meal plan : week 9

Oops a little behind with the meal planning since we’ve had so many things going on here. I’m 22 vests down and 35 to go for the school musical, we are now registered for homeschool for one and renewed for 2 years for the other and 28 weeks pregnant. Plenty of things to keep me busy…but we have been eating but I took a break from meal plans. Here we go for what we ate last week…..

Day 1

Pesto pasta + broccoli (V, GF Option)

I made ours with broccoli because we’ve been eating so many zucchinis from our garden and I needed a break. Just add in whatever vegetable you like by adding to the pasta while it’s cooking towards the end of the cooking time. Super easy and delicious and just use store bought pesto if you’re really short on time or have it on hand.

 

Day 2

Sushi bowls

Always popular with the kids I just cook the rice in my thermomix, add some sushi rice seasoning and divide up between bowls. Add some smoked salmon or tuna with mayo and sliced avocado and serve with tamari/soy sauce. The kids love it

 

Day 3

Lamb roast and potatoes

Aldi did a beautiful butterflied lamb roast we’ve had a couple of times and I pick up a bag of potatoes and a bag of carrots and roast the veggies first in olive oil (season them and put them in for an hour) then the lamb goes in until it’s cooked and just how we like it.

Day 4

Enchiladas

Always popular here whenever I make them and I don’t make them often enough, this is the Pioneer Woman recipe and I go easy on the coriander because not everyone in the house loves it as much as I do

simple perfect enchiladas

 

Day 5

Green chicken sticks and salad (and rice for some of my kids who love rice with everything!)

chicken skewers in the new oven

Day 6

Kaki Age (Spoon Dropped Tempura) (V)

Great for a meat free day or fridays in Lent. This is so delicious but get used to spending time in the kitchen making more to keep everyone happy.

kaki age

Day 7

Tofu Stir fry (V)

Another vegetarian meal and quick and easy. I like to do stir frys to empty out the crisper in the fridge and when I feel like I need a healthy meal. For variety throw in some noodles into the stir fry instead of serving with rice.

resources for special needs homeschooling

 

I’ve reviewed  a few of the books that have really helped me and put a few resources that we are using. Unfortunately there is no special needs curriculum that you can just buy to homeschool and in NSW an IEP isn’t enough for a homeschool plan. You need to meet the curriculum (in all subject areas) and I have to say it was daunting. But buying a ready made kindergarten curriculum and adapting it and finding other resources and just getting started has given me plenty of confidence.

I hope this helps…..I do have to say that most of the resources come from the US as there are more homeschooling families there and from my internet searches a lot of homeschooling families and resources are geared towards children with autism. It took a bit of researching to find books and resources for children with intellectual disabilities and that is how the books for children with Down Syndrome came up in my searches. These have been my favourite books. Look at the strengths and weaknesses of your child and their developmental age and work from there. There are a lot of FB groups even groups for certain curriculums for children with special needs.

Homeschooling Children with Special Needs by Sharon Hensley

This was the first book I bought and I have to confess that I started reading it and had to put it away for a while. I really don’t like the terminology she used ‘mental retardation’ as it’s outdated and the book wasn’t giving me warm fuzzies. Then I picked it up again and went straight to the resources and realised that is why I needed the book. Some of my favourite books have come from the resources section of the book so I think it’s worthwhile for that reason. You can find 2nd hand copies on amazon/eBay and it is really worthwhile getting.

Christian Homes & Special Kids by Sherry Bushnell & Dianne Ryckman

This is my favourite book and really sealed the deal for me. It just spoke to me and is written by Christian families who homeschool and there was such a wide variety of disabilities included in the book. The resource section was great and the advice and personal stories really hit home for me. A great buy and I prefer this one to the one above but the book above has a much more comprehensive resource section for all subjects. They also have a website here.

Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome

This was one of the books mentioned in Homeschooling Children with Special Needs and it is an absolute must if you are going to teach someone with special needs to read. It has so many activities and ideas and starts from the very beginning teaching the alphabet to ultimately having the child create their own books and read them. You could be at any level of learning to read and could pick up this book where you are. For less than $30 the book is so thick and full of great ideas and fun ideas. That’s how we’re going to get someone to read. If conventional methods aren’t working then this might be the book for you.

Teaching Math to People with Down Syndrome

Since I was impressed with the reading book I bought this book. Not just for children with Down Syndrome but children who need a different way of learning. For us we are still learning to count to 10 in Year 1 so I need something I can start with now and that can move with us as we learn more concepts in maths. Lots and lots of examples and templates in the back of the book, games and ideas and covering lots of maths concepts. A really great one to have in your library

Teachers Pay Teachers

How did I homeschool last year without this website. It’s amazing. There are free downloads but most of the ones you want you need to pay a few dollars for. They are fun, bright and have cute pictures so make learning fun. We’ve bought some book covers, lessons for maths, english and religion and it’s a great way to plan lessons and cover skills starting from Pre – K to senior years. Absolutely love this website and am a huge fan. You’ll need a printer to print everything off and I also got some wonderful alphabet and number games that I printed in colour and laminated and at $3 each game is so much cheaper than paying for an educational game from the shop. I’ve now started using it for year 3 when we are stuck on a concept or need something a bit more exciting than our textbooks.

Literacy Planet

All of my kids are enjoying this website. Membership came with our Complete Education Australia purchase and the games and activities start from preschool upwards. Because we are still at a preschool level we are using some of those and then making our own word list and then the program puts that into games so you can learn your simple words (for us it was cat, dog, fox, mum, dad etc). Lots of fun and a great activity when someone has hit the wall or needs a break (but it still counts as learning).

