Monday, June 27, 2011

Getting A Grip 5: Food

This is a big subject as it encompasses everything - money, fitness and health, and time management.

I'm a frugal person in that I don't like to waste anything and I don't overspend. Except on food. About four years ago I suddenly realised that I had no idea what my monthly outgoings were. So I started to record my spending. Since becoming a single mother I've parred down all spending - even, where I can, on fixed costs. The only place I could economise further was on food. So this month I have done.

DD has two meals and two snacks a day at the nursery (one with meat). In the evening she really only needs some scrambled egg, a tomato and a cucumber. Not the exact same food every day but similar proportions of simple supper fare. I'd been buying food for evening meals as if I were cooking for a family of teenagers and a hungry husband home after a long day of sandwiches and coffee. In reality, it's just me and DD. But I do like to cook.

I'm also inspired to copy the modest family suppers that you sometimes see in old films. No overloading the plates with all sorts of processed chemicals and fried foods and which is eaten very slowly. I used to have a whole shelf of diet books that looked like chemistry lessons. Then I discovered French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano. Her common sense approach to food without dieting (or joining an expensive gym) appeals to my quest for finding a healthy and endurable way to eat for life. I threw out all those other diet books and this has become my bible. Yes, I do go back and read it again every few months.

Other parents have told me that the trick is to plan the week's meals ahead of time and stick loosely to a master plan e.g. pasta on Mondays, pizza on Tuesdays, etc... So I made a simple plan for a non-meat kitchen that allows me a little cooking. NB Our weekends are Friday/Saturday.

Friday: Lunch - scrambled egg, chopped salad (one tomato, one cucumber, red pepper, lemon juice, salt and pepper).
Dinner - vegetable streudel, ratatouille and potato kugel (baked savoury potato cake).

Saturday: Lunch - potato salad, chopped salad, tuna croquettes.
Supper: egg salad, cheese, homemade humus, tomato and cucumber, with wholewheat bread.

Sunday: leftovers from the weekend or pita pizza.

Monday: pasta verdi (handful of frozen peas, brocolli and beans thrown in with the cooking pasta, dressed with olive oil and grated cheese), chopped salad.

Tuesday: Orzo Confetti (rice cooked with a handful of frozen sweet corn, chopped red peppers, and peas or beans), chopped salad, vegetable burgers.

Wednesday: cheese burekas (filo parcels), chopped salad.

Thursday: spaghetti tofunaise, chopped salad.

Dessert is always fruit or fruit salad if we're being sophisticated (I add 1/2tsp vanilla extract and raisins to make it sweeter but no added sugar). Lately DD's treat has been to go to the shop and choose a yogurt (loose term as she usually picks the chocolate pudding with whipped cream on top). Somehow she also manages to bring home a packet of crisps or suchlike. ("DD pay the lady," she says. Which means putting her purchases on the counter and collecting them the other end. I deal with the money while she's 'paying.')

Snacks are raisins and wholewheat pretsels, fruit and sometimes (not more than twice a day :-) ) chocolate squares.

During the day I try to have a late breakfast and then eat supper with DD at 5.30. I drink a lot of coffee though I am trying to drink more green tea (in my attempt to live to 120).

I also wrote a shopping list of everything I use during the week. So far this month I've spent 300 shekels less at the supermarket (about 54 pounds) and lost 2kg (about 4.5lbs). Midlife Singlemum is getting a grip!

This post has been linked to Meal Planning Monday at At Home With Mrs M. And MUMenTUM at New Mum Online. Check out the former for weekly meal plans, and the latter for the MUMenTUM club, all about motivation and support for getting back into shape.


  1. Wow you are doing s well, being organised is indeed half the battle. Your meals sound really delicious and you are very healthy having fruit for dessert every night.

    Will look forward to reading your posts and maybe you could share some of your recipes with us :) x

  2. Thanks Carole. I will share my recipes as most of them are made up. Having a plan makes all the difference. If I know I'm having pasta and salad for supper at 5.30, I won't go looking for toast and butter at 3.30. I don't know why I didn't do it months ago.

  3. Oh God I never meal plan and I know I would lose weight if I did.
    Thanks for giving me a nudge in the right direction.
    Liska xxx

  4. Go for it Liska! And thanks for the MUMenTUM support.

  5. Your menu plan sounds great...lots of good veggie dinners! It's good to be saving cash as well as losing weight!

  6. Thanks Wendy, you're right it does feel good - I'm amazed!

  7. Brilliant meal planning, my big problem is I have a vegetarian daughter, a fussy teenager and a five year old that does not eat much as she does not want to grow up fat!! yes big issues there. I end up cooking three or four different meals each night so can never fully plan.

    Great way of saving on the penny's.

    will have to look at your recipes as I may get some ideas for my daughter. x

  8. Dianne - I know that it's relatively easy for me at the moment as it is just me and a 2yo so I don't have to consider anyone else's tastes. Thanks for your comment.

  9. i'm so impressed with you, and also with the fact that your DD eats these things. My 3 yr old won't eat anything like this - she has an egg tomato and cucumber almost every day...

  10. Nicole - you have to keep serving it and eventually they eat it. If she won't eat it she fills up on the apple, raisins and pretzels for dessert.

  11. Wow lucky DD. Can i come and live with you ?
    might just copy your menus for me. they would be great office lunch boxes.

  12. Toni Spilsbury is The Organized Cook, and with an upcoming book, Toni writes about saving time, money and making dinner for today's busy moms at

    Kim Daniels
    Weekly Meal Plans

  13. Sounds a great way to go. Didn't know you were vegetarian. What is tofunaise? Susan

  14. Susan - I'm not vegetarian but we don't have meat at home. I guess you could say that my kitchen is vegetarian, except for the tuna. I'm going to post some recipes tomorrow from the menu plans above.

  15. Thank you FF, it is but I really should try changing it before I get sick of it - trouble is I never do :)

  16. Great idea to do the 'pasta one day, rice the other' kind of meal plan, I think I may take a leaf out of your book.

  17. Tinuke - it works well if you are flexible too. Pasta with any leftovers, rice with whatever you have.... It just makes you be a bit different every day. Thanks for commenting xx