How to Meal Plan when you're on a Budget.
Planning your meals not only saves you time, it also saves you money. In our house, before we started meal planning, I would hear the same questions every night, Mum, what's for tea? It would always be followed by, I don't know yet.
We started meal planning to combat the overspending, wasting food, and to better our health.
The first thing you need to do is make an inventory of the ingredients you already have in, (lists are your friends) then you can plan meals around what you already have, that way you won't be wasting anything.
We then ask the boys to choose a meal they really want that week, and then we come up with the rest .
We find that doing a two week shop works best for us, that way we just nip to the local village shop for fresh bread, milk and the greengrocers for fresh fruit and veg.
Here are some of our favourite budget friendly meals
* Panackelty aka panack - A northern favourite made up from leftover root veg and meat.
My grandad used to make it the way his mam did with Potatoes, Carrots, Parsnip, onion and corned beef. My husbands mam used to make it totally different with Potatoes, carrot, sausage and bacon. So Just add what leftovers you have and create your own pot of comfort.
* Mac 'N' Cheese - Perfect for a cold night when you want something filling, we add any leftover bacon we have from a different recipe.
* Baked Paprika Fish with quinoa or rice - This is one of my favourite meals, me and Adam usually have Quinoa with lots of colourful veg and the others have rice with veg.
* Toad in the Hole - For some reason we always have a freezer draw full of sausages. One of the easiest ways to use some up is to do a Toad in the hole . Its super easy and very filling
* Lasagne & Veg - A really good filling, cheap and easy meal to make with a side of veg.
* Stir fry - Now I know if you went to the supermarket to buy all of the ingredients for a stir fry it can get costly, we always have lots of veg in the fridge, a packet of egg noodles in the pantry and some kind of meat that was a yellow sticker bargain in the freezer all we usually buy is the sauce. Quick, Filling and pretty cheap if you using ingredients you already have.
* Frittata - Again another easy meal to make, a crustless quiche which you can add so many different ingredients to. I even make Frittata to put into the boys packed lunches for school!
*Fish Tikka Curry - So easy to make and a nice change from a chicken curry, If you buy the bags of frozen fish ( I get 3 bags with around 9 pieces of cod in each for £10 ) it is a cheap option especially if you are like me and have a pantry full of herbs and spices.
* Paella - If you go crazy and add all kinds of meats and fish then of course it will be quite expensive, however we usually have a bag of paella rice, some chicken and chorizo going spare. A paella is a good filling proper comfort food for me and I always add a few prawns to mine and Adams too (the other don't like them)
* Cajun Fish Steaks - Again if you already have the bags of frozen fish then you have quite a lot of options for meals. A sprinkle of Cajun spice and then bake the fish serve with either rice, bulgur wheat, veggies or potatoes and you will have a good filling meal.
* Tuna Pasta with Sweetcorn - This is one of those meals that has always been a favourite in our house, you can serve it hot or cold, with or without veggies. Gorgeous on a hot summer's day sitting in the garden. It's pretty cheap to make and very very filling. I cheat and use a jar of mayo instead of making my own!
* Slow cooked beef casserole - I have had a conversation with a few other people who assume a casserole is quite an expensive meal , Its not! We very rarely buy fresh meat and usually buy frozen good quality bags of meat. I always get a few diced beef which are perfect for a slow cooked casserole. I usually add carrots ) I always have them my kids are obsessed with carrots) Leek, onion and peas. Slow cook on high for around 4-5 hours and you have the ultimate comfort food. Serve with mash.
* Chicken Fajita wraps with chips - I don't buy the packs the get in the supermarket because it is so easy and tastes much better if you make the seasoning yourself. I have a lot of herbs and spices in the larder so I always have the ingredients in. If you don't have the ingredients (Paprika,chilli powder,Garlic powder,Cumin,ground pepper,dried oregano and some sea salt) and you make Fajitas a lot it is worth buying the ingredients. Then all you need is a pack of tortillas (you can usually get them on yellow sticker or buy the supermarkets own brand) add your meat and veggies.
* Meat free shepherds pie - I get sick of eating meat all the time, I love a good shepherds pie with red lentil replacing the minced beef. Add peas, onions and carrots topped with mash and you have a delicious filling meal.
We save money by shopping every two weeks and buying only whats on our list.
So many options for good quality home cooked meals on a budget.
What are your favourite meals?