Monday, 31 December 2012

Meal Planning Monday - New Years Eve 2012

Given that I'm currently being eaten out of house and home, I'm going for a bit of a freezer clear out this week with filling family meals. 

Monday - Shepherds Pie

Tuesday - Meat pie and boiled potatoes

Wednesday - Chilli Con Carne (this is gluten free chilli con carne)

Thursday - Bangers and Mash

Friday - Roast Beef with all the trimmings

Saturday - One Pan Vegetable Biriyani

Sunday - Slow cooker Italian beef roast (recipe scheduled to be posted on Sunday)

If you need more inspiration, there's loads of links to other meal plans over at At Home With Mrs M.

To make the above, here's this weeks shopping list...

2.5kg Mince (this does a big batch of slow cooked Chilli Con Carne, 1 family sized shepherds pie and 2 meat plate pies)
2lb carrots
Beef stock cubes or stock pots
Worcester Sauce
Roast Beef Joint (Aldi is the best value for this) (get one which can be cut in half for Tuesday's roast and Sunday's slow cooker)
Fresh Yorkshire Puddings
3 tins plum tomatoes
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Carton of passatta
2 tins red kidney beans
1 tin borlotti beans
Mild chilli powder
4 sheets of ready rolled short crust pastry
5lb potatoes
Packet of rice
4 chicken breasts
1 jar of balti paste
Green beans
1 jar of sundried tomatoes
Tube of garlic paste
Extra virgin olive oil

Thursday, 27 December 2012

5 Ways to Turn Spare Time into Money

So, its alright me banging on week after week about saving money, but if you don't have any to save, you're still stuck in that rut.

You know you need to get some money coming in and here's a starting point to making that happen.

1. Turn the Telly off.  You could be spending your hours making money. 3 hours a night for 5 nights could be bagging you as much as £150 per week!! 

2. What do you do?  If you have a profession can you do a bit of freelance work at night?  Before I set up my consultancy business, I used to write policies and do assessments when the kids were in bed.

3. What's your hobby?  We all dream of making money from our hobby, so why not do it?  I turn my love of paper crafting into a sideline, although admittedly I could try harder to get more commissions.

4. Do what people don't like doing.  Ironing, gardening and car valeting are great ways of turning your spare time into money.  Invest in, or print off, a few small flyers and post them through the doors of people in cash rich, time poor areas.

5. What can't you find?  How many times have you tried to buy something and have not been able to find it? How many tunes have you thought "someone could make a fortune doing that" ?  Well why not do it? What exactly is stopping you?

I hope this gives you at least one way to bring more money into your household.  Just to be a spoilsport though, make sure you are saving this extra income and not blowing it.  You're putting a great deal if effort into making it, so make it count.  Make mortgage overpayments our save it towards something that could push you into debt.

Have you any ideas on how you can bring in more money?  Please share your ideas and leave a comment on how you did it below.

10 Money Savers for Next Christmas

I heard that groan!  But prepare now and next Christmas won't be as stressful and will be a lot cheaper!!

1. Get a big box and label it Christmas Ready.  Put it where you can get to it as you will need to add to it over the year.  Don't pack it away in the loft.

2. Make address labels for next years Christmas cards.  If you're handy on the computer, do it and save it.  If not, or if you prefer handwritten, write them out and store in your Christmas box.

3. Cut your Christmas cards into gift tags.  Hole punch and put ribbon through. Chuck them the box.

4. Buy wrapping paper and cards in the sales.  They're massively reduced and you can get far better quality than if you buy next December.

5. Gather up those useless cracker novelties and unused hats to make your own crackers.  Put the novelties in the kids crackers saving room in the grown up crackers for lush treats!

6. Sort out your re-gifts.  Its an art that if performed correctly, no one will be any the wiser and your pocket will be much richer.

7. Keep an eye on the charity shops for unused and unwanted gifts.  You'd be surprised how quickly people have a clear out, don't miss the boat!

8. Buy a bottle a month.  There's always a spirt on offer somewhere and they will keep.  Put them in your box and by December you'll have a well stocked bar.

9. Prepare to go home made.  Decide what you can make, or what you want to make and write the earliest date you can do it on the calendar.  You'll spread the cost and you went be overwhelmed and pushed for time in December.

10. Plan your hand made gifts.  If you're doing photo calendars, cubes, scrapbooks or frames, start taking photos.  I join in Project 365 and take at least a photo a day, usually on my phone, so I've a big selection to choose from when I start crafting.

