Cheap Ways To Feed A Crowd Of Fussy Teenagers

We’ve created the best teenage hangout on the block, but with it has come the ‘wilder-beast!’ So I’ve had to brainstorm cheap meal ideas to keep our budget in tact while we’re feeding half the neighborhood.

RELATED: The Most Incredible Home-Made Pizza You Will Ever Taste

At first, it was pretty hit and miss, so an awful lot of good food was going to waste. Not to mention hours of my time as I stood in the kitchen preparing. Seriously, I’d never met so many veggie phoebes – and unless it came in a takeaway packet, it just wasn’t getting anywhere near their stomachs!

Baked potatoes

So I’ll start will the crowd favorite and that’s the humble baked potato. I’ve learned to allow 3 medium spuds for each six foot teenaged boy and let them top it themselves (that’s the key). Then they can put as much, or as little, of whatever they like on top. It’s surprising how teens who hate veggies will devour a baked spud topped with baked beans!

All I do is put the oven on high, spike the potatoes with a fork about half a dozen times and wrap them in foil. They take about an hour to cook through properly. While this is happening I prepare the topping. The beauty about this meal is that you can basically use whatever you’ve got or buy toppings specifically for your spuds. I keep baked beans, pineapple, grated cheese, butter and sour cream in the house just in case. However, when I pre-plan the meal, I’ll buy bacon and coleslaw. I cook up the bacon with a bit of garlic and unbeknownst to them, they love it!

Finger food

Another crowd pleaser at our place is finger food. If I’m not expecting the heard, then I’ll put out trays of toasted sandwiches filled with basic stuff like cheese, ham or tomatoes and they literally vanish in seconds. Plus, I always make sure there’s bread and toppings like Vegemite, peanut butter and jam accessible so they can find something to eat 24/7.

Dim Sims are another food staple for this lot. When we’re really strapped for cash, I’ll buy Homebrand dim sims ($4 for 20) and steam them. Surprisingly, even the fussiest eaters will load up on dim sims, so they are great value for money. Other Homebrand products like chicken nuggets, chips and even meat patties are great to have on hand for emergencies – specifically because they get eaten.

Ironically, I used to spend valuable time and money making home made veggie slices and lovingly prepared meals, but they didn’t get eaten by everyone and at least half of my effort was ending up in the bin.

Homemade fast food

Alternately, I make home made pizzas, sausage rolls, pies and fast food type meals which can be made in bulk, in advance and frozen. That’s great when, and if, I have the time (and the cash), but if I don’t, other foods such as bacon and egg muffins and items that can be purchased at McDonald’s also get gobbled up.

Final tip

I’ve discovered that feeding a crowd of fussy teenagers on a budget is pretty easy. It’s simply a matter of providing foods that they will actually eat. Basically, teens live on fast food and takeaway when they are out. So I figure, if I provide similar foods I won’t be wasting money, time or energy preparing foods that will ultimately end up in the bin.

Would I prefer that they eat my veggie slices? Absolutely. But I’d rather prepare it specifically for my teens who I know will eat it, rather than see it end up as scraps.

Image via inkfreenews.com

The Most Incredible Homemade Pizza You Will Ever Taste

When it comes to making homemade pizza it’s all about the base. One of my closest friends gave me this pizza base recipe, and it’s seriously so good that you will never call a home delivered pizza ever again. And the smell… OMG! The smell that will fill your home as it’s cooking will bring even the fussiest eaters to the table. It’s absolutely mouthwatering and has been described as the best pizza my kids have ever eaten. Sorry Domino’s!

RELATED Left Over Cooked Chook: 5 Minutes Sensational Stir-Fry

Once you’ve got this base down pat, you can then experiment with savory or sweet flavors. This will turn your pizza into something unique and sensational every time. It’s all about getting creative, mixing flavors, or using whatever you have on hand. It’s cheap, versatile and everyone will love it!


