Everywhere I’ve looked I have read that the best way to reduce food spending was to make a menu plan for the week – or even the month – and cook everything from scratch. Now, I won’t deny that buying fresh produce in order to make your own meals is certainly both cheaper and healthier than buying processed food. I even do it quite often and I do see the difference.
However – and this is a BIG however – whoever coined the term “Domestic Goddess” was not thinking about me. If fact, although I can be quite organised in most parts of my life, I lose all brain power when it comes to cooking. I can produce a yearly budget – and that is with a widely fluctuating income – but ask me what we are having for dinner tonight and I go blank. On top of that, not only I am not the best of cooks but I don’t really enjoy spending too much time in the kitchen either.
I decided to sit down with a few cookery books (yes, I do own some even though I never really use them) and a notebook, and I spent a couple of hours looking for recipes that looked tasty, cheap and, above all, easy and quick to produce. I was really surprised by how fast my list grew.
The majority came from Nigel Slater’s “The 30-Minute Cook” and Jack Monroe’s “A Girl Called Jack”
Next came the menu plan and the problem with that part was in the name itself. In this house it is very difficult to plan anything as I never know how many people are going to be eating, it can vary from one to five on any given day and what (if anything) has been discussed in the morning has every chance of having changed long before dinner. I have managed to come up with five main meals for Monday to Friday as the weekend anything goes. Here it is:
- Monday: Roast chicken with carrots, parsnips and potatoes
- Tuesday: Cauliflower with cream, bacon and mash
- Wednesday: Chicken (leftovers) and mushroom pasta
- Thursday: Burgers with chips
- Friday: Sausage casserole with mixed vegetables
Then I made a list and went to Tesco and that is when I discovered that Sunday afternoon is a good time for finding good offers. I found a big chicken for £2.28, a bag of parsnips for 23p, a bag of carrots for 15p, and a big bag of pears for 79p. Extra mature cheese was half price (I bought 4 packs, grated one and froze the rest), sausages were £1.50 for eight nice, big ones, cream was £1.75, pasta 39p and mushrooms 79p. I already had potatoes, frozen veg and burgers (bought on offer for £1.29). All in all, it is well worth the effort.
Best of all, I had £7 in vouchers and the money saved has gone into my penny jar.