Oh Bugger (Budgeting Fail)

I made a terrible, terrible mistake in June.

I ignored my budget, forgot to check my online banking statements regularly, and made a big ‘luxury’ purchase (last minute half week “glamping” break) in the same month as a big necessary purchase (car tax). What with that, bills, childcare, mortgage, new shoes for Isabel etc my bank balance was officially lower yesterday than the day before pay day. I am in my overdraft at the beginning of the month for the first time ever.

I’m telling you this because a) it proves that even the most frugal of us make stupid, stupid mistakes sometimes, and b) because I need the accountability and the kick up the arse to motivate myself to go back into mega-frugal mode… the kind of frugal I rocked when I was on maternity leave. Meal plans, packed lunches, budgets, spreadsheets: you name it, I’m on it.

It’s too late to cancel the glamping break and get my money back but I’ve (sadly) dropped 2 ongoing payments to WAHMs for work on WAHMweb, put a crapload of maternity clothes and shoes up for sale, and resolved to cancel a bunch more domains. It’s not going to make me any money — that’s another topic altogether — but it’s a start. August WILL start better than this.

Slow Cooker Pork & Meal Plans 11/08-17/08

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I bought a bigger slow cooker to try and frugalise (is that a word?) some of the meals I’m used to making by reducing the fuel cost to cook them. Having made a few ‘easy’ meals with success I spotted some bargain pork this weekend in the Co-op and decided to get that instead of chicken this week.

Having struggled to find a cooking guide online for slow cookers and meat, I whacked it in on a bed of apple and carrot with a couple of inches of water, salt rubbed in the fatty bits in an attempt to make crackling post-slow cooking. 6hrs on high and we’re currently on the last 20 mins or so. I’ll let you know how it fares after I’ve whacked it in the oven.

Anyway, assuming I don’t poison everyone with the pork, here’s this week’s recipes:

  • Sun 11th: ‘Roast’ pork with various veg, roasties & yorkshire pud
  • Mon 12th Slow cooker jacket potatoes
  • Tue 13th: Pork & courgette pasta
  • Wed 14th: Pizza night (early because we’re camping)
  • Thu 15th: Porky stew & dumplings
  • Fri 16th: CAMPING!
  • Sat 17th: CAMPING!

Ps. sod’s law having nearly done my pork I’ve just spotted the Slow Cooker Queen ‘Roast Pork with Crackling’

Meal Plan 04/08-10/08

Bit uninspired this week :P

  • Sun 4th: Roast chicken, mash, veg
  • Mon 5th: Creamy salmon pasta inspired by Jack (adjusted to make it dairy free/suitable for my fusspots)
  • Tue 6th: Chicken soup from carcass
  • Wed 7th: Mince & tatties
  • Thu 8th: Beany mince / salad filled pittas
  • Fri 9th: Pizza night
  • Sat 10th: Curry? probably

FYI if you want to get some ideas from my meal plans, you can browse the entire meal plan tag. We eat a lot of similar things mind you.

Meal Plan 21/07 – 27/07

Bit more veg this week, except tonight’s “meal” (don’t ask)

  • Sun 14th: Meatballs & mash
  • Mon 15th: Spaghetti hoops on toast (‘oops’ disorganised night)
  • Tue 16th: Slow ‘roast’ veg & crusty homemade bread
  • Wed 17th: Macaroni Peas (adapted from River Cottage Veg Everyday)
  • Thu 18th: Sausage & chips
  • Fri 19th: Pizza night
  • Sat 20th: Wrinkly veg soup

Meal Plan 14/07 – 20/07

Making the most of leftovers and the freezer this week, with short-dated prawns and pork frozen from previous supermarket shops & Tuesday’s pie made from tonights pot roast.

  • Sun 14th: BBQ leftovers & sandwiches/salad
  • Mon 15th: Beef brisket pot roast
  • Tue 16th: Beef & mushroom pie
  • Wed 17th: Prawny pasta bake
  • Thu 18th: Egg, chips & beans/peas
  • Fri 19th: Pizza night
  • Sat 20th: ‘Chinese’ spiced pork steaks & egg fried rice

A bit meaty this week, so I think next week might have to be mostly veg to compensate.

Meal Plan 30/06 – 06/07

I’ve been up and down with my meal plans lately, trying to find a system that works for me. The most productive way I have found seems to be to plan from Sunday through to the following Saturday. That allows me to buy a piece of meat / chicken / whatever for Sunday and incorporate that into the meals for the week that follows.

The meat for this week was some reduced price ‘Chinese’ spiced pork loin steaks which will feed us Sun + Mon with 2 leftover for next week. Meals planned as follows:

  • Sun 30: Pork steaks & mash
  • Mon 01: Pork stir fry
  • Tue 02: Prawn curry (prawns were short dated & reduced, frozen when I got home)
  • Wed 03: Toad in the hole (sausies short dated & reduced)
  • Thu 04: Jacket potatoes & salad or beans
  • Fri 05: Pizza night
  • Sat 06: Out at nephew’s birthday party

This weeks shopping was bought at Tesco and even with vouchers & reduced price stuff we spent double what we’d have spent in Aldi. Just goes to show how easy it is to get sucked into the glossy marketing of the big supermarkets even as a savvy shopper.

