Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Slimming World Friendly Chorizo and Prawn Paella

Not sponsored by or affiliated with Slimming World, I am a paying member

Hi!

I've made this a few times now on Snapchat - it's pretty much my go-to comfort dinner, and I always get asked about it. I think the recipe was in a Slimming World magazine last year or the year before, but I tweak it a bit to suit me. Don't be afraid to tweak recipes - if you don't like prawns, you can substitute chicken, turkey or pork in this recipe. You could add vegetables, swap vegetables, or just use whatever you have to hand.

My recipe is 2 Syns per portion - that's using 25g of Tesco Finest Chorizo. If you use a different brand and are counting Syns, double check your own brand.

Chorizo and Prawn Paella
Serves 2 | Ready in under 30 mins |

INGREDIENTS


* 200g dried paella rice
* 1 chicken stock cube dissolved in 700ml boiling water
* 1 onion, diced
* 2 garlic cloves, crushed
* 2 spring onions, chopped
* 100g cooked prawns, diced (or 100g diced cooked chicken)
* 25g chorizo, finely diced
* 100g green beans, broccoli, or whatever green veg you like, chopped up.
* 1 teaspoon paprika
* 1 teaspoon turmeric

METHOD

* If using frozen green beans or frozen prawns, defrost both in the microwave for 4-5 minutes. Chop the green beans into 2-3 pieces. If using broccoli, separate into small florets.
* Spray a large saucepan or wok with frylight, turn on a medium heat.
* Add the diced onion, chorizo and garlic to the wok. Stir fry until the onion is softened.
* Add the turmeric and paprika, stir for a minute, add the dry paella rice, stir until everything is coated in spice.


* Add the stock slowly. Don't worry if it looks sloppy - it will evaporate.
* Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes - stir often. If you need to add more liquid, do.
* Add the prawns, spring onion, and green beans, simmer until rice is cooked through.


* Serve with broccoli, asparagus, or whatever veg you like.


This keeps really well in an airtight container in the fridge and tastes even nicer the next day.

Note #1: I buy Tesco brand Paella Rice (€1.55). It's not with the other rice and pasta - it's with the oriental ingredients, on the same aisle as the oils and spices. The Chorizo I buy is from the Tesco Finest range (€4), I cut it into 25g chunks and use as I need it (it will keep for over a month in the fridge and I think you can freeze it too). 25g - 4 Syns. Here are the packets in case you want to look for them yourself:



Note #2: I tried to make this with vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and it definitely lost some of the flavour, I wouldn't recommend it.




Saturday, March 26, 2016

My Ten Favourite Films on Netflix Right Now!

Not sponsored, not affiliated with Netflix, I am a monthly subscriber.

Hi!

I go through phases with Netflix. Sometimes I go for weeks without even logging on, other times I can't get enough and I'll devour a series over a few nights.

Last weekend, I logged on and found a few new movies - and when searching last night, I realised that loads of my favourites are there - so I thought I'd do a post in case you haven't seen any of these in a while (or ever - lucky you getting to see them for the first time!!). All images are grabbed from Netflix.

In no particular order:



Hocus Pocus

Year: 1993
Starring: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Omri Katz, Thora Birch
Plot: A skepical teenage boy lights a candle on Halloween night in Salem, bringing three evil witches back from the dead. They need the lives of children to survive - but they've only got until dawn.

Why I Love It: This is one of my all time favourite films - I would be 100% confident that I could quote the majority of it from start to finish. I adore everything about it - the cast, the score, the musical number, the humour, the setting - just because it's March doesn't mean you can't embrace a little bit of Halloween!

A Night at the Roxbury

Year: 1998
Starring: Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan, Molly Shannon
Plot: Two brothers have a shared dream to open their own Nightclub despite still living at home and working in their father's flower shop.

Why I Love It: This is just a fantastic feel good film - the soundtrack album is one of my favourites (Haddaway, anyone?), and it's a really funny, witty film. It's based on a recurring Saturday Night Live skit featuring the cast members. If you're a fan of Will Ferrell's type of humour, please give it a watch!

Desperately Seeking Susan



Year: 1985
Starring: Madonna, Rosanna Arquette, Aidan Quinn
Plot: A bored suburban housewife becomes obsessed with a couple who leave messages for each other in the personal ads section of the newspaper. When she has an accident and suffers amnesia, she gets caught up in their wild lives.

