A Good Indian Wife...

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

I've done it at last... 

Me the ever disorganised, procrastinateur and not to mention 'The Queen of bargains, reduced value shopaholics daughter', has finally got round to doing a very simplified version of a weekly menu plan. Now bearing in mind I very rarely know what day it is or where I might be living at the end of a week, for me this is a miracle.

The last (and only) time I planned a weekly menu was when my whole family were moving out of our 13 year family home. So my job as the official 'Obliterator' was to supervise the dwindling down of supplies.

I did extremely well under so much pressure, considering my families likes and dislikes. Michael has to have HOT, tabasco or mitmita, Hanna is a picky teenager and eats only raw fruit and vegetables it seems and gallons of smoothies, my husband doesn't eat much and certainly "doesn't look for vegetables", my Mum has to find something wrong with every meal and then there's me... I eat anything (twice as much when I'm pregnant) and Grandpa who eats like a bird.

My usual plan of action is at about 6 o clock say to my husband "what shall we have for dinner", the answer "I don't know Bo, you know, whatever" inevitably comes. I look in the fridge, moan a bit, sit down for half an hour and then think I'd better get up and be a good wife and cook dinner.  Meat is always defrosted in the microwave as I never remember to take it out early. 

Now things have to change... C's shift has changed from 6am-2pm to 2pm-10pm, so now he can't buy the cheap sandwiches and samosas they sell at lunchtime. He won't eat a big meal in the day so it's my job to send him to work with a tiffin he can heat up in the microwave and have a proper meal when he returns from work at night.

So bearing in mind my one success story from the past, I sat down and scribbled some things down on a scrap of paper.

We had some pork fillet in the freezer, half price from when my mum took us shopping a few weeks back, so I took that out to defrost.  

My list...

Monday - minted lamb burgers with salad and chapattis
Tuesday - pork, pepper and pea stir fry with cous cous
Wednesday - alloo gobi (potato and cauliflower curry) with chapattis
Thursday - spaghetti bolognaise
Friday - leftover stew (anything I can find plus lentils and herbs)

lamb mince
beef mince

I haven't been to the supermarket for about three weeks now so the fridge is bare and all supplies are down to a minimum. I decided to walk to the local indian shops and buy my meat from the Halal butcher and the rest from the local Londis (mini market)

Once in the butchers looking for beef mince, I saw chicken mince and thought I'd try chicken bolognaise instead, so for 1kg of lamb mince and 1/2 kg of chicken mince I paid £5.85. Now I'm sure that's a lot less than Tescos charge. The men had a little laugh at me when I took out my supermarket carrier bags to be reused, so I told them I was out to save the world! Giggles all round and a little discount for making them laugh!

In the grocery shop I picked up everything on the list plus a nice punnet of juicy big strawberries. The cheese had 50% extra free! Total £10.80...

Now I don't keep track of how much everything is per kilo so I couldn't tell you if I saved or not, but I can say that if I had driven to Tescos (petrol and pollution) I would have picked up a lot more than was on my list, I would have had a lot more packaging to throw away (I don't use plastic bags for veg but when I'm forced to buy 'value' ranges they always come pre-packed) and I would have come away with a twisted feeling of guilt in my stomach.

So Mondays meal...

was a joy to cook, feeling on top of the world of menu plans, I chopped the mint (a very large bunch) and used half in the burger mix with red onion, chilli and garlic, blitzed in the chopper, added spices, an egg and a dash of oil and fried the patties on a griddle pan (covering with foil and turning off the heat when both sides were done to save energy)

The other half off mint I chopped and stored in a jar with sugar and balsamic, in the fridge. A teaspoon of this I mixed into the extremely thick and creamy greek yoghurt I bought for the dressing.

Served with a salad of home grown baby leaf lettuce, rocket and parsley with tomato and cucumber and chapattis (I only bought one pack of 8 chapattis forgetting about lunch the next day, so tonight I'll be making from scratch for the first time) 

Tuesdays meal... 

Threw all the ingredients into a wok with soy sauce, sweet chili sauce garlic and ginger stir fried on a high heat til meat fully cooked and then turned off the heat and left with a plate over the top.

One of the things I have been trying to do since starting this journey is measure and weigh in cups, things like cous cous, rice, porridge and pasta, so we don't get left with a plateful extra at the end of each meal and so we don't waste water or energy cooking it.

1 cup of cous cous feeds 2 adults. In a bowl add 1 and a half cups of boiling water and a squeeze of lemon and cover for 10 minutes with a plate. Perfectly cooked cous cous, not soggy not dry!

Oh I love it when things are so simple!

You may be wondering what's for dinner on Saturday and Sunday? Give me a chance... I'm not that organised!


Anonymous said...

Mmmm...your menus sound so yummy!! I always tell myself that I should stop shopping at Tesco's (before they take over the whole world...well not quite) and support some of the local shopkeepers, but I always end up going to Tesco's, just because it's more convenient and then I end up kicking myself for not following my convictions!
There's a motive though, if shopping locally is cheaper than Tesco's.

P.S I left a comment on your previous post, answering your question.

Sharon J said...

Well done!

More people seem to be picking up the idea of menu planning nowadays and believe me, since I started I've saved loads of both money and time.

I keep a running inventory of everything I have in the cupboard/freezer/fridge so I know what I have to plan around and what I need to buy. It makes life so much easier.

I bought couscous for the first time in my life yesterday so thanks for the tip on how to prepare it :)

Jennifer said...

I can't make it without a menu plan for the week, honest! I would bumble through the week, it would be horrible. :D

However, I just want to tell you, well done, and KEEP the week's menu. If you can manage to do this for 8 weeks, you can give yourself a rotation, so you'll only ever eat the same 'week of food' menu once every two months. Hope that makes sense. Maybe you could even double the recipe sometimes so come 8 weeks later, you can defrost a meal or two?

My 8 week plan beats making up 52 weekly menu plans anyway, give it some thought.

Take care!

emmani said...

Jane, if you don't have time to blog then you certainly won't have time to spend your time standing in the aisles of Tescos wondering which of the 7 different types of tomato is the best value, most orgainc, least air miles, most fairtrade and least packaged!!
At least the local shop will have one type, a nice juicy red one from god knows where, but at least you are supporting your local community and your pocket!
The greek yoghurt I bought was the best I've ever tasted, so supermarkets don't always have the best either. Give it a go...

Sharon I can't believe I didn't do it sooner!

Jennifer, Wait til my next post and you'll see why! :) But I'll keep in mind for the future x