This week marks the beginning of the two week Easter school holidays for my 3 girls. I will be looking after 3 extra children for a couple of days this week and also have friends calling in and we will be visiting other friends. Of course I never visit anyone without taking baking, it's simply not done!
This weeks Meal Plan is slightly more expensive due to my 3 girls being at home, with some extra friends for a couple of days, and they always seem to eat more in the holidays than during term time. As usual I shall be baking all our own bread and baked treats.
Our garden is springing into life so we have some spinach, salad greens and fresh herbs to supplement our groceries from the supermarket. I've got seedlings in pots on windowsills throughout the house which I shall pot on once the weather properly warms up and they are big enough to stand the temperature fluctuations and predators outside. I'm sure the chooks next door will be getting their fair share of treats from our garden in the form of predators attacking our plants, Mwahahahaha!
Anyway, our Family Meal Plan for this week cost £70.57 from Asda when I ordered online tonight (30/03). As usual I used MySupermarket to compare the cost of the equivalent basket of groceries and they would've cost £81.25 at Sainsbury's and £82.47 at Tesco.
Ham, Chips and Mixed Vegetables - Monday
I'll be roasting a large gammon joint and we'll have some for dinner and the rest will be used in various recipes for lunches throughout the week. I will, as always, make my own oven baked chips and cook some frozen mixed vegetables to have on the side.
One Pot Mince in a Hurry - Tuesday
450g beef mince
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 pepper, deseeded and diced (any colour will do)
2 sticks celery, finely sliced
2 Tbsp oil
2 tsp Vegemite (or Marmite)
1 Tbsp flour
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cups frozen mixed vegetables
Cook the onion, pepper, celery and beef mince in the oil in a large saucepan for 5 minutes until the onion has softened and the mince has browned. Break up the mince with a spoon as it browns.
Mix together the Vegemite, flour, tins of tomatoes and water and pour it all over mince. Stir in the sweet potato, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sweet potato is almost cooked. Add the frozen mixed vegetables and stir to mix them through. Cover and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste then serve with a homemade wholemeal roll to soak up the sauce.
Sausages, Mixed Vegetables and Mash - Wednesday
This is one of the few things my husband can cook without fail. LOL I'm in London on Wednesday and I'm not sure I will be home to cook dinner. Therefore we are having something fairly straight forward and easy to prepare, just grilled sausages, cooked mixed vegetables and mashed potato. You could make some gravy to have with it if you like but my family like some homemade tomato relish with the sausages for extra flavour.
Macaroni Cheese - Thursday
I make my own cheese sauce from a roux base and add sautéed onion, garlic, pepper and mushrooms for extra flavour. I sometimes add a handful or two of frozen mixed vegetables towards the end of the pasta cooking time to bulk out the meal and add more vegetables to what can sometimes be a slightly stodgy meal.
Vegetable Curry - Friday
500g sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 Tblsp oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 can of coconut milk
1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)
2 handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables
Put the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion, garlic and spices until the onion softens and the spices are fragrant. Add the coconut milk and chopped sweet potato. Bring everything to the boil and then lower the heat so the curry can simmer until the sweet potato is only just tender. Add a couple of handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables and simmer for another 5 minutes or so until the vegetables are heated through and the sauce has reduced. Serve with rice and homemade naan breads.
Sausage Casserole - Saturday
1 Tblsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
1 pepper, deseeded and diced (any colour will do)
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 x 300g tin chilli beans
2 Tblsp tomato paste
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
Cook the sausages in the oven. I usually cook mine for about 20 minutes at 190C. Put a large saucepan onto a medium heat add the oil, onion and garlic. Cook for couple of minutes and then add the sliced celery and pepper. Saute for another couple of minutes until the onion and pepper have softened. Add the chopped tomatoes, chilli beans and tomato paste. Simmer for around 10 minutes, or until the celery is soft. Cut the sausages into chunks and add them to the pan with the frozen mixed vegetables and heat for 5 - 10 minutes. Serve with rice or mashed potato. I’ll be serving mine with rice.
