The leftover Christmas shop has finally run out, so i am back to meal planning. Like most of us, i need to watch the pennies so my shop has to come in as cheap as possible.
I had a £200 budget this month to feed 4 people, 2 cats, including 3 packed lunches a day, breakfasts, cleaning products and treats. I managed to do the biggest shop for under this and have some left over to top up the perishables towards the end of the month.
Ill explain how i have done this and provide a shopping list and recipes. This of course will not work for everyone, this works personally for my family. But do feel free to take bits and pieces if it helps you to make you're own food plan.
1 - I shop in 6 week installments only buying a few fresh bits (milk and soft fruits in the last 3 weeks). If fruit and veg is likely to go off, it is portioned and froze. My fridge is quite good though and as i'm not bothered about dates, it lasts near enough for the 3 weeks. (excluding soft stuff like tomatoes)
Before starting any kind of big meal plan, it might be helpful to know how long food lasts in your fridge before needing to be used up. If you choose not to ignore best before dates, you might want to adjust things on your list so you do a perishable shop on a weekly or fortnightly basis. If you shop online you can set up a favorites list, and book that in advance to be delivered or collected.
2 - I buy sacks of spuds and onions which last the whole 6 weeks and work out the exact amount of tins etc i need (plus a little extra in case we have company etc)
I do not live near a farm shop and haven't found a reliable grocer yet, so i buy sacks of potatoes etc from supermarkets. I eventually plan to grow my own but we haven't got round to sorting the garden since we moved.
3 - This 6 week shop included £30ish in savings from offers and £38 in money off vouchers you can find on the net.
Ill leave details of the vouchers i used later in the post.
4 - I work on a 3 week rotation in order to keep down waste so the last 3 weeks of the 6 weeks will consist of meals ive batch cooked in the first 3 weeks plus the rest of the stuff i didn't buy in the first shop (example i need 40 tins of tinned tomatoes for the month so i brought 20 and will buy 20 in the next shop) (on this occasion i needed less so dont need to do an additional shop)
Ill explain this later in the post and explain better in my meal planning 101, coming next week.
5 - I make my own bread, rolls, wraps, butter for hubby and the kids and drink almond and coconut milk (Not included in the shop as i already have some). I am following a low gi diet so portion sizes are about the size of a small dinner plate but bulked out with lentils, veg etc, they are enough to fill us up.
6 - I make my own sauces, stock, sweet treats. My teen regularly brings home an army of hungry teens who raid my fridge. I keep a stock of homemade oat bars, flapjacks, egg muffins and bliss balls in the fridge for them to pick at so they do not go without treats, nor cost me any extra.
7 - As i am following a pcos treatment plan, it involves me eating more snacks than the average person. You of course do not have to add them, they are on my plan as i need 3-4 snacks a day in order to balance my blood sugar and build my metabolism up.
So that's the back ground information.
In order to keep it as short as possible, i have separated this into 4 posts.
Below is my meal plans and accompanying recipes. Keep an eye out for week 2 on Wednesday, week 3 on Friday and the shopping list with some meal planning tips on the 31st Jan.
Chicken butter bean casserole
One pot chilli - its just a basic chilli con carne.
Lentil & chickpea burgers
Falafel batch cooked for an extra meal another week
All 3 soups batch cooked and frozen for use in other weeks ( Its only me who eats it so i make enough for one portion of each soup a week, portioned and frozen in takeaway tubs)
Recipes for week 1
Recipe card found on Homemade by Jill
Can be batch cooked. Makes 6-8 small sized portions using a 5L slow cooker.
Can be batch cooked. Makes 6 small sized portions using a 5l slow cooker.
Serves 6-8 medium sized portions. Will serve less if keeping the thighs intact and using less.
These make great snacks. Adjust the ingredients if you want to make more or less.
Ham and leek soup
There is many variations of this but my favourite is by Simply Whisked. It makes 8 servings which means i can freeze several portions and is really cheap to make.
This is a recipe i have used before. Simply add chickpeas to the mix to make chickpea and lentil burgers. As they are freezable, i make a bigger batch to use another week.
White Bean Soup
As this recipe is directly from another site, i feel its only fair to link where it is from. I follow this recipe exact from The Picky Eater. Its cheap and very filling. I freeze leftover portions for quick lunches throughout the month, for days when i fancy a change.
I have deliberately not posted a recipe for bliss balls as i feel they are yummy enough that they deserve a post of their own. Keep an eye out Wednesday for a few bliss ball recipes to sink your teeth into!
If you would like to follow this meal plan, week 2 will also be live Wednesday, complete with recipes :)