cheap family recipes 

feed a family of 4 for (just over) £100 a month

Batch Cooking Tips

 

Bake 4 loaves of bread at a time; leave one loaf out and freeze the other 3. Options: slice all the loaves before freezing them to avoid the last minute panic when you forget to defrost a loaf in time. Individual slices defrost in minutes. Breadcrumbs can be swept up into a container kept in the freezer and used in recipes at a later date.

Slice one loaf and make it up into sandwiches – they can be popped into a lunchbox straight from the freezer and will be defrosted and ready to eat by lunchtime; freeze the remaining two loaves whole or as half-loaves and defrost as needed.

You can get ahead on the recipes that require shortcrust pastry by making a big batch of pastry and freeze in recipe-sized portions; defrost the night before and the next day the pastry will be ready to roll and fill. The onion tart can be made up whole in advance and frozen.

Pizza dough can be made in a triple batch and dough frozen in individual batches, as can pizza topping sauce. Take out of the freezer the night before so the dinner becomes no more than a quick assembly job. Or, if you have a lot of space in the freezer, you can be really organised and roll out and spread with topping a month’s supply at once and freeze individually. Can be cooked straight from the freezer.

Amatriciana sauce can be cooked as a large batch and meal-sized portions frozen in empty margarine tubs or tupperware containers until needed. And if you are only cooking for one or two, silicone muffin moulds are great for freezing small amounts of food – just pop the rounds out once frozen and store in a plastic bag in the freezer. You can also use moulds to freeze small amounts of pate, hummus and the like.

If you grate your block of cheese as soon as you get the shopping home and pop it into a container in the freezer you will avoid it disappearing in clandestine sandwiches, as well as saving time when preparing the evening meal. Same goes for bacon – slice or chop and freeze in meal-sized portions. And if you can’t face all the weighing out and portioning up at this stage, don’t worry – just chop up small, spread on baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen, remove with a spatula or fish slice and pop in a plastic bag – just take out of the freezer and weigh out as necessary for each dish.

 

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Take care of your family and your budget

Before putting together our meal planners we surveyed over 600 people to ask when faced with a tighter budget, which things they would struggle to give up.

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