Complete Education Australia

I did look at distance education as an option for homeschooling as I’ve never taught someone to read and write before but decided the work would be too hard and after an assessment we decided to go with something else. Complete Education Australia is a homeschool provider so you pay $160 a term and the materials are all sent in pdf. All the lessons are planned out for you and it’s very hands on. We will do kindergarten over 2 years and I like having the maths, science, geography, history and art all planned out. In our first week we were recreating Monet artworks with watercolours and this week we are cutting out and sticking a skeleton together. Some of the work is too hard for us but apparently Complete Education Australia will help you adapt the work to the level of your child. Because we are doing it over 2 years I’m just saving some of the tasks for later on. I’m really impressed with it. I print each week on a Sunday and put it into my folder and then I have a planning sheet that I spread out the work over the days of the week so I can tick everything off.

Homeschooling Special Needs Australia

This mum has a wonderful success story of homeschooling her special needs son. She shares lots of resources and its worth reading her story as it’s a great one.

Facebook Groups

There are a lot of Facebook groups with parents from around the world who are homeschooling children with Special needs. There is an increasing trend for children with special needs to be homeschooled as schools just can’t always cater for special needs or children aren’t coping in the school environment.

 

Now that I’m actually doing it I love it. I was quoted last year as saying I couldn’t teach kindergarten as I wouldn’t know how to teach a child to read -it’s definitely easier to pick up homeschooling once your child can read and write – but now that I’m doing it is so much fun. I have a dear little girl who loves being home with us and is happy. So happy. We don’t have cranky mornings or afternoons being so tired from all the travelling and she’s doing fun things and what she loves.

why we are homeschooling

 

People have been asking why we are homeschooling our littlest girl. At the end of the day there was a big difference in the quality of teaching between last year and this year and she was being babysat each day. Every day the email would come in with what they did – morning circle then a literacy or numeracy activity (numeracy only twice a week) then morning tea and play outside then music/drama/art/pe/etc then lunch then play outside then come inside and pack up their bags and go home.

She was leaving home at 7.30 and coming home at 4 with just 1 session of what I would call school work. When maths was mentioned my sweet girl was often given a worksheet to do while students with greater needs worked with a teacher. If your child can’t count to 5 or past 5 how is a worksheet going to help them learn. Then I would get an email saying they did addition and subtraction. Um, if she can’t recognise numbers to 5 or remember what comes after 3 or 4 then how is that going to help. When I went back over the emails I noticed that the boys in the class never got a worksheet just the 2 girls. And my girl never did maths in a small group with a teacher or aide. Either in the whole group or just a worksheet. How is this acceptable? How was she going to learn to count from a worksheet on her own. There were only 8 or 9 students in the class on any given day and a teacher and aide.

Every day I was getting more and more upset (and mad!) and about to burst. How could we have had such a wonderful year last year with a devoted teacher who answered emails and gave each student so much attention and this year I was in a totally different situation. Never an email response and then when a broken folder was given to her for her reader for the year I thought I was going to scream. I had just sent in $80 for resources and $25 for readers and was given a broken folder without a press stud for her communication folder. It’s hard enough for her to open and close a press stud. I know it sounds petty, a broken folder. But to me if someone has taken the time to write her name and communication folder on it then I think you would notice that it was broken. And it’s not going to last the year.  Still I’m not getting responses to my emails except on the one occasion that I chased it up. I didn’t expect to pull her out in the 3rd week and not return to school. We didn’t say goodbye to our favourite teachers or staff or her friends. She needed to come out straight away and I wasn’t sending her back for another day in that classroom. We donated the almost new school uniforms to the uniform shop, returned our library books and reader and left.

I wanted to take her out after the first week but I had to convince someone that I could do this with a new baby and that we would be ok. And you know what? We’re better than ok. Every day she is doing literacy and numeracy and we are learning! We don’t have other children’s behaviour in the classroom to worry about and she’s not just given a worksheet and left on her own to do it. I sit there with her and work with her. Just the two of us. I find fun activities in her curriculum or on the internet and we cut and paste and learn together. Her big sister and sometimes her little brothers next to her too. Twice a week she is doing a preschool program 1 on 1 – in one hour they pack in gross motor, fine motor, days of the week and weather, letters, numbers, puzzle, songs, a story and questions and a craft. More than she ever did in a day of school. And every time we are out or in the kitchen we are counting and doing things. At 7.30am she’s still in her pjs enjoying toast and watching sesame street with her siblings instead of getting into transport for the day. Today it was raining so our homeschool meet up got moved to lollipops playland. We did all of our learning work in the morning and after lunch went off to burn off some energy at lollipops playland. Tomorrow she will have 1 hour of speech and then do her work and we finish the day with art and then cheerleading.

It was after her assessment which revealed just how much work we needed to do and how she would benefit from 1 on 1 and that confirmed we needed to do this. That same day I sent the email that had been sitting in my drafts and she didn’t go back to school. However it has come at a huge financial cost. Tuition is twice the cost of school fees and the special school are now asking for half the years fees for just 3 weeks of school. I tried to leave on such a positive note not bringing up the issues we had faced and knowing we had a better option at home.

So that’s the honest answer.

