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Meal Planning Till March!

(13 Posts)
leiela Wed 04-Dec-19 10:41:32

So my financial situation is a little tricky, I am not 'Broke' but due to the nature of my job I have to accept that it's unlikely that i'm likely to see another pay check until march.

This is part and parcel of my job, it's something that happens now and then and I am usually well prepared. However this time things have happened when I didn't expect it and I wasn't as well financially prepared as I usually am.

I've worked out my finances and I have enough money to last until March but it will be a little tight, so I need to cut back my spending in order to cover the bills.

One of the main places I believe I can save a good deal of money is on food. I am a bit of a prepper by nature and between Brexit and knowing this happens occasionally, I have a good store of food.

I have been into my basement and done an inventory and I was honestly surprised at how much is down there.

However I really need help doing a meal plan... I've planned on weekly basis's before but never on this scale. I think I should be able to stretch the food I have out over the next 3 months at a glance it looks like a lot of food but I know if I don't plan it and ration it I will run out before I get money again.

Planning out the meals for the next few months, knowing what I am still going to need to buy and how much that will cost will really ease my piece of mind because right now I'm in panic mode trying to get things sorted.

Any tips.

OP’s posts: |
maxelly Wed 04-Dec-19 11:37:14

Meal planning is great once you get into the swing of it, tends to be cheaper, less waste so better for the planet and helps you avoid the temptation of convenience/junk food so better for the planet too!

What kinds of food do you have in store, is it mainly tins/packets/dried food or do you have a freezer full too? What kinds of food do you and your family like to eat, any dietary restrictions or preferences? One of the best ways to save money is to reduce the amount of meat you use, have a couple of meat free days a week and also try recipes which allow you to bulk out a smaller amount of meat with pulses and veg, like a risotto made with leftovers from a roast and lots of added veg, or a chilli made with a small pack of mince and a couple of cans of beans...

My weekly process is that I write the meal plan for the week out right before I go shopping for the week. The plan covers all evening meals, all breakfasts and lunch in the week (weekend lunches are a bit more of a free for all). Roughly for evening meals it goes something like: at least 1 meal, sometimes 2 which uses up something which is hanging around the fridge/freezer/cupboards at risk of not being used, 2 or 3 family favourites which we eat regularly and I know everyone reliably likes, 1 'new' meal or recipe to broaden our horizons (which if everyone likes it gets incorporated into the regular rotation), sometimes a sunday roast (with a subsequent plan for using up any leftovers) and at least 1 easy/lazy/freezer food meal for nights where we are busy. I try and make there be synergy in the plan so e.g. if one recipe means I need half a pack of sausages, I add another meal to use up the 2nd half, or I would put the 2nd half in the freezer so we can have a sausage meal 'for free' the next time.

Then I make up a shopping list for what we need to make the plan, always checking the cupboards and freezer first so I don't rebuy what we already have.

The key part really to make it work is (a) make a plan (b) shop to that plan and to that plan only, do not get distracted by things on offer or that look tempting, you then risk waste, the only exception I make is if there's some real bargains on things which can go into the freezer if I have space, and therefore form a meal plan in subsequent weeks (c) stick to the plan, don't give in to demands for different meals or give up and cook junk - I tell people in this house that the meal plan is the only plan and they can't have pizza or whatever tonight, but they can ask for it to be on the plan next week. I do deliberately plan for easier meals on nights where I know I'll be tired and not up for cooking...

I think a good starting point for you could be to jot down your family's 'favourites'/regular preferred meals, and cross reference this with your food inventory. You then have the basis for a plan. I also like this website as a starting point, some of the recipes are a bit basic and there can be an overreliance on cheap sausages (!) but it gives you a good idea of how it works . As a starting point you could do one week on one of their plans and then gradually adapt to your own preferences?

leiela Wed 04-Dec-19 12:11:35

Thanks for the info,

we've got 4 adults (myself and my husband) and our sons (18,20) there are no real restrictions other than DS2 is vegetarian, so I have 2 cook 2 meals, but I've learned over the years that I can make almost anything in a vegetarian version so he eats what we eat but I substitute the meat for Quorn/beans or lentils.
I’ve got a lot of tins, dried and frozen food..

Heres what we have …. (I have to admit it looks insane when I write it down!!) We also have a range of herb/spices/salt/pepper/gravy/stock etc …..

