Please note: This Meal Plan, along with most of the other Meal Plans on my blog, does not include drinks, condiments or the cost of some herbs and spices. I make our jams, chutneys and pasta sauces, and we grow our own fresh herbs and salad greens. I’m also not a nutritionist or dietician so you will need to consult a professional if you have specific dietary or calorie controlled dietary needs.
Our Meal Plan for this week is fairly low faff and simple because my daughters are back at school after the holidays, I’ve got two events in London, two shifts at work and several other volunteer work things to fit in as well. There is repetition of dinners, cooking once and eating twice, which will also save my sanity as it means that when my husband is doing the dinner and bedtime routine he will only have to reheat a dinner and perhaps cook some mash or pasta.
I did think about getting my daughters to have school dinners but they were adamant that they wanted packed lunches so I’ve caved in, besides it’s cheaper for them to take packed lunches.
Packed lunches this week will consist of either homemade egg mayonnaise sandwiches or cheese with homemade chutney sandwiches along with crudités, a pot of yoghurt and a homemade muesli bar and a piece of fruit. I know the packed lunches are hardly gourmet fare but it’s what my daughters wanted and it’s relatively cheap and low faff so I’m happy to go along with it.
I will of course be making all our own bread, rolls and tortillas which will keep costs down. Despite having a busy week I can fit baking in as and when required to make sure we are fully stocked with goodies. If I have time on a Sunday afternoon or any spare time during the week I tend to bake and freeze things so that they are available for later in the week.
We’ll be having lunch in town on Saturday and lunch on Sunday will either be homemade pizza or baked potatoes.
Breakfasts this week will be cereal and milk with a banana for afters or toast and spread. It will be a busy week so I’m going for the get it done quick approach to breakfast but still keeping things filling and healthy. We might have pancakes one morning over the weekend or homemade crumpets whichever is easiest for me to manage.
The cost of the 43 items I purchased for this Meal Plan was £62.41 from Asda online on 13/04/12. I used My Supermarket to compare the prices of a similar basket of shopping at different supermarkets and my shopping would've cost £68.71 at Tesco and 72.61 from Sainsbury's.
Spicy Rice with Chickpeas and Spinach – Meatfree Monday
This is a quick, healthy and delicious family dinner for a Meatfree Monday or any day of the week. My daughters like it with some poppadoms on the side and mango chutney. Give it a go, it works well as a side dish too.
1 ½ cups basmati or long grain rice
1 Tblsp olive oil
3 carrots, roughly diced
1 pepper, roughly diced
1 leek, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp mild curry powder
400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
400ml vegetable stock, made with 1 stock cube
200g spinach (fresh or frozen)
2 Tblsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 Tblsp chopped fresh mint leaves
Put the rice in a sieve and rinse it under cold running water until the water runs clear. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the roughly diced carrots, pepper, leek, garlic, raisins/sultanas and spices. Cook, stirring it occasionally for about 8 – 10 minutes or until the vegetables, especially the carrots, are tender.
Once the vegetables are tender add the chickpeas, rice, stock, and water. Bring everything to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook everything with the lid on the saucepan for 12 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and put the spinach over the top of the rice. Replace the lid on the saucepan and stand for 8 minutes. Uncover the saucepan again and add the chopped fresh herbs. Stir everything together until well combined.
Lentil Bolognese - Tuesday
This is so versatile! It can be served with pasta, baked potatoes, polenta or homemade gnocchi. I sometimes made double because it freezes well and is great to have in your freezer as a quick fix meal option. If you really have to you could add some beef mince or soy mince to bulk it out more.
1 cup red lentils, uncooked
2 Tblsp oil
1 onion, diced
1 pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 Tblsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper to taste
Pasta and 2 handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables (cooked), to serve.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Pour in the lentils and stir them around to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the saucepan. Boil the lentils for 8-10 minutes or until soft.
Heat the oil in a medium pan and sauté the pepper, onion and garlic until softened. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and herbs, then stir in the lentils. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes until the flavours develop.
Serve with pasta cooked according to packet instructions. When the pasta has about 3 minutes left to cook toss in a handful or two of frozen mixed vegetables.
Spicy Sausage Hotpot – Wednesday and Thursday
This recipe makes a pack of sausages go a long way. You can use whatever vegetables you have available and also use vegetarian sausages if you like. It's a recipe that can be easily bulked out if you have unexpected dinner guests. I’ll be doubling the recipe so that it will last us two nights. The first night I will serve it with rice and the second night It’ll be reheated and served with mash.
450g pack good quality sausages
1 Tblsp oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 carrots, diced
1 leek, sliced
1 pepper, diced
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tins chilli beans
2 cups/handfuls frozen mixed vegetables
4 baking potatoes, cooked and mashed - to serve
Grill or bake the sausages until they are cooked. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then slice into pieces around 2cm thick. Set aside.
Add oil, onion and garlic to a saucepan over a medium heat. Cook for a few minutes then add the carrots, leek and pepper. Sauté for another couple of minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes and chilli beans. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Add the sausages to the saucepan with the frozen mixed vegetables. Cook for a final 5 minutes. Serve with cooked rice or mashed potato/sweet potato.
Creamy Bacon and Vegetable Pasta - Friday
I can have this dinner on the table in under 20 minutes from whine to dine LOL Great for those nights when you are really tired or really busy with a low tolerance for faffy dinners.