What do you do to make Christmas cheaper and easier?  Please leave a comment with your tips!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Meal Planning Monday - 7th January 2013

We've a jar of red pesto to be used up this week from yesterdays Slow Cooked Italian Beef so there's a bit of a theme this week!

Monday - Spaghetti Bolognaise

Tuesday - Cod with Red Pesto

Wednesday - Garlic Mushrooms with Garlic Bread with Tomato Pesto

Thursday - Macaroni Cheese

Friday - Chicken Stir Fry

Saturday - Vegetable Chilli

Sunday - Slow Cooked Country Chicken Stew

If you need more inspiration, there's loads of links to other meal plans over at At Home With Mrs M.

To make the above, here's this weeks shopping list...

(This will make a large batch of veg chilli and Bolognese for the freezer) 1kg minced beef (this is enough for about 12 portions of Bolognese) 3 tins choppedtomatoes 2 tins plum tomatoes Dried Italian herbs Knorr stockpot (beef) 3 medium onions 1.25 kg mushrooms (for Bolognese, vegetable chilli and garlic mushrooms) 2 cod fillets or loins 5 lb potatoes Green beans 10 Carrots 1/2 bottle of barefoot white zinfandel rose wine Garlic puree Natural breadcrumbs Golden breadcrumbs Butter Cheese Macaroni Milk Plain flour Ready made pizza base Sir fry mix 6 chicken breasts Tin of condensed cream of mushroom soup Cabbage Small Aubergine vegetable or sunflower oil 2 medium courgettes 1 yellow pepper 1 orange pepper 500g passatta 1 400g tin red kidney beans 1 400g tin cannellini beans vegetable stock Mild chilli powder (or to your own taste)

How to Make a Christmas Cracker

I know you're probably reeling from the festivities of last week and really can't be bothered thinking about crackers that you won't need for another 51 weeks but if you do it now, you'll thank me when you're un stressed in December.

(now you could always buy some in the sales if you're not feeling crafty)

Cracker kits are available and are probably reduced now or you can go fully crafty and make yours from scratch.

You Will Need (per cracker)

3 toilet roll tubes
Cracker snap
Nice wrapping paper
Ribbon, motifs and any other decoration you fancy
A joke
A hat
A novelty
A paper perforating tool.

How To Make A Cracker

Lay out the the toilet roll tubes end to end with a small gap between each.

Cut your paper to match their length then roll them up in the paper to get the size to cover the rolls.  Use this piece of paper as a template to cut the remainder of your paper.

Using the perforating tool, roll it along the centre of the paper where you want your cracker to break.

Glue the cracker snap along the long edge of the paper.

Put a line of glue along the other long edge and roll up around your tubes.  Press down firmly and let it dry.  Make sure your two end tubes aren't gluey as you want to Remove these eventually.

When the glue is dry, put your cracker on its end and scrunch and twist it to form a cracker shape.  Tie one end with ribbon at the scrunch point.  Remove the toilet roll tube at that end.

Drop in your joke, hat and novelty.  If you're wanting to use a perishable novelty such as chocolates, leave one end of the cracker open and finish it in November.

Scrunch and tie the open end of the cracker then remove the roll.

Decorate the outside of the cracker with ribbons, small baubles, tinsel, berries or whatever you like!  Just take care not to glue up your perforated area.  I glue everything to a wide ribbon then just tie it in a bow to avoid gluing up the wrong bit.

Put them in your Christmas box for December.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Leftover Recipes: Vegetable Chilli Rissoles

This is a great recipe as it can be used on a buffet, for lunch, in a lunchbox, or with whatever you like as a main meal.

The really fab thing is though that it is a meal from leftovers, therefore pretty much costing nothing.  It even used up your stale bread!


A small batch of Vegetable Chilli (or leftover chilli)
Cold mashed potatoes or cold rice (whichever you prefer)
Breadcrumbs (grated stale bread
Oil for shallow frying


1.  Mix the chilli and the potato in a bowl to make a thick filling

2.  Roll into sausage shapes and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up the mixture (making it more easy to handle)

3.  Dip the "sausages" in the flour, followed by the egg, then the breadcrumbs.

4.  Heat the oil

5. Shallow fry each rissole until golden brown

6.  Serve warm as a main meal or cold on a buffett or in a lunchbox

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Kickin Vegetable Shepherds Pie

If you're wanting to cut the calories on the Christmas run up, this is a fab way of doing it, by replacing meat with vegetables.  Although this does have a kick as I make it with a portion of my Batch Cooked Vegetable Chilli 

It's also a fab timesaver dish.  Defrost a batch of Vegetable Chilli, make some mash and top it.  Bung it in the oven for an hour and your done!

