It’s Slow Cooker Season, Yay!

To be fair, it’s slow cooker season in our house all year round, but when it turns to Autumn, it feels like my slow cookers come into their own. Right now I have a small joint of pork cooking on a bed of onions and apples. Sounds fancy, but anyone who knows me, knows I’m a pretty crap cook. That’s possibly another reason why I think my slow cookers are great! lol.

I’ve mentioned before on the blog that I love my slow cooker and that we couldn’t live our lives as we do, without it. When we went on holiday recently and stayed in a Yurt, I bought a two person slow cooker which is  perfect for the three of us and it saved me oodles of time and worry about what to eat each evening on our holiday.

There is nothing quite like throwing everything into a slow cooker and then coming back 6 to 8 hours later to a meal that can be immediately served up.

Over the past couple of years I’ve picked up lots of slow cooker recipe’s. Unfortunately I didn’t take a note of where I found them, so I can’t post up the recipe’s as I’m not able to give the credit back to the original “owner”.

I have a friend who recently bought a slow cooker but had no idea where to start. I have over 80 slow cooker recipe’s in my Mealboard App, so I had a look and realised that I can email them to my email account.

So I’m going to try something new. If you have a slow cooker but need some inspiration for tried and tested recipe’s, drop me an email at northhantsmum@gmail.com with the heading “Slow Cooker Recipe’s” and I will bombard send you twenty of our favourite slow cooker recipe’s.

However, please keep in mind that NHM is my hobby, so it may take me a little bit of time to reply to you!

Fingers crossed this works and helps you on your slow cooker journey 😀

Related Posts

Food: Feeding our children

Food: Healthy Snacks

Food: Pudding/Desert Variety

Food: Breakfast variety

Online Food Shopping

9 Foody Places to go as a group of Mums with babies/toddlers

New food and drink guidelines for 1 to 5 year olds

 

How to save yourself a fortune

Camel Camel Camel – Amazon Price Tracker

I love Amazon. I’ve worked out that I’ve been using Amazon for 10 years! Wow! How did we live without the internet? I’m not a big fan of shopping. I normally know exactly what I want which is why I like Amazon so much. Most people are aware that Amazon fluctuate their prices, but unless you have the time to track each item every day, there’s no way of knowing the logic to that fluctuation. Now you don’t need to worry about it, because Camel Camel Camel shows you the price of every single product on Amazon for the past two years AND it allows you to set up alerts when a product reaches the price you are prepared to pay for it. I LOVE it! I’ve found some real bargains for Christmas already using Camel Camel Camel and I haven’t even needed to brave Festival Place! lol.

Remember the Milk

I came across this via one of my favourite blogs, The Simple Dollar. Although Trent is American he has some brilliant insights that are just as valuable to us in the UK. I’ve been using the Google Task option in Google Calendar to review my “To Do List” but I never really got on with it. I tried Remember the Milk out last week when we were on holiday and it’s AMAZING! It’s a brilliant free little tool that is revolutionising my life! I love that it works on my iPhone, iPAD and PC, although the web version isn’t particularly intuitive. I’m particularly enamoured with the email reminder which emails you at a time you specify,  all the things on your task list for the day.

If you need a bit of organisation in your life and your To Do List is spiraling out of control, this is the tool for you!

Clarks Shoe Fitting Service – Online Appointment Booking!

I found out recently that you can book online for Shoe Fittings at most Clarks stores. I tried it out for the store in Hatch Warren Mothercare during the October Half Term and it worked a treat! No hanging around and waiting for other people to finish their appointments. Just turn up at the slot you’ve booked and 15 minutes later out the door. That’s the kind of service that I love, even if the shoes do cost a FORTUNE!

  • Appointments are available in Clarks stores only.
  • Appointments are 15 minutes per child. If you book an appointment for multiple children, the appointments will be one after the other.
  • If you would like to book an appointment for today, please call the store directly, see our store locator for contact details.
  • Once you confirm your appointment, you will receive an email confirming the details and a reminder email the day before your appointment.
  • If you have saved your mobile number in your account, you will receive a text message to confirm your appointment booking and a text message reminder the day before your appointment.
  • If you have any questions about your store appointment, please call our friendly Customer Care team on 0844 248 8408.

