As it’s January and this year I really want to try and save money and pay off my debts, I’ve got back on the meal planning train. I used to always shop like this but the last few months have been a bit up and down as the boys aren’t here to cook for all the time and I have been back and forwards to Ste’s quite a bit. Hopefully everything will settle down a bit this year as we are in a good routine and I am getting back to something I love to do – cook!
Using a meal plan is a great way to try new foods and recipes, as well as save money. I thought I would go through the way I plan my meals and then shop, as if you are looking to do either of these things this year you might find a bit of motivation.
First, I get some inspiration for meals to try. I like looking online, Pinterest is amazing! I also check recipes from my friends (Stephie at Colitis To Ostomy does a great Meatless Monday post every week and Louise at Crohns Fighting has some fab Thai recipes on her blog). I love picking up the freebie supermarket magazines too as they often have some great recipes in. I then sit and ‘ostomy proof’ them, as well as perhaps changing up some of the ingredients or the method. I like to take a recipe and make it my own! You can also plan breakfast and lunches but I don’t always go this far. I make sure I have bread, toast and sandwich fillers, crackers, eggs, cereal, soup etc so I can all sorts of things for these meals depending on what I feel like.
From that I can then make a shopping list of what I need. Often my cupboards have a good supply of herbs, spices, stock etc so I make sure I’ve got all those types of things in already so I don’t repurchase unnecessarily. Then add in all the other necessities like toilet roll and washing up liquid.
A great tip from here for people like me who can’t always manage a supermarket shop, is to shop online. So easy to set up and most supermarkets cover most areas now so you can choose your favourite. Have your list by your side and only buy what you need. Not browsing the aisles cuts down alot on buying too many ‘goodies’ that you see on the shelves and just like the look of.
If I want to go out and shop I will make my first stop Aldi. Definitely the best and cheapest I’ve found and I really like it in there. It’s five minutes in the car from me, so local too. There are some things that you just won’t find there and some things (for example their crisps) which I just don’t like, so then I head to Asda.
I was very pleased with myself for heading around Asda and only buying what I needed from there yesterday. I had my list with the two things I couldn’t get in Aldi (tarragon and coconut milk) and I wanted crisps, cereal, Actimel and the dog’s food. I also checked out the whoops section, and managed to get some meat which had been reduced.
When I got home I added these bargains to my meal planning list so I now have a full list of meals. I don’t plan to have certain things certain nights (unless the boys are here or someone is round for tea) so just mark them off when I’ve made them. I always make a family sized meal and freeze the leftovers. This is great for when I’m not feeling too good and don’t want to be cooking. There’s plenty of meals in the freezer to defrost and heat up when I’m hungry.
Just for the nosey ones among you who want to see the list, here it is!
I hope to be able to share some of the recipes with you over the coming weeks too. I have no great photography skills and my food doesn’t always look great in the photos, but it’s always tasty and not too difficult to recreate.
So to round up my top five best money saving and meal planning tips are
1) Create a meal plan, then a shopping list from this so you only buy the food you need
2) Try Aldi! I am super impressed with their prices, the fresh fruit and veg and the meat is amazing
3) Shopping online isn’t the time saver it can be made out to be but it does save you money by helping you stick to your list and if you are disabled, it’s an invaluable service
4) Check out recipes from the internet. As I said above, Pinterest is brilliant and you can check out my recipes by clicking here. If there’s something in there you don’t like, swap it for something you do! Play around with different foods and techniques and make a recipe your own.
5) Freeze leftovers. Don’t throw away perfectly good food. Pop it in a freezer tub and it will be perfect for those days you are in a rush or not up to cooking
Do you have any other fab tips? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!