Its so easy, I don't need to even write the recipe!

Great when you're short of time or money.  I reckon two pounds of spuds will cover it, so on a tight budget week, it's ideal.  Or put what you have saved in your savings pot!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Vegetable Lasagne

This vegetable lasagne has a kick as it's made from a portion from batch cooking Vegetable Chilli.  I'm also a fan of actual flavour so the bechamel sauce usually found in a lasagne is replaced with cheese sauce.

If you've just made your batch of Vegetable Chilli, you can always construct this and freeze it, although I let it all go cold and construct it with undercooked pasta so it doesn't all absorb into a gooey mess when it's defrosted.  It's also best cooked from frozen.

So how to...

Serves 4


1 batch of defrosted (or fresh) Vegetable Chilli
Plain Flour
Lasagne sheets (Fresh or Dried)


1.  Melt two tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan

2.  Using a wooden spoon (yes, vital!) sprinkle over a tablespoon of flour and mix into the butter.  Keep doing this until you have a tight ball resembling play-doh

3. Pour a little milk in a bit at a time and stir in to loosen the roux (or play-doh as I just referred to it!!).  Stir really well and get rid of the lumps.  Keep going at this until you have a consistency where it coats the back of the wooden spoon but still runs off.

4.  Take of the heat and grate in the cheese.  I use medium strength cheese.  Mix well until its melted in.  Keep tasting until you get the cheesiness you desire.  Take off the heat and put to one side.

5.  Now to construct the lasagne.  In an oven proof dish, place a layer of chilli, top with a layer of pasta, place a layer of cheese sauce.  Repeat and end with a cheese sauce layer with a pasta layer on top.  Grate cheese on top.

6.  Cook in the oven for about an hour until the pasta has softened up.

7.  Serve with an italian salad of beef tomatoes and mozzarella - Yum!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Meal Planning Monday - 10th September 2012

I'm quite astonished that I cooked all week last week! I got quite carried away on the lunch boxes (see how long that lasts!) and even made minestrone soup to avoid leftovers.

So in my new found Domestic Goddess role, here's what I'm planning for this week. As usual, there's batch cooking and defrosting involved.

Monday: Fish Pie

Tuesday: Vegetable Chilli Pasta Bake

Wednesday: Potato Hash

Thursday: Roast Chicken Dinner

Friday: Cowboy Casserole

Saturday: Hey, Hey it's Takeaway!!

Sunday: Steak & Kidney with Leeky Mash

There's loads more meal plans over at At Home With Mrs M.

Hope you have a fab week!


Sunday, 9 September 2012

I Will Prepare!! The Big Christmas Hamper Project

There's nothing better than getting a big, heavy box and not knowing what's in it, is there?

This year, in line with my money saving project (and the fact I probably will be the size of a small bungalow by December) I will be making hampers full of home made goodies for Christmas gifts.

So if you're likely to get a gift off me, it's probably best to stop reading or you'll spoil the surprise!

Have you gone?


So, what's the plan?

A small Christmas cake
A jar of strawberry curd
A bottle of Winter Liqueur
A jar of body scrub
Some bath melts
Some chocolate truffles

And it will all be handmade. The Christmas cakes need making first so they can be fed and I've got most of the ingredients in.

I'll be posting our family recipe later in the week.

What do you think to this idea? Would you rather have a box of handmade items or a gift off the shelf?

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Batch Cooking: 10 Ways With Vegetable Chilli

Batch cooking not only saves you time but money and it really need not be a case of dragging the same thing out of the freezer and eating an monotonous menu.

Here's what you can do with Vegetarian Chilli

1. Eat it as it comes with Rice.
Vegetable Chilli with Rice

2. Wrap in in a fajita wrap and have it for lunch or dinner (it tastes just as good cold)
Vegetable Chilli Wrap

3. Use it as a filling for Vegetarian Lasagne.

4. Defrost some filo pastry and make samosas

5. Serve with polenta or over a jacket potato (ooh! thats 2 options!!)

6. Fill taco shells with it

7. Top with mash for vegetarian shepherds pie

8. Add extra passatta and do a vegetable pasta bake

9. Use smaller portions as a spicy ratatouille accompaniment

10. Mix with rice and coat to make rissoles.

As you can see one basic recipe can be extremely versatile and save you time and money.

