How to cook when you don’t want to go to the shops

Tips for when you’re too Sick, Tired or Broke to do a Food Shop

Budgeting, Food April 17, 2018

I’ve spent the last week with the flu and food shopping has seemed like an unachievable task. Here are a few ways to improvise with what you have and avoid going to the shops.

Use your Slow Cooker

Slow coolers are great for sickness because they require minimal effort on your part and you can throw in random ingredients and it somehow turns out edible! Use up vegetables you have lying around in casseroles and stews. You can make vegetarian versions if you have no meat in the house. I made a veggie chilli in mine with what I had left. If you season it well and add extras like chocolate and chilli flakes and coriander it won’t taste bland.

Make Minestrone

Soups are good in general for using up what you already have. I find I always have the ingredients to make minestrone, if nothing else. I always have tinned tomatoes, pasta and tinned or frozen veg even if I don’t have fresh veg. You can put anything you want in it: carrots, courgettes, peas or beans, corn, etc.

Top things with cheese

I find that even a dish made from simple ingredients tastes better with cheese on top. You can mix some into a rice dish or pasta to make it more substantial too. If you roast or fry vegetables and mix it with rice/pasta, oil and cheese it tastes surprisingly good for how little effort is involved.

Improvise with breakfast

If you don’t have essentials like bread or milk there are ways round it that don’t involve trailing yourself to the shops. Make porridge with water and liven it up by adding some butter and sugar/peanut butter/Nutella/honey and raisins, etc. Use old bananas to make banana bread for a breakfast treat. Make omelettes using whatever fillings you have on hand. Make your own cereal bars using oats, peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts, Rice Krispies or cornflakes, golden syrup, seeds, etc.

Add sauces and crispy toppings

Macaroni cheese is a good staple when you’re running out of food. You can also omit the cheese and make a plain white sauce. Use it over chicken or just with vegetables. Top with breadcrumbs, crackers or crisps and bake in the oven. This is a good way to use up stale ingredients too, as they will crisp up again in the oven.

Change your idea of what counts as a meal

A meal is something that fills you and that hopefully tastes good. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, or always contain certain ingredients, or have three courses. Sometimes my kids appreciate the simple things best, like a peanut butter sandwich, or hotdogs, or tinned soup. You don’t have to put pressure on yourself to follow a meal plan formula when you don’t feel like it.

 

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Kids Smoothie Cups Recipe

Smoothie Cups For Kids (and Adults) Recipe

Activities For Kids, Budgeting, Recipes April 11, 2018

This isn’t really a proper recipe, but I thought I’d share it since it went down as well with my kids as ice cream, without the hyperactive results. I was looking for easy ways to entertain kids today since I’m sick and these took two minutes to make and eating them kept them entertained for a long time 🙂 they’re like a cross between a smoothie and frozen yogurt.

Ingredients

1 frozen banana (just peel and shove in the freezer and add straight to blender)

1 handful frozen strawberries

a few blueberries

2 tbsps Greek yogurt

300ml whole milk (or any milk you like)

a large squeeze of honey

1 tsp chia seeds

Method

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until you have achieved your desired consistency.  Give it to them in little cups with spoons, party cups or add an umbrella if you want to make them for a party 🙂

I got all of the ingredients in Lidl. They have lots of frozen berries which are great for smoothies 🙂

8 tips for adventures with kids

8 Tips For Mini Adventures With Kids

Activities For Children, Adventures April 6, 2018

I was feeling inspired to write this post after a waterlogged week away with my kids. The weather was conscientiously working to spoil our holiday, so we had to be inventive with what we did. Here are a few ideas for mini adventures with kids.

1. Find little surprises in small places

My kids and I drove to what used to be a little fishing village. It was remote and had quaint little cottages overlooking the harbour. There was nothing to do there; even it’s one craft shop was closed. However, we went for a walk and found a shed that had baby lambs and sheep inside it. They were just sitting peacefully, inches from us and it ended up being a moment that stayed with my daughter. Don’t rule somewhere out just because no one talks about it or it seems like nothing significant is there 🙂

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2. Bring supplies and go out in the rain anyway

If there is torrential rain, dress for it and go for a walk in puddles. We went to a National Trust property in heavy rain and ended up having a picnic under a tree there. A room had been opened for indoor colouring for kids and we went for tea and scones and played games in a notebook I brought. It always helps to have paper and crayons with you to keep your kids entertained during an unplanned moment.

3. Collect simple items and draw them/make collages

My kids love going beach combing and  wearing wellies while they jump in rock pools. They have a little tin they keep shells in. We went for a windy walk and then retreated indoors, lit the fire and drew pictures of shells. You could do the same with leaves, flowers, pine cones. rocks, etc. You can also do rubbings, where you scribble on a page laid over textured items and teach your kids about different patterns and textures while you’re doing it.

