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Cheap meals/menu planning thread - please contribute money saving tips

(39 Posts)
popsycal Sun 26-Aug-07 16:04:23

I know it has been done before but need to start cutting back again and getting organised.

DS1 apparently wants me to go and 'do some interesting chores' with him hmm so back later with my plans.......

Peachy Sun 26-Aug-07 16:08:05

Bulk out meat with beans- tinned ones are good and cheap and less wotrk than the dried variety, but if you use the dried ones (Tesco wholefoods do some good ones) they are the best value for money. Useful in pretty much all meals- curries (lentils), pasta (canneloni), shepherds pie (I use baked beans LOL)- etc, AND makes you oh so virtuous grin

popsycal Sun 26-Aug-07 16:26:20

Chores done hmm.
I bulk out mince dishes with finely grated carrots.

I am looking for veggie based recipes too which I can persuade hard core carnivore DH to eat happily.

Chickpea curry is a good one actually - I had forgotten about that.

Menu planning is a good way of budgeting too. Need to get back to doing this.

WIll post my menu plan meals later

popsycal Sun 26-Aug-07 16:31:52

ANy tips on cheapening the following which all feature at dinner time in our house....

Mince: shepherd's pie, chilli, spag bol, lamb patties and pitta bread
Chicken: fajitas, stir fry, roasted thighs (with one of many quick sauces), chicken breast with stuff stuffed in them (most from Jamie OLiver)
Fish: Salmon with tomato or ginger couscous crust
Pasta: creamy chicken thingy - gordon ramsay recipe
Other: homemade pizza and wedges; corned beef or chorizo hash; chicken or chickpea curry; sausage and mash; tuna balls things

That's all I can think of. We also are thinking of loosing weight/lowering cholestrol.

tuppy Sun 26-Aug-07 16:38:14

More to do with forward planning than economy as such, but I'm starting to plan for back to school by cooking extra for sutable meals and freezing the rest, eg pasta bakes, fishcakes etc. Also I'll be making lunches for just myself and ds3 from start of term - he'll be at nursery, so some of the freezer meals are in small portions for him. That way there will be lots of quick wholesome hot meals ready for him without fuss; I have my main meal with dh in the evenings and usually eat salad/smoked salmon sarnie etc for lunch.

I use a lot of pulses and things too; a few go very far ! I also make home made burgers with good free range meat or chicke, bulked out with breadcrumbs, which has the added bonus of actually improving the texture imo.

nailpolish Sun 26-Aug-07 16:38:15

for the stir fry - have lots of noodles and veg and a nice sweet and sour sauce and you dont need meat
you could add a chopped up smoked sausage occasionally

what about pasta and vegetable bakes?

we only have meat twice someitmes 3times a week and it keeps my shopping budget down

fish can be expensive, have you got a fish van? they then to be a lot cheaper

for fish we have fishcakes often - its dead easy to make your own or they are cheap to buy

XcupcakemummyX Sun 26-Aug-07 17:15:32

macroni cheese

layered tomatoe pasta bake

tuna melts


baked pots cheese and beans

homemade quiche

soups with dumplings

toad in the hole

popsycal Sun 26-Aug-07 20:04:21

vegiee/pasta bakes - need to add that to the list
dont have a fish man - kids would like fish cakes though

popsycal Sun 26-Aug-07 20:04:52

nailpolish - could you tell me which non-meat meals you cook?


nailpolish Mon 27-Aug-07 09:49:49

i have one recipe that i just made up one time that dh and the dds love
one tin of mixed beans
one tin of chopped tomatoes
one garlic clove
squirt of tomato puree
oxo cube
spot of oil

crush the garlic clove and fry in oil for few secs
drain the tin of mixed beans and put that, the tin of chopped toms and the squirt of tom puree in the pan with the garlic. crumble the oxo cube over the top. its ready when its hot, basically

cook the rice

dish up

nice also with sausages - cook the sausages til brown then add everything else

we also have pasta bakes with veg (brocolli, sweetcorn, carrots mainly)

cook the veg seperately, cook the pasta seperately, then put both in a casserole dish with some cheese sauce, put in oven for 20 mins

a stir fry with just noodles, veg and sweet and sour sauce. can add a chopped up smoked sausage for a change

mushroom risotto
home made cheese, spinach and tomato pizza
macaroni cheese
omelette with chopped up (cooked) potato
(omelettes are great for using up leftovers)

i found my weekly shopping was cheaper after i stopped having meat so much (we were haivng it 5 times a week inc. fish) now we have fish once a week and another meat once a week - either chicken or mince or whatever)


nailpolish Mon 27-Aug-07 09:58:51

pasta and vegetable bake is really nice with a topping like you would have on a fruit crumble - oats/cheese/flour/butter

vegetable lasagne

also lots of soups - tomato, carrot and coriander, potato, lentil, etc

tracyk Mon 27-Aug-07 11:35:46

The shops seem to have really good deals on rasps and blueberries and blackberries just now. Buy them up and freeze them for smoothies in the winter.
I grew my own lettuce this summer and saved a fortune. I was always chucking out half bags of salad.
Have just got the veggie bags from lakeland - sposed to extend the life of veggies - so not as much being thrown out.

popsycal Mon 27-Aug-07 11:45:11

excellent. Thanks for those.