Tinned fray bentos
•Meat (various) 24
•Cheese and onion x 7
Vegetarian tins
•Bolognase x 2
•Macaroni cheese x 34
•Veggy beans and sausages in tomato sauce x 51
Vegatarian packet mixes
•Soya mince (1 meal potion kits) x 4
•Veggy burger mix (makes 4 burgers)
•Textured veggy protein 1 kg

•Long Life (litre) x 38
•Powdered milk 4 cans
Sugars /spreads
•2kg white sugar
•Maple syrup 2 bottles
•Honey 4 Jars
•Jam 13 jars
•Peanut Butter – 3kg
•Oats – 11kg
•Instant mash potato – 39 packets (each will feed 2 people 1 meal)
•Rosti packets – 20 (each will feed 2 people 1 meal)
•Instant Noodles – 213 packets
•Pasta (various shapes) 38kg
•Tinned potato – 24 tins
•Rice – 32kg
•Fresh Potatos – 8kg

•Olive Oil 4 litres
•Coconut Oil - 3 kg
•Ghee – 6kg

Fruit – tinned
•Manderins x 17
•Peachs x 3
•Pears x 2
•Pineapple x 4
•Grapefruit x 4
•Pie filling x 6
Dried Pulses/Beans etc
•Barley 3.5kg
•Black beans 1kg
•Pinto 3kg
•Soup mix 1.5kg
•Green lentils 9kg
•Red lentils 10kg
•White lentils 8kg
•Yellow lentils 1kg
Tinned Pulses/Beans etc
•Black 15 cans
•Chickpeas 33 cans
•Kidney beans 13 cans
•Mixed beans 11 cans
•Refried beans 7 cans
•Beans in tomato sauce 87 cans
Tinned Vegetables
•Soup various 34 cans
•Peppers 8 cans
•Carrots 16 cans
•Corn 48 cans
•Peas x 14
•Green Beans x 3
•Mushy peas x 25
•Spinach x 12
•Onions x 57
•Tinned tomatos x 128
•Pasta Sauce 73 jars
Fresh Vegetables
•3kg Onions
•2 x butternut squash
•1 savoy cabbage
•1 red cabbage

Fresh Fruit
•Large bag of Lemons (No idea what to do with these)
•Large bag of Limes (No idea what to do with these)
•5 Pears
•8 apples

Dog Food (2 dogs)
•Tins 46 (use about 1 per day)
•Dried (2 x 20kg bags – this should be enough use about 1 every 2 months)

Frozen Meats
•Chicken Thighs – 13kg
•Mince beef – 9kg
•Chorizo meat balls 4 bags (20 meatballs per bag)
•Swiss style meatballs 5 bags (70 meatballs per bag)
•Chorizo Sausages (cocktail size – 2 bags 40 per bag)
•Breaded chicken (12 pieces)
•Chicken Nuggets ( 60 nuggets)
•Small packet of diced bacon
•Beef burgers x 15
•Duck Breasts x 4
•Chorizo whole sausage x 3
•Chicken breasts x 11
•Lamb chops x 4
•Small gammon joint x 1
•Small pork joint x 1
Frozen Vegatarian meat replacement (500g bags)
•Meatballs x 6
•Sausages x 24 sausages
•Mince x 3 bags
•Chicken Nuggets x 24 nuggets
•Chicken pieces x 1 bag.

Frozen Vegetables/potato (1kg bags)
•Sweetcorn x 11
•Carrots x 2
•Green beans x 3
•Onions x 3
•Peas x 1
•Carrot/sweat x 3
•Spinach x 1
•Kale x 1
•Sweet Potato x 2
•Butternut squash x 1
•Capsicums x 6
•Cauliflower x 1
•Parsnips x 1
•Roast Potatos x 1
•Fries x 1
•Cheese Blocks (1kg x 10)
•Grated cheese (500g x 5 bags)
•Butter packet x 11
•Ready meals: Meat x 9
•Ready meals: Vegetarian x 8

OP’s posts: |
TorysSuckRevokeArticle50 Wed 04-Dec-19 13:03:18

At a basic level sit down and work out how many days it needs to cover, then What meals, snacks, drinks you anticipate per day.

Then start working out what meals you will all eat, the ingredients and just throw them into any day crossing off the ingredients on your stock list as you go.

Realistically you won't be able to say in 6 weeks on Thursday we will want veggie Bologna's, so all you need to do is work out if you have the quantity of food you need.

Looking at your list I suspect fresh fruit and veg is going to be in high demand and very missed by the end of the 3 months.

Will you literally have nothing to spend on food during that period?

Can you not encourage your sons and get yourself a Xmas temp job just to bring in some emergency float money?

leiela Wed 04-Dec-19 13:17:14

I agree veg and fruit did jump out as being the thing I would be short on first... we don't have 'nothing' to spend but obviously the less I spend the better I've earmarked about £30-£50 a month for top-up shopping I figure a fair bit of that is likely to go on the dog food as I only have about 1.5 months worth... and the rest on fruit/veg/milk and bread etc.

