Saturday, 25 August 2012

As many dinners as possible for under £30!!

At 32 weeks pregnant my thoughts have turned to how we will manage to function as a household and a Family in the first (sometimes horrific!!) few weeks of life with a Newborn, made extra stressful by the fact we know I will be having a C-Section which will leave me with very limited movements for at least a couple of weeks. 

I have set to as much organisation as possible to ensure everything we need can be found easily and whilst sleep deprived! Products such as loo rolls, cleaning products and toiletries have been stockpiled to prevent running out and mad dashes to the supermarket. Stocks of nappies and wipes have been building up nicely over the past couple of weeks thanks to some good offers and Supermarket baby events. All items are down from the loft and have been washed and aired ready for the new little person to who comes to live with us.

It would be a major oversight to not think of food, I can't imagine either of my boys would be very impressed if I told them they couldn't eat! So I began looking into freezer meals, particularly meals that could be bagged in advance and then popped into the crock pot to cook, Pinterest has become my new best friend and I found tonnes of ideas on there. I made a list of meals I wanted to prepare and compiled my shopping list, trouble was a lot of the items were quite heavy

The other week I received a voucher from Sainsburys giving me £10 off of a £50 home delivery shop and coincidentally they had and excellent offer on Nappies and Wipes (buy a pack of nappies for £10 and get a box of 9 packs of wipes free) so I decided I would place an order. 

I ordered £20 worth of the nappies and wipes which left me £30 to get as many meals as possible sorted for us. I purchased the following:

3 x Valley Foods Chicken Fillets 750g - Total Price GBP 8.98
2 x Richmond Thick Irish Sausages x16 725g - Total Price GBP 2.49
2 x Sainsbury's Carrots, Basics 1.5kg - Total Price GBP 1.50
1 x Sainsbury's Potatoes 7.5kg - Total Price GBP 3.70
1 x Sainsbury's Pork Loin Steaks 630g - Total Price GBP 4.00
2 x Sainsbury's Diced Onions 300g - Total Price GBP 1.20
2 x Sainsbury's Peppers, Basics (Colours May Vary) 600g - Total Price GBP 2.58
2 x Sainsbury's British Pork Mince 500g - Total Price GBP 4.00
5 x Sainsbury's Pineapple Pieces In Juice, Basics 227g - Total Price GBP 1.40
4 x Sainsbury's Long Grain Rice, Basics 1kg - Total Price GBP 1.60
4 x Sainsbury's Pasta Shapes, Basics 500g - Total Price GBP 1.56
10 x Sainsbury's Chopped Tomatoes, Basics 400g - Total Price GBP 3.10

 Total including the wipes and nappies came to £56.07, I received my £10 off making it £46.07. 
Taking off the £20 for nappies and wipes I was left with food total of £26.07 to make as many meals as I could.

Here's what I managed to make with it:

The following are all big enough to feed all 3 of us
2 x Lasagne's
3 x Sausage casseroles
1 x pork casserole
1 x Hawaiian chicken
2 x Chicken cacciatori
1 x BBQ Pork
2 x Chilli
2 x Cottage Pie

And these are just little portions the right size to feed Aidan
 2 x Bolognaise
1 x pork stew
2 x Chilli
3 x Cottage pie
2 x Macaroni cheese
2 x Lasagna
2 x Veg Curry
2 x Fish Pie (I used a tin of tuna I had in the cupboard)

 There's at least 2 weeks worth of meals in there for all of us now, more for Aidan, all for under £30. If I get the chance  energy again I will prepare a couple more.

 I bought 2 packs of foil trays from the £1 shop to store the meals in and the rest are in Ziploc bags. Most of the meat items are raw still but all I will need to do is take a bag out of the Freezer the night before and then pop them into the Slow Cooker in the morning, no thinking what to have or chopping and preparing.
 I can rest well knowing that it is all prepared and we can have yummy, cheap, home cooked meals for the absolute minimum of work AND I didn't have to carry it all home from the shops!!
 Just as well as I currently look like this!

Letter of the Week D

Well D week turned out to be a super busy week with loads of activities which is just as well as Chris had to go away for an induction for his new job so it was just Aidan and I.

Doggy's were a recurring theme during the week and we began by making our letter D for Dog, it was a bit basic to make so Aidan coloured him in a bit. Aidan took care of his toy pet dog, he took it for walks, brushed it and also fed it.

When I started to look I saw that we had tonnes of books beginning with D, Dazzle Duckling, Dogs colourful day and lots on the topic of Dinosaurs! We read 2 a night, I think reading is really important and now Aidan will sit and listen whereas when he was smaller he couldn't care less!

Full list of books and Authors at the bottom of post.