1 1/2 cups of plain flour

150 ml of warm tempered water

1 sachet of dry yeast (Tandaco yeast is recommended)

Pinch of salt

Pinch of sugar

Topping ingredients of your choice


  1. Turn on the oven and heat it to 220-240 degrees. You will need to let the yeast rise for a while in the bowl and the warmth generated on the stove top is a perfect place to enable this to happen prior to cooking.
  2. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre.
  3. Inside the well, place the yeast, salt, and sugar and let it sit for about one minute.
  4. Pour the water in slowly and fold it in with a wooden spoon.
  5. When the ingredients are roughly mixed together, use your hands to mix it into a pliable consistency.
  6. Shape it into a ball and leave it in the bowl.
  7. Cover with a tea-towel and leave it in a warm position (for example on top of the stove) for about an hour. The warmth will activate the yeast and this will allow the mixture to rise.
  8. After an hour or so, flour a bread board or flat surface. The mixture may need either more water or flour depending on the environment. You need to try to achieve a pliable consistency as you gradually kneed the dough. Don’t over do it however, because this can effect the end result.
  9. Kneed it into a ball shape and roll it out with a floured rolling pin. If you don’t have one you can place it into a large flour coated pizza tray or a square tray equivalent and spread it out with your palm. Make sure you don’t thin it out too much because it’s best as thick based pizza dough.
  10. Your home-made pizza base is now ready to be topped with your choice of topping and put into the oven for about 30-45 minutes.

That’s it – the best pizza base recipe known to humankind! Once you get the hang of it the dough will be pretty much perfect every time.

Image via dishmaps.com

Duck Confit With Fennel Salad Recipe

Duck confit is a French dish that has been referred to as a ‘work of art’. Marinated with salt and various herbs, once cooked it’s seriously crispy on the outside and tantalisingly tender on the inside.


1kg duck leg (4pcs)

1.5kg duck fat

2 tsp coriander seed

2 tsp fennel seed

2 tsp cumin seed

2 tsp cinnamon powder

1kg rock salt

3tsp Black pepper corn

2 pieces orange zest

2 slices spanish onion


  1. Mix all the dry herbs, rock salt, black pepper, orange zest and Spanish onion in bowl.
  2. Marinate duck leg with herb and salt mix for 4-5hours and store in fridge. Rinse then pat dry.
  3. Preheat the oven to 150c. Place the duck into deep baking tray with melted duck fat (cover with the fat completely) then cover oil surface with the baking paper. Cook for 3-4hours.
  4. Place the cooked duck in preserving container and cover completely with the cooking fat (can keep refrigerated for up to 3 months).
  5. Heat the non-stick frying pan and crisp the duck skin for 4-5min, then turn the skin side up place the oven for another 10min.
  6. For the fennel salad, use slicer to slice the fennel, then drop into water (squeeze lemon juice into water to stop colouring).
  7. Drain well, then mix with lettuce leafs and orange segment.
  8. For the dressing, use freshly squeezed lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, sea salt flakes, freshly grounded black pepper and mix together.
  9. Mix dressing with salad and serve with duck.

Recipe courtesy of Fitzroy Inn

A Beginner’s Guide to Wine

So you want to bring a bottle of wine to a dinner party where the host is serving seafood – what type of wine do you bring? Haven’t a clue? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Although some may pretend, few of us are actually wine connoisseurs. We know red wine goes nicely with red meat – but do we opt for the merlot or pinot noir? What is the difference? Here are some helpful hints for choosing the right wine.


Types: Some mistake sparkling wine and champagne for the same thing. Champagne is indeed a type of sparkling wine, specific to its namesake region in France. Everything else outside of this region is sparkling wine.
Serve with: Salty foods – potato crisps, anchovies, sushi, shellfish

Dry white

Types: Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc
Serve with: Vegetable dishes, salads, chicken, and white fish

Sweet white

Types: Moscato, riesling, gewürtztraminer
Serve with: Indian, Thai, Chinese cuisine, oily fish (salmon), chicken

Rich white

Types: Chardonnay, Semillon, Viognier
Serve with: Creamy soups and pastas, french cuisine, rich shellfish, and poultry


