Mar 15

The Frugal Chef

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The grocery bill is one of the biggest weekly expenses we make. Especially if we have a large family.  It is also an area where we waste so much, either due to a busy schedule resulting in planned meals going south, or simply because the days ran away with us.

The very best meals are those that can be cooked for dinner, shared by the family and then kept in the fridge and eaten cold, with a delicious salad dressing, for lunch.  Pasta and rice dishes are fantastic for this and most families will have one of these ingredients in their pantry.  Not only do they make a very filling meal, they are also really quick to make.  Pasta tastes as delicious with a little garlic and olive oil as it does with more complicated flavours so, we have got you a great little recipe which is good for the kids, healthy for you and most importantly, really good value.  If you want some more brilliant ideas you can check out How to Save Money: Top 102 Money Saving Tips & Ideas to get loads of inspiration.

Packed with loads of carbs to keep up their energy and full of brilliant vegetables.  Very few kids will be disappointed with this Antipasti Penne.  And at $2.81 per serving, it’s a brilliant value meal.  You can also use the leftovers for a great lunchbox snack the next day.

 

12 ounces whole-grain penne

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 ounces soppressata or salami, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

One 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, strained and quartered

6 stuffed Spanish queen olives, halved, plus 2 tablespoons brine

One 14-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes

4 to 5 fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish

1/2 cup of 1/2-inch chunks fresh mozzarella

 

Boil up a medium pan of water and add your pasta.  If you have quick cook this will take no more than 5 minute.  Keep a little bite for an authentic italian feel.  Once cooked, drain but keep a little of the liquid.

 

Heat some olive oil in a large non stick pan.  You want a medium heat.  Throw in your salami and cook until the oil turns colour.  Add the artichoke hearts and olives, stirring to coat.  Finally throw in the tomatoes, basil, all the pasta and a few tablespoons of olive bring.  Simmer and cook until the sauce slightly thickens.  You can serve with mozzarella or parmesan whichever you prefer.  Delicious!

 

You can twist this recipe a thousand different ways.  Adding chicken and cream or making your own delicious pesto, full of tasty green leaves and delicious pine nuts.  You could also replace the pasta for rice and make a delicious twist on the complicated risotto.

 

The italians are fantastic at quick, delicious, good value food.  Plus they use plenty of olive oil which is packed full of omega 3 fatty acids.  Vital for your health and the health of your children.  So check out other Italian recipes and be inspired by these culinary kings.

 

Mar 15

Nutrition and Your Family: Helping Your Kids Make Healthy Food Choices

There is nothing more rage inducing, even if you do so internally than children who are fussy eaters. As we’ve discussed in previous articles, there are ways that you can encourage your kids to make the right food choices without pressuring them and making them hate food even more. While many people argue that making the right food choices for your children is imperative to their overall health, it’s also vital that you allow them to make the right decisions for themselves. You don’t have to put your foot down just yet. There are some fun ways that you can help your kids help themselves and put them on the right path to eating correctly. After all, instilling a love of food isn’t just about making nutritious choices, but it’s all about making sure that they have a healthy and happy relationship with food.

Get planning

Planning meals is a surefire way of making sure that you don’t have any issues when it comes to cooking meals. Mealtimes can be stressful, so plan what your family is going to eat. That way, the children will know what meals are available on what day and they can prepare for things that they don’t like, or that they have never tried before. That aside, by planning your meals, you can ensure that your children are eating a balanced diet that is jam packed full of fruit, vegetables, carbs, and dairy. It’s easy to lose track of what we have eaten and by having a schedule or plan, you can make sure that your kids are making healthier food choices throughout the day. After all, variety is the spice of life.

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Get the children involved

One of the things that parents often fail to do is include the kids in the mealtime process. We are all so guilty of just putting food in the oven that we fail to remember that there is a process to loving food. Let your children chop, whisk and stir. If they’re older, allow them to use the skillet or the oven. www.stonefryingpans.com has a range of family-friendly utensils and cookware that all the family can use. By allowing the children to get involved with the food cooking process, you are not only entrusting them with a big part of adult life, but they will also have a sense of pride when the meal is cooked and tastes delicious. And, let’s be honest, it lessens your load and teaches them some valuable life skills.

