Personal Concierge’s Message





Setting up the pantry can seem pretty overwhelming, particularly when you walk into your local supermarket and there are thousands of items on the shelves; all of which you seem to need.  Well, that’s what the advertising tells you.

What you really need in your pantry at all times are what we call the staples.  These are the basics that form the core of most meals. With these in your pantry you will always be able to whip up something to eat.

Two fundamental items for the pantry are rice and pasta; both of which are highly versatile and can be utilised for the main or side dishes.

Depending on your food preparation and cooking skills, and your taste preferences of course, other essentials include things like:

  • Cooking oil and olive oil
  • Sauces; tomato, soy, sweet chilli and satay.
  • Herbs and spices; Italian herbs, curry powder and various other mixed and individual herbs and spices all make your meals taste nicer.
  • Packet Mixes; a small sample is fine, like Chilli Con Carne, although many dishes can be created without packets.
  • Tins; vegies (corn, carrots, mushrooms, beans and pulses) are handy for adding to dishes, and tinned tomato is versatile and highly useful.  Don’t forget good old standby’s like baked beans and canned spaghetti.
  • Bread and toppings like Vegemite.
  • Cereals
  • Instant noodles are great for late night snacks.
  • Other; tomato paste, fish or oyster sauce, tinned or tetra pack (long life) cream are also handy essentials to have.

If you’d like a printable list to help you when you shop you can visit Grocery Lists and download a good little shopping list to keep on your fridge. ( )

There you have it; stock up on your basic staples and you’ll be able to whip up a meal even when you haven’t managed to go shopping.

Can you suggest other essentials for your pantry?

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I’m sure there are people out there that enjoy cleaning their home, but perhaps you’re not one of them.  If you prefer to spend more time enjoying life than cleaning up after it, here are a few tips on how to make cleaning quick and painless.

Top down

As a general rule, clean all top surfaces before you vacuum. You know that if you start at the bottom – the floor – you’ll only end up with crumbs all over it again once you start wiping down the benches.There’s something satisfying, too, about just sweeping stuff onto the floor ready to get sucked up by the vacuum later.  Don’t forget to suck up the dust bunnies hiding under your bed.

Start small

I like breaking down my cleaning to one room at a time – it makes cleaning the whole house seem like less work, which means I’m more likely to get on with it.  Tidy up, do the tops, then move onto the next room, vacuuming everywhere at the end.

High maintenance

Maintaining your place throughout the week makes doing that overall clean a lot easier.  All those things that your Mum nagged you about, like hanging up your clothes or washing up your dishes actually make sense after all.  Simple maintenance makes doing your regular clean a piece of cake.

What about products?

When it comes to products you generally get what you pay for. If you pay a little more the product often lasts longer because you don’t need to use a lot at each clean. Keep them stored together so you can see when it’s time to stock up again.  You’ll need a spray for your benches and surfaces, floor cleaner, laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent and a disinfectant. Try electrostatic dust wipes too – they are really fast and easy. There are all sorts of other specialist cleaning products available on the supermarket shelves but usually you won’t need to bother with those.Only buy the basics to begin with.

Cleaning is the thing most of us love to hate.  But the easier you make it for yourself, the more motivated you’ll be to stay on top of it – leaving you to get on with the things in life you really do enjoy, dust free.

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Are you recently divorced?  Making the adjustment to single life can be hard for many men and somewhere in the struggle they forget to take care of themselves.  Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your divorce, looking after yourself particularly from a health and fitness perspectiveis something that you will have to learn to do.  To help you cope with the pressure and the stress of divorce, you‘ll need to get enough sleep, exercise and healthy food.

Getting some exercise and eating a healthy diet might be the furthest thing from your mind but it’s important to make an effort.  Did you know that men can suffer health problems after divorce, particularly heart disease and depression?  It’s a fact.  Therefore while a diet of beer and takeaway might seem good initially, it isn’t going to do much good for you.