I am going to sit down this evening and make 2 weeks worth of menu plans.

I need at least 2 quick and easy meals for the days I work (or make extra portions and freeze for those days)

popsycal Mon 27-Aug-07 11:46:00

Oooh I have a covent garden soups book that I have never cooked fromso that would be a good one for me to look at too.

tracyk Mon 27-Aug-07 11:52:29

Do you make your own bread?
I buy the little ready mixed up bread making flour. Only about 60p and you get 2 x ciabbata or multi grain or whatever you fancy.
I made a big pot of celery and broccoli soup yesterday and bread - yummy.
Also making your own jellies is about 20p a packet. Make it on a Sunday evening and decant into little pots for lunches during the week. I use half water and half of the juice that is left from tinned fruit.
Do you have a Costco or Makro near by?
Stock up on mini pallets of long life milk/custard/yoghurts/tins of fruit.

popsycal Mon 27-Aug-07 12:04:40

Tracey - funnily enough i have just got my bread maker out ogf the cupboard and have my book here!

I am also looking for an easy banana bread recipe for the breadmaker....

popsycal Mon 27-Aug-07 12:05:56

Boys love jelly. Planned to do the jelly thing once they start back at school (and ds2 at childminders one day a week for the first time since he was tiny - god help her)

tracyk Mon 27-Aug-07 12:09:49

I know you can cook and freeze scones, maybe even muffins/fairy cakes. Good to have in the freezer for afternoon snacks or visitors.

popsycal Mon 27-Aug-07 16:21:49

Lots of good ideas so far. Keep them coming
Just making sausage pie - kind of shepherds pie style and padding out with beans etc

AlwaysTheMummy Mon 27-Aug-07 21:56:17

I love this type of thread, I'm very easy to cook for, I like to try lots of new recipes and can usually make a meal from what few ingredients we have left before shopping day, the only problem is my hubby, he's so fussy and only likes certain foods for dinner, I love to make a huge pasta dish with remaining veg or salad but hubby doesn't really like that kinda thing, he likes meat & 2 veg type dishes or curries, it's very annoying b'cos that where we spend more money grrr xx

popsycal Tue 28-Aug-07 08:15:57

Will just share sausage pie recipe which worked really well and was a hit with the kids.

Stick sausages in a casserole dish with a small bit of oil in the bottom (I used 8 chipolata sized ones for 2 adults and 2 children with an extra portion left over). Put in oven (200) for about 20 minutes so almost cooked but not quite.
While sausages are in, boil some potatoes (enough so when mashed, they will make a topping for you casserole dish.
While that is all doing, chop up an onion and a garlic cloves (in retrospect I would use 2 garlic cloves). Fry gently for 5 minutes with a good sprinkling of mixed herbs (don't do in a frying pan as you need to add more shortly).
To the onion and garlic, add a tin of tomatoes and a tinned of baked beans (next time, I would also add some more beans 0 not sure what though). Add another shake of mixed herbs. Let it all mulch down for 15 minutes or so. Taste it to see if you need anymore herbs.

All of that should be ready at about the same time. POur the tomatoey mix into the casserole dish with the sausages. Mash the potato with butter and milk and dollop on top. Cook for about 30 mins in the oven. Add grated cheese for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

I did it with frozen sweetcorn.

Was very nice

popsycal Tue 28-Aug-07 08:16:49

NOTE just to add - I cut the sausages in half before putting them in the oven.

bozza Tue 28-Aug-07 09:10:25

That sounds very nice popsy. I will try it - would be nice and warming in winter too with maybe a dash of worcester sauce. I make a similar thing called a mexican sausauge pie. This is made with sausages chopped into chunks and fried along with onion and garlic. Then flour is added to the pan to coat the sausages and however much chilli you want. Then add tinned tomatoes and a tin of kidney beans. Sometimes I also put sliced peppers in at the frying stage. Once it has all thickened up turn it into a casserole dish, and top with a mixture of grated cheese and crushed plain tortilla chips (I get smartprice ones from Asda for about 25p). Then in the oven until the topping has melted and gone crispy.

We usually have this with crusty bread and salad, but sometimes potato wedges and sweetcorn.

hecciesmum Tue 28-Aug-07 12:17:01

I sometimes spin out a spag bol to two meals by adding the small brown lentils, or black ones. Added advantage is that they look just like mince, are full of protien and taste great. My dh is a real meat eater, as are my boys, but they have never noticed that sometimes there is a wee bit less meat in the spagbol than they think and that it's actually stuffed full of lentils!

Cappuccino Tue 28-Aug-07 12:19:19

it has taken me 37 years to realise what 'leftovers' really are

we never did a roast because I thought it was expensive

however 3 meals into the £5 pork loin I realise I was wrong

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