So...if you need a recipe for Vegetable Chilli, click through here

Enjoy and just think of the time you save by just grabbing it out of the freezer!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Lunchbox Ideas: Vegetable Chilli Wrap

I've got quite carried away with lunchboxes recently.  It's taken six years but now I'm feeling the guilt of sending the kids to school with a box of saturated fat and e-numbers and I'm finding myself actually wanting to eat better. 

For those days when you run out of sandwich filling or just fancy something different, why not try a vegetable chilli wrap.  It's far cheaper than buying a £2.50 wrap from the supermarket and much more filling.

I tend to construct this the night before, wrap in tin foil and leave in the fridge.  That way the filling is more solid and the wrap doesn't fall apart.

Serves One


Defrosted Vegetable Chilli
1 fajita wrap
2 dessert spoonfulls of cooked rice


1. Mix the defrosted (already cooked) Vegetable Chilli with the cold rice

2. Place on a peice of tin foil

3. Fold opposite sides of the fajta in about an inch

4. Turn 90 degrees and roll tightly.

5.  Cut in half with a sharp knife and put next to each other

6. Wrap in tin foil and place in fridge until ready to eat.

Vegetable Chilli Wrap


Hope you enjoy!


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Fuel Saving Opportunity

To be concise, Morrisons are offering 1p per litre off fuel for every £10 gift card you buy.

On the face of it this doesn't sound too great but there's several ways to play this one.

So...if you're planning on spending, say £50, at Next, buy a £50 gift card from Morrisons and receive a 5p off per litre voucher.

Or...if you're doing Christmas shopping at Toys R Us, Boots or Debenhams (or maybe even a bike from Halfords) buy the gift cards now and reduce your fuel bill now. It's also a great way of ensuring you don't go over budget.

** This isn't a sponsored post. Morrisons haven't approached me at all to write this post. I just think its a fab way to stay on budget & save on fuel.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Meal Planning Monday - 03/09

After the hectic summer hols, I'm getting back on track & resuming life.

So after frantic reading of several cookbooks this morning, this is the plan...

Monday: The Hairy Dieters Lamb Hotpot

Tuesday: Gino De Campo's Three Bean Chilli & Rice

Wednesday: Slow Roasted Sun Dried Tomato Beef & Pesto Roasties

Thursday: The Hairy Dieters Paprika Chicken

Friday: Annabel Karmel's Chicken Burgers

Saturday: Hey, Hey, Takeaway!!

Sunday: Spaghetti Bolognaise from the freezer

I am determined to stick to this plan (for the first time ever!!) so determined in fact that tomorrow's chilli has already been cooked.

There's more meal plans over on At Home With Mrs M if you are looking for more meal inspiration.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Vegetable Chilli Pasta Bake

You know me, I love batch cooking as it's cheap and more importantly saves me cooking everyday!

Always to be found in my tiny freezer is at least 4 portions of Vetable Chilli.  There's at least 11 ways to eat this as listed in the post "Batch Cooking: 10 ways with Vegetable Chilli"

This week, we're having it re-incarnated in the form of Pasta Bake.

As I tend to adopt the do it and leave it approach to cooking, the chilli needs a fair bit of liquid adding to it to allow the pasta to absorb and soften.

So, how to do...

Serves 4


1 batch of defrosted Vegetable Chilli
2 handfuls of pasta per person (I use bows or shells as they absorb the best)
500g of passatta
250ml of vegetable stock
Grated Cheese to cover


1. Preheat the oven to 160C

2. Mix in the passatta to the defrosted chilli

3. Add the pasta and stir well.  If the mix seems too dry, add the vegetable stock until it is quite a liquid mixture.

4. Cook for 20 minutes and check.  If it is drying out too much, add a little more stock.

5.  Grate the cheese over the top and cook for a further 20 minutes

6.  Serve with a lovely garlic bread and italian salad.

It seems a bit hit and miss with the stock but this is due to the original consistency of your chilli.

Enjoy and let me know what you think!


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Magazine Pile to Cash

I've made a discovery this week and it's a cash generating one!!

Magazines sell really well on eBay!!

It started when I couldn't find a relatively new magazine, Scrap 365, in any shops in my area. I turned to eBay and managed to buy 3 out of the 8 issues I wanted to read.

When I like a magazine. I tend to but back issues and this was the key to my cash generating idea!

