Thursday, April 26, 2012

Trying to spend less on food.

I have for a long time always planned a menu for 2 weeks and went shopping with a shopping list. I would put together the menu going by what was on special at the supermarkets. We have 4 supermarkets here all in the path of me driving into town and home again, so i don't have to make any special trips from store to store. We have Aldi and Coles in the same shopping center and on the way home i pass Foodworks and IGA.
Most of the food shopping is done at Aldi which is where i go first and then onto Coles. If the other 2 supermarkets have anything that catches my eye i also stop at them on the way home.
Last Tuesday when putting together the menu plan i challenged my self to shop for the month instead of every 2 weeks. I know that i will be having to pick up fresh fruit and veg and a few forgotten things in between shopping trips, but it will teach me what to buy more of, as monthly shopping is all new to me.

Firstly when it came to planning the new menu i put together a printable menu plan for the 4 weeks, which mine starts on the Wednesday. I did the menu plan in grid form with 7 days across and 4 rows long with each day of the week falling on top of the same day. I then put together a master shopping list using excel and put everything down on the list that we buy as a regular purchase, this will need some tweaking as i did forget a few items but as i remember them i have been updating the list.
I then went "shopping" in my own freezer and wrote down all of the meats i had in there to use as meals. I also went through the pantry to see what was there to use up and to also check what was needing to be replenished. I then sat down with my new printed menu and filled in all the meals. It was not has hard as i expected and with each day of the week on the chart being on top of the same weekday i was able to be sure i was not repeating the same meals to often. For example each Thursday is pasta night but each pasta dish is different to the week before. I had also put together a list of meal ideas in the past which i referred to when putting the menu together so to avoid mental blanks. We also have a takeaway night once a fortnight which is on Saturdays to give me a break from cooking.

So on Tuesday afternoon with shopping list and menu on my clip board i headed off to the supermarket. My normal fortnight shopping budget was around $250 which feeds 6 adults/teenagers and my 4 pet birds, chickens, ducks and 2 dogs, plus a top up in the second week of around $50 or so.

This is how it all went.

So far i have only been to Aldi and Coles, but i do have a couple of non-urgent things still left on the shopping list that i will pick up at the other 2 supermarkets in the next few days.
This is my shopping tally so far:
Aldi  $141.05
Coles $62.15

I am pretty happy with that. I did have a good amount of meat in the freezer as i had a couple of kilos of mince, 3 trays of sausage meat and 20 chicken breasts from a recent visit to a discount butchers called Tasmin Meats, which had cost me all up a total of $34.64
So the running total so far for all the shopping that i have done is for the month is $240.14 which is around the amount spent of a fortnights shop not adding in the top-up i would do in week 2.

I will keep updating and add in any further spending including the takeaway meals as i go until we see the final tally at the end of the 4 weeks.
Wish me luck! :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Home Made Bread Machine Bread Mix

I make my on bread daily and to save me time each morning i make up my own bread mix ahead of time.
My bread mix is then stored in zip bags which i re-use for next time.
I have put a lot of trial and error into my bread mix and have now got to the point that i am happy to share it with you.

This is what i put into the mix.
4 Cups of cheap plain flour, i use 1 cup of wholemeal flour and 3 cups of white. You can use any plain flour you choose.
1 teasp of sugar
1 1/2 teasp of salt.
1 teasp of bread improver, available at the supermarket near the flour and yeast.
put these dry ingredients into the bag and store in the pantry
To make the bread mix up.
Put all dry ingredients into the bread machine and add:
1 tbsp of oil
2 teasp of dry yeast
1 3/4 cups of water at room temp.
During the mixing process just check that the ingredients have combined and that the dough is not to dry. It should have formed a nice looking ball that is not to sticky to the touch, If you find it a bit dry add a little more water, if its to sticky add a little more flour. Be sure to add these extras while the mixing process is still going.

Start your machine on either the dough setting to the full settings to make the loaf in the machine from start to finish.
I only make the dough in the bread machine so i can shape it my self into loaves or rolls. If you using the machine for dough the process will take aprox 1.5 hours, after the cycle has finished remove the dough and make loaves etc.
Let it rise again in a warm place until it doubles in size and bake in a moderate oven until golden brown.