Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Weekly Menus at the ready people.

I cook every night.
(When I'm not eating out of course.)

And, when I say "Cook" - I mean cook from scratch.
No Microwave meals, No Oven Meals, No Freezer Food.
(Apart from perhaps Peas.)

My Freezer contains ice-cubes, the forlorn bag of aforementioned peas and some Kaffir Lime leaves I picked up in an Asian supermarket....sometimes this motley assortment is joined by ice-cream and Oven Chips. (Those new McCain Beef Fat encrusted jobbies that Marco Pierre White was endorsing recently are pretty nice - pure cholesterol in a snazzy silver bag - but hey they taste good.)

I guess it's easier to cook from scratch every night when your only cooking for two.

But can I just add....

My Partner - never cooks.
The Kitchen is my domain.
I nearly always get a meal on the table in time to catch Hollyoaks on E4 at 7pm.

Now, your probably saying "Hey, I cook from scratch every night too", "What the hell is a microwave?" and "Your freezer sounds positively overstocked"
That's because your probably into cooking and food too. The evidence, I presume is that your reading this.

But, it seems in Britain today, from conversations I've had with my family, friends and work colleagues...people don't cook from scratch every night. They do whack ready meals in the oven, their freezers are stuffed to bursting point......not only do they own, but they reguarly use.....a microwave.

They are amazed I cook 'properly' every night.
I'm amazed they don't.

With a little forward planning, its not that hard.

My technique is thus:-

Only cook for two.....everyone else starves, gets leftovers, or is banished from the home to scavenge at mealtimes. (Of course I'm kidding, but it works for me.)

Plan your meals for just one week ahead. You don't need to eat them in any particular order, but write a 'menu' scour your recipe books for likely looking meals. (I normally eat whats freshest or is most likely to 'go off' first)

An obvious point, but the Recipes you cook must be quick and easy to make, I'd say no more than 30 minutes cooking time, if it's something for one night - or say up to an hour if it's something you can re-heat and eat for two nights (Chili or Thai Green Curry for example)

I'll give you an example - this is the 'menu' myself and my lucky partner are eating from this week....

  • Borlotti Bean Minestrone (This is a 2 night meal - the recipe is from Gordon Ramsays Healthy Appetite book. It's really nice, and apparently healthy - bonus.)

  • Mince and Tatties (Another simple and cheap 2 night meal, inspired by a recent trip to Edinburgh - I cook the mince mixture one night, takes 30 Min's to cook, and re-heat it the second night. Just need to make some 'tatties' (or Mash Potato as its known this side of the border) to go with it each night. It's a really nice meal, perfect for January when its cold outside.

  • Simple Tomato Spaghetti (A one night meal - really simple and quick recipe - onions, chopped tomatoes, basil warmed through and served with pasta and Parmesan)

  • Flatbread, Feta and Chickpea salad (Another one night meal - this is also from 'Healthy Appetite' by Gordon Ramsay - really quick to make - 20 Min's or so....lovely)


  • Chicken and Leek Stroganoff - this is from Jamie Olivers new recipe book which I got for Christmas - never made it before, but it has all the hallmarks of a nice mid-week meal, fairly cheap and quick to make - I'll let you know how I get on with that.

So, that's what I'm eating this week....being January and being penniless it's not the most exciting week - but it beats Frozen Oven ready meals any day.

It doesn't need to be complicated or expensive - One weeks shopping bill for for that lot, two people eating was £45.

Obviously, If I'm entertaining - then I kick it up a few notches.....but you can't work, and churn out dinner party fare every night.

Or perhaps you can....if so - let me know your secret!


Anonymous said...

I whole-heartedly agree - home-made is the snazziest! And I'm in the process of convincing my mum that meal planning is the way forward - she's always done it to a certain extent, just not specifically and never on paper. The winds of change are convening, and the bills are dropping.

Hope your menu plans live on!

Dan said...

Booksandbakes, thanks for the comment. Agreed, Menu planning is certainly the way forward for eating well and cheaply. I hope you manage to convince your Mum to fully embrace it! And in answer to your question, Yes....the menu plans live on - It's firmly entrenched in my lifestyle going back!