Last year, I subscribed to Writers Forum Magazine. Its a really useful magazine but I just don't have the time at the moment to read each issue. Many issues are still unopened in the delivery wrapping. I also found a lot of the back issues were sold out with the publisher making my stash worth more!!

So rather than take up room & clutter the house, I'm selling them to make a quick £50!

If you want to buy, the full listings are on eBay, but I'm happier to sell through the blog, so just leave me a comment or email me at and I'll be in touch with payment arrangements.


All issues £3.60 each plus £1.60 p&p

#130 September 2012 - unread, in wrapper

#129 August 2012 - unread, in wrapper

#128 July 2012 - unread in wrapper

#125 April 2012 - unread, in wrapper

#124 March 2012 - read once

#122 January 2012 - read a few times

#117 August 2011 - unread, not in wrapper

#115 June 2011 - read once

#112 March 2011 - read once

#111 February 2011 - read once

#110 January 2011 - read once

#109 December 2010 - read once

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Bargain V Brand Review: Shampoo

Blogs are full of reviews of brand products, particularly luxury brand products. It's reassuring to know that if I do part with a large chunk of my weekly budget that the product will deliver its promises, but it is unlikely I will spend where there are completely acceptable, often just as good, alternatives.

So, this week, I bring you The Bargain Vs Brand Reviews!! (ta-da-da-da-da-da-DAH!!!!)

And here's the first.

I can pretty much only use Head and Shoulders shampoo. I've dark hair and dry skin. Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Shampoo also does the job but at a time when I'm keen to pay off the mortgage, I can't justify the price.

I only buy Shampoo when it's on offer. At £6 for a large bottle I wait until I can get a free conditioner or until its down to £4.

That was until I tried Hair and Scalp by Medipure from B&M Bargains. Just 99p for a 400ml bottle.

So, what's the verdict?

It works, I like it and I will buy it again!

I'm cheating a little as I have almost a full bottle of Head and Shoulders Conditioner which I am using up.

I just use shampoo alone maybe twice a week and Hair and Scalp can be a little harsh but it's nothing that a decent blow dry cant hide.

So on day 1 of the Bargain V Brand Reviews, the winner is....


Monday, 6 August 2012

Meal Planning Monday - The Night After The Storm

That's an actual storm, not a metaphore for a stressful time or anything.  The dog was whining before the thunder cracked, then the lightening started, then the torrential rain.  Then the dog started barking at 3.52 AM!!!

So after a disturbed nights sleep and a pile of work after a week off, the slow cooker is out and things are being slung in it.  I may well come up with a fabulous creation during my sleep deprived state, although it's quite unlikely!!

So, there's no lunches planned this week, it will be whatever is easy but here's the dinners (or tea as it is oop here in t'wet north)

Monday: Slow cooker shepherds pie

Tuesday: Chicken dinner

Wednesday:  Chicken Fajitas with left over chicken

Thursday:  Italian Beef Casserole (in the slow cooker for the first time)

Friday: Chippy tea!  (not had one for ages!)

Saturday: More takeaway

Sunday: Steak and Chips

Not much going on really, I'll try and post the recipes for the Slow Cooked Shepherds Pie and Italian Beef Casserole once I've got through my mountain of work!

If you need more inspiration, and lets face it, I clearly need inspiration!!  Hop over to Mrs M's Blog and read the other meal plans on there.  There's some really tasty ones this week!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Vegetable Chilli - Batch Cooking Recipe

This post is part of the #FaveFamilyRecipes Competition with BritMums and Tilda Rice. Every pack sold will provide a meal to an expectant mum in need in support of the World Food Programme’s Mothers Helping Mothers initiative in Bangladesh

This is one of my Batch Cooking staples. It's the basis for all dishes on my Ten Ways With Vegetable Chilli post.

So how do I make it?

