I have a confession to make, I'm a Meal Planner. I sit down with or without the rest of my family and plan our meals for the week/fornight ahead so that we all know what we're going to eat and it helps us stick to out strict budget.
Whilst taking in to account various events, visitors, and requests for favourite meals, I then add up what it will cost and tweak our plan as necessary. It usually saves us quite a bit of money as I can also check what's on offer at the supermarket and factor this into the plan too.
However, I do realise that some people don't have the urge or the time to be as organised as I do, can't be bothered, or have no idea where to start when sorting out a Meal Plan.
Sainsbury's have solved this problem with some simple, delicious and affordable recipes that make up their Feed your family for £50 Meal Plan. That's right 84 delicious meals for just £50.
As a keen meal planner I was rather cynical about what a supermarket had come up with because I often think they're only interested in helping money out of our pockets than helping with anything else. I must say I am impressed with what they have come up with.
I would say though that if you are following the plan to check the quality of the products carefully. For example check the meat content of the sausages recommended in the plan and buy different ones if you are concerned about a higher percentage of meat in your sausage. It may cost slightly more but if you are taste conscious you may want to explore alternatives for certain items. Also, if you are ordering online check the dates of things carefully when they drop off your order, or put a note next to the products when ordering, and be sure to ask for longer shelf life dates for things you will use towards the end of the week. Otherwise you may find that items arrive and may expire before you get a chance to use them on the plan.
Speaking of ordering, if you shop online you can just dump the entire meal plan in your basket in one go. There is also a mobile app you can use which not only has the Meal Plan on it but loads of other useful features too.
Likewise if you have more or less than 4 people in your family, or children younger than 4 years old, you can vary the recipes accordingly. There is even a Personalise Your Plan section. I think the plan is great for people that want to save money but don't want to spend loads of their time sorting out a Meal Plan for themselves.
The meal plans are nutritionally balanced and Sainsbury's have worked hard to ensure that the plan offers 85% of your ideal daily intake, including fibre which most people don't get enough of, so there is still room for drinks and snacks. The plan also makes sure you get your 5 a day, every day throughout the week.
I was lucky enough to be invited, with some lovely food & parenting bloggers, to the launch event in London on 4th May. We were able to speak to nutritionists who worked on the plan and to try out some of the recipes featured in the plan available in supermarkets at the moment.
Here's my favourite recipe on the current Meal Plan:
1 onion, peeled & finely chopped
350g lean beef steak mince
400g sweet potatoes, peeled & cut into 4cm chunks
300g carrots, peeled & chopped
300g potatoes, peeled & cut into 4cm chunks
30g Butterlicious spread
380g Basics frozen British Garden peas
From your store cupboard:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled & finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
200ml beef stock (1/2 stock cube)
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion for 5-10 minutes, until soft, adding in the garlic for the last minute. Turn the heat up to medium/high, add the mince and cook for 5 minutes. Stir through the tomato purée and mixed herbs, then pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes, until thickened.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan/gas 6. Cook the sweet potatoes, potatoes and carrots in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes, until soft. Drain and mash with the Butterlicious.
Spoon the mince mixture into a 1.5 litre-baking dish and top with the mash. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Cook the peas in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and serve as a side.
Photo courtesy of Sainsbury's
There will be another Sainsbury's Meal Plan released in late May, keep an eye on their website for details.