23 Mar

The Brexit Kitchen Stores

Did I get your attention there? Or maybe, like me, you rolled your eyes a little bit at the thoughts of stockpiling certain food items in advance of Brexit (in whatever form it eventually takes). Bear with me here though, because a fully stocked store cupboard is a thing of beauty and regardless of the UK imminently leaving the EU it’s a good idea.

What’s in my pre-Brexit store cupboards? It’s probably easier to list it out according to category:

Dry Stores

  • Beans – Black eyed, pinto, chickpeas (garbanzo), and butterbeans
  • Lentils
  • Seeds – Pumpkin, Sesame, Sunflower, Poppy, Nigella (onion seed)
  • Sugar – Caster, Granulated, Soft Brown, Dark Brown, Demerara (did you know it’s not produced in Ireland anymore?)
  • Flour – Plain, Self Raising, Strong, Type 00 (for pasta making), Wholemeal, Brown
  • Oats
  • Tinned Beans (blackbeans, pinto, chickpeas, butterbeans, and baked beans)
  • Passata
  • Tomato Puree
  • Oils – olive, sunflower, rapeseed, peanut
  • Dried Fruit – Raisins, currants, apricots, prunes, figs
  • Pasta – spaghetti, lasagne sheets, and several different pasta shapes
  • Rice – White, brown, basmati, pudding
  • Bulghar Wheat
  • Couscous
  • Stock Cubes
  • Tea
  • Coffee

Freezer

  • Loaves of bread
  • Meat – chicken, beef, pork, lamb
  • Fish
  • Pizzas (emergency use only)
  • Yoghurt
  • Vegetables – peas, sweetcorn, butternut squash
  • Fruit – gooseberries, raspberries, bananas (skin off), strawberries, blackcurrants, blackberries, blueberries, apple purée (perfect for baking)

How do I build up my stores? I simply buy a little bit extra every week and factor it into my shopping budget, the maximum I spend each week is €5 on the extra items but store items like beans are extremely good value and I can get plenty for that amount of money.

The idea is, Brexit aside, that I should be able to feed the family from the freezer and cupboards for up to a month or more in the event of me running out of cash. I’d really only need to buy milk (which I know I can also freeze but I don’t have space) and eggs.

I have to emphasise here, I’m not a hoarder! I rotate my stocks and we will eat absolutely everything in the presses in rotation. Once I reach a set limit on my store levels I restock. I also keep an eye out for special offers and deals to stock back up.

Do you only buy what you need? Do you keep large stores like I do or do you just top up 1 item as and when it runs out? Might you change your shopping habits in the coming weeks and months?

PS

It’s likely that there are some foodstuffs that are going to be more expensive in the next few months. However, buying locally produced seasonal food is always going to be more affordable. Think fruits and vegetables for example. The first of the Irish tomatoes left a farm local to me over the St Patrick’s Day weekend, and strawberries won’t be far behind, so keep an eye out in the supermarkets this week as choosing to buy Irish has a long-term impact on our local communities and economy.

17 Dec

The Big Christmas Food Shop

If, like me, you’ve got that slightly rising panicked feeling about Christmas Dinner and what the last shop before Christmas Day will cost, stop now and have a little read of Day 17 of my Christmas With Caitríona series.

Read More

01 Dec

December 2018

With the Toy Show being on last night Christmas season has officially kicked off in Ireland; in fact I have a Christmas party to go to tonight. The kids are obsessed with Christmas and their pure joy and delight in decorations in the shops and music playing on the radio is brilliant. As usual for the start of December though I don’t have the decorations up and I’ve no Christmas Tree in the sitting room quite yet.

I know I’m not the only one. I suppose it’s a hangover from the days of being so stressed out about money that we tried not to put the decorations up early or the presents under the tree until we had them bought. It felt like we were making promises to the kids (and to ourselves) that we just couldn’t keep.

The memories of tossing in turning in bed at night wondering how to borrow from Peter and pay Paul will never go away. I hope that they never do because I understand now that they have (a) brought me to where I am today and (b) know exactly what it’s like for those who are struggling at the moment.

Over the next month I’ll have something new each day for you to read or watch. I’ll share my tips on how to prepare for Christmas on a budget; how to not to be a Mammy-martyr in the lead up to the big day, how to ask for help gracefully, and some budget present ideas for all ages.

