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Our Family meal Plan for School Holidays Week 09/04 - £70

Saturday 7 April 2012
You would be forgiven if you thought we were feeding an army this week, we're not, it just appears that way.  Last week my 3 girls and some visitors throughout the week ate so much that we almost ran out of food from the Meal Plan before the end of the week.  This week I am determined to be better prepared! 

Breakfasts will be filling and our lunches will be really substantial too, this will cut down on snacking and ensure our tums are full for longer.  Hopefully it will also mean that we will have sufficient supplies to last the week, no matter who calls in for a feed visit.  Most of the lunches can be easily expanded should unexpected guests arrive.

There is plenty of fruit that we can have to snack on and of course spare vegetables for crudites too, should the need arise for some vegetable snacks.  We've got salad greens available from our garden and of course fresh herbs from the garden too.  Now that the hosepipe ban is in force we are using watering cans instead to water them which is good exercise. 

As usual I am baking our bread, this week I will also be baking bagels, English muffins and fruit bread.  This saves us loads as all of those baked goods would cost rather a lot from the supermarket.  Because I'll be baking quite often and the lunches are fairly substantial I've kept the dinners fairly low faff and simple.

The cost of the 51 items needed for our Meal Plan this week was £70.64 from Asda on Saturday 7th April.  I used My Supermarket to compare the cost and find out how much a similar basket would've been at other supermarkets and it would've cost £77.72 at Tesco and £83.80 at Sainsbury's.

Simmered Mince Many Ways – Cook this Sunday Afternoon

This is my basic simmered mince recipe that I can transform into loads of different meals and can feed us well for several dinners and a lunch or two. It makes 1kg of mince stretch a long way and is great if you are counting pennies or are starting to use Meal Plans to cut your household spending.

3 Tbsp oil
3 onions, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into smallish chunks
3 celery sticks, finely sliced
2 peppers, chopped into smallish chunks
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 kg beef mince
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 Tblsp Worcestershire sauce
3 beef stock cubes dissolved in 1 litre of boiling water

Heat half of the oil in a large pan over a high heat. Add the onions, garlic, herbs, carrot, celery and pepper. Sweat until softened. Put into your slow cooker. If you're not using a slow cooker, just take the pan off the heat and set it aside.

Brown the mince in a large pan over a medium heat, about a third at a time. Fry until there are no pink bits left. Don't brown all the mince at once or you will crowd the pan and it will take longer to brown. Put the browned mince in your slow cooker. If you aren't using a slow cooker, add the vegetables you sweated off earlier to the mince at this point.

Add the tinned tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and stock to the mince and vegetable mixture, either in your slow cooker or in a large saucepan on the hob, mix until well combined.

Either simmer uncovered on the hob for one hour until the volume of liquid has reduced slightly and the sauce has thickened or cook in your slow cooker for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low. You can thicken the sauce with a little cornflour mixed with cold water then stirred into the sauce.


Cottage Pie - Monday

Spoon about a third of the above mince mixture into a baking dish, top with about 750g mashed potato and bake at 190C/375F/Gas 5 for 30 minutes, until bubbling and golden-brown on top. Serve with mixed vegetables or peas.

Chilli Con Carne - Tuesday

Use 1/3 of the simmered mince mixture and stir a tin of kidney beans in chilli sauce, or a tin of kidney beans and enough chilli powder to suit your taste, into a third of the mince mixture and warm through. Serve with rice or tortillas topped with little soured cream.

Spaghetti Bolognese - Wednesday

4 cloves of garlic, crushed
300ml red wine
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 beef stock cube
300ml boiling water
1/3 batch of simmered mince (recipe above)
500g dried spaghetti

Heat a saucepan and add the lardons, let the fat run out and then sauté the garlic for a couple of minutes. Drain off as much oil as you can and then add the red wine. Boil the wine until it has reduced to about 2 Tblsp of liquid and then add the tinned tomatoes, braised mince and stock.

Simmer for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until the mince has thickened to Bolognese sauce consistency. Whilst the mince is thickening, cook your spaghetti according to the instructions on the pack. Check the mince mixture for seasoning then serve over cooked spaghetti. Top with grated parmesan if you want.

