Eat well for one

Looking after yourself - One bag of shopping for 5 meals. Week 1 & Week 2

How to eat well and spend less and Keep Healthy

Here is a list for a one-stop shop to create several meals and a couple of treats

  • 2 - 3 carrots
  • Small pack chestnut mushrooms
  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 garlic
  • Portions of squash and 1 sweet potato
  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 2 - 3 onions (red and white)
  • 2-3 bananas
  • Frozen peas (or peas and beans)
  • 1 tin cherry tomatoes
  • From the chilled counter: 1 tub creme fraiche
  • 1 carton milk
  • 100g cheddar cheese
  • 2 chicken breasts  (or Quorn fillets) Frozen is fine
  • 150g streaky bacon
  • 1 pkt risotto rice (Arborio)
  • Bread

Store Cupboard: porridge oats, pasta, caster sugar, soy sauce, stock cubes, cooking oil and salad dressing.

Fridge: eggs, margarine (or butter)

5 meals and 2 treats from one weekly shop.  No waste as careful shopping and meal planning is the key to making food go further.

Day 1: Stir-fry with rice and peas (using a stir-fry pan on the hob)

Simmer 80 - 100g risotto rice with water flavoured with stock cube, After 10 minutes add peas and continue cooking for further 8 minutes or until rice is cooked. Drain and put in a bowl. Use half tonight and store remainder in the fridge for another day. Fry chopped onion, 2 rashers of streaky bacon(opt) until golden, add thinly sliced carrot strips, sliced mushrooms and season with black pepper. Add rice and peas and stir until everything is piping hot.

Side salad: Diced tomato with a grated onion with crème fraiche topping

Day 2: Oven-roast chicken dinner (using the oven)

Cook the chicken breasts wrapped in streaky bacon, the two jacket potatoes and a tray of squash pieces and sweet potato, 1 carrot halved lengthwise, and circles of courgette drizzled with oil . Pre-heat the oven to 210C or Gas 7 and roast everything off. The veg takes around 40 mins or so, chicken portions similar and jackets bit longer unless you can give them 6 mins in the microwave to get them cooking first. All this cooking can go on whilst you do something else. Return to the kitchen and turn off oven. Serve up your roast chicken dinner. Split open the jacket potato and fluff up the potato and sprinkle with black pepper. Slice the chicken breast wrapped in bacon and have half of all the roasted vegetables. Use creme fraiche as the sauce.

Remember to store the remaining roasted veg in polythene tub with lid.

Day 3: Quick Mushroom Risotto (using a stir-fry pan on the hob)
Dice mushrooms thinly, dice red onion and a garlic clove. Fry off the garlic and onion in 20g butter in s stir fry pan, Stir in the mushrooms and cook until they soften. Mix in the previously cooked rice and peas. Grate up cheese really finely and add to the pan. Stir in creme fraiche to moisten the risotto, seasoning and a pinch of chilli flakes.

Side salad: a big handful of baby spinach dressed with soy sauce and some bread croutons fried in butter and garlic.

Day 4: Pasta meal (using pans on the hob)
Cook pasta on the hob in water and drain and drizzle with oil. Put on one side. Fry up diced cooked chicken (or Quorn) fillet with a sliced onion and a few mushrooms and all the left over roasted veg (squash, sweet potato etc). Add tinned cherry tomatoes (worth the little extra money) and stir gently. Stir in the pasta and reheat until everything is hot.

Side salad: Serve sliced red peppers with grated carrot and balsamic dressing.

Day 5: Stuffed peppers and bruschetta (using stir-fry pan )
Use the potato part of the jacket you cooked the other day. Remove the skin and dice it up. Fry off two slices of streaky bacon and add diced onion. Brown it lightly and stir in the potato pieces. Half the pepper and place in a dish in the microwave with 3 tablespoons water covered with cling film Cook for 2 minutes on high. Spoon the fillings over the pepper and return to the microwave for around 1.30 minutes. (If you do not have a microwave pop halved pepper in a pan with 200ml water. Put on a lid and steam it for 5 - 10 minutes until soft.) Top off with grated cheddar. Grill until golden. Top with crème-fraiche.

Side dish: Bruschetta made using thick slices of bread rubbed with a garlic clove and spread with the remains of the cherry tomatoes. Toast lightly under the grill until crispy and hot.

Treat 1 Cereal bars
Everyone needs some comfort treats. A 'food hug' is likely to stave off bad day blues.
In a pan melt 75g margarine and stir in 2 spoonfuls of caster sugar and either 1 tablespoon honey, syrup or marmalade together with 3 heaped tablespoons porridge oats and 3 heaped tablespoons cornflakes or similar. Mix well and spread into a Victoria sandwich style tin. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt or even chilli sea salt. Cook at 200C or Gas 6 for 12 - 15 minutes. Mark into 6 portions and allow to cool. You will have some to share and to take to work!

Treat 2 Banana cake
Banana aids the mineral balance in the body and helps health.
50g margarine, 50g sugar, 1 egg, 50g SR flour and 1 mashed banana. Beat it all up together until it is thoroughly mixed and put into paper cases. Sprinkle with flaked almonds. (If you have a little chocolate grate it up and sprinkle it over the cakes) Cook at 190⁰C or Gas 5 for 20 minutes until risen and springy to touch. Can be eaten hot or cold.

WEEK 2  Here is a guide to help you shop carefully and make 5 meals and 2 treats from an affordable shopping bag. It helps to plan meals.