All we want is the best for our children and when they don’t have a voice or have the support to be included in regular schools then we are the voice and we are the person who has to make things happen. We are the ones who have sat in on every assessment, therapy session and at the end of the day are the ones who will spend the rest of our lives loving and living with them. And that is our reality. The teachers won’t live with them or need to help them for the rest of their lives we will so no one wants better outcomes than we do. And so it’s up to us to get it right. **off my soapbox now**

On this particular afternoon we were recreating Monet artworks! This week we’ve also cut out a skeleton, stuck him together and started colouring him and labelling his parts for science. We’ve looked at the map of australia and put down where everyone we know lives and coloured it in with a different colour for each state and we’ve been focusing on identifying the numbers 1-3 and the letters a, b, c. We are still at a preschool level and have problems with remembering things but she is loving learning and making progress. And happy. All that I hoped for.

meal plan : week 8

Oops! Homeschool registration and renewal and having another one at home is keeping me busy. We’ve also got zucchinis growing like crazy at the moment so some of these dishes I’ve added zucchini to as well as giving some away at preschool and to the neighbour. Why can’t I have some of the other delicious things I’ve planted? It was fun at first but now I get nervous when I ask the kids to check on the veggies for me. I know they’ll come running back with another one or two.

Oh and it’s lent so a few fish dinners in there for us on fridays too

Day 1

Spinach & ricotta cannelloni (V)

Because the spinach is also growing well. Super easy. Just a packet of cannelloni rolls, stuff them with a mixture of wilted spinach and ricotta that you’ve seasoned well. Pour over a jar of passata or your favourite pasta sauce. Top with lots of cheese and bake in the oven until golden and the pasta is cooked.

Day 2

Teriyaki Salmon and rice

I picked up some salmon fillets at aldi and I place them on the top level of the varoma and pour over teriyaki marinade, underneath on the bottom tray of the varoma was zucchini and carrot, in the thermomix bowl I had rice cooking and I cook the whole lot for 20 minutes on varoma setting. Delicious.

Day 3

Smoked Salmon Frittata

Super easy and a great one for lunch or dinner in Lent. 8-12 eggs, packet of smoked salmon, some frozen veggies all whisked together and poured into a square or rectangular baking tin that has been lined with baking paper. Top with grated cheese and bake in a 200C oven for about 20-25 minutes. Serve with salad and garlic bread. Tastes delicious cold too.

Day 4

Beef fajitas

Another aldi inspired dish, they had marinated beef strips so a packet of those, tortillas/wraps, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, mashed avocado, sour cream and some lime wedges. Delicious and always a crowd favourite.

Day 5

Zucchini & Feta Pancakes (V) 

Using up those zucchinis, this is a light dinner and great for a quick and easy dinner that you need to get on the table. Mind you I tend to be churning them out and they are all eaten up. Make sure you serve them with lemon wedges.

zucchini and feta pancakes

Day 6

Pasta Bake (GF Option) 

Good old pasta bake. I did up a mince sauce as I would for lasagne but had the biggest zucchini grated in there. A bag of cooked pasta mixed in and then poured into a baking dish and topped with white sauce and then grated cheese on top and I bake in the oven until golden and bubbling. Always popular here and a very filling dish. Also great for the cooler weather. Use GF pasta for a GF option.

Day 7

Chicken Pie

Because it’s such a family favourite here! Now is the time to make double and freeze one or pop in the fridge for the next night.

so good

 

my revolving door of homeschoolers

Yes that’s how it feels right now. I just sent one off to school who really wanted to go and now have another little girl home with me. And we are all loving it. It was a big decision to make this month but we had always known that if there was anyone to homeschool then it would be our little girl who has an intellectual disability. She had a wonderful start to school and an amazing teacher last year and we thought we would continue this year but things just weren’t going as well as last year. I knew we had bigger goals we wanted her to achieve and that we needed to do more. Every day when the email came in of what they did that day I knew she could have done much more and not needed to be away from us for 8 hours. And options are very limited when you don’t really fit anywhere – lack of support in mainstream schools and knowing that its a battle to get the help your child needs. Not severe enough or not the right diagnosis for certain schools, support classes or distance education options.

But we feel lucky that we are already homeschoolers because we knew we had the best option right here at home. And that made it a very easy decision. We are doing things a little differently compared to starting with my twins. We have tutoring twice a week at a centre that specialises in special needs which she is loving. It’s more work than she was doing in the classroom but she has it packed into an hour and gets the 1 on 1 she really needs. We are also using Complete Education Australia and their Foundation program (kindy) which is very hands on and suits where she is at. Some of the work is too hard for us so we will save that for later. We’re also using some school readiness books from my favourite bookshop.

For social activities we have a homeschool meet up every thursday, cheerleading on a friday, gymnastics on saturday and swimming on sunday and of course she is surrounded by her brothers and sisters and always has a few of them at home with her each day. Today was Shrove Tuesday and she loved it so much that we had to do 2 lots of pancake making and eating. One in the morning and one in the afternoon.

So far so good, I know I received a few questions about our decision and I know with a baby coming that it seems like totally the wrong timing but actually it was really meant to be and after a day of feeling sick about it all I woke up the next day with a great sense of peace. And best of all a little voice tells me ‘I stay here, no school, I stay here’….and she’s happy. And that is what matters too.

If you are after any more information or have a homeschooling question just ask. You might not know that you can be eligible for the AIC payment for special needs which is helping us towards the cost of private tuition so worth looking into.

Meal Plan : Week 7

Oops I’m a little late again! We’ve had a few dramas and things going on and a crazy week with 2 parent information nights, 2 nights of cheerleading, 2 nights of school musical rehearsal so this week’s dinners are super easy and quick to get on the table

Day 1

Chicken Noodle Stir Fry (GF if you use tamari) 

Super easy. Just make a regular stir fry, we did our usual chicken stir fry but added in a pack of vermicelli noodles (that had been soaked in hot water then drained) and an egg. You need a bit more water for the noodles to soak up as they are cooking but it’s delicious AND my pickiest eaters just had the noodles with some chicken and a vegetable or two.

