Posted in Parenting, tips

Are You A Winger Or A Planner? (+5 Tips to Saving Money Groceries)

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Lots of stuff on sale for Valentine’s Day weekend!

Before my husband and I had kids and a mortgage, meals were super easy.  We would either just go to the grocery store and buy whatever we felt like eating during the week or we would eat out (“oh shucks, we forgot to thaw the meat again, oh well, let’s just eat out”).

Then, well, I became pregnant, we bought a house, I gave birth to Charles, municipal taxes went up, sales taxes went up (the combination of the Federal and Provincial tax where I live tallies up to about 15%), electricity rates went up, gas prices remained high despite the crash of the barrel price (we pay on average 1.10$/L which amounts to about 4.16$/gallon).  Yikes!  Though our salaries went up as well, we soon found ourselves looking for ways to keep more money in our pockets (because who doesn’t want more money in their pockets?).

Here are the 5 things that helped us save money on groceries (because groceries are pretty much the only thing we had control over).

  • We started to plan our weekly meals.

I created, printed out and laminated a meal-planning sheet and each week we would jot down what we wanted to eat for lunch and supper with a dry erase marker.  Then, it was just a question of jotting down on a grocery list what we needed to buy.

  • We started to plan our meals based on what was on sale.

You see, every Wednesday, a Publisac gets delivered to our door.  It’s basically a bag filled with flyers from local stores.  Now, we used to just toss it in the recycling bin.  Eventually, though, we took out the flyers from our local grocery stores and started going through them.  We then took to buying the bulk of our ingredients only when they were on sale.  Then we planned our meals around those ingredients.  This is great, because besides saving money, it also allowed for creativity as we ended up buying stuff we might not have bought normally.

  • We (and by “we” I mean my husband) started to do our groceries at 2-3 different stores (all in close proximity to one another)

We’re lucky enough that there are 5 grocery stores (6 if you count Walmart) within 5 km of each other and our house.  This allows us to go to the 2-3 that offer the best prices each week.

  • We began buying food and household products that we use regularly in bulk sizes (provided they were cheaper that their non-bulk counterparts – which isn’t always the case).

One of the first purchases we made when buying the house was getting a deep-freezer.  It. Is. Wonderful.  We are also lucky enough to have a storage space under the stairs where we can store extra non-perishable food items.

  • We continued to make (pretty much) everything from scratch.

Both my husband and I like to cook, so this has always been pretty easy for us.  But we’ve expanded our repertoire over the years.  No more store-bought pie shells, chicken pot pie or pizza sauce for us!

It may sound like a lot of work, but we did this one step at a time (by the way, did you know that it takes, on average, about 66 days to form a new habit?) and we haven’t regretted it!

How do you do your meal planning? Do you wing it or plan it?

Posted in Parenting

Touski Friday

Friday evening meals are always interesting.  Because Friday evenings (or Saturday mornings) are grocery times, Fridays are the days where we have odds and ends in our fridge.  Enter touski suppers.

Touski (short for tout ce qu’il reste) literally means “everything that’s left”.  So a touski is a meal that uses whatever’s left over in the fridge The whole point being to maximize what has been bought and minimize waste or forgotten items (it also provides a great opportunity to clean the fridge).

This week, some of the leftover items I had in my fridge included a red and green cabbage, some limes and a bunch of coriander (cilantro), a small ball of pie dough and some leftover chopped apples.  I also had a block of extra firm tofu and a single green pepper.

I decided to make a coleslaw with the cabbage and carrots and, using a bit of olive oil, made a lime and cilantro dressing to go with it.  I marinated the tofu in some rice vinegar and hoisin sauce (and added a touch of Sriracha sauce) and cooked a couple of nests of rice noodles to saute with the tofu and green pepper.  Then, I rocked out some mini apple strudels for some dessert.  The only thing that I was left with after all this was half of a green cabbage and half of a red cabbage.  Not too shabby!

What do you call a “touski” in your house?  Do you plan your groceries and every meal to a T or do you like to improvise sometimes?