Vegetable Stir Fry - Thursday

I've bought Garlic and Soy Stir Fry Sauce, noodles and stir fry vegetables from the supermarket and will make a thin omelette to have with it.  I will heat a large, oiled frying pan or wok to over a high heat. Add the vegetables and noodles and cook them for a few minutes before adding the sauce.  Heat the sauce through and dinner is done.  I make a thin omelette and then roll it up and slice it thinly then mix it through the stir fry vegetables and noodles. 

Pork Curry - Friday

25g butter
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon each ground chili powder, coriander, ginger, garam masala
600g diced pork pieces
2 peppers, diced (any colour will do)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 cup cream

Melt the butter and cook the onion and garlic until the onion has softened.  Mix the ground spices together and toss the pork pieces in the spices to coat them.  Add the pork to the onion and garlic in the pan and cook the pork until it has browned and the spices are fragrant.

Add the peppers and tomato paste along with the cream.  Stir everything together and make sure it is well combined.  Simmer the curry for 10 - 15 minutes or until the pork is completely cooked through.  I usually serve this with rice and mixed vegetables or wilted greens.

Salmon and Pesto Fishcakes (MSavers Recipe) - Saturday

1 packet of salmon trimmings
500g large potatoes
50g pesto
100g breadcrumbs

Dice the potatoes and cook them in a pan of boiling water until soft. Drain well and mash until smooth, then leave to cool. Finely chop the salmon trimmings and mix into the cooled mash potato along with the
pesto. Shape the mix into four fish cakes.

Coat each fish cake in a little flour, dip into a beaten egg and coat in the breadcrumbs.  Fry the fish cakes in a little oil for 2 minutes on each side. Then, place on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 10 minutes on 175C.  Serve with mixed vegetables.

Photo courtesy of Morrisons

Chicken Casserole - Sunday

1kg chicken drumsticks, skin removed
500g pumpkin, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp paprika
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
500g frozen mixed vegetables
420g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Put all of the ingredients, except the chickpeas and frozen vegetables, in slow cooker and cook on LOW for 8 hours.

If you don't have a slow cooker, put all of the ingredients in a casserole dish and cook in an oven at 180C for about 1 hour.

Add the chickpeas and frozen vegetables towards the end of cooking and cook for another 30 minutes in the slow cooker, or 15 minutes in the oven.  You want the chickpeas and vegetables to warm through completely.  Serve with cooked rice.


 Quesadillas (We will have these twice this week)

8 tortillas, wholemeal wraps or burritos
1 can whole kernel corn
1 tin chilli beans
1 cup grated cheese
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 spring onion, chopped

Preheat a non-stick frying pan or sandwich press.

Top four of the tortillas with the chilli beans, corn (drained), chopped tomato, spring onion and grated cheese.  Cover with remaining tortillas (to make a tortilla sandwich).

Spray frying pan with a little oil.  Cook tortillas one at a time in frying pan. Cook on one side for 2 or 3 minutes, then turn with a spatula and cook the other side for another 2 or 3 minutes, or until fillings are hot and cheese has melted. Repeat with other tortillas.

Allow to cool for a few minutes.  Cut each tortilla into four wedges (or smaller pieces for smaller kids). Eat and enjoy!

Vegetable and Egg Bake

1 potato, cubed and cooked
1 small sweet potato, cubed and cooked
1 cup baby spinach leaves
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1 onion, finely chopped
3 free range eggs
180ml milk
2 Tblsp plain flour
½ cup cheese
pinch salt
couple of grinds of pepper
¼ cup cheese, extra

Put all the vegetables in a large bowl. Combine the eggs, milk, flour, cheese, pepper and salt. Beat until thoroughly combined. Gently stir into the vegetables, being careful not to bash about the cooked potato and sweet potato too much. Tip the mixture into a lightly greased 23cm pyrex dish or lined cake tin.

Bake in the oven at 180°C for 40 minutes, then sprinkle with the extra cheese and put under the grill for a couple of minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden. Serve immediately.