OP’s posts: |
AtleastitsnotMonday Wed 04-Dec-19 13:18:28

Wow that is amazing! You pretty much have your own supermarket!
I find it helps to have categories that you can select from each week. Many categories overlap and there are endless possibilities of categories.
For example, week 1 may be
Mon pasta based meal, eg lasagne, macaroni cheese, carbonara
Tues - rice based meal e.g risotto, jambalaya, etc
Weds. - Curry - million’s of options
Thurs - egg based dish eg fritata, quiche, shakshuka
Fri - veggie dish , sweet chilli stirfry with rice noodles and cashews
Sat - meat dish, sausages, casserole, burgers etc
Sun Roast

Just helps order my thoughts a bit. I also often only plan for 6 nights to allow for things coming up, getting invited out, eating up leftovers, can’t be bother and just fancy cheese and crackers! If we do need the 7th meal then we just have a frozen pizza, pasta, omelettes etc, store cupboard stuff.

AtleastitsnotMonday Wed 04-Dec-19 13:31:09

Also, in the run up to Christmas a lot of the supermarkets slash their prices on Christmas dinner veg often 20p a bag for things like carrots, sprouts, red cabbage, parsnips etc. Also shortly after Christmas they will want rid of all the left over veg and reduce it to 5p ish. Could be a good opportunity to top up veg supplies.

TheSandgroper Wed 04-Dec-19 22:00:24

So much info here

TorysSuckRevokeArticle50 Wed 04-Dec-19 22:31:16

Just looking at your list again.

Lemons and limes, cut into wedges and freeze, they take hardly any time to defrost if you need a splash of lemon or lime in a dish, or to make a lemon meringue pie.

Do you have any flour, bicarb, yeast etc for if you want to bake bread, make flatbreads, pastry for a pie, cake etc.

Any herbs and spices to add flavour, otherwise things could get a little bland.

leiela Thu 05-Dec-19 08:14:44

I've got lots of herbs and spices etc, I have a bag of chapatti flour but no normal flour/yeast etc. I have never made bread I'm not honestly sure where to even start.

I also have crumble mix and a couple of tins of pie filling and some mini sponge cakes.

OP’s posts: |
leiela Thu 05-Dec-19 09:15:46

Oh it's worth noting the above list isn't the 'definitive' list … that is just a list of the main food in my basement … it doesn't include food upstairs in my main kitchen and I didn't list out snack food etc. I have a range of cake/biscuits etc.

I tend to keep duplicates in the basement because otherwise I do end up with 3 separate packages of the same thing open! also my main freezer space is downstairs.

in the main kitchen I have herb/spices etc...

I tried to do a food plan last night and honestly I just got overwhelmed. As someone said I didn't expect to stick to it, more trying to get a clue what sort of meals I could make, where I would be short and how far I could reasonably expect the food to get me. even if I didn't stick to it, I thought it might set my mind at ease sad

I started with spaghetti bolognaise/chilli duo .. I normally make this once a week, day 1 we have bolognaise and day 2 we have the left overs adding beans and chilli. I figured 14 week till march.. so I needed the ingredients for 14 servings. I figured out I had enough of everything except peppers which I would be 1 bag short.

I then moved onto chicken curry, with chickpeas, carrots, butternut squash or sweet potato's… again working on 14 portions so we could have it once per week. Again I fell short on the veg … and that's as far as I got … before I lost the plot.

I have a lot of potatos… honestly I don't quite know what to do with them, I bought a sack on a whim at the weekend because I know they are cheap and filling but we don't eat many potato's so now I have a sack staring at me and I don't know what to do with it... personally I love a jacket potato but none of the men in the house will entertain it.

OP’s posts: |
TorysSuckRevokeArticle50 Thu 05-Dec-19 09:39:10

If you want to do prep on potatoes then they Can be baked or mashed then frozen so you just need to heat them through as a quick meal.

Otherwise keep them somewhere, cool and dry with layers of paper or in a paper sack and they last ages.

How about taking your list below and breaking it down into portion sizes.

For example 1 portion of dried pasta is x grams. You have x kilos so that's x portion, 4 portions per meal = x meals. You need 1 jar of sauce per meal plus whatever you would want to put in like veg or quorn.

You've listed weight of chicken thighs, how many physical pieces is that because you would usually have say 2 per person so if you have 30 thighs, that 15 portions so 7 meals for the 2 meat eaters and 1 left over.

WeirdPookah Tue 10-Dec-19 08:11:30

With the potatoes you could make curry, I made a potato vegetable curry with peanut butter the other day. Or use as topping for Shepherds pie type dishes, could easily be vegetarian as well. You can also make spicy Spanish style potatoes or moussaka.

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