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Budget meals/meal plan
What's you meals/plan look like?

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#1 MissButtercup

Posted 09 January 2013 - 11:53 AM

We're on a tight budget at the moment so I am looking to get back into the meal planning but are struggling to come up with some fresh, tasty & nutritious meals that won't cost the earth!

Any suggestions?

What would you include in your weekly plan to avoid waste and save $$.

Edited by MissButtercup, 09 January 2013 - 11:54 AM.

#2 katiebear26

Posted 09 January 2013 - 12:09 PM

my mum was the queen of this as we have a big family, and i still prefer her cooking over anything :-)

try the following:

spaghetti bol bake - layer cooked spaghetti, bolognese mince and cheese sauce (even a pkt mix one) twice, then cover with cheese and bake. it's easy, serve with a salad or steamed vegies if you have them or sneak vegies into the mince, whatever you have on hand (or whatever needs to be used up!)

cream of chicken casserole - add a can of cream of chicken soup to cooked chicken pieces like legs or thighs, whatever vegies you like and a little water or milk to make it go further. top with bread crumbs or crumbled special k - style cereal and bake, we even used jatz crackers. this is a take on a weight watchers recipe so is not as high fat as you would think! serve with rice or pasta, or more steamed vegies, if required.

baked pumpkin on baby spinach with a balsamic/oil dressing is a great side salad.

anything in a slow cooker or just in a pot on the stove or casserole dish in the oven, so you can use cheaper cuts like gravy beef and lamb forequarter chops. add vegies and serve over pasta, mash, rice or couscous.

i think the key thing is when you are planning your meals look for things that use those special items up - for example if you buy sour cream on week, have a couple of recipes that use it so it doesn't go to waste. then buy a different special item the next week, use it up too, so you get variety in the meals as well.

oh, and if anyone is at home during the day, make enough for leftovers for lunches!

Edited by katiebear26, 09 January 2013 - 12:10 PM.

#3 MissButtercup

Posted 09 January 2013 - 01:06 PM

Thanks! Spaghetti Bol is a staple in our house and I do make a pumpkin/sweet potato and rocket/spinach salad with feta.

We don't use a lot of pre-packaged foods, I like to try and keep everything fresh. We've been eating a lot of basic salads and meat lately so I think we need some new salad recipes or other meal ideas.

There are 4 of us home during the day (myself, 6yo (during school holidays) 3yo & 3 wk old bub) and we normally have toasted sandwiches or a "health kids combo" (vege sticks, saladas, cream cheese for dipping - they sell this as a kids meal at the local pub so the girls think its a real treat lol) for lunch.

#4 Funnington

Posted 09 January 2013 - 05:31 PM

I've always followed the concept of stretching a meal across 2 (possibly) 3 additional dishes when budgeting.

For example - if you buy a leg of lamb (expensive at first glance) you can have a roast one night, a shepherd's pie another and possibly some cold meat for sandwiches or cold meat and salad.  

I'm trying to cut our meat portions down so I'm bulking things up with legumes and vegetables.  For example, if I made a shepherd's pie out of leftover lamb I would only use about 2 cups of chopped meat and bulk the rest of the mixture up with red lentils and vegetables.

Other ideas are:

Make a big casserole using chuck steak (so cheap), use leftovers for pies or freeze individual portions for lunches or a quick dinner (leftover casserole on toast - yum yum!).  When you make the casserole, again bulk it up with heaps of vegies and cheese dumplings are really filling and delicious (it's like having roast beef & yorkshire in a bowl).

Roast chicken - again, roast one night, next night a chicken pasta bake or other pasta dish and possibility some for sandwiches, salads and use the bones for stock.

I won't bore you with the endless dishes using minced beef!

Edited by Funnington, 09 January 2013 - 05:32 PM.

#5 roses99

Posted 09 January 2013 - 06:22 PM

I use the slow cooker to bulk cook. In my (large) slow cooker I can make about four meals for my family of four. I generally do a shop and buy my meat, and over the next couple days I'll do a few meals in the slow cooker. That way I can do a couple of weeks of meals in just one hit.

We mix up those freezer casseroles with things like lasagne (which I also cook in bulk and freeze). And on weekends, I like to cook from scratch because I've got more time.

When I'm organised enough and keep up the bulk cooking, we never need takeaway. Firstly, because there's always something in the freezer and secondly because it's quicker to reheat a casserole, cook rice and steam veggies than order takeaway.

Jamie Oliver has an awesome slow cooked shoulder of lamb recipe. The shoulder is a cheap cut, and it cooks beautifully. He uses the meat for a ragu and sweet potato shepherd's pie. Delish!

#6 Babetty

Posted 09 January 2013 - 06:30 PM

If you want some new salad recipes, borrow some recipe books from the library - Jamie Oliver's cookbooks always have a lot of salad recipes.

I usually stretch mince by adding grated vegies (carrots and zucchini as they hide well and are pretty cheap, carrots especially at the moment).

