So this week in the UK most schools are on half term break. For some, this is a big nightmare but for us it’s smooth sailing. In the days when we both taught full time, we would be looking forward to half term break whilst parents who are not teachers would be dreading it because they had to be in charge of their own kids for a week! Ha!
Well, we love spending time with our own kids and in fact, much prefer it to the stress associated with being in a classroom of over 20 kids on a daily basis for months on end, with some being as rowdy as can be and with little or no real meaningful support from senior management! Rant over!
Whenever a school break approaches, we get the kids involved in planning what they would like to do over the school break. They are usually helpful. They know the frugal agenda well by now so there is very little wriggle room. So, on their list for this half term, we set them a challenge to find things on Pinterest that involved food and learning at the same time and also activities that helped them with their creativity. Straight away, my eldest asked if we could please have katsu curry one day during half term. I hastily said yes and then quickly remembered to stay within our budget. They also wanted to make a cake in a cup. Check out the frugal things we did this week and you will see some of the other non-food related activities we did.
Amongst the things they requested this week was to be able to make butter from cream in a jar (which, being the teacher I am, I turned it into one big science experiment!) Ticked. We did that.
They also wanted to make ice cream in a bag. I was dubious at first but we did it and it was quite pleasant! Ticked.
You remember that katsu curry malarky? Well, it almost didn’t get done! It needed chicken breasts and on their own, they are way too expensive. Two chicken breasts cost nearly £4 so I had to put my frugal hat on. I bought a whole chicken for £2.99. I know jolly well how to portion and cut up chicken so I was not fazed by that. From that one chicken, we got the breasts cut into strips for the katsu curry. We also used the majority of the chicken which we oven fried and the bony bits we used for stock for a soup. That’s three meals from one chicken. Result. Ticked.
So to make the butter from cream we used double cream, a pinch or two of salt and a glass jar with a secure lid, Then we just had to shake shake shake and wait and watch with eager anticipation to see the butter that was formed. It was delicious. We tried some on crackers and next day we used it on toast for breakfast. It was a wonderful learning experience as well when you think of the stages that the cream goes through to end up being butter. We also learned about different uses for buttermilk which we had not given any thought to before. Perhaps the biggest lesson for me, in particular, was the fact that we got so much butter (fat) from a relatively small amount of cream. The stark reality which I pointed out to the kids is that when you eat a dessert (pudding) with a lot of cream on, then you must start to become aware that you are eating a lot of butter. (of course, they found it ‘gross’, to think of it that way.)
For the cake in a cup, we tried various flavours and the favourite by far was the chocolate one! Here’s the recipe:
2 tsp cocoa powder
4 tbsp SR Flour
4 tbsp Sugar
3 tbsp Oil
3 tbsp milk
a bit of vanilla
Combine all the ingredients thoroughly in a mug. Place in the microwave for 3 minutes. If you drop some chocolate chips in the centre or even some chocolate spread, you get an even more chocolatey pudding. And you don’t even need to plunge it to the bottom of the cup. We had ours with strawberries and cream.
For ice cream in a bag, you need a large ziplock bag and smaller zip lock bags. In addition, we used:
1/2 cup Double Cream
1/2 cup Milk
2 tbsp Sugar
1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
1 cup of ice cubes and 6 tbsp of Rock Salt or Table Salt
Place the ingredients in the smaller bag. Seal. Put the ice and salt in the larger bag. Place the smaller bag in the larger bag. Seal. Shake for 8 to 10 minutes and you will have really lovely ice cream at the end. This, believe me, was amazingly good. Just a note, if you have really young children helping, make sure they wear gloves as the bags do get very cold, and you do want them to have fun doing it.
So our meal planning for dinners this week had a lot of help from little hands and mouths that gobbled up what they really wanted to eat since they were home and could help.
Chicken Katsu curry
Oven fried chicken with spicy potato wedges
Homemade Pizza Bites
Of course, the sweet treats of homemade ice cream and cake in a cup were big hits too.