The good life: grow your own

Growing your own vegetables is a fantastic way of teaching children about nutrition and positive choices when it comes to food. Watching vegetables, and fruit, grow from tiny seeds to huge pieces of edible food. There is a theory that if children grow their own fruit and vegetables, they are more likely to eat it as they know where it’s come from. Did you know that 75% of children do not know where their food comes from? They think it comes from the supermarket! Aside from teaching your kids about the importance of good, quality food you are also teaching them basic science. Grow easy to harvest foods such as tomatoes and courgettes, and watch your kids eat them as you harvest. Now, that is an easy way to get them to eat better!

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Experiment with vegetables

OK, so vegetables aren’t high up on the list of foodstuffs that children love. But, that doesn’t mean that you have to ditch the greens. On the contrary, experimenting with vegetables is a great way to peak your child’s interest and to ensure that they are making the right choices. Smoothies, with broccoli and kale, are perfect for kids on the go. Making dips and spreads is important too. What’s more, these dips will be a great deal healthier than store bought dips as you can omit salt and sugar. Vegetables are so much more than simply putting greens on a plate and demanding that they are eaten. Experimenting with food will also ensure that you have mini foodies on your hands that adore the process of creating tasty dishes.

A treat every now and then is OK!

While many of us want our children to be healthy, happy and not eat junk, it’s OK to lighten up and allow them a piece of delicious homemade cake. What could be better than baking together? Loving food and making the right choices is all about enjoying all kinds of food. Of course, limiting junk is important, but as a massive foodie, I can’t think of anything better than baking with my children. After all, homemade is the best. It’s perfectly imperfect.

Make food fun, interesting and enjoyable, and your kids are bound to make the right choices. With a little guidance, of course.

Mar 13

Family Connections Across The Miles

After a cross-country move, you spend a lot of time settling in and adapting to your new surroundings. There’s a new routine to be established, new favorite places to discover, and it can take months to fully feel you have settled to it.

When the huge change begins to dissipate and you find a new normal way of life, you would think it should be smooth sailing from that point on. You can just relax, take things at ease, with all of the problems and heartache behind you.

Except… it never really works out like that, does it?

Whether it’s your first big move or something you have done a number of times, there is always something you leave behind. In the worst case scenario, that ‘something’ might, in fact, be a group of someones – your family. If you move for business or work-related reasons, then it’s unlikely you’re going to have moved with your relatives. Of course, your family will be with you – partner, children – but you will have potentially left behind your parents and even your siblings.

The initial phases of adapting to this new status quo are fun, but it can soon feel like the distance between you is a yawning chasm you can’t quite make it over. If you have moved to far-flung climes that don’t make visiting easy, then without proper management, you can feel the gulf between you growing every day.

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The only way of combating this feeling is to fight back and learn to take the leap. Over time – to extend the metaphor to breaking point – you will find a huge leap becomes more of a short hop, as you practice it to the point of becoming second nature.

  1. Don’t Rely On Social Media

Staying connected is easier than ever, but don’t fall into the trap of updating your family on new developments the way you do with old school friends and that guy from college whose friends invite you didn’t have the heart to turn down. Social media is a useful tool, but it shouldn’t be your only tool.

Reserve some photos and updates for your family alone – or at the very least, for them to hear first. Utilize the likes of MyPostcard App to send photos of your kids so that your parents don’t have to miss a second of them growing up; write letters and make telephone calls a part of your weekly ritual. See social media as a tool, but not your only tool, for maintaining a link.

  1. Send Care Packages

You see a cute keyring while out shopping and think how much your sister would like it; or spot a set of knives you know your culinary-inspired father would adore. Rather than waiting for birthdays and Christmases, if you have the funds, spend the initial months after a move buying gifts.

It’s not the monetary value that matters; a $1 purchase is all it takes if you’re so inclined. It’s just a way of saying: ‘I thought of you in my new life; you’re still on my mind, and here’s a physical representation of that’.

