This guest post was written by Holly B. (Elysa’s college roomie), a Texan who now lives in Ireland with her husband and two sons!
With the economic times as they are, almost everyone’s feeling the pinch. Over the years of marriage and especially when our boys came along, I have worked hard to manage a budget for our family and a huge part of that involves the planning, shopping and preparing of meals! I have come up with a few tricks to manage to feed our family for a very reasonable amount per week and was excited to know that Collective Bias were interested in hearing my thoughts, experiences and advice through the medium of this blog!
I hope you will benefit from all of these as I show you how I was able to make £10 stretch to feed an easily prepared 3 course meal to 4 adults!
Online Grocery Shopping
One thing I always do when seeking to save money is shop online. I know in America this is not an option for most people but I have been buying my groceries online since my first pregnancy in 2007. Once I realised that for a small fee (around £4) I could shop for items from the comfort of my sofa and pyjamas I was sold! I love the convenience of being able to dip in and out of it when I have time, comparing deals (usually comparing the costs per weight of items), and can even change my order up to 11pm the night before my order is due to arrive.
On this occasion because I knew we would be passing through town I chose to use the “Click and Collect” service at ASDA, where you shop and order your groceries online, and then pick them up from the designated area outside of the store for free! One of the other great advantages of using the Home Shopping service is that, if your item is unavailable, 98% of the time ASDA will substitute that item for a suitable alternative, and will charge you the lower price!
And now, for the food!
I took my inspiration from this meal from the Great British menu itself! The starter (or, in my case, after-work snack while I’m cooking the rest of dinner!) included a package of Jacob’s crackers (£0.89p), a punnet of red grapes (£2.00) and 180g Belton Farm Wensleydale & Cranberry Cheese (£1.66) for a grand total of £4.55. This is a crowd pleaser in our family and my boys could’ve easily stopped here for their dinner. But there was more(ish) to come!
For the main meal of Sausages, Veg and Yorkshire Puddings in onion gravy, I preheated my oven to 180C, chopped a head of broccoli (£0.50) into florets, sliced 2 small onions (£0.16) and opened my package of pre-sliced carrots (man I hate chopping carrots!) (£0.50). I put the carrots and broccoli in to steam (carrots on the bottom as they require longer to cook!) and browned the onions in some olive oil.
Once the onions were cooked halfway I moved them to the side of the pan and put on the sausages (10 for £1.00). These sausages were actually made right here in Northern Ireland, in Cookstown, County Tyrone! After about five minutes I popped the frozen Giant Yorkshire Puddings (£0.33 each) into the preheated oven and set the timer for 6 minutes.
Whilst the Yorkshires were warming I mixed up some gravy with Bisto granules and hot water and mixed in the onions. I patted the excess oil off the sausages and placed them in the Yorkshires, with the cooked broccoli and carrots, and drizzled them with the gorgeous gravy. The main meal added up to a mere £3.48 and all four of us absolutely gobbled it up.
Don’t forget Dessert!
Dessert arrived after the excitement of the dinner had worn off (and the kids had been put to bed…their bedtime is far too early to wait up for something as petty as PUDDING!…and we didn’t want to share, naughty Mom and Dad!)
For the Apple Crumble I washed, sliced, peeled and cubed 8 small apples (£0.80) with my ever so handy apple corer/slicer. I then cooked them on medium heat in a saucepan with 1Tbl water and 3Tbl sugar, stirring regularly until they began to break down and the liquid turned syrupy (about 15 minutes). Don’t be tempted to add more water! Honestly 1 tablespoon is enough, you don’t want your filling to be too watery!
I then poured the apples and their syrup into a baking dish and sprinkled half the bag of Crumble Mix (£0.25) over the top. I popped this into the preheated oven and let bake for about 30 minutes until it was brown and bubbling. I warmed the custard (£0.50) in the microwave, poured over the top and bippity-boppity-boo…a GORGEOUS, EASY, CHEAP pudding that is so warming and satisfying for only £1.55.
This is an easy weeknight meal that pleases the whole family. It’s quick, simple, healthy and tasty! And at a grand total of £9.58 it ticks all the boxes for me!