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Our Family Meal Plan For School Holidays Week 1 - £70

Sunday 31 March 2013
It is the Easter school holidays here so my 3 girls will be off school for 2 weeks.  That means our grocery bill will be slightly higher than normal.  I try not to make sure that we have 3 main meals and 2 snacks each day otherwise my daughters tend to graze on and off throughout the day.  Keeping them busy helps too so they are not eating because they're bored and making sure they have plenty of drinks keeps them hydrated and happy.  I usually have a jug of water in the fridge for drinks, sometimes we add some homemade cordial or slices of lemon/orange to it.  

Breakfast will be porridge this week to fuel our holiday fun.  The wraps and bread/rolls for lunches will be homemade to keep the kids occupied and save money.  Snacks will be fruit with homemade yoghurt in the morning and a small baked treat, popcorn or Scroggin in the afternoon.  I have deliberately kept dinners low faff as I am bound to be exhausted from keeping all 3 girls amused and busy all day every day.  Holidays are always lots of fun and I love loads of time with my 3 girls but they do rather wear me out sometimes.  

Our grocery shopping this week cost £70.02 from Asda on 30/03/2013 and would've cost £84.10 from Tesco or £89.78 from Sainsbury's according to the My Supermarket price comparison website.


We're taking advantage of the 2 for £10 Meat Offer from Asda again this week so our menu is slightly more meat-heavy than usual.

Lentil and Mince Bolognese – Monday with pasta and Tuesday with baked potatoes

675g minced beef
2 large onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 peppers, deseeded and finely diced
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 x 400g tins lentils, drained
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil

Heat a little in a frying-pan and sauté the onion, garlic and peppers together until softened.  Add the minced beef and brown well, breaking up the mince as it browns.

Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, lentils, and dried herbs.  Stir well to combine and let simmer for at least 20 – 30 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

While the sauce is simmering, cook your pasta according to pack instructions.  Serve over the pasta with steamed greens or vegetables on the side.

Thrifty Sausage, Vegetable and Pearl Barley Hotpot  - Wednesday and Thursday (using 10 sausages)

Meatball Minestrone - Friday

12 meatballs
1 onion, finely diced
2 peppers, deseeded and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely sliced
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups vegetable stock
400g tin cannellini beans, drained
400g tin kidney beans, drained
1 cup dried pasta
1 tsp dried basil
200g spinach leaves

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion, peppers and garlic over a low heat until softened.  Add the carrots, celery, and frankly any other veggies you have on hand that may need using up.  Make sure all the vegetables are cut the same size so they cook evenly.

Cook the vegetables over a moderate heat until the carrots start to soften.  Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste and stock then bring everything to a gentle simmer.  Add cannellinni beans, kidney beans and pasta then simmer gently for at least 20 minutes or until the pasta has softened.

Fry meatballs in a little olive oil until lightly browned all over.  When the pasta has softened, add the meatballs and spinach.  Simmer for another 5 – 10 minutes then serve.

Fish Pilaf - Saturday

Spaghetti and Meatballs - Sunday


We'll have crudites along with Savoury Scone Swirls or falafel and salad wraps for lunches.  One day this week we'll have baked potatoes with baked beans and cheese, probably mini frittatas (using ingredients on hand) at some point during the week and I might make some rice pudding using the basmati rice too.


There will of course be lots of baking to keep my 3 daughters both busy and fed. I've supplies to make fruit scones, flapjacks, muffins/cupcakes and cookies.  We'll be using cereals to bake with (cornflakes and rice crispies) which should also help quell hunger pangs.

Shopping List

45 items: £70.02                                                                             

Packets and Cereals                                                                   
1x   Mornflake Superfast Oats (2Kg)                                £1.88 
1x   ASDA Smartprice Cornflakes (750g)                        46p    
1x   ASDA Smartprice Crispy Rice Cereal (440g)          77p    
1x   ASDA Chosen by You Fusilli Twists (500g)           50p     was 95p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Spaghetti (500g)                          19p    
1x   Allinson Strong Wholemeal Bread Flour (1.5Kg)     £1.27    was £1.50
1x   Silver Spoon Granulated Sugar (1Kg)                     88p    
2x   Asda Wholefoods White Bread Flour (1.5Kg)       £1.60   
1x   ASDA Basmati White Rice (1Kg)                              £1.48 
1x   Great Scot Pearl Barley (500g)                                  58p    
1x   Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 pack - 42g)  65p      
1x   Allinson Wholemeal Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg)    £1.60 

