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Easy, quick meal planning ideas to get me started please

(11 Posts)
heavenlydevils Fri 31-Jan-14 12:11:45

I have decided that I really need to start meal planning properly (my meal plans at the moment are very much a case of looking in the fridge/freezer of a morning, deciding on what meat/fish to have and that's it! I make the rest up as I'm cooking it!) We are spending way over what we should be on food that either doesn't get used or because I just buy more of the same things. I have become a very lazy shopper and cook, just buying and cooking the same things over and over.

We are a family of 4, me, dh and dcs (eat teen size meals, eat same as us), no allergies, special diets or dislikes, although we are not keen on very spicy food or lamb. Mostly need main meal ideas. Quite easy so i don't get myself all overwhelmed and resort to phoning a take away half way through cooking! Anything that can be reheated or left on low heat without it being completely unedible would be an added bonus.

At the moment I mostly make roast dinners, stir fry, curries, fish pie, chicken pie, cottage pie, toad in the hole. I'm sure I'm missing out on lovely food because my brain just refuses to think of new things and the things I make are time consuming!

So, does anyone fancy giving me a swift kick up the behind? Once I'm started I'm hoping I'll enjoy it, just don't know where to start.

MerryMarigold Fri 31-Jan-14 12:25:06

I need some ideas too. I was meal planning (even breakfast) but seem to have stopped. I would write the meal and the veg so I had enough veg as I always seem to run out mid week.

Chilli con carne. I use a good quality mince with a handful of soya in to make it go further. Can have with jackets or rice. I usually make a massive amount which lasts 2-3 meals. (Freeze it)

Spag bol. Of course!

Everyone's favourite. Chinese pork belly/ ribs. This is dead easy. Marinade ribs and/ or pork belly (I use belly because the kids don't like getting the meat off the bone) - garlic, ginger, soy sauce (about 2 table sp, dash of 5 spice and honey (about 2 teasp). Put in oven till crispy (about 40 min). You can turn half way through.

Green curry, which I use a paste for. Extremely quick and easy. Use fish or prawns. Add extra fresh (frozen) coriander and frozen spinach, plus green beans.

Ham (Christmas stylee but as a main) - that lasts a couple of meals. I do it with potatoes and bread sauce.

Macaroni cheese/ cauliflower cheese. Use bacon in the sauce and a dash of mustard.

Home-made pizza. Can do a nice, wholemeal/ white base.

Lamb tagine, but you could do it with beef.

Jacket potato and tuna

Sausages and home made wedges.

ivykaty44 Fri 31-Jan-14 12:32:47

I have a week of running down everything in the freezer - this is often handy at the end of the month. Look at what you have and then just literally buy the things you need to go with it to make meals for a few days.

Keep doing this for a couple of weeks or more if needed.

Then just shop every 4 days, buy stuff for a week and you will have gone of the idea of that meal by the end of the week which leads to waste.

Don't try and do a different meal every night - there is really no need. make a lasagna one night and then eat half of it and then reheat it the following night, it saves on gas and cooking time

Quick easy meals here are pasta and pesto - all store cupboard food, add in bacon and cherry tomato and some peas and sweetcorn. it takes about 10 minutes to cook and serve with garlic bread and a green salad.

Make extra and have cold for lunch the following day either at work or home. then that night have omelette with ham and cheese and the rest of the salad from the night before.

Make up a very large bowl of either stew (I make either veggie stew or tuscan bean soup - there are some great recipes on the net) and have this for lunch or supper a couple of evening. Its not that exciting but it is easy cook once and then reheat two or three times.

InternationalMuslinMountain Fri 31-Jan-14 12:34:57

How about casseroles and hot pots? Pretty simple to do as you essentially bung it all in the pot and leave it to do its thing. Also, as it cooks for longer you can use cheaper cuts of meat and it still tastes great. Think chicken legs, leeks, bacon, carrots, some stock and anything else hanging around. Or pork shoulder with diced apple, celery, onions/shallots. Serve with mash or baked potatoes and veg.