Why I Love It: I ADORE Rosanna Arquette in this. Interestingly, she wasn't considered the lead female in this film - they wanted to market it as a Madonna thing, especially as she used a new song, Into the Groove, just for the film. The fashion is amazing, Aidan Quinn is just gorgeous, and Rosanna is adorable. Love it!

Mermaids


Year: 1990
Starring: Winona Ryder, Cher, Christina Ricci, Bob Hoskins
Plot: A mother moves her two daughters to a new area everytime things get tough. This time, they end up in a small town where a shoe salesman becomes besotted with the mother. Meanwhile, the eldest daughter Charlotte is having a crisis of faith, trying to discover who she is while lusting after hunky bus driver Joe. It's set in 1963.

Why I Love It: I had such a crush on the guy who played Joe for years (Michael Schoeffling - also played Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles, John Hughes fans), it's not even funny - it goes without saying that the cast are all fantastic here, especially a very young Christina Ricci. Winona is a star, she completely owns the film (not an easy job when your acting alongside Cher).


Return to Oz


Year: 1985
Starring: Fairuza Balk, Jean Marsh, Piper Laurie
Plot: In a sequel of sorts to the original, this 80s film takes a decidedly darker look at the mysterious world of Oz. After returning from Oz and not being able to stop talking about it, Dorothy is undergoing electric shock treatment when she gets the opportunity to return to Oz, meeting some new friends and some terrifying adversaries on the way.

Why I Love It: This film stayed with me for a very long time when I first saw it - the sight of a headless Mombi screaming "Dorothy GAAALLLLEE" has been embedded in my brain since I first saw it years ago. Fairuza Balk is fantastic as Dorothy, and I like that this film is a lot darker and more twisted than the first one.

Where the Heart is



Year: 2000
Starring: Natalie Portman, Stockard Channing, Ashley Judd, Joan Cusack
Plot: A young pregnant girl becomes notorious when she gives birth in a local Wal-Mart store. A kind stranger takes her in where she makes a new life for herself and learns how family doesn't always have to mean blood.

Why I Love It: I stumbled upon this film late one night on telly and was delighted to find it again on Netflix. Natalie Portman is a fantastic actress and her portrayal of teenager Novalee is so believable, it's a great story and Stockard Channing is brilliant as always. It's just a really hopeful film (despite some tragedy) and all the characters are warm and lovely.

Summer Magic


Year: 1963
Starring: Hayley Mills, Burl Ives, Dorothy McGuire
Plot: The Carey family are forced to move to a new home when they run into financial difficulty. Widow Carey and her children move to a big run-down house in the country. They're beginning to find their feet when glamorous cousin Julia arrives and throws a spanner in the works for hard-working eldest daughter Nancy.

Why I Love It: This was one of my favourite childhood films. I think we taped it off the telly years ago and watched it repeatedly - it's a great musical, I still remember the words to some of the numbers. Hayley Mills is brilliant in it but I always wanted to be the cousin, she was so elegant! Do give it a watch if old-school musicals are your thing.

Clueless




Year: 1995
Starring: Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Stacey Dash, Paul Rudd
Plot: A rich young student takes a new girl under her wing and gives her a makeover to fit in, all the while trying to impress a boy in her class.

Why I Love It: I know, I know - we've all probably seen it a million times, but not everyone knows it's on Netflix. It's endlessly quotable (way harsh, Tai), Cher's wardrobe is iconic, and who hasn't tried to put the word 'sporadic' into a sentence?

Kevin and Perry Go Large


Year: 2000
Starring: Harry Enfield, Kathy Burke, Rhys Ifans
Plot: Incompetent teenagers Kevin and Perry go on holiday to Ibiza with Kevin's parents. While there, they try to get the attention of DJ Eyeball Paul so they can get him to play their mix and become world famous DJS. They'd also like to lose their virginity.

Why I Love It: This isn't to everyone's taste but I love it, I love Harry Enfield and Kathy Burke in general, I've always been a fan of both. The music in this will bring waves of nostalgia back to anyone who was of Ibiza-going age in 2000, and while I could do without the whole spot-bursting scene, I still think it's worth a watch if you're into that type of comedy.

Girl, Interrupted


Year: 2000
Starring: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Brittany Murphy, Whoopi Goldberg
Plot: A young woman who wants to be a writer is incarcerated in a mental institution after a suspected suicide attempt. Adamant that there is nothing wrong with her, she finds it hard to adjust until she meets rebellious free spirit Lisa, who takes her down a dangerous road. Set in the 1960s.

