Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Insourcing #28...Teen School Holiday Fun and Recipes!

School Holidays always seem more challenging when it comes to insourcing and saving money. Especially when it comes to teens, right?

They want movies, they want popcorn, they want to hang out at the shopping mall with their friends...and money...always there's money involved.

We manage this by allocating two days each week to 'outings', where yes, we may spend some money. Sometimes a lot of money if it's a visit to a theme park or some other 'all inclusive' sort of activity. Well, holidays are for making memories too, aren't they? So we can't feel too guilty.

The rest of the time is spent enjoying our lovely home, and making our own fun. 

We have friends over, both adult and teen, we bake, we sew, we swim in the pool, we make jam and chutney and marshmallows.

In preference to spending up big on fast food or cafe meals, we buy fresh seafood or other perceived 'luxury' ingredients, and the teen child-woman experiments with Crab Omelettes and Oysters Mornay which honestly costs no more than the nasty aforementioned takeaway fast food. We make our own cafe style cakes seen above, and Thai Beef Noodle Salads, seen below. So, already, at sixteen years of age, our daughter knows she can replicate her favorite cafe' and restaurant meals for no more than the price of a single cafe meal.

Of course once upon a time, we were replicating Cheeseburgers and Chocolate Thickshakes and calling it McMummy's. What a long way we've come!

Here's the recipe for those four dishes, in four sentences...

Thai Beef Noodle Salad with Tangy Spicy Dressing 
Makes 8 single serve tubs

To a packet of rice noodles, cooked or softened, add 4 julienned carrots, half a bunch each of fresh Coriander (Cilantro) and Mint, and one Continental cucumber, cut into chunks. Pan fry some steak till medium rare, remove from the pan, and slice thinly once you've allowed it to rest for a few minutes. Toss with a dressing made with 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/2 a fresh chilli, sliced very thinly, 2 teaspoons of fish sauce, and 2 teaspoons of sugar, shaken till mixed well. Portion into cute little takeaway style tubs to make it fun.

Ingredients $20
Equivalent takeaway value at our local Thai takeaway $12 per tub ($96) 
Insourced savings $76

Oysters Mornay
Makes one dozen

Make a quick, thick mornay sauce by microwaving a tablespoon each of butter, milk powder and flour (we use gluten free) in a microwave safe jug for one minute, and adding a cup of boiling water, whisking till smooth. Season well, and spoon over fresh oysters on the half shell, topping with cheese and a pinch of smoky paprika. Bake, barbecue or grill till golden and bubbly, and serve 3-6 as an entree` or up to a dozen with sides as a main meal.

Ingredients $13
Equivalent restaurant value $36 minimum
Insourced savings $23

 Crab Omelette
Makes one generous serving for three people

Whisk 6 eggs with a dribble of milk and a large handful of freshly chopped herbs of your choice. Add a large knob of butter to a hot frypan, and pour the egg mixture in, gathering the sides to the middle as the edges cook, and tilting the pan to force the uncooked egg to the edges. When mostly cooked, add up to 250gms fresh crab (or tinned if no fresh is available), and a handful of grated cheese. Fold the omelette and cut into two or three generous triangles, and serve immediately with a side salad.

Ingredients $25
Equivalent Restaurant value $120
Insourced savings $95

 Date Cinnamon Ginger and Lime Cafe Style Cakes
Makes 12

To a Butter Cake Mix (yellow cake) made up according to the instructions, add a handful of chopped pitted Dates, 2 teaspoons of powdered Ginger, and a teaspoon of Cinnamon. Pour into muffin pans (we used a cute one with square shapes instead of the usual round, snaffled for the bargain price of $4 at the supermarket), and bake until they spring back in the middle when touched, about 10-15 minutes. Make icing by combining half a cup of Icing Mixture with a tablespoon of butter, a few drops of lime juice and some lime zest. Ice and decorate with single slivers of lime zest.

Ingredients $5
Equivalent restaurant or cafe value at least $5 each ($60)
Insourced savings $55

Of course, it's not all about food!

Drying Kaffir Limes

We've also sun dried some Kaffir Limes from our own trees, to use in Potpourri. We simply sliced the limes, and laid them out on a cutting board in the hot sunshine for three days. These make the potpourri smell lovely and fresh, and they're pretty to look at, in their own right. Kaffir limes are not good eating, and if you could smell them you'd know why. They have a very distinctive 'cleaner deodoriser' sort of scent that is lovely in potpourri or cleaning products, but not so nice to eat. It's actually the leaves that we grow the tree for, which we use in Thai and Indian dishes. Custom handcrafted potpourri is astoundingly expensive, and we have the ingredients now, between rose petals, dried lavender stems and flower heads and lime slices to make four sweet packages to gift. We saw some just yesterday that was $35 per packet, so I'll base my calculations on that price.

Ingredients nil cost...all from our own garden
Equivalent retail value $140
Insourced savings $140

Keeping cut flowers fresher for longer

I was fortunate to be gifted several bouquets over Easter, which I much prefer to chocolates these days! I love fresh flowers but there is a bit of an art to keeping them looking their best for as long as possible. Here's how...

Remove the flowers from their wrapping and have the bin nearby. Arrange several vases to accomodate your blooms, filling them about half way, and adding a pinch of sugar and a drizzle of bleach. This discourages mould and bacteria. Take each stem, and trim it to a length that will look pretty in your chosen vases, making a diagonal cut, not one straight across. This gives a greater area for the cut bloom to take up water.  Remove any foliage that would be under water in the vase, as this is what causes the water to become smelly and ultimate wilts your flowers more quickly.

