Friday, 7 March 2014

Vegetarian Fried Chicken Steak

So the recipe promised a meal made out of oats that promised to taste exactly like fried chicken - so much so that even grown men wouldn't know they weren't eating meat! Click here to see the original blog post and recipe.

Did it taste like delicious fried chicken? No. Was it edible? Absolutely. Would I make it again? Probably, with some tweaks. I used regular oats, and I wonder if using really fine oats like you find in 'creamy porridge' might be better. I also think adding even just the teensiest bit of actual chicken mince, say 100g, would perfect this recipe (unless you're vegetarian of course). And I think I'd need to make the patties a little flatter next time, to absorb more of the mushroom sauce.

It was really neat though to make something that came off as totally different to its actual ingredients!

Give it a try!
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Monday, 3 March 2014

February Frugal Fourteen Update

Well I was ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTED to PAY OFF MY CREDIT CARD this month!!! This credit card has been hanging around for years!!! And at the beginning of the year, before I knew just how much dedication I had in me, I thought it was going to take around six months to pay off. I've done it in less than three, and I couldn't be happier.

I did it by putting another $2,000 on the card, and then by letting impatience get the better of me and transferring $900 out of my emergency fund to pay off the balance. It really is such a great feeling! 

This month I spent $0 in discretionary spending and 23 No Spend Days. I also did some additional website work, and received a payout from some shares unexpectedly. I felt extremely dedicated to my goals this month.

Next months goal is to max out my $1,000 emergency fund again, and to tackle my next debt!
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Friday, 28 February 2014

$100 Grocery Challenge Update #4

Final week of the challenge, so with the last of my $100 I bought ingredients I could utilise to use up a lot of the remaining food left in my fridge and pantry. Would you believe I have lost this docket, which is gutting because in total, for the entire month of February, I ended up spending $99.95 - yes, I came in with just $0.05 to spare!!! If I end up finding the docket I will edit this post, as I was so proud of what I had done!

So over the weekend I baked up large, using up old carrots and frozen bananas among other things. First I made banana bread:

Carrot cake/muffins (these photos and the one above make it look like they were burnt - they weren't):

And more delicious bread:

Breakfasts were porridge, lunches were peanut butter sandwiches, leftovers or fried rice, and we only drank water. Snacks were home baking. Dinners to follow...

Saturday: Vegetarian 'fried chicken' (recipe and review to come), served with oven fries and carrots.

Sunday: Breakfast for dinner! Pancakes and milk, for a treat.

Monday: As Saturday.

Tuesday: 'Fried chicken' and oven fries.

Wednesday: Microwaved 'roast' chicken with fried rice.

Thursday: As yesterday.

Friday: Fried rice with chicken.

And there you have it! Less than $100 spent on groceries for two hungry adult sized people, for an entire month! It wasn't overly exciting, gourmet or beautiful, but we didn't go hungry and generally we got a variety of foods. I challenge you all to set yourselves a strict budget for a month to see how much food you can use up, and how much money you can save!

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Friday, 21 February 2014

$100 Grocery Challenge Update #3

This week we had a pre-planned trip away to Auckland, which could have thrown things out completely, however with a combination of bringing food with me and my daughters' friend unexpectedly contributing financially, I kept food costs to a minimum.

We also started to run out of a few things this week, so I went to Pak n Save and bought the following:

Mostly staples, plus fruit and milk. As usual, breakfasts were porridge, lunches were peanut butter sandwiches, leftovers or fried rice, and drinks were just water. Snacks were fruit and cookies (cheap Budget shortbread). Dinners are documented below:

Saturday: Homemade vegetable curry with a butter chicken sauce mixed through, and rice.

Sunday: Mexican dinner out, a treat paid for by my daughter to thank me for taking her to Auckland.

Monday: Leftover vegetable curry with tinned tomatoes added, served with homemade bread.

Tuesday: Leftover chicken pie taken from the freezer, served with homemade bread.

Wednesday: Poor mans steak, served with rice, mixed veg and an apple.

Thursday: Similar to last night, however I didn't get a photo so instead here's a pic of my first tomato of the season, from my 'deck garden'!

Friday: Daughter made fried rice with chicken.

All going well :-)

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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Deliciously Ugly Poor Mans Steak

Can you just take my word for it that this is a hundred times tastier than it looks?! It's comfort food to the max PLUS it's an extremely economical meat stretcher.