Meatballs in Tomato Sauce - Sunday
450g beef mince
1 large free range egg
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1 large handful each fresh parsley and basil, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp paprika
1 onion, finely diced
1 pepper, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
125ml beef stock
1 tsp of dried rosemary and basil or 2 tsp dried mixed herbs
Make the tomato sauce first. The longer it has to simmer, the better it will taste. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large saucepan and gently sauté the onion, pepper and garlic together until onion has softened and is transparent. Add all of the remaining sauce ingredients and bring everything to a gentle boil. Turn the heat down so that the sauce can simmer gently, uncovered, for at least 15 minutes until it thickens.
While sauce is simmering, thoroughly mix together all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. Once everything has been thoroughly combined take 1 Tblsp of mixture and shape into a meatball, continue until all the mixture has been used.
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large frying-pan. Brown the meatballs all over and then put them into the sauce to cook for around 15 – 20 minutes until they are properly cooked through.
Cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions add the frozen mixed vegetables for the last 5 minutes of pasta cooking time. Serve the meatballs and tomato sauce with spaghetti and mixed vegetables.
Half Term Week Lunches
Lunches will be crudités (cucumber, pepper, carrot and celery sticks) with hummus and a sandwich or the other recipes mentioned below. I’ve made sure we have plenty of fruit available so we can have an orange, apple or pear with lunch.
2 x 425g cans cooked chickpeas
60ml lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3 Tblsp tahini paste
1-2 Tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Drain the tinned chickpeas well and then rinse them twice in cold water. Drain them well once again and then put chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic and tahini into a food processor (or put into a bowl if using a stick blender). Process briefly, add olive oil and seasoning to taste. Mix to a semi soft texture. Cover and keep in the fridge, it keeps for 2 – 3 days.
I usually serve crudités with the hummus as a side dish or a great tummy filler if we are out and about.
Savoury Bread Cases
These tasty morsels are great for kids parties as well as lunches and packed lunches. You can vary the fillings according to your needs and tastes. Tuna or salmon and cream cheese works well. You can serve them hot or cold. I’ve made them using fruit bread and chocolate spread topped with fresh fruit or filled with berry compote with a dollop of mascarpone on the top.
Oil (for greasing miffin tins)
Grease muffin tins with a little cooking oil. Roll slices of bread slightly to flatten them a little and then line the muffin cases with the bread slices. Bake at 190C for 10 minutes until crisp and lightly golden. Fill with hot filling and serve.
Ham and Sweetcorn Corn Filling
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 pepper, finely diced
2 tsp oil
1 (310 g) can creamy sweet corn
2 thick slices of ham
1 Tblsp chopped fresh parsley
Heat oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion and pepper until the onion has softened and is transparent. Add the tin of creamy sweetcorn. Chop ham into small cubes and add to the frying pan with the fresh parsley. Heat until bubbling. Fill bread cases and serve.
Ham, Cheese and Tomato or Vegemite Cheese and Tomato Toasted Sandwiches
You can use whatever filling you like with these versatile bread parcels, just make sure the filling isn't too wet. Leftover Bolognese or casserole/stew from dinner also works well if the sauce is nice and thick. They're great for using up leftover cooked vegetables too, just mix with some diluted tomato paste, a crushed clove of garlic and some grated cheese. I usually double or treble this mixture depending on how many hungry mouths there are to feed.
7g sachet instant dried yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caster sugar
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp dried mixed herbs (optional)
2 1/2 Tblsp olive oil
250g thinly-sliced ham (optional)
1 onion, finely diced
1 pepper, finely diced (any colour will do)
100g cheddar cheese, grated
1 small bunch spinach or chard, shredded
1 free range egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp salt
Combine yeast, salt, sugar and warm water in a bowl or in your mixer. Sift in the flour, then add the dried mixed herbs and 2 tablespoons of oil. Mix everything together to form a soft dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover it with greased clingfilm. Set the dough aside in a warm place until it doubles in size.
I do the mixing, kneading and proving in my stand mixer. Its loads quicker and I can get on with other things whilst it does the job for me.