Mar 09

Throw the Perfect Kid’s Party

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Planning a kid’s party should be simple right? If you’ve ever actually tried to organize a wedding for one of your kids, you will know that this simply isn’t the case. Gone are the days where you could serve up cake and ice cream in the back yard, and all the kids would think it was the best time ever. Now, it seems like every party has to have a theme; you have to hold the event somewhere other than home, and you must invite the whole class to mark the day with you! So, it’s fair to say it can get a little overwhelming, but don’t worry – I’ve got your back. Check out these tips for throwing a fantastic kid’s party every time:

Invites

As I mentioned above, these days it is more common to invite every kid in your child’s class so that no one feels left out. So, you will want to get a list of your child’s classmates before you send the invites out. It is also a good idea to ask parents to note down any allergies their child may have when they RSVP – it will make organizing the menu much simpler and avoid any unfortunate incidents.

Venue

Sometimes, the best birthday party places, aren’t the ones you would think of. The local park or leisure center, for example, can be great places to entertain kids, but if you really want to wow them, take them to a really exciting place like a family sports park, amusement arcade or water park.

Menu

One of the best things about children’s parties is that you don’t need to make the food at all sophisticated. Most kids will be happy with burgers, hot dogs, and pizza, as long as there’s cake and ice cream to follow. If you want to be a bit healthier, go with finger foods like sandwiches, cookies and kid-friendly canapés like pinwheels and melon balls.

Theme

The easiest way to decide on a theme is to actually look at what your kid likes. Most kids have at least one obsession, whether that be My Little Pony, Adventure Time or something else entirely. These days, you can buy paper plates, cups and decorations featuring all the best-loved cartoon characters and that is the quickest way to establish your theme. Picking a venue that coincides with the theme, like a pony corral for a My Little Pony Lover or an adventure park for Adventure Time fans, will also make your theme seem more impressive.

Games

If your party isn’t going to be held at a venue where the entertainment is built into the day, you’ll want to make sure that you have lots of games on hand to keep the hoards of over-excited children entertained. Classic party games like pin the tail on the donkey and bashing the piñata are still popular with younger kids, but older kids might need something more challenging such as a treasure hunt (which would work great with a pirate theme), or perhaps a little dance party.

Keep Calm

Most important of all, you should keep clam and avoid stressing. Most kids aren’t that hard to please, so even if things don’t go quite according to plan, as long as they’re spending time with their friends, they’ll probably have fun anyway.

Mar 08

Energize Your Kids!

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If there’s one thing that kids never seem to lack, it’s energy. In fact, that often seem to have more energy than you would ever expect to be contained in such a small package. It’s pretty natural for any parent to find themselves silently wishing that their kids had just a little bit less energy for once. Of course, no parent would actually want that, and often the questions many parents end up asking is “how to I help my kids stay happy and full of energy?” As complicated as this might sound, there are actually a whole bunch of super simple things that you can do. With that in mind, here are some ways that you can help energize your kids!

Start the day right

The start of the day can make a huge difference to the way that your kids feel for the rest of it. You want to make sure that both you and your little ones start the day off right and there’s no better way to do that than by making sure that you all have a solid breakfast. It might sometimes be tempted to just sort out something fast so that you can all get on the with the day as quickly as possible but that might not be such a good idea. Take your time in the mornings and make sure that you all get a decent meal inside you that’s going to set you up for the rest of the day. Why not take them for a special treat every now and then too? There are plenty of pancake restaurants around so you can have a delicious start to the day. Plus, you’d be amazed at how good pancakes are for giving you and your kids plenty of healthy energy throughout the day.

Keep them hydrated

If there’s one thing that kids know how to do, it’s run around and work up a major thirst. The problem is that they can often be so distracted by the fun that they’re having that they don’t pay attention to how dehydrated they’re getting. Not only get this sap their energy levels, but it can also cause them to start feeling pretty sick too. Make sure that they’re drinking plenty of water or juice throughout the day. Sugary sodas and fizzy drinks might be refreshing, but they’re not going to do much good when it comes to actually keeping your kids hydrated.

Keep a regular bedtime

It’s hardly surprising that if you want your little ones to have plenty of energy, they need a good night’s sleep. It’s not just a matter of how many hours a night they’re sleeping you also need to make sure that they’re settling down at a sensible hour. Kids aren’t designed to stay up late, no matter how much they might want to. Even if they get a full night’s sleep, going to sleep and waking up late is going to leave them feeling tired and grumpy for pretty much the entire day.

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