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13 Meal planning & eating well, money saving tips

Janice Hutton & I had a fantastic live discussion over on her Hutton Health facebook page about how our wellness mentally, physically, financially are so intrinsically linked.

You can watch it here, we do have a giggle, it's not boring!

This year we're seeing catastrophic human disasters around the world and our cost to live normally in the UK partly as a knock on effect is so very high.

But these problems have been brewing for some time. It's easy to let this get you down when you realise just how much extra you're having to pay out - most households are £200+ a month just to stay the same.

When you feel very low what's the knock on effect to other areas of your life?

Do you buy things to cheer yourself up?

Are you losing sleep?

Do you give up the gym you love going to?

Do you tell yourself that heating healthily costs too much?

What if you just looked at things differently?

For many families this year it's looking extremely painful so we're all waiting for some shifts in support. As you may know I help people with their utility bills and have never seen the market so non competitively priced. I will say however that I absolutely can save you money I'm sure of it, please do ping me a message or book in a phone call to chat it through. If I can't then you can simply stay as you are, it's got to be worth a look hasn't it?

For other families who aren't on the poverty line it's still going to sting, a lot!

Whichever side of the fence you're on, there is always another way to create pleasure, joy & have a good level of self care. It just might take a bit of effort. But one thing I do know, if you don't look after yourself who will?

Getting enough good quality sleep (damn you menopause) eating well, being organised with your home economics, keeping your friendships connected, getting fresh air & movement is a good way to keep your stress levels down and your health & happiness at optimum levels.

So onto 13 ways to properly plan which can help you feel so much better, sleep better because you're nutritionally satisfied & not so worried about how much it will cost:

  1. Create your new budget for this year. Use a pad or one of my planners that's worked out all the maths for you, and plan out your year. Yes your year! Seeing the next 10-12 months in front of you as an overview enables you to make critical decisions down to the every day. You can learn how to do that with one of my other videos or visiting the shop to read more about how each one helps you do this. Or message me I'm quite happy to go through it one to one. I will not advise you how to spend your money I'm not a financial advisor but I can show you how to create a sustainable year in year out system that empowers you make the best decisions for your circumstances.

  2. When creating your budget decide what constitutes your needs vs what you want. What are you personal and family priorities? Where are you wasting money that could be used better elsewhere? When you know that you've chosen £50 or £100 to spend on food shopping each week then that is your budget and you can set about getting the best value for money so that you enjoy eating & it sustains your wellbeing.

  3. Ok onto the details. How often during the day are you hangry? Run out of steam? Desperate for a coffee and some chocolate? Like me, I'm sure you are not always eating well enough or making the right choices. DO NOT GO FOOD SHOPPING WHEN YOU ARE LIKE THIS! Eat an apple at least before you go, have a large glass of water, a carrot, ANYTHING. You know why, you'll not only buy way more than you should, you'll have biscuits, bread (the smell in the bakery section...) pasta etc and you'll scoff a bag of sweets in the car on the way home.

  4. Have a list. Every Saturday morning I have a little James Martin moment to myself. With cook books in front of me I think about food over a few cups of coffee and I get inspired to try new things. We all have 12+ recipes we rotate regularly & this is a brilliant bit of knowledge. Mixing it up a bit is exciting too, helps you learn more about nutrition & how cooking doesn't have to take too long nor does it have to cost too much. A busy family can work really well on a set menu for the week, you know which child needs picking up from where at what time, who's getting home late & when so you can work around your own unique schedule. Most evenings you need to get in & out the kitchen within 30 mins don't you, so search online for <30minute meals for inspiration if you haven't already. If the thought of a set menu does not spark joy for you or even a mere smile, then what would work for you? You might not have kids, nor commute & work 12 hours a day, or maybe you have a career where you can never tell what time you'll get in! On call Vets, midwives, hospitality, or retailers when someone calls in sick you have to cut another 14 hour shift. In which case you might be best off keeping it super simple or go shopping 3 times a week. In which case keeping a note of how much you're spending on your separate trips will help keep you on financial track. Try to at least have some kind of Go-To recipe list - you're so exhausted a grab & go meal is usually what you want but regularly this isn't always best. Try as you can list what you have and it will give you recipes! We like to choose 3-4 recipes to buy in for and then pick which one we fancy on the day. Each require similar ingredients so things get used up easily. Being a bit creative you can adjust easily. Bangers & mash can become a sausage casserole, chicken stir fry can become fajitas, a chilli can become a lasagne you just need some staples "in stock". Learn how to make a quick bechamel - soooo easy, cheap & tastes so much nicer than the gloopy preservative filled jars. I'm not a food snob but when something is that easy it's criminal to spend so much on a less quality item. Go with Delia's all in one method. Add cheese & a macaroni / cauliflower cheese is a cinch. If you've got eggs you've got omelettes with whatever veg is starting to wilt, frittata with that slightly questionable cheese will fill you up nicely & prevent waste, proper carbonara just needs the yolks & with dried spaghetti is an easy, soothing dinner. Bacon or lardons & grana padano (cheap parmesan) are great staples for your fridge.

