Dollar Diet: Week 10, Use it up

This week was a very good week in our frugal Tawhero household.

te manawa 1 tots in tawhero

Sausage and Chip mucking about at Te Manawa museum, Palmerston North

A couple of bitterly cold mornings found me digging out our winter clothes, which then in turn sparked me to go through ALL my clothes.  I tossed some, ruefully packed some away that don’t fit because I’ve put on weight (gah!), and generally gave everything a good once-over.  I realised I had a serious ‘hole’ in my wardrobe – namely a decent pair of jeans that fit properly – so I toddled off to buy a pair.  I didn’t find anything second-hand, but I managed to get a great pair at one of our local stores and my loyalty card gave me 30% off.  I’m not quite sure how that happened as I hardly ever buy from that store, but I’ll take it!

The weird thing is, it’s like sorting out my wardrobe has given me a new lease on life.  It galvanised me into action, and I was a busy beaver most of the week, especially where saving a buck or two was concerned.

I woke up with a migraine on Wednesday (yay) and generally felt nauseous and yuck for almost the whole day.  I’d postponed whanau night, which then left me with the dilemma of having to cook.  It was very tempting to get a takeaway, especially as D wasn’t around that night, but I said to myself ‘nay young Angela, you’re on a Dollar Diet.  Gird your loins, girl.’ [I really do talk to myself like that, I swear.] I rifled through our freezer and was grateful that I almost always have a few heat and eat-type meals in stock.  Crumbed fish, I thank thee.

I was ruthless about eating at home and using up what we had.  When we ran out of bread on Friday (and it was too late to make some), I didn’t nip out to the shops to buy a loaf.  I whipped up a tuna pasta salad instead, easy-peasy.  I finally found a use for the tin of applesauce that had been sitting in our cupboard for ages (turns out your two-and-a-half-year-old will just love it and basically just eat that for his dinner).  Two bananas and half a pear that were starting to turn got baked into banana bread.  Slightly-manky-looking veg got thrown into a shepherd’s pie.

banana bread tots in tawhero

Only half the banana bread survived long enough to make it into the photo, RIP BB.

I’d bought two packets of malt biscuits (they were on special) as a treat for my children.  They turned up their nose at them because they like a different brand.  Toddlers!  No amount of persuasion worked and now I was stuck with two packets of biscuits that I wouldn’t eat myself (too sugary).  I did however have whanau night, our minister’s ordination (such a big deal, yahoo!), and my FIL and S-MIL come to visit, all within days of each other.  So I made my family’s fudge cake recipe that has been lovingly handed down from generation to generation.  Okay, so from my auntie to my brother and I…

Anyhow, it was a brilliant choice.  Fudge cake keeps well for several days, everyone loves it, and you can eke it out if you cut it into bite-sized squares.  One batch did all three occasions.

The kids and I had a grand outing this week, which barely cost us a cent.  My mother very generously paid for the tots and I to go to a Peppa Pig stage show over in Palmerston North.  It was so. much. fun.  I’m not sure who enjoyed it more, me or the kids?  Bing bong boo, I say!  The tots behaved beautifully – even though it was Chip’s first-time at a show.  Chip was obsessed with Daddy Pig, screaming with delight every time the porcine father appeared on stage.  It isn’t the sort of thing our budget normally allows, and I was very grateful to my mum for treating us.

We topped the day off with a trip to their favourite place in Palmy North, Te Manawa.  Te Manawa is a wonderful, free museum that is pretty much paradise to my children.  It is an incredible yes space, with so much that children can play with, sit on, create with and touch.

Te Manawa 2 Tots in Tawhero

One of the playrooms at Te Manawa

The weekend found us with two sick tots on our hands.  Sausage with a cold and Chip with a vomiting bug.  Such is the reality of life with two small children.  My MIL offered to watch them for a bit on Sunday afternoon.  I leapt at the chance to actually leave the house!  (Hello world, I missed you.) D and I went to the library, and then bought a drink and muffin each at a cafe, where we sat and read our books in blissful, sickness-free peace.  A lovely date!

reading party tots in tawhero

Reading party for two 

What frugal wins did you have this week? Chime in below



Trim Healthy Thursday: Stair Master

This week I finally got around to making paleo beetroot brownies.  I tweaked the recipe a bit so it was THM-compliant, and I must say they were pretty good but not ah-mazing.

