16 January 2013

Why Plan Meals?



Over the last couple of months I've finally started meal planning. Now it's a habit, I can't imagine not doing it.

I usually write my meal plan and shopping list on a Thursday and go to the supermarket on a Friday. I check what's in the fridge and plan to use it up. I used to go to the supermarket at least every other day looking for meal inspiration. No more. I rarely throw any food away. We eat a more varied diet, we eat more healthily. I always cook from scratch and having a meal plan means I am super organised, preparing meals during the day when I can. We never run out of anything. I can plan for busy days and get the slow cooker out and on in the morning. I haven't checked, but I'm pretty sure our food bills are lower. If I shop online (when Ocado send me a voucher) I can take advantage of all the special offers. We also have far fewer takeaways.

I'm a meal planning convert. Read this top tip post from Mrs M if you're still not convinced.

Want to know what's on our meal plan for this week? Of course you do.

Wed - steak pie, new potatoes, sprouts, broccoli
Thu - fish cakes, rice, leek and cauliflower cheese
Fri -  meatballs, tomato and vegetable pasta
Sat - roast (whatever's on offer), roast potatoes, carrots, swede, sprouts
Sun - stir fry vegetables, noodles, prawns
Mon - fish pie, peas
Tue - cottage pie, carrots, peas, sweetcorn



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14 January 2013

New Series on CBeebies


On Saturday we were invited by the BBC to see previews of two new series on CBeebies.

Nina returns in Nina and the Neurons Go Engineering. This series is all about engineering, so we will find out how hovercrafts, cranes and planes work. What I love about Nina is that she is a woman presenting a science programme.

Not all science on CBeebies is so obvious, but if you watch the Octonauts, for example, you will know more about marine biology than you thought.

What's great about Nina is that the experiments the children do are easy to replicate at home. The episode we saw explained how aeroplanes fly. I may be an accountant, but my education prior to that career choice was arts focused. I know very little science and even less about engineering. I can report that I now understand how aeroplanes fly. Thank you, Nina and CBeebies.

Nina and the Neurons Go Engineering starts today on CBeebies at 4.30pm. For more information check out CBeebies Grown-ups.




Mr Bloom himself introduced his new series of Mr Bloom's Nursery - Get Set Grow.

This new series takes Mr Bloom and the Veggies out on the road, following the trend set by Mr Maker and I Can Cook. There are enough familiar segments of the show to keep fans of the allotment series happy, but there are also new songs and locations to keep it fresh. 

In the episode we saw Mr Bloom takes Colin the irritating runner bean to an enormous greenhouse, growing peppers. It was a bit like Auntie Mabel and Pippin visiting a toothbrush factory, but a little more up to date...

I like Mr Bloom's Nursery as it's a gentle introduction to gardening and food provenance.

Mr Bloom's Nursery - Get Set Grow starts in the spring.

Here are my children meeting Mr Bloom, played by Ben Faulks.




Another change for CBeebies is that you can no longer find its content on other BBC channels. CBeebies is on channel 71 on Freeview and is also available on the iPlayer.

Exclusive: we also met the new link presenter (and eventual replacement for Sid Sloane). She moves into the CBeebies house this weekend, so look out for a friendly new face on your screens.


Disclosure: we were given coffee, pastries and fruit at the BBC - thank you license payers. We paid for our own travel to this press event. 


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11 January 2013

A Pineapple Yogurt, Please


I'm standing on my bed looking out of the window. The curtain behind me is damp where I used it to wipe the condensation from the glass. After about ten minutes - an absolute age - I see the milkman turn into the close. I run downstairs and let myself out of the back door.

We are the only two people awake and working at this time of day. I help Mr James deliver milk to the whole close. He doesn't say much, in fact I don't actually remembering him agreeing to my helping him. He looks like my Grandad, in his tweed suit and pork pie hat. He comes to collect his money on a Friday. If my mum changed her order for the next week he said 'Right-ho', just like they do in the Mr. Men books.

I am in awe of the neighbours who treat themselves to gold top. My dad says skimmed milk is just water. I can't understand why anyone has it delivered, but Mrs Ford does. Just one pint. Mr Ford left her for his bit on the side. Her daughter is at university, studying economics. Mum says I can study economics O Level one day. Mrs Ford has her hair done by Vinnie, where my mum goes. I pass Vinnie the yellow and red perm rollers and the thin papers. He asks me if I'd like to be a hairdresser. He says when I'm a bit older I can have a Saturday job, sweeping up.

Some customers are better than others at cleaning their empty bottles. By the end of the close all I can smell is sour milk. Mr James pays me with a yogurt. I can chose any flavour I like. We only have strawberry flavour Ski at home, so I always choose the exotic pineapple flavour and eat it when I get home. I lick the lid last. We keep the empty pots and grow cress in them.

***

I thought of Mr James this morning, as I always do when I eat a pineapple flavour yogurt, and smiled at the memory of a kind gentleman humouring a little girl each Saturday.





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I'm Nuts About the Sales


If you'd been wondering where I'd been hiding since Christmas and you guessed 'at the sales', you'd be spot on.

I've been to (sing along with me if you ever listened to Chiltern Radio) Central Milton Keynes Shopping Centre, shopping with style, but I much prefer sitting at home with a cup of coffee searching the sales online.

One of my favourite sales is at the Dot Com Gift Shop. There are currently 42 pages of bargains. You can filter by category and price band, but you can't sort items by price low to high (sort it out, DCGS). It is worth looking at everything in the sale because they have some amazing bargains.

Last year I bought everything I needed for the contents of the boys' birthday party bags, including tubs of 36 pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners and jigsaw puzzles for £1.29 per child.

This year I've bought a stash of Spaceboy multi 10 colour pens for 29p each. I've also bought a couple of large recycled storage bags for £2.95 each. These are perfect for storing toys or clothes.

Another use for my new storage bags will be holding onto stock for the 2013 PTA Christmas Shop. I've bought frisbees for £1.00 each and umbrellas reduced from £12.95 to just £1.29.

Of course I waited until my sales order had been delivered before telling you lot about it, but don't worry, I've left you some goodies.

Disclosure: I am a Dot Com Gift Shop blogger and have been offered a mystery gift for mentioning the sale. My enthusiastic gushing about the bargains available is genuine though.
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