  5. Food wastage is staggering in the UK, is it in your house? How much gets scraped off the plates because the portions are too big & go into the bin or the dog (same thing in this house) How many times do you wonder what that funky smell is in your fridge to find a green congealed salady mess in the drawer? Curse because you forgot about those pork steaks that are now definitely having to go in the bin (and definitely not in the dog)? If you've ever worked in a cafe or food venue you'll know the extent to which date rotation is key to prevent waste and poorly tummies. The same principle applies at home. Set up your fridge & cupboards so you all know in the house what goes where & do a little recky every day or two just so know what you've got, literally take stock!

  6. Where you choose to go shopping can give you incredible value for money and it might not take as much time as you think to go to two places. Going to the butchers you'd think would be so much more expensive than the supermarket but it isn't always. On a Sunday morning we park up, grab a takeaway coffee, go for a nice dog walk and then buy our goodies. Butchers will trim pieces for you, tie up brisket for slow roasting, give you the exact quantity you need, you can usually buy 2 big packs of chicken breasts for £10, they've got marinading herbs & spices and advise you how long to cook things for so it's damn delicious. Wander around your town's market on a Saturday morning for a mooch & get loads of fruit & veg and boy do they love a "2 for" bargain!

  7. I love my Tesco Clubcard and because I also do Justin's mum's shopping each week I get double points - very exciting I just got £29.50 in vouchers woo hoo!! I then converted them to £75 worth of Eurotunnel vouchers for when we drive down to France in May. AND I paid using my UW cashback mastercard so that over the month we shave £25+ off our utility bills. You see? A bit of effort and your world shifts a bit. Even Justin doesn't roll his eyes anymore & uses the app for points as he can see the value you can get.

  8. Love your freezer. There's several great instagrammers you can follow that offer incredible advice when it comes to how to use this well. It's just a bit of effort & organising. Lakeland do great freezer pens for writing on the bags - if you love a surprise don't bother but I like to know what it is & when it went in. Oh, and for gin & tonic lovers don't waste your lemons & limes, cut them into chunks, freeze them in a bag and you've got icy slices ready to go!

  9. Most mums know the value of batch cooking when they've got kids who bring kids home for tea with no warning. The feeling that there is another lasagne in the fridge for Thursday makes you feel ever so slightly smug, we can blame Nigella for that!

  10. Repurposing isn't just for your social media it's the best way to make dinner and create next day's lunches in one go. You can always eat cold chicken wraps for lunch, ding some leftover pasta in the works microwave & box up that salad that would otherwise go mushy the next day. Still not convinced about cold pizza but needs must.

  11. Pantry (dahhling) or store cupboard, is where you can always make something out of nothing. Apparently, Justin tells me, I'm rather good at this... When you've got reduced / on offer pasta, tinned tomatoes, baked beans, olive oil, just get stocked up as much as you can. You'll be so happy that you can have beans on toast just because you really fancy it one evening or rustle up a linguine alla putanesca just because you can.

  12. Good vegetable stock - I love Marigold Bouillon so soup can be whizzed up in 20 mins from whatever veg you've got. When you've had your roast chicken on Sunday, do you make chicken stock? Get all the good bits off it first for sandwiches, chicken caesar salad or pasta for the next few days, then stick the carcass into a big pot with veg stock or just a couple of litres of water, carrots, onion & celery chopped up. I like a few bay leaves & peppercorns too, put the lid on, bring to a boil then simmer gently for an hour or two. Get a large sieve once you've removed the big bones, and over a big bowl, pour the stock into the bowl so you catch all the yucky bits & small bones. Use this for risotto, for soup bases and all sorts. It also makes a very good chicken soup / gravy for the dog but don't put the peppercorns, onions or stock in. He is a rescue with a traumatised background & some behavioural issues. I can really tell the difference when he has been eating "dog food" and when I make him a batch of (frozen & bagged) mince with vegetables and pour over some of this chicken soup. Not only does it last for around 4 days so is pretty good value for money but he is genuinely a calmer happier boy.

  13. Shop with your list online so you can see it all adding up right in front of you & you're not tempted to grab those extra things. Or go in person in the evening when things get marked down. If you have a big enough freezer grab those 20p bread rolls & expensive focaccia's & ciabatta's - they make amazing garlicky croutons for soup & salad, buy those half price sausages, prawns etc and know you've got great food waiting for you always.

Has that been useful?

Please do comment and let me know.

Food planners if you fancy some printable stationery that just helps with your organisation a bit are here:

If you want to have a chat you can book in here:

My home made lemon drizzle cake and healthy breakfast flap jacks.

Definitely cheaper to make, bit of Sunday morning therapy with some music playing & a pot of hot coffee on the go and yumminess for a few days.

Bye for now

Lucy x

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