For the last few weeks, I’ve been following strict meal plans. It’s been bloody brilliant. Not only has it meant that I’ve had to become super organised and P and I know exactly what we’re having to eat each night, but we’ve also saved a fortune. I’ve also been getting this strange pleasure from using up what’s in the freezer and bagging up and freezing meals to have at a later date. Have I become boring and old??? Who cares if it means my healthy bank balance of early 2016 is restored!
Anyhoo, where am I getting the cheap meal ideas from in order to build meal plans? How am I saving money on my food shop? Well, if you need an answer to my second question then you haven’t signed up for my financial e-course yet. That has a WHOLE DAY dedicated to saving on your food bills so sign up now. It’s free after all.
To answer the first question, I thought I’d share a few links I use which have helped me A LOT. You see, I don’t follow the prescribed meal plans you’ll find online on sites such as Tesco because they make assumptions about what you do and don’t like to eat and they assume that there will be 4 of you eating in every single night. That’s not a true reflection of every household is it?
As long as you follow some simple rules, meal planning can be so. much. easier.
How to build your own cheap meal ideas
- Cut out expensive meats and seafood for a while. This means chicken breasts are a no-no (go for thighs or turkey instead) and prawns and scallops are also to be avoided.
- Sausages are great provided you stick to the rule of two per portion, and if there’s two of you to feed, you freeze or refrigerate the remaining two for a future meal.
- Mince is a great buy. If you add a whole lot of diced onion, carrot and celery to the mix when making a ragu, you can squeeze out a lot of portions and then it can be used as a base for a multitude of meal options. Check out my recipe here.
- If you love fish, try frozen. You can buy bags of frozen cod, salmon, pollock and smoked haddock and all can be cooked really easily in a pot of sauce and served with rice and veg.
- Don’t buy ready prepared fresh veg. Work out how many ‘portions’ of veg you need and buy only that, or buy frozen.
- Don’t buy pasta sauce – instead buy a tin of tomatoes, season and cook slowly. Done.
- Eat one of the following meals once a week. It won’t kill you and it’s so cheap (this is a post on cheap meal ideas, after all):
- Embrace the wonder of chorizo. I think it is possibly the most wonderful and versatile ingredient there is and it can work in soups, pastas, omelettes and fish dishes and it will keep for weeks in the fridge too.
- Finally invest in a cheap blender and some vegetable stock and when ever you have ANY leftover meat or veg, chop, bring together in a pot with the stock and seasoning, blend and freeze. And voila….homemade soup.
The above should give you a good few cheap meal ideas but if you want to get a little more creative (without spending a fortune), further help is at hand.
Cheap meal ideas in recipe form
So, without further ado, here are some meal options (and links) to help you plan weeks’ worth of interesting and tasty meals and save some money:
- Sausage and bean casserole (BBC Good Food)
- Sausages with mustard mash and red onion gravy (Good Housekeeping)
- Vegetable Crumble, just 25p a portion! (Thrifty Lesley)
- Pasta, chorizo, homemade pasta sauce, red peppers. (Chop up the peppers and chorizo and fry. Cook the tinned tomatoes slowly in a pan and season. Boil the pasta and mix altogether. Simple but delicious.)
- Leftover roast dinner hash with poached eggs (Tesco Real Food)
- Easy mac and cheese
- Sausage/leftover roast chicken risotto (my recipe here on my old blog)
- Leftover turkey and potato curry (Savings 4 Savvy Mums) and keema naan (Reduced Grub)
- Creamy fish curry (a good recipe for the frozen fish) (BBC Good Food)
- Sticky hoisin pork stir fry – you’ll never buy bottled hoisin sauce again! (Skint Dad)
- Chorizo, chickpea and tomato flatbreads (Thrifty Lesley)
I really hope this helps you. Do you have any cheap meal ideas or recipes of your own you can share with me?