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Good Home Economics!

Updated: Mar 26, 2020

As a mum of three young kids, I'm always trying to be a 'savvy' shopper whilst keeping the kids' nutritional needs in mind. Our meals are based around starchy foods, plenty of vegetables and a protein source. Of course, the the kids also get their fair share of treats too (most of which are homemade) , and I believe that being overly restrictive with sweet treats can lead to cravings and binges eventually. Everything in moderation is my mantra!

Now I know that most of the 'experts' on saving more and buying less, advise that we construct a shopping list at the beginning of the week while we do our meal plans, and that we should stick to that list with blinders on when we enter a shop. But I prefer to have a look at what's on offer that week and build my meals around that instead. Monday afternoons usually involve a trip to Lidl after work with me heading to the meat counter and taking it from there.

The bottom shelf of the meat counter in my local Lidl usually has a variety of reduced meat and fish that are reaching their expiry date soon, and there are usually a few other items reduced each week as well. For example, today there was 30% off chicken fillets (£1.25 for 2) and salmon darnes (£2.51 for 240g/2 large darnes) - both with a few days left until expiry. I knew I could whip up a quick stir-fry with the chicken for the whole family this evening and planned to bake the salmon darnes with some baby potatoes and broccoli another night. I snapped both up! The meatballs, which I buy weekly, were also on offer at £1.70 per packet - I got two. I plan to make spagetti and meatballs (a weekly meal in our house) and a meatball pizza which the kids are gonna LOVE! The homemade sauce I make can be adapted for both. I usually make another trip to the shop each Friday so I'm well equipped for meals until then.

I've been cooking meals from scratch for as long as I can remember. Pre-made meals bought from a supermarket were alien to me growing up as my mum made everything from scratch. My childrens’ diet is a lot more varied, in terms of ingredients, than when I was growing up, mostly due to the availability that we have in shops, compared to years ago. I have explored flavours and foods from around the world and experimented a lot, delving in and out of recipe books and picking up tips from cookery programmes over the years. It makes it a lot easier to walk into shops, pick up an ingredient and meal plan on the spot if you have a few good recipes up your sleeve and a little bit of experience. It also helps to have a store cupboard stocked up with essentials such as canned tomatoes, spices, herbs, rice and pasta. All you need to do then is suss out the offers on meat and fresh fruit and vegetables and make them work for you. Don't forget, fruit and vegetables in season will be cheaper, have a higher nutrient content, have fewer food miles (better for the environment) and benefit our local NI farmers and the economy.

I took a few pics of the chicken stir-fry as I was making it this evening - my 3 year-old even helped crush the garlic and give it the odd stir. I also threw garlic, fresh ginger, chillis, noodles and stir-fry veg into my shopping basket earlier. The actual meal itself, which easily fed five of us (2 adults and 3 kids) worked out as £3.46 in total, which is roughly 70p per portion! Healthy, quick and tasty. If that's not savvy I don't know what is!!

Chicken stir-fry for under £3.50 - nice!!

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