Tins, Jars and Cooking                                                              
1x   Loyd Grossman Bolognese Sauce (425g)              £1.00  was £1.98
1x   ASDA Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce (4x410g)    £1.24 
3x   ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g)        93p    
1x   ASDA Cannellini Beans in Water (300g)                64p    
1x   ASDA Smartprice Red Kidney Beans  (400g)          27p      
2x   ASDA Chick Peas in Water (400g)                           £1.40 
2x   ASDA Chosen by You Green Lentils  (400g)           £1.24   
1x   ASDA Double Concentrated Tomato Puree (200g)      55p      

2x   ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)             £1.50 
1x   ASDA Whitefish Fillets (500g)                                   £2.00 

Dairy and Eggs                                                                             
6x   ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L) £6.00 
1x   Stork (1Kg)                                                              £2.00 
2x   Cathedral City Extra Mature Cheddar (350g)          £4.00 
1x   ASDA Smartprice Low Fat Natural Yogurt (500g)  45p    
2x   Suffolk Farm Medium Free Range Eggs (6)           £2.00 

Fruit and Vegetables                                                                   
1x   ASDA Chosen by You Pitted Dried Dates (500g)  £1.00  was £1.20
1x   ASDA Smartprice Sultanas (500g)                           98p    
20  ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g)            £2.36 
20  ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g)                            £1.36 
2x   ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg)                                £3.50  2 FOR £3.50
3x   ASDA Whole Cucumber                                          £1.50 
2x   ASDA Round Lettuce                                                £1.00 
1x   ASDA Celery                                                              89p    
2x   ASDA Garlic Loose                                                   60p    
2x   ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g)                            £3.50 
1x   ASDA Spring Onions                                                  75p    
1x   ASDA Spinach (350g)                                                 £1.50 
1x   ASDA Plums (500g)                                                    £1.00 
2x   ASDA Brown Onions (1Kg)                                        £1.00 
2x   ASDA Carrots (1.2Kg)                                                 £2.00 

Meat, Fish and Poultry                                                                
1x   ASDA Extra Special Pork Sausages (10 per pack - 756g) £3.33  any 3 FOR £10.00
1x   ASDA Butcher's Selection Beef Meatballs (730g)            £3.33  any 3 FOR £10.00
1x   ASDA Butcher's Selection Lean Beef Mince (675g)         £3.33    any 3 FOR £10.00

Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery website My Supermarket and are correct as of 29 March 2013.  Prices may vary in different in-store locations.

Check out the Meal Planning Monday linky on At Home With Mrs M

Caramel Banana Cupcakes

Wednesday 27 March 2013

I bought a tin of caramel at the supermarket a while ago and wondered what I could do with it.  I had a brainwave on Tuesday afternoon on the school run home and thought I would use up the spotty over-ripe bananas we had by making banana cupcakes and to make them a bit special I would add a dollop of caramel to the middle of each one.

The majority of the cupcakes disappeared within seconds of being decorated, however I did manage to grab a few and take quick photo before I was ambushed.

Caramel Banana Cupcakes

2 medium sized over-ripe bananas, mashed
100g butter or baking spread
100g caster sugar
2 large free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
12 teaspoons caramel from a tin

Chocolate Buttercream Icing:
250g icing sugar
50g cocoa powder
60g butter or baking spread
175g caramel from a tin

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas Mark 4.  Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Put all the ingredients, except those for the icing, into a large bowl and beat until smooth.  This only takes a minute or two with an electric beater.

Fill the paper cases half full of mixture then dollop one teaspoon of caramel onto the mixture in each paper case.  Spoon the remaining mixture evenly into the paper cases making sure you cover the dollop of caramel.

Bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes.  Leave to cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing:
Put all ingredients into a bowl and beat to a smooth and fluffy consistency.  Spread or pipe over the top of the cupcakes.

