A Frugal Mindset – 1

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As promised yesterday, I plan to address the points from the link I posted one by one.

The first point is:

1. Frugal people plan ahead. Planning ahead may not, at first, seem like it has anything to do with money, but it really does. Frugal people plan ahead in many ways. They do things like plan out their meals for the week to save money at the grocery store, or more long term planning like knowing that they’ll need a new roof on the house in several years, and to begin saving for this expense now.

Frugal people live by the mantra that failure to plan is planning to fail. They’ve learned that taking steps now for anticipated future events helps make those future events easier to deal with. And typically those plans make it both easier in both time spent, and in money saved.

Question to ask yourself: What can I do today to make tomorrow and the future easier to deal with?

If you really want use this strategy to its fullest potential don’t just make those plans in your mind. Write them down!

I regard planning as one of my strengths and there is no doubt in my mind that it saves money.  It also saves time and my sanity which are equally important to me.

I plan our meals, plan to combine errands in a single trip, plan what I will wear to work, plan what to pack for a holiday, plan future projects at home – there is no end to what we plan.

An example of long-term planning was when we began looking for our current home.  This was over 10 years ago and I was still in my forties but one of the things that we considered was that it would have to have at least one point of ground-level access or be able to be relatively easily adapted to meet this requirement.  Although we have numerous stairs to reach the verandah we know that this can be altered if required – we have a plan.

We are also changing and adapting our large garden to reduce the level of maintenance which will be required as we age.  Putting in the effort now will reap rewards in years to come.

As a result of ensuring that we have sufficient rainwater storage as well as the installation of solar panels means that we are pretty well self-sufficient for water and electricity which minimises the ongoing costs of running our home.

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As GMan regularly quotes from Baldrick in Blackadder, “I have a cunning plan”.  The difference between Baldrick’s plans and ours is that ours are realistic and generally achievable.  Even if things do not go quite according to plan you have a framework with which to start again.

 

Dinner – Tuna Mornay

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Here is another dinner recipe and as a bonus, my version is gluten free.

I don’t remember tuna mornay being a meal we ate when I was a child but GMan certainly ate it when he was growing up.  So, I learned how to make it.  About 4 years ago I changed to a gluten free diet so tuna mornay was off the recipe plan.

After various experiments, I have managed to make a very satisfactory white sauce, therefore I can make tuna mornay as well as bechamel sauce for lasagne and cauliflower in cheese sauce.

Now, on to the recipe.

TUNA MORNAY

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
2 heaped tablespoons chickpea flour
2 heaped tablespoons potato flour
2 cups milk
Ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon herb salt
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 large tin tuna
1/2 tin corn kernels
3/4 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

Here are my ingredients assembled and ready to begin.

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Method

Melt the butter over a low heat, add flour and stir until it combines to a stiff paste.

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Cook for about 1 minute, making sure it does not burn.  Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly.

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The gluten free flours will not combine and thicken as nicely as regular wheat flour so my secret weapon is my hand-held stick blender.

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I use this to combine the milk and flour mixture and it quickly thickens as required.  Add seasonings and mustard to taste and then the drained tuna, drain corn kernels and peas.

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Break up any large pieces of tuna and stir the tuna and vegetables through the sauce.  Cook gently for a few minutes and finally add the grated cheese and stir through.  The mornay is ready to serve with rice and/or vegetables.

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There are many ways you can adapt this recipe.

I use powdered skim milk for cooking and make up 2 cups of milk before starting the cooking.

If you do not need it to be gluten free, simply use regular plain flour.

I choose to use a mixture of chickpea and potato flours as I find it gives the best result.  The potato flour can be a bit like glue and the chickpea flour has a nice savoury flavour which offsets this.

You can also use this mixture as the base of a pie and top it with mashed potato – like a shepherd’s pie.  Use as a filling for crepes or burritos for another variation.  You may wish to use a bit less milk in order to create a stiffer mixture for these options.

Tinned salmon, leftover shredded chicken or a selection of vegetables could also be used.

I generally prefer to have more vegetables in my meal but this will not hurt you every now and then.  It is a great last minute option as all of the ingredients come from the pantry and refrigerator.

Dinner – Braised Steak and Onions

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When I mentioned in a Facebook group that I was preparing some meals for later in the week this one caught some attention and I have been asked for the recipe.  Well, like many of my meals, recipe is a bit of a joke but I will do my best to explain my method.

2 large pieces of gravy beef in the slow cooker
1 onion, sliced spread on top of the meat
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato sauce (ketchup)
200ml water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Add all of the ingredients, cook on high for about 6 hours or until beef is tender and can be broken with a spoon.

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I then divided the meat and gravy into 2 containers as this will make 4 serves – 2 meals for GMan and I.  It is now in the freezer and will be added to the menu plan at a later date.