200g unsmoked back bacon
Handful or 2 of frozen mixed vegetables
300ml pot crème fraîche
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the spaghetti and cook following pack instructions. When the spaghetti has about 3 minutes left to cook toss in a handful or two of frozen mixed vegetables.
Meanwhile, in a deep frying pan, fry the bacon until the fat starts to run and then add the garlic, fry until the bacon is lightly golden. Add the chopped spinach and 2 tablespoons of water, then cover and cook until the spinach has wilted.
Remove the lid, stir everything together, season to taste, then cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
Drain the spaghetti and vegetables and add to the bacon and spinach mixture with the crème fraîche. Stir to thoroughly combine and serve immediately.
Slow Cooker Meatballs - Saturday and Sunday
500g beef mince
½ cup uncooked long-grain rice
¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, oregano, etc) or 3 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 large onion, finely diced
1 pepper, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 stick celery, finely sliced/diced
500g homemade or store bought pasta sauce
375 ml beef stock or water
Turn the slow cooker on to low to preheat whilst you chop all the vegetables.
In a bowl, mix together the mince, rice and fresh herbs with a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Roll tablespoonfuls into balls and set aside for a few minutes.
Put the onion, pepper, carrot and celery Into the slow cooker. Mix together the cook-homemade pasta sauce and beef stock then pour into the slow cooker. Stir to mix thoroughly with the vegetables.
Put the meatballs on top of the sauce in the slow cooker and then cover with the lid. Cook on low for 6–7 hours or on high for 3–4 hours. Serve with mash/pasta/baked potatoes and steamed mixed vegetables.
Baking and Treats
Homemade Muesli Bars
1 x 397g tin of condensed milk
100g mixed dried fruit
Preheat your oven to 130C/Gas Mark 1/2 and lightly oil a large baking tin. Mine measures 23cm x 33cm x 4cm.
Mix the dry ingredients and fruit together until well combined. Warm the condensed milk in a pan then mix with all the other ingredients and use a spatula to make sure everything is well coated.
Press the mixture into the tin and level the surface. The mixture is really sticky so you might want to wet your hands or lightly oil them so that you don't end up a sticky mess.
Bake the muesli bars for 1 hour then set aside for 15 minutes to cool slightly. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container.
Quick and Easy Banana Cake
I have several kilos of over-ripe bananas lurking in my large chest freezer. I was given them by a friend and have been using them as a base for smoothies as well as baking muffins, caramelising them to have with pancakes as well as baking this cake.
125g butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
500-600g (unpeeled weight) spotty over-ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a round 23cm square cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, mash the bananas and beat well in to the mixture. It will look curdled but don't panic. Beat in the eggs one at a time adding 1/2 a cup of the flour so the mixture comes together. Add the last 1 cup of flour (and vanilla if using) then beat for one minute on low speed or until well combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin & gently shake to level, don't bang it. Bake in oven at 180°C for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside in the cake tin for 10 minutes to cool slightly before transferring the cake to a wire rack to cool completely.
My Favourite Tea Bread
1 cup sultanas or raisins
1 tsp mixed spice
1 cup hot strong tea (without milk)
1 cup 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 to stand until cold.
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 24 hours before cutting but never lasts that long in our house.
43 items: £62.41
Packets and Cereals
1x ASDA Chosen by You Wheat Bisks (48x18g) £2.68
1x ASDA Smartprice Swiss Style Muesli (1Kg) 98p
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 Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg) £1.04
1x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg) 40p
1x ASDA Smartprice Pasta Shapes (500g) 30p
1x Great Scot Red Split Lentils (500g) £1.10
1x Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g) 64p
1x ASDA Wholefoods Brown Bread Flour (1.5Kg) £1.28
3x ASDA Chosen by You Freshly Frozen Mixed Vegetables (1Kg) £3.54
Tins, Jars and Cooking
4x ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g) £1.24
2x ASDA Chosen by You Chilli Beans (290g) £1.36
1x ASDA Smartprice Mayonnaise (500ml) 48p
1x ASDA Chick Peas in Water (400g) 70p
Dairy and Eggs
1x ASDA Crème Fraîche (300ml) £1.00
6x ASDA British Whole Milk 4 Pints (2.27L) £6.00 any 2 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Rich and Creamy Salted Butter British (250g) £1.20
1x Carnation Sweetened Condensed Milk (397g) £1.00
1x ASDA Smartprice Low Fat Natural Yogurt (500g) 55p
1x ASDA Low Fat Strawberry Yogurt (6x125g) £1.00 was £1.12
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
1x ASDA Low Fat Autumn Fruit Yogurts (6x125g) £1.00 was £1.12
1x Suffolk Farm Large Free Range Eggs (6) £1.00 any 2 FOR £2.00
1x Suffolk Farm Medium Free Range Eggs (6) £1.00 any 2 FOR £2.00
Fruit and Vegetables
1x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Fruit (500g) 64p
2x ASDA Baby Spinach (180g) £2.00
20 ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g) £2.00
20 ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g) £1.36
20 ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g) £1.56
5 ASDA Leeks by Weight (100g) 75p
7 ASDA Red Onions by Weight (100g) 60.2p
2x ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg) £2.00 any 2 FOR £2.00
2x ASDA Whole Cucumber £1.60
2x ASDA Round Lettuce £1.14
1x ASDA Celery 68p
2x ASDA Garlic Loose 52p
1x ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g) £1.50
Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x ASDA Chosen by You Sausages - 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
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