Wrapping Paper Alternatives

I love these two posts for alternative wrapping paper. Great if you want to do something a bit different with your wrapping this year:

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2011/12/10/wrapping-paper-alternatives/

Stocking Fillers

I’m always stuck for Stocking Fillers. I don’t like buying cheap plastic toys or items that I know will end up in landfill. I like filling our stockings (yes, the husband still gets one!) on behalf of Father Christmas (just in case anyone still believes :-D)  with food because I think that’s more sustainable and less likely to get thrown away. I do love the odd silly toy of course but the less stuff that goes in the bin, the better my daughters future might be!

http://www.bambinogoodies.co.uk/stocking-fillers-smellies/?%2Btheir%2Bdiscerning%2Bparents%29

http://babybudgeting.co.uk/find-me-a-gift-cracking-christmas-stocking-fillers/

Quidco

In the run up to Christmas it’s worth checking out Quidco again as you can make a bit of money back on your purchases.

Official School Holiday Website

I’ve seen several people asking for confirmation of when the school holidays are. Click HERE for the official website to details of school holidays.

That’s it for this month! Hope it’s helpful.

My Meal Planning in 2012

Following on from yesterdays post about the joy of Slow cookers, I thought I’d follow up with a post about meal planning.

Meal planning is one of the things that helps our family keep on track and stops us from reaching into the cupboard and eating the quickest, easiest and normally most unhealthy, food we can find. I’ve been meal planning for several years but it was more a case of buying in food for the week and choosing which meal we wanted as and when. Now I’m back at work, we have less money and we have a baby, things have needed to be planned better. We’ve started to use the concept of having a certain type of meal each evening. Ours is:

  • Monday – Vegetarian
  • Tuesday – Slow Cooker (We have activities on Tues evening so we need something very quick)
  • Wednesday – Fish
  • Thursday – Pasta with homemade pasta sauce (we have more activities on Thurs evening so need something very quick here too)
  • Friday – Takeout/Dineout/Homemade Pizza/whatever we can find in the freezer
  • Saturday – I normally put in a fancy dish that takes a bit more time if we aren’t out and about
  • Sunday – Roast

This means that I no longer need to think about meals nor do I have to constantly answer my husband’s questions asking what we are having for dinner that evening. He knows that if it’s Monday, its vegetarian (his particular pet hate, but I think we are getting there slowly! What is it about some men and vegetables? lol). If it’s Wednesday it’s fish. Sometimes we chop and change Tues and Thurs so have a slow cooker meal on a Thurs instead of Tues. He knows that if he comes home on a Tues and the house doesn’t smell of slow cooked food, we are having pasta.

We use the MealBoard Application on iTunes as we both have iPAD’s (the iPADS’s have been our one indulgence in the past couple of years!). It allows me to add breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for each day. I love this because it ensures that we don’t waste that much food and reminds me to ensure that we have healthy snacks available. It also allows me to create templates based on one or two week’s existing meal plans, so I can just copy in a template for future weeks and move things around as I like. I don’t use the templates as often as I could because I like to keep as much variety in our meals as possible. You can sync the application to other Apple products which means that my husband can immediately check what we are having for dinner on any given day, and often he will start the cooking if I’m not back in time.

The MealBoard Application works for us but there are many other types of meal planning tools that you could use.

Using Meal Board and shopping online means that I can plan our meals and shopping in about 5 minutes now. I estimate that this planning gives me about an hour to two hours a week back with my family. Meal planning also helps me to ensure that we have at least one portion of fish a week, at least one vegetarian meal a week and that we are eating as much variety as we can.

I’ve enclosed a few links below that you might find interesting reading…

Sainsburys Meal Planning and Meal Ideas (I really like this site. They have some great recipes that are quick, cheap and easy to make).

Back to the Basics: Meal Planning I love Simple Mom’s website. It’s an American site but she has some great ideas and really appeals to my planning and organising nature.

Imperfect, Flexible, Doable Meal Blueprint

The six meal shuffle: extremely simple meal planning This is also an American website but Megan has some great tips and ideas.

3 Fail proof ways to stick to meal planning An American website but still some great ideas.

 

I love my Slow Cooker!!!

I realize how tragic that statement is, but at the moment, I really do love it. It’s helping my family eat healthy, nutritious meals that I haven’t had to slave over in the kitchen for hours. I believe that one of the most important things as a Mum is to ensure that your family are eating and exercising well. Both of these set your loved ones up in good stead for the future.

