Monday, December 30, 2013

First attempt at cooking on a budget with Jamie

I treated myself to a new recipe book just before Christmas.  Hmm, only the third or fourth for 2013.

This one is Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver and was sitting on a display at my local Woolies.  For $24 and a large family I thought it was worth buying even if I do usually find his recipes sometimes a little bit too British for me.

For Christmas we had 2 roast chickens.  One plain and one seasoned.  In his book Jamie has a Mothership Roast for each meat and about 7 meals that use leftovers to create another meal.  Quite impressive I must say so I thought I would give the idea a try.

Out of our 2 roast chickens I have the makings of  6 meals.  Roast Chicken Dinner, Roast Chicken and Sweet Pea Risotto, Frenchie Salad, Chicken and Spinach Cannelloni, lunch meat for 2 days and a spare carcass in the freezer for making some yummy stock.

First off the line was of course the roast.  No surprises there.  My husband likes a roast almost weekly so it was our normal fare of roast potatoes, roast sweet potato, roast onions, steamed carrots, broccoli, peas and corn with gravy.

I weighed out the portions for my 3 chosen leftover meals and the leftover meat became lunch meat for Boxing Day and the day after.  Didn't take long to polish it off with 4 boys here.

Next was the Frenchie Salad.  I must admit this is the first time I have made a dressing from scratch and I am usually quite nervous about using white wine vinegar but I gave it a go. It was easy peasy, and very yummy.  I just had to go out and make sure I had enough mustard and vinegar to do it again soon.

This recipe also included lentils which are usually a no go here.  I decided I wasn't going to change a thing so in went the lentils.  They were great and really filled the salad out nicely.

I look forward to trying more of this book.  If all the meals are still filling despite using just leftovers I will be very impressed.  I still have 2 more meals in the freezer and the carcass too.  Not bad for $16 worth of chicken.

Best wishes

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Electricity bill follow-up

I have been waiting with bated breathe for our electricity bill after learning more about changing the way we use the big appliances in our house.

I keep all the old bills so here is some interesting info.

Last quarter - daily kWh usage 41.15
Same quarter year before - daily kWh usage 42.40
Average daily cost last quarter - $9.48

This quarter - daily kWh usage 34.66
Same quarter year before - daily kWh usage 38.53
Average daily cost this quarter - $7.63

This is interesting to me because the usage of heavy drain appliances through all the quarters above would have been fairly consistent.  We can't use electric heating in this house due its old wiring so our bill doesn't go up in winter.  None of these bills cover summer so there is no air conditioning charges.

We have gone from 42.40 and 38.53  last year to this year being 41.15 and 34.66.  Looks small but it has been important.

How have I decreased my usage? 

Well, we are no longer rinsing the dishes with hot water before putting in the dishwasher and I am using a very long cycle. 

I am barely using the dryer although I will admit to a few days of using it to dry uniforms for school, but now I use the cool cycle for the same time and they are still coming out dry.  And for towels, hand towels and face washers the cool cycle has been working fine too. 

My washing machine is used just as much but I only use a 60 deg cycle when it is tea towels, socks and rags.  That load only usually goes in twice to three times a week.  For all other loads I have reduced the temperature from 60 deg to 40 deg.  I can't quite handle the idea that cold water will get clothes clean or prevent a build up of detergent in the washing machine so I won't go that far.

Overall I have gone from $132.72/fortnight to $106.82/fortnight.  That is about $780/year.  I like that.  And we haven't really done that well on reducing shower times.  (blush!)  There is still room in this budget to move!  And it is hopefully going to be down.

Best wishes

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Spreading out Christmas

I have never particularly liked the stuffing our little faces on Christmas day so we all get to have our favourite Christmas treat so this year I changed it up a bit.  I asked everyone their particular favourite things that make Christmas special and then I divided them up over the 4 weeks of December.  Now that is a plan!  No gorging!  No wasted leftovers!  I quite like this idea.

Each week has a theme.  First week is spicy, second chocolate, third fruit and nuts, fourth plain.  There is a bit of overlap like chocolate coated fruit and nuts but hey, I don't mind.  Would you?

[ ] ~~ Sat 30 Nov ~~
[V] Sliced ham with sauce, roast vegetables
[ ] Choc fruit mince muffins
[ ] ~~ Sun 1 Dec - Fri 6 Dec ~~
[ ] Star cookies
[ ] Belgian biscuits
[ ] Gingerbread houses done at school
[ ] ~~ Sat 7 Dec ~~
[ ] Roast pork, apple sauce
[ ] Plum pudding and custard
[ ] ~~ Sun 8 Dec - Fri 13 Dec ~~
[ ] Yum yum balls
[ ] Choc covered nuts and fruit
[ ] Handmade chocolates
[ ] Candy canes
[ ] ~~ Sat 14 Dec ~~
[ ] Chicken mignons
[ ] Trifle
[ ] ~~ Sun 15 Dec - Fri 20 Dec ~~
[ ] Fruit cake with icing
[ ] Belgian biscuits
[ ] Mixed roast nuts
[ ] Stollen
[ ] Cherries
[ ] ~~ Sat 21 Dec ~~
[ ] ???
[ ] ?.?
[ ] ~~ Sun 22 Dec - Tues 24 Dec ~~
[ ] Coconut pyramids
[ ] Pretzels
[ ] Star cookies
[ ] ~~ Wed 25 Dec Christms Day ~~
[ ] Roast chickens, gravy, creamy potatoes, vegies
[ ] Pavlova/meringues, fruit salad and whipped cream can
[ ] ~~ New Years Eve ~~
[ ] Seafood, grilled fish and more

I hope your Christmas turns out well.  I think I only have wrapping left to do now.  Yay!  But I better do that before Christmas Eve!  lol  Why do I always do that?

Best wishes
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