Easy Peasy Muesli Slice

I’m not a morning person. This surprises a lot of people because apparently I come across as “organised”. I’m usually the first one into the office. Since we moved into town (still not sure that I like being a townie) I’ve been walking the 4 kilometres to work four days a week and recently started going to the gym before work. But seriously, my organisational skill is all an illusion.

I get to work early and have time for the gym beforehand because I lay everything out and pack my gym bag the night before. If I take all the decision making out of the equation it’s all good.

But I often drop the ball on breakfast. To get going in the mornings I need to get up, get dressed and just go, otherwise I start to dither about and everything goes to pot. So sometimes I’m a bit naughty and skip breakfast but that means I end up eating whatever I can get my hands on at morning tea (usually not healthy choices) or feeling lethargic all day. So breakfast of some sort is a must.

I like simple, but I’m not really a cereal gal, plain old toast gets boring and despite being healthy smoothies somehow leave me feeling like I haven’t had any “real” food. Plus the blender wakes up the whole house (not good if you’re trying to sneak out before Miss T realises you’re leaving and starts leg clinging – apparently she’s perfectly fine as long as she doesn’t actually see me go).

I love an egg on toast, or sometimes avacado but avos are expensive and I have to cook an egg. That’s why these are great.. And not just for breakfast. They’re good for Lunchbox snacks or even as dessert warmed up with a little custard.

Muesli Slice

2 cups muesli (I use some fruit free, sugar free untoasted stuff with lots of raw oats)

1/3 cup rice malt syrup (or honey or maple syrup)

100 grams butter (or similar)

2 eggs

1/2 cup self raising flour

To make:

Preheat your oven to 170 Celsius and grease/line a baking tin approximately 16cm x 26cm or thereabouts.

Melt the syrup and butter over a low heat stirring until well combined. Let it cool then whisk in the eggs (make sure it’s cool or you’ll get scrambled eggs).

Combine the flour and muesli in a bow, stir through your butter, syrup eggy mix and pour/scrape into your prepared tin

Bake approximately 20 mins or until set and golden on top.

Let it cool in the pan and then cut into bars/squares or whatever shape you like (a 16 x 26 cm tin cuts nicely into 16 small bars).

Stored in an airtight container they last about a week.

I haven’t tried freezing these yet but will add an update when I do and let you know how they go.

For those of you who are into that sort of thing, made with butter, syrup and fruit free untoasted muesli these work out to about 153 calories per piece with 3 grams of protein, 7 grams of fat (1gram saturated), 21 grams carbohydrates and 2 grams of fibre. These stats will change slightly depending on which muesli, butter/butter substitute etc you use.

Bum Curry

Cheap as chips, made in a jiffy and would still taste good even if you threw an old boot in it. 
Great for when the cupboards are practically bare. This is one of my go-to fridge clear-out the night before grocery day meals that I know everyone in the Scrap House will eat.

This version used a tin of tuna, a soggy sweet potato and a bunch of broccoli stalks I had stashed in the freezer…

Bum Curry

So cheap and simple even a hobo could afford it

Essential Ingredients 

A small onion (diced), 2 cups of stock any flavour but we like chicken the best (brought liquid, homemade or powdered or one of those cubes made up to about 2 cups by adding water), a teaspoon of curry powder (more if you like it spicy), a teaspoon or so of oil ( to soften the onion we use olive or coconut oil for everything but use whatever you have in your pantry).

Ingredients you can vary

A large can of tuna. For this I used one of those  425g tins that costs less than $3 from Aldi. (Hopefully my cheap tuna didn’t cost too many dolphin tears- but when you’re on a budget some days you just have to choke on the guilt over sea creatures a little – at least here I know the tin gets recycled. Small compensation I  know but better than nothing. 

A small sweet potato (diced)

A cup full of chopped broccoli stalks.

To make

In a saucepan saute off your onion and veg until the onion is soft. Add the curry powder and stir through. Add stock and drained tuna. Simmer until veg are soft.

Serve by itself with a chunk of bread or on a bed of rice or pasta.

Good Variations

Okay, so we haven’t actually tried this recipe using an old boot, but at one time or another we’ve tried just about everything else… And so far, it’s never been bad..

Instead of of tuna try a tin of salmon, chick-peas, lentils or, if your flush this week, some chicken. 

Or you can leave out the meat or meat substitutes altogether and just use more veg.

Use any veg you have lying around at the bottom of the fridge, plain old white potato tastes good, so does pumpkin. Throw in some peas, carrots or corn. Celery and carrot always go well with onion. We save our broccoli, silverbeet, kale and cauliflower stalks for soups, stews and curries. The possibilities are endless.

One hint that does make a difference though is to balance out “bitter” veg, like cabbage with something a bit sweet or starchy or both  like carrot, pumpkin or potato. 

Pretty sure this cost me under $5 all up, it fed four of us a decent sized portion with enough for me to take a serve to work for lunch tomorrow and used up those bits of veg that would have otherwise been tossed in the compost (or worse – gone to landfill) … $1 a serve, can’t get much cheaper than that.

Crushing on Food Show Hosts and Why I don’t believe in “Superfoods”

Warning – Kinda ranty post with lots of research-y link things where I pick on quinoa and kale (a lot). If you’re offended by this click away now…

A typical weekly Scrap House “Superfoods” haul from the greengrocers.

