Tag Archives: recipes

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?

55 ideas for family meals your kids will actually eat

If you’re looking to save money and eat well for less, the key really is meal planning. Sitting down each week, planning a menu of tasty family meals and only buying what you need can save your family an awful lot of time and money. I try where I can to meal plan, setting out a fortnightly menu and then doing a big online shop for everything I need. This saves me so much time and money, plus knowing what I’m cooking on whichever night takes the thinking out of it.

It’s easy for me to say the meal planning is the key to success, but I can guarantee that when I sit down with my blank piece of paper to plan out the next 14 family meals, I cannot think of one single family meal. Over the last few months I’ve been putting together a list of the meals I’ve made, so when meal planning day arrives I just have a quick look through my list for inspiration and then get down to work.

Family meals: Rich and Creamy Fennel & Potato Gratin

If you’re stuck for ideas for family meals your family will actually eat, below you will find a list of 55 family meals that we cook on a fairly regular basis, where there is a recipe for that dish on my blog I have included a link to it.

55 ideas for family meals your family will actually eat

Baked butternut squash
Baked fish and vegetables
Battered or breaded fish and chips
Beef or mushroom stroganoff
Beef stew
Burgers
Cauliflower cheese
Chicken casserole served with potato gratin
Chicken Kievs
Chilli con carne
Cottage pie
Curry and rice
Dahl
Egg and chips
Fajitas
Fish pie
Fish wraps
Fishcakes
Fishfingers chips and beans
Full English
Galette (a bit like a pie)
Gnocchi
Homemade Chicken nuggets or goujons
Homemade soup
Hot dogs or these pizza hot dogs
Imam Bayildi (Baked aubergines)
Jacket potatoes
Jacket sweet potatoes with sour cream and spring onions
Jamie Oliver’s Butternut Squash Penne Pasta
Lancashire Hotpot
Lasagne
Lentil cottage pie
Macaroni cheese
Macaroni peas
Omelette
Pasta bake
Pesto pasta
Pie and mash
Pizza – shop bought or homemade
Quiche
Risotto
Roast dinner
Sausages and mash
Sausage casserole
Sausage ragu
Shepherds pie
Spaghetti and meatballs
Spaghetti Bolognese
Spanish style sausages in bravas sauce
Spinach and ricotta cannelloni
Stir fry
Sweet and sour pork or chicken
Thai style curry
Toad in the Hole
Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Bake

55 family meal suggestions – that’s not a bad place to start from is it? I hope you’ve found some inspiration. I’ll be adding to this list as time goes on, so expect it to grow and grow.

What are your favourite family meals? Have I missed anything essential off my list?

55 ideas for family meals your family will actually eat

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!

Foodie Round Up: Vegetarian Christmas Dinner Ideas

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 13 and one of the questions I’m asked the most is what do you have for your vegetarian Christmas dinner? The easy answer is, pretty much the same as everyone else, but without the turkey and with veggie gravy. We always do 800 different kinds of vegetables anyway, so I’ve never felt left out, and as the lone veggie at the table I never felt like it was worth the bother. 

In 2001 my lovely sister in law came along. She was a veggie and when the percentage of vegetarians around the table had increased, we thought it was worth making a bit more of a culinary effort on Christmas Day. Over the years we’ve experimented with various vegetarian alternatives, but hand on heart my favourite has turned out to be the nut roast. I know it’s a terrible cliché, but I just love it.

I’ve picked out six delicious vegetarian Christmas dinner options (or maybe just for Sunday lunch), so if you’re catering for vegetarians this Christmas, there’s no need for them to feel left out.

galette

Go for my goats cheese and caramelised onion galette, it’s incredibly simple but utterly delicious. It’s a real family favourite. You could add a seasonal twist by swapping out the onions for stuffing and adding a dollop of cranberry sauce!

My good friend and fellow vegetarian, Jen from My Mummy’s Pennies has shared her recipe for Festive Stuffed Mushrooms. These hearty shrooms are filled with festive flavours, they’d be easy to put together on Christmas Eve and pop in the oven on the day. Easy peasy. 

vegetarian Christmas dinner

Christmas isn’t Christmas without something chock full of chestnuts gracing the table, this Leek, Artichoke, Mushroom and Chestnut Pie from Inside the Wendy House certainly fits the bill. I imagine this would also be great cold on Boxing Day with some bubble and squeak. 

vegetarian Christmas dinner

I love the look of this Vegetarian Beef Wellington from Jenny at The Brick Castle. It looks hearty enough to satisfy any rogue carnivores around the table, but quick and easy enough to be thrown together in a busy Christmas kitchen.

If you’ve got a vegan coming for Christmas, Inside the Wendy House has come up with this delicious sounding Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Nut Roast Pie. It looks super-simple but really. Wendy says it’s good served cold too – I bet it is!

vegetarian Christmas dinner

If you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy a good stuffing at Christmas. I tend to favour fresh stuffings on Christmas Day, they just taste a bit more luxurious than the dried packets of stuffing. For a really simple vegetarian Christmas dinner option, Mr Crumb have a range of fresh microwavable gourmet stuffings to choose from. I think the apple and apricot is cracking and would be excellent in one of Jen’s stuffed mushrooms with some softly melting goats cheese on the top. 

vegetarian Christmas dinner

I think there are lots of great ideas in this round up of vegetarian Christmas dinner ideas – I think most of them could easily be adapted to be vegan too. I do love a nut roast on Christmas Day, but if you don’t, there are plenty of other options available to you. 

What will you be serving up on Christmas Day?

Six Sensational Vegetarian Christmas Dinner Ideas

My Top Five from 2014

2014. You’ve been an incredible year in terms of blogging. It was my first full year and we’ve done so much, tried new things, been to exciting places; we’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve failed and succeeded, thank you 2014, we’ll remember you fondly I think.

As well as my round up of the ten life lessons 2014 has taught me, I’ve picked out my five most popular blogs from 2014, hope you like them too!

1. Anxiety…again – I write a lot about mental health, particularly my anxiety, I write really openly and honestly about how I feel and it seems to strike a chord, this is my most popular mental health post.

2. Making boozy peanut butter milkshakes – this is such a popular blog post. A recipe for incredibly easy, incredibly amazing boozy milkshakes. Don’t just sit there, go make one 🙂

3. Easy Joulutorttu recipe (Finnish jam tarts) – fancy looking homemade festive treats don’t get easier than this. Two ingredients and ten minutes of your time, as a Russian meerkat might say…simples.

4. The truth about pesto pasta – my eight slightly amusing and probably made up facts about pesto pasta struck a chord in November. Winner, winner, pesto for dinner?

5. Body confidence – containing a picture of me in my pants, this was and continues to be a popular post. I have scars and squishy bits but I’m determined to love myself, have a read, your squishy bits aren’t as bad as you think, honest.

Thank you so much for reading my blog, for following me and it and for commenting and sharing and generally being there. Without you I’m basically shouting into an abyss, so thank you, sincerely.

Have a fabulous 2015 x

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!