezer for meat, butter and dairy and another 400lt upright freezer for blanched and frozen vegetables and a makeshift root cellar under the house for other vegetables picked from the gardens. Not a lot of room for precooked meals but the prepping ahead with cooking the meats and having meal sized portions of all our vegetables frozen saves a tremendous amount of meal prepping time.

    We have been looking at buying the commercial freezers like you see in the supermarkets for when we move onto larger acreage and build our home. There will for us be no worry with us filling it to the brim with what we produce and grow.


  8. I hesitated to ask because I know you are so busy and that you have probably posted the recipes before but they sound/look so good I must for the link to Nan's Tomato Pie and for the pastry for the sausage rolls please. Thanks.

    1. Dear Diana, That is ok! If you click where it says Nans Tomato Pie it will take you to the recipe. It is very versatile too. If there is any left it is wonderful with eggs cracked into it then re baked as a breakfast or dinner. I am terrible though on pastry and keep puff pastry sheets in the freezer so sorry I am no help on that. Having this though means I can rune a bit of leftover casserole into a pie and this is so handy! With love

  9. Annabel,

    Watching the wedding sounded like fun at your house, too!

    My honey and I were married the same year Charles and Diana married. Thirty years later, our younger married, the same year William and Kate married. Now your Chloe will marry the same year as Harry and Meghan married. It’s a fun bit of history!


  10. All good advice. I am hoping that some of our kids will get on board with the stockpile soon. It worries me that they are not at all prepared in case of a disaster.

    We have been blessed to have a surplus grocery store open in our town. The store is clean and the food packages are not damaged. The prices average about 30% of regular retail prices. This store is great for those of us with a pantry already established because we can go every few weeks and just get what they have in stock that we can use. Our grocery bill has plummeted.

    I am thankful that I learned these things from my Mom and that I have the equipment necessary to cook from scratch. Our son in law worked as a pastor in the poorest parts of town and found that it is so common to have families without stoves and even basics like pots and pans. Most can eventually learn to cook from a cookbook but what if you don't have those basics and no extra funds to purchase them? This is part of what is at the root of hunger in the US. M9ney must be spent on expensive precooked food instead of ingredients At the surplus grocery we often see carts full of items like chips and snacks and now I know it is likely that they have no other choices for lack of cooking equipment.

    My stockpile of freezer meals gets us through so, so often. I do not find it difficult to keep them stocked just by cooking and freezing extras from our daily meals. I packed a cooler full of them for the lake getaway and it was wonderful to have the cooking already done. Like Mimi I also try to think ahead and save things over from one meal to the another. It saves so much time and work.

  11. What a great idea to keep a running list of meals in the freezer! I'm guilty of forgetting what I have on hand. My pantry is organized so that I can see what I have on hand, but I tend to just shove things in my freezer without organization. I have an upright freezer which should be easy to organize, but somehow it's not. Annabel, how do you organize your freezer?


    1. Dear Phyllis, When I first did the list it changed everything. I realises I didnt have to pay full price for anything as I had a couple weeks of meals... I could now just shop specials. It was amazing. Things have just got better since then. I think to myself no I can wait then I see a great deal and strike!
      As for freezer organisation I am always working on that as I shove things in little spaces! I would love more freezer room and fridge room for that matter! I have baskets in my upright freezer... as it didn't have drawers just shelves. So I measured it up and got baskets from the cheap shop. They are labelled.... meat, work lunches, veggies... etc and it works mostly ok. When I run out of room I stash things in Mums freezer. On my fridge I keep a list of what is over in Mums freezer or I would forget.... With love

  12. Dear Annabel,

    As always I love seeing what you've cooked up. And I just clicked on your Nan's tomato pie recipe and it will soon be on our menu with a tweak when it comes to the bread as we'll be using grain free bread for ours. Having studied Laine's methods shopping and menu planning is now a way of life and has had huge benefits.

    As I write I'm in the middle of a big cook up having just put up 8 quarts of salt free bone broth for future use, have a huge tray of vegetables in the oven roasting, cut up all of the remains of Saturday night's grilled chicken and will make a chicken pie for dinner tonight.

    Some months ago I found a book called "The Everlasting Meal" by Tamara Adler. She was a the chef at a very well known resturant in California for a number of years. This book has taught me all sorts of things about the usability of what some would otherwise dispose of and how she used them in the restaurant. Who knew (not me), that the core and outer leaves of a fresh cauliflower would make a delicious thick soup or could be used for a pesto? The same with the core of a cabbage. The rice and lettuce soup recipe is just sublime. This has been a wonderful education in using everything when it comes to food.

