Meal Planning Monday: Shaking off the January Blues

It’s the end of January and I’m shattered. If it were just me, I’d happily exist on a diet of things on toast; but the boys need a proper meal on the table and I need to eat a bit better too. January is about as down in the doldrums as it gets. There’s not a great deal of seasonal veg about and the dark evenings lend themselves to stodgy comfort food dishes. We love a hearty stew as much as the next family, but we’re all starting to crave slightly lighter meals.

I don’t write a meal plan every week, because I don’t do a shop every week. I do a big online shop about every 2-3 weeks and plan 12 meals or so for the next fortnight. The meals are not fixed to specific days, I just cook what I fancy depending on what needs using up and how much time I have to cook. I’ll make quick meals like pasta on days when dinner time needs a speedy turnaround. We almost always eat at the table and I like to cook a nice family dinner a few times a week so we can sit, chat and take our time over it all.

My big shop will arrive on Monday evening and I’m more excited than I should be that my empty fridge will be full again. I’ve spent a smidge over £100 on my shop and it should be enough for 12 meals. I’m blogging a weekly recipe post (each Friday, keep an eye out as some of them are really, really lovely). In my shop this week I’ve also bought baking things for six new and original recipe blog posts. I’d say 12 meals and six bakes for around £100 makes me a slightly smug but very frugal shopper!

This coming week feels like a bit of a lazy one for me. Most of what I’ve planned are meals which are quick to prep and cook; or things I can throw in a slow cooker and forget about.

Meal Planning Monday: Shaking off the January Blues

Saturday night is Dad cooks night and he’s promised us his signature dish – the Full English (sausages, beans, egg, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast). It might not be the healthiest meal, but he does make an effort to cook things without fat and loads up our plates with the healthier veg.

I think veg is going to be a real focus for me over the next few weeks. Whatever meal I’m serving, I’ll make sure there’s a big pile of fresh veg to go with it. I’m really craving a fresh, zingy salad with lots of herbs too. I’m so done with boiled carrots right now.

If you’re looking for meal planning inspiration, check out my 55 family meals your kids will actually eat!

Meal Planning Monday: New Year, New Menu?

Christmas Day 2017 was a really lovely day. We all got nice presents and we all had a really good Christmas dinner. I’d cooked enough so there would be leftovers aplenty for the next few lazy days and I was feeling quite content with myself. Then I got flu and spent the next 10 days in bed. I’m still a bit wobbly and woozy; but worse still, my fridge is festering with the Christmas leftovers we didn’t get to eat. My job later this morning is to clear out the fridge and prepare it to be filled with normal food once again.

Tomorrow morning our first food shop of the year will be delivered and I can’t wait. I feel like I’ve had too long away from the kitchen and I’m ready to start cooking nice things for my family again. Admittedly I’m still not feeling 100%, so what I do cook will hopefully be a balance between really quick and easy and something tasty but full of good healthy stuff to build us all up again.

Here’s what is on our menu this week…

Meal Planning Monday: New Year, New Menu?

I’m so excited about getting back in the kitchen, I dread to think what the boys have been feeding themselves on while I’ve been in my sick-bed.

I’m a big fan of meal planning, having a menu can save me so much time and money. There’s something really comforting about knowing what our evening meals will be for the week and that I’ve done all the shopping I need to do to prepare those meals. If I’m thinking ahead I’ll try to make extra to eat another day, or for lunch the next day or maybe even freeze for a rainy day in the future.

One thing I have done which has really helped me is to create a list of 55 family meals my family will always eat. If you’re meal planning and you need some inspiration, it’s definitely worth having a look through my list. Each time I sit down to meal plan my list is always close to hand.

What’s on your menu this week?

Meal Planning Monday – Costly Convenience Foods

This week, despite being organised and strict with my spending, I’ve still ordered over £100 worth of food for us. Our house is currently the house of the plague, so I’ve planned a few convenience food meals to make mealtimes a bit easier this week. That’s almost certainly helped bump up the cost of mealtimes.

When I sit down and plan our meals for the next week or so, I also write a shopping list. This makes me feel really organised. When I shop online I tend to use MySupermarket because I feel like to helps me to shop in a more pocket friendly way. If I need tinned tomatoes and I’m not fussed about the brand; then I can easily find the cheapest or what’s on offer. I feel like a super savvy shopper when I do this.

You’d think with me being very careful about what I buy it would mean I had a fairly modest shopping bill. Not so, somehow I’ve just spent £100 on about 9 days worth of food for three people; not including the dog. Admittedly this week I’ve bought more convenience foods than normal, because I’ve got a chest infection and I’m feeling quite poorly. I don’t have the energy or inclination to stand in the kitchen cooking from scratch every night.