Why I Love It: This is one of my favourite films and definitely my favourite Angelina Jolie performance. She is excellent and believable as Lisa, a tough character who is actually quite sad. There's a hilarious ice-cream shop scene, and a great turn from Brittany Murphy as a tragic young patient. Based on the book by Susannah Kaysen, about her own experiences as a teenager. I recommend the book too, but bear in mind that both the book and film could be triggering for anyone with self-harm, depression, or eating disorder history. I recently watched it for the first time since Brittany Murphy passed away and it was quite upsetting in parts, but it's a fantastic film.

Honorable mentions go to Spice World, Burlesque, Drop Dead Fred and Footloose (the remake) which was actually fairly decent as remakes go (but Dennis Quaid is no John Lithgow, and there's a sentence I never thought I'd write).

So that's it! Am I missing anything great? Have you stumbled upon anything good on Netflix lately? I'm always open to suggestions, but I don't have time to commit to a series right now so I'd love documentary or film recommendations please!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Books I Read in February

Not sponsored or paid, no ARCs featured

Hi!

Wow, this post is late - usually I try to get the book posts up earlier in the month, so apologies. In February, I mostly read this:


I read and re-read it until I was seeing road signs in my sleep, so I didn't really have time for a lot of other books. It paid off - I passed the theory test - but it meant that my book total for the year came to a bit of a standstill.

I managed to fit in four other books in February, two fiction and two non-fiction.


Me and My Mate Jeffrey by Niall Breslin
Niall Breslin, better known as Bressie, is an Irish musician and TV judge on Ireland's version of singing show 'The Voice'. In this book, he is very open about his battles with depression and anxiety. I liked this book because it helped me understand more about those who do have anxiety - he also has some great advice without being preachy, and points out where he went wrong and admits that some of his decisions weren't the right ones. I think it's great for young men to have a book like this so that they can realise that it's not just women who battle their demons - but I wouldn't give it to anyone under 15 due to some of the content related to self-harm.


Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
When Peggy Hillcoat is 8 years old, her survivalist father takes her on a trip to the woods with every intention of them staying there for good. He tells Peggy that the rest of the world has been destroyed, and that they are the only two people left in the world. The book jumps between the time Peggy spends in the woods and the present day, where she's back with her mother - but what happened out there? The overwhelming feeling I had reading this was one of sadness, it's a sad book. It's essentially a look at a man's unravelling, and it's uncomfortable in parts, but it was a different type of read and one that has stayed with me. This was one of Richard & Judy's picks for Spring.


Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini
Leah Remini is an actress. This is the story of how she and her family were introduced to the world of Scientology by her mother's then boyfriend. She spills the beans on some inner goings-on at the church - including some not-too-flattering tales about Tom Cruise and his supporters. It's an interesting read, mainly because Leah doesn't hold back at all - about the church or about herself and the mistakes she has made.


Viral by Helen Fitzgerald
I'm a big fan of Helen Fitzgerald's writing style, her characters are usually razor sharp and full of life. In this latest offering, Su Oliphant Brotheridge and her sister Leah go on holiday with a group of friends to Magaluf after their A-Levels. Something happens out there that turns Su into a viral phenomenon - and she's afraid to come home. Her mother, a Family Court Judge, is determined to punish those responsible and get Su back where she belongs. This is not for you if you don't like foul language - even the opening line packs a wallop. I wasn't mad about the book, being honest, the mother seemed completely unhinged to me. There was also a family incident that I felt unrealistic and just thrown in there for handiness - but overall I'd recommend Helen Fitzgerald if you like something gritty and darkly comic.

So that's it - I'm totally counting that theory test book towards my yearly reads because it was a book and I read it.

Hopefully I'll be able to add a few more to the pile throughout the last few days of March!






Monday, March 14, 2016

The Body Shop Drops of Youth - Review after 6 Weeks

Not sponsored or paid, Product samples included. 

Hi!

I was sent three products from the latest "Drops of Youth" range by The Body Shop 6 weeks ago. I wanted to give them a proper review, so I have been using just these products every morning and night after cleansing. Except on the nights where I forget to take off my makeup....


I was sent the Youth Essence-Lotion (160ml), the Youth Concentrate (50ml) and the Youth Cream (50ml).


