The (Semi) Neglected Garden and A Menu Plan

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Although our fruit trees and vegie gardens are not totally neglected, we do not spend much more than an hour/week on them.  For this meagre investment of time we are fortunate with the harvest we reap.

This afternoon I went downstairs to water the vegetables as it has been particularly dry for the past month with almost no rain.  We have an annual average rainfall of 1800mm (72 inches) and the past 2 years have been well above that average.

I came in with broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, chillies, snow peas, pumpkin, sweet potato and cherry tomatoes as well as grapefruit and avocadoes.

The first of the snow peas.  There will be many more if the flowers are any indication.

Every time I think the broccoli is finished some more side shoots appear.

The mushrooms look like they have been on steroids.  These came up in the garden bed where some of the spent mushroom compost was put.

The bell chillies are not too hot so make a good substitute for capsicums which is good since the latter are as much as $8.95/kg.

There are also lemons, oranges, limes and bok choy ready to pick but I did not need any today.

I have been picking bok choy by cutting it off at the base and leaving the remnant in the hope that it would re-shoot.  Only a week or so after cutting them I have discovered new growth on 2 of the bok choy roots so I am very pleased with that.

Since home-grown vegetables have a much shorter shelf life than bought produce I have put my thinking cap on to come up with some meal ideas.  I have yet to sort them into a proper plan but here they are.

Pizza – using pumpkin, chilli, mushrooms and spinach (plus the salami that is in the freezer).

Beef stir-fry with snow peas and broccoli

Broccoli and cauliflower bake

Broccoli with tuna and tomato sauce

Salmon on sweet potato mash with balsamic roast pumpkin and stir-fried bok choy

Vegetable casserole – using sweet potato, pumpkin and broccoli stalks

Mushroom, bacon and spinach quiche – the pastry is in the freezer from the last batch I made.

The eggs that we collect from our chickens, a vegie garden and not too much effort certainly makes a difference to our grocery bills.

Do you grow any produce?

Now it is time to make the pizza for dinner.

A Moveable Feast

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The menu plan fell in a heap before it was even 3 days old!  We did not have the chicken and avocado pancakes last night as I realised that I had given the last 2 ripe avacadoes to Belle and Missy on Sunday.

So, we had spaghetti bolognaise instead, the bolognaise sauce was in the freezer and I took out 4 serves so that my sister and brother-in-law could have dinner with us.  They called in on their way home from holidays to collect their dog who had been having a holiday at our place.

The remaining cooked chicken which was for the pancakes became chicken and salad wraps for lunch.

I decided that I did not want a mince-based dish 2 nights in a row so the Shepherd’s Pie which was planned for tonight has been shelved in favour of tuna mornay.

You are probably wondering by now why I bother having a plan.  I feel that it is the same as many other things in life.  You need to have plans and goals but also need to be flexible enough to change as required.  The menu plan helps ensure that things do not get forgotten and wasted eg: when I was unable to use the chicken for the pancakes I immediately set to thinking how else I could use it.

By having a well-stocked pantry and freezer I can always adjust my plan to meet unexpected changes.

 

 

 

The Big Picture

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Even though most of my goals are small, bite-sized chunks there is a big financial goal underpinning everything we do. After years of accepting that the mortgage for our home and the regular payments was just part and parcel of our existence we now have a strategy and timeline to have it paid off. The magic number is 8 years. A shorter time would be great but we have to be realistic and have chosen to enjoy our life in that time as well.

Like everyone, we pick and choose which parts of our spending can be minimised and which we are not prepared to compromise.

One example is my clothes. I am always neatly and appropriately dressed. I buy good quality clothes and choose to wear things for several seasons. Boots and shoes can be repaired and mending repairing clothes as required will extend their life.

I also rationalise what I do spend. I had my hair cut yesterday and as it is really short I find a good cut every 6 weeks keeps it looking good. My haircut cost $30 which equates to $5 per week or about 71c per day. When you break it down like that it seems like pretty good value. I do not have my hair coloured anymore (love the silver streaks for free). The only other cost is a tiny bit of shampoo and conditioner.

The biggest saving that we can make is by not eating out on random occasions. A menu plan helps as if I have the meals planned and usually partly prepared before we get home from work the temptation to eat out is far less.

Here is my meal plan for the next week.

Menu Plan

Tues – Tuna patties & veg
Wed – Steak & kidney bean pie & veg
Thurs – Tumeric chicken & veg
Fri – Pumpkin soup
Sat -Hamburgers
Sun – Quiche & salad
Mon – Risotto
Tues – Spaghetti bolognaise

Till next time.