Monday, March 31, 2008


In an earlier comment Miserly Mum asked what sort of meals we eat - huge apologies for not getting back to you earlier!

In a nutshell, we're basic, meat & 3 vege eaters. Pete is doing the CSIRO diet atm which is high in meat, low in carbs. I buy mostly staples and we eat very few processed foods. Bear with me while I take a small meander down memory lane and see how far I've come.

Growing up, Mum worked hard and wasn't really into cooking - meals were more fuel for our bodies than for enjoyment. So when I left home and moved in with a girlfriend, I was a pretty hopeless cook! I was working full-time & going to uni at night, so meals pretty much consisted of cereal, toast, pasta, frozen foods and take-away! (Needless to say I put on a lot of weight during that period!)

Things weren't much better once Pete & I got married - consider the scenario - 2 non-cooks, lots of disposable income, living within 5 mins drive of most of the take-away chains! We were getting pizza delivered several times a week at one stage - I shudder to think of it now! Our idea of cooking was to put frozen pies or cardboard fish, and frozen chips in the oven.. Or if we were feeling *really* adventurous, we'd brown some mince, open a jar of pasta sauce & cook some pasta. On the odd occasion I would cook a roast dinner - on the *very* odd occasion!

8 years ago we built & moved into our current house. We suddenly had a big mortgage and were living further away from the fast food chains. I had to learn to cook all of a sudden! I can't really remember what we ate, but I think it was still a lot of processed foods - jars of sauce, frozen pies etc. We'd slowed down a lot on take-away though and were learning to cook.

5 years ago - now down to 1 income, with a baby that would.not.sleep!! I stumbled across the Failsafe diet. I've no idea why it took me that long since my sister had been involved with it with her girls from very early on but in my defense she was on the other side of Australia and we didn't keep in touch much at that time. That got me more interested in cooking from scratch. I also found the Simple Savings website somewhere in that time - I wish I could remember when. From there I learnt lots of new skills & recipes - I didn't even know it was possible to make some of the staples that I found recipes for! From a eating healthy / being frugal interest, it's now broadened to encompass being mindful of our limited resources as well - and gotten me more into gardening etc. It's really just spun off (out of control??! Lol) from all of those.

Now we very rarely eat processed food or take-away. I make most of our bread & buns from scratch (I love yeast-cooking!), and all of our tortillas. I mince our own meat, make our own jam, sometimes make our own ice-cream. I make yoghurt with the Easiyo sachets - I haven't attempted to make it from scratch yet! I like to give myself some slack - I enjoy it if I choose to do it, but if I *have* to do it, sometimes it just becomes too much like a chore. I got a dehydrator for Xmas so have been using that to dry fruit when I have excess. I make most of our sweet stuff - cakes, biscuits etc, but I haven't found a savoury biscuit recipe that I can make work!

I'm actually struggling to remember what else I do, because it's such a habit now! I have at various times made my own coconut milk, my own yoghurt cheese, my own butter by whipping cream. These ones are things that I may not choose to do all of the time, but it's a skill that I know I could do if I have to and comes in handy when the cupboards are bare!

I still buy things like Thai curry and Tandoori pastes just because it's more cost effective at this stage to buy a small jar and use it every now & then, than to buy a whole heap of foreign ingredients! I haven't attempted my own tomato paste yet but it's on my list next time I have lots of tomatoes.

I buy some of our meat from the butcher (he makes awesome ham, bacon & sausages) and usually pick the rest up (beef & pork, we don't eat lamb) on specials at the supermarket. I usually just stock up on specials rather than buy marked-down meat - I've been burnt a few times with off meat so I rarely take the risk. I usually get chicken from the Steggles outlet shop near us. We're trying to eat fish once / week, which I'll either buy frozen from Aldi or get from the fish markets if we're near it - it's an hour away.

I mainly get fruit & vege at a local f&v shop, but will sometimes pick them up at the supermarket if I'm short on time (or energy!). I used to be the "peas, carrot & corn veges" and "ice-berg lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber salad" type but am trying to be more adventurous with what we eat!

So basically, it's been a slow process, but if I can do it - anyone can learn :)

If anyone else would like to share their journey, feel free to link in the comments. It's heartening for those starting out to realise that not every one was born with a wooden spoon in their hand!


Laurie Anne said...

Hi Kez,
Thanks so much for your help. It worked :0)
I'm also trying to cook more from scratch. It is sooooo much cheaper and more healthy. The major problem that I have is limited reparoire of meals. Baking, no problem. It is those darn dinners that seem to stump me :0)

Kez said...

I always say that I like to cook - but I hate *having* to cook every single night :( I don't want take-away but someone else to do the cooking would be nice *sigh*

Nay said...

LOL Kez, your introduction to cooking is much like mine. I was pretty hopeless when Tony & I began living together, it was a case of very basic foods with no variety. Took me ages to get the confidence to try variations to our meals. I have improved ten-fold. Tony always tells me how impressed he is with how much my cooking has improved (even though we've had a few disasters!).
Now it's just finding the time to cook. I enjoy it as long as (like you) I don't *have* to cook every night...

Linda said...

I am amazed at how far you have come. You were actually a gifted cook all along. Thanks for visiting my blog as well.

There were recipes for a few savouries that our son 17 has made, from places like Family Circle of old. He rolled out these semolina balls one time and another made these amazing things like the puffs you buy in the supermarket that you can split. He is a born cook too.

Kez said...

Thanks Linda :)