Maintaining your overall health will make you feel better about yourself and while it may be too early to enter into the dating game yet, when you do, you will feel more confident if you are in good shape. Exercise is also a great way to stave off depression as it releases chemicals into your body to make you feel good about yourself, even if only for the short term.  Don’t feel pressured to join a gym. Even a brisk walk a few times a week will help improve your fitness and your mood and will ultimately aid your sleep patterns as well.

A healthy diet includes lots of fresh vegetables and fruit. Eating nutritional home cooked meals is the best way to avoid putting on those unwanted kilos.  If you are not particularly skilled as a cook, pick yourself up a cookbook and have a go.  There are cooking classes designed for single men and you’ll even find some great ideas and recipes online.

Don’t forget to read our earlier articles on how to cook, to shop and to store food.  They are there to help you start your new life smoothly.

Managing your health is all about balance.  Trying to change old habits may not be easy but knowing that you are working to improve yourself may just help you feel better and enable you to get on with your life – one day at a time!

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You’ve finally moved out of home.  You’re free!   You can do what you like when you like it.  Life is good.

But spare a thought for Mum.  Having a child leave move out after so many years can be a tough thing to cope with. She’ll need to know that she isn’t losing you completely.   The best way to keep her happy is to stay in regular contact with her.

Why do you want to keep her happy?  Well, think about it.  Who knows how to cook the foods you love?  Who knows how to do the laundry without having colours run?  Who has the answer to all the questions that you are going to have now that you have to do it all for yourself?

Yes, Mum knows.  And she’ll be very happy to share her knowledge.

So stay on her good side. She loves you as much as you love her.

  • First, remember her birthday. This will entail a multi-pronged approach – a phone call, a card, a bunch of flowers and/or present. And if you live nearby you will need to visit her.  Why not take her out to breakfast, lunch or dinner – or better still, cook for her!
  • Coming in as a close second: remember Mother’s Day. Again, this will entail a multi-pronged approach to show how much she means to you.
  • Phone calls – these will have to be regular. To start with at least once a week. You probably know you can look after yourself and survive just fine, but your Mum will need to be reassured of this to stop her from worrying
  • Text messages – an easy and quick way to stay in touch.
  • Visits – Drop in to see her.  Whether it’s for a coffee or for a meal, this will keep you well fed and your mother happy. If you live far away you need to make an effort for Christmas or holiday visits.
  • Don’t just ‘use’ your Mum.  By this I mean don’t go there just to raid the pantry or get her to do your laundry.  This will not make Mum happy!


If you follow these points you will have a very happy Mum and you will stay in the good books for many years to come!




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Storing your food properly can increase its longevity and ensure you have what you need on hand when you think you do!

The number one rule with storing food is to be sure that raw meat and meat products are kept contained and don’t touch other meats or foods. It also helps keep your fridge clean, and prevents inconveniences like salmonella poisoning.

Meat only last a few days refrigerated – use the meat tray, as it helps reduce cross-contamination – but can withstand months in the freezer. Wrapping meats in plastic/cling wrap is fine; however this doesn’t always prevent leakage, and increases the potential for freezer burn. (That’s what those little white bits are on the edges of the meat you take out of the freezer.)

Your supermarket will sell plastic containers suitable for freezer storage (there will be a little symbol on the bottom that will tell you this)  This will help keep your freezer neat, give you more space and make it easy to find what you’re after.

Plastic containers are also great for pantry items that tend to go stale when left in opened boxes, and they also help prevent spillage. They’re not essential, but they are very useful.

Use the crisper drawers for your fruit and vegies, as they reduce air flow to these foods and help them to last a little longer. Removing them from their plastic bags before putting them in the fridge also reduces condensation and prolongs their edibility.

Fruit and vegetables cannot be frozen in order to increase their life, so it’s best not to store them in the freezer at any time.

Also, check any storage instructions or suggestions on the food items themselves, or even on the inside of your freezer door.  This usually has an indicator of how long certain foods can be frozen.

As a general rule, and to prevent food poisoning, fridge items (dairy, meats, fruit and veg) are best stored at under 4°C, and frozen at 0°C or below.

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