Monday, 11 March 2013

Money Saving March: £1 meal plans

I'm on a mission to save money in March! I'll be posting three times a week with ideas and challenges. Free free to join in! :)

In the UK the price of food has increased by 32% since 2007, and it doesn't look set to stop any time soon. I was shocked by the price of meat when I bought some for the pasty party last week! Even us vegetarians are feeling the pinch; cheese isn't cheap and fresh vegetables can be very expensive when they're not in season.

Challenge 5 of Money Saving March is to eat for £1.

Today's challenge is to come up with evening meals that cost £1 or less per person. (Yes, it is possible to live on £1 a day, but it wasn't particularly pleasant!) Dinner is usually the most expensive meal of my day, so if I can cut costs here I should be able to cut down our shopping bill this month! :)

Here's my cheap menu plan for the next week, with per-person costs:

  • Stew - potato (7p), carrot (9p), swede (18p), flour (4p), butter (5p). Total cost: 43p.
  • Fajitas - wraps (30p), sweet peppers (30p), onion (16p), red kidney beans (9p), cheese (17p), salsa (22p). Total per person cost: £1.24
  • Stir fry - half a carrot (5p), sweet peppers (30p), beansprouts (15p), stir-fry sauce (50p), noodles (26p). Total cost: £1.26
  • Vegetable and lentil pilaf - creamed coconut (10p), stock (1p), rice (2p), lentils (10p), half a carrot (5p), peas (8p), red kidney beans (9p). Total cost: 45p.
  • Pizza and salad - pizza (67p), salad greens (30p), tomato (16p). Total cost: £1.13
  • Lentil soup - 14p per portion of soup plus 12p for bread. Total cost: 26p.
  • Cheese and onion quiche - flour (2p), margarine (4p), onion (16p), egg (24p), milk (4p), cheese (17p). Total cost = 67p.
Average over the week: 78p per person. 

Other cheap meals include delicious lentil burgers, vegetable ragout and lentil salad. 

Cooking for one can mean the per-person cost of food increases, but by batch cooking (more on this next week!) you can save money by making extra and freezing the rest. This won't work for things like stir fry, but soups, stew, pasta bake, shepherd's pie etc. can be frozen and saved for later, whilst many other things can be kept in the fridge for a few days (quiche, pizza, cooked meats etc.). 

Don't forget to cook extra if possible for an easy lunch the next day!

Any suggestions for cheap meals for the rest of the month?


Betty the Wood Fairy said...

Well that is impressive although I think I would have trouble with too many lentils. I read in an indian book ages ago that if you have left over potatos and some eggs in the fridge you will always have a meal - i always resort to that for comfort food - old cooked potatos fried up with fried egg is absolute heaven and must be cheap do you think? add a tin of mushy peas and it gets better! Betty

Meanqueen said...

I'm well into this. Last night I made a big pan of some sort of mainly lentil, with carrots and parsnips stew/curry/broth, call it what you like soup.

Kearnygirl said...

You can add some pasta dishes if you like pasta. I make pasta and beans which is really simple to make and very inexpensive. You can start by frying some bacon (you don't have to use bacon because I know you're a vegetarian) and then put that aside. Put a little oil in a large pot like a dutch oven (preferably olive oil) and heat that and then add some chopped onions to it. If you have celery, you can also add some. Let them cook for awhile until they are soft. Then add a small can of tomato sauce and some water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until they are al dente. Add some chopped garlic (or garlic powder), parsley, salt and pepper. When adding the water, don't add as much as you would for regular pasta cooking because this dish requires you to keep the liquid and not drain the pasta after it is cooked. It is like a soup. After the pasta is cooked, add a can of cannelini beans or any white beans (canned). Just cook it for a few more minutes. Serve in a soup bowl and you can grate some parmesan cheese on top or any cheese you like (if you eat cheese). A piece of crusty bread is good with this. Hope you don't mind me giving you this recipe but I like to share some of these inexpensive dishes with people. You can also make pasta with broccoli or pasta with other veggies and just cook some garlic in olive oil and pour on top.

Robyn said...

I deliberately bought a massive slow cooker a while ago so that when I cook things like stew, bolognese etc I can do a huge batch and freeze several meals-worth for later. By cooking in this way the piece of beef I paid £9 for for Sunday lunch yesterday will do three Sunday lunches and two other meals, each for two people. (And it was absolutely delicious, too!)

saving for travel said...

Excellent ideas B!

Sft x

MS Frugal said...

You should check out this site: as it is full of great, low cost cooking ideas. Yesterday, I made about 12 cups or more of refried beans in a crockpot - without any oil or fat (totally vegan recipe). They worked out to around $0.19 cents per cup! So delicious! You can eat them wrapped in tortillas or any number of ways.

SavingsNow said...

I soooooo need to do this (mental note, do it, don't just think about doing it). Lentils I have, carrots I have, onion and pepper, sounds like tomorrow will be a cheap dinner evening! Love the refried beans idea too. Have a great weekend everyone!