Day 2

Tuna Macaroni (GF option) 

Crowd favourite here. Just a big bag of pasta cooked with 1 batch of white sauce made in the thermomix (or old fashioned way on the stove), 1 can of sirena tuna in oil, some mustard and salt and pepper and a cup of grated cheese all mixed together. The kids love it and most have seconds. I now use a 750g bag of pasta for my growing appetites.

Day 3

Spaghetti Bolagnese (GF option) 

Pulling out all the crowd favourites this week. I throw in a few finely grated vegetables like carrot, celery and zucchini to bulk up the mince and because my kids never notice the hidden veggies. The kids love it. We made ours GF with a box of Barilla GF pasta.

Day 4

Fish or chicken wraps

Super easy. Oven fish or chicken strips in wraps with lettuce, tomato, avocado and some mayo/your favourite sauce. The kids love it and it’s a great one if you are heading out for the night and leaving little people with a babysitter

Day 5

Chicken and vegie balls with rice  (GF) 

You can use this recipe here to make your own but I am using 2 packets of Cleavers paleo meatballs which I love. I steam mine in the top of the thermomix with some cut up vegetables and cook the rice at the same time. Kids love it and adults too.

Day 6

Quiche maraichere (V) 

golden cheese on top

Well it’s weekend time so a vegetable quiche that takes a little longer is perfect for dinner. My favourite way to have quiche is with a big salad on the side. The kids love garlic bread

Day 7

Zucchini and bacon slice (V option if you leave out bacon, GF if you use GF flour) 

hot out of the oven

Because I have zucchinis coming out of my ears. My daughter bought in our 11th and 12th zucchinis and advised me we have another few that are ready to pick soon! Super easy and double it up for lunchboxes. We never have leftovers as the kids love it and great for rush nights. I also like to add in a pack of danish feta all chopped up while I’m adding in the eggs as it gives you a saltiness and creaminess to it. Delicious.

 

Hope that gives you a bit of dinner inspiration. I’m just hoping things quieten day around here………….might be wishful thinking. Have a lovely week!

another year of homeschool starts

Well we’re about to start week 3 of homeschool and all is going well. Having done 6 months last year has definitely given me some confidence that we’re on the right track and learning is happening. This year because we are using a curriculum from the US and we are enjoying having daily lesson plans written up for us. I just had to swap the history and geography for australian books and swapped out the spelling book as I’m not a fan of spalding method and neither is my little girl. So far so good and she is enjoying the work and having a day for art, craft and cooking. The work is done over 4 days and one day is set aside for activities like art, craft, pe and more which is also great if you have a busy day during the week.

I still get asked lots of questions about homeschool and why we do it and I’ve put some resources below that might help you if you are looking into it. I think when you are first looking into homeschooling it can be confusing and starting out with a homeschool provider can be a good option. However I would say if you have someone with learning difficulties or who is really struggling at school or refusing to go to school that selecting your own books and going at a more relaxed pace is a great way to ease them into homeschool without the pressure of someone else marking work or having lots of workbooks to complete each day. And if you have someone who needs to be extended then I would say the same thing. It was great to be using english and maths resources a grade ahead last year and challenge the homeschoolers at our house. I’m glad we started with a mixture of texts and workbooks that I picked out and also allowed them to choose the art and activities that we wanted to do.

Socialisation? Still gets asked of me. We are surrounded by people in our house and we are out and about most days. Our homeschool girl has just started 2 hours of cheerleading each week and will have competitions and camps this year. She swims on saturday with other children, goes to birthday parties, does the preschool and school drop off, sees her friends and spends time with family and neighbours too. We are always around people and I really don’t see it as a problem. We have some family members keen to see her return to school but we are enjoying seeing her happy and more relaxed without the demands of school and want to continue.

One more thing I’ve noticed is that people have an all in approach. They either pull everyone out of school to homeschool or they don’t do it at all. You’d be surprised how many families are homeschooling  1 or a couple of their children and have some in school. Some children love school and some don’t. I don’t mind having some in school and some at school and because my older ones are quite independent and keep track of their own homework and getting ready for school it’s just part of life getting them off to school. Don’t think you have to do everyone at home to make it work. I think we had a great start because I only had 2 of mine homeschooling last year rather than everyone at once.

And just one more thing I think mums worry about is having someone/or everyone around them 24/7. At first it can be a change – instead of having some quiet time to go to the shops or do things without the whole crew you suddenly have more children with you……..everywhere you go. And I think we all need some time off. So yes at first it was an adjustment, especially when the kids would get in the car and try to change my radio station but actually I enjoy the company and extra pair of hands. They are so much more co-operative and help with the chores because they are home all the time and see what needs to be done. We don’t get the after school attitude or fights that you get when someone comes home from school in a mood and I find we have a more relaxed day. It’s also great for siblings. My daughter loves to scan the groceries for me especially doing the fruit and veggies and selecting the ones and learns a lot about life in general that you don’t always get when you are at school 5 days a week. If we have coffee out with someone we choose somewhere she can play and she usually makes my other kids jealous telling them about her delicious morning tea or what she did that day. And when she reads, does craft, makes a cake or plays with her brother I get some quiet time or get a few things done.

The Educating Parents Homeschooling & Unschooling FB Group

This is the best group I’ve found on FB for questions and every day there are loads of new questions and posts. It’s run by Beverley Paine and her website and her books are full of information to get you started and keep you going.