Despite this, I think I’ve put together a fairly wholesome menu for the next seven days. What do you think?

Meal Planning Monday - Costly Convenience Foods

Admittedly I’ve bought in the kofta, meatballs, pie and burgers, but the rest will be cooked from scratch. I’ve tried to offset some of the convenience aspect by adding healthier sides and not beating myself up about it.

I’m veggie and I know I need to eat to get well but my appetite isn’t great at the moment. Where the boys are eating meat I’ve planned a veggie substitute. I’ve treated myself to a Linda McCartney pie for on Friday and I’ll have chopped up Quorn sausage instead of meatballs. Incidentally the Quorn meatballs are the best in the business, but sadly not yet available from Morrisons.

So that’s our menu for the week. It’s not exactly adventurous, but it should be fairly easy to prepare and keep us going until we’re all at the other side of the various bugs we’ve got.

What do you think of our menu?

Meal Planning Monday w/c 16th October 2017

Although I meal plan every single week, I rarely blog about meal planning. I thought I’d share what we’re having for dinner this week at Casa HodgePodgeDays. Our evenings are busy; husband runs, the boy has after school things and homework. Plus I am often finishing off work or going out to things.

Dinner needs to be quick, easy, fairly well-balanced and tasty enough for us all to eat without complaint. It usually falls to me to prepare and serve dinner. I’m trying to persuade my husband to cook once a week for us. I’ve told him it doesn’t need to be fancy. It just needs to be tasty and not something I’ve had to think about or prepare.

To his (sort of) credit, he did go out and buy the ingredients for hot dogs for last Saturday night, he just never got round to actually cooking them, which I ended up doing. The dream would be to have someone do meal prep and delivery every night, but my fairy godmother hasn’t come up trumps with that yet.

Meal Planning Monday – What’s on our menu this week…

Meal Planning Monday w/c 16th October 2017

It’s all pretty simple fayre this week. It’s meals like beef stew or sweet and sour pork which can sit bubbling away gently in the slow cooker for the afternoon. Or quick to cook meals like spaghetti or risotto which I can have on the table in half an hour.

I am a hider of veg, so every meal will contain several vegetables finely chopped or grated into them. Pretty much anything which goes in the slow cooker ends up with a carrot or two finely grated into the sauce. Once it cooks the carrot disappears like magic. Vegetable magic!

I’m also a veggie, so where meat is mentioned, eg pork, then I portion off some sauce before the meat goes in and add a substitute; maybe tofu, paneer, quorn or just my favourite chunky veg. Sometimes we all eat the veggie alternative, quorn meatballs are brilliant and we have them a lot!

The menu is a little potato heavy. I’ll mix things up with sweet potato mash, or pile extra veg onto their plates and put fewer chips on there. What do you think of my menu?

Is meal planning something you would like to read more about on my blog? Let me know in the comments box if you think I should do this more often. Thanks for reading!

Pizza Express delivered to your door by Deliveroo

Pizza Express is one of our favourite restaurants to eat out at as a family. We all love pizza and pasta, the dough balls are to die for and they are really child friendly. Pizza Express is now available to be delivered straight to your door by Deliveroo, so we decided to put them to the test.

This weekend was an incredibly busy one for our little family. I spent most of it out of the house working and the boys spent most of it in the park running about. We all arrived home on Sunday evening, tired, hungry and in need of a lazy few hours cuddling on the sofa in front of the TV. I was in no mood to cook, so we decided to order Pizza Express and have it delivered to our door by Deliveroo.


I’d downloaded the free Deliveroo app a few weeks ago and every so often I had a little explore of what was available in our area. The app is really easy to use, choose the restaurant you would like to order from and just select what you want to order, pay for it and it’s delivered to your door by a friendly chap on a bike.

We ordered the Etna Pizza – a succulently spicy Romana recipe, where nduja sausage is paired with sweet and spicy roquito chilli peppers. The Etna is exclusively available for Deliveroo customers.


I went for the Padana Pizza – goat’s cheese, mozzarella, tomato, caramelised onion, spinach, red onion and garlic oil. And the small boy had the Piccolo American Set Menu – dough balls, pepperoni pizza and a little brownie. We grabbed a side of crispy, fluffy Potato Nocciola too – we were hungry!


