Monday, June 22, 2015

#Frugal15: Menu Monday

Mosaic of images showing a selection of groceries and three meals: pumpkin soup, banana pancakes and quesadillas.
One of the most important things I find I can do to help with keeping the grocery budget down is menu planning. When I was working full time (and coping with the situation that finally caused me to make the decision to leave), this was something that didn't really happen. I'd buy my main meal at lunchtime from the cafeteria across the road and often eat snacks for dinner. And going to buy groceries was less about actuality and more about intent.

Now I have more time (and head space), the first thing I do each week is plan out my meals, starting with what I have in the fridge or cupboard that I need to (or would like to) use up. Then I make a list of items I need to create a range of meals that will keep me engaged and cover the main food groups.

This week's planning started with a quesadilla recipe I'd ripped out of a magazine a couple of months ago. A new recipe always piques the interest, and this one used up broad beans and feta that I had on hand (and, as I planned to also make a refried bean version,  more leftovers lurking in the freezer). The remaining tortillas went into the freezer for another week.

Pumpkins are cheap at this time of the year so I planned two pumpkin-based meals: Oven-baked pumpkin and spinach risotto (using arborio rice from the cupboard and the last of the spinach from last week's grocery shop) and Thai pumpkin soup (I had green curry paste plus half a can of coconut milk in the freezer). Both these dishes ended up being shared with friends who came to dinner. 

The bananas were used in two meals this week: caramelised on top of pikelets from the freezer for brunch, and cut up on top of muesli and yoghurt.

I used up the last of the zucchini from last week (and some of the carrots) for zucchini parmesan fritters, and the half bag of corn chips in the cupboard became the base for Sunday night nachos. Lastly, I added a store cupboard standby: Tuna and pea pasta.

Oh: and the week's muffins were apple, honey and sultana

Ingredients to make apple, honey and sultana muffins.
and they were all eaten on a lunchtime visit to a friend and her co workers...
Plate of muffins on an office table, with bowls of lunch in the background.
Moving into week three, I still have a couple of apples and one banana left from this shop. An egg, most of the loaf of bread, yoghurt and sour cream. Half a packet of rice crackers and six tortillas.

And, from items brought by dinner guests: half a packet of crackers and a quarter of a bag of Grainwaves, an almost full box of seashell chocolates, and (most deliciously) half a tub of burnt fig and caramel ice cream...

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