Okay, I’m going to admit it… I spend far more time than I tell my family binge watching Food Network. Not only that, I then go off and stalk the show hosts I like on the interwebs.  

In doing so over this past few months I have developed a huge crush on Anthony Bourdain. Not the kind of teenage-girly-mid-life-crisis-leave-your-husband kind of crush, but one of those crushes when someone out there just “gets” ( obnoxiously swearingly agrees with) the way you think about stuff and then takes it a bit further and more think-y-er. (His recent essay on sexist kitchen culture has made him just that bit more interesting and attractive).

In short, I have an intellectual food-crush on this guy (she says adding him to the ever-growing list of food crushes … Sarah Wilson, Rachel Khoo, Maggie Beer, Rick Stein and that River Cottage Guy are just a few others. It’s getting pretty long). He’s not more special than any of the other chefs, cooks or obnoxious opinionated food lovers I follow on the interwebs. I  actually don’t know that much about his foody history, but I do like his no-BS commentary on the places he visits.  In particular like the attitude he shows towards food in his TV shows.

Yes, he visits “classy” “trendy” places and tries out all the fancy overpriced weird crud they offer, but the best bits are where he eats “real food” (and compares it to politics and stuff). The kind of food street vendors and somebodies Nona have been making for centuries (sometimes longer). And guess what… none of the stuff he rates as awesome is over-processed food chain or trendy “superfood” cafe fare. 

I actually cringe a little every time some hipster -wanna-be food guru uses the term “super-food”.

I feel more than a little miffed that all the so-called “experts” have treated us “ordinary” people like we’re just a little dim. I also feel a tad guilty that over the years, I too have been known to succumb to the hype spouted by popular and scientific media (yes scientists are hype-y too… they want you to believe that their research is better and more right-er than the other guys).

Take for example kale.

Yes its good for you, but, and I hate to be the one to tell you, kale is not new. I remember it in my own Nan’s garden in the 1970s (yes I’m that old) and there’s a bunch of WW2 era recipes out there that list it as a major ingredient (check out this recipe for Kale and Potato Soup). It grows just as easily as spinach or silverbeet, has the same kind of nutrients (there’s a table with all the numbers here for those who like that sort of thing). So quite frankly you can cram your $7 kale smoothie up your proverbial jacksy even if it is delicious. And I’m not the only one who thinks this. Theres a whole bunch of bloggers out there that tell you how to make your own and avoid the ridiculous Cafe prices (okay I lied theres just that one ). Even so, last time I went to the local greengrocer a bunch of kale was priced somewhere around $5. That’s still an expensive smoothie.

Same goes for those trendy quinoa salads (pronounced in our house key-noh-ahh) and chia (Chee-ahh) seed pudding slops. Okay, so I’ve tried them both. I’ll admit I did kind of like the pudding, it wasn’t abhorrent and I’m actually trying to use up the last of the chia seeds I brought months ago today by adding them to a beef casserole- kinda weird but its working.

I will also admit that I do love almond milk (used to make the pudding slop) which is both easily accessible here and not expensive. Almonds are grown on a farm near our house so I make the almond milk, mainly because I have an intolerance for the regular cow stuff, I’m not allergic it just makes me gag most days.

Yes, quinoa, chia seeds or your fancy dried frankle-frugen-berries are okay. Yes, they’re nutritional dynamite, but so is just about any fruit or vegetable if you don’t process the crap out of it. If you have food allergies and such they’re fab, but things like chia seed or quinoa are hard (almost impossible) to get un- plastic-packaged here in rural NSW, and often are transported in from overseas. Even if they are grown here in Australia are quite frankly overpriced for a lot of us feeding families on a budget. Quinoa costs approximately $14 per kilo here. Its currently around $2 per 100 grams at Woolworths, as opposed to  brown rice which is around 27 cents per 100 grams. Yes, quinoa beats brown rice for protein and a few other things but really they’re not all that different nutritionally, there’s a comparison diagram here.

Even “ordinary” foods have skyrocketed in price since being given the “super” label. Berries are the best example I can think of… blueberries here are $5 for a 200 gram punnet on a good day. That’s Australian dollars which equates to about 2 pound 50 or somewhere around $3.50 US depending on exchange rates and that’s just your un-organic supermarket variety, organic is (as always) a lot more. Frozen are often a lot cheaper (not to mention convenient) but again the plastic bag and transport.

Yeah okay so I made the frankle-frugen-berries up earlier, but you get what I mean….

In short, all these foodstuffs, and a whole lot of others are extremely un-family- budget or zero-waste friendly. Unless you have access to fantastic bulk stores locally, its hard to find most “superfoods” packaged in anything but plastic bags or other environmentally unfriendly containers. Yes they’ve got great nutritional stats, but so does almost every single unprocessed food (think whole grains, fruit, veg, dairy, meat). 

Add to that, the majority of recipes call for extra speciality ingredients that are equally ridiculous in price for families on a budget and get used once, thrown in the cupboard only to be forgotten and then thrown out next time you spring clean.

I have a suggestion for all of us that have succumb to the “superfood” hype at one time or another… it might not be a popular idea, but how about we forget it. Forget “superfood” altogether and eat “real” food instead. You know the stuff you can get at your local butcher, greengrocer, bakery or supermarket. If you have a green thumb or are lucky enough to live with someone who does, the stuff you grow yourself (hint-hint Mr Scraps, Grandad Scraps) and the stuff you can make in your own kitchen.

