Friday, 11 January 2013

Back to it!

Frugal Friday

The months of December and January are probably our most expensive months of the year. Christmas, followed by numerous birthdays, in addition to some large yearly bills mean our account is drained alarmingly quickly at this time of year. Thanks goodness for budgeting and planning ahead!

So January is a month for getting back to it.

Not only do our finances take a battering, but my freezer supplies were depleted over the Christmas holidays to the point where I have nothing left in reserve other than a pot of beef stock and some breadcrumbs.  

So as soon as the children were back at school this week it was back to batch baking each time I cooked a meal. As I have said before I could not cope with the busy lives the children lead without having meals in the freezer that I can defrost and use. The thought of having to cook from scratch everyday, for me, would be overwhelming.

So I made Mammoth Meatballs on Wednesday (with the addition of chopped apple) and have two meals in the freezer. Friday is lasagne and I will make an extra one for the freezer. So already with not much effort I have 3 meals done for the next few weeks , waiting in the freezer. 

The meals I batch bake are simple, hearty, family meals. Nothing particularly fancy about them, but they fill the family up and are healthy and inexpensive to make.

Here is my two week menu plan ( starting from last weekend). I always plan my meals as it keeps my shopping budget to a minimum.

Week One
Week two
Carvary out as a family
Brisket, Roast Pots,veg  SC
Chorizo Pasta and salad
Beef, mash pots, carrots and peas
Roast Chicken and Mash pots, brocoli and carrots
Homemade pesto/ tagliatelle and salad
Mammoth meatballs,* rice and peas
Spaghetti Bolognaise *
Sausage Casserole and pots SC
Homemade Beefburgers in rolls F
Lasagne and salad and homemade garlic rolls **
Loaded Baked Potatoes - tuna, cheese and beans
Chilli and Rice *
Chicken Curry * and rice

SC = slow cooker
F = a meal from the freezer 
* = make an extra meal to put in the freezer

I do change days around if needed, but generally I do stick to a menu plan once I have it written . I'm too lazy  busy to rethink it!

Another of our favourite, quick and easy meals is a good old fashioned Steak Pie. I usually serve this with mash, peas and gravy and the family fight over the last slice of pie! I do spend a little more on the meat for a pie as I find if you serve up a pie with chewy, stringy meat, no one will touch it! However, most meat, if simmered slowly in a good gravy in the slow cooker for 5- 6 hours will be tender and delicious.

Steak Pie ( the quick way)

I usually make 2 or 3 pies in one go, but these are the quantities for one. It seems pointless to make one at a time - the slow cooker will be almost empty - give it a go, making an extra one for the freezer if you haven't tried it before!


1- 1 1/121b of good quality braising steak chopped. ( Amount depends on the size of your pie dish and family.)
one large onion
beef stock - 1 - 1/2 pints
Knorr liquid stock - a couple of glugs! 
herbs - what takes your fancy.

  • Soften the onion , then add the meat and brown gently ( I do all this in the slow cooker dish).
  • Mix in a couple of tablespoons of plain flour  and cook through .
  • Add about a pint to a pint and a half of beef stock and stir in to thicken the sauce.
  • Add herbs, knorr stock ( if you have it) and seasoning.
  • Put on slow cooker and cook for 5 - 6 hours until tender and gravy has reduced.
I use pre made shortcrust pastry sheets from the supermarket which I buy when they are on offer. I cannot make it this cheap then! Also my homemade pastry is not my best asset. (shhhhhh) . Later in the day when the meat is ready in the slow cooker : 

  • Place meat into a pie dish ( or similar) and cover the top with pastry. Keep any spare gravy to pour over the pie when serving. 
  • Seal the edges and trim.
  • Cook for about 30 mins at 180 degrees.

NB: I freeze these pies before cooking the pie, as the pastry tends to change it's consistency when it is frozen if cooked. 

Rough and ready looking, but absolutely gorgeous.(This is actually my homemade pastry!)

I have now been given two fluted, proper pie dishes as well. I can't wait to use them. I feel like a proper grown up now I have pie dishes!

A couple of pasta dishes next week, with a delicious homemade pesto!

Happy Baking.

Design ©2012 Another New Day 2012 - 2013
All personal images are owned by Another New Day
unless stated otherwise.

Images may not be downloaded,manipulated or reproduced without prior written permission. All rights are reserved.
Commercial or Private use without explicit written consent is prohibited and action will be taken through UK and worldwide copyright laws.


  1. Even my kids are nagging me for a meal plan as they are fed up with me getting in from work and panicking!
    I am inspired my your post.

  2. Super! Meal plans are great, much easier to get things in order! Have a great Friday x

  3. Its an excellemt idea to cook in batches and then have reserves in the freezer ... something I keep meaning to do, but somehow it never happens. Possibly a good new year's resolution for me? I love steak pies .. but I'm one of those freaks who also loves kidneys, so for me it's steak & kidney pie (which The Child then picks out in total disgust, LOL!)

  4. Great idea must try this recipe

  5. Steak pies sound delicious! I love menu planning, it saves us time and money every week.

  6. My mouth is watering - I love a good pie 'n' mash! I do a mincemeat and mushroom/vege pie for Sunday dinner sometimes - (and make extra filling and freeze the rest for shepherd's pie or just to have with mash and Yorkshire puds.) I also use pre-made shortcrust - don't have the time/energy/talent to make my own! We call it a 'plate pie' up in these parts! xx

  7. I wish I had your discipline and had the time to do menu planning. I get so busy with school...sometimes its the easiest dinner possible.

  8. Today is my day off, but I don't feel like cooking anything.
    You are amazing.

    1. I should have mentioned - hubby has promised to cook every Saturday to give me a night off! I can't wait! X

  9. Great recipe, looks lovely. I'm always so lazy with meals, I definitely need to get more organised and plan my meals! Great post :) x