4. Stop somewhere you weren’t planning to visit

We went to Scrabo Tower just as we were passing it one day. Some children happened to have gathered there to roll eggs down the hill. The girls enjoyed watching them and climbing up the steep hill. The views were spectacular as it was such a clear day. We found a picnic table in what felt like a quiet meadow and I had brought coffee and snacks that kept the girls entertained while they made a play house under the picnic table.

5. Eat in the garden, even if it’s cold

You can still eat outside even in unfortunate weather. It feels like a preamble to a barbecue and makes you appreciate returning to the warmth of indoors afterwards. I made hotdogs indoors and had a pretend barbecue outside the cottage we were staying in. The girls loved it and followed it with dancing outside and hide and seek.

6. Stop at charity shops in unexpected places

Sometimes the remotest of places contain the best second-hand stuff. I found two cups from the 70’s for 50p 🙂 My daughter got some blocks that she has played with constantly since. Sometimes letting kids choose an item themselves makes it more valuable to them (even if it’s only 20p.)

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7. Drive the long way

Sometimes choosing the longer route means more scenic drives and more interesting things to point out to your kids. My kids loved watching to see if the sea was rough or still, which birds they could identify and if there were any boats along the coast. Involving them in sporting things outside definitely makes them less tetchy when you’re driving.

8. Get your kids binoculars or a disposable camera

My granny did this for us as kids and we loved it. My kids picked up some binoculars for bird watching on our trip but have also been using them to look at the sea and the sky (and to spy on people in the street!)  They love spotting things in the distance and sharing them with you.

Adventures don’t have to be about travelling great distances or spending excessively. Kids always remember the simplest, cheapest thing that you just fell upon along the way.

 

 

Ways to have a simple Easter party with kids

7 Ways to Have a Simple Easter Party

Activities For Kids, Easter March 29, 2018

My kids and I had an early Easter party with family a few days ago (we like any excuse for a party.) Here are some simple ideas for an Easter Party without the stress or expense.

1. Make Your Decorations

Buy supplies from the pound shop. Buy packs of Easter crafts for kids and get your kids to help you make your own decorations. Paint eggs, make an Easter banner, paper chains, Easter bonnets or wall decorations.

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2. Forget the Party Food

Party food can cost a lot and I find it stressful working out all the different timings for food to go into the oven. Make a slow-cooked roast: you can stick it in the oven at a low temperature and forgelt it all day. Pre-peel potatoes and vegetables so all you have to do is turn things on when guests are there.

3. Play Simple Games

Do an egg hunt for mini eggs or chicks and bunnies in your garden (or in the house.) Give your kids a basket to collect their eggs in. Give them pound shop medals when they find all the eggs 🙂 Play guess the number of mini eggs in a bowl/jar with a prize for the person with the closest number. Do an egg hunt for adults with written clues leading you to other hidden clues with a prize at the end. Play pin the tail on the bunny.

4. Fancy-Looking Drinks

Put flavoured water or lemonade in wine glasses or cocktail glasses. Add ice or frozen berries to make them look more exciting, or wedges of fruit on the rim of the glass.

5. Frozen Desserts

Buy frozen cake or buy ice cream and lay out sprinkles, marshmallows, sweets, fruit, nuts or sauce to add to them. People enjoy choosing their own toppings. Simplify things for yourself instead of buying an expensive Easter cake or attempting to craft your own in the midst of organising everything else.

6. Happy Music

Make a playlist of upbeat Spring-like music that reminds you of sunny days and venturing outdoors again. Having happy music on creates half of the party atmosphere for you.

7. Fresh Spring Flowers

Decorate your home with daffodils and baby pink or sky blue flowers. Alternatively, plant them in the garden and have a garden party with tea and finger sandwiches/cream scones on a sunny day 🙂

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Ways to entertain kids in the garden

Cheap Ways To Entertain Kids In The Garden

Activities For Children, Budget Activities March 29, 2018

I’ve only recently acquired a garden. It is small but is saving my sanity, even in cold weather. Here are a few easy ways to keep kids occupied in your garden, even if you only have a small patch.

Make your kids their own plot

You can save a small space with soil and no plants just for your kids to dig and play in. If you don’t have a flowerbed, fill a large pot with soil and get them some kids’ gardening tools/spoons/measuring cups.

Second-hand Scooters

I got my kids some second-hand scooters and a bike on Gumtree, which even included free delivery and no assembly for me (thank God.) Even in a confined space they like to have mini races and scoot in circles.

Mini Mud Kitchen

I gave my kids an old tea set they weren’t using indoors and they love using water to make tea and soil from their little patch for mud pies. A kitchen isn’t even required 🙂

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Plant Flowers and Let Them Water Them

My kids love helping to tuck plant roots into a flowerbed. Kids like a little bit of responsibility too, especially if it involves pouring water. Let them use a watering can to care for their plants.

Teddy Bears’ Picnic

Make a picnic and have it on a rug in the garden. Get your kids to help you make sandwiches and invite “guests” along (teddies.)

