Sunday, June 7, 2015

Green and Thrifty



This week I have crocheted a row of the perfect shade of brown around thirty-something granny squares, only one hundred and twenty-something to go. I am so excited about this rug. I am on track to actually finish a craft project. This is momentous!

In other green and thrifty news, Posy has been whining relentlessly about needing a belt, because the one she has had since she was six doesn't fit any more. Fair enough, and today I stepped into an op-shop for five minutes and found her a belt. Which was unused. Which fits her. And which she likes. Wall to wall miracles this week:)

But the big project this week was my own $21 challenge frugal grocery week, where I spent only $21 on milk and vegies, and for the rest 'shopped the pantry' (thanks to Lucinda for that great phrase!). Although I did spend $31 on my original shop, I have not been back to the shops:)

Eating from pantry supplies hasn't been all joyful flitting around in a flowered apron with bluebirds singing though. For some reason I decided to make kidney bean, carrot and cumin burgers. The children warned me this was a very bad idea, but I never listen to them, because they are always moaning about dinner.. but here is the thing. I have never, ever made an edible or delicious pattie/burger or any other food squashed together into a round shape and then fried. So I don't know why I thought I was onto a winner with the kidney beans.. on the bright side, the dog likes them..

Apart from that truly hideous mistake, we have eaten pretty normally - roast chicken, curry, chilli, left-over roast vegie frittata, chicken soup.. tonight the girls have whipped up sushi and rice paper vegie rolls for dinner. But, I have had to think slightly harder - it took me most of one afternoon to work out that I could substitute plain yoghurt for the coconut milk I usually tip in the curry, and I had to protect the roast chicken for two days to have enough left to make sushi. We ran out of dried fruit halfway through the week, and as they are our only sweet treats, we got a bit testy. Nothing sweet in the house!! I have been eating a lot of crisp, sweet fujis straight off the apple tree. Tomorrow we are having friends over to celebrate the Queen's Birthday Holiday, so sweet treats then, we will break out the sugar jar and make something nice:) Apart from that we also ran out of crackers, so I made popcorn for school lunches and sent cheese and vegie sticks along instead. And I ran out of my organic rooibos tea bags. Arrgh! I was forced to pull the loose rooibos out of the back of the cupboard and use a tea ball. However, rooibos is much finer than tea, so it leaks through the holes. I am going to go and spend some money in an actual shop this week and see if I can find a very fine strainer, because truthfully, loose leaf rooibos is much cheaper than the same product in cute little bags.

So, our challenge didn't kill anyone. Which is good. And the challenge to think creatively about food was no doubt good for me. Also we used up a packet of prunes which has been in the back of the cupboard since 2010! My next challenge is to keep within budget this week as I re-stock. Also, wheat free. The Girl and I both have some health issues that may respond to a gluten-free diet. Sigh. We will try it for six weeks and see how we go. My plan is not to use gluten-free flours and expensive products from the gluten-free aisle, just real food, gluten-free. Lots of veg!

Now, did you notice that Bek is upping the $21 challenge week, and going for a $21 challenge month? Pop over and see how she is doing:)

Tomorrow I am planning such a fun day. It is the Queen's Birthday holiday, and I have invited some friends over, with some girls to entertain my girls, and we are going to sit around, eat macaroons, and knit and crochet all afternoon. I am hoping to really polish off a whole bunch of those granny squares..

What has been green and thrifty about your week?

13 comments:

Sherri said...

Well done on your frugal grocery week. I am trying to save more money on groceries too and to reduce waste to nothing. I hope you have a lovely day tomorrow and enjoy your knitting and crochet.

Tracy said...

$31 is is an impressive effort - great job. My most successful frugal trick in the kitchen is still getting a roast chicken to go three meals. We have a roast one night, casserole the next and soup another night from the bones. I actually prefer my homemade stock made from bones that have been roasted. The liquid is clearer and you don't get the scum on the top of the spot like you do with raw bones.

The reason my chicken stretching strategy is still my most impressive is that we are five adult eaters, one of whom is a teenaged boy. Eating half a chook between us? Super duper!

narf7 said...

I have been learning to use all things "pulse" this month. I have started to follow several most interesting vegan Polish blogs lately that have some very interesting and innovative ways to use legumes in meals that result in some high protein, low cost foods that taste wonderful. I have been shopping the pantry as well. I just read the bit about "gluten free" and legumes might just be a great addition to your diet. Chickpea flour is fantastic for making all sorts of flatbreads etc. and as I am discovering, you can do the same with pretty much any legume if you grind it finely enough and the plus side is that they are incredibly filling. I read about Bek's $21 month and if it was just me doing the challenge I would possibly be able to do that but Stevie-boy is my handicap ;).

Oh, by the way, you could have used the water from your can of red kidney beans to make meringues. I did :) (Note, you can use the liquid from any can of beans but some of them taste "beanier" than others and you can use home cooked bean liquid if you reduce it down)

http://www.glueandglitter.com/main/2015/04/14/aquafaba-magical-egg-replacer-for-vegan-meringue-recipes-and-beyond/

Jo said...

Sherri, thank you,I am sure I will! Reducing waste to nothing - yes, it's a slow process but we are getting better at it here:)

Tracy, super impressed at the frugal chook trick, I can imagine keeping the teenage boy off the chicken carcass is a feat in itself. We have three adult appetites here, but we are all girls.. and I force many, many roast vegies on them with their chicken, and we can usually manage four meals from a chicken, although in two of them the chicken is more of a condiment..