Aidan really enjoys Jigsaws so I was happy when I found a set of Dinosaur jigsaws in the £1 shop. I am a bit tragic really as I walk around the store continuously looking for things for the Letter of the week project and forget what I went in originally for!

We made Letter Ds out of paper and Easy Painters from the Early Learning Centre. Easy Painters come in little pots that are easy for little ones to grip, the paint can't flow out as there is a sponge at the tip that limits the flow so painting with less mess EXCELLENT!

After he had dotted the shape he decided to join the dots with another colour to really make the D shape.

 Another little project I was pleased to find was some Dragon scratch art, rainbow colours are hidden underneath a black matt covering and when you scratch away at it with a wooden pick the colours are revealed.


I scratched some eyes and the flames and then Aidan did the rest, the kit enabled them to be turned into magnets once they were finished so Nanny now has 2 Dragons on her fridge (whether she wanted them there or not!!)

 D has to stand for Doughnuts of course, heres Aidan enjoying a sticky treat!

 I downloaded a really Fab Dinosaurs printable pack from Over the Big Moon  it had tonnes of things for Aidan to do including which one is different, size recognition, sequencing, puzzles, letter D identification and also pre-writing. By popping them into an ordinary clear wallet and using a dry wipe pen we were able to use them again and again during the week.

Another pre-writing activity we did involved Highlighter pens which I used to write words beginning with D, such as Door and dinner, I then drew a basic picture and Aidan coloured it in and wrote over the top of the highlighter.

I think his Door writing is great :-)

Another £1 shop find was a colour your own dinosaur kit which consisted of 2 wooden dinosaurs with stands and also some felt pens, not bad for a quid! I decided to use paints with Aidan rather than the pens just because we hadn't done any painting for a little while.

 He decided he was making them for Daddy to put on his desk at his new work :-)


 A final little craft we did was Dragon finger puppets which I got from Baker Ross ( I LOVE their website!) they are just little cardboard cutouts that have holes in for your fingers to be legs, Aidan liked them a lot and after we had coloured them we played and acted out little storys.

 For Sensory play I made Aidan a bit of a primeval swamp using his sand tray and Dinosaurs, to begin with I buried all of his Dinos so he had to be a paleontologist and dig them out. Once he had discovered them all I set it up the next day with some plants cut from the garden, again he loved acting out Dinoland, we also smoothed the sand and made dino prints in it and then compared who had the biggest footprint.

A fun D to end the week was Dancing when we went to my Aunties surprise 50th Birthday Party. Aidan loved dancing to the music and as I am now 32 weeks pregnant I was lucky enough that there were plenty of volunteers to dance with him! He did look quite comical dancing in the middle of a circle of about 15 women!

The photos are really blurry but then they are action shots, what should I expect!
We stayed until just gone 10pm when we really thought we should take him home to bed, he had other ideas though as we left the place with him crying out "I just wanna dance!"

Other activities we did:
Fed the ducks
Washed and brushed Nanny and Grandads dog
Played with ducks in the bath

Other activities I planned but didnt get round to:
Visit a Deli or the Dentist
Make and play Drums
Play with Dirt
Make Discovery bottles together

We read:
Dazzle Duckling by Gaby Goldsack
Dogs colourful day by Emma Dodd
How do Dinosaurs say good night by Jane Yolen & Mark teague
Dinosaurs press out and make by Autumn books
Dinosaurs activity book by Priddy books
Harry and his dinosaurs romp in the swamp by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds
Harry and his dinosaurs say raaah! by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds
Harry and his dinosaurs go wild  by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Letter of the Week scrub that, Fortnight - O for Olympics!

O could only really be represented by one thing couldn't it? The Olympics! As the Olympics ran for 2 weeks I decided to let this letter also run for a Fortnight, I knew I had tonnes of activity's planned so was confident I could make it last and also it not get boring.

We began the letter of the week a little bit early by watching the Opening Ceremony, as they were on so late I recorded it so Aidan could watch in the Morning. I thought he would get bored of it but the music and pretty light displays kept his attention, I must confess to fast forwarding through the parade of countries as I felt it was a bit too much for a 3 year old!

On the first Sunday after the Olympics started we had Olympic rings for Breakfast made of Pancakes, blueberries, strawberries, green grapes, bananas and finally chocolate spread. OK OK so chocolate spread is brown not black but everything else I tried didn't look remotely right so I just ran with the closest!!

Our first make was the Letter O, represented by an Octopus. I made 8 legs, numbered them and jumbled them up so Aidan had to make sure he put the legs in the right order once he had done I let him decorate it freely as he wanted.

I think it turned out cute!

