You could make this Meal Plan even cheaper by having just sandwiches instead of the more elaborate lunch options. Also, please bear in mind, I am NOT a nutritionist. Please seek advice from a dietitian if you need a totally balanced and nutritionally complete Meal Plan.
I've devised this plan to feed my family of 5 for an entire week. My 11yo eats the same portion size my husband, despite being reed thin, so the plan could be for 3 adults and 2 children - or 2 adults and 2 older children. The lunches are either really tasty options or simple packed lunches of sandwiches, vegetable sticks and 1 or 2 pieces of fresh fruit. Adults can take leftover dinner for lunch the next day in order to stop food going to waste and save money. Sandwich fillings on this plan are cheese and chutney or egg salad.
The weeks dinner recipes use a total of 11 eggs so there is another 19 eggs reserved for sandwich fillings, breakfasts and baking. I've also included 6 x 2 litre bottles of milk in my plan, plenty for cereal and also to make a couple of batches of Rice Pudding (see recipe below) as a lunchbox treat or pudding.
Breakfasts are really simple: cereal/porridge and milk, or toast with spread. I've added some mixed fruit to the Meal Plan that can be added to breakfasts, lunchboxes or used to bake some flapjacks and muffins. There's also enough flour and eggs to make some Pancakes on the weekend and perhaps some Flapjacks or Fruit Muffins for lunchbox treats. See below for the recipes.
Monday Night Frittata
1 pepper, diced
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
300g frozen mixed vegetables
500g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
Preheat the oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C/ gas 6.
Simmer the potatoes and pumpkin in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain and leave to cool slightly before slicing thinly.
Meanwhile, put a 25cm non-stick ovenproof frying pan on the hob over a moderate heat. Saute the onion, pepper and garlic in a little oil for about 5 minutes until the onion and pepper has softened.
Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl and the softened onion, pepper and garlic. Carefully fold in the potatoes, pumpkin and frozen mixed vegetables. Pour the frittata mixture back into the frying pan and cook over a low-medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until it has cooked through and is set.
Family Sized Vegetable and Lentil Pastry Roll
This is a great low faff dinner or picnic lunch recipe that I make often as it uses ingredients that I normally have in the cupboard and freezer. It's really versatile and you can adapt the fillings to whatever you happen to have in your cupboards or fridge. Sun dried tomato, mozzarella, spinach and lentils works really well with some fresh or dried mixed herbs instead of the curry powder and mango chutney. Leftover cooked cubes of pumpkin and other leftover cooked mixed vegetables with the lentils, curry powder and mango chutney work well too.
1 Tblsp olive oil
300g mushrooms, sliced
120g (3 cups) spinach
1 finely chopped fresh pepper
2 x 400g cans of lentils, drained and rinsed
2 tsp mild curry powder
2 Tblsp mango chutney, plus extra to serve
375g block puff pastry, defrosted if frozen
60g (1/2 cup) finely grated cheddar
1 free range egg, beaten
Heat oil in a pan over a medium heat. Cook mushrooms and fresh pepper if you are using it, for a couple of minutes until they soften slightly. Add the spinach, roasted peppers (if you are using them), drained and rinsed lentils, curry powder and mango chutney. Season everything to taste and then cook for 2-3 minutes until everything is well combined and the spinach has started to wilt. Allow this mixture to cool completely.
Whilst the mixture is cooling, preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to form a 40cm x 30cm (12 inch x 16 inch) rectangle. Spread half the lentil mixture down the centre of the pastry, top with the grated cheese, then put the remaining lentil mix on top. Brush the pastry edges with water, and then fold it over to enclose filling. Press it well to seal it and put it on the baking tray seam-side down. Brush the with beaten egg and sprinkle with a little extra cheese if you like.
Bake the pastry roll for about 30 minutes or until its golden brown. Slice the pastry roll and serve it with some plain yoghurt, salad greens and extra mango chutney.