It’s better for you. “They” proved it in the 1940s (particularly in England) when people ate far less meat, less fat and less sugar than we do today due to rationing. It probably wasn’t the worlds most exciting diet most days (you had to take what you could get – there was a war happening) but on the whole people were fitter and healthier than they had been before or have been since. Give it a look-see on Dr. Google, most information is from England but here’s an SBS show about it . It was by no means perfect (nothing ever truly is, is it?) and food may have required a lot more preparation than today without our modern conveniences like refrigerators, microwaves and food processors, but it kept people, on the whole, fed and produced far far less waste than we do today.

For me personally biggest bonus to no longer buying into the “superfood” hype is that it saves sooo much time, mainly because its been done before. In the Scrap House we eat things like carrots, pumpkin, beans, mince beef and sometimes even…shock horror… white potatoes!

Why?

Because they’ve been done before. I don’t have to spend 14 hours trawling the internet trying to find out how the heck to cook that supa-dippity-do-dah ingredient after a day at work with a hungry 4-year-old at my feet. If you don’t slather most whole real food stuffs in fat or sugar they have nutritional values on the same levels as your expensive “superfood” varieties.  The biggest bonus is however, that NO ONE in the Scrap House turns their nose up at a humble baked spud or meatloaf full of hidden grated veg, they will however leave the kale chips to go limp on the bench  and that quinoa salad with laboriously extracted pomegranate seed embellishments to fester in the back of the fridge….

….. and it would of too, but I ate that stuff for lunch for a week just so it didn’t get thrown to the Immortal Chicken.

 

 

 

How we Clean the Scrap House Without Chemicals for Under $10 a Month

Feeding your family great food on a budget isn’t just about what you plate up and take to the table. It isn’t just about the produce you buy or your cooking techniques, it’s a reflection of your entire cooking environment. How you organise your space, prep your food and even how you launder you tea towels, will affect the quality of your final product. Here in the Scrap House we try our best within our budget to eat healthy nutritious food and avoid ingesting any unnecessary chemicals. One of the best ways to do this (besides buying pesticide free produce etc) is to eliminate the chemical cleaners.

I’ve posted a few times recently with recipes for homemade cleaning products, but I get so many emails and messages about them all I thought it would be nice to have them all in one place (ie.this post).

I also get asked about how much it costs to switch over, how much time it takes to organise it all and what extras I needed to buy to switch over.

The short answer is, it costs next to nothing and no special equipment needed. You probably already have everything you need in your house already.

The long answer is, it might cost you a few dollars to get going (I’m talking maybe $20 or $30 if you don’t have things already but if you divide it by 12 it works out to between $1.20 and $2.50 a month, although if you don’t have things like a mop and a broom it may cost a little more).

What you need

Not a lot. You probably have most of these things already. One of the great things about cleaning this way is that you can buy a few things in bulk and by just mixing them in different ways you can make lots of different “products”. 

For the purposes of this post I’m going to assume that your cleaning cupboard already contains cleaning cloths, a mop, scrub brush, broom, buckets and so forth. If you need to purchase any of these things it’s obviously going to cost a little (or a lot) more than $10 for the month.

White Vinegar we use approximately 2 litres per month ($1.20 for 2 litres in a recyclable plastic bottle or we use homemade Apple Scrap Vinegar but its not quite as strong. I have seen a few places online that sell bulk but they also come in plastic bottles and work out  more expensive at around $2 per litre so until we find a place that has bulk on tap we’re sticking to the cheap supermarket brand). 

Bicarbonate of Soda (500 gram homebrand at Woolworths is $1.59 but it comes in a plastic bag, the McKenzies brand (in cardboard box ) is $2.49 at most supermarkets, we buy in bulk 5kg lots for $20.50 through a soap maker and go through about two lots per year and reuse the buckets for various things before they go into recycling).

Washing Soda is currently $3.85 a kilogram at Woolworths in town. This is the cheapest I can find it locally. There was cheaper online but by time I added postage it worked out closer to $5 a kilogram (if you can’t find it in the supermarket you can make your own from Bicarbonate of Soda if you scroll to the bottom of my previous post about dishwasher tablets you’ll find the instructions I shared with readers to make it in the comments). We use about 10 kilograms a year.

Bars of Soap (about $1 a bar. We average about one a month for household cleaning purposes (more if you count the ones we use for personal hygiene). We hunt around for palm oil free varieties when possible, if you wanted to you could make your own so you know exactly whats in it or if you’re not fussed you can get boxes of plain laundry soap in boxes of 5 or so from the supermarket laundry isle for under $3).

Essential Oils (Not strictly necessary but a nice addition. I like Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Lavender and Lemon for their anti-fungus properties, smell, they generally cost a little less per ml than most others and at a pinch are available from your local supermarket in decent sized bottles. You can currently get 200 ml of Eucalyptus oil for $10 at Woolworths ).

Citrus peels & Juice (orange, lemon, lime etc. If you don’t have enough peels save them in the freezer until you do). We don’t buy lemons as lots of people we know have trees and are only too glad to offload a few during fruit season. They freeze just fine whole so I always just throw a few in the bottom of the freezer for when we’ve got none fresh. You can also pre-squeeze them and freeze the juice for later but I’m a bit lazy, so I usually just throw in the whole fruit.

Total cost for all this is approximately: $12 soap + $41 bicarbonate of soda+$30 essential oils + $30.85= $113.85. If you divide this by 12 you get $9.48 (ie. less than $10 per month).