Storecupboard Hotpot

This is a really useful recipe when your cupboards and fridge are nearly bare and money is tight. I can usually find all the ingredients to make it in my pantry or can they can be bought really cheaply from the supermarket. It's a filling lunch or dinner that is really easy to prepare and can be on the table within 15 minutes.

½ Tbsp oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp flour
1 tin (400g) tomatoes, chopped
1 tin (425g) beans, drained (e.g. mixed beans, butter beans, haricot beans or chickpeas)
1 large tin (400g) sweetcorn, drained
1 pepper, diced (red, orange or yellow)

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and sweat the onions until soft and transparent. Add the diced pepper and mushrooms and cook gently until softened.

Sprinkle in the flour stir for 1-2 minutes before adding the drained tins of tomatoes, beans and sweetcorn. Cook for another 5 minutes until everything is well heated through and the stew thickens slightly then serve.

I usually serve this with bread rolls or baked potatoes. You could also serve this over thick wholemeal toast, cooked rice, cooked pasta or baked sweet potatoes.

This is an easy lunch or dinner, and the recipe can be easily adjusted depending on how many you're cooking for. You can use whatever you have available as fillings for the sweet potatoes so they are economical too.

Stuffed Kumara (Sweet Potatoes)

4 large kumara (sweet potatoes) washed
1 onion or spring onion, finely chopped
1 handful grated carrot
1 handful grated courgette
1 small tin of sweetcorn, drained
1 handful grated cheese
1 handful of ham, chopped cold meat or tinned tuna
4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce, or alternatively tomato or BBQ sauce (to taste)
1 handful of chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Wash the sweet potatoes well, prick the skin in several places and bake them at 180˚C for 45-60 minutes, or until soft inside (prick with a fork to check). A quicker method is to microwave the sweet potatoes for 5 - 7 minutes and then bake them in the oven for another 15 minutes.

Once they're cooked, let the sweet potatoes cool. Cut along the middle and scoop out most of the soft flesh and put it into a bowl. Leave enough sweet potato inside the skin to help keep the shape and hold the sides up. Add whichever fillings you are using to the scooped out flesh along with half of the cheese and mix together well in a bowl.

Carefully Put the mixture back inside the sweet potato and add some extra grated cheese to the top. Bake in an oven preheated to 150˚C for further 30 minutes so that the filling is piping hot and the cheese melted.

Baked Potatoes with Baked Beans and Cheese

Baked Beans on Toast


English Muffins

4 ¼ cups plain flour
1 sachet instant yeast
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
500ml warm milk
1 free range egg, beaten
50g butter

Dust 2 baking trays with plain flour.

In a large bowl combine the yeast, sugar, flour and salt.

In a small pan, melt the butter then add the milk and heat gently.  The liquid should be warm but not hot. If you are not sure, hold your little finger in it and count to 10.  If it’s uncomfortably hot by the time you get to 10 allow it to cool a little, if it doesn’t feel warm at all, heat it up a little.

Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the butter and milk mixture with an egg. Use a large metal spoon to mix everything together until a soft dough forms.

Knead the dough lightly for 2 minutes then put the dough into a large greased bowl, covered with greased clingfilm, and allow to rise until doubled in size.  Either set it aside in a warm place to rise or use the microwave rising method.

Preheat your oven to 190C.

When the dough has doubled in size knead it lightly to knock it back and roll the dough out to 1cm thick on a floured work surface. Cut into circles using a large cutter, I use a 10cm cutter, roll up any trimmings and cut out more circles.  You should end up with about 16 muffins in total.  Put the muffins on to the floured trays to rest for 10 minutes.

Bake the muffins for 7 minutes then take the trays out of the oven and turn the muffins over.  Bake the muffins for another 7 minutes.  They should be lightly golden.

To serve the muffins, split them and top them with your favourite spread.  You can also make them a savoury treat by topping with a poached egg, ham, etc.

You can freeze these muffins in an airtight container.  If you decide to freeze them split the muffins beforehand because it makes them defrost so much quicker.