Meal Plan 30th April – 6th May

There’s been a big gap between meal plan posts because discovering Oliver has issues with dairy left me feeling a bit lost and “what do I cook now?!”. I don’t know why, most of the foods I cook are either dairy-free or have ingredients that can be substituted with ‘fake’ milks like oat or almond. I even made a dairy free fish pie last week!

Anyway, after 2 bad budgeting months because of one thing and another and the lack of meal plan mojo, I’m back on the saddle to bring in May on as small a budget as possible (not least because it’s Oliver’s birthday at the end of the month). I’ve just spent the last of the money in my purse (£17.68) on a half price chicken, reduced bacon, reduced spicy sausage, value carrots/apples/bananas/tomatoes/cucumber, bread etc and I’m going to try and get that to spread over the next two weeks. Should be FINE :)

  • Tues 30th – veggie soup (root canal day, don’t want anything too tough!)
  • Weds 1st – roast chicken & homemade chips
  • Thurs 2nd – baked potatoes & salad/baked beans
  • Fri 3rd – pizza night!
  • Sat 4th – spicy sausage ‘stew’ & rice
  • Sun 5th – leek & potato soup
  • Mon 6th – chicken & bacon pasta

As usual each meal will be served with at least one portion of veg (except the soups which contain it!) and leftovers will be lunch the next day. Should have enough chicken, bacon & veg leftover to come up with some more meal next week. Nom nom nom.

Meal Plans Feb 23rd-28th

Apologies for another boring meal plan entry. Drowning in work and house chores and kids and general ARGH at the moment.

As expected, I’m finding that breaking my meal plans down in to stages and basing what I serve off the veg box instead of the other way around is not only helping me stick to my self-imposed £100 budget for the month but also has decreased the wastage to pretty much zero (not that any of our veg is ever truly wasted because bits beyond human consumption end up in the guinea pig, rabbit or compost bin!)

Anyway…

  • 23rd: Shepherd’s pie
  • 24th: Chicken & leek curry
  • 25th: Swede & parsnip mash + sausages
  • 26th: Squash & sweet potato soup
  • 27th: Beef stew & dumplings
  • 28th: Spaghetti & roasted root veg sauce

DIY & meal plans 15th-22nd

We had some sunshine here in jemjabella-land today, so despite the chill in the air, everyone was wrapped up warm and shoved into the garden (and as such both kids were asleep for 6:30pm despite Oliver having late nap!) I’ve re-potted my strawberry babies from the runners last year into their allotted tyre and did some more weeding. With the garlic planted a week or so ago, I’m already on my way to a self-sufficient(ish) summer of veg :)

Karl and I also tackled a spur of the moment DIY project this morning: dragging the horrible cupboard carousel out of our big corner cupboard and replacing it with a proper shelf. It’s one of those crappo kitchen gadgets that looks ingenious but in reality takes up more space than it gives in storage. Having removed it we’ve managed to put loads more stuff away and made a heck of a lot more room for tins and bulk food bits.

Anyway, here goes, meal plan for more of the month (including the days I’d missed):

  • 15th: Pizza night
  • 16th: Toad in the hole
  • 17th: Leftover sausages, homemade chips
  • 18th: Tuna pasta bake
  • 19th: Swede & bacon pie
  • 20th: Broccoli soup & homemade bread rolls
  • 21st: Use-up-the-veg frittata
  • 22nd: Use-up-the-frittata fried rice

February meal plans (1st-14th)

Sorry about the cheaty back-dating of this one ;) I’ve got several posts in the works re: my new goal to pay off the mortgage etc but am poorly so not getting time / energy to finish them :(

(The chicken for the pie on the 10th was taken from the roast chicken I did last week and froze.)

As you can probably tell, I’m loving the ‘A Girl Called Jack‘ blog at the minute, and hope the recipes are as good as they sound (and as cheap!)

January Meal Plan 27th-31st

Last meal plan post of January, huzzah (and only slightly late). Not as tight on the veg this week because I wanted to use up leftovers and bought a cheap chicken to get February meals in for as little as possible (more on that at a later date).

  • 27th: Chilli & rice
  • 28th: Wraps with leftover chilli, veggies
  • 29th: Roast veggie pasta
  • 30th: Roast chicken & mixed veggies
  • 31st: King prawn curry (they were on offer)

I’m stalking freegle/freecycle at the moment for a slow cooker. I do have one, but it’s only a tiny single person style jobby so no use for big casseroles etc that’ll feed me & the kids. If I can find one, there may be an increase in stews, soups etc in the future.

January Meal Plan 19th-26th

See other January meal plan post for reasons for splitting this months/why it’s mostly veggie…

This week & a bit actually sees me making use of two of my cookbooks for once!

  • 19th: Vegetable pie w/pastry top (had chicken dippers last night so swapped over)
  • 20th: Turkey meatloaf
  • 21st: French onion & sage soup (Isabel wanted cheesey pasta on the 17th)
  • 22nd: Sweet potato & peanut gratin (pg 63 River Cottage veg everyday!)
  • 23rd: Hot squash foldover (pg 189 River Cottage book)
  • 24th: Fish fingers & chips (might attempt homemade!)
  • 25th: Baked potatoes & coleslaw or beans
  • 26th: Leek & potato soup with chicken & bacon (pg 245 Riverford Farm Cook Book

Now the question is, after this month do I continue the mostly veg theme or do I introduce another meat day? I think I’ve saved money, because I’m being more creative with what I’ve got in so have done less shopping. That’s a good reason to carry on if nothing else!