There’s other things you could add like citric acid, methylated spirit, borax, extra oils etc which can be handy for stubborn stains etc but you don’t really need them. A few recipes use salt and sugar (dishwasher tablets and vinegar for example) but they use very little and most of us already have these things in our pantry cupboard anyway. I try and avoid borax even though it can be great for stain removal and give extra omph to some homemade cleaning  products as I found when we used it the Uni Students eczema flared up, it might be coincidence but if we can do without it why take the chance.

I’ve previously shared a few of the recipes we use regularly in earlier posts (you might have to do some scrolling to find them….

Apple Scrap Vinegar

Dishwasher Tablets

Cream/Paste Cleaner

Glass Cleaner

I’ve shared some details about our Laundry Powder before which I make by mixing 1 bar of grated soap to 1 kilogram each of Bicarbonate of soda and Washing Soda. We add approximately 2 tablespoons worth to each full load in our 7kg top-loading machine. We don’t use fabric softeners at all, just 1/4 cup of vinegar in the rinse dispenser. If we want to add smelly stuff we drop in a few drops of essential oil or I make up lavender or rose water when the plants are in flower.

Lavender Water 

4 teaspoons of lavender flowers fresh or dried (if you have or know someone with a plant grab some flowers and dry them by tying a bunch and hanging them upside down somewhere dry and airy. Pop a paper bag over the flower heads while they’re hanging to catch any that fall off, when they’re dry you can just leave them in the bag in a drawer somewhere until you need them).

2 cups (500ml) Boiling Water 

Steep the lavender in the water like you’re making tea. When it cools strain it into a container  and add a little to your washing machine either in the fabric softener dispenser or during the final rinse cycle. To make it a moth repellent use 4 teaspoons of lavender and 2 teaspoons of rosemary (if you don’t have a rosemary plant handy the dried stuff from the supermarket will do).

Laundry Gel

50 grams of pure soap (any kind you like). Grated. I just use the finest side of an old fashioned metal box grater and do half a dozen bars at a time. I store the grated soap in an old Tupperware container for whenever I need it.

60 grams (1/4 cup) either Washing Soda OR Bicarbonate of Soda

4 Litres (16 cups) of water

A Big Pot  I use my 20 litre stock pot but if you don’t have a big enough pot just divide up the ingredients into smaller batches.

Add a few cups of the water and the soap to the pot and stir until boiling. Turn it down to a simmer and whisk, stir,mash until all the soap is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the washing or bicarbonate of soda, stirring well. Pour into a large container (this is where our bulk buy buckets come in handy) and stir in the remaining water until its well blended. When its cooled it sets to a soft jelly. We use two cups of jelly per full load if the clothes are really grubby, or one cup for smaller loads or things that don’t require heavy cleaning like cotton sheets.

Hint to prevent yellowing of clothes

I’ve had lots of people tell me their clothes either don’t come clean or their lights go yellow when they switch to homemade variety powders and gels. In our experience this isn’t the homemade product, its actually the residue from the old detergents stopping the cleaning process.

To prevent your clothes from yellowing and make them actually come clean when you switch to the laundry gel or homemade laundry powder put your clothes through a cycle using washing soda only. You only need to do this once,the first time you wash using your homemade products. Make up a bucket containing  2 cups of washing soda dissolved in 2 1/2 litres of water (about 9 cups). When you’re ready to wash just add 2 cups to a full load and run it through without adding anything else, then wash your clothes again using your homemade powder or gel. just do it as each batch of washing needs to be done. The clothes  already put through the washing soda only process just hold aside until the others have gone through,then throw them in and wash the whole load as normal.

For a good all purpose cleaner we use citrus vinegar. There’s heaps of articles on the interweb about it and I’m unsure where the recipe originally came from but I was told about it years ago (before we had internet – yes I’m that old, I can remember what it was like in the olden days without mobile phones or computers in every house) so hopefully I’m not plagiarising anyone here.

Citrus Cleaner

You’ll need.

A jar or jars (we usually have a few  batches brewing in the cupboard ready for when we need more).

White Vinegar

Citrus Peels. You’ll need to make sure there’s no flesh on them, you just want the peels. 

Fill your jar with citrus peels. Pour in the vinegar until peels are completely submerged. Put the lid on and put it in the cupboard or leave on the bench for at least 2 weeks  so the citrus oils out of the peels infuse with the vinegar. Give it a shake when you think of it to speed the process up. 

To use: Simply pour some into a spray bottle and dilute 1:1 with water. Give it a shake and use like any other spray on, wipe off cleaner. If you’re worried about it affecting your bench tops or anything, make sure you try a little in an inconspicuous spot first (the rim under your counter works well).

Note: You can leave this in the jar pretty much indefThe peels need to be fully submerged or you might find the bits that stick out go mouldy if you’re like me and shove the jar in the back of the cupboard and forget to shake it.

Saturday Semolina

We’re moving house soon so I’ve been trying to use up all those bits and pieces in the pantry so we don’t have to shop before we relocate. We’re only moving a few kilometres up the road but the fewer boxes the better. Our pantry is fairly organised compared to most but even I have some skeletons in my cupboard, or rather strange jars in my pantry. I’ve found all sorts of interesting and forgotten things in there. Half a jar of brown sugar from before we embraced a low sugar life, some two-minute noodles of death that came in a gift hamper I’m not sure when…they may have moved house with us more than once…scary. 