Cheesy Vegetable Rolls or Parcels

These delicious morsels are fab as dinner party canapes or a starter, lunchbox or picnic hamper snacks or a light supper when accompanied by a salad.  Quick to make and bake, flavoursome, and packed full of vegetables they are sure to please.  I made some into parcels and some into rolls, both went down very well.  My local supermarket sells herbed puff pastry which added more flavour, however you can use plain puff pastry should you wish.  You can also substitute the feta style cheese for a strong cheddar if need be.

Cheesy Vegetable Rolls

500g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into roughly 1.5cm dice
2 Tblsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 pepper, deseeded and finely diced (any colour)
1 clove garlic, crushed
250g frozen spinach
200g Greek-style feta or grated cheddar 
2 or 3 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan.  Toss the prepared pumpkin 1 Tblsp oil.  Spread out in a single layer on a baking tray and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until tender.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. Saute the onion, pepper and garlic over a low heat until tender and the onion is transparent.  Add the frozen spinach and cook until completely thawed.  Add the cooked pumpkin, stir the mixture to combine and leave the mixture to cool for 10 – 15 minutes.  Crumble in the feta or grated cheddar cheese, season well with salt and pepper then stir once again.

Increase your oven temperature to 220C/200C Fan.

Cut each pastry sheet in half lengthwise to create six long strips.  Spread a line of the filling mixture along the centre of each pastry strip.  Brush one long edge with beaten egg then roll the pastry over the filling and seal by pressing gently with a fork.

Repeat until all the filling and pastry have been used.  Carefully transfer the rolls, seam down, to a lined baking tray.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden.

Pea, Mint and Ricotta Parcels

These are deliciously light yet flavoursome - perfect for dinner party canapes or a starter, picnics or lunchboxes.  I made these when I was asked by our neighbour if I could whip up some vegetarian canapes for a dinner party they were hosting.  The parcels are quick to make and can be frozen unbaked, just add 5 - 10 minutes to the cooking time if cooking from frozen.

Pea, Mint and Ricotta Parcels

250g tub of fresh ricotta
1 – 1½ cups frozen peas
2 Tblsp finely chopped fresh mint
2 Tblsp grated grana padano or parmesan cheese
1 free range egg
Freshly ground pepper
1 packet filo pastry
100g butter, melted

In a bowl thoroughly combine the ricotta, peas, mint, parmesan, free range egg and freshly ground pepper.  If you are not using the parmesan or grana padano then add a good pinch of salt to the filling. 

Unwrap the roll of filo pastry, and cut it into quarters or thirds depending on how many parcels you would like to make.  Take one section and unroll it, whilst keeping the other sections covered by a damp teatowel to prevent them drying out.

Separate out one strip and brush it with melted butter.  Repeat adding 2 more sheets so you have a 3 ply strip of pastry.  Put between 2 and 4 teaspoonfuls of the cheese filling at one end of each strip.  Adjust the amount of filling according to the size of your parcels.

Fold one corner over the filling at a 45 degree angle to form a triangle.  Fold over 90 degrees then 45 degrees and keep foling all the way to the end of the strip of filo.  Brush the end with melted butter and fold over to seal the parcel.  Put seal side down onto a lined baking tray.

Keep filling and folding until all the filling and filo has been used.  Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan.  Brush the tops of the parcels with melted butter than bake in your preheated oven for 20 minutes by which time they should be golden and crispy.

Our Family Meal Plan For This Week 25/03/2013 - £50

Sunday 24 March 2013
Leo who blogs here has been trying out some of the recipes from my meal plans and blogged her feedback.  It is fab to hear what another family honestly thinks about recipes from my blog. We've been tweeting about meal planning too and I'm sure she'll be coming up with plans of her own before long.  Do take a look at her blog it is gorgeous!

The weather here is cold, snowy and generally unpleasant so we'll be having a comfort food inspired Meal Plan this week.  This week leads up to Easter so from Thursday evening onwards everyone will be at home.  We'll be busy with events at Church over Easter so meals are low faff for when we are busy or due to be home late.  I've got some portions of soup in the freezer and will make more Root Vegetable Soup and Minestrone Soup for lunches and after school snacks.

My 3 daughters will be having school dinners this week which will make things easier and breakfasts will be porridge or toast with fruit for afters.  Given that there will be a shed load of chocolate and Hot Cross Buns consumed over Easter there will be no baked treats for the bulk of the week.