It started as a low calorie Gino De Campo Recipe from his I Diet book but I found it wasn't quite chilli enough and wasnt quite filling enough for the children so I've adapted it quite a bit.
Small Aubergine - diced
1 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
1 onion - diced
2 medium courgettes - diced
200g mushrooms - diced
2 carrots - diced
1 yellow pepper - finely chopped
1 orange pepper - finely chopped
2 medium potatoes - chopped to the size of small roast potatoes
200g green beans
1 tbsp garlic paste (or a clove)
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
500g passatta
1 400g tin red kidney beans
1 400g tin cannelloni beans
250ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp Mild chilli powder (or to your own taste)

1.  Put the diced aubergine in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt.  Leave for about 30 minutes while you chop up everything else.  After 30 minutes rinse well in cold water and drain.
2. Heat the oil, add the garlic and saute the onion until it goes soft.
3. Add the aubergine, courgettes, mushrooms, carrotts, yellow pepper and orange pepper and saute for about 4 minutes.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes and passatta and coat everything well.
5. Rinse all the beans before adding to the pan and give a really good stir.
6.  Add the vegetable stock and the Chilli powder to taste.
7.  Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occassionally.
8. Add the green beans and cook for a further 15 minutes

And there you have it, your basic chilli to do with what you wish from serving on a jacket potato to filling a samosa.  This is probably the most versatile recipe in my Batch Cooking collection.
Please let me know if you find any other ways of using this basic recipe to create a meal.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Now or Never

We're all moaning about the lack of summer but I'm quite confident that September and October will be as gorgeous as last year.  I remember being on the beach after school in October, in our shorts, slapping on suncream.

And I won't be caught out this year!  I will have my transformed garden in time for breakfast and dinner in the September sun!

I'd love an orangery, but we just don't have the room.  We've a small garden that needs the most of every inch making of it.  Here's a gorgeous summer room extension that the highly skilled (and most importantly, tidy and affordable) builders at Space Construction undertook last year.

Complete with everyone's must have - Bifold Doors
A lovely airy, spacious summer room

Our garden has been put off and put off year after year.  \Do you have things that are put off and put off and never get done?

The lads at Space Construction get most of their work by word of mouth and recommendation. They are able to advise on the best options for maintenance of your property to avoid costly renovation nightmares.

So if you're on the Fylde coast and your home is in need of a spruce up or repair, speak to Craig on 01253 341878 for a free, no obligation quote.  There's more examples of their work and testimonals on their webpage. (If you're after a new kitchen, there's some stunning examples on their website)

This is a sponsored post as part of my Sponsor of the Month advertising package.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Meal Planning Monday - Lunch & Dinner Special

They never stop eating! Boys that is. After a week of constant scoffing, I'm going on a two pronged attack of planning lunch and dinner in an attempt to fill them.

So here it is:

Lunch - Macaroni Cheese
Dinner - Shepherds Pie

Lunch - Burgers (made of shepherds pie leftovers) and potato Wedges
Dinner - Chicken Roast Dinner

Lunch - Chicken Pilaf (from left over chicken)
Dinner - Chicken Enchiladas (using the last of the chicken)

Lunch: Cowboy Casserole
Dinner: Fish Pie with lots of veg

Lunch: Home made sausage rolls & cheese & tomato squares
Dinner: Spaghetti Bolognaise

I'm also installing a permanent fixture of a big tub of fruit salad in the fridge for between meals.

If this plan doesn't work, they'll be getting cooked breakfasts next week.

How do you fill your kids up?

There's loads more meal planning inspiration on Mrs M's blog

Sunday Breakfast - Cheesy Bacon Butty

(Apologies for the lack of photo, I'm typing this before making it. I'll update with a pic when I get chance)

I first came across this on a Saturday butty order about 15 years ago when I worked in a car dealership. I thought it was odd and week in week out would raise my eyebrows wondering where this concoction came from. Germany was the answer. The salesman that regularly ordered it was married to a German lady.

I tried it once and found its the best start to a day where you might miss lunch!! Here's how I make it..

You Will Need:

A large barmcake (tea cake, bap, roll - insert correct regional word for round bread!

A handful of grated cheese

Two bacon rashers

Two mushrooms

Half a sliced tomato

How To Make It

1. Lightly toast your barmcake

2. Cook your bacon as you like it

3. Slice and cook the mushrooms with the bacon

4. Put the bacon on the barmcake followed by the mushrooms, sliced tomato and sprinkle the grated cheese over the top

5. Grill until the cheese melts

6. Put the top of the barmcake on and enjoy.

It's really tasty so you won't need sauce. It's also more filling than it looks and a great way to get a decent amount of food down if your short of time.

If you try this, please let me know what you think

What's you're favourite Sunday breakfast?

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The International Instruction Register

I have got a drawer full, crammed full of instruction books for various appliances and toys, some of which we don't even own anymore.

And I suspect everyone has the same drawer of instructions.

Lost Instructions

I've several issues with this...

1)  If they were just in English, they wouldn't take up so much room

2)  Even if I was organised and put them in a file, in alphabetical order, they'd still be taking up space.