Posted in Parenting, Ten Thought Tuesday

Ten Thought Tuesday: January 31st

TTT

  1. Today is a run day.  I can’t wait to get out on the track once the kids are in bed!
  2. Elliot is currently nursing a cold and teething (yay…).  His upper right central incisor is working on poking through right now.  He’s been in a pretty good mood despite all this and we’ve been getting by on saline drops, the snot sucker and some Advil at bedtime to get through it all.fullsizerender-6
  3. I’m working on a new series called “My Favourite Things” in which I will write about some of the things that make the different aspects of my life easier/more pleasant.  Look for the first post coming up next Monday!
  4. Tonight, I’m planning on making a casserole with yesterday evening’s leftover rice and italian sausages.  I’ll probably heat up some delicious leek soup that’s sitting in the freezer to go with it.  What are you eating for supper tonight?
  5. After a weird couple of Winter months, we’ve come back to normal Québec winter temperatures.  I have to say, though I could do without the freezing rain, I wouldn’t mind getting back to the milder temperatures.
  6. After reading Valerie’s post about and Etsy shop that makes pocket cloth pads, I decided to look into getting some cloth panty liners for myself.  I found a Canadian shop on Etsy that makes cloth pads that make the geek in me happy (think Star Trek, Dr. Who, Legend of Zelda).
  7. This Saturday, my dad’s going to be accompanying Charles to gymnastics while I go out with my mom and sister (Elliot will be tagging along).  Charles is going to go absolutely nuts when he sees that he’ll be going along in his grandpa’s pickup truck!
  8. I think I’ve finally found a solution to my itchy scaly psoriasis laden scalp: castile soap!  I used it first a few days ago as a last ditch attempt at trying to have a non-annoying head and again today.  So far, so good.
  9. The morning routine went surprisingly smoothly today.  No tears, no exasperated mama.  Heck, I even had time to take a shower!
  10. Since doing our movie night last Saturday, Charles has been asking me every day if we can watch a movie together.  Tonight, I’m putting stickers on the calendar with him so he can know when to expect them.

Care to share your thoughts this Tuesday?

Posted in Blogging, Parenting

Recipe: Cornbread (no cornmeal)

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Yesterday, I mentioned that I would be trying out a cornbread recipe.  Boy was it delicious!  Now, bear in mind that I had never tasted cornbread prior to yesterday (never mind made it), but if I were a corn kernel, I would make it my life’s objective to made into this beauty.  It was sweet, moist and super corny (in a good way hahaha!) and had a wonderful texture.  Plus, it has the most lovely yellow colour.

Given that I had to modify the original recipe slightly to exclude the honey (because of Elliot) and to substitute the margarine for butter (which we always have on hand), I figured I’d give myself a bit of a creative license and apply a few more modifications.  Here is the (very) slightly adapted version of the recipe that I made yesterday.  You can find the link to the original recipe in yesterday’s TTT post.

Ingredients

  • 15 oz (≈ 2½ cups) frozen corn kernels, divided
  • 1.5 cups (215 g) flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup (55 g) unsalted butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, place butter, milk and 12 oz (or about 2 cups) of frozen corn kernels.  Stir occasionally until butter is completely melted and corn had thawed, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add both eggs and whisk them into the dry ingredients until you obtain a thick paste.
  4. Once your corn is ready, remove saucepan from heat puree with an immersion blender.img_2712
  5.  Whisk pureed corn mixture into the dry ingredients bowl.  Add reserved corn kernels (3 oz or about ½ cup) and mix well.img_2713
  6. Pour into greased deep dish pie pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a butter knife inserted in the center comes out clean.img_2715
  7. Wait for it to cool enough to cut out a nice slice for a picture, have a little taste before putting the slice back into the dish for supper but gobble it all up instead.

It is pretty sweet.  Sweet enough that it could seriously be dessert.  To be honest, I was afraid it would be too sweet.  I served it with some pan seared pork tenderloin medallions which I rubbed with a paste made of a mix of worcestershire sauce, paprika, garlic powder and salt and a garlic spinach-kale puree.  It turns out, however that it complemented this meal with absolute perfection.

If you try it, let me know!

Posted in Parenting

Gotcha!

