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

 

How To Prepare For A Busy Week

I normally only work 18 hours a week made up of two half days and one full day.  Over the coming weeks I am taking on some extra hours and for the next two weeks at least I will be working 38 hours.  After that I know I will have extra hours but I’m not sure of how many exactly.  Mr B, who is a truck driver, will also be away from Sunday night until Friday night, so all the responsibility for the kids falls on me as well. I am used to this side of things as he has always spent part of his working week away, ever since we first started going out.

So, I wanted to make sure that I was organised for the coming week so as I didn’t feel stressed during the week.  Whether you work full time, part time or are a stay at home mum it pays to be organised.  So here are my top tips for getting yourself and your household organised when you know you are going to have a busy week.

1.  WASHING AND IRONING -If you know you are coming into a busy time at work try and catch up on the washing. There is nothing worse than coming home after a long day at work and finding you still have a pile of washing to do.  Of course this is sometimes unavoidable, especially if you still have younger children. Fold and put away everything as it dries. If you have to iron work clothes and school uniforms try watching a movie at the same time.  I will need to do a load of washing mid-week as I don’t have enough uniforms (school or work) for a full week, but this will be manageable as I finish early on Wednesday.

Folding your clothes as you get them off the line will save you ironing them.

Folding your clothes as you get them off the line will save you ironing them.

2.  HOUSEWORK – Get in and get that housework done.  Vacuum and mop and at the very least clean the toilets and hand basins.  If your house is reasonably clean at the start of the week it should survive the rest of the week without you needing to do much.

3. MEAL PLANNING – When you’re busy a meal plan is essential. I try and do a meal plan every week, but I don’t mind if I don’t stick to it, however this week I will be looking for quick easy meals that I can throw together when I get home or that the kids can help me with.  Having a meal plan done prior to doing your grocery shop will ensure that you have all the right ingredients on hand and will save the mad after work dash to the supermarket.

4. LUNCHES – If you take lunch to work or have to prepare school lunches that can take up a lot of extra time in the mornings when you are trying to get out the door.  Some people make their sandwiches the night before but I hate sandwiches that have been in the fridge so I try and have everything else ready to go and then make the sandwiches in the morning.  I have also done some cooking over the last few days and have Tuna Mornay and ham and cheese muffins frozen and ready to go in lunch boxes. I also still have a few pieces of Zucchini Slice from last week in the freezer.

Grapes, strawberries and baby tomatoes are great snacks for work or school.

Grapes, strawberries and baby tomatoes are great snacks for work or school.

Not everyone is a fan of tuna but I love it in Tuna Mornay!

Not everyone is a fan of tuna but I love it in Tuna Mornay!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. SCHOOL NOTES – There always seems to be notes or permission slips from the school that need dealing with.  This week it is school photos so I have made sure that I have paid on line and filled in the details on the envelopes ready to go.

6. SCHEDULE BILL PAYMENTS – Take the time to check what bills are due during the week and if possible schedule the payments to be made automatically or set a reminder on your phone so as you remember to do it when you get home.

Schedule bill payments or set reminders in your phone.

Schedule bill payments or set reminders in your phone.

 

7. FILL THE CAR UP – It’s a good idea to fill the car up at the start of the week that way you know it has enough petrol in it to last you the entire week.

 

Love Me

Zucchini Slice

We were having a discussion at work today about how hard it is to keep coming up with ideas for dinner that will please all the family.  We also agreed that we were sick of cooking the same old things all the time.  So I decided to get my trusty old recipe folder out and see if I could find something that I hadn’t cooked for ages and I came up with Zucchini Slice.

Zucchini Slice is such a versatile dish.  You can eat it on it’s own, with other vegetables and meat and it’s great as a side dish for barbecue’s.  It can also be eaten cold and goes really well in the kids lunchbox’s.  The recipe I use was my Mum’s and I know it was in her repertoire for many years.

Zucchini Slice is quick and easy to make.  It's also very tasty.

Zucchini Slice is quick and easy to make. It’s also very tasty.

I use Rice Bran Oil for cooking, but you can use whatever oil you normally cook with.  If you follow a gluten free diet you can replace the flour with a cup of cooked rice and it still turns out just as yummy.

RECIPE – ZUCCHINI SLICE

2 – 3 medium zucchinis

1 medium onion

4 rashers bacon

1 cup grated tasty cheese

1 cup self raising flour

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup cream

6 eggs, lightly beaten

salt/pepper to taste

METHOD

Coarsely grate unpeeled zucchini.  Trim bacon of rind and excess fat and roughly chop. Finely dice onion.  Mix together in a bowl adding, flour, cheese, oil, cream and eggs.  Season with salt and pepper and mix well until all flour is combined.

Spray an oven proof dish lightly with cooking spray, making sure you coat the sides as well.  Pour mixture in and spread out evenly.  Bake in a slow to moderate oven – 160` to 170` – for 30 to 40 minutes until top is golden brown.

Serve with meat or chicken of your choice and steamed vegies.

Leftover slice can be stored in a container in the fridge for 1 to 2 days.  DOWNLOAD AND PRINT

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