Aidan loves to try and help in the kitchen, so we made some Team GB cakes. Not strictly O I know but whilst we made the cakes we talked about how there were lots of different countries competing against each other and as we lived in Great Britain that's what Team we would support.


A few weeks ago one of the Newspapers had a coupon for a free Olympic Sticker Album and 3 packs of stickers, my Mum also bought the paper which meant we had 6 packs of stickers, I put them by until this week not really thinking how useful a resource they would be.

 Once I got them out I found that they were great in so many ways for Aidan! Firstly I had him look at the numbers on the back of each sticker, I really hadn't considered that they would be individually numbered and that they would provide some great number recognition practise. Once he had identified the number I had him search for the matching number in the book but to help I narrowed it down to a couple of pages for him.

Peeling the backs off of the stickers gave his manual dexterity a great work out as they were quite fiddly, he then stuck the stickers in the book and was very particular about the way he placed them in! As we stuck them in we discussed what sport each person was doing and he got up and acted a few out for me!

We worked on those 6 free packs of stickers and album for over an hour and it was a great learning tool for him, he referred back to the album as we watched sports on the TV and looked to see if he could spot any of the people!

I found a really Fantastic FREE Printable pack here at 3 dinosaurs, I mainly used the Tot pack but did delve in the others. It included some great activities including pre-writing practice, sequencing and spot the difference. Aidan loved doing the spot the differences and we played it several times over the 2 weeks, to save money I just had him point the odd one out on the screen rather than print them out.

We spent some time looking at the Olympic Flame and we chatted about how he had seen the Torch a few weeks ago as it came through our town. We set about making our own versions, I provided him with a (very badly) drawn torch, some glue, red, yellow and orange tissue paper and also foil. I knew how I envisaged him using them but left it up to him, luckily we agreed!!

Ignore the mess in background, Chris was decorating!
 The finished version came out great :-)

 We also used an old kitchen paper tube to create a Torch he could hold and run with!

We had a trip planned to the National Sealife Centre in Birmingham, I used the opportunity to link to O for Oceans,  Aidan loved looking at all the strange fish.

Once we were home I got out some blue paper and also some stickers and he set to recreating his own ocean scene, whilst he worked we chatted about the creatures we had seen, what they looked like, what he thought about them, their colours and textures.

Our 2nd Olympic breakfast was toast and scrambled eggs but in an inventive way, in truth it probably looks a bit too much like an Ice cream but hey ho!!

To work on some Maths skills I found a graphing game with an Ocean theme, you roll the dice and then tally for the sea creature it lands on. Aidan is all about the stickers so I made some fish shape ones out of blanks for him to stick onto the correct column, first to 10 wins but to link to the Olympics we did gold, silver and bronze positions!

**I cannot find the link to the source of this printable but I will keep looking and if I find it I will post it here so they get the credit they deserve**

Octopus's (or is it octopi??) made a reappearance for a second time with a bit more counting practice. This time I drew an Octopus and made suckers for Aidan to stick on, 1 on leg 1, 2 on leg 2 etc. If I haunt have been a bit rushed with this activity it would have looked nicer as I would have actually cut out the circles rather than leave them square, Mummy's bad not Aidan's!

Once he had finished he coloured it in a bit, I am always keen for him to personalise his work so he really feels its his effort not mine.

Isn't it great what you can make from toilet rolls! We used some coloured tissue paper that Aidan rolled around 5 loo rolls to make our own Olympic rings which we then had on our fireplace as decoration.

He also thought they made great binoculars for watching the sport through!

One of the books we read was "Owl Babies" by Martin Waddell, the story really captured Aidan's attention and we read it several times as well as watching a good version on Youtube 
Aidan wanted to make the 3 little owls from the story so after a quick search I found these cute paper plate owls to make. 

 Brown Owls, all looking normal so far.........

....yep still brown, all's good......

.....cute finished brown owl, shall we make the next one Aidan? Yes a pink one!

Ummmmmm not sure where he imagined these ones from but they look pretty cool!

I made them a little branch to sit on like in the book.

For a sensory activity we played with playdoh again, used cutters to create Os, free formed them using sausage shapes curled round and Aidan created these two,
a green Owl baby, 

and an Octopus who for some reason has orange hair!!

I also filled a Ziploc bag with cheap hair gel, some pom poms, feathers, sparkly shapes and glitter to form a squishy yet contained surface, I think we will use this a lot as he can practice writing letters in it as well as shapes and heck its squishy, who doesn't love to squish something!!

 We watched The Olympics several times a day and Aidan was most keen on the Diving, BMX biking and synchronised swimming! He was less interested in the Athletics but watched nether the less and was impressed by how quick Usain Bolt was :-)

 So that was our Olympic Fortnight!