I love making this for dinner, it's quick, easy and filling. Just what you need for a stormy weekday evening. You can use whatever vegetables that you have available, even leftovers work well. The cheese sauce is quick to make and you cover everything with tasty mash.
2 tsp mustard powder
200g grated mature cheddar
Vegetables, use what you have available
1 head of broccoli, cut into fairly small florets
400g frozen mixed vegetables
small bunch of chives, finely chopped
3 or 4 large potatoes or sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour and mustard powder and cook for 1 min. Gradually stir in the milk until smooth with no lumps, then keep stirring until the mixture begins to bubble and thickens to a creamy sauce. Remove from the heat, then stir in the grated cheese, leaving some aside to sprinkle on the top.
Heat your oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7 and bring a large pan of water to the boil. Cook the carrots for around 5 minutes then add the broccoli and cauliflower and boil for another 3 mins. Finally add the peas for 1 last minute of cooking. Drain all the vegetables well. Add the cooked vegetables to the creamy sauce with the chives. Cook and mash the sweet potatoes or potatoes and season to taste as this will cover the top of the finished pie.
Tip the mixed vegetables and sauce into a deep ovenproof dish, carefully cover with the mash and then sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Bake for 20-25 mins until the topping is golden and the cheese is bubbling, then serve.
I love this curry, it's quick and warming, just perfect for a busy weeknight when you need a good curry. It seems a faff with the list of ingredients but isn't really as most of the spices are in jars and you just measure them in. You can use less of each of the spices if you want to make the curry a little milder, or add more yoghurt. Make sure you don't boil the curry too hard once you've added the yoghurt or it will curdle and look unappetising. I use full fat yoghurt as it is more stable under heat and less likely to split.
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp finely grated ginger
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cloves
4 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 head of broccoli, cut into smallish florets
500g butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled, seeded, cut into 4cm pieces
1 cup (250ml) water
1 cup (250g) full fat natural yoghurt
1 large handful (150g) frozen peas or mixed vegetables
Cooked rice, to serve
Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until lightly golden. Add the garlic, ginger, paprika, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, pepper and cloves and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until aromatic. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until tomatoes become pulpy.
Add the cauliflower, pumpkin, water and yoghurt and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until cauliflower and pumpkin are tender and sauce thickens slightly. Add the peas or mixed vegetables and stir to combine. Remove from heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve the curry immediately with steamed rice.
Our Favourite Homemade Pizza Dough
My kids love making their own pizzas and we can vary the toppings according to taste, and what we have available. This dough takes no time at all to whip up in a mixer, or get the kids to knead it for you. You can use leftovers to make calzone with the dough, just roll out as if you are making pizza, put the filling on one side then fold over and crimp closed. Perfect for a Friday night dinner or weekend lunch, great if you have friends over after school too.
1 cup plain flour plus extra for kneading
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1 sachet dried yeast
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
about 2/3 cup lukewarm water
Place flours in a large bowl with yeast, salt and dried herbs. Make a well in the centre. Use a bread and butter knife or wooden spoon to mix in just enough water to bind the mixture and form a dough.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 5 minutes to form a smooth (not sticky) ball of dough. Use a little extra flour if you need to.
Spray a bowl and cling film with a little oil spray. Put the dough in the bowl and cover with the cling film. Set aside in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about 30 minutes while you prepare the toppings.
We use a variety of toppings depending on what is available. Favourites in our house include: pepper, mushroom, and courgette with a tomato paste base.
Check the dough has risen – when a finger is gently pressed into the dough it will spring back a little bit.
Once the dough has risen, use your fist to punch down the dough gently. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough until it's smooth.
Prepare the dough for your favourite toppings. Roll the dough out to make 1 large pizza, or 4 smaller pizzas.
Mixed Vegetable Pearl Barley Risotto
This is a really warming, filling dinner for when the weather is cold outside and you're in need of some comfort food. My daughters love this risotto and it's one of their favourite autumn/winter suppers. Use whatever vegetables you have available.