    It's finally stopped raining here after 5 days of solid rain and massive flooding in some areas. Most thankfully we are safe. Hope everyone has a good week. Blessings, Cookie

    1. Dear Cookie,
      I am saving gf bread and crumbs for recipes now. Also the pie could be fine just with grated cheese on top. If you have left overs of this it is great with eggs cracked into it and re baked.
      That books sounds wonderful. I use so many things in stock or soup. Celery leaves are one of the nicest things in stock!
      Being creative with left overs is a good thing and Im learning and learning what we can do with so many things once thrown out!
      We had loads of rain too. Friday night we couldnt even talk to each other it was so loud you had to shout! I am sorry to hear of flooding though.
      The bone broth is such a good thing. So is the sound of a tray of roasting veggies! Yum!
      Many thanks Cookie with love

  13. Annabel,
    That is how my pantry came about. I changed the way I shopped and cooked, buying the best bargains and mark downs or clearance items and planning meals around what I bought until the pantry was built up. I have never been store loyal and the difference in cost of the items I bought is what helped pay off some of the debt. Even if I go farther for the best deals I make sure I am saving more than what I spend on gas to get there and back ever mindful of those pennies. LOL. Of course coupons have helped as well. I really love doing a one tank trip and getting the best deals from multiple stores. In and out with a quick browse to look for clearance items. I think planning around sales is hard for many because I have come across those that buy a $10 frozen pizza which is 1 meal for most and I can show them the ads and say see for the $10 you can get a bag of carrots, celery, onions and potatoes plus this or that and have more meal wise. During the garden season I love to freeze pans of stuffed peppers and cabbage rolls while the ground beef is a good price. I will also mix up meat loaves and meat balls to freeze all from a bulk batch. I started cutting down the ground beef in recipes and nobody noticed. I freeze, butter and cheese when I get good prices so I have some when the prices are not good. The one thing that stuck with me from the older generations of the women in my family is that you don't shop for a meal. You shop for or grow or trade for ingredients and then make the meals from what you have. Holidays were an exception. For example they grew cucumbers and made pickles so during the winter there wasn't a cucumber served it was the pickles. My grandma was the best cook! Her meals were simple, but everything she made tasted so good. To this day nobody makes beef soup like grandma!



    1. Dear Vicky, Well your pantry is amazing. You are right we can get 3x the value for our money if we shop the best deals not shop from a list. Also all the proverbs 31 woman tips... food from far away places etc!
      Tomorrow I am having such a day! Yes it is more travel... like you I conserve fuel by going in to so many stores on my way and way home. I get so many stores shopped in one day. This trip once a month really builds up our supplies and saves a fortune.
      Your Grandmas cooking was passed on to you! I bulk everything out with so many veggies... depending on which veggies I found on special. Meat goes so far this way! Thank you for your tips. There are so many ways to get ahead! With love

  14. Hello lovely Annabel and fellow Bluebirds. What a great post! It has been a big goal of mine this year to really reduce our food waste and trim our bill down. You are so right. I am learning more and more. A big change is our little freezer. We now buy meat once a month from a bulk butcher (which is quite away a way, but combine it with other errands) and the meat we buy is on special, or at the least a substantially cheaper than the big grocery stores. Then we pack it away and we meal plan for the month based on that. It can change according to what is on special with veggies etc. Then I buy groceries online, granted I may miss the clearance items, but it still works out ok because I shop the entire half price specials for that week. I thought they were only in the catalogue, so this in itself was a revelation. I think the thing I need to work on is making double meals regularly, and really using up everything we have in the crisper. The other thing is easy meals, I really like your list of panty/easy melas idea. Lots of love, Bridge

    1. Dear Bridge, The freezer is such a help. An the cheaper meat... supermarkets are just no the cheapest anymore. A wholesale butcher is a great idea. We have one and they have weekly specials... some of those are amazing. They have a weekly catalogue which I get via email. I keep a close eye on this!
      Once you only buy on specials you are doubling your buying power basically! Truly it is a continual learning thing! I love use it up recipes. Today I decided I have some eggs that need using and two zucchini.... also I had some ricotta in the freezer when I got a whole tub for 30c! So zucchini slice is dinner. I hope it turns out... I tried Donna Hay Basic Zucchini slice recipe. It should give Andy a couple of lunches also.
      The miracle muffins use almost anything and you can make them man size of child sized and they freeze so consider those if you have left over anything like corn, ham, cheese... fruit, anything!
      Many thanks Bridge! With love

  15. Dear Annabel,
    Your meals and desserts always look delicious. I used to cook up quite a lot of meals and freeze them. Now, we mostly cook up main dishes and freeze those. Then, we add whatever sides we want that day.
    Thank you for another encouraging post.
    Love and hugs,

    1. Thanks so much Glenda! That is a good idea, cooking the main part and we can add anything fresh we have as well. I love to get a bit further ahead. Stuff happens and we use things up then I try to get ahead again. Tomorrow I am going to see Hilde... this trip usually helps me stock up a lot so I am hoping so! xxx

  16. Everything you've written makes so much sense Annabel! We are mainly living off meals from the freezer at the moment, I literally filled it with as many as could fit before the baby came. You are so right about 'hiding' the second portion when doubling dinners, my family would quite happily eat their way through two Shepherd's Pies if they get the chance lol. I've definitely had to add more vegetables as sides to keep everyone happy. Tonight I used up leftover roast meat on pizzas, this is my kids favourite meal, yet very rarely do I buy specific toppings, they are almost always a variety of what's left in the fridge.