3)  If I scan them into the computer, I'll still probably never use them and they'll take up room again.

4)  If I ever need instructions, they will be the ones I threw away.

So my solution to this is an International Instruction Register.  Most manufacturers do have their instructions online for people like me who periodically (read habitually) lose things, so I think all instructions should be available for download from one site that is the International Instruction Register.  And I would have a kitchen drawer to play with.

What do you think?

Friday, 27 July 2012

Clear Out and Clean Up £££

If you’ve not spring cleaned this year, then this is your kick up the butt to do so.  And while you’re at it – you can gather yourself a nice little lump of money for your savings pot.
Now, your either a car-booter or your not.  I’m not so I’m an ebayer.  I’ll pay the listing and final sale fees just to avoid having to ram the van full of rubbish.  Also, I’m a bit precious over things.  If someone is haggling for 5p off, I’ll refuse to sell it as I think they being cheeky!  So, it’s best all round if I sell things online!
Clear Out and Clean Up £££

Things that sell really well are baby clothes, designer clothes and electricals.  If you find any old mobile phones, sell them.  You might think they’re outdated and not worth anything, but someone might need it for parts, or it maybe their favourite model phone of all time.  Don’t be held back by what you think won’t sell.  You never know what people may buy.
Things that don’t sell well are bulky items that need collecting (prams, excercise equipment, barbeques) and DVD’s and books.  This is because the market is flooded and titles can be bought new from places like and The Book People.
Always price things realistically as you want rid of it.  If you’re not sure, look on ebay and see what the going rate is.
Another ebay tip is to list your items in the evening so the auction ends in the evening.  There will be more people actually online and bidding for your precious items.
For the car booters amongst you, please don’t be like me and refuse sales!!  |Take what you can and reduce prices at the end.  Make a “50% off” sign before you go and hoik it up when the crowds look like they have peaked.  You don’t want to be packing up a load of stuff you don’t want and taking back home.
After your car boot or ebaying spree, take out your expenses and put your profits in your savings pot.
If you do this every six months (or every three if you have loads of stuff!), you can pay a nice little chunk off that mortgage!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Lunch Money

This weeks tip for reducing your outgoings concerns the amount of money we spend on our lunch (and a bit of a rant about the price of a sandwich!)
Add up how much you spend on your own lunch during the week.  If you are a homeworker, like me, I usually eat 3 times a week out of the fridge and twice out during the working week.  If you can get the 2.99 meal deals every day, you are spending £15 on your lunch, but what about the extras you pick up when you are there.  If you’re anything like me in Boots, you’ll be spending a small fortune, but even a supermarket meal deal exposes you to magazines, more than you want to eat, special offers you don’t really need, cakes for everyone in the office – you get the idea.  You go in to spend £3 and come out spending £13.

The most cost effective option I have found for lunches is beans on toast, soups and leftovers.  If you don’t mind eating the same thing twice, leftovers are your saviour, plonking a whopping £60 a month in your savings pot.  If you do like variety (and I do), soups can save you with most home made vegetable soups costing around 40 pence per portion.  Add a bread roll and you’ve a filling, healthy meal.  Vegetable soup is also the best way of using up your dying vegetables and reducing that leftover food deficit we all need to reduce.  I’ll post a few vegetable soup recipes and update this post over the next week.
Now kids lunches may be breaking your food budget as they eat so much!  The majority of kids lunchbox items are vastly overpriced.  I bought my 9 year old a flask and he took a variety from beans and sausage to soup to pasta and even hot pot once (although that didn’t go down well).  The push behind that was that he was sick of sandwiches and it is a real timesaver in the morning.
So, daily sandwich runs can end up costing you enormously but on the up side – if you change your habits, you’ve a bit to put in your savings pot each week.  Forecast how much this will save you over the year and I’m sure you’ll be motivated enough to do it!
Let me know your thoughts below.  Have you any ideas for cheap lunches?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

5 Free Ways to Entertain The Kids

We're not even through the first week and already I bet you've had the opportunity to spend a fortune on entertainment. 

Well here's my top five ways to entertain for free!!

1.  Movie Quiz.
I've seen most of the kids films over and over again.  So much so, I can write a quiz on it.  So I did.

2. Decend on a Friend
You can repay the favour, it's not as cheeky as it sounds!

3. Bike Ride (or scooter ride)
Take a picnic and plenty of drinks to avoid the spend at the end.

4. Clear the Decks
Get the wardrobes cleared out of stuff that doesn't fit and get the toys they've outgrown ready for either car booting or ebaying.