Youth Essence-Lotion - €23.95
Like the other products in the range, this contains Plant Stem Cells from "Edelweiss from the Italian Alps, Sea Holly & Criste Marine from the Brittany Coast" - not to be rude, but that means nothing to me, I don't even know what Criste Marine is. All I know is that this is the first step in the routine, it's a hybrid water/gel product that's supposed to be used after cleansing and before serum or moisturiser.

I couldn't see if it was doing anything and I didn't feel it doing anything for me. It claims to "trigger visibly fresh, youthful-looking skin at the surface. Skin feels replenished with moisture, pores look refined." - I coudn't see any difference really. If anything it felt a little sticky or tacky when I was waiting for it to dry. I stopped using it after about two weeks because I felt it was an unnecessary step.


Youth Concentrate - €52.50
Again, this contains the same Plant Stem Cells, and this is a serum that makes claims that "skin appears fresher, smoother and more supple. Pores look refined, lines appear smoothed, skin unveils a healthy luminosity and a youthful bounce"

I love this serum. Absolutely love it. I can't say I have pore or line issues but my skin definitely did feel brighter and more refreshed - and more importantly, on the couple of days I missed, I noticed the difference. I have had people on Snapchat asking what I use on my skin since I started using these products, and I'd almost guarantee that's down to the serum. A little goes a very long way - I've used this almost every day for nearly two months now and you can see the usage in the picture. It dries into the skin, doesn't look greasy, but leaves it hydrated and plumped. It's pricey, but I reckon I'll get another 6-8 months from it.


Youth Cream - €35
Also contains the same Plant Stem Cells, and makes the same claims as the serum - luminosity, bounce, pores and lines minimised. It was a nice, smooth moisturiser, but whereas the fragrance of the range didn't bother me with the serum and lotion, it bothered me a little with the moisturiser. I just felt that as the last step of skincare, it was a little too heavily scented for me - I put this on before bedtime and it's just a little too 'fresh' for me, it's not the type of comforting scent you'd imagine using before bed. It's perfect for morning, when you need a kickstart to the day.


Overall 

The fragrance is a fresh, almost grass-like smell that screams Spring. It's less noticeable in the liquid products, but quite strong in the moisturiser.

The Youth Cream - if you're looking for a nice moisturiser, the Body Shop ones are lovely, and would make decent presents. This is the second one now I've tried (I won the first in a giveaway - the Vitamin C one, and again, the smell was the only issue I had) and it's a nice, decent, good moisturiser. Will I buy it again? €35 for a moisturiser is a little steep for me, unfortunately. If I were in the UK or up North, I'd have no problem paying £20 for it. You can see from the usage that I'm not going to get much longer out of the pot.

The Lotion, I could do without. I don't really see the need for a step in between cleansing and serum, so I wouldn't buy this myself. If you like to make sure your face is REALLY clean after cleansing, then you might like this.

The Serum - I was doing sums last night to try and work out when I was going to run out of it and if I could wangle a trip to Athlone before September to buy another one. Genuinely one of the nicest skincare products I own at the minute, and I would dearly miss it if I ran out - the star of the three products in my humble opinion. If you want a serum that gives noticeably plumper, more youthful skin, this is your man.

I wish The Body Shop would listen to their Irish customers and give us a proper online store, with proper exchange rates (£25 is not €52.50), but until then you can order over the phone (016713725), when I ordered over the phone last year, the girls were most helpful and my order arrived quickly and well packed. Thanks to Revolve PR for sending me out the three products to test.




Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Slimming World: Shopping for a Family of 5 for €130 a week

Not Sponsored/No Samples. I am not affiliated with Slimming World or Tesco. 


Hi!

The reason behind doing this post is that I've seen this question asked several times in Facebook groups. "How can you do Slimming World and feed a family and not spend a fortune?" or "How can I reduce my shopping bill when I'm on a diet but everyone else eats different things?"

This is what I do, it won't suit everyone. It probably won't suit people who like a lot of yogurt, because I don't, or it won't suit people who like expensive brands or who like to eat clean or organic. I don't eat white bread, the kids don't have a lot of it either (piece of toast every now & then). I make spelt bread so we eat that (it freezes well so I only make it once a fortnight, one small bag of spelt flour makes 2 loaves). I use cheese or whole milk for my Healthy Extra A, 175ml (skimmed milk has more sugar than full fat milk). I use Bagel Slims or Slimbos for my Healthy Extra B, or Ryvita or Weetabix. I change it up every few weeks and buy Brennan's Be Good bread instead.