The ingredients are simple: 1kg of mince, 1 cup of cracker crumbs, 1 cup of water, salt and pepper. Combine and form into patties. Roll in flour and quickly pan fry in oil just until each side has gone a little golden. Place patties in a casserole dish and pour over a can of condensed mushroom soup. Bake in the oven on 180 degrees for around an hour. And voila! A cheap, mouth-wateringly yummy dish that can be served with a variety of cheap sides to stretch it out further. 

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Friday, 14 February 2014

$100 Grocery Challenge Update #2

Sunday again brought food prep to save time later in the week. The above cookies were delicious too - made with oil rather than butter for cheaper baking. I made bulk breakfasts (porridge with a cube of cream in each container, plus the last of a bag of frozen berries, and the last of a bottle of maple syrup), Lentil Shepherds Pie and a Yellow Split Pea curry to eat over the week. I also pulled out a small packet of pastrami I had in the freezer that I bought on clearance for $1. And my lovely colleague brought me tomatoes, avocado, fruit and other bits and pieces.

As per last week, my daughter doesn't like eating breakfast, and takes the same thing for lunch each day.


Breakfast: Scrambled eggs on toast.

Lunch: Snacked.

Dinner: Spinach and tomato fried rice.


Breakfast: Eggs on toast.

Lunch: Snacked.

Dinner: Carrot and pastrami pizza.


Breakfast: Porridge.

Lunch: Vegetable fried rice.

Dinner: Shell pasta with frozen green beans, tomato, pastrami, canola oil and a little grated cheese.


Breakfast: Porridge.

Lunch: Vegetable fried rice.

Dinner: Shepherds Pie.


Breakfast: Porridge and a nashi.

Lunch: Vegetable fried rice.

Dinner: Split pea curry, fried rice, guacamole.


Breakfast: Porridge.

Lunch: Sushi (work paid lunch).

Dinner: Shepherds Pie.


Breakfast: Porridge.

Lunch: Vegetable fried rice.

Dinner: Split pea curry.

Snacks were carrots, boiled eggs and cookies.

All beverages consumed were water.

I enjoyed having more vegetables and pulses in my diet this week. We had barely any meat and we certainly didn't feel like we were missing out anything. I've still got a chicken and a packet of mince to last through the next two weeks  as well as plenty of staples, but I've got almost $30 I can also spend at the supermarket this weekend. 

Halfway through and doing great!

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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Need A Cheap But FABULOUS Website?

For an extremely well priced, attractive website, please feel free to visit my business website and check out some of my clients' sites. I also have very reasonable hosting options.  If you have any queries at all, I look forward to hearing from you!
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Monday, 10 February 2014

How Vegetarian Cooking Saves Time and Money

Cooking vegetarian meals not only means a much cheaper outlay than meat meals, but they also save in other ways too.  The main advantage is that multiple meals can be prepared at the start of the week, and stored in the fridge for use over the entire week.  For meals that contain meat, I'm only comfortable keeping them in the fridge for 3 - 4 days.  However I'll happily eat a vegetarian meal that has been in the fridge for 7 days.  I don't have to try and find extra room in the freezer, I don't have to worry about freezer burn, and I can have a meal on hand instantly - no need to wait for it to thaw.  And there is always the risk that the meal won't taste as good once thawed.  Also my time is saved - spend a couple of hours cooking one day, and we can eat for the whole week!

Don't get me wrong, batch cooking is good no matter what the ingredients - however the humble vegetable does hold some advantages!
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Friday, 7 February 2014

$100 Grocery Challenge Update #1

Week One of this challenge has gone great!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE how much money I am saving and how easy it is!  All I can say is that if you're prepared, committed, and accepting of not eating meat or gourmet meals every day - there is a TON of money to be saved.  Above are the groceries I bought, and below is the grocery docket.  I spent $71.20 at Pak n Save, which means I have $28.80 left for the month.  I am going to the supermarket twice only this month, and if I run out of anything in between I simply have to make do.  I bought staple items and two types of meat at the first shop, to supplement what I already have in my freezer and pantry.

As mentioned above, being prepared is the #1 rule to saving money on groceries.  Not only does it mean there is no need to think about buying lunch or ordering takeaways for dinner, but it also gives you an incredible sense of satisfaction!  So on the first day of the challenge, I made: 

Bread. Half white, half wholemeal flour.

