FOOD! glorious, healthy, good value FOOD!

Well it seems that I am really getting into food/budgeting/meal planning and thanks to readers spurring me on, in particular Lulu, who has started doing meal planning on her blog, I am enjoying sharing it here on mine.  Now you may think I am a bit of a weirdo for this, but I don’t care, ha HA!  I just returned from the supermarket.  Probably from when I was a teenager/university student, I loved putting fresh fruit and vegetables in my shopping trolley.  It was almost as if I felt I was getting healthier just by anticipating all the yummy meals I would cook (not that I could cook very well at that age mind).  There was plenty of not so healthy food too, but I’m a great believer in balance.  Today was no exception.  In fact, my basket (the teeny baskets they give you to shop with here are NOT big enough for my weekly shop, and the bottom layer where you can fit another basket is useless to me because that’s where I put MY basket) was full by the time I left the fruit and vegetable aisle, so everything was all cockled on the top after that.  I really wish I’d done the milk and juice aisle first…

So when I got home with my shopping, I remembered this programme:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRl080cGDcE&feature=related  In it, she always laid out the week’s food on the table that they SHOULD be eating and it always looked like SO much, but oh so yummy.  Lots of fresh fruit and green veggies mostly, but a whole table full.  So I decided that I would lay ours out just to get a better perspective on quantities, etc.  I think I’m a bit of a geek for this, but I also think it has something to do with my style of learning/understanding.  I like to see things laid out in front of me to get a better idea of quantity.  I think that’s why I like writing a shopping list or working on paper more than on the computer.  Anyway, I’m quite surprised at how little there seemed to be.  I wonder if we are eating enough?  I suppose the flour will add more bulk to the picture, because it’s going to produce lots of bread!

This week’s shopping is rather late.  I got lost on time and we had a few things left over, so I made grilled fish and peppers with salad on Saturday for lunch, pasta in a chicken broth and vegetable sauce and then Y cooked fish stir fry for lunch and ate dinner at MIL’s with the children.  Then yesterday we went to the hospital again with H.  She got an all-clear on all of the tests and was diagnosed with constipation, so although that’s a big weight off, it’s also frustrating that there’s no miracle cure.  She was given an enema and some laxatives in case she doesn’t go to the toilet for a few days.  I think that contributes to the fruit and veg. focus this week too.  I’ve been giving her prune juice, which she hates, but she is so good that she barely complains, and we found if we mix it with ice cubes, water and apple juice, that she quite likes it.  So yesterday I had no time for shopping and we had a very crap (but at least enjoyable for the children and I) dinner of rice, egg, french beans and salad.  Y was a bit put out, but I’m sure he’ll survive.

This week’s plan is as follows:

Tuesday –  Tofu and Steak stir fry with mixed vegetables

this is a common one in our house, as it’s so easy and contains a lot of veg.  I usually do it without the steak, but it was on special today so I will add about 50 grammes of it

Wednesday –  Chicken Pasta Bake with focaccia

Thursday –  Chicken Satay with rice and salad

Friday – Home-made Pizza and salad

Saturday lunch – Paysanne pasta with chicken

                 – dinner – Curry with steak and home made naan

Sunday – lunch – B.L.T. and fruit salad

              – dinner – Grilled mackerel with soy beans and rice

Monday – Spanish omelette and home-made honey wholewheat bread

This week’s shopping came to 5,555 yen.  It included all the above ingredients plus fruit and juice.  Today there was no brocolli on the shelves.  I think it’s coming to the end of the season, which is a real pain because it’s the only vegetable that L will eat very happily.  So I bought frozen, which doesn’t taste the same.  I’m usually a fan of frozen vegetables, because they are frozen early and can be nicer than fresh, but this brocolli is a bit weird tasting to me.  The children don’t seem to notice though, so that’s a plus.  I didn’t buy and frozen bento goods for Y this week because I’m hoping to cook and freeze for him instead.  I realise what a waste of money the frozen stuff is, and only really matters if you want tons of variety.  Y doesn’t mind eating the same stuff, so I think I’ll be ok if I just cook three or four dishes (mains and side veg.) and seperate them into little tupperware pots in the freezer.  I bought peppers today, even though the red one was 198 yen, but the orange was 98.  They are for the satay, so I’ll have to ensure that I don’t start munching on them beforehand!  I also bought butterbur today, which I have eaten, but never cooked.  I’m planning on putting it in the tofu stir fry and also making some bento stuff for Y with it. We already had some things in, sauces, milk, eggs, so as I said before, it’s not a true representation of a typical week, but I’m hoping to be posting on this every week and we’ll see how a month’s plan goes.  I count our months from pay period to pay period in terms of the budget.  Y gets paid on 21st, so that’s when the budgeting begins. 