The cost of our shopping this week was £50.53 from Asda on 24/03/13.  I used My Supermarket to compare the prices and our shopping would've cost £62.15 from Sainsbury's and £62.55 from Tesco.


Vegetable and Quinoa Curry (Monday)

1 onion, finely sliced
1 pepper, deseeded and finely diced
1 stick celery finely diced
4 Tblsp curry paste
400g can light coconut milk
400ml milk
750g frozen mixed vegetables
200g quinoa, rinsed

Put a large saucepan onto a moderate heat, add 2 Tblsp water then cook the onion, pepper, celery and curry paste for about 5 minutes until the onion has softened.  Add the milks to the pan and warm through for 5 minutes before adding the quinoa and vegetables.  Bring everything to the boil and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes until the quinoa is cooked through.  Season to taste and serve with rice or flatbreads.

Sticky Chicken Portions (Tuesday)

8 chicken pieces, bone in and skin on (I'll used drumsticks)
2 Tblsp low salt soy sauce
1 Tblsp honey
1 tsp tomato paste/puree
1 Tblsp dijon mustard

Cut a few slashes in each of the chicken pieces.  This will help the marinade penetrate the meat and also mean they cook quicker.  Mix together the soy sauce, homey, tomato paste and mustard.  Pour over the chicken then massage it in thoroughly.  Leave to marinate for half an hour at room temperature or overnight/all day in the fridge.

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan.  Put the chicken into a roasting dish and cook for 35 - 40 minutes until cooked through.  I serve ours with potato wedges or cooked rice and steamed vegetables.

Three Bean Pie (Wednesday)

1 Tblsp oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 pepper, deseeded and finely diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 x 400g tins 3 bean mix in water, drained
5 Tblsp creme fraiche
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
100g wholemeal breadcrumbs
50g grated cheese, I used cheddar

Preheat your oven grill to high.  In a fryingpan over a moderate heat, soften the onion and pepper for about 5 minutes before adding the garlic and cooking for a further minute or two.  Add the drained tins of beans, creme fraiche and 1 teaspoon of dried thyme.  Season to taste and cook until everything has heated through.

Pour the bean mix into a large baking dish.  Mix the remaining teaspoon of dried thyme with the breadcrumbs and grated cheese.  Sprinkle over the bean mix then put the dish under the preheated grill.  Keep an eye on it and cook until the breadcrumbs are crisp and golden.  I serve ours with steamed vegetables.

Simmered Mince Many Ways (Thursday, Friday Saturday)

Roast Chicken Pieces with Roast Vegetables and Yorkshire Puddings (Sunday)

Shopping List

31 items: £50.53                                                                                 

Packets & Cereals                                                   
1x   Mornflake Superfast Oats (2Kg)                                       £1.88 
1x   ASDA Smartprice Spaghetti (500g)                                  19p    
1x   Asda Wholefoods Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg)       80p    
1x   ASDA Wholemeal Bread Flour (1.5Kg)                            £1.26 
1x   ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg)                        40p    
1x   Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g)           65p     
1x   Great Scot Quinoa (300g)                                                 £2.18 

1x   ASDA Frozen Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                            £1.00 
2x   ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                     75p    

Tins, Jars & Cooking                                                                       
5x   ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g)                 £1.55 
1x   ASDA Chosen by You Chilli Beans (290g)                       68p    
1x   ASDA Double Concentrated Tomato Puree (200g)         55p    
3x   ASDA Mexican Style Bean Mix in Water (400g)              £1.59 
1x   Kingfisher Reduced Fat Coconut Milk (400ml)                £1.19  was £1.40
1x   Sharwood's Tikka Paste (290g)                                        £1.00 

Dairy & Eggs                                                                                     
1x   ASDA Crème Fraîche (300ml)                                         £1.10 
5x   ASDA British Whole Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)                          £5.00 
1x   Cathedral City Extra Mature Cheddar (350g)                   £2.00 

Meat, Fish & Poultry                                                                        
2x   ASDA Butcher's Selection British Beef Mince (500g)      £4.00 
1x   Banham Poultry Chicken Thighs (1Kg)                            £3.50  any 2 FOR £7.00
1x   Banham Poultry Chicken Drumsticks (1Kg)                    £3.50  any 2 FOR £7.00
1x   ASDA Butcher's Selection Smoked Bacon Lardons (200g)       £1.28  

