Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Cheap activities for kids!

See full size imageWell, the holidays have started and research shows that it can cost up to £2000 to keep the kids entertained which means that your pocket could take a serious hit! As a rule of thumb we recommend saving the activities as an incentive after other dull but essential tasks are completed  such as bedroom tidying, job applications for older kids, chores etc. Common sense but it can certainly help to plan your days in this way. Here's some activities which are either free or relatively cheap.  Jut use your imagination and that of your kids to enjoy yourselves without breaking the bank.
1. Visit libraries or museums. Some teens may hate this but perseverence  can spark interests. Many run activities over the summer so check them out.

2. Get arty.  You can buy artists materials relatively cheaply so spend the afternoon making cards, painting canvases and making portraits which you could frame and hang. 

3. Get active. There are loads of walks, swimming cycling, dance classes such as zumba which all the family can enjoy and which can help keep you healthy and sane.

4. Organise treasure hunts and collect feathers, stones, leaves and have fun identifying them.

5. Picnics weather permitting are great fun and easy to make. Take a frisbee and football and let the kids play whilst you catch up on the latest summer novel.

6.  Strawberry/raspberry picking. This is great fun and who doesn' t love strawberries and cream ? The leftovers could be made into delicious strawberry jam.

7. Learn a new skill such as knitting, sewing or crocheting. Craft is big news and who better to teach your kids than you or if you are a beginner then learn together.

8. Camping is also big news with all the  festivals. If you can't face getting into this why not let the kids camp out in the garden, properly supervised of course. A great way to cope with sleepovers.

9. Study the map and find places of local interest and research them. We spent many a happy afternoon at a local ruined abbey having researched the history on the net and with the help of Horrible Histories our kids thoroughly enjoyed imagining themselves in that time period.

10. For older kids consider the Lifestyle projects run by the local community police teams. Kids are encouraged to think of their own projects such as picking up litter, fundraising for various projects, volunteering at old people's homes etc. There are prizes on offer but the real winners are the kids and the local communities. This is a great way to encourage social awareness and can really give kids a sense of achievement.
Enjoy yourselves and have fun.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Easy pasta sauce

Place 2 tins of plum tomatoes, 1/2 chopped onion, basil, 2x chopped garlic cloves,1/2 chopped pepper, 2 sticks of chopped celery and one chopped carrot in a pan with half a pint of water, salt and pepper .Bring to the boil and simmer for half an hour. Depending on your taste either liquidise or sieve to remove fleshy parts of the vegetables. Great as sauce for spaghetti bolognaise, or as a base for chilli, lasagne or spread over pizza base. You could also substitute fresh tomatoes depending on the season or add red wine to taste. This is very easy and so much cheaper and tastier than shop bought sauces which are increasingly expensive.Can be refirgerated and should be used within five days. Why not give it a try?

Monday, 11 July 2011

Home made pizza

I forgot to buy pizza in my weekly shopping and had spent over my budget to set about making my own using the following recipe. It was very, very easy and tasty too plus the kids could add their own toppings to suit  their tastes.
  • 375g flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 7g (1/4 oz) dried active yeast (I use Tescos fast acting yeast)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 225ml (8 fl oz) warm water (45 C)
Sift flour add salt, sugar ,yeast, olive oil and water. Mix into a dough ball. Leave in a warm place with a tea towel placed over the bowl until expanded to twice the size.  Grease a tray and press dough into the bottom. Spread tomato puree, cheese and other toppings of your choice. Cook until lightly browned in an oven at 180 C. Serve with salad.
This really is a fool proof recipe and tastes just as good as shop bought pizza but is far less expensive. Why not give it a go?

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Home made pitta bread.

Pitta bread is cheap and surprisingly easy to make. I had run out of bread and pennies towards the end of the month but managed to eke things out with the help of these versatile breads. Approximate cost for 8 is 30p.
 Ingredients300ml/10fl.oz. Warm Water
1 teasp Active Dry Yeast  I use Tescos.
350g/12oz Plain Flour/ wholemeal whichever you prefer
2 teasp Salt
2 teasp Olive Oil, plus a little extra


1. Place the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle over the yeast and stir to dissolve.

2. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl then add the yeast mixture and olive oil and mix to a dough.

3. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface, knead for 5-8 minutes until smooth and elastic, then form into a ball and place in an oiled mixing bowl, cover with tea towel and leave in a warm place for about an hour to rise to approximately twice the size.

4. Preheat oven to 220C, 425F, gas Mark 7. Turn the risen dough onto a work surface, divide into 8 pieces and form each piece into a ball. Roll into the traditional eye shape using flour to dust rolling pin and prevent sticking.

5. Bake for about 8 minutes until puffed and light brown.

6. Bread will have risen and when cooled slice at the top to make the pocket. Serve with houmous, chicken, lamb with salad to make a healthy and nutritious meal or snack.