Muffins.  I had two oranges in the fridge to use up, so I found a cheap, basic orange muffin recipe, and I added two other items I wanted to use up - half a cup of coconut, and a square of fudge.  These were DELICIOUS!

Cornbread.  An American fave, and fast becoming one of my faves.  I added bacon to the recipe to up the protein.  I have plenty of bacon to use up from portioning the packet of bacon I purchased last month.

Pesto.  I made basil pesto for the first time and it was delicious!  I even made it frugally - basil from a pot I keep on the deck, canola oil, finely grated tasty cheese and salt.  No pinenuts, no olive oil, no parmesan!  Just YUM.

Potatoes.  I boiled up a pot of potatoes and mixed through the pesto, to take on a picnic the next day.

Yellow rice.  I made a large pot of basmati rice to use later in the week, and added turmeric for colour and flavour.

Porridge.  I made all my breakfasts for the week and popped them in the fridge in portioned containers.  Oats are the cheapest breakfast food imaginable, and so diverse.  I added sunflower seeds from a bag I had in the pantry, plum jam, and a cube of cream to approximately a cup of porridge in each container.  My daughter refuses to eat breakfast, or I would have prepared something for her too.  However there is always enough food for her, if she were to change her mind.

Lunches.  I prepared peanut butter sandwiches for my daughter made from bought bread (she doesn't really like the bread I make - fussy teenagers!) and froze them in snaplock bags in the freezer.  I then cut up five large carrots, and boiled 10 eggs - five for my daughter and five for me.  My eggs went into a container in the fridge and hers went into snaplock bags with carrot sticks.

So all she needs to do each morning is take a sandwich from the freezer (it will be thawed by lunchtime, and tastes perfectly fresh!) and a bag of carrot sticks/boiled egg.  There will also be enough sandwiches for next week.

So, onto the meals we ate for the week!

On Saturday I felt like kicking off the challenge with something fancy, so I chopped up a tomato and an avocado that my colleague had given me, and scrambled three eggs with water.  This delicious breakfast cost me $0.75c!  For the rest of the day I snacked on food that I made, including bread, cornbread and muffins (mmmmmm...).  My daughter was away today.

On Sunday I had a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast before running out the door to go for a walk/picnic.  I didn't take photos of our lunch, but it was pesto potatoes, homemade bread and homemade guacamole (from my colleagues tomatoes and avocados).  Dinner was cornbread, guacamole and fried rice with tomato, spinach, and a little leftover cubed potato.


Breakfast: Porridge.

Lunch: Leftovers for me - lunch is always the same for my daughter, as photographed earlier.

Dinner: Leftovers Soup.  I keep a container in the freezer where I add any sorts of leftovers - rice, cooked vegetables, etc.  When it gets full, I make soup with it.  In this soup there was a lot of pumpkin, rice, and leftover chicken and rice soup.  I added to this a little Thai chicken green curry that my colleague gave me, a tablespoon of red curry paste, and a can of coconut cream.  It was delicious, and even my fussy teenager ate it!  I served it with plenty of homemade croutons.


Breakfast: Porridge.

Lunch: Sushi, free lunch on work trip.

Dinner:  As yesterday.


Breakfast: Porridge.

Lunch: Sandwiches etc all round.

Dinner: Vegetable fried rice (with oil and chicken salt for flavour).


Breakfast: Porridge.

Lunch: Leftovers.

Dinner: Chicken and vegetable fried rice (with a small packet of chicken schnitzel from the freezer).


Breakfast: Porridge.

Lunch: Sandwiches etc.

Dinner: Bacon and egg fried rice.

All beverages consumed were water.

Anytime we were hungry between meals we snacked on homemade bread (with peanut butter or jam), muffins, cornbread or carrots.  I would have done more baking if needed.  

So that's the end of a great frugal weeks' eating!  Not only did we barely make a dent in the amount of food available to us, but we also ate a good balance of protein (meat, eggs), carbs (rice, homemade bread, potatoes) fats (canola oil, avocado) and vegetables.  And I love that all of our meals were made from scratch.  As I had some long days at work, I defaulted to rice a lot.  Next week I intend to get a little more adventurous in the kitchen - here's a sneak peek for you!

Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
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