For today, the first day of December, I’d like to ask you to add 1 small extra item to your grocery shopping this week to donate to your local food appeal. It needn’t be something expensive, even if it’s an extra tin of beans or a bag of rice. If you’d rather not add an extra item in, why not see if you have something in your cupboards already that you’d like to share. Here’s the list from the St Vincent de Paul for their food appeal (this is also suitable for the Lions Club food appeals). Click here for the St Vincent de Paul list.

I’ve got some bags of pasta and some tins of beans which will be brought to our local collection point this week.

Chat tomorrow. Cxxx

13 Sep

45 Days To Go – Dublin City Marathon

The photograph? That’s me completing the Great Ireland Run 10K race in the Phoenix Park in the Spring this year. I hate running photographs with a passion. They are never flattering.

I’m embracing the running photographs though. I started running in December 2017 when I previously wouldn’t have even run after an ice cream van. Each photograph tells a story that is far much more than a race.

You know all those photos you see tagged on Instagram with #FitFam? The vast, vast majority of those photos are posed and edited by people who want to appear their best ‘for the insta’. My running photos however can’t be edited, they’re a snapshot of me completing a difficult task and making a step towards being fitter. So even if I don’t seem to be as perfect as the posed gym photographs, I know that I am holding my own.

In the meantime I’m trying to ignore a long list of questions, 45 days out from Dublin City Marathon 2018.

  • What the actual heck have I signed myself up for?
  • Why did I think that running a marathon in 2018 would be a good idea?
  • What if I don’t finish it in under the cut-off time of 7 hours?
  • Am I going to injure myself by exercising for 6+ hours non-stop?
  • Will there still be somebody at the finish line to meet me?

Just some of the questions going through my mind at the moment.

I feel like I’m walking a tightrope; trying to juggle home, work, and slot in training. I knew that undertaking a marathon and all the training that it entailed would be difficult. I didn’t realise that I would be followed around by so many questions.

This week I had to go away for work for a few days. Everything was going swimmingly until I found out that J (my husband) had an accident which has resulted in him having to pull out of training and of course the marathon for this year. He’s torn the muscles in his back pretty badly and is devastated. Yet I still had to pull on my gear and go for a long slow run that day with all the doubts rattling around inside of my head.

J has been my running buddy from last December. We started off on this mission to run a marathon together and it’s shattering to accept that we won’t be crossing the finish line side-by-side. I know that seeing me continue to train and work towards the goal that we held together is very difficult for him and I am just praying that he will be there to meet me once I cross the finish line.

I’ve called in the big guns. My regular training with the club will finally resume this week (I’ve been away a good bit so training on my own), I’ve also booked a Chi Running workshop. I’m going to need all the help I can get.

Training for a marathon I’m learning is about training yourself internally to cope with the doubts, questions, and niggles. It is as much about mental resilience as it is about physical resilience.

29 May

May Update 2018

Oh look I found the blog again under a pile of laundry and paperwork in my so-called-office (aka the laundry area). I didn’t stop blogging for a spell on purpose, I just had so much stuff on that I struggled to find the time. Anyway sure look-it. I’m back and I’ve got loads of interesting things coming up and good news that I thought I’d share it here!

The recipes are back; I have a shed-load of recipes in drafts which I’m going to drip-feed to you over the next couple of weeks including some beautiful main courses for family meals, along with some simple sweet treats. If you’ve been following me on Instagram (click here if you don’t already and would like to), you’ll have seen some sneak peeks. Writing recipes is something I love to do because it’s a chance for me to get creative in the kitchen.

Bloom In The Park is this week! Jeepers how the heck did it come around that quickly? I’m a massive fan of the festival anyway but this year I’ll be demonstrating some of my favourite recipes at the Fun In The Farm area. If you will be at Bloom please come and say hello. I’m also joining a GIY discussion panel at their area on the Saturday so it’ll be a jam-packed festival with food and growing food top of the agenda. If, like me, you like gardens and food then expect me to fill your timeline full of gorgeous pictures from tomorrow until Monday. Bloom, created by Bord Bia, opens to the general public from Thursday morning. Read More

08 Mar

Nearly Never Ran The…

Last Sunday was my second ‘competitive’ running race of the year.

I run at least once a week with the Balbriggan Road Runners group. There are not enough superlatives to describe how great and supportive they all are. Normally on a run day I chart my progress using my FitBit to time how long it takes me to run the distance we’ve set ourselves that night, it’s always over 5km though. Which makes it easy to see how I’m doing from one day to the next, one route to the next.