Homeschooling downunder

Another great aussie homeschool website and there are lots of books and downloadables that you can buy. We used this website for our science book and it’s great to have aussie websites that can help you with planning and encouragement.

Complete Education Australia

Provides a complete curriculum in Australia (not religious) and you print off all the materials. Would be a great way to start homeschooling and I’m looking into this for one of my children.

Riverside Distance Education

This is if you want the option of having the student’s work set and marked by someone else. This is a Christian package and would be a good option if you don’t want to do the setting and marking of work and want a more set approach for the work.

Australian Christian College

This group offer distance education from year 3-10 and also includes residential camps during the year. I like this option as the children get older and might want a more structured approach and the opportunity to go on camps.

Australian Christian Homeschooling

This is a complete homeschool package with all of your materials sent to you.

South East Home Education

An australian Christian homeschool provider that provides you with everything and a workbook approach.

Five Senses Education

This is my favourite bookshop and I also buy books for my little girl as they have great books for all levels and abilities. The website makes it easy to find all the books to look at for a grade and subject so you can compare.  We also got a couple of great workbooks from singapore and I found they had a lot more examples to work through and I wouldn’t have known about them if I hadn’t known about the site.

Seton

This is an american Catholic homeschool provider, we use some of their books and started using them last year. I especially like their maths and handwriting books. I know families who use all of their books as a complete curriculum but I prefer to find a few different books and texts rather than just using workbooks. But the maths is very comprehensive. Their pre-k books and colouring books are also excellent and I recommend having a look around their online bookstore.

Mother of Divine Grace

Another american Catholic homeschool provider and I like this one, it’s a classical program and has a lot of reading and uses a variety of texts. I like that it didn’t have a workbook approach that some distance and homeschool providers tend to have and the daily lesson plans make life very easy. You can buy the required books from ebay and amazon and it worked out less than A$500 a year including buying the curriculum in paper format from the US.

Our Lady of Victory Homeschool

I don’t know much about this one but just that it’s one that Catholic families use.

Hope that helps! If you have any questions just ask…………..I still have my L plates on but am really enjoying it and hope to bring another one home soon………..

 

New fabrics just added

It’s about time for some new fabrics in my little etsy store. I have these beautiful fabrics on the bolt ready to cut for you and also have this range in charm squares too. It’s called Tide Pool and I had to buy it for some new couch cushions for new couches coming to our loungeroom soon.

For the floral lovers I have a new range called Lulu Lane which is very pretty and is going to make the most beautiful quilts for girls and your home. Also I’ve got some Bonnie & Camille basics which just arrived and is bright and pretty and has a lot of my favourites in there. I’ll be doing some neutral baby quilts with those packs and the mini charm squares will be great for borders.

Meal Plan : Week 6

A few days late as everyone is back to school, one is homeschooling and having 4 little people at different places has involved some serious time management. Not much time is left for cooking or planning out dinners for the next week but saturday mornings are always a fresh start. So here we go.

start of the meatball sauce

I’ve kept these pretty simple, 1 slowcooker meal, 1 meatball dish to make on the weekend when you have more time, 3 vegetarian meals and some baking for lunchboxes. I like to bake them all up, let them cool, wrap them individually and pop in the freezer so they can be taken out the morning you want to put them in a lunchbox

Just click on the recipe title and it will take you to the recipe link!

Day 1

Chicken & Cashew Stir Fry

Day 2

Quirky Cooking’s Singapore Noodles (GF)

This is a family favourite and so fresh and tasty. Everyone will love this one.

Day 3

Thermomix Pulse and Pumpkin Curry (V, GF)

Day 4

Tomato Pasta with Vegetables and Feta (V, GF option)

To make this GF just use a gluten free pasta.

Day 5

Quirky Cooking’s Brown Rice risotto (V, GF)

We have regular cheese not macadamia cheese with ours.

Day 6

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken

Serve with rice and/or steamed vegetables

Day 7

3 hour meatballs

Make this on the weekend to enjoy that night or during the week. We get leftovers and they taste great the next day and there is lots of sauce so just make more meatballs to make the most of the beautiful tomato sauce. Everyone in the family including the pickiest of eaters will love this one!

3 hour meatballs

BAKING

Cheesey Vegemite Scrolls

Orange and maple scrolls

oh I can't get enough of these

Orange Choc chip muffins

Chosen by my children but who doesn’t love choc chips?  I’ll be using this recipe which makes 24 muffins but swapping out the blueberries for 1 cup choc chips and instead of lemon I’m using orange juice.

meal plan: week 5

School is back next week and for us we have activities every single afternoon……I’m not ready for that. So this week the meals are fairly easy, I let the kids pick a night since they were shopping with me and we’ll make 2 extra meals for our freezer for when it really gets busy.

My Aldi shop this week was $179 (excludes fruit and veg which arrives friday) and was a big shop so next week I expect it to be less. It also includes a few back to school lunchbox treats to make my first week a bit easier – we’ve got kids at 4 different places this year and 2 at home and activities every night so I’m already thinking ahead. Little things like knowing I have tiny teddies and le snaks in the pantry that can easily go in a lunchbox or for an after school activity or in the car make things easy. We had a lot of meat this week – 2kgs mince (1kg will go in the freezer), 2 trays lamb chops, 2 free range chickens, 3 trays of sausages. I also picked up a packet of chicken and vegetable pies and some spinach and ricotta parcels just in case we have a crazy night and dinner doesn’t go as planned. Other items include 2 dozen eggs, 2 loaves of bread, 2 packets of wraps, some iceblocks, dairy items and the hummus and crackers make a great lunchbox snack for all ages.

