Modern Mummy

Monday, 31 December 2018

Veganuary on a Budget

Last year over 168,000 people signed up to take part in Veganuary, a month long challenge to eat an entirely vegan diet. I was one of them and this year, together with Daisy, I plan to do it again. Making the switch to veganism is one of the most effective choices you can make to reduce the suffering of animals, help the planet and improve your health - even by doing it for just one month out of twelve has a massive impact on you and the world around you. 

Since my laparoscopic cholecystectomy back in 2014, I've eaten a dairy free diet, and I've not eaten chicken since the arrival of the Sixties Style Icons last October. Giving up the limited amounts of fish and red meat that I do eat wasn't especially difficult, but I did go about it completely the wrong way, spending a fortune on ready meals and eating out; purely out of laziness. Later in the year I discovered that it needn't be such an expensive lifestyle choice when I signed up for the Happy Pear Happy Heart course and learned about the benefits of whole food plant based eating, rather than going down the easy, vegan junk food route. Not only is it a million times better for you than just being vegan alone; it turns out that a diet made up predominantly of plants, pulses, grains and lentils is ridiculously cheap! In actual fact, my weekly shopping bill HALVED when I ditched all the pre-prepared stuff and started making my meals from scratch!

If any of you are interested in signing up to Veganuary but are worried about the cost of all the fresh produce, then this post is for you. Below I'll be sharing a few top tips for stretching those ingredients, getting inspired and cooking some of the tastiest meals you'll ever have!

Top Tips
(1) Plan your meals.
If you know what you're going to be eating in advance, you can time your meals to make the most out of leftover fresh produce. Always scan your fridge and cupboards before you head out food shopping; I'm terrible for doubling up on ingredients.

(2) Shop cleverly.
Don't be afraid or embarrassed to buy from the reduced section at the supermarket! Lots of fresh produce ends up there because it's best before date is looming - it is all still perfectly edible and even if you can't eat it straight away it can be used in a recipe for freezing, or frozen as it is. Also, if expensive store cupboard ingredients that you eat regularly are on offer then bulk buy!

(3) Batch cook. 
Following a recipe that feeds four? Double it and freeze the extra portions. If you're looking to save money and want to be able to eat inexpensive, nutritious, vegan food when you're low on time, then I can't stress how brilliant batch cooking is. There is literally no difference in price if you're making a dahl for 2 or a dahl for 12; just whack your leftovers into mason jars and bring them out to defrost on days when you know you'll be pushed for time to prepare dinner. 

(4) Freeze.
The freezer is your friend! Not only can you store batch cooked meals in there, you can also freeze fresh produce that you're not able to eat before their 'use by' dates.

You can also read my guide to reducing food waste here to find out more about freezing fresh and batch cooked food, storing your food properly and composting any organic matter that can't be used.

I find most of my vegan food inspiration over on Instagram. Some brilliant accounts to follow are:

Then there is also the official Veganuary account - and I love Happy Cow - which also happens to be a great app that will help you locate vegan friendly eateries nearby, if you do want to eat out!

Excellent budget recipes.
Some of my favourite recipes are the ones that equate to £1.50 or less per meal. Nutritious food needn't be expensive so long as you're happy to put the time in to shop cleverly and prepare your meals yourself. Why not try one of these amazing dishes:

Other quick and easy meals include veggie soups, stir fries and buddha bowls - all are also a great way to use up any veg that's on the turn.

Happy Veganuary everyone!

Sunday, 30 December 2018

The Omlet Fido Studio: A Review

Ever since we got an Eglu Cube for our chickens I have honestly been one of Omlet's biggest fans. Their products are innovative, easy to put together, easy to clean - and stylish too - basically everything you could possibly wish for when it comes to bringing new things into your home for your pets. As a chicken keeper that's previously had a wooden coop I can't begin to tell you how much easier the Eglu has made my life; maintaining a plastic one over the last eighteen months has been a complete dream compared to the hard work that went into keeping my old wooden coop clean (and the red mites at bay!).

Living in an exceptionally small house, it's important to me to be able to make the most out of every bit of space. When we first contemplated getting a dog, I knew a crate would be a necessity - but I had to think long and hard about where it could go, as it would take up really valuable floor space, and possibly need us to lose a piece of furniture altogether.

Thankfully I didn't need to shop around; Omlet was always going to be my first port of call and I was very excited to discover that as well as selling your standard, everyday crates, they also sell the Fido Studio which doubles up as a sideboard and meant I wouldn't have to compromise on the contents of our main living area at all!

The Fido Studio is available in a number of different set ups; two different sizes (24" and 36") and with options such as additional cupboards and accessories. Our set up - which included the crate, a tray and a bed - cost £174.99 (but was very kindly gifted to us) and is also available in white.

I put it together myself and it was super easy. It took me 40 minutes - and that was with numerous interruptions from small children! As was the case with our Eglu, it came with brilliant, easy to read instructions and everything you need included (except for a Philips screwdriver).

It's strong, durable, looks great in your home and makes an incredibly cosy den for your pup! There are two doors which means you can have it running along, or at right angles to a wall, and all accessories are available to buy separately so if you want to upgrade later on, that's totally doable and saves you spending excessive amounts all in one go.

Maggie absolutely loves hers. It has made crate training a dream - she 100% recognises it as her space and if she wants a little time out from the chaos of our house she will quite happily just take herself off there for a snooze. And I love it too; it fits into our living room just perfectly, don't you think?

Meet Maggie

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the newest member of the family; Margaret Scragglepants (or Maggie when we're talking to her in a baby voice).

Maggie is an eight week old lurcher; her mum is a beautiful (huge!) deerhound X greyhound and her dad a very distinguished (and also rather petite) bedlington terrier X whippet. She was one of the smaller puppies in the litter but has the most ginormous paws so we're not sure which way she'll go, size wise!

I've wanted a rough coated lurcher since I was a child and have been looking for the perfect cross for a couple of years now so this was very much a planned addition.

Spot Maggie!
We knew we had to have her when the breeder first sent us photos of the litter. In all of them she was lying on her back, fast asleep with a smile on her face! She is brindle with a dark muzzle, tiger stripes on her body and a white patch in the shape of Batman's bat signal on her chest.

She likes sleeping, going for walkies in the garden and tormenting the chickens. So far she's doing brilliantly with her toilet training and we are working on 'sit'! She's a real character and has started to find her voice in the last couple of days (woof!). She has lived with us for a week and has slotted into family life just perfectly. Mabel wasn't so sure to start with, but has come round now. The chickens are still not convinced ;) We already can't imagine life without her.

As an aside, I thought I ought to mention that I'm well aware a dog is for life, and not just for Christmas. It just so happens that the right puppy from the right litter came along at this point in the year. In actual fact it has worked out really well for us as I've got two full weeks off work to give her my undivided attention and start her training! 
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