I know that it is almost the end of September but I wanted to write about the fact that for 25 we have not bought take away for dinner! I really didn't think that we would do so well, but there you go.
We (well I) decided that we would not buy take-away for the month of September for a few reasons.
Firstly, was the budgeting. I try to stick to a grocery budget which is not huge but workable and then I realised - why am I putting all this effort into this when some days we would spend a third (!) of our grocery budget on ONE meal! ? I know that you can get cheap dinner at the fancy Scottish restaurant but when you are trying to be healthy and get something that you want to eat - in Sydney you are looking at $50 minimum for two and a half people (remembering that because I'm pescetarian that we have to order different dishes - and we live next to a Thai take-away and can smell dinner).
Secondly - with the purchase of the Thermomix I have become more aware of all the preservatives and additives in food that are not necessary when you make things yourself. So why undo all the good work that I have been doing by stuffing ourselves full of unknowns every time I cannot be bothered to make anything?
Thirdly - you do remember my pantry don't you? And that awhile back I was too ashamed to post a picture of the inside of my fridge? Well - they are both bursting with jars of this, weird noodles and 12 types of flour and dried beans etc. So it makes sense to try and eat our way through it.
Fourthly - I hate wasting food and I ended up throwing away food because I didn't use it in the recipe I intended because we got take away.
To help with this whole process I have been building in some safeguards for those night when I just cannot cook.
I have been making my meal planning a little more gourmet.
I have been spending a little more money on ingredients to do this but nowhere near the $50 I would have spent on one meal. For example, I find hot-smoked salmon to be a really great stand-by for dinner. Put it on some crusty bread with Lesure butter and have a green salad alongside and I (and my husband) are happy. I have also been buying things like feta and ricotta by the kilo when they are on sale.
I make double of some meals and freezing half for another night. Anything with mince works well, as do vegetarian burger patties, "croissants" (really just rolled up puff around some cheese or something). Sometimes it also pays to have some "bits" ready in the fridge - whenever I roast veggies I always do double so I have some spare for soup, salads, fritatta's, toddler meals, pasta sauce or
There are also some great resources that I watch/read to inspire me. The best ones in my opinion are: MamaBake (though I have not subscribed) and Save with Jamie (though he does seem to use every pan in the kitchen for one meal) on TV.
I try to have something that I (or my husband) can make when the evening is going downhill because I was working late, the boy is sick, there is a mountain of housework to do still, it's later than usual, the intended dinner is disgusting or still uncooked (this happens more than I care to admit) etc. My options for back up dinner are:
- Basic Quesadillas (burrito bread, grated cheese, onion)
- Scrambled Egg
- Something from the freezer
- Cheese on toast
- Cream of tomato soup (passata and milk and seasoning) with toast soldiers.
- Cheese plate (cheese, pickles, dried fruit, apple, pear, biscuits/bread etc)
- Kippers on toast
- Anything on toast
- Peanut butter sandwich and a banana (when there's only me to "cook" for)