What does "living the simple dream" mean to me?

I always hear people from our generation saying "Ahh, living the dream" when they are doing somthing our of the ordinary - for example: sipping cocktails in a spa of a fancy resort or perhaps they post "living the dream" as the caption beneath a photo of them moving into their new $500,000+ mansion-esque home they have just mortgaged their life away for. At first I was confused by how simple my ambitions were. All I wanted was to live in a caravan and be able to spend as much time enjoying the outdoors with my husband and son, without my husband having to be at work all the time. So for me, this became my simple dream. I find myself having those "Ahh living the dream" moments when I am sitting in a natural hot spring with my husband and son, drinking a beer, ten feet away from a crocodile infested river. Now mine, my husbands and my sons life is all about chasing our simple dream.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

El-cheapo food.

My husband works seven days of day shift, then has four days off then works seven nights of night shift then four days off (over and over). So in order to keep our grocery budget as low as possibe I've developed a "fail proof" routine.

Grocery shopping, ARGH!

I grocery shop in his days off before he begins the week of dayshift. Once I get all the groceries home I bake him a batch of muffins for the week, some sort of a slice and I make a ginormous batch of "chilli con carne" style mince (with lots of red kidney beans and tomatoes) and cook it into single sized pies in my pie maker. Each day that week he takes a piece of fruit, 1-2 pies, some slice/cake 2 and a few ham and salad sandwiches or rolls. Then each of those 7 nights of his dayshift week when I make dinner I freeze the leftovers (which can be anywhere from 1 - 3 serves) in containers that he can take to work and put in the pie warmer on his night shift week. So when his night shift week comes around I dont have to do ANY cooking for meals (I make myself simple, single serve meals each night like omelletes, toasted sandwiches etc). So right before his nightshift week starts I will bake another big batch of snack food (slices/cake etc), more savoury muffins (or whatever else he wants that week) and a big batch of homade sausage rolls. Then for that week he will take a pre-made meal, a sausage roll or two, and the snack food and a piece of fruit. Its really simple.

Sausage rolls are cheap, easy and freezable. I also find that rather than buying the tubes of sausage mince for them it is cheaper to buy a 2kg packet of bulk sausages and just remove 50% of them from their cases (mix in a bowl with a couple of cups of breadcrums, some garlic, herbs, sauces etc) and then freeze the other 50% of the packet for your "sausage meals".

This means that  I shop for a 18 day period at a time. Which generally costs me about $300 - $350 (which includes $50+ to use halfway through that time period to restock fresh vegies, milk etc).

Make taco mince go further with red kidney beans you could even use this to make the meal cheaper so you can afford to buy the "heart smart" or "healthier" mince instead of the normal, fatty mince.

It also makes life easier for me as I only have to cook for about ten of the 18 nights. I also will buy things like (for example) two "Taco kits" (boxed kits to make tacos for dinner). Each kit is supposed to take 500grams of mince but on the first night that we have tacos (generally on my husbands "off work" nights) I will fry up ONE lot of 500grams of mince with the seasoning and add a VERY cheap can of red kidney beans. Then when the meat is cooked I can split it into two, use half for that nights dinner and freeze half so we can have it for tacos the next week. This saves money AND once again saves time because all i then have to do the next week is pull the mixture from the freezer and defrost/reheat it.

Red kidney beans are a brilliant resource for making your mince go further and you can put them in pretty much any of your mince based dishes from tacos to pies to spaghetti bolognaise and they will make it last an entire extra meal.

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