Fran, I loved your comment on Bek's blog about using ground lentils to thicken stews, gravy etc, and I'd also like to try Indian roti using gram (chickpea) flour.

What's this? Cans of kidney beans? Good lord, you can't call yourself thrifty and use a can of kidney beans! Do you know there only 250g of beans in the 400g can? And half a cup of dried kidney beans to make 250g cooked beans costs hmmm, less than 20c, surely? :) I have checked out that link before when you mentioned it though, and I'm sure the water I cook the beans in would work fine. It's amazing how it lathers up when I rinse the beans.. it does seem somehow wrong though, doesn't it??

Lynda D said...

As always you are inspiring me to forget the freezer and head towards the pantry. Perhaps some tuna burgers for lunch on this winter public holiday. Loving the shades of brown in your blanket squares. Very on trend and stylish. Frugal does not mean frumpy.

Jo said...

Lynda, I so admire anyone who can make a nice burger! I love that - frugal does not mean frumpy.. it isn't necessarily true though, I am always frugal, often frumpy, very occasionally stylish:)

e / dig in hobart said...

I hope you had a lovely holiday weekend jo! despite the weather...
I like the idea of shopping the pantry. I sometimes forget I have all these great staples that I should use up, before I buy a different exciting sort of wholegrain or lentil! I also need to remember to use my summer stock of tomatoes. it's funny, I put these all aside specifically for winter, then I forget to retrieve them from the garage freezer! I think a note on the fridge or pantry door may be needed...

Bek said...

Well done Jo! I hope you got a lot done yesterday and I look forward to seeing the finished craft product.
You have done well on your $21 challenge. I shall be posting tonight on the first week of it. So far, so good. But I'll keep in mind to avoid the legume fritter. :)

Jo said...

Hi e, aargh, the weather yesterday! Hope you weren't completely blown away down south.. I am hearing you on eating up the freezer too - I have been investigating and found all sorts of unlabelled packets of frozen veg from the garden which I will need to hide in a casserole or two..

Bek, possibly it is only me who needs to steer clear of the fritter. I have eaten perfectly delicious fritters/burgers/patties made by othe people..

Mimi Mama said...

You make me laugh Jo. And I needed a laugh. Laughing is thin on the ground here just now. Long story. Nobody died or anything. Or is dying. Just serious life stuff. Anyway, serious life stuff aside....I've decided after watching a doco on SBS last week (did you see it? The one about red meat consumption?) that anything made into a pattie, sausage or fritter needs to be viewed with extreme suspicion, so do not mourn your conflict with round, fried thingos. Also I have to say that the one comment that leapt out at me, was the one about eating Fuji apples straight from the tree! Oh be still my beating heart....how I dream of doing that. Sigh. Mimi xxx

Jo said...

Dearest Mimi, all the loving thoughts winging your way as you deal with serious life stuff. No-one wants to do that, but if anyone has to, you would be so very good at it. You are tough and brave and loving and have all the common sense and kindness.

I have to say, eating apples straight off the tree is one of the great joys of my life. I planted those trees when I was six months' pregnant with Posy, and here I am 10 years later with hundreds of glorious apples each year. As you know, if you plant stuff, it grows..

And I can only imagine what you could grow in your glorious subtropical garden. Have you tried a vanilla vine yet? Or what about a pepper vine? Now that could be fun..

heather said...

Re shopping the pantry and forgotten garden goodness: guess what I found this week in the cupboard under the stairs? (No, not Harry Potter.) Beets! Pressure canned after some long-ago glut, and now perfect to adorn my salads and so on.

Also I made crostini out of the very stale (wood-like) remnants of a loaf of French bread, which the kids now prefer to store bought crackers and which I have now had for dinner two nights in a row, thinly spread with pesto (also a long-term refugee, from the back of the fridge) and topped with little bits of whatnot and the first tomatoes.

Forcing the kids away from the pantry, where they want to consume the store bought canned mandarins (for Chinese chicken salad ONLY), and toward the plums off the tree in the orchard.

Banana cake in the sun oven to use up mushy brown fruit. Found a whole grain recipe the hubby will eat! (Sorry about your gluten restriction, btw. Of course you have the right mindset to make it an adventure rather than a grim slog.)

Re trying things when you ought to know better- at the farmer's market, the kids begged to buy some pricey sunflower greens. Since they are the two pickiest eaters on the face of the planet, I was momentarily giddy that they wanted to try a new vegetable and forgot that we had tried them once before, to wrinkled noses after a single nibble. So now I am eating through the bag myself this week. Good thing I have the beets to top them with. And tomatoes.

Little steps, a slow change of mindset, looking at everything for its possibilities... Thanks for making the effort seem both normal and admirable, instead of some crazy Nana obsession like some in my circle of acquaintances would see it.

--Heather in CA

Jo said...

Yes, Heather, you and I are both totally normal - we must remember that! It is everyone else who is odd..

I always laugh when you tell me I inspire you, and then proceed to list a whole bunch of things that I desperately desire to do - like use a sun oven - did you buy it or make it? Does it work well? And canning beets. Now there is something I have never done either. I adore roasted beetroot, but not the stuff in the can at the supermarket. How does home-canned beet compare to that? I am sure it is better..

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