But there have also been some treasures, like the jar of semolina I had left from my last round of pasta making.

I have fond memories of semolina. When I moved to the big smoke (aka downtown Adelaide) in my early twenties with new baby in hand, hospitality job that saw me working unnatural hours and an often absentee and in hindsight, abusive husband (no, definitely not the current Mr Scraps) it was semolina that saved my sanity.

Or  was it the tiny Greek lady two doors down, the one with the knotty fingers and hearty laugh who brought it to my door in all its glutinous protein glory one Saturday morning. We’d met only  briefly a few days before when I caught her “stealing” the grapefruit from our tree that overhung the old pairing  side fence. She had thought I “looked a bit worn out”, so here she was pot in hand to make my day easier.

Saturday semolina became a thing. Sometimes  it was flavoured with nothing more than a little brown sugar, sometimes it swam in warm milk, others it was piled high with sliced banana or berries and their syrupy juice. And always there was thick, home-brewed black coffee. Sometimes we chatted and sometimes,  if my baby was sleeping we just sat silently slurping in glutinous goodness, washing it down with thick black goo. When we did chat,  we discussed nothing really,  the weather,  children, husbands and sometimes she went home with fruit from our trees,  sometimes she brought me olives from hers. They were some of the best conversations I ever had. It didn’t matter what time I crawled home after dinner service on Friday, or how many times the baby woke after I did,  I was always up bright and early Saturday morning waiting for the lady with the pot.

Eventually she showed me how to make my own as well as many other things. We eventually moved away, but I stayed in contact, if somewhat sporadically over the years. Sadly my Saturday Semolina lady passed away a few years ago at the ripe old age of 98. I’d like to think she’s out there somewhere, supervising ( and probably shaking her head, waving her hands and laughing) every time I make this…

Saturday Semolina 

This makes one really large serving or two small ones.

1/3 cup semolina
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp brown sugar (we substitute this for Rice Malt Syrup although if you use whole creamy milk you don’t really need any extra sweetener at all).
1/4 tsp salt

Put the semolina, milk, water, brown sugar and salt in a small saucepan.

Cook over a medium heat, stirring, until it is as thick as you want it. This usually takes about 3-5 minutes.

Serve in a bowl or mug with a little milk, and a sprinkling of cinnamon, sliced banana, nuts, a handful of  berries or whatever takes your fancy.

Why We Refuse to Resolution 

 

Some of you are probably glad 2017 is over, others sad to see it go. We’re a bit of a mix here. Fortunately more happy than sad. Whatever your feelings on 2017,all here at the Scrap House wish you a bright shiny Happy New Year… yes even Scrap Cat (possibly with some sarcasm – he’s a bit like that)

Happy New Year Humans… now either feed me or go away…

My personal & public Twit, Face-lurk and Insta-stalk notifications went nuts this morning with well-wishes for 2018 and declarations of goals for the year.

Save Money. Loose Weight. Get Fit. Travel. Get Rich. Be more Eco. Buy a House. Build a House. Become a Minimalist. Be More Spiritual. Start a Business.  Give up Booze or cigarettes or sugar or whatever else.

It’s great that everyone has “resolved” to do these things and I truly wish them well. Some of these are actually really awesome goals to have. But we all know that by the end of January most (practically all) of these resolutions will have fallen by the wayside.

Instead of resolutions in the Scraps House we set INTENTIONS throughout the year as the need arises/inspiration strikes.

The New Year is as good an opportunity as any to reflect upon our values and priorities.  We set (or at least try to) intentions to align our lives with these values. This isn’t goal setting—it’s not something we attach  expectations or evaluation to; rather, it’s a deliberate vision, a purpose, or attitude we’d be proud to commit to, one that matches our deepest sense of who we are.

They’re different to Resolutions because resolutions are goals and they are finite. They usually have a start and cut off date. EG. By December 31 I will have done/achieved X. That’s a lot of pressure. Intentions on the other hand (for us anyways) are about forming habits, going with the flow and building a lifestyle, yes they’re goals, but there’s no rigid time frames for any of it. Intentions allow you a little more wiggle room. You can re-evaluate as you go and a lot of times this can allow you to surpass whatever your original goal was.

Last year my personal intention was to finish my degree and find a job that was actually related to it. I talked about it a lot not to shout it out to the world, but more to motivate myself. Because I looked at it as an intention and not something set in stone I could tell people how sucky my essay sounded or how hard I was finding it to fit in study around work/kids/life. Yes I felt like chucking in the towel more than a few times, but because I hadn’t made it a resolution (other than assignment deadlines which were bad enough) to finish my degree by a certain date or at a certain level (other than the best I could do), set-backs like a lower than wished for mark on an essay didn’t make me give up or feel like a total failure (not always anyway).

Mr Scraps and I intended to reduce our household waste by whatever we could. This was a continuation of something we started a long time ago, not a new years thing. Its still going (in fact its on this years list as well) but we have no strict number on it. We produce maybe enough to fill a plastic bread bag (if I can find one) full of non-recyclable waste every fortnight,sometimes a little more, sometimes less. We’re still working on reducing the amount of recycling. If we’d resolved to get it down to a certain amount by a certain time (I see so many posts about people wanting to get down to that mason jar amount this year) we definitely would have given up long ago. Instead we’re happily plodding along, doing our best, making mistakes and learning from them.

