Meal Planning For The Win
Have you ever had the dreaded feeling of not knowing what to make for dinner? You find yourself staring into the press wondering what to do with the mish-mash of ingredients looking back at you. Or you rush to the shop and spend way more than you wanted to.
When you plan your meals in advance, you have the comfort of knowing exactly what you’re eating each day. You can choose your dinners to suit your schedule and make sure you have all the ingredients you need in stock. Best of all, it cuts down on waste and means you only spend money on the things you need.
To get started, check out my Meal Planning blog post.
Check Offers in Advance
Lots of supermarkets advertise their specials online. Before you plan your meals, spend a few minutes browsing what’s on offer in your local supermarket. You can then base your chosen recipes around these cheaper ingredients.
Don’t forget, you can freeze meat offers to use them in your meal plan another week. And if you see some useful, long-dated items (like tins of chopped tomatoes) on offer, stock up. Just make sure not to waste money on ingredients you never usually use. If they end up in the bin, your money’s gone too.
When planning meals, think about making the food last more than one day. For example, if you have roast pork on a Sunday, you could enjoy a tasty pie the next day by adding a simple puff pastry lid to the leftovers.
Many recipes like stews or casseroles are safe to freeze. Make a larger batch and put half in the freezer for another week.
Visit The Reduced Fridge
Some supermarkets have a reduced section, where you can pick up some great offers on things like chicken breasts or mince. These items may be just about to go out of date but are still perfect for now. Simply pop them in the freezer as soon as you get home to save money on a future meal.
Stick to a Shopping List
It seems so obvious, but it makes a world of difference. You’ll be more focused and you won’t end up with a trolley full of random buys.
If you’ve planned your meals in advance (see tip 1), it’s easy to add the ingredients to your list.
And if you join our Family Cooking Club, you’ll find it even easier! You’ll have access to a nifty tool that helps you:
Add my recipes to your own personalised meal plan
Convert recipes to a shopping list in just one click
Don’t worry: all the ingredients I use are available in your typical supermarket. That’s because my club aims to make home cooking the new convenience on a realistic budget.
Pay in Cash
If you have a set budget for food, bring it in cash if possible. That way, you’ll be less likely to go over your limit. Spending money seems a lot more real when you have to physically hand it over!
Make Sure to Bring Your Bags
I don’t know how many times I’ve been really frugal with the shop only to blow it at the end. I’ve often spent a fiver on bags at the checkout!
Slow Cooked Wonders
Perhaps you’ve already discovered the amazingness of slow cookers. They’re fantastic for “throw and go” recipes when you’re in a rush. And there’s nothing better than coming in the door to the aroma of a mouth-watering meal simmering away.
But did you know that slow cookers are a fantastic money-saving tool? Even though they take longer, they use much less energy than the oven or hob. Slow cookers are also wonderful for cooking cheaper cuts of meat: they come out tender every time.
With all this in mind, I’ve gathered together a few of my favourite slow cooker recipes for you to try.
Beef Rib Steak Stew
500g beef rib
1 white onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 carrot (diced)
1 beef stock pot
Fresh herbs: a handful of fresh parsley, thyme and rosemary
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 pint of water
1 teaspoon cornflour
Start by trimming any fat off and dicing 500g of beef rib. Your butcher will do this for you if you ask nicely.
Place a large pan on the hob over medium heat. Add a drizzle of rapeseed oil. Seal the beef and place it in the slow cooker to rest.
Add the diced onion, 2 crushed garlic cloves and the diced carrot to the pan. Sauté for around 5 minutes, then add to the slow cooker.
Add the beef stock pot, fresh herbs and Worcestershire sauce to the slow cooker and give a good mix.
Place a bay leaf on top and pour in a pint of water.
Place the lid on your slow cooker and cook for 8 hours on low or 5 hours on high.
Alternatively, you could cook this dish on the hob by simmering it for 4 to 5 hours (the longer the better).
When cooked, you can thicken the gravy with a little cornflour paste (1 tsp cornflour mixed with 2 tsps cold water).
6-8 chicken thighs
1 white onion (diced)
1 clove garlic (crushed)
1 red pepper (diced)
A glug of rapeseed oil
1 tablespoon tomato purée
200g chopped tomatoes
200ml chicken stock
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
A handful of fresh parsley
100ml fresh cream
Set your slow cooker to low.
Place a frying pan with a drizzle of rapeseed oil over medium heat. Rub the skin of each chicken thigh with a little rapeseed oil and a light dusting of smoked paprika. Season with salt and black pepper and fry, skin-side on the pan until the skin is crisp. Turn and fry for another 3-4 minutes until golden all over.
Put on a plate and set aside.
Add the onion to the pan and fry until soft. Then add the garlic and red pepper.
Stir in the tomato purée and chopped tomatoes. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
Add this sauce to the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper and add the bay leaf and fresh thyme.
Pop the lid on the slow cooker and cook for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is tender.
Mix in the fresh cream and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
Serve with some creamy mashed potatoes. Enjoy!
Chinese Pulled Pork
500g pork fillet
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice
2 garlic cloves (peeled and grated)
1 teaspoon cornflour
Turn your slow cooker on low.
In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, honey, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, Chinese 5 Spice, and garlic.
Add the pork fillet to the slow cooker and pour the sauce over the top.
Leave to cook for 6 hours on low or for 3 hours on high.
Remove the pork fillet and shred it with 2 forks.
Transfer the sauce from the slow cooker to a saucepan and bubble it over a high heat.
Thicken the sauce with a cornflour paste of 1 tsp cornflour mixed with 2 tsps cold water.
Over to You
At One Yummy Mummy, I love to see people share their ideas, tips and experiences. It’s always exciting to see how other folk are getting on with their cooking adventures.
If you’d like to have access to an encouraging cooking community, 24/7, don’t forget my Family Cooking Club. If you join, you can become part of a dedicated Facebook group where there’s always plenty of inspiration up for grabs. I’m in there most days, helping the gang in any way I can.
Bye for now,