Preheat your oven to 220°C. Brush a large baking tray with the remaining oil. Knock the dough back and then knead it gently on a lightly floured surface. I just give it a quick pulse on a low speed in my stand mixer. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Knead each piece into a ball and then roll out each ball into a 5 inch (12cm diameter) circle.
Put some of the filling over half of each circle, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge. Brush the edge with water. Fold the dough over to enclose the filling and firmly press the edges together to seal each round. I normally crimp these with a fork around the edge to secure the seal.
Put the calzone on the oiled baking tray. Brush the tops with egg which gives them a nice glazed top. Bake the calzone for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden and crisp. Serve hot or cold.
Breakfasts will be cereal with sliced banana, eggy bread, boiled eggs and soldiers or a bacon buttie as a treat. We might have crumpets or pancakes on the weekend but during the week breakfasts will hopefully be fairly simple so we can get on with our day, especially if we have an outing planned.
Treats and Snacks
Chocolate Peppermint Slice
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups light soft brown sugar
1 cup desiccated coconut (optional)
3 cups cornflakes or crushed Weetabix
250g butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 Tblsp butter, melted
Peppermint extract, to taste
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 Tblsp cocoa powder
1 Tblsp butter, melted
Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl. Stir in the brown sugar, coconut (if you are using it) and cornflakes or Weetabix, and make a well in the centre.
Stir the melted butter and vanilla extract into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Press the mixture into a lined 33cm x 23cm slice tin. I use a potato masher to make sure it’s well pressed down and even.
Bake at 180°C for 25 minutes. Cool 15 - 20 minutes before icing the base with peppermint icing. Set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes until the icing has set.
Carefully spread over the chocolate icing and allow to set. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.
To make the peppermint icing:
Sift icing sugar into a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and enough hot water to make a thick icing. Flavour with peppermint extract.
To make the chocolate icing:
Sift icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and enough hot water to make a thick icing.
100 grams butter
½ cup light brown sugar
1 large free range egg, beaten
½ cup golden syrup
½ cup milk
1½ cups plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and beat well to thoroughly combine. Gradually mix in the golden syrup and milk.
Sift the flour, mixed spice, ginger and baking soda together and carefully fold them into the butter mixture. Spoon into a 20 cm square cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper or well greased.
Bake at 180C for 35 minutes or until the ginger cake springs back when lightly pressed in the centre. Leave to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes before turning out onto a cake rack to cool completely.
Easy Tea Cake/Bread
This is a fab recipe if you feel like cake but have run out of eggs. It keeps well in a tin and is great warm straight from the oven with custard. Not that I'm admitting to anything.
1 cup sultanas or raisins
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup hot strong tea (without milk)
1 cup light soft brown sugar, firmly packed
2 or 2 1/4 cups self raising flour
Measure the sultanas, mixed spice, cinnamon and butter in to a medium sized bowl. Pour hot recently made tea over them and leave them to stand until the mixture is cold. It may look as attractive as a mud pie the kids make in the garden, but rest assured it smells much better than that, and will taste fab when it's cooked.
When the mixture is cold, add the brown sugar and self raising flour. If you use 2 cups of flour the tea bread will be more cake-like, whereas if you use 2 1/4 cups of flour the tea bread will be more bread like. Mix gently until just combined, don't overmix or the tea bread will be tough.
Line a 20cm cake tin, or a 23cm x 12cm loaf tin with baking paper and pour the mixture evenly in to it. Bake at 180C for 35-45 minutes in the cake tin, or 1 hour in the loaf tin, until a skewer pushed in to the middle comes out clean.
When cold store in an airtight container. It's best left for 24 hours, wrapped in clingfilm, before cutting and eating it but that hardly ever happens in our house.
200g self raising flour
Preheat oven to 220C or gas mark 7.
Sieve the flour into the mixing bowl. Rub the butter in to the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Stir in any extra ingredients such as raisins/dates or cheese/herbs, if you want to. Gradually stir in the milk to form a soft dough. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 2cm thick.