Competitive running (so to speak) is a bit different because we have a chip in a bib number that records how long it takes us to run a distance. These races bring out the serious runners, the ones who lap you before you’ve even completed your first lap. They’re a BIG DEAL. The first race I did this year it snowed, alot, and I basically walked it all. Hilariously this second race was nearly called off because of the Big Snow, or as it will be come to known in the future, SNMarch2018. Read More

14 Sep

Mental Load – Food For Thought

There’s a point in a recent documentary on RTÉ1, called Ireland’s Health Divide, where Dr Eva Orsmond can’t get her head around a woman from Limerick buying so much processed food. The woman says that she doesn’t buy Coke (Cola) anymore because it’s worse than the other bottles of fizzy drinks on the countertop in front of her. Then Dr Eva looks incredulously at the woman not understanding how she came to that assumption. Perhaps even with more than a little judgement. Read More

05 Aug

Learning From A Two Week Digital Detox

Originally published in October 2015.

Sure it’s only two weeks I said to myself as I mailed my essential contacts to let them know that I wouldn’t be available for a fortnight. I set up a blogpost so that readers would know what I was up to. Then I deleted social media applications from my smart phone. Yes. I deleted them so that I wouldn’t be tempted to use them. I turned off every single notification I could, after I’d made sure to take a note of all-important passwords. Yep I was ready to become disconnected.

In August 2014 I did something similar, but this time it was for a whole fortnight. It wasn’t just me though, my husband had agreed to go on a digital detox with me. When I think about it we are constantly connected to the online world. When I’m in the kitchen working I have podcasts running in the background, when I’m out and about I have the phone with me in case somebody needs to contact me and it’s irresistible not to check the phone on a busy day, particularly when I spend so much of my day outdoors. In the evening we sit down for a while to watch TV and often end up dual-browsing/observing what’s on the telly without actually taking it in. Don’t think that this is unusual, in my experience it’s a fairly normal description of an average household.

I’ve had enough with this always-on lifestyle though. It bugs me when I don’t feel present, parenting mindfully and being in the moment means that I shouldn’t have a blinking phone or camera in my hand to document it or discuss it online. Watching TV is fun with Twitter open on the phone but it’s intrusive and resting at night was becoming more difficult as the phone was in my hand until I went to bed and again first thing in the morning. Read More

19 Jul

Opinion: Food Headlines Worth Banning

Let’s ban the urgency of headlines when talking about food when talking about food

OMG if you read one thing about food today, read this, quick. Before everybody else reads it.

Does this sound familiar to you?

It certainly does to me, and I’m tired of it.

A quick trawl through articles published in Ireland by bloggers, online magazines, and newspapers in the past month reveal the following headline samples: Read More

23 Mar

Homegrown Food 2017

Every evening when I get back from the allotment I look at my hands. They’re not as soft as they used to be, yet the children still say my touch is just as light as when they themselves were pumpkin-sized. They’re not the prettiest hands you’ll see and after a long day working at the plot there will always be a little lingering dirt even after the third soak. These are the hands that nourish my family, I grow food, and then cook it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way

This is my seventh year of growing my own food on an allotment but I grew some food at home for the year before that. Making the move to an allotment wasn’t a difficult choice to make; growing your own food is made so much easier when you have a wealth of advisors, space, and comaradery to draw upon. Read More

05 Jan

What Happens From Here?

I’m starting 2017 in a state of flux because so much is up in the air. What happens from here? How will we manage our mortgage/bills and what are my plans for the future?

It’s a question I’ve been asked quite a bit over the past few weeks or so, since we finally got our letter and confirmation from Ulster Bank that we were indeed on the wrong interest rate for about the last 6+ years. We have been wrongly charged, we know that we ended up in arrears, needlessly for a substantial part of them. Read More

22 Dec

The Solstice Brought Hope

Wednesday morning, long, LONG, before the dawn, I tweeted a message about the days getting longer and that the Solstice brought hope. I’ve not been sleeping very well, the stress of everything has been taking its toll. Later on that day as I waited for the letterbox to click, just as I have done everyday since the CEO of Ulster Bank made that promise at the Oireachtas Finance Committee, I felt that hope wane.

The letterbox didn’t click at the usual time and the day got longer. Still no sign of the postman. I sent out a message to the neighbours asking had the postman been yet. Yes, he had, but with nothing for me. Read More

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