5. Independence Day
I love this activity.  Put up a tent in the garden (If you don't have one, use chairs and sheets), let the kids make their own picnic and sit back and put your feet up.  I usually write out a scavenger hunt in preparation for a longer feet up.

What do you do that costs nothing?  I'd love to hear your ideas - I've another five weeks to get through!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Project Mortgage Payoff: Blog Advertising

If you have a blog, you'll be aware of the opportunities to "monetise" it (as the americans who are really good at it say!)

I've been offered several advertising opportunities to raise the profile of my blog over the last month and although I'd love to do that and bring in more readers, it's really money that could be better spent paying off the mortgage.

This, however, did point out to me that I am missing a trick.  I should be selling advertising on my blog.  So my first port of call was friends and the lovely Space Construction, The Fylde's most sought after builder and Purple Secret who sell my favourite Dermalogica substitute, Protocol Skincare.

Look!  There they are on your right hand side!!

I would love to receive more income from advertising so if you're interested in driving more traffic to your site, please get in touch at

Here's my current rates.

The Serious Advertiser (offered to one person per month)
- A featured post about your business or blog.
- A 170x170 advert at the top of the sidebar linked to your website

- A tweet per day linking to your website.
- A linked mention in The Big Thank You Post at the end of the month.

£65 per month

The Big Advertiser
- A 170x170 advert in the sidebar linked to your website.

- A tweet per day linking to your website
- A linked mention in The Big Thank You Post at the end of the month.
£45 per month

The Modest Advertiser

- A 170x140 advert in the sidebar linked to your website
- A tweet per week linking to your website
A linked mention in The Big Thank You Post at the end of the month.
£25 per month

The Toe Dipping Advertiser
- A 170x90 advert in the sidebar linked to your website
£15 per month

Advertising runs on a calendar month basis
Payment can be made by Paypal or Bank Transfer

Monday, 23 July 2012

Meal Planning Monday - Meals on Foot

This week is a double challenge - I need to make an extra portion and provide meals on foot for an ailing relative AND constantly feed hungry boys.

So here's the plan...

Wednesday: Jacket Potatoes, Pizza Snails and Home Made Colslaw

Friday: Olympic Buffet 

Saturday:  Hey, Hey Takeaway

Sunday: BBQ (optimistic, but it's been such a long time!!)

These are all things which its easy to make too much of and the Olympic Buffet is more olympic themed rather than size and will give us something to do during the day, rather than ask "is it starting yet" all day long.

If none of the above gets your mouth watering, hop on over to Mrs M's Blog where there's loads more meal plans on show!

Have a fab week!


Baked Balsamic Salmon

Really easy and really quick.
Serves 4 and costs £2.39 per portion
4 Salmon Fillets
4 Spring Onions
8 Cherry tomatoes
Balsamic Vinegar
Aioli (spanish garllicy margarine type substance found in the chiller cabinet)
New Potatoes
Green Beans
Place the green beans diagonally across the baking dish.
Put the salmon on top
Dollop a teaspoon of Aioli on top of the salmon
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place them around the edge of the salmon
Chop the spring onions and sprinkle over the salmon
Pour over 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar per salmon fillet
Cover with foil and leave for at least 30 minutes
After chilling, spoon the balsamic over the salmon again and re-cover
Bake in 180 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.
Serve with boiled new potatoes and carrots.

One Pot Steak Dinner (Gluten free)

I’m all for easy cooking and this is the ultimate.   Just chop a few veg and bung it in the slow cooker.  This recipe is also gluten free.
4 peices of steak for each person
Small new potatoes
Green beans
Onions (I use frozen – No Tears!)
2 Knorr Marco Pierre White Beef Stock Pots
1 Knorr Marco Pierre White Vegetable Stock Pot
Chop the carrots and place in the base of the slow cooker with the green beans and the onions.
Wash and quarter the small potatoes, I leave the skin on, it’s up to your personal choice.
Place the steak on the vegetables.
Mix up the stock and leave to cool.  The stock needs to cool so it doesn’t start cooking the steak when you pour it in.  It’s not essential to let it cool, it will turn out ok – i’ve thrown it in boiling hot when I’ve been in a rush.
Put in enough stock to cover the ingredients.
Switch the slow cooker on 4 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low.
The steak should be fall apart soft when done.


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