Sunday, 25 January 2009

Catching up!

I seem to be a day or two behind myself on here at the moment.

Some of the cinnamon buns made it to the freezer on Friday, although several got eaten! One bag was brought out and defrosted in the microwave this morning for a quick but substantial breakfast. We don't eat much cold cereal here - the EFG only seems to like an expensive, too sugary confection which I won't buy regularly, the YFG only eats dry cereal and then only picks at it, so all in all it is not a good choice for breakfast here. Toast is often the choice, mostly just with butter, but occasionally with a swipe of chocolate spread over it; the YFG prefers pancakes, and will occasionally ask for a "salad" which is what she calls a plate with a little heap of cubed cheese, maybe some ham, a cut-up apple, and perhaps a biscuit on the side. Cinnamon buns are a popular breakfast choice so it is great to have a stash in the freezer so that I can serve them when they are requested, or when I don't have time to offer pancakes. The EFG will sometimes choose scrambled eggs with some toast, which is never a problem as we have always got eggs. The FH likes porridge, but the girls hate it! Thinking outside the box is a way of saving money when the accepted norm of cold cereals for breakfast is not necessarily cheap, and quite often not a particularly healthy choice. Some of my offerings do have fat and sugar, but there are no E-numbers, additives and preservatives, and I know exactly what is in everything that I make, so I count that as a benefit. I also prefer that what they eat in the morning has a little protein in it, so that helps to keep them going till lunchtime - which is OK at 12 for the YFG but the EFG has to go through until 1.20 before she eats lunch.

After gymnastics yesterday, the YFG and I went to do the shopping. The groceries came to £28.74 for the week, bringing the total for the month so far to £88.58. Again, it was mostly fruit and vegetables: grapes for lunchboxes, apples, clementines, cabbage, broccoli, plums; some meat - ham, sausages and chicken thighs as the stocks of meat in the freezer are nearly exhausted; cheese; stuffing mix (the girls just discovered this and love it but I should really be making it from scratch so this is the last time I buy it!); and squash to drink. Broccoli is expensive compared to other green vegetables at £2.19/kg, but we eat a lot of it because it is a valuable member of the cruciferous veg family, famous for cancer-fighting qualities, and we all like it. Cabbage is our second-best alternative which we eat several times a week, but sprouts are not enjoyed by all the family although we have loads of them in the freezer. They get eaten by the EFG and FH. Cauliflowers are expensive and we don't really rate them particularly so we rarely buy them. We do grow other green veg in the summer, and love green beans, in season as well as from the freezer.

This month's challenge of living from the stores has been a good one - not quite over yet, but the finish line is now in sight. I have £11.42 in hand for the rest of the month - only 6 days, and I doubt that there is anything that we will need, although I will record any spending from that. The stores are doing OK although I will begin to make a list this week for re-stocking the shelves. It looks at first sight as if it is the tinned goods that have taken the hardest hit - the chopped tomatoes are all gone, there is no soup left, and the tinned fruit is reduced (but we still have peaches, pears and pineapple). However, we have our own tomatoes in the freezer that can be used in place of the tinned ones, and there is carrot and parsnip soup also in the freezer, as well as bags and bags of cooked apples!

We have not bought any books, shoes, clothing (apart from the tights for YFG and a school sweater for EFG), stationery, stamps, DVD/entertainment-type "stuff", magazines, toiletries, chocolate or crisps (much to YFG's disgust!). It has made me realise how easily money can be wasted on things which are really not necessary and could be cut out from the regular shopping and just allowed as very occasional treats.

I have today made some dough in the bread machine for rolls for tea - which are proving right now on the cooker top - it is still warm in the kitchen from the dinnertime cooking. Whilst the oven was on earlier for the chicken, the YFG and I made some cheese scones. These are excellent as she loves them and will happily eat them at breakfast time, split and warmed in the microwave and then spread with a tiny bit of butter, but she will also want to have them in her lunchbox, so they are versatile. We made about 20, so 10 went into a tin in the cupboard and the others went into the freezer in two packages. The only downside to them is that they used up half the cheese that I had bought for the week, so the usual cheese sandwiches in the lunchboxes may have to be varied this week when we have used it all up - and the FH is rather a cheese fiend! When the oven goes on to bake the rolls, I will also quickly make up a batch of muffins so that there are some for tea and some for the freezer to call upon later in the week.

We have eaten the last home-grown chicken from the freezer for lunch, so the FH has been eyeing up the next batch. They are getting to the right age for butchering now, but they are not really fat enough to be a decent meal yet. It is possible that they will take another few weeks before they are ready to eat, and we should probably start increasing their rations (not that they are not well-fed now already!).

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