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Day 1

Kids night – hot dogs and strawberry cheesecake

Clean eaters and dieters might want to choose something else but the kids picked hot dogs for their dinner. The adults added sauerkraut and mustard for a more german hot dog experience and it was delicious. Since the kids were on a roll choosing dinner they picked a strawberry cheesecake for dessert.

Day 2

Australia Day BBQ (GF) 

Yes we are getting the bbq out again and having chops for the adults and sausages for the kids, coleslaw and a green salad too.

Day 3

Smoked Tofu Stir fry with rice (V, GF if you use Tamari) 

The fruit and veg delivery arrives today so smoked tofu is nice and firm and much nicer than most tofu brands. We have a range of vegetables in there and serve it with steamed rice. For flavouring we use tamari (it’s wheat free and delicious) and nuts are wonderful in a stir fry. I always feel so healthy when I’ve had a big stir fry for dinner and for the picky eaters they have rice and pick which of the vegetables they’ll have with some tofu. And ‘saucy sauce’ which our 4 year old still calls soy sauce! Writing it here so I don’t forget how cute that still is. Everyone corrects him but he still calls it saucy sauce.

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Day 4

Spaghetti Pie

Have you had spaghetti pie before? I found the recipe when I was in my first trimester and craving carbs. This was a great dish. I’ll make this during the day and pop it in the fridge so that it can just go in the oven when we get home from our activity that day. Super popular with the kids (and husband).

Day 5

Italian Style Lamb chops and vegetables (GF) 

Red onion, zucchini, fresh tomato and some garlic and herbs in the bottom of a roasting/lasagne dish. Place the lamb chops on top and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes until everything is cooked. A really nice one dish dinner and always popular. I picked up trays of lamb chops in my grocery shop so this is a nice way to use the 2nd tray and everyone will eat it up.

Day 6

2 Roast chickens, gravy and vegetables (GF) 

Another great way to use up vegetables, we love potatoes, pumpkin, carrots and some corn on the cob. I roast 2 chickens at the same time and leftover chicken meat will go in lunchboxes the next day. I find the fussiest of eaters will love a chicken leg and some cold potato in their lunchbox.

Day 7

Silverbeet & feta frittata (V, GF)

One thing about a mixed fruit and vegetable box is the silverbeet. My kids aren’t fans but this is so cheesy and delicious that no-one noticed the silverbeet. I washed the silverbeet leaves and finely chopped them in the thermomix with a red onion, 3 garlic cloves and a carrot. Throw in some olive oil and salt and saute for 2 minutes, 100C, speed 1. Drain off excess liquid. Add in 10 eggs and chopped feta. Combine and season with salt and pepper. Pour into a lined square/rectangle tin and top with sliced tomato then top with about 1 cup of grated cheese. You want the cheese to cover the dish so it’s nice and cheesy. Bake for at least 30 minutes in a 200C oven and the frittata should be completely cooked inside. Enjoy. I still can’t believe no one asked what the green was!

Baking

Broccoli and cherry tomato quiche (V) 

This is great for lunches, lunchboxes, early dinners and eating on the run. I’ll make this on Sunday and keep it in the fridge for the week ahead.

Berry muffins

These are the most delicious muffins, I’ll leave off the glaze for the kids and freeze them for lunchbox treats. Also great to pack when the kids have after school activities and need a snack in between.

Banana Bread

I’ll make a double batch of this recipe and freeze one sliced up and in bags for when it gets busy.

spaghetti pie (cook + freeze)

I made this year last year and forgot to blog it! Added it to this week’s meal plan and realised I better share it. I usually find making lasagne and freezing it is a great way to take a meal to another family. Because I’ve been making so many lasagnes lately I decided to try something new. Spaghetti pie! It’s a winner!

If I’m making this for another large family I would make this up in a foil container and assemble it all ready to go in the oven then I would wrap up in foil and freeze. I then like to write the cooking instructions on the alfoil and a separate piece of paper too. So for example you might say defrost or part defrost then cook in a 180C oven for at least 30 minutes or something like that.

On this particular day I was making single portions for a lady so I made a big dish for our family and divided up half into small containers and that way they can just be defrosted and reheated.

If you have a thermomix you could make the bolagnese sauce as per the thermomix recipe and a double batch of white sauce. On this particular weekend my dear old thermomix was having the scales fixed so I was doing it old school. I hope you enjoy this one and if you don’t then your kids will:)

spaghetti pie (cook + freeze)
 
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Serves: 12
What you'll need
  • 500g pack spaghetti
  • 1 egg
  • olive oil
  • onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1kg mince
  • 2x 700g passata bottles
  • herbs (I used parsley and basil)
  • salt and pepper
  • tomato sauce
  • White sauce
  • 3 tsp butter
  • 3Tbsp flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups grated cheese (1 for sauce and 1 topping)
Instructions
  1. Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil. Add in the and mince and brown.
  2. Add in passata, salt, pepper and herbs (fresh or dried).
  3. Bring to the boil then simmer for at least 30-40 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Boil pasta and while the water is boiling for your pasta you want to start the white sauce so both will be ready at the same time.
  5. To make the white sauce mix your butter and flour until they slightly bubble, whisk in the milk and keep whisking until the butter and flour has mixed in. Gently heat and keep stirring until sauce has thickened. Season well and mix in 1 cup of cheese. Stir and taste. Season if necessary.
  6. Add half of the white sauce to your cooked and drained spaghetti. Add the egg to the other half of the white sauce.
  7. In a large lasagne dish pour the bolagnese mixture into the bottom of the dish. Top with the cooked spaghetti (make sure you added ½ the white sauce) and then top with the reserved white sauce (make sure you added the egg) and top with the extra cup of cheese.
  8. Heat in 180 degrees oven until cheese is golden and bubbling on top.