Fruit & Vegetables                                                                           
20   ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g)                     £2.36 
20   ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g)                                    £1.36 
2x   ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg)                                          £3.50  2 FOR £3.50
1x   ASDA Celery                                                                     89p    
2x   ASDA Garlic Loose                                                           60p    
1x   ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g)                                   £1.77 
2x   ASDA Brown Onions (1Kg)                                              £1.00 
1x   ASDA Carrots (1.2Kg)                                                      £1.00 

1x   Echo Falls Merlot (187ml)                                                 £2.00  any 4 FOR £5.00
Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery websites, and are correct as of 24 March 2013.
Prices may vary in different in-store locations.

Don't forget to check out the Meal Planning Monday linky with At Home With Mrs M.

A very girlie chocolate birthday cake

Thursday 21 March 2013
My middle daughter turns 10 today and wanted a chocolate cake that was purple and covered in flowers and butterflies.  This is a relatively simple request compared with the epic creation she wanted last year with edible fairies on it.  I baked her cake last night and decorated it today.  Here it is:

Her birthday cake was this rich chocolate cake covered in ganache and then sugarpaste followed by piped ganache and sugarpaste decorations.  I made the ganache using 300ml double cream and 800g chocolate which was quite firm to spread over the cake.  I warmed it slightly to thin it down enough to pipe the decorations onto the cake.  The leftover ganache has been made into egg shaped truffles and frozen for Easter treats.

Her friends, classmates and teacher want it to be her birthday once a week because they all had a  large chocolate brownie each to celebrate her birthday today.  I cannot believe my middle daughter is 10 years old, where does the time go?!

Happy 10th Birthday!

Versatile Savoury Bites

Tuesday 19 March 2013

These are fab after school snacks, lunchbox fillers or weekend/holiday lunches.  You can use pizza base mix (I won't tell anyone) or use the recipe below.  Vary the fillings according to what you have available. I used grated carrot, diced green pepper, salami and cheddar cheese this time.

Versatile Savoury Bites

2 cups self raising flour
2 cups of natural yoghurt
extra flour for dusting the board

Filling Suggestions:
2 Tblsp tomato paste mixed with 1 Tblsp water
Chopped spring onions, deseeded and diced peppers, tinned sweetcorn (drained), grated carrot, olives, chopped ham, bacon or salami.  You could also make these with vegemite/marmite and cheese or pesto and cheese.  My girls also like sundried tomato, goats cheese and rocket/spinach.

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

In a bowl combine the flour and yoghurt and bring together to form a ball.  Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 5-8 minutes until you have a smooth and elastic dough.

Roll into a large rectangle, spread over the tomato past then sprinkle over whichever toppings you have on hand.  Top with grated cheese.

Tightly roll from long end to long end.

Cut into 2cm slices and put on the lined baking tray either cut side up or seam side down.  Sprinkle some extra cheese on top then bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden.

Our Family Meal Plan For This Week 18/03/2013 - £53

Sunday 17 March 2013
I’m a rather weary Meal Planner this week.  I compiled this Meal Plan in about an hour.  We have a house inspection on Tuesday so spent the weekend tidying and decluttering the house.  By the time I got around to sorting out our Meal Plan and online shop motivation, patience and creativity were all in very short supply.

Breakfasts will be cereal or toast with fruit for afters.  My daughters will be having school dinners this week which will make life a little easier. It is my middle daughters birthday on Thursday so I need to bake a cake for that along with some treats for a tea party with her friends.

The cost of our 38 grocery items was £52.68 from Asda delivered on 17/03/2013.  I used My Supermarket to compare the cost of our shopping at other supermarkets.  Our groceries would've cost £62.38 from Sainsbury's and £64.69 from Tesco had we shopped there.  


Bean and Veg Burgers with Wedges – Meatfree Monday

This recipe is from the Morrisons M-Savers event that I attended in London last year.

1 tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, finely diced
1 pepper, finely diced
1 tsp chilli powder
100g fresh breadcrumbs
about 500g potatoes, for the wedges

Sauté the onion and pepper in a little oil for a couple of minutes until it softens then leave to cool for a bit.  Mash the kidney beans with a potato masher, leave it a little lumpy – not too smooth.  Add the cooled sautéed pepper and onion along with the breadcrumbs to the kidney beans and mix everything together thoroughly.  Shape into 5 burgers and fry in a little oil for a couple of minutes on each side, until they’re golden brown.  Then put them in the oven at 180C for about 10 minutes until completely cooked through.