Ok, so remember I said that Y was taking over the budget?  Well when I handed him the bank books on pay day, he was a bit confused.  We had a miscommunication..again..or I should say that we are STILL having a miscommunication, because I don’t really know what the hell he wants.  He said he wants to know what we spend the money on.  He also said that he will work out the big things like the car check-ups and other things and divide them into months so we can pay for them little by little instead of all at once.  He’s also going to look into getting cheaper internet service and phone plan for him (I’m already on the cheapest one).  I’m fine with that.  I find it hard to get my head around it.  But has he done it?  No.  I said to him, “you want it to be organised, but you don’t want to be bothered doing the organising” jokingly, and we had a giggle about it.  I suppose I’ll just keep at it and one day he’ll do it.  He doesn’t think that we need to be budgeting the food, because it’s a necessity.  Well of course it is, but there is so much to be saved when you are smart about it.  If he buys things that we already have, I tell him that’s a waste, but then he says, “no, it’s ok.  I’ll eat it.”  He doesn’t seem to understand that that’s not really the point.  When I said waste, I meant a waste of money.  Not sure if I mentioned it, but he often says that he likes cheap food, so will buy himself a “snack” from time to time, which is what I would consider an extra meal.  Then he’ll say, it was only 300 yen, etc.  He doesn’t seem to understand that 300 yen can provide a whole meal for our family, and he is spending it on food for just him.  Anyway, I am not having a bitch about my husband, but just explaining the different thought processes.  I’m also trying to talk to him more about the budget, just to keep him in the loop.  I’m not sure if he’s bothered, but I’m sure he’ll tell me to shut up when he’s no longer interested.

What’s on your menu this week..?

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13 thoughts on “FOOD! glorious, healthy, good value FOOD!

  1. Yay, another person joining in!! I am loving reading other people’s menus. Yours sound delicious by the way – especially the paysanne pasta with chicken.

    5500 yen for the four of you for a week?! Geez, that is about how much I spend now and it’s just us 3… and Leilah is still so little!

    I think I might start taking a picture of my shopping as well. It’s great to see it all laid out like that.

    • Nay, well not really “joining in”. I mentioned my menu plans as trying to economise a week or so ago, so before the weekly ideas started to circulate 😉

      • not that I’m not enjoying reading your plans too ;D, but I’m terrible at sticking to anything like certain themes on certain days. I love how organised you two are!

  2. I’m suprised 5500yen WOW. Mine is never under 12000yen. My husband doesn’t care how much we spend on food he7d prefer to cut crap out in other places of our spending so for that I am thankful.

    I love your idea of putting it all on the table, I’d find that hard as my 2 year old helps me put the groceries away when we come home. It would turn into a small fight!!

    An idea for constipation is hot/stewed apple. I used it lots when my kids were slightly younger. Eat it with breakfast, as a snack or roll it up in a spring roll wrapper and fry in some butter then sprinkle with a pinch of sugar (my kids favourite afternoon tea!) and up the water in your diet

    • Hi! Well that doesn’t include things that we may have to top up on during the week, such as milk, eggs, etc., and also please remember that my children are both in kindergarten, so it’s only really shopping for the dinners and for my lunch. I mentioned in my previous post about tightening the purse strings, that this doesn’t represent a whole month either. Some weeks I don’t buy as much and then others contain bigger items, such as a bag of rice, etc. But I think living in the countryside helps too of course. Vegetables are in competition at the supermarket, so prices are good 😉 Thanks for the stewed apple tip. H is not keen on it, but the apple in a spring roll wrapper sounds like something L might like as a snack.

      • I have one at kindy and one at school (& one at home) and we live in the country too but that is still cheap! I understand though that it will fluctuate over the month and things eventually even out. Good luck with the saving it will make for an even better holiday if there is a little bit more cash!

  3. Nice to see your menu plans again.

    I seriously want to shop at your supermarket- so cheap for everything!! I loved seeing what you bought though and it layed out like that. I need to start thinking of more economical meals. I do like to do things in the oven though as I find if I make extra then there is always some to freeze or for me and Noah to have lunch as well.

    Do your kids eat salad? I have tried giving Noah bits of salad but he won`t eat it…( so if we are having salad with our meal I cut his up really small and mix it with his main…hehehehe…lettuce and all).