Our intentions as a family are to simply continue being, to do what we can to reduce our waste and a bunch of other stuff. And we didn’t wait until new years to start any of them and I didn’t necessarily shout them out in public either.

Most things are little, some are larger but the list changes as we go.

Yep,I’d like to buy a boat and sail the world, build a tiny house and become a mountain dwelling self-sufficient hermit too…

But to be realistic….

This year we’re moving house so we intend to use it as an opportunity to reduce our stuff by leaving things in boxes until we actually NEED them. If we don’t have to get them out after 6 months or so we’ll sell or donate them.

Our household and  income is changing. Not just because we’re moving house. The Big kids are leaving home for their jobs, Mr Scraps will no longer be covered by insurance for his disability, the Younger Teen is turning 16, is changing schools and now has a part time job. Our intention is to try and build an emergency fund without sacrificing too much in lifestyle.

We’ve all over-indulged over the Christmas break, too much wine, too much sugar and just too much food in general (seriously will the ham never be finished? I feel like we’re drowning in the stuff). As of this week we’re taking a leaf out of one of my favourite blogger’s books (well posts) and intend to get back to basics with our food.

After my experiments growing food from scraps this past year my intention is to try and grow a few more edible things (probably in pots to start- although the house we’re moving to has a lemon tree already- yay. Expect lots of lemony recipes this year). Despite growing up on a farm I’ve never really done any growing of my own.The garden has always been Mr Scraps department, so I’m starting basically from scratch. I did receive this book for Christmas though, which I’m hoping will prove to be a bit of a useless Aussie gardener’s bible…

My celery I grew from a butt…

All of these intentions align quite nicely with our desire to live more simply and produce less waste.For me personally, intentions are about living low and slow, taking into account your environment, emotions and relationships.

What intentions do you have for 2018?

 

 

 

How Scrap family reduces food waste and saves some $$$

9 ways the Scraps family has reduced food waste and saved some money

Australian’s throw away thousands of $$$ worth of food a each year. That’s THOUSANDS! I don’t know about your family, but ours definitely doesn’t have thousands of disposable dollars laying around to waste on food that we don’t get to eat.

We’re by no means perfect or even experts but we do manage quite well on what I consider a very lower middle-class income. I’ve had lots of questions about it lately via face-lurk,  especially when I post about saving on groceries or put up recipes that feed the fam for next to nix. So today I’m going to share the principles we follow to reduce (mainly food) waste and save a few $$$ especially when the budget’s a bit tighter than usual.

1. Know what’s in the pantry

By knowing what’s in the fridge, freezer and  cupboards—fresh fruit N veg , canned stuff, dry herbs and staples like flour or rice—the less likely we are to return from the shops or to get home and realise we’ve already got one (or more) of something. On weeks when the budget’s really tight shopping the pantry first can be a real lifesaver. We often find enough for at least half a weeks meals are already there. The teens are really good at coming up with creative ideas for whats in the cupboard….they’re not always great ideas, but they are creative….

2. The List Abides

Writing a shopping list based on what’s at home and what we plan to cook during the week means we avoid buying more than whats needed and don’t purchase items we can go without. (Although I  do try to include at least one small “indulgence” each week like a little chocolate or the extra ingredients for a special desert or Lunchbox snack). I actually loathe shopping (of almost every kind) so having a list makes this a much faster and less painful task and thankfully, our greengrocer delivers!

3.  Check the expiry date

We check expiry dates when we’re shopping and try to buy things like milk, cheese, dry and tinned goods, with the longest shelf-life remaining possible. We position older items at the front of the fridge or cupboard, so they get eaten first (actually Mr Scraps  is much more vigilant about this than I am). If fruit and veg start to go a bit soft, we also look at ways to incorporate them into soups, sauces and desserts. If we’re short on time, we freeze them for later (which reminds me …I have a bunch of squishy fruit in the freezer that we can use for smoothies this week).

4. Portion control

No, I don’t mean we put the family on a diet. But we’ve found out the hard way that if there’s only three of us at home on Thursday but my meal plan looks more like something for when there’s five or six  of us, we end up tossing A LOT of uneaten food to the Immortal Chicken. We try to buy and cook only what we need. And if I’m  making extra,that it’s something that can be easily frozen for later. Every now and then I do this on purpose so there’s some individual servings of whatever in the freezer for lunches or those nights when something unexpected crops up and we can’t cook (or I just plain don’t want to).

5. Storing food

Airtight containers,  fridges and freezers all play a part in prolonging the shelf life of certain foods. So, if we’ve got meat in the fridge that we’re not going to eat this week,we  put it in the freezer. Same for fruit and veg. For example green beans are on special at the greengrocer this week so I’ve ordered a box full to be delivered.  After work today I plan to blanch and freeze most of them for later ( unless of course Mr Scraps channels his inner kitchen fairy and has it done already by time I get home).

6. Leftover nights

If we make more food than we can consume, rather than throw it out, we pack it for lunch or save it for dinner the following night. The bonus is I don’t have to cook again the next day. I try to have a Leftover night written into our Meal Plan once a week.

7. Keep a Container

In the car, bottom of the pram or your bag. If Mr Scraps and I or one of the Scrap kids can’t finish  our  restaurant meal, we ask to take it home. If we can stretch one meal into two – we not only  reduce waste and the second meal is essentially free so we save a few $$$$.

