The last few weeks have once again been really busy, both at work and socially, so once again I’ve just not had time to write any blog posts. Last week we had a few days away in a hotel with my elderly parents which was really nice. They live over an hours drive away so I don’t sadly get to spend much time with them so it was lovely to share some quality time. It was also my daughters birthday last weekend so we took her, our son (who travelled back from Uni for the occasion) and some other family members out for a meal which we all really enjoyed. This has meant that we have spent quite a lot of money over the past few weeks but it has definitely been money well spent🙂
My focus for the last few days has therefore been to get back to eating healthily and frugally to enable me to save money and to lose some weight. I’ve also been looking at ways to make extra bits of money each day to try and boost my savings.
Since going back to work on Tuesday I have stuck to my meal plans which I achieved by planning and batch cooking. Not only has this meant that I’ve eaten really healthily but I’ve also made some really good savings along the way. It’s amazing how far a 500g pack of lean mince beef will stretch, or what leftover vegetables lurking in the fridge will make with just a bit of careful planning!!🙂
We did our shopping at Lidl on Monday and did seem to get a lot for the £29.38 that we spent. Included in this was a 500g pack of very lean mince steak for £2.59. I could have saved more by buying their ordinary mince but that contained double the amount of calories because of the higher fat content. As my overall aims is to feed us frugally and healthily without compromising on taste or flavour I felt that it was better to pay that bit more for the leaner product.
I used the pack of mince to make a batch of chilli and a slow cooker hotpot. By padding both out with vegetables and dried beans and pulses this one pack of mince made two of our evening meals (for two of us) plus two packed lunches for myself. Apart from the meat I didn’t have to buy any other ingredients for these meals as everything else I already had in the cupboards or fridge. I had at some point bought a bag of ancho chilli powder which I had never used before so I decided to try it in the chilli. It is much sweeter than ordinary chilli powder with an incredible smokey taste. The result was an extremely flavoursome chilli which we both thoroughly enjoyed.
Chilli Con Carne
250g lean mince £1.30
1 large onion 16p
2 cans plum tomatoes 62p
2 tbsp tomato purée 15p
3 sticks celery 22p
1 red pepper 45p
3 cloves garlic 6p
1 large carrot 5p
2 cans kidney beans 46p
1 tbsp vegetable oil 5p
2 tsp ancho chillipower 5p
Chop onions, celery, red pepper and carrot. Gently fry onion, carrot and celery in vegetable oil for 5 mins. Finely chop garlic and add to pan with the red pepper. Continue to fry gently for 2 minutes more. Add chilli powder and mince beef and stir to combine. Fry for a further minute. Add tomatoes and tomato purée and simmer for 20 mins. Rinse kidney beans and add to pan. Simmer for a further 2 mins
Total cost = £3.57 This made 4 portions. Cost per portion = 89p
With the other half of the pack of mince I made a beef hotpot in the slow cooker. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo.
250g lean mince beef £1.30
1 large onion 16p
1 large potato 10p
3 sticks celery 22p
3 large carrots 15p
250g dried soup mix (beans & barley) 55p
1 beef stock cube 15p
Chop all veg. Dissolve stock cube in 1 litre water. Place all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on high for 1 hr then reduce to low and cook for a further 6 hours.
Total cost = £2.63 This made 3 portions. Cost per portion = 88p
The hotpot was absolutely delicious, with a lovely sticky texture as a result of the pearl barley. It was just what I needed for dinner after a long day at work.
Both dishes were extremely healthy, packed full of vegetables and relatively low in calories. The hotpot was around 400kcal a portion whilst the chilli was a mere 267kcal which was amazing for such a tasty, filling meal.
I also made a batch of lemon and blueberry oat muffins which were a real hit with both of us. They had the most wonderful texture and the taste was excellent. The recipe was one that I found through a link on MyFitnessPal app http://www.dailyunadventuresincooking.com/recipe/blueberry-lemon-and-maple-oatmeal-muffins/
We stored the muffins in an airtight box and they kept really well for 5 days. At a cost of just 25p each and with a calorie count of 193kcal they make a really yummy, cheap, healthy breakfast.
The largest savings both financially and in terms of calories this week though have come from a huge batch of leek and potato soup that I made.
The soup took literally minutes to put together as I just threw a chopped onion (16p), 3 chopped leeks (65p), 500g chopped potato (37p), 3 large chopped carrots (15p), 2 stock cubes (30p) and water into a pan and simmered gently for 30mins. I then added salt and pepper and blended the soup in my vitamix blender. The result was a really delicious, healthy soup that cost just 40p per extremely large portion and contained only 197kcal. By taking soup to work each day for lunch I have saved myself over 4 days a whopping £26.40 based on my previous average spend for a bought lunch at work. In addition this week I have lost 2lb in weight in just 5 days which I am extremely happy with.
All in all I’m now feeling extremely motivated again and looking forward to planning my budget and meals for the coming week.
Here’s hoping all my fellow bloggers and tweeters have had a good week too?🙂