Arrange your flowers to please your eye, and enjoy. Change the water every second day, trimming the stems a little each time, and remembering to remove any further leafy bits that will then be under water.

Your flowers should then last 1-2 weeks. Some will die more quickly, but at the moment, out of the four bouquets I received, I still have the equivalent of two in vases around the house. The Gerberas, Lilies and Roses always seem to go first in our hot weather, but the Chrysanthemums, Lisianthus, Alstroemeria, and greenery are doing just fine.

I'm going to call this a saving on buying more cut flowers at $35 a bouquet, so I'll call it...

Insourced saving $70
And of course we always take the opportunity of down time to do some creating. Here is a throw that was a joint venture between my daughter and I, each picking the knitting up to knit or purl a row as we felt we wanted, and enjoying the random outcome. This softest baby pink is our most favourite yarn, and we are now on our last ball, so I hope I can source some more!

Hand knitted throws are crazy expensive, so I'm going to call this a $65 saving on a bought throw, and an equal saving on an activity to entertain my teen daughter!

Insourced saving $130

 That's a total of $590 that we've kept in our bank account by utilising what we had on hand, or buying fresh ingredients and cooking at home over eating out.

Not only that, but my daughter has learned some new skills, as have the friends she's invited that were here at the time, and we've put our energies into making home the place we all want to be.
If I add in the usual things we DIY like hair straightening (saves $45 each time), manicures (2 of us at $25 each time), dog bathing (saves $20 a go), cleaning the house (saves at least $100), and the building project that my daughter and hubby have on the go that is saving us over $1000 (it's a gable for our entry gate) giving a further running total of $1,215 to add to the $590, we have a grand total of ....


 I call that one good week!

What did you DIY, insource, or learn to do this week?



  1. Very resourceful! No kids but bringing my own lunch to work saves me $7-15 per day. I will be insourcing my Mum's birthday present by making her a soy candle from a kit tonight, too, and we're having a yummy pumpkin risotto for dinner that's better than any from a restaurant. I like insourcing!

    1. Jodi, you are my kinda home Mama! Nice work on the candle making and the risotto! Mimi xxx

  2. Now which shop to spend that saved $1000 Mimi..... Such a great article. Love Jacqui x

    1. Ah Jacqui my love...it all goes towards that Northern Lights cruise I want to share with you! ;-) Mimi xxx

  3. All of those recipes look delicious, Mimi. We love seafood and omelettes too, but I have never thought of making a seafood omelette. I will definitely be keeping this in mind and am pinning to my Recipes Seafood board and Egg and Cheese Board on Pinterest! Thanks so much for sharing all.

    1. Wow thanks for the pin Lynn! Crab, shrimp, lobster, crayfish...they're all wonderful with eggs. You can do omelettes, souffl├ęs, egg based sauces like bernaise and even just scrambled egg is spectacular with shellfish and salmon particularly. I'll be featuring more of those soon. Love, Mimi xxx

  4. Loved your blog today. I like when you share your recipes and such.
    Last night I made Chicken Alfredo; I had no prepackaged sauce so I made my own from things in my pantry.

    1. Thankyou Laurie. I'll keep that in mind! Now, home made Chicken Alfredo for dinner? What time should I be there. Yum! Mimi xxx

  5. My daughter doesn't enjoy cooking but does like museums, parks, and concerts, so we look for those kinds of free or affordable activities when she has breaks from school work. Of course, home educating allows us to consider many of those things to BE school work! ;)
    Blessings, Leigh

    1. Leigh, that's a great way to look at it! Yes I guess home schooling allows for all that and more! Mimi xxx

  6. Very impressive and what valuables lessons being taught!

    1. Thankyou Sandra. That's a lovely comment. Mimi xxx

  7. Dear Mimi:
    You are just loaded with ideas and creative suggestions. I loved them all. I love ways to save money and also make meaningful things!!! Thanks for sharing and linking.

    1. My pleasure Bernideen. It's always lovely to visit with you. Mimi xxx

  8. Mimi- wow, you are doing such a great job teaching your teens! Your food looks amazing, and your crafts/projects just awesome!

    1. Michele...shhh..she doesn't know she's being taught anything...lol! But thankyou! Mimi xxx

  9. The recipes look incredible. I want to try the omelet even though I rarely eat seafood. xoxo Su

    1. Su, the neutral flavour of the eggs is the perfect foil for the delicate shellfish. I promise! Mimi xxx

  10. Food looks delicious and I love the pink throw. Thanks for sharing, Mimi.


  11. Hi Mimi,
    Sounds like you and your daughter had a fun holiday. That pink throw is gorgeous, will be praying you find some more pretty pink yarn, and those
    cupcakes look delectable. I love lime and lemon. Nice to make your own
    potpourri out of your own garden, how fun is that........I would say you
    did have a very good week on your insourcing.
    Have a good rest of the week, hon,
    Love and blessings, Nellie

    1. Thanks Nellie. It's always lovely having my girl home. Mimi xxx

  12. Love that your daughter is "in on it" too!!! She will be so much ahead of the game as an adult! Thank you for sharing this week on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! :)

    1. She's learning life skills without even realising Jes ;-) Mimi xxx

  13. Dear Mimi:
    You have some great tips and ideas here for saving money and baking from scratch which is also what I love to Do!!! Thanks for sharing and linking.

  14. Wow...everything sounds tasty!

    I would love for you to share this at my Facebook Group for Recipes, Crafts, and Tips and Tricks!!  https://www.facebook.com/groups/pluckyrecipescraftstips/

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx