Monday, 27 October 2014

Monday Menu Plan


Last week:

Monday: Pizza (take away)
Tuesday: Shepherd's Pie (from my awesome mum)
Wednesday: Moroccan Chicken Casserole (slow cooker) We haven't had this one before so I'm going to give it a try. I think I will serve with rice rather than couscous, because couscous scares me. UPDATE - it went well!
Thursday: Burritos
Friday: Stir fry (Hubby) Family BBQ
Saturday: Spaghetti Bolognese Family BBQ
Sunday: Scavenge

With the adjustments to Friday and Saturday, we actually stuck to the menu plan! We had beef strips and pasta for dinner on Sunday night.


This week:
Monday: Burritos
Tuesday: Sausages (Hubby)
Wednesday: Slow cooker chicken curry
Thursday: Stir fry (Hubby)
Friday: Bolognese
Saturday: Slow cooker Moroccan chicken
Sunday: Scavenge

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Decluttering


I am massively trying to declutter. The decluttering is definitely a work in progress, but I've had a few mindset shifts over the past months.

Anything is better than nothing
As far as decluttering or deep cleaning goes, I'm usually happy enough to sit down with a big chunk of uninterrupted time when I'm in the mood to tackle a big project. Take everything out, sort through it, clean it, take the good stuff to the op shop, store all the stuff that can be used again neatly then sit back and admire my handiwork.

A great theory, except for the two conditions - the big chunk of uninterrupted time, and then in the mood bit. While this is probably the most effective, efficient and rewarding way to declutter, it's also very rare. Like, I have bags of stuff to sort through which I shoved out of the way when I was pregnant. Three pregnancies ago. Because I haven't had a big chunk of uninterrupted time which correlated with the desire to do a clear out in four years.

So instead, I do nothing. Which is as effective as one would expect. I have a great system, it just doesn't get implemented and the resultant actual outcome is much crappier than the theoretical effective one.

So, my new reformed (ok, reforming) perfectionist approach is to just do something. If I only put three random things away from the table, rather than clearing the whole table (which won't actually happen, because REASONS), that's still better than actually doing nothing. A big clear out, 30 minutes on something, five minutes, two pieces of rubbish. Anything is better than nothing, and nothing is usually what happens. This applies to housework too. It doesn't matter if I don't have the time and/or energy to clean the whole kitchen - some work is better than no work.

Fill a bag
In the quest for gold stars, I've been keeping a tally of how many bags I can give away or donate. This morning I had nine, so I grabbed a bag and filled it. It was haphazard and inefficient - a few books, a toy, some shoes which I hadn't worn in years (actually, two pairs were even the wrong size and I had NEVER EVER worn) and I had another bag to drop off. There's no way that I would have gone into the wardrobe to clean it out this morning, but those shoes have gone now as I tried to fill a bag. It's inefficient, it's not systematic but it's a hell of a lot more effective because it ACTUALLY gets stuff done.

When in doubt, throw it out
...or pass it on/ donate it. Even if - especially if - it still has use. I have always tried to be conservative, not wasteful, careful, thrifty, frugal. Don't throw something out if it still has use in it. Except - we have too much stuff. So much stuff that I can't find the stuff that I need. For example, when I was grabbing the shoes mentioned above, I found two passport carriers. One was from ten years ago when I took my first overseas trip and was still in very good condition. The other I have no idea where it came from, but I've had it for ages and it's never been used - I know this because it's still in its original packaging. The 'best' part of this story - Chubs and I just went overseas last month, and I purchased a new passport carrier for that trip because I didn't know that I still had these other two, let alone where they were. I had kept my high quality passport holder from my first trip for ten years because it may be useful in the future, and then I went and bought a two dollar cheapie on the very rare occasion when it would have been useful. So today, I dropped all three passport holders in the donation bin. Someone else can use them in the meantime and I'll buy a new one when I need it again, which is probably what would have happened anyway.

This is a big mindshift for me. It seems extravagant and wasteful, but I have to remind myself that it's actually more efficient than the theoretical, but unachievable, alternative.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Slow cooker Moroccan chicken

Well, in short, it was a success!

I used this recipe with some modifications

- 380g of chicken breast instead of 600g of chicken thighs
- 1/2 capsicum
- Half a 400g tin of butter bean instead of lentils
- A slightly different tin of soup, although that's probably a branding thing
- Brown rice instead of couscous
- no coriander

I did sear the chicken in the pan but probably won't bother next time. Hubby thinks that some mixed herbs would help, and I think I could just use one cup of chicken stock. I put in on for five hours on high and it was probably a bit overcooked. I tried to skip the flour because we didn't have any but it really was runny so I went to the shop and got some to thicken it up a bit.

Not sure how it will go if I double it and freeze. We got more than we needed - hubby went back for very rare seconds and there was still a serve left, so if I increased it by 50% we would probably have the prefect size for two servings for our family.

The neighbour even commented on how amazing the smell was which was the first time ever something like that has happened!

Stay tuned as I tweak further...

Monday, 20 October 2014

Monday Menu Plan

After a long break from both blogging and menu planning, I'm back again.

Monday: Pizza (take away)
Tuesday: Shepherd's Pie (from my awesome mum)
Wednesday: Moroccan Chicken Casserole (slow cooker) We haven't had this one before so I'm going to give it a try. I think I will serve with rice rather than couscous, because couscous scares me. UPDATE - it went well!
Thursday: Burritos
Friday: Stir fry (Hubby) Family BBQ
Saturday: Spaghetti Bolognese Family BBQ
Sunday: Scavenge

Edited to add: Half a day later and I'm already making changes! I forgot about one family dinner on Friday and just found out about another on Saturday, so a few changes to make.

Menu Plan Monday linky here

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Freezer lasagnes

A dead easy, easy scale up-able, freezeable basic.

I'm pretty much cheating here. There is no bechamel sauce and it uses frozen veggies, but it's simple and it works. 


Ingredients: 
(Makes six medium lasagnes: 2 generous adult serves each) 

- 1 kg lean beef mince
-  750g frozen veggies (I used peas, carrots and corn )
- 4 jars pasta sauce
- 3 tins tomatoes
- 1 tin kidney beans (washed and drained) 
- 1-2 boxes lasagne sheets (we use whole meal) 
- grated cheese as per taste - 500g is generous


Brown the mince in portions. Combine the sauce, tomatoes, veggies and washed/ drained beans in a big big pot. Add the browned mince and simmer for 30 mins ish. 


Layer the meat sauce (which should be runnier than normal bolognese sauce) then pasta sheet, then cheese. Repeat two or three times depending on the size of your container/ hunger of your family. If desired you can sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of the top later if you like a crispy top. 

Freezes very well and easy to make up in bulk and in stages. Defrost in the fridge for 24 hours then cook in the over for 30 mins ish on 180 deg until brown on top and hot throughout. Serve with salad and or garlic bread. 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Pattern blocks and Duplo



Pattern blocks are so much fun! I saw these and remembered them from my childhood. I had wooden ones and these are plastic but I couldn't believe that I'd not thought about them in 20 years then they appeared! 

I bought some for Hubs and she/ I have been having lots of fun. 

The shapes are standard size and colour and all fit together. The green triangles, red trapeziums and blue diamonds fit together to make the yellow hexagons. The orange squares and tan skinny diamonds don't make the hexagons but the size fits with all the other pieces. 




Duplo is a big favourite at the moment too, and I keep finding stray bits like this. I thought these were abandoned, but Chubs told me they were a train!


She's always so proud of everything she makes and often asks me to take a photo. 



Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Decluttering - freezer

One thing on the decluttering list was the freezer. With the craziness of the last cope of months it had reached crisis point. Too much crap in there, so no room for useable food. No room for usable food, so I couldn't make sandwiches etc ahead of time. Couldn't freeze sandwiches, so getting out of the house in the morning was a disaster, so that caused stress. Stress that I knew how to fix - get the freezer sorted - but didn't have the time or energy to do. 


We had a 40 deg C day here in Saturday, so the idea of having a legitimate reason to stick my head in the freezer for an extended period seemed awesome. I pulled everything out of the freezer, and the overloaded crap/ waste wasn't actually as bad as I thought. 


Soaking up the icy slush.


Chucks of ice (and stray veggies) 

All I had to chuck was a whole heap of almost finished old loaves of bread, and a massive expressed milk stash that was unusable - more on that to come. Thankfully nothing else was too old or ruined, 

The reorganised and defrosted freezer. I'm using reusable grocery bags to try to keep it organised - I'll know how I go! It actually hasn't been too bad - it's been about two years since a clean out/ defrost and it's only been the past couple of months that it's been in crisis mode. 


As well as the grocery bags, I'll keep doing my usual freezer organising things which generally work well.

- when meals go in, put new meals on the bottom so the oldest are at the top

- small containers of sandwiches/ Chub's lunch go in the basket

- uncooked meat generally goes in the separate fride freezer (the chest freezer is mostly for pre cooked meals and large things like bread )

- I no longer pump milk so no need to worry about storing that. 

One more thing ticked off the list! 
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