This is just an idea of how to work out a shopping list to get the best value, no matter what Supermarket you use. I'm using Tesco because I find it easier to use on a budget, I can look up all the prices online before shopping so I'm prepared and I know exactly what I'll be spending. Plus, I get my Clubcard Points and I can top up for Christmas at the till.

I'm buying for myself (doing Slimming World), my husband (very much not doing Slimming World), my 11 year old (who has lunches provided for him at school), and two 2 year olds (still in nappies). And the cat.

Yes, it's time consuming and probably boring if you're not as obsessed with food shopping as I am. But it takes one hour a week, and it's worth it if you're saving money.

STOCKTAKE

First, find out what you already have. I do this once a month - get a copy or a notebook and go through every food cupboard and press, fridge and freezer. Write down every single thing you have, throw away anything that's out of date. That way, you don't end up short on a certain spice while having 4 boxes of teabags. You won't need to buy the same things every week. Caitriona at  Wholesome Ireland  has some great stocktaking sheets that are really helpful if you've never done it before (you can also find a meal planner there).

This week, I don't need rice, spices, cereals, oats, detergent, tinned goods, tea, flour, coffee, sugar or ryvita, because I bought some last week and others only need to be bought every few weeks (eg I bought toothpaste and chorizo last week so I won't need them again for a while, I bought frozen prawns and green beans this week, so I won't need them next week). I don't need carrots every week. I stock up on toilet roll once a month when the big packs are on offer.

MEAL PLAN

Yes, it's boring as hell, and yes, you'll probably change your mind ten times and not eat half the stuff on it, but it's a great idea to have at least 5 ideas in place for dinners, lunches, and breakfasts during the week. For example:


Breakfast: Everyone has porridge or cereal or overnight oats with berries.
Breakfast: Boiled eggs and homemade bread, fruit.
Breakfast: Egg, mushrooms, tomato, lean bacon, sausages.
Breakfast: Weetabix with berries. 
Breakfast: Porridge, honey, banana.

Lunch: Husband has soup/sandwich. I have soup/bagel. Kids have soup/homemade bread. Fruit.
Lunch: Kids have wholemeal apple/carrot muffins, pineapple and a yogurt. Husband has sandwich/soup. I have bagel/salad/chopped pineapple.
Lunch: Cheese and ham toasties or beans and sausage on toast (White Bread for Husband, Spelt for the rest of us). Homemade wedges or chips.
Lunch: Cauliflower pizza. Salad.
Lunch: Omelette with ham, chorizo, veg. Salad or fruit.

Dinner: Everyone has turkey burgers and veg. Husband and Child 2 have potatoes. Myself and the child who hates spuds have rice or sweet potato fries.
Dinner: Lean mince beef fried with veg, potatoes and gravy.
Dinner: Slow cooked chicken with veg and potatoes.
Dinner: SW chips, leftover chicken, curry sauce, veg, rice.
Dinner: Lean gammon chops, cabbage, potatoes or extra veg.

Snacks: Banana, babybel, crackers.
Snacks: Homemade date flapjacks.
Snacks: Cold chicken, berries, raisins.
Snacks: Chopped apple, spelt bread, peanut butter.
Snacks: Rice pudding with raisins and cinnamon.

DECIDE ON A BUDGET THAT SUITS YOU


Next, decide your budget. Mine is €130 this week. Yours could be more, it could be less. Work with whatever you want to spend, whether it be €50 or €200. Decide on a limit and stick to it.

DIVIDE YOUR SHOPPING INTO GROUPS

Decide your main groups, and set a limit for each group (do this to suit your own needs). Check the website of the Supermarket you use to see what's on offer any particular week. Mine is:

Fruit/Veg: €30.
Meat/Fish: €40.
Dairy/Eggs: €20.
Baby: €15.
Household/Cat: €10.
Drinks: €5.
Bread: €5.
Dry Goods: €10

WORK OUT WHAT YOU NEED IN EACH GROUP
This is my list for this week.

Meat
I get most of my meat from a local butcher. Most butchers will have a €20 offer that you can tailor to suit your own taste. I get 5 from the following: pack of extra lean gammon steaks, diced chicken pieces, diced turkey pieces, extra lean beef mince, extra lean beef strips, extra lean turkey burgers, extra lean beef burgers. I buy a certain amount in Tesco - sausages, ham, etc.

