Welcome to my blog!

Savvy shopping, seasonal eating and thrifty recipes. Spend less on groceries and enjoy better tasting, easy to prepare meals your friends and family will love – all on a budget.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Our Family Meal Plan For Week Beginning 20/03/2017 - £67

I have tendonitis in my wrist and forearm which is making life very painful at the moment. Typing, cooking, baking, and washing dishes are all agonising.  To top off the week, due to a meagre increase in household income, our tax credits were slashed to almost nothing. A loss of £170 a month, just like that. We're working on a solution, but of course that will take a little while so we are trying to cut costs wherever we can. Not great when we have 3 birthdays in our household within the next 6 weeks.  We've planned and budgeted for the expense of the birthday presents but other luxuries will be put on hold until our income has stabilised and been sorted out.


Our Meal Plan this week is a very easy one, because I am in a lot of pain and need to rest my right arm and hand. Not a simple task when I am right handed and bake rather a lot.

Breakfasts will be overnight oats or toast with spread, and a piece of fruit for afters.  We'll have pancakes one morning on the weekend as a treat.

Lunches

Cooked pasta and mixed vegetables combined with homemade pasta sauce and topped with grated cheese, with a piece of fruit and a baked treat.

Marmite/Vegemite and Cheese Swirls with vegetable sticks and herbed yoghurt dip, with a piece of fruit and baked treat.

Weekend lunches will be Vegetable and Pearl Barley Soup with homemade bread rolls.

Snacks will be rice pudding and pikelets or scones using store cupboard ingredients.


Dinners

Really Easy Vegan Chilli

1 tsp olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 peppers, diced
2 carrots, grated
2 courgettes, grated
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons paprika
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g tins chilli beans
200g frozen peas
300g frozen corn

Heat oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes or until browned. Add garlic, peppers, carrot, courgette and spices. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until the spices are fragrant. Add the tinned tomatoes and chilli beans, turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the peas and corn then cook for a further 5 minutes until heated through.  Serve with flatbreads and/or rice.


Homemade Fish and Chips - my 2nd daughter turns 14yo today so has requested this for her birthday dinner.

Shepherdess Pie

2 x 400g tins lentils, drained
1 onion, finely diced
2 peppers, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tblsp oil
3 Tblsp plain flour
300ml vegetable stock
1 Tblsp Marmite/Vegemite
4 Tblsp tomato paste/puree
1 heaped teaspoon dried mixed herbs
400g frozen mixed vegetables
salt and pepper to taste

For the topping
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 Tblsp spread or a knob of butter
80ml milk

Put the prepared sweet potatoes in a saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer until tender, then drain and mash with milk and butter.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

While sweet potatoes are cooking, sauté the onion, peppers, and garlic in the oil.  Once they have softened, stir in flour and cook for a minute or two.  Add the Marmite/Vegemite to the vegetable stock and stir until dissolved.  Gradually add this mixture to the pan, whisking all the time, until a smooth sauce forms.  

Stir the tomato paste, dried mixed herbs, drained lentils, and frozen mixed vegetables. Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the frozen vegetables have cooked through.

Pour the lentil and vegetable mixture into an ovenproof dish and top with the prepared mashed sweet potato.  Bake in an oven preheated to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes or until the top is golden and crispy.




Super Speedy Lentil Curry

1 Tblsp oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1kg butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch/2.5cm dice
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g tins brown lentils, drained
300g frozen peas
Cooked rice, to serve

Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add cumin, turmeric and garlic and cook for a minute or so until the spices are fragrant. Stir in butternut squash and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the drained lentils and frozen peas then cook for a further 5 minutes or until the butternut squash pieces are tender and cooked through.  Serve over cooked rice.


Bacon and Egg Pie

500g puff pastry
300g - 500g cooking bacon
8 large free range eggs
200g frozen peas


Preheat oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas Mark 6. Lightly grease a 24 x 20cm (10 inches x 8 inches) oven-proof dish. Cut the pastry block in half and roll out each half to the thickness of a £1 coin.  Use one half of the pastry to line the bottom of the dish.  

Layer the dish with half the bacon and break the eggs on top. Season well with freshly ground pepper then sprinkling over the peas and the remaining bacon.

Brush the edges where the pastry will join with milk. Lay the remaining pastry over the top and press well to seal the edges. Brush the pie top with extra milk and cut a few small slits in the pastry to allow steam to escape.  Bake tin the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes.until golden and cooked through. 

