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Rambling on…

Is it me or does everything in the winter seem far worse than when Spring arrives… Is the corporate world taking advantage of it’s employees, is there real justification behind cutting salaries 2 years in a row and absolutely no pay rises in 6 years now, is all the bank bashing having detrimental effects on hard working individuals… In a world where everything has rising costs almost daily, companies feel it is ok to reduce incomes for hardworking individuals… In my book, it all seems wrong that in this day and age it’s not how hard you work, it seems to be if you are in favor with your boss, has all the fairness gone out of pay rises and bonuses, it seems to me some people do well year after year, whilst others suffer because of the unfairness created by corporate greed!

Moan over… Back to menu planning again, it’s been a while, but this time I’m planning a baking day, breakfast, lunch and dinner… My iron levels are still low, so I want to make my life easier by keeping everything easy and simple. My Ninja super cooker is the key to simplicity, pasta cooks perfectly in it, dinners can easily be switched from slow cook to oven for finishing off, it’s even great if you don’t have time or have forgotten to set your slowcooker, just add the ingredients as you would have to slow cook, set to stove top and cook in no time at all… I can honestly say I’m in love!

Here is my budget friendly menu plan and baking day recipes…

Breakfast

Yoghurt with fruit x2
Oatmeal x2
Eggs with toast x2

Lunches

Pasta salad x2
Soup x2
Grilled panini sandwiches

Dinner

Pasta bolognese
Chili with roasted veggies
Pasta with winter pesto and chicken
Cobb salad
Baked penne with ricotta
Meatball noodle soup

Leftover night

Baking day

Brownies

Coconut tea loaf

Chocolate chip muffins

Banana bread

Easy quick oatmeal breakfast bars

I feel I am missing something after watching Extreme Couponing… Wow how do they save so much money, on one episode I watched this week, one woman spent $2700 on groceries, after swiping her store card the total was $1700, then after using her many, many, MANY coupons the total was $187… Crazy! Granted I do not need 100 bottles of gatoraid, although I am sure my children would love them, and I do not want 100 bottles of coke, but I am sure I could incorporate this into my grocery shopping, so after a little bit of research, I kind of get how it works, you collect the manufacturers coupons, they are worth double in most grocery stores up to 99c, then you wait for that item to go on sale, there is a schedule by all accounts in each grocery store and they rotate the discounts, then you use your coupon, giving you not only the stores savings but double the manufacturers discount too, sometimes the item can be free or an extremely low price, you don’t just buy one item you buy enough to see you through until the next rotation of the sale… Very clever, so although you will never see me on the next episode of Extreme Couponing, I think I could give it a try on a much smaller scale… Why give your money to these over priced grocery stores when you could save just a little bit!

This is the link for a fabulous Coupon website that makes it easy to save on your shopping!

Like menu planning, I think couponing takes time to organize too, but in the end being smart and organized is the key to making your money work for you, and true happiness, it’s only taken me 46 years to realize any of this, but we only grow as people when we learn new things and change is good, so this year I plan on lots of change, living healthier, lots of exercise and being just a little bit cleverer with our finances, you cannot rely on companies to help you out, the only way forward is to make your money work for you, I honestly believe the key to true happiness lies behind true organization and the true love you hold within…

Happy Weekend to everyone, let’s hope all this freaky weather we all seem to be having goes away soon, leaving us with a happy, sunny Spring!

I will leave you with my little miracle, kicking and wiggling inside me this week at my amazing ultrasound…

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My first freezer baking day…

I have just found pure joy in filling my freezer to the brim, not with store bought boxed produce, well there is a little of that in there, but with home cooking trays of yummy goodies! I have always been someone who freezes leftovers, freezes excess bread, well I love to freeze anything for later really, but having a freezer baking day was something I had never thought of until recently when I started reading blogs about preparing ahead of time, so after watching another episode of the Pioneer Woman, yes I am addicted to her show, I decided it was time to fill my freezer with goodies so that my children cannot utter those famous words ever again, well just until next time my freezer looks bare… ‘There is nothing good into eat!’

I decided baked goods would be my freezer products this time around, with 5 more weeks of summer recess still on the horizon, sweet baked products are something I never have time to do along with cooking dinners, so why not fill my freezer with yummy gooey easy peasy baked goods that just need throwing into the oven, and then just for good measure I threw in some pizza dough for the odd pizza or flatbread side and two pasta tray bakes for those nights when you just need a quick dinner that’s made and ready to heat!

Here is a list in order of how I made them ready for my freezer, complete with links to the recipes…

The great British Flapjack … Melt 8oz of butter in a skillet, add 4oz of sugar and 4oz of golden syrup mix together then toss in 12oz of oats stir until combined, pack down into foil dish cover with foil and freeze. Defrost when ready to use, heat your oven to 300f and bake for 40 minutes!

Oatmeal breakfast bake … I froze this oatmeal unbaked, it is then ready to defrost then bake so it will be fresh and hot when we eat it!

Easy Brownies … I did some research and found that brownie batter does not freeze well, the butter separates when thawing, so it will not make a good brownie when baked, so for these I pre cooked them before freezing, then I will top with a chocolatey butter icing and chill before serving!

chocolate chip cookies … These I took the dough formed into balls using a small ice cream scoop and then placed each ball on a cookie sheet with parchment paper then flash froze them before placing the cookie dough balls into bags in the freezer… Add approximately 5 minutes cooking time to bake frozen cookie dough!

Chocolate, chocolate chip muffins … This is by far my most favorite muffin recipe from the great Nigella Lawson, I have made these with and without the cocoa powder and they are delicious every time! I baked these muffins before freezing in ziplock bags!

Easy, no knead cinnamon rolls … These were so good, be warned there is a lot of dough, I made three trays of gorgeous rolls, which is a good because one tray was so good it did not last in my house! I made these up to the point the rolls were made and risen in the trays, then I covered them with cling wrap and then froze them! I did cook up one tray and I changed the glaze to a more traditional cinnamon roll glaze… I added one cup of powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons of cubed room temperature butter, then add one teaspoon of vanilla essence with 3-6 tablespoons of boiling water mix until you get the desired consistency… Then pour over your lovely buns, serve and enjoy!

Easy, no knead pizza dough … This is an excellent, easy, delicious pizza dough, I made it to the point before it was risen, divided it into two balls, put them into ziplock bags and froze them, ready to defrost, then let rise in an oiled clingwrap covered bowl, roll out then bake. I have made this crust many times, it not only easy but once the dough is risen it keeps in the refrigerator for up to three days!

If you do try to fill your freezer in one day, be warned it is messy, something I don’t usually cope well with, time consuming… But totally worth doing, now I can sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of my labor… Well for a couple of days at least, until my hungry children get their hands on all that delicious food!

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