Unfortunately, I know what it feels like to have hardly any money and to really struggle. Being unemployed, a single parent and with all the bills to pay can be very difficult. I had to feed my 2 children and myself on very little money, and I would like to show you how I used to budget for this. Here is a list of ingredients that you will need to feed a family of 4 for their main meals for 5 days, stretching to 7. I had to live like this for a while until I found employment. Obviously, some of these store cupboard ingredients can be used many times and you will make a saving anyway
I couldn’t cover within the £20 maximum to include the basics like bread, milk and washing powder etc, however, I feel that you could even get all of this at just over £30 per week.
The items below were calculated this week at current prices as of 30/01/2017, from one of the well-known big supermarkets, whose groceries can be more expensive. If you can shop around and visit a ‘Lidl’ or an ‘Aldi’ supermarket and shop at a local market you will be able to buy your fresh vegetables and meat a lot cheaper. It is best to shop around.
The 5 meals are below:
What you will need:
Pack of baked potatoes (4)-£1.00 Pack Beef mince-£3.00/Split in half for 2 dinners
Bag of potatoes-£1.00 Pork mince-£1.80
3 onions-48p Medium Chicken-£3.85
Mixed herbs-70p Frozen white fish fillets-£1.90
Pack of fresh tomatoes-60p
Pack of economy spaghetti-30p
Bag of carrots-45p
Half a dozen eggs-80p
Tin of sweetcorn-35p
Tin of peas-11p
Beef stock cubes-30p
Economy tinned tomatoes-31p
Economy Mozzarella cheese pack-47p
Frozen green beans-70p
Block of Cheddar Cheese-£1.40
Packet of economy pasta-30p
TOTAL COST: £23.47
Cottage Pie with potatoes and vegetables
Tablespoon of oil
Half the beef mince from the pack
1 level teaspoon of marmite
3 heaped teaspoons of gravy granules
Peel and chop the onion and carrot very small. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the meat together with the vegetables for about 10 minutes until golden brown. Stir in the water and the Marmite. Simmer slowly for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel potatoes, cut into quarters and boil for about 20-25 minutes until soft. Drain water and mash with a little milk or margarine if you prefer.
Preheat oven to 180oc/350oF/Gas 4
When the meat is cooked, mix together the gravy granules in a mug adding hot water to fill. Add to the meat mixture then place in an ovenproof dish. Spoon the mashed potato over the top and bake in the oven until the potato is slightly brown.
Serve with Green beans or vegetables of your choice.
Roast Chicken Dinner:
Obviously, quite self- explanatory. Cook your medium chicken in the oven for about 1 and a half to 2 hours until the juices run clear when the leg is pierced with a knife.
Peel and quarter some potatoes, boil for about 10 minutes until quite soft. I then drain them, put them back in the saucepan and give them a good shake until they have fluffy edges. Add the potatoes to a tray of red hot oil that’s been in the oven for about 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and place back in the oven and cook for a further 45 minutes, depending on your oven.
Serve all together with vegetables.
Thawed white fish
2-3 tablespoons of milk
4oz fresh breadcrumbs
Oil for frying
Place the fish in a pan and add enough water to just cover. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and poach very gently for about 15 minutes. Cool, drain the fish and flake, removing any skin or bones.
Meanwhile, boil the potatoes and mash as explained above.
Mix the fish with the mashed potato, a small pinch of the herbs and enough beaten egg to bind the mixture together. Flour your hands to prevent sticking, then shape the mixture into 6 to 8 cakes. Brush with remaining egg mixture and coat in the breadcrumbs, (add a quarter of a teaspoon of chilli or paprika powder to the bread crumbs to make them spicy, if you like) covering all of the fishcakes. Place in the fridge for about an hour.
Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan and shallow fry the fish cakes on a medium heat for about 5 minutes on either side. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with a mixed salad.
Half the pack of beef mince
Tin of Tomatoes
Beef stock cube
Packet of Pasta
2 to 3 garlic cloves
Preheat the oven at Gas 5 or Electric equivalent.
Dry fry the beef mince and garlic, then drain off the excess fat when cooked through, usually about 5 minutes. Then add the tin of tomatoes, tomato puree, mixed herbs and the beef stock cube which has been dissolved in half a cup of kettle hot water. Mix together and cook slowly for about 30 minutes on the hob.
Meanwhile cook the pasta and drain according to the packet instructions.
When the meat ragu is cooked, add half to the bottom of a deep casserole dish, pour the drained pasta on top and add the remaining meat sauce over the top spreading to the sides. Cut the Mozzarella cheese ball into slices and lay over the top. Bake in the oven for a further 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese has browned.
Pork Meatballs with Spaghetti
(Basic Tomato Sauce)
1 Tablespoon of oil
1 Teaspoon of mixed herbs
Clove of garlic if preferred
Peel and slice the onion finely then chop the tomatoes. Heat the oil and fry the chopped onion until brown (and chopped garlic). Add the tomatoes and the mixed herbs and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to very low, half cover with a lid and cook on the hob for about an hour. If, when finished, you want to discard the skins pass them through a sieve.
2oz Cheddar Cheese
Garlic cloves (according to taste)
Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4 or equivalent.
Grate the cheese and crush the garlic cloves. Mix the Pork mince, garlic, breadcrumbs, mixed herbs, cheddar cheese, egg and a little water to bind together. Divide into balls and place in a greased oven proof dish. Bake in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, taking them out once in a while to shake the dish to prevent sticking.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according the packet instructions.
Once the meatballs have cooked, add them to the tomato sauce and pour over drained spaghetti.
I really hope these meals save you some money. The Pasta Bake is very substantial and can be eaten the following day. It’s a good idea to save any left overs, and use the eggs to make omelettes and have them with some baked potatoes and salad to stretch the meals out for a further 2 days. So really all in all, you have 7 really healthy nutritious meals for a whole week for just over £20 quid.
PS.. I’ll post the vegetarian option next week x