    I should also start using my breadmaker more often since we definitely go through a lot of bread.

    I am waiting a couple of weeks to make sure I have an accurate record of what we are spending on food per week (including co-op rice etc) but I think it is about 13,000yen a week for 3 people. Noah has fruit two times a day though (this week it is a mikan (almost out of season), blueberries, strawberries or kiwi fruit) and a yogurt each day as well. Sometimes he will also have sultana`s as a snack.

    Oh my god- had the same conversation with my husband tonight about managing money. I said “It is pay day tomorrow. Here is the bank book- take out your okuzukai and also this much for me for supermarket etc and my okuzukai and then update the book” and he said “Oh I will take out my money but you can update the book” DOH! I said ” But you want to manage it. So that means YOU updating the book and making sure you move money into savings etc”

    ps: Nice that you have a diagnosis for H although I understand your frustration that there is not a lot you can do for it except diet (and even then, it could be stress triggered) You can also buy bio yogurt with prunes in it. I give it to Noah occasionly as now that he is not on soy formula I find he is not as regular and sometimes seems to be straining.

    • Thanks Lulu! Yeah, it’s really cheap, isn’t it? I remember when I first came to this town, even here the prices are different from downtown Takasaki only a 30 minute drive away. Actually, there is an even cheaper supermarket a little further away from home. It’s a chain called Avance. Do you have any near you? If so, I would highly recommend them for cost performance. They regularly sell tofu at 19 yen a block and beansprouts for 3 yen! I bought three chicken breasts the other week, all about 280 grammes, and under a 100 yen! Good quality meat too! But I do prefer to shop at Fressay as the other veg. is fresher, plus I have a point card so I’m saving the points up too.

      You know, I hate the fact that bread takes so long to bake in the machine, but if you are organised enough to put it on early, it is definitely worth it in my opinion. I can honestly say that two weeks without store bought bread and I feel much less bloated. I really like mixing white rice in with wholewheat too. I’ll have to start buying from the farmers when they crop later in the year. We have a rice peeling machine just around the corner from us which is really convenient!

      My two will eat fruit until it comes out of their ears, ha ha, especially L. He loves it all. H is not so keen on berries, apart from strawberries, but she does enjoy fruit too. Other than that, which they’ll usually eat for dessert and/or with breakfast, L loves raisins, which I have loads of from Costco, and H will snack on Dar Vida, which are wholewheat crackers I picked up from an import store. You know, after you mentioned about the yoghurt, I started thinking. Since all the panic buying, you know all the yoghurt went off the shelves and we were restricted to buying like one pack at our supermarket? Well H and L love yoghurt. They will eat at least one pot a day. L will eat any kind, although he’s not so keen if there are lumps in it. H will ONLY eat the blue plain Danone. Since all the yoghurt has just reappeared, it seems to be the ONLY kind that didn’t. We’ve since found that she’ll eat that tubey yoplait Gurt stuff, but she does miss her usual yoghurt 😦 That could be a big factor, right? I’ve tried her on all of the others and she just doesn’t like them 😦

      p.s. I love that our husbands are so dopey XD

  4. Achan – Oh really? I thought you lived near Tokyo for some reason, or Chiba? Sorry! Anyways, as I was thinking about expenditure, and wondering why last month’s food bill was 54,000 yen, I thought about stuff like bulk buying. I order some cereals through FBC, because I can’t get things like Weetabix and Rice Crispies here (even though they are both also manufactured in Japan). There is also a restaurant supply/import store where I buy frozen boneless fish fillets, sauces, grains, etc. about once every couple of months or so. So my cupboard is never bare really. I wish we could just buy everything at the same shop, that would be FAB!

    • That’s okay. I live on the western side of Shizuoka. Countryside is a relative concept, not really country by Australian standards but definetly country by Japanese standards.

      Do you know a place online where I can buy cheaper bread flour/reg flour & wholemeal flour? I spend a lot of money on flour because I make my own bread and do alot of baking. I bake a loaf of bread everyday which is healthier but not cheaper than supermarket bread. I am sure there must be something cheaper than 1kg bags from the supermarket.

  5. i think i actually asked japanmama for her plans. I am crap at menu planing but have all the ingredients for fish pie and a quiche for yhe weeked. (lentil polishes a slighty rusty halo and sticks it back on)

  6. You did, you did! All credit to you ;). Would love to see the quiche! Have yet to make one of those, but LOVE them!

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