The Deliveroo app helpfully has a countdown clock to show you where your order is up to – once it’s out for delivery you can even track your delivery on the map. I thought this was cool and my husband thought I was some kind of psychic – “our pizza is at the lights outside the nail bar in the village” etc.

Our meal arrived piping hot, I was impressed at how hot it was actually. The delivery charge is £2.50 and on a cold night when you’re all tired, I think it’s worth paying for delivery. The convenience of having someone hand you your meal half an hour after ordering it is a nice treat, and it’s always good to eat something I’ve not had to cook myself.

We all sat quietly munching through our pizzas. The small boy had the dough balls (always excellent), an American pizza, which was essentially a pepperoni pizza and a small brownie. He polished off every scrap and asked if we could have it for tea again – yes!


My Padana was very filling, loaded with toppings but I thought it could have done with another few minutes in the oven to really crisp up the base.

Hubs had the Etna. He loves spicy things so this was perfect for him. He polished it off in double-quick time and like me his only criticism was it needed a little longer in the oven to crisp the base.

If I’m being picky – my favourite pizza wasn’t available (the Soho if you’re asking) and I couldn’t see a way to customise your order; so you can’t ask for no mushrooms for example. But we were all impressed and we would definitely order Pizza Express delivered by Deliveroo again.

The spicy Etna pizza is exclusively available for Pizza Express customers to order by Deliveroo mobile app, through the Deliveroo website or through the Pizza Express website.

This is a collaborative post.

Unboxing my “festive” Degustabox November 2015

I am seriously enjoying receiving my monthly Degustabox. It’s pretty exciting to be sent a box of nice things to eat on a regular basis, especially as right now I’m feeling really burnt out and lacking culinary inspiration. 

This month I was told to expect a box of festive treats, and they weren’t wrong. My idea of festive treats are some nice nibbles and something a bit special for the cheese board, and I was not disappointed.

You can watch me unbox my Degustabox November 2015 here –

The Degustabox November 2015 contained…
Britvic – Gourmet Coffee Drops
Ryvita – Crispbread
Branstons – Chutney
Butterkist – Popcorn
Bourne & Wallis – Pickles
Nim’s Fruit Crisps – Mango & Pineapple Fruit Crisps
Ryvita – Crackers
Hartley’s – Jelly
Belvita – Soft Baked
Divine – Chocolate

Including some special Degustabox Discoveries…
Jim Jams – Choc Spread
Williamson Tea – Lemon Sunshine
Tuckey’s – Digestives

Degustabox November 2015

There were some real treats in this Degustabox, I loved with salted caramel popcorn and really need to get my mitts on more. The Jim Jams chocolate spread was a hit with both the boy and me – you can’t beat chocolate spread on a toasted bagel!

I loved the Riveta crackers (both kinds) as I’ve already started to nibble at the Christmas cheese stash, likewise the Branston chutney and Bourne & Wallis pickled onions have been excellent accompaniments, as have the Tuckey’s Digestive biscuits – I love digestive biscuits with cheese and these have a slightly more savoury note, and are less sweet than the brand leader.

I’ve also been enjoying the gourmet coffee drops from Britvic – if you like flavoured coffee these are great, just a few drops in you mug of coffee or hot chocolate and you get a lovely vanilla or caramel hit. 

There are lots of lovely treats in this latest Degustabox – lots going on and lots to enjoy. A merry Degustabox for a Merry Christmas!

Grab your discount! If you’d like to try Degustabox for yourself, you can get£6 off your first box with this discount code BLDEG15. You can find out more about Degustabox on their website.

Note: I was sent this Degustabox free of charge for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Unboxing my Degustabox October 2015

A couple of days ago we received our Degustabox, a box of interesting food and drinks, this month there were slightly fewer sweet treats and drinks than in previous months, but there were plenty of interesting things to munch on, you can watch me unbox my October 2015 Degustabox below….

This month the box contained the following goodies…

9Bar – Carob covered healthy snack bars, 5 bars £3.49
Cirio – Classic passata and chopped tomatoes £2,25
Lorina – premium French lemonade with coconut and lime £1.49
The Snack Organisation – Freeze dried apple pieces £1 per pack
The Snack Organisation – Sweet chilli rice crackers £1
Liberation Foods – yummy fairtrade oven baked peanuts £2
Kabuto Noodles – tasty noodles in a pot £1.99
Chip Strips – New style crisps, 2 packs in the box, £2
A full value voucher for President butter

For the Db’s Discoveries this month there were-
Provena – gluten free oat muesli £3.79
Appy Drinks – Juice drinks for kids £1.99

We’ve previously tried the Appy Drinks which were a big hit then and remain so today. The juice boxes contain no added sugar or preservatives and are made from natural ingredients. The small boy loves them and they’re a nice after-school treat.

