Tag Archives: meal plans

Cheap meal ideas to get you through the week

cheap-meal-ideas

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):
    • Scrambled egg on toast
    • Jacket potato and beans
    • Omelette
    • Soup
    • Homemade cheese scones (see recipe here) or homemade soda bread (Be Clever With Your Cash), ham and pickles
  • 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)

And for the sweet treats, you have to try my shortbread and Miss Thrifty’s FABULOUS Chocolate Orange cake which costs only £1.44 to make!!!

I really hope this helps you. Do you have any cheap meal ideas or recipes of your own you can share with me?

How to save money

How to save moneyWhy I’ll be saving this year

I’ve been bad. I’ve let a lot of good spending habits slip. It all happened gradually and I wasn’t really paying too much attention to the bank balances and then disaster struck. Well, several disasters struck. Over Christmas, our boiler broke. And a pipe in the loft started leaking. And our hoover gave up the ghost. And our microwave started making crackling noises. All of that cost a lot to fix or replace.

But….because it’s Christmas, you think, “ahhh it’s fine. I’ll look at the finances in the new year. We can cut back a bit. Not a problem!”

Then in January, perhaps my least favourite person on the planet, after Donald Trump, Harry Hill and both Jedward twins, decided to make life a lot harder. The taxman ruined everything. Both P and I learned we owed several thousand pounds. EACH! Oh, and because of the new way HMRC is doing things, I also owed money for the current tax year too!

So, to say I feel skint would be an understatement. Our debt has now grown significantly and I need to pay it off quickly. Very quickly.

So, I’m getting back to my good money saving habits. In fact, I’m taking it even further this year. And my plan of how to save money works.

How to start saving money

The trick to doing anything new well and maintaining it is – I find – to start with an intense, and sometimes painful, kick off and then you ease into a programme which has the right balance of the good habits and the rewards so it’s easy to fit it into daily life and keep it going.

For the rest of January and for all of February, I will be conducting my intense programme. The first thing I’m doing, is going through the FeastStyleThrive e-course myself. Hey, it doesn’t hurt to refresh my memory and check I’m doing everything! That means I conduct a full-on check of my finances, and then overhaul my spending on EVERY SINGLE PIECE of expenditure. Then I pick and choose the habits to keep going and voila! That’s how to save money.

Adopting a money saver mantra

It’s all very well signing up for a free course and reading the emails but it does still require a hell of a lot of willpower to actually take action.

So here are some helpful reasons why this is exactly the right time to do it:

          A lot of the people you know are doing Dry January – poor souls. So you have fewer drinking companions which means fewer excuses to go out!  Plus it’s BLOODY FREEZING! Stay in, enjoy the slipper time!

          You put on weight over Christmas. I’m sorry. But it’s true. That diet will only work if you don’t buy treats, booze or ready meals so save the pounds (in more ways than one).

          One of the easiest ways of how to save money is to adopt a meal plan and I’ll be posting mid-week meal plans over the course of the next few weeks! You’re welcome in advance.

          You deserve a good summer holiday this year. A fabulous, post-lots-of-pictures-on-facebook-and-instagram-and-make-everyone-hate-you kind of holiday. It’s not going to pay for itself so start the hard work of saving for it now.

          And finally, by looking at your finances now, at the start of the year, and working out how you can change a few habits to save money each month, you will be looking at a bank balance that is several hundred pounds heavier by Christmas.  Yup!

I’m going to be posting more tips on how to save money and documenting my money saving journey here so keep checking in, and please do share you advice and experiences, I’d love to hear them!