Shopping List

45 items: £67.00

Packets and Cereals
1x   Mornflake Superfast Oats (2Kg)                                           £2.18
1x   Silver Spoon Granulated Sugar (1Kg)                                   64p
1x   ASDA Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg)                               95p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg)                        45p
1x   Jus Rol Puff Pastry Block (500g)                                         £1.25
1x   ASDA Chosen by You Arborio Risotto Rice (500g)                £1.05
2x   ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg)                              80p
1x   ASDA Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g)      65p
2x   ASDA Good and Balanced Wholewheat Penne (500g)           £1.00
1x   ASDA Good and Balanced Pearl Barley (500g)                     50p

Frozen
2x   ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                           £1.54
1x   ASDA Smartprice Sweetcorn (1Kg)                                      99p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Peas (1Kg)                                              76p
1x   ASDA Cook from Frozen Pollock Fillets (1Kg)                       £4.00

Tins, Jars and Cooking
7x   ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes                                  £2.03
2x   ASDA Chilli Beans in Chilli Sauce (290g)                              80p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Dried Mixed Herbs (18g)                          25p
1x   Kraft Vegemite (220g)                                                          £1.97
4x   ASDA Green Lentils in Water (400g)                                    £2.20
1x   ASDA Double Concentrated Tomato Puree (142g)                35p
1x   ASDA Stock Cubes - Vegetable (12x10g)                             50p

Dairy and Eggs
4x   ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)                 £3.96
1x   ASDA British Whole Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)                               99p
1x   Stork Original Spread (500g)                                                £1.20
2x   ASDA Smartprice Low Fat Natural Yogurt (500g)                  90p
1x   ASDA Free Range Mixed Weight Eggs (15)                          £2.00
2x   ASDA Smartprice Mature White Cheddar (385g)                   £3.78

Meat, Fish and Poultry
2x   ASDA Smartprice Cooking Bacon (500g)                              £1.14

Fruit and Vegetables
15   ASDA Grower's Selection Bananas by Weight (200g)            £2.10
3x   ASDA Grower's Selection Carrots (1Kg)                               £1.50
1x   ASDA Grower's Selection White Potatoes (2.5Kg)                 £1.25
2     ASDA Grower's Selection Butternut Squash                          £2.16
4x   ASDA Grower's Selection Whole Cucumber                          £2.20
1x   ASDA Grower's Selection Celery                                          55p
2x   ASDA Grower's Selection Garlic Loose                                 54p
2x   ASDA Grower's Selection Courgettes (3)                              £2.56
1x   ASDA Grower's Selection Spring Onions                              49p
1x   ASDA Grower's Selection Sweet Potatoes (1Kg)                   95p
1x   ASDA Grower's Selection Brown Onions (1Kg)                     74p
2x   ASDA Grower's Selection Apples (1.2Kg)                             £4.00
2x   ASDA Grower's Selection Sweetclem (600g)                        £2.00
2x   ASDA Grower's Selection Mixed Peppers (700g)                  £2.18
2x   ASDA Grower's Selection Plums (750g)                               £2.00
1x   ASDA Grower's Selection Extra Trimmed Leeks (550g)        95p

Drinks
1x   ASDA Italian Roast and Ground Coffee (227g)                      £2.00

Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery website My Supermarket, and are correct as of 18th March 2017. Prices may vary in different in-store locations.

We purchased our shopping online on 18/03/2017 via Asda, had we shopped elsewhere our groceries would've cost:

£73.81 Lidl
£74.08 Tesco
£76.65 Sainsbury's
£77.59 Morrisons

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Our Family Meal Plan for this week 13/03/2017 - £65

Apologies for the lack of meal plan last week, toddler boy was poorly most of the weekend and for the first half of the week, then 10yo was poorly for the second half of the week.  I am rather knackered but we did have a meal plan and stick to it, I just didn't have the time or energy to blog it. 


This week I am tired, uninspired and needing an easy time.  I've deliberately chosen meals that are simple and quick, and that my family all like.  Lunches are a fairly easy option too, and I have once again chosen family favourites.  I'm sure everyone has weeks like this when you're pretty much over it all and just need an easy time for a week or so. 


Breakfasts will be wheat biscuits with fruit or homemade wholemeal toast with spread.  We'll have pancakes on the weekend, and homemade crumpets.


Lunches

Pasta Salad, cooked wholewheat pasta and mixed vegetables with a fresh herb, mayo and yoghurt dressing. Lunches will also include cucumber sticks, a piece of fruit and a baked treat.