Wash the potatoes and cut them into wedges, not too thick.  Put a little oil on your hands and rub the wedges so that they get lightly coated in the oil.  To cook the wedges, bake them in the oven for about 25 minutes at 180C.

Serve the burgers in buns with tomato, lettuce and mayo.  I sometimes sprinkle a little paprika and/or chilli powder over the wedges to give them a little more flavour.

Baked Fish with White Beans - Tuesday

2 tsp olive oil
2 large leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
30ml water
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
2 handfuls frozen mixed vegetables
5 sprigs fresh thyme
5 thick white fish fillets
1 lemon, washed and thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 200°C. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the leeks and water. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until the leeks are soft. Transfer to a shallow ovenproof baking dish.

Add the tin of tomatoes, drained tin of cannellini beans, frozen corn and peas to the baking dish. Stir to combine everything.  Arrange the sprigs of thyme and fish fillets on top of the vegetables.  Put the slices of lemon on top of the fish and sprinkle over some freshly ground pepper.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.  Remove the thyme sprigs before you serve the dish.

 Vegetable Pasta Bake – Wednesday

500g pasta
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 onion, diced
1 pepper, diced
1 courgette, diced
1x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 ball mozzarella cheese

Chop all the vegetables into a 1cm dice and sauté them in a little oil until they start to soften.  Add the tin of tomatoes and dried mixed herbs.  Let the sauce simmer whilst you cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

Drain the pasta and mix thoroughly with the sauce before putting into an ovenproof dish.  Chop or rip the mozzarella into small pieces and scatter it all over the top of the pasta.  Bake at 180C for about 15 – 20 minutes.

Macaroni Cheese with Vegetables - Thursday (Middle Daughter's request for Birthday Dinner)

Meatloaf – Friday

This isn't one of those meatloaves that look and taste like a brick.  It's moist and flavoursome, you can serve it hot or cold with salads or cooked vegetables, and it’s fab in packed lunches the next day.  I cheat by using supermarket or butchers sausages that are already flavoured.  You can get some great ones that are around 95% meat so not full of loads of undesirable ingredients to fill them out.

2 garlic cloves, crushed
40g beef mince
450g sausage meat (I use flavoured sausages with 95% meat)
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
black pepper to taste

If you're not using flavoured sausages then add:
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 handful chopped fresh parsley

1/3 cup rolled oats
2 Tblsp light soft brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup tomato sauce/ketchup

Preheat oven to 190°C/170°C fan-forced.  Grease a 7cm deep, 10cm x 22cm (base) loaf tin. 

Put the garlic, mince, sausage meat, egg, onion, grated carrot and any herbs or flavourings you want to use, into a large bowl. Thoroughly combine everything using your hands to really squish it all together to that it's really well blended.  Press the mixture firmly into the loaf tin and level the top.  Combine the topping ingredients and then spread it evenly over the meatloaf.  Cover with foil then bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for a further 30 minutes or until juices run clear when you test it with a skewer.  I usually serve this with cooked mixed vegetables and mashed potato.

Nan’s Sausage Casserole - Saturday

450g good quality sausages
1 tsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 celery sticks, finely sliced
2 carrots, finely sliced
3 apples, peeled and diced
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
250 ml beef stock
1 tsp cornflour

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Slice the sausages into 1 inch/ 2.5cm chunks.  Heat the oil in a frying pan and brown the onions, garlic and sausages.  Mix the beef stock and cornflour together.

Put the browned sausages, onion, garlic, carrots, apples, tinned tomatoes and herbs in an ovenproof dish.  Pour the stock over and mix everything together well.  Cover the dish with a lid or kitchen foil and bake for 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.  I usually serve this with mashed potato and cooked mixed vegetables.

