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


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