Cut the dough into rounds or squares and put onto a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper. Collect any dough trimmings together, roll them out and cut them out again.You should be able to make around 10 scones from this recipe.
Brush the scones with a little milk and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the scones have risen and turned golden.
My girls love these biscuits and I've been making them since I was a child. My 8yo can whip up a batch by herself, although I do watch her carefully around the hot oven. They are great with a cuppa and a good energy boosting snack in lunchboxes or after school for both adults and children.
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 Tblsp golden syrup
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tblsp boiling water
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line 2 baking trays with non stick baking paper.
Put the flour, pinch of salt, sugar, and rolled oats into a bowl and mix them together thoroughly. Make a well in the dry ingredients.
Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a saucepan. Once the butter has melted and is well combined with the golden syrup, dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water then quickly add to the melted butter mixture. Pour it all into the well you made in the dry ingredients. Mix everything together until well combined.
Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls and put onto the prepared trays, leave room for the biscuits to spread. Flatten them with a floured fork.
Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until the biscuits have flattened out and have become a reddish-brown colour.
Carefully transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool. They will crisp up as they cool. Once the biscuits are cold, store them in an airtight container.
43 items cost £70.57 purchased online from Asda on 30/03/2012.
Packets and Cereals
1x ASDA Smartprice Cornflakes (750g) 46p
1x ASDA Smartprice Porridge Oats (1Kg) 75p
1x ASDA Smartprice Spaghetti (500g) 39p
1x Silver Spoon Granulated Sugar (1Kg) 98p
2x Asda Wholefoods Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg) £1.20
2x ASDA Smartprice Plain White Flour (1.5Kg) £1.04
1x ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg) 52p
1x Silver Spoon Soft Light Brown Sugar (1Kg) £1.88
1x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg) 40p
1x ASDA Smartprice Pasta Shapes (500g) 30p
1x Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g) 64p
1x ASDA Wholefoods Brown Bread Flour (1.5Kg) £1.10
3x ASDA Chosen by You Freshly Frozen Mixed Vegetables (1Kg) £3.54
Tins, Jars and Cooking
4x ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g) £1.24
1x ASDA Chosen by You Chilli Beans (290g) 54p
2x ASDA Smartprice Sweetcorn (326g) 84p
2x ASDA Chick Peas in Water (400g) £1.40
1x ASDA Double Concentrated Tomato Puree (200g) 48p
1x King Fisher Reduced Fat Coconut Milk (400ml) £1.00
Dairy and Eggs
6x ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L) £6.00 any 2 FOR £2.00
1x Kerrygold Spreadable Butter (500g) £2.00
4x The Happy Egg Co. Free Range Large Eggs (6) £4.00 any 2 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA English Medium Cheddar (400g) £2.00 any 2 FOR £4.00
1x ASDA Chosen by You English Mature Cheddar (400g) £2.00 any 2 FOR £4.00
Fruit and Vegetables
1x ASDA Smartprice Sultanas (500g) 84p
2x ASDA Smartprice Pears £1.46
15 ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g) £1.50
20 ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g) £1.36
15 ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g) £1.17
10 ASDA Onions by Weight (100g) 70p
2x ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg) £2.00 any 2 FOR £2.00
10 ASDA Tomatoes by Weight (100g) £1.99
8 ASDA Sweet Potatoes by Weight (100g) £1.02
2x ASDA Whole Cucumber £1.60
1x ASDA Celery 78p
1x ASDA Garlic Loose 30p
1x ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g) £1.50
1x ASDA Oranges Extra Juicy (10) £2.00
Meat, Fish and Poultry
15 ASDA Smartprice Gammon Joint by Weight (100g) £5.67
1x ASDA Chosen by You Sausages (20 per pack - 1.14Kg) £3.33 any 3 FOR £10.00
1x ASDA Unsmoked Back Bacon Thick Cut (12 per pack - 530g) £3.33 any 3 FOR £10.00
1x ASDA British Beef Steak Mince (900g) £3.33 any 3 FOR £10.00
1x Macedonian Tahini Sesame Paste (300g) £1.98