We enjoyed a couple of meals of egg roll in a bowl, which is very budget-friendly and quick to prepare.  D liked it so much it’s on the menu again this week!  I feel a bit stuck in a rut with my go-to Trim Healthy Mama recipes, so I plan to set aside an hour or two over the weekend to peruse Pinterest for inspiration, and THMify some of our old pre-plan favourites until I get the new THM cookbook that everyone is raving about.

I am feeling ridiculously smug about how well I am doing with exercise.  Feel free to tell me to shut up!  I decided I was a bit fed up with the slow regime of couch-to-5k (it totally works though, just had itchy feet) and ran around our block to see if I could do it.  I did.  The block is about 4.4ks so I am really happy with my progress!  I have no ambition to run marathons, but I would like to be able to run 5k comfortably.  With the Tongariro Alpine Crossing looming up soon I have added stair-climbing into the mix.  And woah mama, is that a good workout!

I headed for the stairs on one of Whanganui’s biggest hills, Durie Hill.  I left home at the crack of dawn, eager to get stuck in.  Only, a bootcamp had got there ahead of me.  There were about 30 people going up and down these fairly steep and narrow steps.  I am someone who prefers to exercise solo and was miffed to be jostling with a crowd, to say the least.  I despaired of what to do next, because there aren’t exactly lots of suitable locations for stair-climbing in my town.

D to the rescue!  His office is in a three-storey building, and it’s perfect.  I get the place all to myself, work up one heck of a sweat, AND I can still work out when it’s raining.  Tongariro, here I come.


How to bake with a 2 year old

I have many great memories of baking as a child with my mother and brother.  My Mum is a great baker and we spent many hours in the kitchen during the school holidays making biscuits (for my American readers, we New Zealanders are like the English and call cookies biscuits, and what you call biscuits we call scones), marshmallow slice and truffles.

So it is lovely to be able to bake with my tot, Sausage.  With a modicum of effort you can make it a breeze to bake with 2 year olds, who normally tend to have the attention span of a gnat.  While it’s not free, baking is a frugal activity which should keep your tot occupied for a good 20 minutes or so if you do it right.

  1. Keep it simple.  Choose a recipe with few ingredients, that’s easy to put together, and doesn’t take too long to bake.  If you have a particularly high-energy child, you could choose a no-bake recipe, but at the moment I’m practicing the art of ‘waiting’ with Sausage so waiting 15 minutes for biscuits was perfect.
    We made afghan biscuits

    We made afghan biscuits

    What we did during our agonising wait for the biscuits

    What we did during our agonising wait for the biscuits

  2. Make it yummy!  You want the experience to be fun, so do make something that they are excited about eating (there are plenty of healthy options out there).  I try to limit the amount of sugar in Sausage’s diet, but our latest batch of baking was made to be shared with our cousins at a special afternoon tea, and contained some sugar.  She loved tasting the biscuits as we went along and informed me several times that ‘I like baking, Mummy’ and ‘Baking is delicious!’

    The best part of baking is cleaning the bowl afterwards!

    The best part of baking is cleaning the bowl afterwards!

  3. Assemble all of the ingredients and trays/pans/baking paper etc that you need before you start.  Remember that gnat attention span?  Help your tot focus by having everything ready so they can get stuck in straight away.  Once they are old enough to recognise numbers then you can guide them with measuring out the ingredients, but that would probably be too sophisticated for your average 2 year old.2015-01-04 09.31.19
  4. Get messy.  Take a deep breath and let them put the ingredients into the bowl and mix it up by themselves (with your guidance of course).  The sense of mastery your tot will get is worth any mess created.  Sausage loved shaking the flour through the sieve and invented a little shaking song as she did so.
    Shake, shake, shaaake

    Shake, shake, shaaake

    And then she LOVED forming the biscuit balls with her hands (‘Squish, squish Mummy!’).  The biscuits will not be perfect, but who cares?

    Squishing time

    Squishing time

  5. Use the finished product as an exercise in sharing.  Share it with the rest of the family, with your elderly neighbour across the street, with their friends at playgroup.

You can find the Afghan biscuits recipe here.  Sugar free, tot approved recipes to come!