Menu Plan: 5 February 2018

Want to serve appetizing, mouth watering food to your family every night? Menu Plan Monday takes all the guesswork out of meal planning. Follow the blog for weekly menu plans, recipes, crafts and more.

Hello my lovelies,

This past week has been just a little cray-cray.  You see, I started working back in the office full time last Monday, and I cannot tell you have tired I have been. It’s been a taxing week for all of us here at Swish Cottage and while I did do as much to prep for last week as I could, I now know there is LOADS more that could have done.  I’m determined to make this next week run super smoothly so that in the evenings we can walk in the door, eat dinner and then chillax.  With that idea in mind, I’ve planned our menu accordingly and cooked it all yesterday!  Yes, you read that right.  I did a massive cooking session (doubling up meals to freeze where possible) to make the evenings less stressful but, also to make sure that I stick to my new low carb eating regime. Everything underlined was cooked yesterday.

For breakfasts:  Missy will be alternating between cereals, toast with spreads and fruit, homemade dairy free waffles and eggs.  Hubby and I will be having low carb egg  ham & cheese muffins, greek yoghurt with Ditch the Carb’s chocolate grain free granola and berries, boiled eggs or crispy fried bacon and avocado.

Lunches:  Missy will have her usual packed lunches with wraps or multi-grain Jackson’s bread (soya free) with hard goats cheese (she can tolerate Manchego goat’s cheese but not the cow’s milk proteins in regular cheese) or ham.  These will be alternated with pasta with chorizo, peas and sweet corn. She also gets a portion of fruit or veggie sticks. Sometimes she gets crisps, or popcorn and either water or a fruit juice.  Again, we alternate. I’ve baked a dairy free chocolate sponge for her lunchbox treats.

Hubby gets a free lunch at work so I’ll be having leftovers or soup.

Dinner:

MonSlow cooker bolognese (I’ll have mine with salad instead of pasta)

Tue: Lemon and herb chicken wings (Marinating since Sunday evening – to be cooked on the day) with salad

Wed: Possibly a takeaway or leftover bolognese with garlic bread and salad

Thur: Chicken a la king with rice (none for me), broccoli, green beans & steamed butternut squash

FriChicken & chorizo pasta (no pasta for me) with green beans and butternut squash

What are you having this week?

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

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Menu plan w/c 22 January 2018

Hello my lovelies,

I know I’m pretty much posting only my menu plans at the moment but I’m going through a major Spring cleaning jag at Swish Cottage and am using every spare minute to get our home in tip top condition.

Want to serve appetizing, mouth watering food to your family every night? Menu Plan Monday takes all the guesswork out of meal planning. Follow the blog for weekly menu plans, recipes, crafts and more.

I’m keeping it simple this week.

Mon:  Aldi mint & rosemary lamb shanks with colcannon mash and veg

Tue:  Spaghetti and meatballs with green salad. Tinned peaches & custard for pudding

Wed: Chicken salad wraps with home made Thai pumpkin soup

Thur: Macaroni cheese with salad. Jelly for pudding

Fri: Bratwurst dogs

Sat: Chinese birthday dinner at my friend’s house

Sun: Roast chicken, roast potatoes, veggies and gravy

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

 

Menu Plan w/c 8 January 2018

Hello my lovelies,

Want to serve appetizing, mouth watering food to your family every night? Menu Plan Monday takes all the guesswork out of meal planning. Follow the blog for weekly menu plans, recipes, crafts and more.

If you’ve been reading my blog posts you’ll know I’m planning on saving lots of cash this (check out my money saving post here) year and one of the ways I’m doing that is by menu planning.

By using up things in my freezer and pantry rather than buying new stuff I really don’t need, I saved £20 last week!   I’m so menu planning again this week and this is what we are having:

Monday:  Toad in a hole with veggies & gravy (recipe to follow)

Tuesday: Roast dinner

Wednesday: Slow cooker spaghetti & meatballs

Thursday:  Slow cooker chicken korma & rice (I’ll be using The Organised Mum recipe)

Friday: Slow cooker pulled pork rolls (I’ll be using The Pioneer woman’s recipe)

Saturday:  Leftovers

Sunday:  Pie, chips, veg & gravy

As you can see I’m relying on my slow cooker for 3 of our meals this week. I ADORE my slow cooker it’s really a godsend.

What meals do you have on your menu plan this week?

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

How we’re saving cash in 2018

Hello my lovelies,

Want to go on a fabulous holiday this year? Want that deposit for a new car? Then you need to know the secrets of saving big bucks in 2018.