If you would prefer to make spicy fruit muffins, add the following to the dry ingredients:

2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
½ cup sultanas (soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drained)

I normally use one batch of dough and divide it to make 8 plain and 8 spicy fruit muffins which saves me making two batches. 

Fruit Bread

2 tsp mixed spice
3 1/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp instant dried yeast
1/4 cup sugar
375ml (1 1/2 cups) warm water
2 cups of mixed dried fruit
1 Tblsp milk
1 Tblsp each cinnamon and sugar mixed together

Sift mixed spice and 3 cups flour into a bowl. Stir in yeast and sugar. Make a well in the centre. Add water then mix to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Add remaining flour. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. I use my stand mixer to knead my bread if I'm not in the mood to knead it by hand.

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. I leave my dough in the stand mixer, with the plastic shield on it the dough proves quite happily. Grease a 6cm-deep, 9cm x 19cm loaf tin.

Using your fist, punch the dough down. Knead until smooth. I just knead the dough a little in my stand mixer. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface. Gradually knead in the dried fruit. Again, I just use my stand mixer. Shape then put in to the prepared loaf tin. Cover with lightly greased cling film and set aside in a warm place for 15 minutes or until the dough rises to the top of the tin.

Meanwhile, your preheat oven to 200C/180C fan-forced. Once the dough has risen, brush the top of it with milk. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 170C/150C fan-forced. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and hollow when tapped on top. Stand in tin for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve with butter and jam.


3 tsp instant yeast
310ml lukewarm water
2 Tbsp honey
1½ tsp salt
1 cup wholemeal bread flour
2 cups white bread flour

Measure the first five ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Cover and leave for 15 minutes or longer in a warm place.

Stir in the white bread flour, then add extra flour or water if necessary, until you have a dough just firm enough to knead.

Knead the dough thoroughly, using the dough hook of an electric mixer or kneading by hand on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes, until you have a soft dough which is smooth and springs back when pressed gently.

Turn the dough in 2-3 teaspoons of oil in bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured work surface for a minute or two then cut it into 8 equal pieces. Roll each into a snake 26cm-28cm long. Dampen the ends with water and press them together firmly, forming the classic bagel shape. Place the rings on individual squares of baking paper and leave in a warm place for 10-15 minutes.

During the proving time bring a large pan containing water 10cm deep to a simmer. Carefully lower 2 or 3 bagels at a time into the boiling water, then lift away the paper, and cook for 30-45 seconds per side, turning carefully once. Drain the bagels on kitchen towels then put them on a large baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper – make sure you leave some space for them to spread.

Brush as far down the sides of the bagels as you can with egg glaze (mix 1free range egg with 1Tbsp water and ½ tsp sugar) and sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds.

Bake at 220C for 10 -12 minutes until they’re evenly browned. Cool on a rack and serve warm or toasted, within 24 hours of making them. You can freeze the bagels in an airtight container once they’re cold.

Cinnamon and Dried Fruit Bagels

Measure the bagel ingredients (from the plain bagel recipe) into a mixing bowl and add ½ cup packed brown sugar, 1 tablespoon each of cinnamon and mixed spice, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Mix and knead the same as the plain bagel recipe. Knead until smooth and then knead through the fruit.

Baking and Treats

Fruit Muffins

1 cup of any fruit (fresh, tinned, dried or frozen)
3/4 cup sugar
100g melted butter or 100ml oil
250ml milk
2 cups plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 free range egg

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.

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.

Cornflake and Sultana Cookies

125g butter at room temperature, diced
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups self-raising flour, sifted
1 Tblsp milk
1 1/2 cups cornflakes
1/2 cup sultanas

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line two large flat baking trays with non-stick paper.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until creamy. Add the flour and mix on low speed until just combined. Add the milk and mix until the dough just comes together. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the cornflakes and sutanas, and mix until well combined.

