Friday, 27 July 2012

Super Frugal Menu Plans - Austerity Without the Pain?

Oh my goodness. I thought creating a menu plan that all my family would like, one that would be properly balanced and one that didn't feel frugal even though it was would be a piece of proverbial cake. I was very wrong. It was a headache. However, I'm glad I've done it and I'm glad I have had the opportunity to shake up our meal times...because, even though I didn't realise it at the time, my meal planning needed a boost. Now, I've done two weeks worth of menus. This one is the super frugal and is largely vegetarian. I shall publish the frugal menu on Monday.

Anyway, before I detail the menus. Here are just a few things I discovered if you want to be super frugal in you cooking, but don't want to compromise on taste or nutrition. Here come the lovely bullet points!
  • You have to have plenty of time to shop. Particularly if you are ethically, supermarkets, farm shop, your own garden. You must plunder every resource to get a bargain.
  • You have to be reasonably flexible in your plans. For example, if a recipe calls for courgettes but aubergines are cheaper that day, then go for the cheaper option.
  • You have to be a keen cook. You will feel slightly chained to the stove (I love to cook and bake and yet baking is something of a chore on the super frugal menu plan).
  • Your kids need to be adventurous. You need to explore the peasant foods of the world so that your diet doesn't become monotonous.
  • Your plan must include breakfast and lunch as well as dinner. If you just plan for dinners you will start to waste food and simply have what you fancy for lunch. Also, your nutrition may be compromised, become too carb heavy etc if you don't plan in a healthy lunch.
  • Meals are cheaper when the kids are at home. Packed lunch peer pressure demands yoghurts, crips and biscuits.
  • You need to plan in for a formal snack time. Otherwise empty tummies demand crisps and biscuits.
  • If you want to be extra frugal then make everything yourself. Don't buy packet stuffing. Don't buy shop bought naan or garlic bread or rolls. Homemade bread and stuffing taste a lot nicer and are an awful lot cheaper.
  • If you're not growing herbs then consider it. Herbs make frugal cooking something special.
  • You need to have plenty of time to cook.
Also, here are a few costings for basics.
12 Free Range eggs - £1.80.
Potatoes  - £5 per 10k sack.
Lard - 45p per 8 oz
Butter (basics) - £1.20
Flour - 80p per bag (cheaper for supermarket basics)
Olive oil - £3.99 per litre
Pasta - 80p per bag (cheaper for supermarket basics)
Chick peas - £1.20 for a 500g bag from Indian supermarket.
Lentils - see above.
Garlic - 80p for 6 from Indian supermarket.
Onions - £1.20 for 4k bag from Indian supermarket.

Breakfast - Porridge with milk and maple syrup (or sugar if you can't afford the syrup).
Elevensies - Coffee for adults (planned in so it is costed - my coffee habit costs a fortune).
Lunch - Jacket potato with baked beans and cheese.
Tea - Blackberry and lemon cake (see previous posts for recipes). Tea, squash.
Dinner - Courgette lasagne, salad. Cheap supermarket fruit. Go early in the morning (9.00) to find bargains.

Breakfast - Boiled egg and soldiers.
Elevensies - Coffee for adults - squash and cheap supermarket fruit for kids.
Lunch - Homemade tomato soup and crusty bread.
Tea - Blackberry and lemon cake. Tea, squash.
Dinner - Pan Haggarty with sage and seasonal veg (supermarket cheap/marked down). Tinned peaches.

Breakfast - Toast and marmalade (have a very frugal and good recipe for grapefruit marmalade).
Elevensies - as for the rest of the week.
Lunch - Cheese and homemade coleslaw sandwiches. (Make enough coleslaw for two days).
Tea - Homemade scones and jam 9see previous posts for recipes). Drinks as per rest of week.
Dinner - Quiche (make enough for left overs), salad, potatoes. Fruit.

Breakfast - Scrambled egg on toast. Drinks.
Elevensies - See rest of week.
Lunch - Quiche and coleslaw.
Tea - Toast and Marmite. Drinks.
Dinner - Dahl, rice, cucumber salad, yoghurt (or make a proper raita), naan (or homemade pitta), supermarket fruit.

Breakfast - Porridge.
Elevensies - See rest of the week.
Lunch - Jacket potatoes with tuna, sweetcorn & coleslaw.
Tea - Scones.
Dinner - Kedgeree. Brownies and ice cream.

Breakfast - Bacon sandwiches.
Elevensies - see above.
Lunch - Homemade veg soup. Or, sweetcorn chowder. Or, lentil soup.
Dinner - Make your own pizza. You'll have tinned tuna, cheese, tomatoes, onions, garlic leftover from the other meals. Add extras to make it fun. Garlic bread, salad. Brownies and ice cream.

Breakfast - Bacon and eggs. (Light, not the full English).
Elevensies - (ahem) free at church!
Lunch - Chicken (free range from Aldi £4.99), stuffing, veg, spuds, gravy. Strawberry and rhubarb crumble, ice cream.
No tea - will be stuffed.
Supper - Cheese on toast. Tinned fruit.

Well, that's the first of the menus. I have recipes for all of the meals published so please just email if you want a more detailed breakdown.
Anon, goodehuswives!


lizzie said...

I think the menu is quite good and varied although I woud nt buy marked down fruit or veg unless I was going to use the same day - spend a bit more and get the freshest - its only fruit and veg after all, I would rather cut out the the squash or water it down. I tend to be a bit more heavy on the veg - broccolli cauliflower, peas,carrots, peppers etc. I just buy them and incorporate them in meals most days.
I find great big bean and veggie soups in the winter are are really godsend - summer can be a bit more expensive for me. I do grow all my own herbs, tomatoes and swiss chard which I find goes on for so much longer than spinach. You meals all sound tasty and light - perfect for time of year.

Angela said...

I too have enjoyed the free range chickens from Aldi.

Chickpeas- do you buy these dried/canned or what? I confess that up till now I have only ever bought canned [although often bought other dried pulses] Must check out one of the Asian supermarkets in Leicester.

good menus [we have Excellent Elevenses at our church - served at about 11.45]

blessings x

Pom Pom said...

I must add in eleven o'clock coffee and tea, too.
Beautiful menus! I imagine there is soothing fellowship around your table, DD!

Sue said...

I love your austerity posts. I am very tempted to do something similar. I note that both dried chickpeas and butter are cheaper at Waitrose. Yes really! I buy 500g blocks of English butter for £2.19 at Waitrose and 500g of chickpeas for 99p. I soak and cook a whole packet at once and freeze them for instant use. i love your menu ideas.

Dulce Domum said...

Hi Lizzie
I buy the fruit each day. I have a co op just five minutes away, but if I didn't I would spend more on fruit and veg as you suggest.

Hi Ang
My husband goes on weekly hunts around the local Asian supermarkets. He loves Leicester market and buys massive bunches of coriander and lovely little aubergines. If truth be told, he really wants to be married to a 70 year old Indian lady - less chicken dinner, more chicken maddras!(The DH has just read that comment, he roundly disputes my claim that he wants to marry a 70 year old Indian lady - but I'm letting my comment stand because I'm stubborn)!

Hi Pom Pom
We've never really been "in the money" so we do make the best out of the simple things in Hobbits.

Hi Sue
That is a really great price for butter. I'm obsessed with finding the cheapest butter possible. Also, a great price for chick peas. It pays to shop around.