 

berry muffins + lemon glaze

Over the holidays I ordered myself a beautiful new cookbook and couldn’t wait to make a recipe from the book. Now the book, A Farmer’s Daughter doesn’t have any photos inside and usually I’m a sucker for the photos but the recipes are the things that you want to make for your family. Wholesome food, a variety of recipes and ingredients but nothing that is too fancy or hard to get. These muffins were the most deliciously perfect muffins and we didn’t even do the crumble topping. I’m imagining the crumble topping takes it to a whole new level. And you’ll get 24 muffins from the mix which is great for big families, freezing for later or serving for a crowd. I’ve changed this recipe for the thermomix instructions and measurements and I know you’ll love them. I had a couple this morning after church and love the lemon glaze.

5.0 from 1 reviews
berry muffins + lemon glaze
 
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Serves: 24
What you'll need
  • 2 cups (450g) caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g butter, room temperature, cubed
  • 1 cup natural yogurt
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 3 cups (400g) SR flour
  • 1½ cups mixed berries (we used frozen)
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
Instructions
  1. mix together the eggs and sugar until creamy, I did this for 30 seconds, speed 4.
  2. Add in butter, yoghurt and lemon juice. Mix for another 20 seconds, speed 4
  3. Tip in the flour and gently fold in using your spatula. This keeps the muffins very light. So I didn't use the thermomix I used a spatula very gently. Add in the berries and do the same.
  4. Scoop into muffin wrappers (you'll need 24) and bake in a 180C oven for at least 20 minutes until lightly golden on top and cooked inside.
  5. Meanwhile combine the ½ cup icing sugar and juice of 1 lemon and whisk together so you don't have any lumps. Spoon over hot muffins.............and enjoy

 

Meal Plan : Week 4

Well late last week I had a big organic fruit and vegetable box delivered (well it came in 3 boxes) so we’ve been well and truly stocked up on fruit and vegetables. I did an Aldi shop (with all 6 children which was not a pleasant experience but we survived…just) and here is this week’s meal plan! And just a tip in case you haven’t worked out but if you click on the recipe name it will bring up the recipe link if I haven’t included it.

My grocery bill was $132 from Aldi and that includes breakfasts (eggs & bacon [there are 2 dozen eggs in my fridge], raisin toast, vegemite toast), lunches (wraps, gozleme one day, sandwiches, leftovers) and dinners. I usually keep 2-3 loaves of bread in the freezer so we are never without bread. There are a few treats in there (2 bags of lollies, bbq shapes) as one girl goes to camp, a few frozen treats because I’m pregnant (the vanilla slice lasted 2 minutes in our house), 2 desk caddies ($7.50 each for homeschool and our study desk) and some ice blocks because it’s getting to 42 degrees here tomorrow (hot, hot, hot). You’ll notice there is only 1 bottle of milk, we only have milk in our coffee and if someone is having cereal. And we don’t eat a lot of meat. I picked up a few things on special and put them in the freezer last week for when school goes back but usually 2 or 3 packs of meat will do us for the week. Oh and for snacks we have fruit, rice crackers or carrots with hummus or some homemade treats.

I’d love to see a pic of your grocery haul!

The organic fruit and veg box was $99 and came as 3 boxes. Huge. This was large family size but for this week I’ve switched to regular size as I’m having to push through to eat the veggies up. We go through more fruit than veg so I’ll report back on the regular size box. My goal is to have my own veggie garden giving us our fresh veggies but in the meantime am having them delivered as I find it fresher and much cheaper than the supermarket organics.

Day 1

BBQ Sausages, steak, mashed potatoes and salad

Someone in the house got a Weber Q for Christmas so we had it up and running on Sunday night for a delicious bbq. Hot dog rolls and sausages and sauce for the kids and steak, salad and mashed potatoes for the adults. The steak was SO delicious I can’t wait to have it again. We had 3 sausages left over for lunches the next day so I split them in half and put them in bread and 6 children were happy for lunch!

 

Day 2

Silverbeet and feta pie

I have to confess I only eat silverbeet when it arrives in a fruit and veg box but since I have it in the fridge right now….silverbeet pie it is. Season it really well and then I serve with garlic bread for the kids. If silverbeet or spinach isn’t your thing then have these zucchini and feta pancakes which are so delicious and go down well with the little ones.

Day 3

Homemade sausage rolls (double the recipe)

We are going to freeze a big tupperware container/foil tray with sausage rolls for when school goes back. These are delicious cold too and I think will be great in lunchboxes. You can decide whether you will cook them all up now or freeze them uncooked and then cook them later and put in lunchboxes. I have a really fussy eater but he loves the rolls so I figure having them for morning tea or lunch is a bit of variety and at preschool his lunchbox sits in the fridge all day so I’m confident it will stay fresh all day.

Day 4

Chicken in Yoghurt

Best Thermomix recipe ever! Have you made it before? It uses 500g chicken thighs and 500g yoghurt and some herbs, spices, onions etc and you serve it with rice. Very mild and very popular in our house and my children aren’t the best fans of curry.

Day 5

Frittata 

Using the last of our vegie order I did kale, tomato, red onion, zucchini and a carrot which are all finely grated in the thermomix. Then I mix in some fresh (or frozen corn), 12 eggs, small can of tuna and whisk it all together. I season well with salt and pepper and bake in a square lined baking tin. You can top with grated cheese and bake about 25 minutes in a 200 degrees oven. Absolutely delicious and I just didn’t tell anyone that kale was in there.