50g unsalted butter
500g pearl barley
1 vegetable stock cube
300g frozen mixed vegetables
250g mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 pepper, diced
Handful of fresh herbs such as parsley, tarragon or sage, chopped
150g grated mature Cheddar, or a vegetarian alternative
Melt a knob of the butter in a medium pan. Add the pearl barley, stir it around so it's coated with the butter, then cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Dissolve the stock cube in 600ml of boiling water, then pour over the pearl barley.
Simmer over a medium heat for 25-30 minutes until the pearl barley is tender. Keep topping it up with another 800ml hot water, ensuring the barley is covered. When the pearl barley is cooked, remove the saucepan from the heat, taste it and adjust the seasoning. Add the frozen mixed vegetables, then set aside with a lid on for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and cook over a medium heat until it starts foaming. Add the mushrooms, onion and pepper then fry for 5-10 minutes until they're golden brown. Season to taste. We you're ready to serve, combine the pearl barley and vegetables with the mushrooms, herbs and cheese. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, then spoon into bowls.
I use this recipe when we have a glut of courgettes and tomatoes from our garden. I sometimes add a tin of chickpeas or haricot beans to make it in to a more substantial meal. We always serve it with some homemade crusty bread rolls to soak up all the lovely juices. You can sprinkle over some chopped fresh herbs just before serving, instead of using the dried herbs, if you want.
1 tbs olive oil
4 (about 500g) courgettes, halved lengthways, cut crossways into 2cm-thick slices
2 peppers (any colour), deseeded and cut into 2cm pieces
1 large (about 500g) aubergine, cut into 2cm pieces
2 onions, halved, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2tsp dried mixed herbs (optional)
160ml (2/3 cup) water
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tin of chickpeas, well drained and rinsed
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the courgettes, aubergine, onion and garlic then cook, stirring it occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the onion has softened.
Add the tinned tomatoes, dried herbs (if you're using them) and water to the pan and cover with a well fitting lid. Stir it occasionally and cook it for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. If you're adding tins of chickpeas or haricot beans, add them now with the tomato paste and cook, stirring well, for around 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with fresh herbs. Serve with bread or rolls to soak up the juices.
I was given this recipe by one of the of the Mums at school and it's now a firm favourite in our house. The falafel can me eaten as a lunch in a wrap with salad, taken on a picnic or served as a weeknight dinner with couscous and salad leaves. The falafels are also freezable for up to 6 months in an airtight container. Great for make-ahead lunchbox treats or emergency dinners.
2 (400g) tins of chick peas
1 large onion, very finely chopped or grated
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
4-6 Tblsp plain flour
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying
Put the chickpeas in a bowl with the very finely chopped onion, crushed garlic gloves, cumin, ground coriander, salt and pepper. Use a potato masher or pestle and mortar to lightly mash the mixture until it begins to stick together. You can quickly pulse it in a food processor but don't be too over enthusiastic, you don't want a mushy puree.
Take walnut-sized blobs of mixture and and shape them into small flat rounds about 1/2 and inch thick. Roll the falafel in the flour ensuring they are well coated. Chill them for 15-30 minutes, this makes them much easier to work with. Heat some oil, about 1 inch deep, in a frying pan. When it's hot add a few falafels and cook over a medium heat for about 5-6 minutes, turning them frequently. Carefully take them out of the oil and drain well on kitchen paper.
To use the falafels from frozen: Put them on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and warm in the oven at 180°C/(350°F)/Gas Mark 4 for about 10 minutes or until piping hot.
Serve with a dip and crudités, in a wrap with salad leaves, or as a dinner/lunch with couscous salad.
