Tag Archives: home cooking

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!
Hijacked By Twins

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!

Review: Gousto Recipe Kit Boxes

This week we have been trying out the Gousto recipe kit boxes. We were sent a voucher code which got us a two meal box for two people to review. We have had and paid for Gousto boxes in the past, so we knew what to expect. 

When you order your Gousto box, you choose from the meals they have on offer that week. They have a broad range of recipes to choose from, all include nutritional information and have estimated cooking times. I’m a vegetarian and there were several interesting meal kits to choose from. I chose the Lentil Veggie Pie and the Egg Fried Vegetable Cashew Stir Fry. 

You can choose 2 or 4 portion options and they will box up virtually everything you need and deliver it to you. The ingredients they don’t include tend to be standard store cupboard things like salt, pepper and cooking oil. 

Review: Gousto Recipe Kit Boxes

My box arrived in great condition, it was packed with a cool pack and everything was fresh and vibrant. As I unpacked the box I checked everything off against the recipe card included. The recipe card for the stir fry had not been put in the box, so I tweeted Gousto and they sent me the link. Almost everything I needed for the lentil pie was there, save for the lettuce and the cheese. I’d not been able to check if everything for the stir fry was included. I discovered later that I was missing several key ingredients. 

The contents of the box, when stored correctly are good for up to six days. The day after the box arrived I decided to cook the lentil pie. I followed the instructions and put the pie together. I did end up adding some extra seasonings to boost the flavour – specifically mushroom ketchup and some chilli sauce. The box was also missing the cheese and I’d been sent 300g of potatoes and not the 400g specified in the recipe, so I had to use additional spuds. I was a little disappointed at this stage.

Review: Gousto Recipe Kit Boxes

Thankfully the lentil pie was an absolute triumph. It was utterly, utterly delicious. The portion size was more than ample for two people and even stretched to feed my six year old son who thoroughly enjoyed it too. We will be making this again!

 A few days later I wanted to throw a quick dinner together. I opted for the Egg Fried Vegetable Cashew Stir Fry. Using my iPad I looked at the recipe Gousto had sent me online and quickly realised I was missing both the rice and the honey. At this point I got a bit cross, but I had some basmati rice in the cupboard, but no honey which I had to substitute for agave syrup.

The recipe called for “fragrant basmati rice” and I wasn’t sure if the rice they should have sent would have included any flavourings or whatever, so I threw one of my own vegetable stock cubes into the rice as it cooked and hoped for the best. I followed the simple recipe online and produced a tasty stir fry. I very much enjoyed it but felt it needed more protein and next time I would have used two eggs instead of one. Or perhaps induced some tofu.

Review: Gousto Recipe Kit Boxes

It was a good stir fry and I enjoyed the crunchy cashews on the top. If I were to make it again I would change a few little things, more egg, some tofu, fractionally less chilli heat.

All in all I think I got a bit of a dud box. I was disappointed that so many key ingredients were missing. If I’d had the recipe card when I’d received the box I could have checked, but I’d trusted that everything I’d need, everything that was key to the recipe would be included and it wasn’t. I’d be pretty disappointed if I’d paid full price for the box and found so many things missing.

One other thing to note is that side dishes aren’t included. The lentil pie was just the pie. Any extra vegetables or accompaniments you might want on the side you will need to provide yourself. 

We have had Gousto boxes in the past. Last year my husband really wanted to cook some nice interesting meals for us. He tried a Gousto box for about six weeks and we really enjoyed trying new things and being a bit more creative with our meals at home. This is why this time I think I got a dud box, we’ve always been happy before.

Review: Gousto Recipe Kit Boxes

A Gousto box costs from £27.49 with free delivery. The cheapest box is for two meals for two people. It is not an inexpensive way to eat. But it is the kind of thing I would order if I was in a cooking rut and needed some inspiration, or if I were going on a self catering holiday and wanted some nice meals for a few days. It’s not something we can justify on a weekly basis, for us a Gousto box would be a treat.

Despite my disappointment with my last Gousto box, I would say that we almost certainly will order them again in the future. Like I said, falling into a cooking rut is a regular thing. I often cook the same family meals over and over until we are all bored stiff of them. A Gousto box is a great way to liven up your meal times. But you do really need to double check that they’ve sent everything they should have.

Grab a £20 discount on each of your 1st and 2nd Gousto orders, on any sized box, meaning the 1st & 2nd boxes could cost £7.49 each. The discount code to use is TORNADO. You can find out which meals are available this week on the Gousto website. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I was sent a voucher code to purchase a Gousto box, all images and opinions are our own. We were not been compensated for this blog post.

Meal Planning Monday w/c 10th February 2014

When my self-employed husband came home on Friday and announced he wouldn’t be able to pay himself for the next few weeks, I had horrible flashbacks of the time we didn’t have enough food or money to feed our son. But this time I was prepared.

I think we can ride out the next few weeks on the food I’ve been stockpiling in the freezer and pantry, yes we’ll need a few fresh items, but a few frugal weeks won’t do us any harm at all. We always meal plan, but this week I needed to be super organised. Challenge accepted.

What’s on our Meal Planning Monday Menu?

Monday – Homemade chorizo burgers, veg and couscous. I mixed up a mega-batch of these a few weeks ago and tucked some in the freezer for a rainy day, the couscous lives in the pantry. Sorted.

Tuesday – Pasta with homemade cheesy courgette sauce. Pantry and freezer to the rescue again.

Wednesday – Homemade pea and paneer curry with rice, just need to buy the paneer. Highlight of my week!

Thursday – Daddy’s homemade pizza and potato wedges. Yum.

Friday – Valentines Day tea, spaghetti vongole but without the vongole.

Saturday – Fajitias. Kit from the cupboard, quorn burgers sliced up with some veg, simple, tasty and fun.

Sunday – Whoopsie fishcakes, homemade potato wedges & peas.

Meal Planning Monday w/c 10th February 2014

We’ll manage, we always do. Just need to persuade the little lad that lentils can be fun. Wish me luck!