It was nice to get the passata and chopped tomatoes, both store-cupboard ingredients I usually use a few times a week, but my favourite things in this box were The Snack Organisation sweet chilli rice crackers – really tasty crunchy crackers which are lovely on their own or with dips, and fairly low calorie, I’ll be buying these again!

My other favourites (yes I am a snackaholic) were the Chip Strips, these are really hard to describe, like wafer thin pieces of poppadom but in cheese and barbecue flavours. Both the small boy and his Grandad enjoyed these lovely snapable snacks, though I did wonder if they’d be structurally sound enough to hold big dollops of dip. They didn’t last long though, good snacks never do!

An honourable mention must go to the Liberation Foods fairtrade peanuts. Little 40g packets of peanutty joy. Oven baked and liberally dusted with flavour, these are excellent snacks to munch through while watching TV with a drink.

I am reliably informed that the next Degustabox is a festive box of treats – so I can’t wait for that!

Degustabox October 2015

Grab your discount! If you’d like to try Degustabox for yourself, you can get£6 off your first box with this discount code BLDEG15. You can find out more about Degustabox on their website.

Note: I was sent this Degustabox free of charge for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Degustabox September 2015

We’ve been receiving our monthly Degustabox for 5 months now, and I really look forward to seeing what goodies I’m sent each month. We’ve discovered some pretty good stuff through getting the Degustabox, and this month was no exception. There were some familiar favourites and some new things we’ll be looking out for. 

If you don’t know what a Degustabox is, it’s a box of food and drink goodies you get sent every month. It costs £12.99 but the contents are usually worth more than that, plus you get to try new things that you might not have tried otherwise.

Degustabox September 2015
My September 2015 Degustabox, well packed, the bottles all individually bubble wrapped and the whole box protected from bumps etc.

In the September 2015 Degustabox there was…
– Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, 2 packets, 85p each
– Mallow & Marsh mini box of raspberry marshmallows, £2
– Maynards Red and Black Wine Gums, £1.50
– Bassets Jelly Babies Berry Mix, £1.50
– The Olive Shop Extra Virgin olive Oil, £5 (Db Discovery)
– The Good Cider of San Sebastian, 2 bottles, £1.50 each
– Kent’s Kitchen Spicy Szechuan Posh Noodles, £1.86 (Db Discovery)
– Up & Go (nutritious breakfast drink) 2 cartons, £1.39 each
– COMPLETE Energy Bites £4.49
– Sweet Sally Tea, £2.40

I thought this month was quite an interesting box, with a hefty nod towards sweet treats (Reese’s are the very best thing in the world. Fact.) and some useful kitchen staples (how did they know I was down to my last drizzle of olive oil?).

Between us we shared out the sweet treats, the small boy loved the Mallow & Marsh raspberry marshmallows and hubs went a bit bonkers for his favourite childhood sweets, Jelly Babies which have been given a modern update with the berry flavours.

A surprise hit were the Up & Go breakfast drinks which the small boy had and we will have to buy these again. I like to have a drink to give him when I pick him up from school, slurping a drink also encourages him to walk nicely, so it’s not altogether an altruistic move on my part.

This month the DB Discoveries were The Olive Shop Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Kent’s Kitchen Spicy Szechuan Posh Noodles. These were two of my favourite things in the box, I love a good extra virgin olive oil and I slosh it on almost everything, and the posh pot noodles were a lovely lunchtime treat I’ll be looking out for in the future. 

Degustabox September 2015

Hubs enjoyed the cider, we are not big cider drinkers, but he said it was both fruity and refreshing, I had a sip and thought it’d be nice over ice. He also liked the COMPLETE Energy Bites, he loves mocha flavoured things and they’ve helped to pep him up in the mornings ready for work.

I can’t wait to see what’s in next months box!

Grab your discount! If you’d like to try Degustabox for yourself, you can get £6 off your first box with this discount code BLDEG15. You can find out more about Degustabox on their website.

Note: I was sent this Degustabox free of charge for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Degustabox August 2015

We’ve been receiving the Degustabox for a few months now and each time we get a box of interesting new things to try. In the spirit of interesting and new, I thought I’d try my hand at making an unboxing video, which you can see below. It’s basically me unpacking my Degustabox August 2015 and seeing what’s in there. I’d like to say it’s more interesting than it sounds, but who am I to judge?

