Family mealtimes have always been important to me but now that the kids are older, it’s harder to get everyone around the table every night.
It often seems like everyone’s off doing their own thing these days and to be fair, independence and getting out there and trying new things is something I encourage so I can hardly moan when the things I’m encouraging them to do gets in the way of family meals but I do miss the times when the kids would sit around the table doing their homework while I cooked tea and then we all sat down and ate together. Don’t get me wrong, we do still have family meals but I’d say, on average, we only manage 2 or 3 family meals a week – the rest of the time there’s at least one person missing from the table.
We’re not the only ones though. New research, carried out by sofa specialist ScS, has revealed that work is the number one reason why families struggle to have a sit-down meal together every day. According to the study of 1,000 UK parents, over two thirds (68%) of families don’t sit down together every night, with 40% admitting their job prevents them from doing so. That’s definitely a big factor in our house as Mr Frugal now works 2 or 3 later shifts a week.
Following the research, ScS is now challenging families around the UK to bring back family dining and eat together every night for a week, and keep it going and they asked us to kick things off. I’m not going to lie, it was a struggle and we definitely couldn’t do all 7 days but we did manage 5 days with a bit of juggling and some effort. The other two days were days that Mr Frugal was working late so we had no way to switch that about but what we did do, was to eat tea with me and the kids and when Mr Frugal came in later, we sat at the table and had a lovely cup of tea while he had his tea. That kind of counts doesn’t it?
I love the time we spend around the dining room table and really feel like it’s genuine quality family time and I’ll always make sure that we do it as often as we possibly can.
Not only did ScS challenge us to eat together every night for a week, they also challenged me to make a three-course meal for our family for under £5. We’re not a three-course meal for dinner sort of family but I wasn’t overly concerned and had a few options for what I was going to cook for each course so I’ll share those ideas as well as what we actually cooked.
Starter – Potato skins with garlic mayo (15p)
I really love potato skins as a starter when we go out for a meal but it never occurred to me just how frugal it was for the restaurant serving it as the dish is literally made with potato peelings that would otherwise be thrown in the bin!
I was planning to do mashed potato for our main course so I used a sharp knife to peel the potatoes which meant I got a little more potato on the peeling if that makes sense. 😉 I then just tossed the potato peelings in a little olive oil, seasoned with some salt and pepper and then cooked them in the airfryer until they were starting to crisp up a little bit.
They’re so yummy on their own but even more so with some garlic mayo which we bought from the pound shop a couple of weeks ago. It’s quite a big bottle and we only used a little bit.
This is a big portion for a starter but it served two – I made two big platefuls and we just shared them between us all.
Alternatives – I was planning on making spicy sweet potato and butternut squash soup with homemade bread rolls. I do make my own when I need to but actually, I often find packs of the ingredients I need for this soup pre-prepared in the reduced sections at the end of the day at our local supermarket for between 50p and 8op which is great value considering I just whack it in my soupmaker and lunch for the four of us is done in 20 minutes. It’s not quite as nice as my version but it’s a close second!
Main course – Posh bangers and mash with Yorkshire puddings (£3.01)
I have loads of meals that I can cook on a budget but I bought some sausages reduced to 59p in the reduced section when I went to pick up the bits to make the pasta bake that I was vaguely planning for this post. In my head, it was going to be something using my homemade tomato sauce with some sort of peppers, onion and maybe tuna but then I saw the reduced sausages and went from pasta bake to bangers and mash. 😉
There as the costings for our main course:
Potatoes – £1.29
Red onion – 23p
Reduced pack of sausages – 59p
Flour for Yorkshire Puds – 10p
2 free range eggs – 30p
300ml milk – 15p
Bisto gravy granules – 15p
Green beans (frozen) – 20p
This is a super-simple meal – I made Yorkshire puddings using our fail-proof recipe, fried the onions in a little olive oil, boiled the potatoes and made mashed potato, boiled some frozen green beans that we love.
Obviously, I did use reduced price sausages for this meal but I thought that would be OK as I often see reduced price sausages in our reduced section. I prefer good quality sausages and would rather not have them than buy the cheap ones personally so when I see them on offer then I buy a couple of packs and pop them in the freezer but I do also have quorn sausages in for meals like this and I think they’re quite good value. I think you get about three packs for £4 when you catch them on offer so they would work out around 75p more for the meal overall.
Alternatives: I was planning some sort of pasta bake because pasta is a great staple but I did consider a couple of other options from this post which is filled with cheap family meal ideas.
Chocolate traybake – £1.80
For dessert, we decided to go for a family favourite which we know we love and also gives us enough to make a dessert along with enough cake leftover to last us the next few days! Not only that but our chocolate tray bake is actually Master Frugal’s speciality so he makes it with very little supervision which gives me some time to play on Instagram.
I know it’s more expensive than you’d expect for a budget meal but we ate less than half for pudding so really, it only cost 90p ish for the amount we ate for pudding and even if you count the whole cost then we’re still under budget so all is good. 😉
You just can’t beat chocolate cake and this one is our favourite chocolate cake ever.
You can read more about the ScS Family Dining challenge here.
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