Tag Archives: Meal Planning

Meal planning and how it saves me money

The pros of meal planning (there are no cons!)

There was a time long ago when I never considered meal planning. I would wander around the supermarket grabbing things that looked tasty and with only a vague idea of what we already had at home. This lack of meal planning lead to the following scenarios:

I came home with too much food for the week and it got thrown in the bin.

Items I already had were bought again and added to the stockpile, some of which would also end up in the bin.

Insufficient food was purchased and we ran out halfway through the week.

I forgot to buy items that we actually needed to make the meals I was vaguely planning as I went along, such as pasta or rice.

I had to return to the supermarkets mid week when I then got distracted by stuff I hadn’t actually gone in for and spent more money than I intended to!

It only takes a few minutes

Sound familiar? I am sure we have all done this from time to time. I have found that spending 10-25 minutes each week meal planning and writing a shopping list really pays off and saves me a lot of time and money.  If you need to reduce you food budget, I guarantee that you will when you start meal planning.

I go through the fridge, freezer and cupboards first to see what we already have and to ensure we have enough staples like pasta, tinned tomatoes, teabags, potatoes etc. Our meals are planned around what needs using up first. I frequently discover that I don’t need to buy as much as I thought at this point!

Where to find inspiration

I use my large shelf of cookery books for inspiration – and the Internet, of course. If you type in ‘what can I do with cabbage/bacon/ chorizo’, etc you will have a list of helpful suggestions for meals using them.

Today, I have a bag of sorry looking carrots in the fridge. The potatoes from last week are starting to sprout. I have two peppers. I also have some apples that are turning brown in places but are still usable. These will be built into my menu planner for the next couple of days so that I don’t waste them.

In the freezer I have some fish that I bought in the reduced section last week and for some reason I have masses of frozen spinach.

I also know that we are out one day and that I will be eating alone one night so I will factor that in.

This week’s menu looks like this:

Here are the recipes for Saturday’s carrot salad and Friday’s Spaghetti cheese casserole.

I have written the shopping list so that I only purchase what I need for the week. Now I’m off to Lidl!

Are you into meal planning and, if so, what are you eating this week?


Would you give a guest a microwave meal?

Meal planning

Our lovely French student has insisted on cooking for us tonight. He has been so appreciative of everything I have put on his plate. I am looking forward to a bowl of ratatouille cooked the authentic way!

He told me that the other students in his group are envious when he tells them what we have been eating: home made soups and casseroles with fresh vegetables every day and the odd home made cake. Some of them have apparently been presented with a microwave meal every night! Honestly, what a way to treat a guest. Perhaps that is what they eat every day anyway, but you would think they might make a bit of an effort for a paying guest.

However I have spent far too much on food in recent weeks so when he goes we will be eating a lot less meat. We will have the vegetables and cakes though still. You need the odd treat.

So I have been trawling the net for new nutritious yet frugal recipes. My favourites are always veggie stews and curries in this weather plus pasta and risotto dishes.

I am working on my meal plan. Any suggestions?

On Yer Bike!

bikeI forgot to show everyone my Christmas present from Mr Shoestring! His friend reconditions second-hand push bikes and he got me one. It is the most comfortable bike I have ever ridden and I am chuffed to bits with it. I felt like an over excited 6 year old when he dragged me down to the shed on christmas morning to show me it. It has a big basket and a bell, but he resisted putting ribbons on the handlebars 🙂 (although there was a bit of tinsel!).

The christmas leftovers are finally eaten, with very little wasted. I intended to spend as little as possible when I went shopping this week by using up some of my store cupboard ingredients and the reduced meat I bought in Asda the other day. I am also still using this Autumn’s crop of pumpkins and leeks. However, I still managed to spend £65! I suppose it’s not too bad for four of us for a week and this did include cat food, toiletries and cleaning stuff. But I had intended to spend no more than £50. Still, I have quite a lot of food in the freezer that will be eaten next week too so hopefully can bring it down a bit next time.

This week’s meal plan is as follows:

Tonight – enchiladas, using a bargain kit from Approved Food and some yellow stickered chicken breast
Friday – vegetable and chick pea curry and rice
Saturday – pumpkin risotto (I will make more soup with the remaining pumpkin)
Sunday- yellow stickered pork loin with roast spuds and veg
Monday – chicken casserole and veg, using an Approved Foods sauce mix
Tuesday – Jacket spuds stuffed with tuna or beans, carrot salad
Wednesday – veggie stirfry and rice noodles

Hopefully I won’t need to buy anything else until next Thursday. So, is a £65 for groceries for a family of four adults too much? I know I could spend less by cutting out all the meat, but I am reluctant to do that at the moment. What do you spend per person?

Meal planning

Any frugal folks know how important it is to plan your meals. This way you only buy what you need for the week and can factor in things like visitors, how much time you are likely to have on any given evening, what you already have in the store cupboard, etc.

So, I always plan at least a week ahead. We always have toast or cereal for breakfast, and soup or sandwiches for lunches, so that’s easy. I always try to plan for the munchies too and make sure there are biscuits, crackers and maybe a few bags of crisps so that no one is tempted to cook the sausages that I had intended for the next day’s dinner when they get home late 🙂

This week I am extending last week’s shopping to cover another 7 days to eek out my budget. This is not going to be hard as we were invited out to lunch unexpectedly yesterday so the whole chicken I had intended to cook is still in the freezer. I also have some thighs and drumsticks from a bargain lot of reduced chicken I purchased a month or so ago, some sausages (meat and Quorn ones), masses of cous cous and a couple of packets of savoury rice from Approved Foods, courgettes and spinach that I grew and froze, a few bits of white fish, spaghetti and pasta, frozen liver and a few rashers of bacon, cabbage that I got reduced last week and we are still ploughing through it….we aren’t going to starve.

Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.
Ayn Rand

Tonight I will pop to Aldi for some cheese and milk, rolls, toilet paper and a few bananas. Other than that, we will be eating what we already have.

This week’s meals will be:

Tonight: Sausages, mash and cabbage
Tuesday: chicken and vegetable casserole with potatoes
Wednesday: Liver and bacon casserole with potatoes and cabbage
Thursday: Spaghetti cheese casserole
Friday: Jacket spuds and pumpkin soup
Saturday: Chicken and mushroom risotto and carrot salad
Sunday: Roast chicken with roast spuds and carrots

What are you all having this week?