Day 6

Vegetarian Pasta Bake

500g bag of pasta cooked until al dente. While that is cooking I saute an onion, carrot and zucchini in butter. I finely grate the onion and veggies, season well, add a dash of thermomix vegetable stock, a can of diced tomatoes. I mix the sauce and pasta and pour into a casserole dish then top with a batch of white sauce then grated cheese and I bake until golden and cooked through. You can do this with your bolagnese sauce instead of the vegetable sauce (say 500g mince and bolagnese the way you make it) and then mix in with a large bag of pasta and top with the white sauce and cheese. It also freezes really well uncooked.  I’m using up the last of the veggies before the next delivery arrives.

Day 7

Homemade Pizzas

We love the thermomix dough recipe but you could use hot dog rolls and do pizza subs or pita bread. The kids love hawaiian and I love chilli tuna (when my pregnancy heartburn isn’t playing up) with some veggies and cheese on top. The kids think it’s the best fun and it’s cheap and cheerful.

 

Baking

Pikelets

Double them up and freeze for when school goes back

Rock cakes

Easy and delicious and yes I’m making double and freezing, put them in individual serving bags to be popped into lunchboxes when school goes back (in 2 weeks for us!!!!!!)

Six Sisters Lunchlady Peanut butter bars

Because my girls love this recipe so much and bought a big jar of peanut butter just for the recipe! So I guess we’re making it again this week.

Toffee Apple Cake

We’ve got quite a few apples sitting in the fridge so decided this was a great (and tasty) way to eat them.

 

Meal plan – week 3

I’ve put a few different meals in here to have fun with. Because it’s holidays I like to use the time for baking and dishes that take a little longer. If you’re short on time just swap an easy meal in there or save those meals for weekends and home days

Day 1

Chops and Potato Casserole

2 trays of lamb chops from Aldi and a potato bake. Delicious. For the potato bake I pulled out my mandoline which I haven’t even used since we moved into this house! And did about 5-6 potatoes thinly sliced, 1 onion, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, a 250g tub of sour cream (yes, this is not a recipe for dieters or clean eaters) and baked in the oven until it was cooked. Most of the time it was covered and then I uncovered at the end. The lamb chops I bake in the oven with a bit of butter, herbs and salt and pepper until just done. Everyone loved this meal. If you’re on a health kick or it’s super hot just have chops and salad. There are lots of potato bake recipes on the internet and in cookbooks, I still think my mum’s dish from the 80’s was the best!

Day 2

Tuna Nicoise salad (wraps for the non salad eaters)

Day 3

Zucchini slice, salad and garlic bread

hot out of the oven

Day 4

BLT spaghetti

Still a family favourite here!

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Day 5

Homemade meatloaf and creamy mashed potatoes.

Can you tell I’m in comfort eating mode! Yes! This was so delicious and tasty and the homemade glaze made it so delicious. There are some great meatloaf recipes out there. I love Pioneer Woman’s when I have a bit more time and this is a great one. I used porridge oats instead of crackers. This is also a great one on Taste.

Day 5

Smoked Salmon Salad (or rice bowls for the non salad eaters)

Very easy one. Smoked salmon, spinach and rocket leaves, sliced avocado and a nice dressing. For my kids I boil some sushi rice and the have the smoked salmon and avo with tamari (or soy sauce) on top. Keeps everyone happy. Also nice with a miso soup too.

Day 6

Wareniki (Perogis), corn and beans

I blogged this earlier this week. I decided to try something different after seeing a photo on instagram. These are delicious. You make the dough from scratch and we used the mince and sauerkraut filling. To die for. Serve with whatever sides you like. We had corn, salad and sauerkraut. You won’t regret making these. If you have a favourite perogi recipe then just use that one. Really nice and the kids loved it.

Day 7

Chicken wraps

We use the leftover salad and wraps from earlier in the week and teamed it up with a hot chicken. Nice and easy for a busy day or when it’s too hot to use the oven or stove in the kitchen and we have one of those days this week with 40 degrees expected out our way.

 

Baking

Sultana Cake

A good old CWA recipe that never disappoints

Jam slice

I wanted to take a plate to a baptism after church and this was perfect. Another CWA recipe.

I also made Thermomix sorbet two nights from frozen raspberries and everyone loved it. I had mine minus the egg white as I’m pregnant and then added the egg white for the rest of the family.

 

starting our veggie garden

When you first move to acreage or get a garden your mind tends to think about growing your own vegetables. And chickens. And we’ve done neither since moving to acreage. So I decided that this weekend was it. We were lucky enough to have the garden beds already there next to our fruit trees. All that was needed was some hard yakka to turn over the soil, mix in some compost and get plants in the ground. I did do some watering and planting.

We have started with strawberries, zucchini, tomato, celery, rhubarb, silverbeet and lettuce. And we’ve decided just to start with one of the garden beds for the month to see how we go and then move on to the next garden bed. Then when the weather gets cooler we can use the other beds. We had lots of little helpers only too eager to help and get their hands dirty and hopefully that continues when I need help.

I found some good resources here, here and here and also have a couple of books and decided that starting small and with a few easy to grow things was the best way to go. This book is a good one if you are looking to grow your own food and its not limited to fruit and veg but includes meat, grains, nuts, bees and a lot more. A really great book if you want to get started. There are also loads of pins on pinterest with good advice.

And I look forward to sharing progress photos with you!