Friday, August 8

Making a Meal Planner with Just a Crafty Mama

Hi, I'm Sarah-Jane and I'm the proud owner of the blog "Just a Crafty Mama". I'm on a mission to run a home on a budget while still getting to enjoy life and indulge in my crafty hobby. I can be found on social media's as @craftymama087

Being a parent isn't by any definition easy and it certainly ain't cheap. Wither your a stay at home parent or you work (either full or part time), there isn't one of us who couldn't benefit from having a few extra pennies in the bank account.

After completing the no spend challenge in June, I've managed to pick up a few tricks that I'd like to share with you guys. By cutting down on the spending and the wasted food i managed to save over £200 in just one month!

The first step in saving money on food is to make a meal planner.

There are loads of ways you can do this i.e write it in a diary, on a wipe board on your fridge or using one of the many free printables available on pinterest.

I personally have made one up, cause i find that having a nice planer makes me wanna write in it each week and also it sits in the kitchen so i don't have to field the daily "whats for dinner".

When making your meal plan try and use food you have in your house as the base of the meals. There is no point going and buying some meat when you have a drawer full in the freezer.

When you have a rough idea of what kinds of things you have in already, you can build your meals around it and only need to buy in what you don't have.
Ive been working on some meal plans that will feed a family of 4 but if you a couple you could half it and save further.

So here's some ideas ...
Mon - Mexican chicken
Tues - pizza with wedges
Wed - Macaroni Cheese with garlic bread
Thu - mince and tatties
Fri -  Roast Chicken dinner
Sat - Chicken and leek pasta
Sun - Gammon steak with wedges and egg

I managed to get my weekly shop down from around £50-£60 a week to below £30 for food. Obviously the likes of washing power and toilet rolls are gonna add to your bill but those (when bought in bulk) are a monthly occurrence.

*all prices are taken from my usual shop each week at a big supermarket (think green logo) but many items can be purchased elsewhere i.e Aldi or Farmfoods.

Your shopping list
Where possible i recommend you shop online. That way your not tempted by anything you don't need. Offers like 3 for 2 aren't as good as they seem if your not really needing the items. If you do go into the supermarket, try and go later on in the evening (after you've eaten) as there is the chance of getting great finds in the reduced sections and you should NEVER shop when hungry. Oh the money you'll end up wasting!

Here's the shopping list you'll need for the week if your using the meal planner above ...

Fajita seasoning 58p/packet
Rice 40p/1kg
Sweetcorn 40p/tin
Pizza kit 98p/box
Frozen wedges £1/bag
Cheese around £2/block
Potatoes £2/2.5kg
Mushrooms 65p/150g
Garlic & herb soft cheese 88p/tub
Leek 80p/each
Milk £1/4pts
Pasta 29p/500g
Butter £1/250g
Plain flour 40p/500g
Garlic bread 33p/each
Onions 69p/kg
Carrots 83p/1.2kg
Broccoli 49p/each
Eggs £1.25/tray of 15
Whole chicken around £3
Chicken breasts £3.90 or 3 for £10
Tray of mince £4 or 3 for £10
Gammon steak £3.70 or 3 for £10

Most of the meals are self explanatory but for some there is little additions you can add to bulk up the meals.

I tend to place each chicken breast into a sandwich bag and bash it with a rolling pin till its about 1/2cm thick.

*It's a great way for getting out the pent up frustration cause the boilers acting up or cause the kids have been singing the same song over and over ... I'll "let it go" when she does!"*

In an large dish mix up 2 table spoons of the fajita mix with 3 table spoons of oil. Coat each of the 'sqeeshed' chicken breasts in the mix making sure they are well coated and then leave in the dish and pop in the fridge.

Cook the rice adding half a tin of sweetcorn. On the last 5 min of the rice, fry off the chicken. Once cooked through, dish up with the rice and serve.

This one is pretty self explanatory. You follow the directions on the box to make up the dough and then you make up your pizzas.

*This was how i got my little Agent outta his fussy phase. When he started making the food himself he started to get more interested in eating it.*

It's totally up to you if you wanna make little pizzas or one big one. Using the remaining tin of sweetcorn, an onion and some chopped up mushrooms you can make it a veggie pizza or it can stay a plain cheese. Its a blank canvas so feel free to add what you wish. While the pizzas are in the oven you can cook the wedges. 

*i love meals that you can cook at the same time. Feel less guilty about running my oven when there is a few things in it*

In a pan with a little butter, fry off the leek and an onion, then add the left over chicken from the night before.

Mix in the tub of garlic and herb soft cheese while you cook the pasta. Let the cheese melt and once it starts to simmer, mix in with the cooked pasta and serve.

I make my cheese sauce from scratch but there is nothing stopping you using a packet sauce if your short on time. In the sauce i mix in some fried onions and mushrooms. I like to add veg to pretty much everything but its also lovely with bacon, chicken or even slices of smoked sausages.

Once ready, mix up and place in an oven dish and grate cheese over the top of it. Place in the oven when your cooking the garlic bread and allow it to brown. Another thing I do is crunch up some crisps into a near powder then mix in with the cheese for the topping. It gives a nice crunch :)

At the beginning you might find it difficult to stick to the meal plan but just cause you may stumble, please don't give up all together. The amount of money you can save is worth it!

I hope you find this article helpful and good luck in your endeavour to save. Feel free to swing by the blog where I'll be sharing more frugal tips as well as crafty makes :)

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