Family Sized Mince Pie - Sunday

450g beef mince
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 carrots, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
1 handful parsley, finely chopped
1 Tblsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 Tblsp mustard
2 Tblsp tomato paste
1 Tblsp Worcestershire sauce
300ml beef stock
2 handfuls frozen mixed vegetables
1 sheet puff pastry

Heat a good splash of olive oil in a large frying-pan that has a lid.  Fry the onion and garlic until soft.  Add the vegetables and herbs and fry until they are just starting to soften.

Add the mince and brown it whilst breaking it up.  Once the mince has  browned and no pink patches remain, add the mustard, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and a few grinds of black pepper.

Add the  beef stock and allow the mince to simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes.  Add the frozen peas and corn and simmer for a further 5 minutes.  You may need to add a little extra water. Stir the mince occasionally. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Pour the pie filling into an ovenproof dish and allow to cool.

Preheat your oven to 180 °C.

Lay the pastry over the pie filling, crimp the edges, and make little cuts with a sharp knife to let steam escape during cooking.  Brush the pastry with a little milk to glaze it and then bake the pie for around 30–40 minutes until the pastry is golden.  I usually serve this with mashed potatoes.


Sweet Tarts

For the pastry:
225g plain flour
115g butter
1 tsp white sugar
1 egg yolk
1 – 2 Tblsp cold water

Sift the flour into a bowl and rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.  Stir in the sugar and then use a knife to mix in the egg yolk.  Add the water, a little at a time, stirring it together with a knife until the mixture comes together into and you can form a ball of dough with your hands.

Wrap the pastry in cling film and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.  This allows the pastry to rest and makes it much easier to work with and roll out.

Preheat your oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6.  Dust the work surface and rolling pin with plain flour and roll out the pastry to about the thickness of a £1 coin.  Using a small round cutter, cut circles of pastry big enough to line the holes of a mini muffin tin.

Re-roll any trimmings and cut out more circles of pastry until it has all been used.  Bake the mini tart cases for about 5 – 7 minutes until they are a pale golden colour.  Fill with jam or lemon curd and bake for another 5 minutes or so.

Remove from the oven and leave them to cool in the tin for a few minutes before carefully removing them from the tin to finish cooling completely on a wire rack.

Energy Boost Muffins

2 cups plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup grated unpeeled apple
3/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 200°C. Line each hole of a 12 muffin tin with a paper case.

Stir all the ingredients together, until just combines.  Spoon into the prepared muffin tin and bake 15 – 20 minutes until well risen, and golden brown.  Cool the muffins in the tin for 2 – 3 minutes in the muffin tins before gently transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sultana and Oat Biscuits

1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
125g butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups rolled oats
2 ½ cups plain flour
1 cup sultanas or raisins

Preheat your oven to 180C.  Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.  Beat the sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla together until creamy with a mixer or by hand.  Mix in the rolled oats and flour.  Gently mix in the sultanas or raisins.

Put teaspoonfuls of mixture on to the lined baking tray, leaving room between the biscuits for them to spread.  Flatten the biscuits a little with a floured fork.  Bake the biscuits for 20 – 25 minutes until they are golden brown.  Cool the biscuits on a wire rack and store them in an airtight container.

Apple and Sultana Swirls

2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp mixed spice
60g chilled butter, cubed
125ml milk
1/3 cup sultanas
1 large apple, peeled and cored then grated

Preheat oven to 200°C.  Line a baking tray non-stick baking paper or grease it lightly with melted butter.

Put the flour, sugar and mixed spice into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Make a well in the centre and add the milk and sultanas.  Use a bread and butter knife mix everything together until the mixture just comes together.  Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead for a couple of minutes until the dough is fairly smooth.

Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out the dough into a 25cm x 30cm (10 inch x 12 inch) rectangle.  Sprinkle over the grated apple.  Starting from the long side, roll the dough up firmly to form a log.  Cut crossways into twelve 2cm thick slices.  Put the slices cut side up onto the prepared baking try. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through.  Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  I sometimes ice these with some vanilla flavoured glace icing. 

Lemon Drizzle Cake or Plain Sponge Loaf

This is one of my husbands favourites and about the only cake he'll eat that isn't chocolate cake LOL  It is so quick and easy to whizz up in my mixer.  I call it my 2, 2, 2, 3 lemon cake because that's how I remember the recipe.  If you don't want to make a lemon drizzle cake, or don't have any lemons, then all is not lost!  Just leave out the zest and don't make the drizzle.  This loaf cake tastes fab plain, either dusted with icing sugar or with some buttercream icing.  Give it a whirl!