Meat/Fish



5 for €20 deal in Butchers - Turkey Breasts x4, Turkey Burgers x4, Extra Lean Mince 1lb, Extra Lean Beef Burgers x4, Extra Lean Gammon Steaks x5. Frozen Prawns, €4.50. Whole Chicken, €3.50. Sliced Ham, €1.19 (2 Packs). Sliced Roast Beef, €2.29. Reduced Fat Gluten Free Sausages, €1.49. Sausages, €1.59. Back Bacon Rashers 400g, €1.99.
Total Meat/Fish: €38.93

Fruit/Veg



Bunch of Bananas, €1.50. Whole Pineapple, €1.29. Bag of 10 Apples, €1. 5 x Conference Pears, €2. Bag of Easy Peelers, €1.50. 2 Punnets of Strawberries, €4.58. 2 Punnets of Blueberries, €3.58. 2 Punnets of Raspberries, €3.58. Pack of Mixed Peppers, €1.39. 6 Pack Tomatoes, €0.99. 2kg bag of Rooster Potatoes, €2. 2 x Little Gem Lettuce, €0.89. Green Cabbage, €0.59. Cauliflower, €1.29. Large head of Broccoli, €1.50. 2 Punnets of Mushrooms, €1.90, Frozen Green Beans, €1.19.
Total Fruit & Veg: €30.77

Baby



Tesco Nappies Size 5+. €4.99 (2 packs). Tesco Baby Wipes, €0.95 each (3 packs).
Total Baby: €12.83

Household/Cat



Go Cat Dry Food (on offer), €2.87. Nicky Toilet Tissue (4 Rolls), €1.49. Toilet Wipes, €1.45. Handwash, €0.69. Washing Up Liquid, €0.89. Kitchen Roll (4 Pack), €1.76.
Total Household/Cat: €9.15

Dairy/Eggs



Munch Bunch Reduced Sugar Yogurts (on offer), €1.50 (2 packs). Babybel Light Cheddar 12 Pack €3.59. Charleville Sliced Cheddar, €2.00. Dairygold Light, €2.69. Full Fat Milk €1.49 (2 Cartons). Unsalted Butter (on offer), €1.50. 18 Eggs, €2.85.
Total Dairy/Eggs: €18.61

Drinks



Orange Juice (on offer), €2. Mi Wadi Zero (on offer), €2. Apple Juice (for a recipe, I'll freeze leftovers in ice cube trays), €1.09.
Total Drinks: €5.09

Bread



White Sliced Pan, €1.75. Wholemeal Protein Slims, €1.69
Total Bread: €3.44

Dry Goods




Garlic Powder, €0.45. Wholemeal Fusilli, €0.99. Wholemeal Spaghetti, €0.99. Biscuits, €0.59. Tuc Snack Pack (on offer), €1. Cream Crackers, €0.26. Stevia Sweetner, €2.35, Dates, Pitted, €3.89
Total Dry Goods: €8.17

TOTAL: €126.99



We'll usually need milk and fruit again later in the week, so that comes to around €10 extra.


My husband isn't usually here during the day (apart from lunch) nor is my eldest son. I'm not a big snacker, I try to fill up at mealtimes and have water/fruit in between. I don't buy fizzy drinks or crisps or sweets with the big shop because I have zero willpower and prefer not to have that stuff in the house, I also don't eat muller lights, or mugshots, but they're on offer fairly frequently. I like Glenisk yogurt but will only buy if it's on offer.

The biggest tip I can give anyone when food shopping for a family is:

ONLY BUY WHAT YOU NEED.

If you don't need it, don't buy it. I used to spend over €180 on the weekly shop, and I'd come home and struggle to find something to eat for dinner. If you plan meals and lunches, you can get great value from food. I used to also buy things on a whim and end up throwing them out - there's no melon on my list this week because I'm sick of it, I'll have pineapple instead. Mix your food up, don't stick to the same thing all the time.

I didn't allow for wine or beer because I don't use it, if my husband wants a drink he buys that himself. Same with crisps, etc.