The shopping bag needs to contain:

  • 1 packet of part baked bread rolls
  • 2-3 smoked mackerel fillets
  • 1 ready roll puff pastry
  • 150g minced beef
  • 1 hake or haddock or cod portion (frozen is fine)
  • 80g portion fresh cooked prawns (frozen)
  • 3 pork sausages
  • 1 tub creme fraiche
  • Packet noodles
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables: butternut squash, 3 onions, 3 tomatoes, 2 cox apples, small bunch green grapes, pack walnuts. pecans and 1 lemon
  • Check your fridge: 3-4 eggs, margarine or butter, cheddar
  • Store cupboard: couscous, horseradish sauce, Worcestershire sauce and sugar.

Day 1: Mackerel pate with hot crusty rolls, pastry twirls and crunchy apple, grape and walnut salad

Prepare smoked mackerel pate by peeling off the skin from the mackerel fillets and mashing the fillets with a fork. Add the zest and juice of the lemon and pile into a serving dish (or even the squeezed lemon half).

Cook the part-baked rolls (or baguette) according to the packet.

Open the puff pastry and slice the thinnest slices from the block, twist them and place on a baking tray. Cook in the same hot oven as the bread rolls for about 7 minutes.

Side salad: Chop and apple into quarters and remove the core, dice up the apple portions, add halved grapes and a few crushed walnuts or pecans with about a tablespoon of any salad dressing that you have and enjoy.

Day 2: Omeletta with salsa style salad and crusty bread

Use your eggs to make an Omeletta. You need a good non-stick pan for this if you want to make it on the hob.

Crack the eggs (2 or possibly 3 if you are starving hungry!) into a mixing bowl and beat them well, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grate about half an onion, wrap the remaining half with cling film and store in fridge.
Slice some pieces from a red pepper and about half a courgette. Shred some boiled ham, or chorizo slices.

Using a non-stick pan on the hob

Smear the cooking pan with butter, as butter gives the golden look to the outside of the Omeletta, and put the pan on the hob. Tip in the eggs, onion, veg and meat strips.
Gently, using a heatproof spatula, draw the egg mix from the sides to the middle of the pan bringing the ‘set’ or cooked egg layer with you. This will form a pile in the middle of the pan from which the still ‘raw’ egg mix will drain onto the hot edges of the pan.

Side salad: Salsa tomato salad. Dice the tomatoes. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and a good pinch of sugar. Add cucumber cubes and some sliced gherkins. Drizzle with French dressing or separate oil and vinegar, whichever you like.

Day 3: Roasted squash and minced beef hot-pot with crust

Peel a potato and slice into very thin slices. Do the same with an onion and cut an onion into quarters and place in the bottom of a casserole dish. Pop this into the microwave for 6 minutes. Put minced beef over the onion and potato and scatter with black pepper. Add a layer of chopped butternut squash. You can leave the skin on as it melts away during cooking. Add stock or water with a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce or marmite stirred in. This will add a darker meaty colour and richer flavour. Put the lid on and leave in the oven for 40 mins at Gas 6 or Electric 200C. Roll out a portion of puff pastry block and cover the hot pot dish, trim the edges and brush with milk. Cook on for 15 - 20 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.

Day 4: Coconut, Haddock and Prawn hot tub

Frozen Hake (Haddock or cod) portions can make a quick affordable meal. If using frozen fish remove the fish from the freezer and place in a frying pan greased with butter. Add 2 slices of fresh lemon, a diced chilli and the whole can of coconut milk with some sea salt and ground black pepper. Cover the pan with a lid or foil and simmer very gently for 10 – 12 minutes. Rapid cooking will break up the fish so keep it gentle and just poach and steam the fish until it is cooked. Once the fish is tender add the prawns. Quickly shred a whole pak choi very finely and add to the fish pan covering again to create steam to cook the vegetable. Peel a carrot and using a potato peeler shave thin ribbons into the coconut milk. Soak rice noodles in boiling water. Drain and add to the coconut. Serve piping hot.

Day 5: Onion Fondue with sausages and potato topping

Peel a potato and slice across it to make very thin slices. Melt a little butter in the microwave and toss the potato slices in this butter with some seasoning. Fry the potato slices very gently turning them several times. Whilst this is cooking, peel and quarter a large onion and cover with boiling water in a pan. Add the sausages and boil for 15 minutes until the onions are soft and drain through a colander. In the saucepan put a glass of white wine and 100g grated gruyere cheese and 1 clove of garlic. Very gently heat this mixture until it forms a smooth sauce. Stir it constantly and once it is blended add the onions. Serve the sausages and the onion sauce topped with the golden crunchy potato slices.

Treat 1: Noodle soup
Using a pan on the hob.

Use up half of the onion, chop it up and fry off in butter until it is softened, add any left-over vegetables cut into small pieces, add ripped basil leaves, drop in a thin chilli and remove it prior to eating, stir in a stock cube and add water. Add 1 tsp soy sauce and 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for about 5 minutes and drop in thin rice noodles, also float any remaining mackerel pate to use it up and heat until piping hot. Serve in a deep bowl.

Treat 2: Apple wrap snack
Unwrap the ready roll puff pastry. Peel and core a Bramley apple and cut into 4 quarters. Place a piece of apple onto a portion of pastry and add a teaspoon of jam, curd or mincemeat. Wrap the pastry round and seal the edges by pinching the pastry together. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes at 200 C or Gas Mark 6 until crisp and golden. These are delicious warm but can also be eaten cold or re-heated.

Remember to consider your shopping methods, it may pay you to hover round the fresh fruit and veg for 'reduced' products, eye up the long shelf-life veg such as courgettes, and squash or time your shopping to coincide with end of day sales. Select multi-purpose veg such as baby spinach that can be eaten raw as salad or cooked.

Secondly consider the cost of cooking methods. You can save money by using the oven only one night a week and the hob, grill and microwave on the other nights.