Child Labour

Get your kids involved in weeding your garden and brushing up leaves. They tackle it with much more enthusiasm than adults and love being helpful. Just watch they don’t uproot any of your precious plants in the process 🙂

Washing Line Play Tent

Hang up your sheets outside and they can double up as entertainment for your kids. Let them make a little house under them and bring toys inside. (Keep the water and mud pies at a distance though!)

Cooking with Chives

My sister and I used to spend hours doing this. If you have any herbs in your garden, let your kids use them in “recipes” in a toy pot. You can be the “customer” while you drink your real tea and read your book 🙂

Bug Hotel

My kids and I made one of these this week at a National Trust property. You just use an empty plastic container with open ends (or cardboard held together with string) and fill it with twigs, moss, pine cones or any natural materials you can find. Set it in a flower bed or hang it on your fence to attract bugs.

What do your kids like to do in the garden?

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Little Ways To Make Your Day Good

Having A Good Day In Little Ways

Budget Activities, Tips for Self-Care March 23, 2018

I’ve been making extra effort lately to take small things under my notice. I’m not naturally observant when it comes to my surroundings; I’m too distracted by my own ideas and other people, so I have to force myself to focus on my environment. I don’t want to miss something worth seeing.

I was thinking today about intentionally taking time to stop and notice things, in the hopes that my kids will grow to do the same as adults.

Here a few things we did that gave me a little bit of joy:

Stopping To Look At The Sky

There was a rainbow facing us when I was driving, so we pulled over to take pictures of it hanging over the rooftops. My daughter was so excited about it; I don’t know if she has ever seen a real rainbow before, than in Peppa Pig. It it was special seeing her reaction to something we could have just unthinkingly driven past.

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Cheering Up Your House On A Budget

We went to the pound shop, which is one of my favourite things to do with my kids. We got some daisy fairy lights and a light-up bunny to make a little Easter display. My kids loved helping put them up and they only cost £2 🙂 It looks a bit like a bunny disco, but in my view, that’s not a bad thing. I might keep it there year-long.

A Snack With A View

I got my daughter a snack in the pound shop and I had a £1 cup of tea in a food court. It has a good view over parts of the city and the hills. If I can’t immediately get into nature I like to watch it from a window and remind myself that it’s still there sometimes 🙂 My daughter enjoyed pointing to things through its dome-like window. You just have to look beyond dismal shop fronts to notice it.

Free Soft Play And Warm Tea

Another bonus to the food court is that they have a play area that your kids can run about in while you get to sit and enjoy your drink. It was much less stressful than a café that considers children undesirables and regards you with disdain until you close the door behind you 🙂

Reading A Free Magazine

I picked up a free magazine with lists of kids’ events and ideas of free things to attend. It included craft ideas and some of the articles are really well written. You can find them in a lot of shops and might pass them by, but they give you a lot of interesting information you mightn’t have come across otherwise.

Driving In A Sun Shower

I drove to a friend’s house and it was a lovely drive because the sun was making its way pushily through grey cloud. There is something I love about sun showers: the meeting of two opposing seasons in one sky. And driving past nothing but fields feels really freeing.

Which little parts of your day did you like the most?

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Ways to Have a More Peaceful Life

20 Ways to Have a More Peaceful Life

Activities For Adults, Mindfulness Tips, Self-Care March 21, 2018

I was getting snappy this afternoon; I’d had enough of the onslaught of requests from my kids. So, I decided to have a cup of tea in the garden and be still for a while. It’s windy but I’m wrapped up and watching the girls’ windmills go round in the breeze. Here are a few ideas of ways to have a more peaceful life:

1. Have a cup of tea and a biscuit in your garden.

2. Don’t allow housework after a certain time of the day.

3. Listen to Nick Drake and Tim Buckley.

4. Go to a place with shades of green everywhere and let it calm you.

5. Book appointments with yourself to have a bath, pamper yourself, go for coffee alone, read a magazine in its entirety. It is as important as obligatory appointments.

6. Have a long shower with lavender scented products (when your kids are asleep, if you have kids.)

7. Care about people’s problems, but be there without fixing everything for them.

8. Drink less caffeine and more herbal tea when you’re winding down for bed.

9. Make more time to read on paper instead of on a screen.

10. Do puzzles, crosswords and word searches.

11. Use your hands more and let your mind switch off. Start a picture journal or if words are your thing, write down all the beautiful details of your day.

12. Listen to recordings of sea sounds if you can’t get close to the real thing.

13. Learn about types of flowers and trees. Get books from the library and teach your kids too. Go for nature walks with them and identify them.

14. Make your own fairy garden or gnome garden. Use a pot if you don’t have a garden.

15. Take an umbrella and go for a walk in the rain. Let the rainwater wash away your worries.

16. Go for walks with no destination in mind.

17. Make your own bunting with fabric scraps or coloured paper.

18. Take a basket to the beach and collect pretty shells and stones.

19. Read books about mindfulness.

20. Make your own bread. Kneading it is cathartic and you can add any interesting ingredients you like.

Hope you manage to incorporate peacefulness into your day in little ways 🙂

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