8.  Compost or find a chicken…

We don’t actually compost because we have the Immortal Chicken. Chickens are great for recycling things like fruit and veg peels (except onions and citrus) and all manner of scraps. If you don’t have a chicken of your own (or a neighbour who does) compost bins  and worm farms will break down food scraps and at the same time create natural fertiliser for plants. If you’re lucky (like people in our area) your local council has commercial compost facilities, but also check out your local schools or community gardens if you can’t (or don’t want to) compost at home.

9. Grow your own

Okay, so I’m not so great at this (I’m told I have a “black thumb”) but saving money is one of the biggest reasons people grow food at home. Having a stash of herbs and vegetables means  always having access to fresh ingredients and just the right amount. I have had some success regrowing veg like celery and carrot tops from the scraggy end bits we usually cut off and throw to the Immortal Chicken, but it takes a while and I’m too impatient.

S

Glass Tupperware? Is it worth the $$$$

We’re constantly told that plastic is evil. I’m not going to lecture you all about it here, there’s plenty of research and about a bajillion blog posts about it out there, so if you’re interested in opinions or statistics do a search on the ‘ol googly. 

One thing most of the overwhelming opinions you will find out there is that glass is a much better alternative for food storage than plastic, both environmentally and affordability wise. But while glass is definitely a more environmentally friendly alternative to your mamma’s Tupperware,  I’m not advocating that you immediately ditch the stuff you already have. We still have Tupperware style containers that we have repurposed for storage in the bathroom , laundry and shed. Some we still use for storing dry goods in the pantry and the Scrap kids still have plastic lunchboxes which are being replaced only as they reach the end of their little plasticy lives. We have however, made a commitment not to bring (where possible)  any new plastic containers into the Scrap House.

Those of you on the face-lurk page already know that over the past few weeks we’ve been testing various brands of glass “Tupperware”  style storage containers. We already use the Glasslock brand ones and I’m fairly happy with them, but they’re expensive, I got a great deal on two sets from Shop Naturally earlier this year but even that was over $100AU and if you break one and want to replace individual containers they start at around $15-$20 each.

There are cheaper brands out there that claim to do the same job for much cheaper (around $5 for a 1 litre container) so we picked up a few and tested them out.  I’ll be updating this post over the next few weeks as we put each container through its paces so you might want to check back every now and then to see the final verdict.

Container R came from the Reject Shop and cost $5AU. The brand is Mijotex, is made in China and claims to be BPA and lead free, comes in a box with additional plastic wrap inside.

Container G is one of the original Glasslock containers we purchased earlier this year. Individually it costs around $15 ( current lowest price found on Ebay Australia). Glasslock products are made and packaged in South Korea. The set we brought came boxed with just some foam style sheets between the containers for protection. I’m told these can’t be recycled but there were just a few and we’ll reuse them when we pack stuff either for storage or next time we move house. 

Container  K was purchased at K- mart for $5AU. It’s actually Home & Co brand which is produced in China. It does however, come with a 12 month warranty (or so it says on the packaging – which is just the piece of shiny printed paper you can see inside the container). 

All three have been produced overseas and thus have a carbon footprint from not only production but also from shipping.   G was also shipped to my house which equals more emissions from postage. I picked R and K up when I was out running errands, so perhaps slightly less emissions there (depending on how they were originally produced).

All have plastic PBA free lids with clip-clop sides and silicone or rubber inserts to keep the seal airtight. R also has a steam vent for reheating food in the microwave, although we tend to NOT microwave anything in plastic no matter how safe it claims to be (call me paranoid but I just don’t trust that we don’t end up eating plastic chemicals).

The first thing you notice is the weight. The Glasslock containers are definitely heavier than the others. The container walls are slightly thicker.  Being glass, in theory all the glass components of these containers are fully recyclable (which is great). However they are all made from tempered glass, which while it makes them more durable and oven/microwave/ dishwasher safe, it also means that they are much harder to Recycle and can’t go into our regular curbside recycling bin. 

How we tested them out:

The first test we put them through was for leaks.

 I filled them all with water, snapped on the lids, shook them around and tipped them upside down. No leaks from G or K,  there was a little leakage from the steam vent of R

Next was the oven test:

When I made Lasagne for dinner two weeks ago (our dinner Lasagne is in the loaf tin top left of the photograph), I made some extra in the containers. They all proved fine in the oven and all cooked at the same rate. 

No cracked glass due to heat or anything like that, although I am going to reserve judgement a little until I have baked in them a few more times.

I let them cool on the bench before snapping on the lids and popping them in the freezer for a week. 

So far so good.

Don’t forget to check back to this post over the next few weeks, as I update the results. If you’ve tried any of these containers (or similar containers in other brands) let’s us know what you think in the comments below. 

Update 10 December 2017

So we’ve been using these containers a while now. So far, no breakages (either through use or clumsiness). 

The questions we (and everyone else it seems) have been most interested in are:

1) Ease of closing and opening lids?

They all open and close easily. I did find that the  G lids would “stick” a little if you put the lid on before whatever you are storing has properly cooled. 

(2) Airtightness of lids, particularly with liquids.

G and K seal well everytime. R has a little steam vent in the top which will leak a little if you tip it up so not as airtight as it could be.

(3) Stackability/space saving storage of the empties.

They do take up space in your cupboard. And while you can stack  them (depending on the sizes and shapes you choose)  they definitely don’t cram inside one another like a lot of plastic containers will. So none of them really save you any space in the cupboard. 