Yoghurt Dip with Mint and Cucumber
150ml natural yoghurt
2 Tblsp mayonnaise
Juice of 1/2 a lime or lemon
1 small or 1/2 a large cucumber, thickly grated then drained on kitchen roll
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 Tblsp chopped fresh mint leaves
Pinch of salt
Put the yoghurt, mayonnaise and lime/lemon juice in a bowl and whisk together well with a fork. Add the drained cucumber, garlic and chopped fresh mint leaves. Mix together well and, if you think it needs it, add a pinch of salt.
Cover the dip with clingfilm and leave in it the fridge for at least 1 hour to allow the flavours to mingle before you serve it.
These are fab to keep in the freezer for weekend lunches, or after school snacks as well as lunchbox fillers. You can vary the fillings or use pumpkin instead of sweet potato. I have been known to add some curry powder to the mashed sweet potato for an extra kick, or pesto mixed in to the mashed sweet potato works well too.
1 small sweet potato, peeled and roughly diced
1 potato (Maris Piper is a good type to use), peeled and finely chopped
2 handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables
1 handful of grated Cheddar cheese
2 eggs, lightly whisked
3 sheets or 500g ready-rolled frozen puff pastry, just thawed
Preheat oven to 220°C. Line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper. Cook the sweet potato in a medium saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender and then drain it well. Transfer it to a heatproof bowl and use a fork to mash it smooth. Set it aside to cool in the bowl.
Meanwhile, cook the carrot and potato in a saucepan of boiling water for around 5 minutes or until they're tender. Make sure you drain them well and then set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
Add the cooked potato and carrots, peas, corn, cheese and 1 egg to the mashed sweet potato and stir everything to combine it well. Season with salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
Use a 12cm diameter pastry cutter to cut 12 circles from the pastry sheets. Spoon the vegetable mixture evenly amongst the circles of pastry. Brush the edges of the pastry circles lightly with the remaining egg.
Fold the pastry circles in half to enclose the filling and use your fingertips to gently press and crimp the edges together to seal them. Put the parcels on the lined baking tray and lightly brush them with the remaining egg.
Bake the parcels in the oven for 15 minutes or until they're golden brown and cooked through. Remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool. Once they're completely cool, wrap them and put them in lunch boxes.
As an added bonus you can freeze these parcels unbaked. Just before you bake them, put in an airtight container in the freezer. When you're ready to defrost them, put them in the fridge for around 4 hours to defrost and then bake them for 15 - 20 minutes at 220°C.
Super Quick Couscous and Chickpea Salad
This is a fab salad to put in lunchboxes and can even be made in the morning before rushing off to work. It's also a quick fix salad if you're having a BBQ or picnic. It's a great midweek dinner side dish if we're having sausages (meat or vegetable) or grilled fish.
3/4 cup couscous
3/4 cup boiling water
1 tin of chickpeas, well drained
juice and zest of 1 lemon
small handful of toasted walnuts/hazelnuts, whole or roughly chopped
2 Tblsp chopped dried fruit (pears, apricots, dates, raisins)
(I used fruit and nut mix)
2 Tblsp olive oil
2 large handfuls of shredded salad greens or lettuce
Pour the boiling water over the couscous in a heatproof bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate or clingfilm and set aside for a 5 minutes while you chop up the other ingredients and open the tin of chickpeas.
After 5 minutes, fluff the couscous with a fork, add all the other ingredients and toss well to thoroughly combine. That's all there is to it! Pack it into lunchbox containers, refrigerate until needed or serve immediately.
1 cup of any fruit (fresh, tinned, dried or frozen)
3/4 cup sugar
100g melted butter or 100ml oil
2 cups plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
Mix all of the ingredients together gently but thoroughly until well combined. Spoon into lined muffin tins.
If you want to be fancy you can mix together 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 Tblsp sugar and sprinkle it over the top of the muffins.
Cook for 12 minutes or so at 180C, depending on the size of your muffins.
340g porridge oats
pinch of salt
3 Tbsp golden syrup
100g sultanas or mixed fruit
Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Line a 28cm x 18cm x 3cm or 11in x 7in x 1.2in baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
Gently heat the butter and golden syrup in a large saucepan on the hob until the butter has melted, stir well to mix. Don't let it boil!