I have some pretty big financial commitments in 2018 and in order to reach my goals I have  put in place some strategies for saving money.  Some of them are pretty basic and some are more involved but with a little planning they’re totally doable.

Food budget

The first thing I’m going to be doing is setting a food budget.  I don’t know about you but if given half the chance, I’ll walk into the supermarket and just pile anything that looks good into my trolley.  When I get to the till I could just about pass out when I realise I’ve spent double or even triple what I can afford.   So from now on, I’m setting a budget!  I know that I sometimes have champagne tastes on a beer budget but setting a budget for groceries keeps me in check and helps me to menu plan accordingly. If there is any money left at the end of the week that hasn’t been spent on food it goes into the savings account or change jar (see below).

Menu Planning

This is one of the biggest ways I’ve found to save money during the month.  Once you’ve set your budget for food, menu planning is your best friend.  Yes of course, we all want to get take aways every other night and cook steak for the rest of the week but it just can’t happen if you want to stick to budget.  If you can go meat free a couple of nights a week your budget will thank you and cheaper cuts like chicken thighs, sausages and minced meat really help stretch your budget.   Check out my weekly Monday Menu Planning blog posts for more ideas.

Cooking from scratch

Need I say more?  You can knock up a tasty spaghetti bolognese for approximately £1.50 a serving whereas buying ready made meals and sauces could triple or quadruple that estimate. We cook mostly from scratch and I’m going to resist the urge to get anything pre-prepared if I can help it. If you’re after some quick and easy, low cost recipes check out Gill Holcombe’s books. I particularly like How to feed your whole family a healthy balanced diet with very little money: and hardly any time, even if you have a tiny kitchen, only three saucepans (one with an ill fitting lid) and no fancy gadgets – unless you count a garlic crusher

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Shop at cheaper stores 

While I love Sainsbury’s products, I know that Morrisons and Aldi are better value for money.  I’ve found that Aldi are fantastic for the basics like meat, cheese, basic staples and frozen goods. Their dishwasher tablets and laundry products have won Best Buy awards and are as good as many leading brands.   Morrisons value range has decent prices on pretty much everything else.  I will continue to buy Method Cleaning products from Waitrose when they are on offer.

Brand challenge

A few years ago, I did the brand challenge and was astounded not only at how much money I saved but also, how little difference there is between branded items and supermarkets own brand products.  I save so much money now buying a stores own brand instead of big name brands.  To do the brand challenge, simply buy the stores own value brand item instead of the expensive branded item you usually buy.  If you can’t tell the difference, keep buying it! If you can tell the difference in taste and don’t like it, buy the next item up in price.  I can guarantee that a lot of things you won’t be able to tell the difference between the stores value own brand and the big brand.  You can save quite a bit this way.  For instance, a well known brand of chopped tomatoes generally costs 95p.  The stores own value brand costs 29p.  Last time I checked, chopped tomatoes were chopped tomatoes no matter what the brand was. And switching to the value brand saved me 66p per tin of tomatoes.  We use roughly 3 tins of chopped tomatoes a week which means we saved £7.92 per month.  On just one item!  We’ve even changed brands in our coffee!  Now coffee is no joking matter. I love my coffee and don’t like it messed with.  We always used to buy the Nespresso coffee capsules but now use Aldi own brand and they taste equally as good!

Change jar

Having a change jar where you can dump any spare change every day can save you up to a couple hundred quid a year. Provided you don’t dip into it.   Some banks like Natwest have change machines where you can dump your coins into the machine, key in your account number and the cash will automatically be transferred into your account.  I’ll be keeping a spare change jar and dumping my change in there every day in the hopes of saving at least £100 this year.  I’ve done this before and it’s fairly small amounts of money at a time that I didn’t even miss it.

Account skimming or rounding up

I have two bank accounts which is really handy for account skimming or rounding up.  Basically, you check your account a couple of times a week (I will be doing this every Tuesday and Thursday) and round up your cash to the nearest fiver by transferring money into your savings account.  So for instance, if you had £268.39 in your current account to skim this account to the nearest fiver you’d transfer £3.39 into your savings account.  It doesn’t sound like much but even skimming £5 a week would mean I could save £260 in a year.  Again it’s fairly small amounts that I hardly miss the money at all. Some people skim their accounts to the nearest £10 which would be in the region of £520 a year.   Think I might miss this much over a month though!