(4) Going from refrigerator directly to microwave (since freezertomicro is definitely a nono)

I don’t do this because I don’t like to heat up plastic of any kind in the microwave if I can help it (no matter how safe it’s claimed to be). Mr Scraps however doesn’t really have a problem with it, and neither do some of our friends. Surprisingly all the lids have held up pretty well, although R has become a little “domed” and G appears to have slightly “twisted”. 

(5) Materials issues (lids cracking or splitting, glass cracking or shattering, etc)

Except for the above mentioned doming and twisting, no issues with any of this so far with any of them. I have been told by a few people that the clips crack or break off after constant freezer use, but we haven’t experienced this yet with any of them. I’ll let you know if they eventually do.

A note on the dishwasher :

Dont. I know that most plastics say you can put them in the top shelf  but I wouldn’t trust it at all. The G lid warpped (not a lot but it was quite noticeable)  after only one cycle through. I was able to flatten it out again by soaking it in hot water and stacking a few of the  G containers on top of it for the day but to be other safe side, we’ll just be handwashing the lids from now on. The actual glass container parts have been fine in the dishwasher,  no different to a coffee cup or ceramic put dish. 

(6) Whether the plastic lid tends to hold any odors from prior foods


Not the lids so much as the seals (that bit of rubber/silicone inside the rim of the lid to help create an airtight seal). Especially on G. You need to take them out, wash and dry them well, especially if there’s been strong smelling liquids in them. But for hygiene sake we do this anyways. 

There’s been no staining so far, even with lasagne or spaghetti bolongnaise (which nearly always stains plastic containers and leaves them smelling of onion and garlic ). 

Stop the Stink

 

Mr Scraps and I ditched store-brought deodorant a while ago after I developed a rash using a popular brand roll on . Mr Scraps had issues with a few popular brands too, and after  reading some scientific papers linking some of the ingredients in popular brand name deodorants and antiperspirants with cancers and dementia we were both keen to find a natural alternative.

It took a bit of experimenting but we’ve found a few recipes that really work, cost next to nix to make and best of all don’t contain any nasty chemicals.

I make up two versions because Mr Scraps found my version (which uses baking soda) irritated his skin quite badly. Plus he likes his to have a “man stink” while I prefer a citrus scent.

Ms Scraps Homemade  Deodorant

 

1/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup arrowroot flour or cornstarch

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 tablespoon shea butter (optional)

5 grams beeswax (optional)

10 drops essential oil ( I like tea tree or lemon but use whatever you like, or you can leave this out for a fragrance free version ).

A jar, tin or other container that will hold a smidgen over half a cup of liquid.

To make:  Melt the coconut oil, beeswax and shea butter in a heatproof bowl. You can do this in the microwave or place the bowl over a saucepan of water on the stovetop.

Add the other ingredients stirring until you get a smooth runny paste.

Pour into your jar and leave to set.

To used just scoop out a pea sized amount (you could use a spoon but I just use my fingers) and rub under your armpits.

Mr Scraps B.S. Free Man Stink

Mr Scraps Homemade Stink Stopper. He loves the recycled hair wax container we put it in!

For baking soda free version simply replace the baking soda for either diatomaceous earth or benotite clay. Mr Scraps likes sandalwood oil or frankensence oil for fragrance.

In really hot weather it might go a little liquidy so make sure you use a leak proof container if you’re travelling. The beeswax does stop this a bit.

If it’s really cold it’ll go hard. I just scrap some off the top. It melts from your bodysuit once you rub it on.

Miss T’s Flatbread 

We love bread in the Scrap House. Especially Miss T. Our local bakery makes some great loaves that we can pick up in our calico bread bag to avoid the plastic wrap but  they don’t sell flatbread.  

Flatbread is great for wraps, as a pizza base, to accompany curries, chilli and the like or as Miss T prefers them…warm and soft straight from the pan.

You can get all fancy with them adding herbs, Cheese, spices etc but your basic flatbread only takes two ingredients – flour and water, plus a little oil for frying.

Miss Ts Flatbread 

(Makes 2 large or 4 medium/small flatbread. To make more just double or triple quantities) 

1 cup Plain Flour

1/3 cup water

Olive oil (or your preferred oil) for frying. 

Mix the flour and water into a pliable dough, kneading until smooth.  Set aside in a covered bowl on the bench to rest for approximately 30mins.

Divide the dough into 4 (small/medium sized flatbread)  or 2 (for large flatbread)  and roll out thin on a floured board. A round shape is good because it will fit in the frypan nicely but it doesn’t really matter what shape they come out.

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a frying over a high heat and fry off the flatbread for about a minute each side until it puffs up a little and begins to look a bit golden in colour. 

Serve immediately or once cool pop them in an airtight container to use later ( They last few days). They freeze well too. I pop them in the freezer with a layer of paper between them so I can just grab one off the top as needed. 

Variations: Replace the water with plain yoghurt. This is great for pizza bases.

If you’re going to store them a while add  1/4 teaspoon of salt to the dough.

Flatbread that is starting to dry out can be cut into shapes, sprinkled with a little oil and seasoning of your choice and crisped in a slow oven to make “chips”.  Great as a snack on they’re own or with dip.

We use plain wheat flour or wholemeal flour, but you can use any flour you like. Some flours may require more or less liquid so add water slowly until you get a soft pliable (but not sticky) dough.