Monday, 6 February 2012

Meal Planning Monday - the uber organised (and 5 for £20 review) edition

So last week, we were trying out the latest Sainsbury's evening meal plan which provides a whole working week's worth of meals for £20. Here's how we got on.

First, I went shopping. (I know, amazing, huh?!) I left off some of the things on the shopping list that I already had in but I did substitute along the way too and the bill for those items was around £17. With usual things I buy (like milk etc) my week's bill came to £32 and I only went back once for some more mushrooms as I didn't have as much in as I thought. Still, pretty amazing, although it was possibly helped by the meat being on special offer -  the meat took up half of the budget!

Creamy pork with mash
As for the meals, well. I have to admit that we have one more to try! I had forgotten to allow for the fact that I was going to Clandestine Cake Club on Sunday and therefore not feel like cooking when I returned home, so I suggested the rest of the family had pizza from the freezer, so that will be our Monday meal. But the other four, we have had. The results were a mixed bag.

First, I made tomato and broccoli risotto. Now, I will admit, I changed things here. I cannot bring myself not to use risotto rice, nor could I use mozzarella, plus I read the recipe and felt urgh about it. So I bought a small piece of parmesan and some cherry tomatoes instead of a tin of tomatoes blended. There are no words for that. Still, what I made was pretty acceptable. Tuesday was sausage supper, which was pretty standard really but the sausages weren't great - out of 12 sausages, I managed to get over 150ml of fat from it! I'm not sure that even the cheapo sausages do that!

Our favourite meal by far was the creamy pork with mash. It didn't sound great as it used half a packet of parsley sauce mix (why can't it be a whole one or something else?) tho I had to buy white sauce mix and add parsley but it really did taste fantastic and the children really loved it.

The big no-no, however, was the turkey chilli. The shopping list suggested I buy a "chilli con carne recipe mix" sachet, something I wouldn't normally use as I would just use chilli powder, cumin and coriander to taste. I assumed it would be fine but it made the dish way too hot for families. I thought it was hot and I can cope with chilli heat the best so it was not suitable for the children. I had to cover it in lots of yogurt for them and added some cheese too. Even then, they pulled faces. My husband wasn't impressed either.

All in all, a mixed bag. For the price, there is no doubt they are fantastic. You may struggle if, like me, you are a bit of a food snob. Still, you could adapt the recipes or ingredients and still not spend much more. If you are short of time and money, the meal plans are a great idea. There are several plans so you could mix and match easily to suit your and your family's tastes. I like they have put the nutrition information as it helped me to track calories this week for me. Very handy.

Onto this week. And yes, I am uber organised this week. Why? Well, I have actually got two weeks' worth of meals sorted out. I'm only going to share this week with you but I got some money off an online food shop and I had to do it quickly so I could have delivery on Friday, to avoid possible snow on Saturday. Which turned out to be a good move as we had freezing rain instead and could barely get up the road. I chucked stuff in my basket randomly to reach a minimum spend so a lot of it has been put in the freezer, meaning I will have very little to buy next week. Which is good, as next week is half term here and the children will be off school. This is therefore mostly a week of old favourites.

Today is also special because my husband is starting a new role at work and moves officially from shifts to office hours. This means he will be home for tea pretty much every night which is a huge departure for us - he's worked these shifts since July 2009 and before that, he worked sleepover shifts. It does make things easier for me as it means I can be more flexible if I want to change what we're eating as some things I make don't reheat well or can't be. It also means he won't be working weekends so that makes planning weekend meals a lot easier too.

Phew. Finally, I'm here. Here are this week's meals:

Monday -  Cheesy jacket potatoes with bacon ratatouille
Tuesday - Lamb, coconut and mango pilau
Wednesday - Burgers and potato wedges
Thursday - Sandwiches
Friday - Pork and veg casserole
Saturday - Lazy cheesy veg hotpot
Sunday - Roast chicken etc.

So, that's me, how about you? What are you having? Don't forget to check out At Home With Mrs M for more Meal Planning Monday entries.

(Disclosure - Sainsbury's sent me a giftcard to cover the cost of buying the ingredients to make the meals in the latest 5 for £20 meal plan. I have not been any further compensation and have not been told what to write. All words and opinions are my own.)
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