My Degustabox August 2015 contained…
+ Dr Oetker Mug cakes – Rich Chocolate, Chocolate Chip & Lemon
+ Life Tonics – Coconut Water with Mint
+ Ryvita – Cracked Black Pepper & Sesame Crispbreads
+ Bahlsen – Pick Up! Dark Chocolate & Choco Leibniz White
+ Barilla – Penna Rigate & Arrabbiata Sauce
+ Walkers Biscuits – various kinds
+ Scheckters Organic Energy Drink
+ Little Miracles Drink
+ Williamson Ginger Tea
+ FRU Snax – peach and yoghurt flavour

As well as the monthly Db Discovery – Delicious Alchemy Brownie Mix. This is an easy to make gluten-free and dairy-free chocolate brownie mix. I confess at the time of writing I’ve not yet made it as we didn’t have any eggs in the house, but it looks really simple and it’s pleasing to me that it’s gluten and dairy free, meaning when I have GF friends round I can offer them a homemade treat.

Degustabox August 2015

It seems like a really big box this month, packed full of goodies. The Bahlsen and Walkers biscuits were naturally the first things to be demolished by me and my two hungry boys. The pasta and tomato sauce from Barilla were a hit, pasta is always a popular meal though.

What I was most interested to try were the Dr Oetker Mug Cakes – these were ridiculously easy to make and you had an actual cake to eat which took less than 2 minutes to make, which is ideal for those times when you just need emergency cake. The rich chocolate cake was by far the best, and tarted up a bit with some fruit and maybe a dollop of ice cream you could easily pass it off as a posh pud.

Degustabox August 2015

If you’d like to give Degustabox a try, I have a discount code giving you £3 off your next box, just enter 8MDEO at the checkout, this code is valid until 31st October 2015. You can find out more about Degustabox on their website.

Note: I was sent a Degustabox free of charge for review purposes, all images and opinions are my own.

Degustabox July 2015 PLUS Discount Code

Towards the end of each month I get a lovely text telling me that my Degustabox is on its way. It’s a lovely tombola of a box, filled with new, interesting, exciting and limited edition foodie treats. It’s a chance for me to discover new things all for the princely sum of £12.99, though the contents are worth more than that.

Of course, the law of averages means that I probably won’t enjoy everything in my foodie Degustabox, but the boys who have wildly differing tastes to me happily hoover up the things I’m less keen on, and vice versa.

The July Degustabox contained something very new, in some boxes they’ve started to include a special item for families with small children, this month the “Db’s Discoveries” was a pouch of Quinola Mothergrain. I have seen these before and they seem like an interesting quick ready meal style option for those times when you need a quick meal for your little one.

Degustabox July 2015

We were sent the Quinola Mothergrain Mediterranean Quinola to try, these 150g packs cost £1.99 each and seem like a healthy option, being organic, gluten free and packed with slow release carbs. The Mediterranean Quinola contains tomato, courgette and carrots. I served it with a side of meatballs. As you can see it doesn’t photograph particularly attractively, but the small boy cleared his plate.

Degustabox July 2015

The Degustabox July 2015 also contained…
Weetabix on the go (£1.49 each) two bottles
FRU Snax (£1.25) two packets
So Strawberry Lambrini (£3.29)
Say Yes to No (£1.49)
Newton’s Appl Fizzics (£1.20)
Tasty Little Numbers (£3.49)
Taking the Pea (£1.50)
Jele Vitamin Jelly Drink

Degustabox July 2015

My favourite new discovery was the Newton’s Appl Fizzics, which is a fizzy apple juice. I chilled mine, as per instructions and poured it over ice. I love apple juice and a fizzy apple juice is something of a rare treat. This was zingy, refreshing and full of crisp apple flavours, and perfect to drink on a hot sunny day.

I also enjoyed the “Taking the Pea” which was a crunchy dried pea snack, along the lines of the wasabi pea, but with different flavours. As a lover of a wasabi pea these were a very welcome addition to the box.

Another big hit were the “Tasty Little Numbers”, two 200 calorie ready meals. We had the chicken tikka masala and the beef sausage and beans. Both hubs and I are on the 5:2 diet and sometimes it’s easier to ping a low calorie ready meal than faff about counting the calories in everything. There were a tasty little solution, leaving me with 300 calories to play with the rest of the day.

If you’d like to give Degustabox a try, I have a discount code giving you £3 off your next box, just enter 8MDEO at the checkout, this code is valid until 31st October 2015. You can find out more about Degustabox on their website.

Note: I was sent a Degustabox free of charge for review purposes, all images and opinions are my own.