How to Save Money on Work Meals

As I have mentioned previously Mr B is a truck driver and works a rotating roster – 5 days on, 5 days off, 4 days on, 4 days off. For the time that he is ‘on’, he doesn’t come home.  He lives in his truck.  For people who might not know, trucks are pretty well set up these days if they are used for interstate or long distance work. Mr B’s truck has a large single bed or ‘bunk’ in it, a fridge and an air conditioner for use at night time when it is to hot to sleep.

Working irregular hours and driving long distances means that there are sometimes not a lot of options when it comes to meal times.  Yes there are plenty of truck stops around – but wow they are expensive.  A chicken schnitzel and vegies can cost anywhere between $18.00 to $24.00.  A steak can be as much as $30.00.  And they are the ‘healthier’ options.  If a good truck stop is not available many drivers have to rely on fast food options, such as KFC or McDonalds.  So we learnt a long while ago the importance of Mr B being able to take his own food with him.

This is the small 12 volt portable oven Mr B uses.

This is the small 12 volt portable oven Mr B uses.

The best thing we ever bought is a small 12 volt warming oven which plugs into a cigarette lighter plug. We use small foil trays to freeze the meals in and these trays fit into the oven perfectly.  This means that he can have a hot evening meal.  This one comes from Dick Smith, but I’m sure they are available at other stores.

He also takes cold meat, cheese, bread, muesli bars, nuts and lots of fruit with him and eats this for breakfast and lunch.

We usually have a big cook up every 3 or 4 months so as he has a variety of meals to choose from, frozen in our freezer. Last weekend we were due to restock the freezer so I thought I would share with you what we did.

Mr B made a list of the meals he would like to cook.  He is not a fussy eater, but likes home-style food and doesn’t mind if things are spicy or hot.  Of course what we cook also has to freeze well.  These are the meal ideas that he came up with:-

Cooking the silverside in the slow cooker meant we could cook other things on the stove top.

Cooking the Silverside in the slow cooker meant we could cook other things on the stove top at the same time.

  • Shepherds Pie
  • Macaroni Mince
  • Curried Sausages
  • Fish Pieces and Fried Rice
  • Pasta Bake
  • Silverside and Potato Bake
  • Meatloaf and Vegies
  • Chicken Stir Fry
  • Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Chicken Schnitzel and Vegies
  • Sausages, Vegies and Onion Gravy
  • Rissoles and Fried Rice

 

We did an inventory of what we had in the cupboard and then went shopping.  We spent a total of $320.00.  Sounds like a lot doesn’t it?  We never spend that in an actual week but you won’t believe what we produced for that money.  Most meals were made from scratch, using fresh ingredients , with the exception of the fish pieces and rissoles.  Everything has loads of vegies in it and because we use the same size containers all the time, portion control is not a problem.

Fried rice made from scratch, lots of vegies in it too.

Fried rice made from scratch, lots of vegies in it too.

Make sure you label and date everything before you put it in the freezer.

Make sure you label and date everything before you put it in the freezer.

In total we ended up with 112 meals.  Each meal cost us a grand total of $2.85. Yes you read that right – $2.85!  So if Mr B is away for 5 nights that is $14.25 for his meals for the week.  Not bad!

This is just what one shelf of our freezer looks like after our big cook-up.

This is just what one shelf of our freezer looks like after our big cook-up.

It might seem like a lot of work but it is so worth it money wise.  Especially as one of my goals this year is to cut our spending, especially on food.  The other thing is that anyone can adapt this to suit their individual needs.  There are so many people who work away from home or work shift work and making a stack of meals like we do is an ideal way to make sure that you always have a meal available.  It will also stop you from buying expensive take away, which is often not good for you, especially if you are watching your weight or have food allergies or intolerance’s.  Most work places these days have a microwave, so switch the foil trays for microwave safe containers and you will soon see the savings add up.

If you don’t have time to cook in one big hit like we did, just cook extra at night when you cook your family dinner and freeze the leftovers.

Love Me

 

Cooking from the Cupboard – Lamington Swirl Cake

It being Australia Day here today I thought I would make something yummy for afternoon tea. Following my very successful pantry cupboard clean out the other week I discovered a couple of packet butter cake mixes, a tin of cocoa and shredded coconut.  So I decided that I would put all these ingredients together and whip up an Aussie themed cake.

I had enough pantry ingredients to make this Lamington Cake.

I had these ingredients in my pantry ready to go!

Now I know packet cake mixes aren’t the ideal thing to use all the time, but I tend to keep a couple around for emergencies plus they are the essential ingredient when making Fruit Salad Cake.

Today I decided I would make a Lamington Swirl Cake.  I made the cake mix up as directed and then poured half into the cake tin before adding two tablespoons of cocoa to the remaining mixture.  I then poured that over the top of the plain mixture and then swirled it around with a knife before popping it in the oven.

My nod to the humble Aussie Lamington.

My nod to the humble Aussie Lamington.

I then topped it with chocolate icing and sprinkled the shredded coconut on top.  Voila – Lamington Swirl Cake!

A quick and easy Aussie Day treat!

A quick and easy Aussie Day treat!

 

Love Me

Cooking from the Cupboard – Banana Bread

So far my Pantry Cupboard Cleanout has been a success.  With the cupboard sorted out and everything put away neatly it has already made a difference being able to see clearly what is in there.  I was also able to make a shopping list of essentials that I was missing.  I have done the grocery shopping for this week and restocked basic items like herbs, powdered chicken stock and pasta.

When I cleaned the cupboard out I discovered a container with a very small amount of Wholemeal Self Raising Flour in it and a full packet of Wholemeal Plain Flour.  Combined with the three over-ripe bananas in the fridge and I knew I had all the ingredients for Banana Bread!

Banana Bread is a great way to use up those over-ripe bananas

Banana Bread is a great way to use up those over-ripe bananas

I have been collecting recipes for about 35 years now and have a large folder full of them.  Many of them are handwritten and came out of my Mum’s recipe book, which was just an old school exercise book, but there were some treasured family recipes in it.  Whenever I want to make something, I can nearly always find the right recipe in that folder of mine.

RECIPE – BANANA BREAD

1 cup Wholemeal plain flour

1/2 cup Wholemeal self-raising flour

1 cup brown sugar, loosely packed

1 tspn cinnamon

1 tablespoon of LSA mix or chia seeds (optional)

3 ripe bananas ( the softer the better) mashed

2 eggs, lightly whisked

125 gram butter, melted

METHOD

Pre-heat oven to 180` (less if oven is fan-forced) grease and line a large loaf pan.

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat and set aside to cool.

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix mashed banana and egg together and stir into dry ingredients then slowly add cooled butter and mix well until all dry ingredients are mixed in.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for about 40 -45 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to stand in pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.  Serve warm with butter.

Store in an air-tight container in a cool spot for 2-3 days.  Can also be sliced up and frozen in individual lots.  Ideal for work or school lunches.  DOWNLOAD AND PRINT

***NOTE*** Using more plain flour than self raising flour turns this recipe from Banana Cake to Banana Bread as the mixture doesn’t rise as much and therefore makes a ‘denser’ finished product.

Love Me