Small amounts of leftovers - eg leftover bolognaise sauce, pasta sauce etc, can be turned into another meal as 'pastry puffs'. Cut a sheet of puff pastry in half, put in some spoonfuls of whatever leftovers you have, fold in half and bake.

We don't eat much 'meat and veg' meals as you tend to eat more meat. We make lots of stirfrys, curries, frittatas, home made pizza etc as a little meat goes a long way in these dishes. Or the 'meal' might be a vegetarian dish with some strips of char-grilled meat laid over the top.

#7 MissButtercup

Posted 09 January 2013 - 08:03 PM

Great ideas! We did buy a full scotch fillet in bulk the other day for only $24 and we should get at least 10-15 steaks out of it. I agree we need to cut our meat down though.

I love the puff pastry idea. I am terrible at using leftovers but I think this will work for us.

I have a lot of JO books but there packed in boxes from our last move (haven't unpacked as we're waiting for our new home to be built) so I'll have to dig them out.

I like the slow cooker idea too but it's been pretty hot here and DH works in the sun all day so not sure a hot meal would work, not until it cools down anyway. The slow cookers still in a box torso will dig it out at the same time.

#8 ballogo

Posted 10 January 2013 - 09:13 AM

We make our own chicken stock and then use the chicken from the stock for sandwiches.  Using a carcass we boil up a chicken stock - including carrot, celery, pimento, celery leaves, parsley, onion.  We then shred the chicken and use it for sandwiches or other meals involving chicken.  The stock we use for soups in winter mostly.  We also have a family favourite of noodles.  Using the stock, boil up lots of vegetables - carrot, beans, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini (basically whatever is in the fridge), then left over meat.  We then use instant noodles (packet of 10 quite cheap from the Asian section in the supermarket). Add some herbs and you're done.

Being a part Asian family another favourite is fried rice.  Fry up onion and garlic add diced vegies from your fridge or even left over vegies from other meals, add chicken, ham or any other meat if you like (but not necessary if full of vegies). Add your rice, a little chicken stock and soy, egg if you like and you have a very filling and nutitious meal!

We love vegie patties- do an internet search for lentil or chick pea patties.  I have a recipe for spinach and potato patties as well.  Very yummy and nutritious! We also have a vegetable curry made with vegetable stock, a curry paste, sweet potato, spinach, and other vegies - I cant remember all  the ingredients but I'm sure there must be similar recipes online.  Vegetarian lasagna with silverbeet!  Meatless bolognaise with vegies - usually whatever we have left in the fridge.  

We also love a variety of stir fries - I always add more vegies than suggested in the recipe and keep them crunchy!

(Sorry for late reply I started this post yesterday and then got distracted by three children)

Edited by ballogo, 10 January 2013 - 09:21 AM.

#9 MrsLexiK

Posted 10 January 2013 - 09:41 AM

I find making things without using packets and jars is headps cheaper.  ie: I make fajita salad (or my DH will have it in a wrap if we have wraps at home) I make the seasoning my self with the spices from my cupboard.  I do the same with the taco meat and then I can just buy some wraps or I like to serve my taco meat over steamed veg.  

A bit of garlic, and lemon pepper ontop of frozen veg (or even canned veg) work a treat.  We go camping a bit so I like to have my veg but you can't take a whole bunch of fresh veg camping, you can take your spices though!

I also don't use anywhere near as much cream and stuff that receipes ask for.  I make my own honey mustard chic ( abit of a treat in this house as to me it is not that healthy) with a small tub of sour cream, wholegrain mustard and some dijon mustard and a sponful of honey.

spag bog is a stable in our house as well but we get the good mince and drain it, and I make the sauce from tinned toms and my spices and condiments. No one batch tastes the same.  We add mushrooms and zuccini and carrot and onions but I also don't serve it with pasta, it is served mainly with veg. DH then eats this the next day or so on a sandwhich for lunch.

Stirfrys are also great as well, I make it again with what I have ie not a jar of kanton.  If I want it to be more a runny stirfry I add stock to the stirfry.

I am loving my slow cooker as well, again I do it from scratch mostly. I will always add more veg and not always add as much meat to it though.  If I added the meat it called for there would be enough for 2 dinners and 3 or 4 lunches, now there is enough for 2 dinners or 1 dinner and a few lunches.

#10 monkeys mum

Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:39 AM

From my kids point they love pasta bakes but turn their noee st spaghetti lol I use about600-700g of mince for two meals to feed five of us. I bulk it up with grated mushroom, carrot, sweet potato if there's some left, any veg that grates really. Then I do the sauce myself and mix it through cooked pasta sprinkle with a little cheese and bake one and put the other in the freezer.

My kids love my mac and cheese too. It is never made the same way twice, the main recipe is to mix flour with milk to fofm the sauce I use about a cup of milk and the rest water then add garlic and any other seasoning. I add about 250-300g of bacon pieces, dicd up cauliflower, heated mushrooms and any other vsg that needs using then top that with pasta mix it around and bake for half an hour. Add grated cheese and mix it around then bake fir five minutes. We use a bit of pasta as my youngest only eats soft food.

Strog is a good one fir doing in bulk too.

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