200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
200g self raising flour
3 free range eggs
finely grated zest of 1 lemon, give it a good wash first to get rid of any wax/grease

Lemon Drizzle:
Juice of the zested lemon
about 50g of sugar, add 5g more if you used a rather large lemon

Preheat your oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3.  Line a loaf tin with non stick baking paper or one of the precut liners you can buy.  My loaf tin is 22cm x 11cm.

I usually have my Kenwood Mixer on minimum speed then on 1 speed at the most.  You don't want to beat the mixture too roughly. 

Cream the butter and sugar then add the lemon zest and give it a beat for another minute.  Add the eggs one at a time with about 1/3 of the flour each time, beat for a bout 1 minute or so for each egg and flour addition.

Scrape down the sides of the mixer and beat for another 30 seconds or so.  Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for about 40 minutes.  Test the cake with a skewer inserted into the centre.  If the skewer comes out clean then the cake is cooked.  If not, I turn the oven  heat down 10C and put it back in for 5 minutes before checking again with a skewer.

Once the cake is cooked, take it out of the oven and make the lemon drizzle.

Mix the lemon juice and sugar together until they are well combined but don't dissolve the sugar.  Prick the cake all over with the cake tester skewer and slowly spoon over the lemon drizzle.

Leave to cool in the in for about 30 minutes then cool on a wire rack, right side up of course.

Shopping List

38 items: £52.68      

Packets and Cereals
1x        ASDA Chosen by You Wholegrain Scottish Porridge Oats (500g)    65p    
1x        ASDA Smartprice Cornflakes (750g)       46p    
1x        ASDA Smartprice Crispy Rice Cereal (440g)     77p    
1x        ASDA Chosen by You Fusilli Twists (500g)       50p     was 95p
1x        Silver Spoon Granulated Sugar (1Kg)     88p    
1x        Asda Wholefoods Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg)   80p    
1x        ASDA Smartprice Plain White Flour (1.5Kg)      45p    
1x        ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg)     45p    
1x        ASDA Smartprice Pasta Shapes (500g)  30p    
1x        ASDA Chosen by You Ready to Roll Puff Pastry (500g)         £1.00 
1x        Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g)          64p    
1x        ASDA Wholefoods Brown Bread Flour (1.5Kg) £1.28 

2x        ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)         £1.50 
1x        ASDA Whitefish Fillets (500g)      £2.00 

Tins, Jars and Cooking
4x        ASDA Smartprice Peeled Plum Tomatoes in Tomato Juice (400g)   £1.24 
1x        ASDA Cannellini Beans in Water (300g)            64p    
1x        ASDA Smartprice Red Kidney Beans in Water (400g) 27p    

Dairy and Eggs
5x        ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)        £5.00 
2x        Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter (250g)            £2.00  2 FOR £2.00
1x        Cathedral City Extra Mature Cheddar (350g)     £2.00 
1x        Galbani Maxi Mozzarella (250g)   £1.50  was £1.88
3x        Suffolk Farm Medium Free Range Eggs (6)      £3.00 

Fruit and Vegetables
1x        ASDA Smartprice Sultanas (500g)           98p    
1x        ASDA Salad Tomatoes (750g)      £1.00 
20        ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g)       £2.36 
20        ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g)            £1.36 
4          ASDA Leeks by Weight (100g)      66.8p  was 20p
10        ASDA Red Onions by Weight (100g)       90p    
2x        ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg)       £3.50  2 FOR £3.50
1x        ASDA Round Lettuce         57p    
1x        ASDA Celery            89p    
1x        ASDA Garlic Loose 30p    
1x        ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g)            £1.77 
1x        ASDA Courgettes (3)          £1.47 
1x        ASDA Unwaxed Lemons (5)         £1.35 
1x        ASDA Carrots (1.2Kg)         £1.00 

Meat, Fish and Poultry
2x        Porky Whites Surrey Pork Sausages (454g)      £4.00 
1x        ASDA Butcher's Selection Beef Mince (830g)   £3.23 

Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery websites, and are correct as of 16th March 2013.  Prices may vary in different in-store locations.

Please check out other Meal Plans over on At Home With Mrs M.

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