Please help save my sanity - month meal plan - Tis long.(13 Posts)
I have in the past done month (4week) meal plans, usually has the benefit of saving us money and because it's done over a month meals don't become too repetitive. I usually do batch cooking one day a week on rotation so have a rolling stash of about a dozen precooked meals. These include spicy pork tagine with pulses, beef stews, roast chicken portioned up for stir fries, curries and a few vegetarian options from HFW. We have a roast at the weekend, then use meat up over a few meals, nothing fancy usually stuffed pork belly or a chicken.
However there has been a mutiny in our household about previous mainstays of this menu (I don't do it over summer as we are often out, salads and simple fare suffices). Both DC (4y and 15m) flatly refuse to eat mince, so no bolognaise, no chilli, no meatballs. And I'm also on a mission to cut out sugar.
The menu runs Friday -> Thursday with food delivered on a Friday afternoon (butchers and tesco) and a top up on Tues if needed from Aldi. DH bakes a loaf every night which is soon eaten as toast and his sandwiches.
Here are the factors for my fussy family;
- NO Dairy or Soya and many frugal meal plans seem to rely on cheese.
- We aren't big soup eaters but I could be persuaded, last year I made a vat of chicken stock, froze it in small portions then never did anything else with it and threw it out last week!
- I hate sandwiches for packed lunches.
- Two nights a week I'm at work so we have to feed DC seperately but need an easy reheat
- DC hate minced meat, any kind!
- DH refuses to eat fish but the rest of us like it.
- We're on a very very tight budget as only one wage until the New Year
- Need to include weekend breakfasts, tend to have a poached egg on toast, lemon pancakes made with oat milk, mushrooms on toast etc, snacks for DC that aren't sugary, and packed lunches for 2 adults 5 days a week, and 2 small DC 2 days a week.
So I'm trying to populate this format;
Fri breakfast - cereal or toast
Fri lunch - DC (nursery), Me (Soup with ?), DH (Wrap with cheese and mustard, crisps, small tomatoes, apple, banana, pepperami)
Fri DC snack - (after nursery so in car)
Fri dinner - DC (something simple, bath & bed) Us - Burgers with buns and wedges
However I'm going around in circles trying to think of interesting meals that are quick, or to cook up in batches, I too often resort to meat and two veg. There's a world of food out there and I've loads of cookbooks. But between now and January we need a plan, I could do with losing a few stone so this should help.
Is anyone willing to throw some suggestions my way? We only do desserts at the weekend, very very rarely during the week.
Do you eat beans and lentils? They are cheap and would work in the same chillies and bolognese.
I did a lemon and butterbean chicken casserole recently that was delicious and cheap. It freezes well.
Supermarket value range 2 chicken legs cut into drumsticks and thighs
1 Onion, couple cloves of garlic
1/2 Lemon - juice and rind
Chicken stock cube
Splash of white wine vinegar (I guess you could leave this out)
Tin of butterbeans
A few random dried herbs
Fry the onions and garlic to soften, then add the chicken pieces to brown along with white wine vinegar if using. When chicken is nicely browned, add stock till it is nearly covered and the juice of half a lemon. Pop in the rind of the lemon and some herbs. Bubble gently on stove top, lid on for about half hour till chicken cooked, add drained tin of butterbeans for 10 minutes. Serve.
Tastes lovely and lemony - light flavours good for summer but chunky and filling for winter.
How about risotto without the cheese added at the end? I usually opt for one made with chicken stock from the roast and with streaky bacon and frozen peas. Any leftovers you an roll in breadcrumbs and bake for a healthy snack.
Also we've been buying topside of beef from sainsburys which has been half price for ages, so about a tenner for 2kg. We've done a roast with lots of veggies- new favourite is braised red cabbage, sweat it down with a red onion and add a splash of red wine vinegar and a spoon of jam! Then we use up the meat - which is slow cooked for about 5 hrs so pulled beef- making thins like cottage pie, quesadillas, Chinese noodles, lasagne, enchiladas, meatballs and pasta etc.
We also make lots of soup, can't recommend the cover garden soup cook book highly enough! By my favourite is a soup I make most weeks and probably quite child friendly -
1 onion - fried lightly
Add two chopped up sausages till cooked alongside a chopped up orange pepper.
Then add a tin/jar of passata and 600ml of chicken stock, 1 teaspoon of paprika and 1 of fennel seeds.
Lastly add a handful of orzo pasta - the tiny stuff and let it simmer till the pasta is cooked.
There's a commercial site called once a month mom (American obviously) that provides you with recipe cards and planners for filling your freezer so that you have to cook only once a month (albeit all day!). When I've space for a chest freezer I'm planning to use it. Getting DH to take kids for a day and batch cooking to podcasts sounds like a good way to deal with the food situation. Maybe google it and see if it's for you?
That sounds fab - about to start the mammoth task after bedtime. Thanks for the suggestions
Just had a look at once a month mom. Is it easy to adapt the recipes in the uk melon? The first recipe I looked at said to use bisquick Gluten free mix from Betty Crocker. Have never heard of it...
Also check out 'cook' online website. Albeit they sell ready made 'homemade freezer meals'- my logic is, if they make it and freeze it you can replicate the recipes at home.
I know you said your family are not big soup people- but could they be brought round- ie minestrone? My son was a soup hater, but I converted him by putting it in a mug and having toast fingers with it to dip! Novelty and all that.
A variety of pasta sauces could also be your friend- mainly tomato based ones, as I see that dairy is out, but do they like olives, courgettes, aubergines etc? Homemade pesto?
Would mini- pies go down well? Chicken and mushroom, beef and ale, pork and cider? (Not too sure about the alcohol in the pies!). Could make the filling and freeze and top with puffed pastry when cooked.
Chicken kebabs, or satay?
It also sounds like Jamie's money saving meals could also be an option as he incorporates ways to use up the left over roast dinners...?
Oh and I've never heard of bisquit mix.... Ugh. Sounds grim!!
I'm also with you on not liking sandwiches for lunch. Instead we have invested in a couple of thermos. We either have leftovers or:
Cous cous with roasted veg.
Jacket potatoes with fillings
Egg fried rice with left over veggies
DH (Wrap with cheese and mustard, crisps, small tomatoes, apple, banana, pepperami)
Hi - just looking at this - bit fussy innit? What we do is to make a large bowl of salady stuff each week, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, boiled new potatoes, plus other stuff like cheese, felafels, mashed chick peas, grated carrots - whatever is to hand/available/ on offer. Then pack it in a small container the evening before [and we do our own small containers] and take a pack of wraps to work and have one/two a day. Makes it so much easier than picky wraps with all the bits you have described. Scoop in tub, and go.
Think you've inspired me to get batch cooking and funky, I love the salad idea
Soot if you are struggling financially, could you do your main shop in Lidl or Aldi?
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