As I said - this won't suit everyone. But it's just a general guideline on how to be more aware of what you're buying and spending. The Tesco website (www.tesco.ie) has the price of every single item in the store, you need to register an account with them to use the shopping feature (they don't even deliver to my area so I just put in an address near me, fill my basket and then write it down on a list and go in-store). So even if you don't have a Tesco nearby - you can get an idea of prices. Check www.lidl.ie and www.aldi.ie every week for the special buys.

Hopefully this will help someone - I saved €50 a week on my bill by planning ahead every week, that's €200 a month. I'm able to follow Slimming World successfully and the rest of the family are well fed too. I really hope this doesn't come off preachy - this WILL NOT suit everyone, it's just my own way of doing things!


I post my meals on my Slimming World Instagram account, which you can find here.



Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My Favourite Bargain Kitchen Accessories!

Not Sponsored/No Samples

Hi!

If you follow me on Snapchat you'll know I'm a bit of a kitchen gadget addict. I am very fond of the odd random eBay binge or Dealz haul, so I thought I'd show you some of my favourite (and really cheap) little kitchen gadgets/accessories.


The little star bowl is €1.49 from Dealz, I got it around Christmas but I saw some in Longford last week. The individual lasagne dish was also €1.49 in Dealz, the Jane Asher range has gorgeous stuff in really pretty pastel colours. I love these dishes because I can portion off food for myself like lasagne or pies, they can also go in the freezer. The little chicken serving plate was reduced from €4 to €0.50 in Dunnes after Easter last year, keep an eye out after holidays, themed stuff usually goes on sale afterwards. This plate always reminds me of Paul and the Artistic Chicks!


The silver serving bowl is €1.49 from Dealz. It's great for dishing up a fakeaway curry. The foil containers were around €2 from Mr. Price for a pack of either 6 or 8, they're fantastic on a Friday or Saturday night for having some homemade chips with curry sauce - feels exactly like you've just gotten them from the chipper and really curbs any 'bold' cravings! The plastic containers are from Dealz, €1.49 for a pack of 8 - I have bought so many of these. They're handy for fruit salads, soup portions, dinner portions, leftovers, buns - I used several of them every day and I don't feel a bit guilty if one breaks or gets stained because they're so cheap. They've recently reduced the pack size from 10 to 8 and made them sturdier.


All these cookie cutters were under the €2  mark per set, they're from Dealz, Homestore + More, Euro Giant, Lidl - wherever sells cutters. The Mickey Mouse pancake shaper (I use it for toast) is from eBay, €0.80 here.


The silicone bun cases are from Dealz, €1.49. They're so handy for making egg/ham muffins in the Airfryer, or making buns. The heart shaped ones were on offer in Lidl last year, they're lovely for little pastries or desserts. The Christmas and Piglet ones were on clearance in either Lidl or Aldi, they're ice cube trays but also work great as chocolate moulds. The silicone spoon one is a favourite of mine, it's such a novelty being able to eat a spoon!! They work well with dark melted chocolate. You can get it for under €1.50 on eBay here.


The silicone egg poachers were from eBay (loads here), but I think they're also available in IKEA or Tiger. The purple measuring cups and spoons are €1.49 in Dealz for a set of cups and spoons, they're from the Jane Asher range and are really handy if making US recipes. The blue spoons were under a euro on eBay, I like them because the teaspoon one fits neatly into the neck of all spice jars. It's the little things.......... (available here for less than €1.20)


The little glass jars are €1.49 for two in Dealz. They have larger sizes too, but these smaller ones are fab for homemade ketchup and homemade spice mixes. The little silver tins are also €1.49 from Dealz, they're lovely for serving dips or sauces with food. The giant green pencil parer is a vegetable peeler and a carrot sharpener, I saw The Skinny Doll with one and had to have it!! It's €1.08 here. The little white plastic spoon thing is an egg separator, the yolk stays in the middle part while the white drips out into the mug, there's also a lip on it to keep it steady on a cup. It was €0.65 here. The orange corkscrew thing is probably one of my all time favourite kitchen things, it's a garlic crusher but instead of squeezing, you just turn it like a screw. It's so easy to crush garlic with it, I threw my metal crusher out. You can get this one here for under €1.70, I've just ordered a backup because I am a garlic-loving freak who would actually cry if this got broken. Finally, the little mortar and pestle (anyone else just love miniature things?!) is great for blending spices and making sure nothing is lumpy. I got it on eBay here for just over €2.

So - anyone got any more strange kitchen accessory ideas for me? Because I've a kitchen drawer here that's not going to fill itself.......