Savoury Bread Swirls served with herbed yoghurt dip, cucumber and carrot sticks, a piece of fruit and a baked treat.


Weekend Lunches

Root Vegetable Soup

1 onion, diced
1 Tblsp oil, butter or margarine
1 potato, peeled and diced
4 cups chopped vegetables (or a mixture of vegetables)
stock or water to cover
alt and pepper

Saute chopped onion in oil in a large saucepan until soft but not browned. Add around 4 cups of peeled chopped vegetables and the chopped potato. The starchiness of the potato improves the overall texture of the soup.

Gently cook the vegetables in the saucepan with the lid on for about 5 minutes over a moderate heat, then add water, stock or a combination of both to just cover the vegetables.

Simmer with the lid on until the veges are very soft, then process using a stick blender until smooth. Add extra liquid to adjust the consistency of the soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.


Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup

2 cups of red lentils
2 litres vegetable stock
1 onion large, diced
3 sticks celery, finely sliced
3 carrots, peeled and finely sliced
1 tsp oil or margarine
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
2 cups root vegetables (pumpkin, potato, swede), peeled and diced
fresh chives, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil or margarine in a large saucepan over a medium heat and saute the onion, celery and carrots for 10 minutes, you want them softened but not coloured. 

Add the spices, lentils and stock with the diced root vegetables. Bring everything to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and very soft. Serve the soup chunky or blend until smooth with a stick blender but be sure to taste the soup and adjust the seasoning before serving.


Dinners


Spaghetti Cabonara with mixed vegetables

Roast Chicken with roast vegetables and Yorkshire puddings served with steamed mixed vegetables

Beef Slow Cooker Casserole

1kg casserole beef
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 peppers, diced
2 Tbsp plain flour
2 Tbsp tomato paste
250ml beef stock
400g tin diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp dried oregano
400g can cannellini beans, well drained

Cut beef into 2.5cm-3cm pieces and season the beef with salt and pepper. Brown the meat in a frying pan over a high heat and transfer to a slow cooker.

Put the onion, garlic and pepper in the slow cooker as well. Stir the flour, tomato paste and beef stock together to make a smooth paste and pour over the beef. Add the tin of tomatoes and oregano then cover. 

Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-5 hours. Add the cannellini beans, stir to mix through and then heat for another 20 minutes or so before serving.

Chicken and Bacon Stew with Dumplings served with steamed greens

Beef Casserole Pasties - leftover casserole from Thursday made into pasties and served with steamed mixed vegetables and mash.

Chicken Stir Fry


Shopping List

46 items: £64.62

Packets and Cereals
3x   ASDA Smartprice Wheat Bisks (24x18g)                         £2.07
1x   ASDA Wholewheat Spaghetti (500g)                               50p
1x   ASDA Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg)                         95p
1x   ASDA Wholemeal Bread Flour (1.5Kg)                            £1.20
1x   ASDA Smartprice Plain White Flour (1.5Kg)                    45p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg)                   45p
1x   Jus Rol Shortcrust Pastry Block (500g)                           £1.25
1x   ASDA Good and Balanced Wholewheat Penne (500g)   50p
1x   ASDA Good and Balanced Red Lentils (500g)                75p

Frozen
3x   ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                     £2.31

Tins, Jars and Cooking
2x   ASDA Chopped Tomatoes in Tomato Juice (400g)         58p
1x   ASDA Cannellini Beans in Water (300g)                         40p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Mayonnaise (500ml)                           40p
1x   Rajah Paprika (100g)                                                       60p
1x   Rajah Jeera Whole Cumin Seeds (100g)                        60p
1x   ASDA Double Concentrated Tomato Puree (142g)         35p
1x   East End Ground Coriander (100g)                                 £1.10
1x   ASDA Stock Cubes - Beef (12x10g)                                50p
1x   ASDA Stock Cubes - Chicken (12x10g)                          50p
1x   ASDA Stock Cubes - Vegetable (12x10g)                       50p

Dairy and Eggs
4x   ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)           £3.96
1x   ASDA British Whole Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)                         99p
1x   ASDA Free Range Large Eggs (6)                                  £1.00
1x   ASDA Smartprice Low Fat Natural Yogurt (500g)           45p
1x   ASDA Butter - Unsalted (250g)                                        £1.09
1x   ASDA Smartprice Mature White Cheddar (830g)            £3.98

Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x   ASDA Smartprice Cooking Bacon (500g)                        57p
1x   ASDA Butcher's Selection Whole Chicken (1.25Kg)        £3.33
2x   ASDA Butcher's Selection Diced Beef (475g)                  £6.67

Fruit and Vegetables
30   ASDA Grower's Selection Bananas                                 £2.38
3x   ASDA Grower's Selection Carrots (1Kg)                          £1.50
2x   ASDA Grower's Selection White Potatoes (2.5Kg)          £2.50
1     ASDA Butternut Squash by Weight (1.2Kg)                     £1.08
2     ASDA Sweet Potatoes by Weight (500g)                         £1.00
4x   ASDA Grower's Selection Whole Cucumber                   £2.20
1x   ASDA Grower's Selection Celery                                     55p
1x   ASDA Grower's Selection Sweetclems (1.4Kg)               £2.25
1x   ASDA Rainbow Vegetable Stir Fry (450g)                       £1.00
2x   ASDA Grower's Selection Brown Onions (1Kg)               £1.48
6x   ASDA Smartprice Apples (500g)                                     £3.00
1x   ASDA Grower's Selection British Parsnips (500g)           59p
1x   ASDA Grower's Selection Mixed Peppers (700g)            £1.09
2x   ASDA Grower's Selection Plums (750g)                          £2.00

Ready Meals
1x   ASDA Grower's Selection Egg Noodles (410g)               £1.00
1x   ASDA Sweet and Sour Stir Fry Sauce (230g)                 £1.00

Drinks
1x   ASDA Italian Roast and Ground Coffee (227g)               £2.00 
Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery website My Supermarket, and are correct as of 11 March 2017.  Prices may vary in different in-store locations.

We purchased our shopping online on 11/03/2017 via Asda, had we shopped elsewhere our groceries would've cost:

£68.98 Lidl
£74.27 Tesco
£78.05 Morrisons
£79.43 Sainsbury's

How do you Meal Plan when you are exhausted and uninspired? What are your family favourite low fuss dinners?

Monday, 6 March 2017

Belgian Buns

I have baked several batches of these buns recently, they have proved to be very popular indeed. Belgian Buns normally cost around £1.20 for a two pack in the supermarket. This recipe makes between 12 and 14 buns and costs £2.61 for ingredients, much cheaper and tastier than the supermarket version.  


You can vary the filling to suit your tastes, I've used sultanas, cinnamon and sugar here but have previously spread a small pot of ready made custard over the dough before sprinkling on the fruit and cinnamon as a cheats creme patisserie filling.  


Belgian Buns 

450g strong white bread flour 32p
7g sachet fast action yeast 12p
50g sugar 4p
1 tsp salt 1p
2 large free range eggs, beaten 34p
50g butter, melted and cooled to room temperature 29p
150ml room temperature milk 7p
180g dried fruit 32p
50g sugar 4p
2 tsp cinnamon 3p

For the icing:
200g icing sugar 34p
4 - 6 teaspoons of water
Glace cherries, halved 69p

In a big bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients, make a well in the centre then add the beaten eggs, milk and melted butter.  Stir until combined then knead in a stand mixer or on a lightly floured surface for around 10 minutes until smooth and stretchy.

Put the kneaded dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film.  Leave in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.

Line two large baking trays.  Turn out your risen dough and knock back.  The dough will be quite stiff.  Roll out to a large rectangle, around 45cm x 30cm.  Now, scatter your dried fruit over the dough in an even layer.  Mix the cinnamon and sugar together then sprinkle over the dough.  

Starting with the longest side, roll your rectangle into a big sausage and pinch the join to seal.  Rock back and forth to get a good shape, and slice into 12 or 14 portions.  Put the dough swirls cut side up on the lined trays, leaving room for them to spread.  Cover with clingfilm and leave to prove for another 30 - 45 minutes.

Whilst the dough is proving preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4.  Bake the dough swirls in the preheated oven for around 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on them from about 12 minutes because they can go from golden to burnt very quickly.  Cool the buns on a wire rack.

Once the buns have cooled completely you can ice them.  Measure out your icing sugar and gradually add the water, a teaspoon at a time, until it’s a thick white paste. You don't want the icing to be too thin or it will run off the buns or be too transparent. If your icing is too thin, just add a little more icing sugar to get the consistency that you want.  Spread icing over the top of each bun then put half a cherry on top.  These buns are best enjoyed the day you bake them, you can enjoy them the day after too, just keep them in an air tight container overnight.