My 5 Favourite Family Weekday Meals on a Budget

So budgeting is rather chic now days, when I was growing up in London in the booming 1980’s no one spoke about making money go further, then the recession of the 1990’s hit just as I was setting up home with my husband and we quickly learnt that money doesn’t go far unless you plan your meals. We still have off days when theres not much in the house and at 4pm we’re wondering what to make for our evening meal, this usually ends with a rushed trip to the local shops, spending far too much and not eating until after 8pm.

So we try to plan, as we are mostly in the house all day we plan for breakfasts, lunches and dinners, in this post I’m going to share our favourite recipes from around the internet.

Number 1, Chilli.

One of our stables is Chilli con carne, we eat it on average twice a month, its so versatile, in a jacket potato, with rice, in a wrap as a burrito, we cook it with lean minced beef or with Quorn and loads of peppers and kidney beans heres our recipe. One batch will go over two days for a family of 4, for my greedy lot its amazing if any makes it to the fridge !!

  • 500g lean minced beef or Quorn mince.
  • 1 chopped large onion.
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic.
  • 2 tins of kidney beans in water.
  • 1 carton of passata or chopped tomatoes
  • 2 bell peppers chopped.
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin.
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • a handful of chopped coriander.
  • 1 chopped scotch bonnet pepper or a couple of chopped green chilli’s or if you like it mild you can throw in the peppers whole and take them out at the end.

Its a really easy meal to cook, gently fry (in spray oil or a table spoon of good olive oil) the onions, garlic and peppers, add the mince and brown, pour in the drained beans and passata, add the spices and chillis, add salt if you want to and cover and leave to simmer for an hour on a low heat. I usually do this in the slow cooker. Left overs taste amazing.

Number 2, Macaroni Cheese.

Good ‘ole Mac n Cheese.

Number 3,Tomato Soup.

Add a tin of butter beans or a handful of small pasta to the soup to make it more filling. This is the first vegetable soup I got my children to eat. It freezes well too.

Number 4, Daal.

My favourite comfort food lentil daal, with boiled rice and a dollop of yoghurt, yummy.

Number 5, Tagine.

Moroccan Tagine is something I grew up eating its kind of like a curry but with a different set of spices, its very easy to make as its basically a stew, I love one pot cooking, here my chicken tagine recipe.

  • chicken pieces it doesn’t matter which pieces you use, I like boneless thighs they are juicy, always chose skinless ones but bone in or our it makes little difference.
  • 1kg of chicken, breast pieces, thigh or a mixture of drumsticks and thighs with the bone in.
  • an onion chopped
  • a clove of garlic
  • tea spoon each of ground cumin, paprika, black pepper and turmeric
  • half a tea spoon of cinnamon.
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can cooked chickpeas
  • 1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock or less, if your serving it with couscous you might want more gravy.

Plus add a selection of vegetables, cubed potatoes, chunky carrot, turnip, parsnip, sweet potato, courgette, aubergines, okra, green beans, all work well, but be aware the softer vegetables don’t need as long to cook as the root vegetables. Avoid bell peppers they give it a bitter flavour.

Soften your onion and garlic in olive oil, add your chicken and brown it a bit, add your tomatoes and spices and the root veg, cook for 20 mins and then add the chickpeas and soft veg and cook on a low heat until done, this smells wonderful while cooking. You can adapt it and make a more elaborate looking meal by leaving out the vegetables, chickpeas and tomatoes and adding a jar of olives and a chopped preserved lemon serve with cous cous, rice or bread.

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