    Avoiding food waste is really important to me, both because of budget and also it is just so sad to think of how many go hungry while so much food is thrown away. I'm interested to read the book suggested above about how top use up food that would typically be thrown out. You have lots of good suggestions for using things up!

    Have a lovely day with Hilde, you always have lots to report back after your trips :)

    Thanks so much for all the lovely comments on Friday, we are definitely enjoying our new wee girl, she is just gorgeous!

    Have a good week everyone!

    Jen in NZ

    1. Dear Jen,
      I was just meaning to reply to you so I will do it here... I love the name!
      Well done on doing so much ahead to make sure this time goes well. When people are still hungry after a meaty meal I think fine I will make some desert of add something but I hide that extra meal! Out of sight is out of mind hopefully. This really helps.
      As far as things to use up... I am getting more in the habit of googling an ingredient and getting fresh ideas for it. Also I am getting better at realising I have more than I need and freezing a batch. I often over cater. Now I act faster to freeze something when I can see it will get away from me otherwise.
      Enjoy your precious new baby time. The whole family will be in love. With love

  17. Hi Annabel & Bluebirds,apologies for not commenting for awhile.School holidays,visiting/ringing elder family members, a trip to Australia to help our son and his future wife buy the men's outfits and the couples wedding rings(support and motivating more than anythign else).No family where they are, I feel for them , as I can't be the help I can to siblings here.Never mind they are happy those two jobs were ticked off their list.
    WE arrived back home Sunday and then it was a catchup with inlaws,unpacking,washing (to hang out early Monday ),stocktake of freezers and fridge , week's menu plan, and then an online grocery shop , which then gave me time Monday after my morning class to finish off the washign and get it on the line.
    The eggs on my order were wrapped upside down and therefore the delivery man handed them to me that way and on openign them , well, what a mess! Cracked , yokey etc you can imagine.I left them in their wrapping until I could face dealign with it.
    Brought in wash and aired it . Put groceries away and updated lists where needed , and started makign pastry for bacon and egg pie. Hubby came home and said he'd help with the egg mess, if I sorted the ok ones he'd rinse and dry each one. I used 5 cracked ones in the dinner pie,8 okay ones into fridge,and there were 4 cracked left which I used to make two cakes which I prepared while dinner was cooking so I could relay using my oven , which btw is a small microwave covection.IM still not sure why I was able to save so many ,going by the mess, when 20 were in the tray. I rang the shop and told them and they refunded me the cost of the eggs , rather than send me new ones. I also made muesli bars so that my tins were full. That came in handy as then I was asked to mind my grandaughter today for a few hours,and sent her home with some baking .She was a bit husky voiced and dry around the mouth so I made up another oregano oil roller bottle and put some on her neck. And rubbed almond oil around her mouth .She then told me she loves coming to my house, she loves playing games with me,she loves watchign me make things.Ive started trimming her nails and she's allowed a little polish at times , and she loves me doign that, she said. My gosh she's not said those things to me before, it was love all round haha . It's her slightly older brother who tells me those things.
    I don;t see as much of these two as I use to.Today I was asked to help out before school and after for awhile, so I will see them a lot more and cherish that .And they are getting a new sibling before Christmas :-)
    History repeating itself, as My mother had my brother and me when the Queen had two of her four, then I had my three around Princess Diana's two, and now this year our youngest marries in August, and another grandchild in December .I also made celery soup to save the celery from being binned.
    We ate out a few times while visitng our son ie breakfast or lunch or dinner to give them a break while out and about .And My son said to me while we were alone , that he noticed I picked the cheapest meals and drinks if I had any.He often jokes about my simple savings club haha and he , being the youngest, was the one home with me the most before he went overseas ,and his dad was working away from home.Anyway my reply to him was I like to cook my own meals , why pay more for something I not overly fond of and IM just as happy with my cheap meal and a glass of water, especially at lunchtime when I do not need much to eat .
    Annabel your cooking always looks so generous and luscious and appealing!
    Ive just caught up on your recent blog posts, and Harper looks so sweet and looks like she really enjoyed her birthday ,how time flies. Miss E here will be 5 in a week !
    Your cards looked so pretty , and everyone's show and tell items were super. You have all inspired me once again to keep going and improving what I do at home. Grateful to you all , with love Maria xxx
    PS and congratulations to Jen on new baby! woohoo!

    1. Dear Maria, How nice to be able to help and have a trip to Australia as well! Getting home, unpacked and back to normal takes bit too.
      What a special time with your Granddaughter. She is soaking in your attention and what you teach her. this is beautiful. The impact is huge Maria!
      Also congratulations on another baby coming! This is exciting!
      Maria my cooking is just homey and rustic. Family like it and once I thought I am not fancy enough but now I think of goodness and love what I can make out of what I have. I do try and learn new things too but I dont attempt super fancy things as long recipes just annoy me lol
      Thank you for catching up! I am glad you are home again safe and well. Also that I can see you are using your oils. They are a help so often now I wonder why and how I did without them! With much love,


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