Types: Rosé is its own type of wine, made from a variety of red grapes, including grenache, sangiovese and cabernet, but only retains some of their color, hence the distinct pink hue.
Serve with: Moroccan, Indian, Mediterranean cuisines, shellfish, pork, and poultry

Light red

Types: Pinot Noir, St Laurent, Gamay
Serve with: Mushroom dishes, including risotto and pasta, white pizza, pork chop and poultry

Medium red

Types: Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Merlot
Serve with: Italian and Spanish cuisines, cured meats, lamb, duck, pork, sausages, and roasted vegetables

Bold red

Types: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec
Serve with: Roasted, barbecued meats, including beef, lamb, pork and venison


Types: Port, Sherry, Muscat
Serve with: Dessert!

Zurek Or Polish Ryemeal Soup Recipe

Zurek (zhoo-rek) is a traditional Polish ryemeal soup. This sour soup has a traditional Eastern European taste and is perfect for those cold nights. Containing meat, eggs and a variety of root vegetables, zurek is rich in protein and vital nutrients.  You will need first to prepare the ryemeal sour base, or “zur”, and leave for 4-5 days.


Ryemeal sour – Zur

3/4 cup rye flour

2 cups water, boiled and cooled to lukewarm


1/2 pound peeled and chopped soup vegetables (carrots, parsnips, celery root, leeks)

6 cups water

1/2 pound fresh (white) Polish sausage (kielbasa biala)

1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups rye meal sour/zur (above)

1 heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour mixed with 4 tablespoons water

1 garlic clove crushed with 1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large hard-cooked eggs (optional)


  1. To make the zur: combine rye flour and lukewarm water. Pour into a bowl that is large enough for the mixture to expand. Cover with cheesecloth and let sit in a warm, sunny place for 4 to 5 days. This should make approximately 2 cups, or at least enough for the soup. If the sour isn’t used immediately, it can be stored in a sealed container, in the refrigerator, for up to a week.
  2. To make the soup: In a large soup pot, bring soup vegetables and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add sausage, return to the boil, reduce heat and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove sausage from soup, slice when cool enough to handle, and set aside. Strain stock through a sieve, pressing on the vegetables to extract as much flavor as possible. Discard the vegetables, skim the fat off the stock, and return the stock to the soup pot.
  3. Add the potatoes and ryemeal sour to the stock, adding salt if necessary. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until potatoes are al dente. Whisking constantly, add flour-water mixture, sliced sausage and garlic-salt paste. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender. Serve in heated bowls or bread bowls with half a hard-boiled egg in each serving (if desired), and rye bread on the side.

Image via luchouse.yolasite.com 

Beet And Black Bean Burger Recipe

Vegetarians rejoice! This beet and bean burger is an easy, tasty, healthy meal for you and the kids. Black beans are a great source of fiber and protein, and beets are high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The burger has a nice texture and makes a great balanced meal when served with salad.

Serves 6


3 large red beets (1 pound), diced

½ cup brown rice (raw)

1 yellow onion, diced

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 juiced lemon

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp parsley

1 teaspoon coriander

½ teaspoon thyme

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

Slices of Provolone cheese to serve


  1. To cook rice, bring a pot of water to the boil and add rice and a pinch of salt. Simmer for approximately 35 minutes. Drain and put aside.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with oil to grease. Cook diced onion, then stir in beets. Cover and cook until beets are tender, stirring occassionally. Add garlic and cook for further 30 seconds.
  3. Empty the drained black beans into a large bowl and mash them a bit. Add the cooked rice, beet/onion mixture, lemon juice, olive oil and parsley, coriander and thyme. Combine. Add salt and pepper if necessary. Add the flour and stir until flour is completely mixed.
  4. Heat a skillet over high heat. Add some olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Using clean hands, scoop a handful of mixture and flatten into a burger-pattie shape in your hands. Place patties in pan and reduce to medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Place provolone cheese on hot pattie to melt.

To serve, place beet and bean patty between wholemeal burger buns and add your choice of salad. Tomato and lettuce recommended.

Bon Appetit!