My Slow Cooker enables me to spend more time with my family doing fun things or going for walks and still enables me to feed them well. We had a small slow cooker that was suitable for two people but it never seemed to create enough food for a whole meal. Now that there are three of us I’ve upgraded to a much bigger slow cooker so that I can cook two meals at the same time, saving time, money and energy! We often have one half of the cooked meal for dinner and then I split the rest of the meal and freeze it to use for dinner another day or for lunch at work. We’ve also found that in the colder weather the slow cooker cooks the right kind of meals, warm and nourishing whilst being healthy and nutritious. It’s wonderful to come home to a kitchen that smells of yummy dinner.

I’ve done a lot of research over the past few months since falling in love with my slow cooker.  It’s amazing how many recipies can be adapted for the slow cooker.

  •  If you are cooking your meat for long enough, you don’t even need to brown it off first, just chuck it all into the pot.
  • I’ve read somewhere that in order for your slow cooker to be most cost effective you should use it on the low setting the majority of the time.

I know this sounds very organized but I think you need to be when you have children. A little bit of planning goes an awfully long way and anything that helps to decrease my stress levels is worth it!

Check out the following links which show the best slow cooker’s on the UK market and some easy slow cooker recipes to get you started…

Related Posts

It’s Slow Cooker Season, Yay!

Review: NorthDown Orchard Deliveries

Online Food Shopping

Christmas!!!! (Food, Presents & Pampering)

Are you suddenly realising that it’s only 4 weeks to Christmas? Yup, me too. I’ve managed to book the Christmas food delivery slot today, but because I’d left it quite late (when did the 19th of November become late for Christmas bookings???) I didn’t get any of the slots I wanted. Ho hum.

I’m only just starting to think about Christmas Presents (children seem to speed up time because normally I’m way more organised than this!) but I think this year that I’m going to try to buy local as much as possible. The list below are some ideas of local places where you can get fantastic hand crafted presents. I’ve also included a few ideas that might help your Christmas go a little bit more smoothly.

Let me know if you have any other suggestions to share.

Christmas Presents

Butterflies and Cupcakes

A lovely family business that do some beautiful items. They operate from Tadley but can deliver depending on how close you live to Tadley.

The best items they do are:

  • Name Hangings that are priced at £1.50 per letter
  • Name Plaques (up to 6 letters or more depending in name) at £8.50 and includes an animal character E.g. giraffe, tiger, etc.
  • Christmas Stockings are £12.50 but take a while so last orders for them are the second week in December

Little Rosies Tea Shop (Elm Tree Garden Centre on the way to Tadley) has a shop attached to it with some really nice present ideas.

Basingstoke Discovery Centre “Our Shop”, town centre. Lots of original items including snow globes and wooden Christmas Tree Decorations.

Alison’s Wonderland, Viables Craft Centre. The shop is attached to the Parlour tea rooms so you can browse with a cuppa in hand. Alison is lovely and very friendly.

Ma Humbug’s, Viables craft centre. Quaint old school sweet shop who will make up sweet boxes for you. Yummy!

Pots2Paint, Viables craft centre. If you are looking for that unique present for the Grandparents then this place will be perfect for you. Check out their website for more details (click on their name and it should take you straight through).

Childhood’s Dream, Winchester. I know I keep raving about this little shop (see the NHM facebook page), but I love it! Lots of wooden, old school toys that retain their value so if your children look after them, you can sell them on easily when they grow out/become bored with them.

Local Mummy Businesses – A list of local Mum businesses in the area that make gifts that would be perfect for Christmas.

Christmas Food

Vegetable/Fruit Boxes

We use Able and Cole box delivery close to Christmas because they deliver right to your door, regardless of the weather conditions which is so worth the £1 delivery charge. They also do a Baby and Toddler box of Veg and Fruit. It can be quite pricey but at least you know you are getting good vegetables, etc. As well as fruit and veg they also deliver diverse things like mince pies, Ella’s baby food and organic cleaning products. They deliver right up to December 23rd. Riverford also deliver boxes to the area.

Local Farm Shops

There are lots of farm shops in and around Basingstoke. Check out the Farm Shop page on NorthHantsMum to find one near you.

Christmas Pampering

If you are already exhausted with the drama of “Christmas with Children” check out the Mobile Beautician Page or Mobile Hairdressers Page on NorthHantsMum. These wonderful ladies will travel to your house and pamper you in your home. Some of them are even being kind enough to offer you a discount if you mention NorthHantsMum!

Hope this has given you some inspiration. I will post up a few more posts about Christmas, but I’m sure you are being bombarded about it from everywhere else so I’ll try not to lay it on too thick.

Good Luck!

NorthHantsMum