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I usually add a little more water when I am reheating to make the gravy a bit thinner.

Now I will share what I really did.

The onion was frozen onion rings that I had done from a large bag of onions I bought some time ago.  I used a handful which was roughly equivalent to one onion.  Worcestershire sauce was not measured – just a splash of homemade worcestershire sauce and the tomato sauce and 200ml of water was achieved by rinsing out various almost empty bottles of homemade tomato sauce.

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Finally,  I tossed in a tablespoon of powdered dried tomato which I made from some of our glut of cherry tomatoes but tomato paste would be equally as good.

I am sure this ‘recipe’ would horrify the purists but it tastes great and when served with mashed potatoes and some other vegetables of your choice makes a hearty meal.

Dinner – Mexican Quinoa

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The blog post tonight was not going to be another meal but I was not sufficiently organised to take the appropriate photos, so here we are with tonight’s dinner.

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Another night and another one pan meal – One Pan Mexican Quinoa and here is the link to the original recipe which I found on Facebook.

As always, mine has been adapted slightly so this is my version.

1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 birdseye chilli, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 can corn kernels
1 cup black beans (soaked and pre-cooked) – measured after cooking
4 slices hot salami, diced
15 olives, pitted and chopped
1 cup quinoa
3 cups water
1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
300g cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon powdered tomatoes

Lightly fry the onion, chilli and spices.  Add all other ingredients except salami and olives.  Simmer gently until the quinoa is cooked.  Add more water as required.  Stir in salami and olives.  Serve topped with a little grated cheese.

 

 

Dinner – Fried Rice

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Last Sunday I posted the menu for the week here.  Tonight was Spicy Mexican Quinoa, however, this evening I realised that I had forgotten to soak and cook the black beans.  There was no meat thawed, no pre-made pizza bases and not even any refried beans for nachos.  I remembered that I had some cooked rice in the refrigerator so I decided on fried rice.  I have never used a recipe as such for this and it is based on how my mother made it.

This is what I used (quantities made 2 generous serves):

1/2 onion, diced
2 rashers of bacon, diced
1/4 capsicum, diced
1 egg
1/2 can corn kernels
1/2 cup frozen peas
2-3 cups of cooked rice
Tamari

Saute the onion, bacon and capsicum, push to one side of the pan.  Fry the egg, flip and cook both sides then cut into strips.  Add corn and peas and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the rice, stir to combine all ingredients and heat through.  Add a splash of tamari or soy sauce.

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The photo is before I added the tamari.  There is nothing terribly fancy about this but it is a quick and easy standby meal.

Dinner – Tumeric Chicken

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This was on the menu plan for last week but got bumped as I did not have time to marinate the chicken.

The original recipe is for chicken skewers cooked on a barbecue.  Here is the recipe.

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As with most recipes, I have adapted this to suit our own requirements.  Since I am cooking 1 chicken breast fillet to serve 2 of us this is what I do.

I make up a bulk amount of the spice mixture (dry ingredients) using the proportions in the original recipe.  I use considerably more of this mixture than the recipe as I found it very light on flavour if you use the quantity stated for 2.5kg of chicken.

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In my version there are 4 ingredients.

20ml olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 chicken breast fillet (diced)
1 and 1/2  tablespoons of pre-made spice mix

Mix all ingredients thoroughly.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

You can use lemon juice but lime is better.

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Fry in a pan with a little oil until cooked.

I serve mine with brown rice, vegetables and fresh cherry tomatoes.

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Dinner – Thai Beef Salad

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I stuck to my menu plan even though it would have been easy to capitulate and opt for takeaway.

Thai beef salad was on the plan for tonight before I realised we were going to a free screening of Casablanca.  The scheduled time was 7pm for a 7.15pm start and we normally don’t arrive home until close to 7.30pm so clearly we had to make some adjustments.  I caught a train which had me arriving home about 5.30pm and GMan came in at about 6.40pm.

I sliced the beef and marinated it last night.  I used a splash of olive oil, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon of ginger and tiny red chilli (very hot) finely chopped.  Here is the mixture this afternoon before I cooked it.

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I prepared the remaining ingredients for the salad – lettuce, carrot, cucumber and cherry tomatoes.

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The carrot and cucumber were cut using a spiral cutter.

Due to the time constraints we had decided to pack our dinner as a picnic to eat when we got to the hall for the movie screening.

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I fried the meat in a tiny bit of coconut oil.  To add some extra flavour I mixed up a sauce and added that to the pan at the end.  I used a tablespoon of lemon juice, a teaspoon of red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons of crunchy peanut paste and a pinch each of ginger and chilli powder.  I stirred the sauce through the meat and cooked for a further minute.

The meat was added to the salad and we were ready to go – complete with cutlery and serviettes.

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This was really delicious and I think the improvised sauce really added a nice finish to the meat.