Earlier today, I had the relentless urge to drink some sweet lassi.  As luck would have it I had all of the ingredients for this recipe.  Of course, because I didn’t think before I mixed the ingredients, I made waaaaay too much.  I figured it was no biggie, I’d serve it to the kids with our supper.

Around came supper and I happily poured the kids a bit of lassi.  Charles, taking his role as a 4 year old very seriously, declared after a few gulps that he didn’t like it.  Amélie, taking her role as a little sister very seriously, declared the same thing.

I tried to reason with Charles (have you ever tried reasoning with a stubborn 4 year old?), telling him that his drink was only comprised of things he liked (yogurt, milk, water and sugar), but he persisted in his decision to not like his drink even going to the lengths of telling me, very matter-of-factly, that he didn’t like sugar.  I asked him to confirm what he had just said, which he did, promptly with an eye roll that even a teenager would be jealous of.  Let me tell you that this did not fall on deaf ears.

He finished eating his supper and asked for dessert.

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Who wants a sugar coated gummy lollipop for dessert?

More specifically he asked for this dessert ^^

I’ll let you guess how the conversation went from there.

Posted in Parenting

The Kid With The Kind Soul

My almost-four-year-old is, I expect, like many of his brethren of the same age: a complete self-centred egotist (is that a pleonasm?) sometimes.  However, as he reminded yesterday, he is also capable of a lot of consideration.

Your see, yesterday, my husband and I left the kids with their grandparents for some much needed couple time.  As has become customary for us when we aren’t going to be having supper with the kids, we asked Charles what he would like to eat for supper.  To be honest, I fully expected for him to say he wanted to eat hot dogs (because that is what he always chooses).  However, the way the conversation turned out made my heart melt.

The Hubby: Charles, what do you want to eat for supper tonight with Pépère and Mamie?

Charles: Pépère is allergic to onions, right?

The Hubby: Yes he is.

Charles: Ok, well, I want to eat club sandwiches.

The kid knows that we always top our hot dogs with chopped onions at home so he decided to take the time to find something that he liked and that he knew didn’t contain any onions.

I seriously love this kid to bits.

Posted in Parenting

TGFBW

TGFBW. 

Or, for those of you who aren’t well-versed in made-up acronyms:

Thank Goodness For BabyWearing.

Yep!

You see, yesterday evening, my partner had some training for his job.  This meant that I would be home alone with the two kiddos.  No big deal, right?  I mean, I’ve been alone with the two of them during the day for a few hours at a time, so it’s not like it was mission impossible.

So off I went, at 4pm, daughter in tow in her car seat to fetch my son at daycare.  An hour later (yes, my daycare is far away), I was back home.  I had planned on making some nice pan fried sole with some rice and steamed veggies for supper.  The problem is that when I got home, both the baby and the toddler were hungry.  Luckily, I had made some banana muffins earlier during the day, so I gave the little guy a mini muffin and set him up in front of some Baby Einstein as I nursed Amélie.

Once baby girl was fed, I put her in her basket and started to get everything out to make supper.  The thing is, by then it was already half past 5 and I knew I wouldn’t have the time to get everything done by 6pm.  The little guy was tiring of Baby Einstein, the newborn was resolutely not sleeping and I was getting hungry (and we all know what happens when the mama is hungry, right?!).  I decided to heat up some of the previous evening’s supper (macaroni & ground beef in a tomato sauce) in a pan and stick some homemade chicken nuggets in the oven.  I then cut up a red bell pepper into strips for good measure (’cause we all need our veggies, right?).

As my son and I sat down to eat our very healthy and well-balanced on-the-fly meal, the baby (or “that”, as my son like to affectionately call her) decided she wasn’t content to look at the sides of her basket anymore and became vocal about it.  Then again, who can blame her?  I mean, I’m pretty sure that just like her brother did at the same age, she thinks the collection of brown polka-dots are nipples and wonders why the heck she can’t get any milk out of them.

I finished my supper with baby girl in my arms.