Roll the mixture into balls, I usually use 1 Tblsp at a time. Put onto baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper. Allow room for the cookies to spread. Flatten the cookies slightly with a floured fork. Bake for 12-14 minutes until light golden. Remove from the oven and stand for 5 minutes on the baking trays before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Hokey Pokey Biscuits

These are a kiwi classic! Great biscuit tin fillers that always go down well. Perfect for lunchbox treats, coffee mornings and when friends come around for a cuppa.

125g butter
½ cup sugar
1 Tblsp golden syrup
1 Tblsp milk
1½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Combine the butter, sugar, golden syrup and milk in a saucepan stirring constantly. Heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is nearly boiling.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm.

Sift the flour and the baking soda together and add them to the cooled mixture. Stir the ingredients well to make sure they are thoroughly combined.

Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and put them on an oven tray lined with non-stick baking paper, then flatten the balls gently with a floured fork.

Bake the biscuits for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown. Cool on the trays and then once they have cooled completely, store in an airtight container.

Shopping List

51 items: £70.64

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
1x Asda Wholefoods Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg) 60p
1x ASDA Wholemeal Bread Flour (1.5Kg) £1.28
2x ASDA Smartprice Plain White Flour (1.5Kg) £1.04
1x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg) 40p
1x Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g) 64p

Tins, Jars and Cooking
1x ASDA Chosen by You Green Pesto Sauce (190g) £1.00
1x Branston Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce (4x410g) £1.28
1x ASDA Wild Pacific Pink Salmon (418g) £2.17
5x ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g) £1.55
3x ASDA Chosen by You Chilli Beans (290g) £2.04
3x ASDA Smartprice Sweetcorn (326g) £1.11
1x ASDA Chick Peas in Water (400g) 70p
1x ASDA Double Concentrated Tomato Puree (200g) 48p
1x ASDA Mexican Style Bean Mix in Water (400g) 53p

2x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (907g) £1.36

Dairy and Eggs
1x ASDA Soured Cream (300ml) £1.00
1x ASDA Fresh Whipping Cream (300ml) 95p
2x ASDA Rich and Creamy Salted Butter British (250g) £2.40
6x Marybelle Fresh Semi Skimmed Milk (2L) £6.00 any 2 FOR £2.00
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
2x Cathedral City Mature Yet Mellow Cheddar (350g) £4.00

Fruit and Vegetables
1x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Fruit (500g) 64p
1x ASDA Baby Spinach (180g) £1.00
1x ASDA Salad Tomatoes (750g) £1.40
20 ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g) £2.00
20 ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g) £1.36
15 ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g) £1.17
3 ASDA Courgettes by Weight (100g) 46.5p
10 ASDA Onions by Weight (100g) 70p
2x ASDA British King Edward Potatoes (2.5Kg) £2.00
7 ASDA Butternut Squash by Weight (100g) 67.9p
1x ASDA Celery 78p
2x ASDA Garlic Loose 52p
1x ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g) £1.50
1x ASDA Spring Onions 67p
1x ASDA Sweet Potatoes (1Kg) £1.20
2x ASDA Mandarins (700g) £2.00 any 2 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Fresh Tastes Crunchy Stir Fry (250g) 83.3p any 3 FOR £2.50

Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x ASDA Smartprice Smoked Salmon Trimmings (120g) 90p
1x Banham Poultry Chicken Drumsticks (1Kg) £2.98
1x ASDA Diced Pork (600g) £4.00
1x ASDA British Beef Steak Mince (900g) £3.60

2x ASDA Plain Tortillas (10) £2.00

Ready Meals
1x ASDA Fresh Free Range Egg Noodles (410g) 83.3p any 3 FOR £2.50
1x ASDA Soy and Garlic Stir Fry Sauce (180ml) 83.3p any 3 FOR £2.50

1x La Comida Red Wine (250ml) £1.47


  1. You are so well disciplined it's slightly alarming ;-) I can't think past dinner so lunches would be out of the question on my meal planner.

    1. I'm slightly obsessively organised LOL I got caught out last week and almost ran out of food before the end of the week due to visitors & hungry kids eating much more than usual. I'm determined not to be caught out this week :o) Mwahahahaha!

  2. Can I please just tell you, I ,love you. Your blog is ace and so darn helpful.


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