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A Frugal New Year – Let’s start with meal planning….

Meal planning is probably the single biggest change I made when I started out on my frugal journey and it’s something that I continue to do (almost) every week.  I’m not perfect though and if I’m honest, there are plenty of times when we don’t stick to the plan for one reason or another but on the whole, we do quite well and have managed to reduce our food shopping bill by a fair bit.

I’m not going to insult your intelligence by telling you what meal planning is or how to do it but I will tell you how I do it and hopefully, if you meal plan too, you might share how you plan your meals in the comments below so we can all share our tips and learn from each other.

I plan our meals weekly as we do a weekly shop.  Once a week, I go through the cupboards, the fridge and the freezer and write down everything that we have in and then I sit and write a meal plan for the next week trying to incorporate as much as I can from the list of things we already have in – the more I can use up, the less I have to buy.

I do have a number of recipes that I regularly use because they’re not only cheap but also easy to make (which is a must for me) but I do try to experiment a little bit sometimes ;-)  I’m also not against using convenience foods on occasion if they’re reasonably priced and good quality, anything that makes life easier can only be a good thing, right?

My meal plan’s often change when I do my shopping if I see something on offer and because Mr Frugal works in a supermarket, we often pop in at the end of the day and pick up some great reduced bargains that have to be used up that day but I just pop them in the freezer to use for the next week’s plan.  I wrote a post not long ago about saving money in the Supermarket that you might find useful to shave some extra pennies off your shopping bill.

So, now you know how I do it, I’ll share with you this week’s meal plan.  I know I’m probably the only person this week who is meal planning and who doesn’t have half a turkey to use up after Christmas Dinner but we ended up going to my Dads for a lovely Christmas Dinner so we don’t have any leftovers to use up.  We’re both back at work tomorrow as well so  really everything is pretty much back to normal for us tomorrow so I thought we might as well get right back into it….

Monday – Fish, chips and mushy peas with the obligatory bread and butter and tartare sauce.  The breaded Haddock fillets we used were from Youngs Seafood, sent to us before Christmas as part of the Fish is the Dish campaign that we’re participating in to try and raise awareness of how easy fish is to cook and how reasonably priced it can be.  I was pleasantly surprised by how simple the haddock fillets were to cook and how delicious they tasted.  I’m pretty sure that any attempt I made at making Haddock fillets from scratch wouldn’t be nearly as tasty or filling and would probably come out at a similar, if not higher price so I’ll be adding these to my shopping list in future.

Tuesday – Slow cooker gammon cooked in Coca Cola.  Jen from The MadHouse told me about this last week and I must admit that at first, the idea of using Coca Cola as the cooking liquid for my slow cooker gammon seemed a little strange but having tried it today, it was delicious.  I don’t know if this is the right way to do it or not but all I did was pour a can of Coke (full fat only) over the gammon and then cooked on low for about six hours (it was a relatively small joint).  I would usually finish the gammon off in the oven with a glaze but due to hungry little people, I just served it as is with some chips and a fried egg and it was gorgeous.  It didn’t taste of Coke at all and was so moist and tender that it just fell apart in my mouth.  We’re definitely going to be using this method of cooking gammon again in future!

Wednesday – Egg fried rice using leftover gammon.

ThursdayMacaroni cheese

Friday – Quesadillas, because someone bought me a quesadilla maker for Christmas as their favourite food just happens to be quesadillas!

On Saturday morning I’m going to make some bolognaise in the slow cooker and turn that into some lasagnes to put straight in the freezer,  I’m also going to try my hand at making a fish pie using some of the lovely fish pieces that Youngs Seafood sent us (recipe to follow next week) and I’ll pop that in the freezer as well.  I’ve been quite lazy lately about cooking extra and freezing it but that’s one of my New Years resolutions as it saves me time, effort and money to have some meals ready to reheat in the freezer.  Like a frugal version of ready meals.

Do you have any tips to share with us for meal planning or any recipes that you use when you’re meal planning?  Please let me know in the comments if you do….

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