Everything was looking great.  Then it dawned on me that I had to get my son ready for bed.  That meant, bath-taking, antibiotic-taking, teeth brushing, diaper changing, getting into pyjamas…and I had a newborn that was acting as though she hadn’t eaten in years.  Oy!

And then, ding, light bulb moment! 💡

I grabbed my ring sling, popped my breast out and positioned baby girl so that I could nurse her hands-free.  I decided to forsake the bath as the toddler let me know very clearly that he did not want to go and I very clearly did not want to create a tantrum (you pick your battles, eh!?).  Miraculously, I managed to get everything else done without a hitch in time for Little Dude’s 7pm bedtime!

The best part about all of this?  Amélie fell asleep in the sling as I was getting her brother ready for bed.

YES!

Posted in Blogging

Share it Saturday: Simple Chickpea Curry

I thought I’d go ahead and share some of my favourites when it comes to meals around here.  I was thinking of sharing a recipe every week to two weeks.  Today, I’d like to share a curry recipe (I LOVE curries!).  It’s made with chickpeas, but you could easily substitute for chicken or shrimp if you wanted to.  I like to serve this with rice, but it’s also great with some mini pitas to soak up all the curried goodness at the end!

Simple Chickpea Curry (4 portions)

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Nutrition facts (per portion): Fat: 5g, Protein: 6g, Carbohydrates: 21g, Energy value: 160kcal

Source: Kilo cardio – alimentation, exercice et motivation pour atteindre votre poids santé

Ingredients

  • 10 ml (2 tsp.):  olive oil
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup):  onion, chopped
  • 10 ml (2 tsp.):  curry powder
  • 20 ml (4 tsp.):  all purpose flour
  • 250 ml (1 cup):  reduced sodium chicken stock
  • 90 ml (6 tbsp.):  lite coconut milk
  • One 796 ml can:  chickpeas
  • 250 ml (1 cup):  broccoli
  • 250 ml (1 cup): cauliflower
  • 250 ml (1 cup): red and orange bell peppers
  • To taste:  salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger

Directions

  1. Sauté onion in olive oil.  Add curry powder and ginger.
  2. Add flour, stir and add in the chicken stock and coconut milk.  Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, add the chickpeas and veggies and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are cooked to taste.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Hints!

  • Double the amount of chicken stock if you want more curry sauce.
  • Save time by preparing your ginger in advance.  Just peel a few hands of ginger, puree with some olive oil and freeze in some ice cube moulds.

If you like this recipe, you can download a nifty pdf printable version.  Just click on the link beside the image!

Simple Chickpea Curry

 

 

 

 

Simple Chickpea Curry

 

 

 

Do you have an awesome recipe to share?

Posted in Blogging, Ten Thought Tuesday

Ten Thought Tuesday: Spring

TTT

  1. Well, spring has finally gained the upper hand on winter (yay!).
  2. Because of this, though, the fields look like lakes and part of the road I use to drive my son to daycare was closed this morning because it was flooded.
  3. But it’s all good.  We bought the little guy some rain boots.  I can’t wait to bring him out to play in the puddles!
  4. I’ve been off work for almost two weeks now and I’m finally starting to feel better.  I’m not as tired anymore and I think I’m getting over the darned cold that too a hold of me last week.
  5. I’m so excited because I finally got invited to a campaign as a BzzAgent!  The campaign only starts on April 21st, so look out for a post on the product I’ll be getting a chance to try for free and review by the end of the month.
  6. Yesterday was election day in Quebec.  The last time there were provincial elections, I was pregnant too.  Kind of a funny coincidence.
  7. It’s funny how perception of time works.  On the one hand, I look at my son and am in awe that he’s already 16 months old.  I feel like time flies by when I look at him.  On the other hand, I feel like time is crawling when I think that I am 19 weeks into my pregnancy.  I guess I’m just excited that another baby is on the way.
  8. Oh!  I’ve got another awesome guest post ready for you guys tomorrow.
  9. Tonight, we’re eating maple-glazed pork chops.  Yummy!
  10. Hum, that’s weird, my brain can’t connect the dots for another random thought.  Oh well, perhaps you’ll get eleven the next time ’round.

Happy Tuesday everyone!