Once the butter has melted take the saucepan off the heat and add the oats, sugar, sultanas and pinch of salt. Thorough mix everything until well combined and the oats are completely covered by the butter mixture.
Put the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth evenly into the corners. Bake in the oven for approximately 15minutes, turn the tin around and bake for another 5 minutes until golden brown.
Once cooked remove the baking tray from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. With a bread and butter knife lightly mark out about 16 pieces before the flapjack completely sets. Cut up into pieces when completely cold.
Rice Pudding (Lunchbox treat or pudding)
600ml whole milk
65g long grain white rice
pinch of salt
50g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
50g sultanas or mixed fruit (optional)
In a medium sized, heavy bottomed saucepan combine the milk and rice with a pinch of salt. Place saucepan over a fairly high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the rice is tender. This usually takes about 25 minutes. Stir the milk mixture frequently using a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stop the rice from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
When the rice is tender (al dente) take the saucepan off the heat and sugar, vanilla extract, and ground cinnamon. Mix well to combine. Return the saucepan to the heat and cook until the rice pudding thickens, this should take about 5 - 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the sultanas if you are using them. Spoon the pudding into a bowl to cool and cover with clingfilm to stop a skin forming. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. To make this into more of a Mullerice type treat add some jam or golden syrup to swirl through the rice pudding. You could also add dried apricots or dates instead of sultanas if you have some in your store cupboard.
I used My Supermarket to find out the cheapest supermarket to purchase all the items for this meal plan. The following shopping list cost a total of £49.94 at Asda on 31/12/11.
1x ASDA Smartprice Porridge Oats (1Kg) 75p
1x Silver Spoon Granulated Sugar (1Kg) 92p
1x ASDA Wholemeal Plain Flour (1.5Kg) £1.10
1x ASDA Smartprice Plain White Flour (1.5Kg) 52p
1x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg) 40p
1x Great Scot Pearl Barley (500g) 48p
1x ASDA Wholefoods Cous Cous (500g) 59p
2x ASDA Ready to Roll Puff Pastry (500g) £1.00
1x ASDA Fast Action Dried Yeast (42g) 58p
1x Sunnybisk Wheat Biscuits (48 per pack - 864g) £1.59
2x ASDA Freshly Frozen Mixed Vegetables (1Kg) £1.00
1x ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g) 38p
4x ASDA Chick Peas in Water (400g) 39p
2x ASDA Green Lentils in Water (400g) 47p
6x ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L) £1.18 any 2 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Cooks Value Medium Eggs (30) £2.98
1x ASDA Natural Probiotic Yogurt (500g) £1.00
2x ASDA English Mature Cheddar (400g) £2.00 was £2.48
1x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Fruit (500g) 64p
1x ASDA Extra Juicy Oranges (10) £1.97
10 ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g) 10p
15 ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g) 6.8p
1x ASDA Lemons Loose 30p
8 ASDA Broccoli by Weight (100g) 19.7p
8 ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g) 8p
7 ASDA Courgettes by Weight (100g) 16p
1x ASDA Smartprice Mushrooms (750g) £1.35
10 ASDA Onions by Weight (100g) 7.6p
1x ASDA Aubergine Loose 75p
2x ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg) £1.25 2 FOR £2.00
5 ASDA Tomatoes by Weight (100g) 19.9p
10 ASDA Butternut Squash by Weight (100g) 9.7p
3 ASDA Sweet Potatoes by Weight (100g) 11.1p
2x ASDA Whole Cucumber 80p
2x ASDA Round Lettuce 57p
2x ASDA Garlic Loose 22p
2x ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g) £1.48
1x ASDA Smartprice Fruit & Nut Mix (200g) 59p
If you're a longterm vegetarian or can offer some advice on how to improve the plan, please leave a comment and let me know. I could use, and would really value the help.