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Money-saving isn’t just about buying the deals and saving money on your supermarket shop. It’s also about being savvy in the kitchen. Five Meals for Less demonstrates how to stretch a meal and make it go further, and use your ingredients across more than one dish.
Last week, as I often do, I bought a £4.50 free-range chicken, which we roasted up for our Sunday dinner. I also bought a small gammon, which cost around £3 from Aldi. Once the chicken was cooked and cooled enough to handle, I stripped all the meat off, served up some for our dinner, and reserved the rest.
Meal plan sorted
On Monday, we had Oven-Roasted Ham with salad and grains. We demolished about half the ham; as usual it went down a treat, and the rest went in the fridge for another meal later in the week.
On Tuesday, we had Chicken Stew & Dumplings (no suet here; we’re talking simple, fluffy dumplings using flour and butter), with bacon, onions, carrots and parsnips, using some of the leftover chicken. I boiled up the carcass first to make a stock, then sautéed the bacon and onion with a little olive oil. I then added some chopped carrots and some chunks of parsnips, for a delicate sweetness to balance the saltiness of the bacon. Mixed in a tablespoon of flour then added the stock, some mushrooms, a handful of pearl barley and then some of the cooked chicken, leaving some for tomorrow’s dish.
On Wednesday, I used the remaining chicken and half of the leftover ham (cut into cubes) to make a rustic Chicken, Ham and Mushroom Pie, served with home-made chips. Let me know if you’d like the recipe!
On Thursday, I used the leftover ham, peas, sliced Brussel sprouts, sliced radishes, some prawns from the freezer, rice, egg, soy sauce and sesame oil, and threw together a Special Fried Rice. This is one of my favourite frugal foods to put together for a hungry family, as it always goes down well and providing I’ve always got sesame oil and soy sauce in my cupboard, I can put pretty much anything in it.
What other ingredients might you need?
I always tend to have onions, carrots, mushrooms, flour and plain yoghurt or milk, as these form the basis of lots of dishes like pies, soups and stews.
I also like to have what’s in season the fridge too. It’s fun to mix it up a bit and experiment; sweet potato is always a winner for the kids with dishes like these, as they add an attractive sweetness to any dish they’d otherwise turn their noses up. (Think stew and dumplings – I’ve recently substituted swede for sweet potato. Although hubby and I love swede, our children seem to find it quite bitter and won’t eat the meal. But with sweet potato they’ve been going back for more. On that note, guess what we’re having for dinner next week?!)
With a bit of advanced planning and a little creativity, it’s totally possible to spend less money on your food shop, just by using what you’ve got across the week. What’s on your forthcoming menu?