Do you have, or could you invest in, a slow cooker? I use ours a lot for casserole type stuff. It also solves the staying warm without drying out/spoiling problem as you can just leave it on low for ages. Also makes a good chilli...

How about gammon steaks with fried eggs and pineapple rings. Serve with potato wedges and peas. We had this last night. The gammon cooks very quickly under the grill.

Pork chops? With roasted veggies.

Salmon fillets marinaded in sweet chilli sauce (not too spicy) and served with either potatoes and veg or noodles and stir fry veg. Again quick to cook but doesn't keep so well.

I plan our meals before doing the weekly shop so I know what I need to buy (quick rummage through the cupboards beforehand also to check what is already available). Otherwise I find the same as you - lots of waste.

Hope I have helped and happy meal planning! smile

MerryMarigold Fri 31-Jan-14 12:35:13

Yes, I was buying things on offer/ reduced etc. when shopping for that's week's veg etc. I would then use those (usually meat) items to meal plan for the following week. I hate not being able to pick up offers if I've planned in advance but this way I got the offers and just used them the next week.

heavenlydevils Fri 31-Jan-14 14:15:06

Thank you all for your replies. On the advice of running supplies down I have just gone through the cupboards and freezers and found things I didn't even realise were there, the chest freezer in particular. For the main bit of meals I have:

2 pkts belly pork
2 pkts casserole beef
3 chickens
1 pkt pork mince
1 large gammon joint
1 huge pork leg
4 pkts bacon rashers

Also have a sack of potatoes to use, a tray of 24 eggs, lots and lots of vegetables (fresh and frozen) and 2 large blocks of cheese.

So far, for main meals we will be eating:
Tonight - vegetable soup
Saturday - Chinese pork belly (thank you, merryMarigold)
Sunday - Roast chicken dinner
Monday - Omellette and wedges
Tuesday - Beef casserole
Wednesday - Meatballs from mince with pasta
Thursday - Gammon joint, potatoes and cabbage
I am a bit stuck after this as I get samey again and my mind keeps wandering back to salmon and sweet chilli sauce and macaroni cheese and gammon and pineapple and all the other lovely things people have suggested but would mean I have to buy more things and my freezer stays filled with chickens!

Would usually go shopping tomorrow to farm shop for fruit, vegetables, eggs and other bits and to supermarket for everything else, usually costs about £150 (which I know is way, way too expensive!). This week I will be buying fruit, fresh veg, sugar, coffee and washing up liquid! That is all!

heavenlydevils Fri 31-Jan-14 14:15:52

Oh and a slow cooker! But that really is all!

MerryMarigold Fri 31-Jan-14 14:23:59

Try and keep meal plans so you can go back to them for ideas...and if you buy something on offer, there will always be a bit variation anyway. You could challenge yourself to 2 new recipes a month. Not much, but it could add enough variation.

MerryMarigold Fri 31-Jan-14 14:26:04

Roast chicken can be made into a great soup a couple of days later. Do not chuck those bones.

Sometimes I do a roast chicken and use more exotic stuff like Cajun, peri peri etc. and serve with rice. (Basmati rice is a favourite in our house! - I buy the 10kg bags).

heavenlydevils Fri 31-Jan-14 14:35:22

Have made a note of all suggestions, added my tried and tested staples and it looks a pretty good start. 2 new recipes is a good idea! Pork leg must have been one of my "wow, that's good value" buys because even though we all have good appetites (think, when people say leftovers, I laugh and say "what are they?!"), even we couldn't eat it. Will have to save that until I'm feeling a bit more confident so it's not just eaten for one roast dinner then wasted.

MerryMarigold Fri 31-Jan-14 15:04:56

You could use the leftover pork for a stir fry. You don't need so much meat in a stir fry.

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