Changing suppliers

At the end of last year, we changed energy suppliers and know there will be a substantial savings there.  We’ve also cancelled Sky!  I felt nervous about this when we first decided to cancel but I was so sick and tired of having all these channels and nothing to watch. We were paying £100 a month on Sky!  That’s a saving of £1200 a year!  We have subsequently signed up to Netflix which is £6.99 a month which works out to £83.88 a year but that’s still a huge saving of £1,116.12 a year.  Not to be sniffed at.

There are so many other ways to save money that I’m sure this list could go on and on but these are the ways I’ll be saving money this year.  I’d be interested to know how you intend to save this year. Leave me a comment below.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

Hot Chocolate Butterbeer Station

Hello my lovelies,

I have a confession to make.  I had planned on setting this Hot chocolate Butterbeer Station up on the last weekend of November, just in time for Christmas tree decorating but it’s just been so cold outside!

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Unfortunately, this little bureau is in a weird spot; on the small piece of wall that joins the back door of the kitchen to the living room sliding doors which means there are windows on either side. This makes taking a decent picture impossible, however, it means that everything I need to make a gorgeous cup of hot chocolate butterbeer is near the kettle.

This Butterbeer sign is from Two Delighted. As two fellow potterheads they have some gorgeous free printables for anyone wanting to recreate their fantastic Harry Potter party.

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Our hot chocolate station last year was a total mish-mash of different hot chocolate and drink powders and sprinkles.  This year, I wanted a much simpler look and I guess sticking with butterbeer instead of every other hot drink known to man means I’ve achieved that.SONY DSCKnowing I wanted to create a hot chocolate butterbeer station meant I could incorporate a few of the other Potter related projects I’ve worked on including the Three Broomsticks tray I made a couple of summers ago and my newest addition, the Butterbeer mugs.

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Originally, I was going to wait until we went to the Harry Potter Studio tour and buy some Butterbeer tankards there to make hot chocolate in.  I then realised that they would probably crack with hot liquid in them because they’re plastic and meant for a cold drink.   I then found a lovely lady on one of the groups I follow on Facebook who made me these specially printed labels that get baked onto glass!  I can’t tell you how delighted I am with how these heat resistant Butterbeer mugs came out.

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On a trip to TK Max earlier this year I found the Hazelnut and Vanilla syrups for £3.99 each and had to scoop them up for my Butterbeer station.  They taste awesome and really add something special to the mix.  I’ve also added some caramel syrup which was one  I picked up at Morrisons on sale for £2.

The sprinkles above are small honeycomb pieces I got from B&M in the baking section and tiny gold sprinkles that are from Morrisons Christmas range. They’re the perfect addition to any Butterbeer hot chocolate.

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The recipe for Hot Chocolate Butterbeer is as follows.  Make up your favourite hot chocolate the way you usually do.  Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla syrup, 1 teaspoon of hazelnut syrup, 1 teaspoon of caramel syrup and mix well.  Add squirty cream and top with white marshmallows and sprinkles.  Or chocolate ice cream syrup topping.

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It couldn’t be easier!

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

xxx

Harry Potter Movie Night

Hello my lovelies,

Since we are not into going trick of treating since Missy was diagnosed dairy, soya and apple free we have chosen to celebrate at home this year.

I have been collecting Harry Potter its and pieces since the beginning of the year for our Harry Potter Christmas and lots of it is coming in handy for our movie night.

 

The Gryffindor and Hufflepuff blankets, and themed cushions were all bought at Primark.

The cauldron is an actual pot that you cook on the fire with. It’s called a Potjie pot in South Africa and I’ve served sweet and salty popcorn in it.  Being dairy free means Missy can’t have caramel popcorn but it’s good that she doesn’t really like it anyway.

I made the chocolate frogs using a mould I bought on Amazon and the ginger cats were from the Co-op.

The sherbert lemons can be found from morrisons and the time turner and Gryffindor scarf were from ebay.

I love this Polyjuice mason jar mug from Primark and drink my wine out of it!   I made the potion bottle lights using some led lights, potion labels from etsy and mini potion bottles from the Works.

The pumpkin drinking glasses are from Primark and were only £2.50 each. Bargain!  The owls were from the Range and the potion bottles were from Poundland.

Flossy the Pygmy Puff was a gift from a craft swap and is Missy’s beloved pet.

As you can see below we are having Bertie Botts every flavour beans, chocolate frogs, cat shaped cookies, liquorice wands, UFO’s of Flying Whizzbeez, lemon sherberts and sweet and salty popcorn.

Of course, we are having dinner before we tuck into all of these sweeties!SONY DSC

Happy Halloween!

Mrs R

x