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Menu Planning with Allergies {Home-Making}

I don’t know about you, but our food bill has got completely out of hand over the past twelve months. What with everyone being at home all the time and needing to be fed multiple times a day, the food allergies (Charlotte is both dairy and gluten free, whilst Abigail is dairy free), feeding four strapping teenagers (one of which is training for the army reserves), two perpetually hungry preteens, a husband who works a physical job and me, who just likes to eat…and, well, you have a recipe for disaster (‘scuse the pun!). Our food bill has sky rocketed to between four and five hundred pounds a week. Which we can not afford. Both Ads and Thomas contribute towards food, which definitely helps, but this is not something we can keep up. Add this to the fact that we were told yesterday that our energy bill has to be increased from £140 per month to £300 per month (on account we think of the shed, extra laundry and just simply having eight people in the house pretty much most of the year). Yikes!

Right now I am going shopping daily to feed the eight of us. I have no real plan, because I do not yet have the requisite skills to cook for all the different dietary requirements. Most nights I am making at least two separate meals and although I am desperately trying to please everyone, I feel that in reality I am pleasing nobody.

Creating a Menu Plan around an Organic Box Scheme

So, I sat down and tried to create a menu plan to suit everyone. This is neither as easy or as simple as it seems. Add that to the fact that both Gary and I are committed to buying as much of our stuff using an organic box scheme, and I find myself in a situation I have neither the skills nor the knowledge to make work.

As you can see from the collage above, the box scheme offers a huge variety of fruit and veg which with the addition of small amounts of meat, eggs and cheese give a fairly health, balanced diet.

It’s just that I haven’t always been the best at using everything, especially when we are given something with which I am unfamiliar…for example turmeric or blue potatoes. It has taken me a while to even vaguely get used to using what we have rather than what we want. I don’t make things easy on myself, I know. The last few weeks I have been playing about with the box contents to try to put together a menu plan to suit everyone. I have also checked portion sizes and realise I am feeding more food than I should be to almost everyone. Thomas is training for the army reserves and so has a very high calorie and protein requirement. Knowing this might help in decreasing the amounts we buy each week, especially meat and dairy portions.

Creating a Weekly Menu Board

This week, I posted the menu up on the kitchen black board so everyone could see and therefore know what we were going to have from Thursday onwards. Thursday is our delivery day for the box scheme. The younger girls have been helping me decorate it:

I went shopping today to pick up the extras that I need to make some of the sauces, and bob’s your uncle I’ve got me a menu board and everything I need to create all the dishes. At least, I will on Thursday when the boxes are delivered:

It remains to be seen if I actually keep to this plan. My goal is not to shop until next Monday, when I will shop for the next week’s meal plan. This means I will cut down the amount of times I go shopping per week from six to two. The meals are fairly balanced and, apart from needing to cook two different pastas, I will only need to make one meal each lunch and each dinner. Happy days!

5 comments on “Menu Planning with Allergies {Home-Making}

  1. rawsonjl

    Good luck!! I find meal planning is key for us as well otherwise I am picking up all sorts of stuff. We try to stick to once or twice week grocery shopping as well but have definitely noticed an uptick in our bill these past few months.

  2. Veronica

    Vegetables is definitely the way forward! We follow Eat to Live ,Dr Fuhrman, the bulk is lentils/beans, they tick all boxes for protein and slow release energy! Green and mushrooms daily , onions are also what I use daily , in huge quantities!!! Great healthy filler! Our house household is similar, hungry boys , extra people and some different foods , but generally the fillers like lentils/beans are not a problem. We use very little dairy and meat.
    Stretchy dinners that can be reheated but I’m still cooking constantly!

  3. I agree about vegetables and pulses. I nearly always add chick peas or beans to casseroles. Having a few vegetarian meals also helps.

    Going through your list and double checking that you really need a particular ingredient, against your menu and store cupboard makes a surprising difference.
    UK moneysaving expect has a useful section on reducing food costs.

  4. These meals look great! I think shopping every day is always expensive, as we tend to pop a bit extra in each time we go. Have you accounted for any snacks, as they can be expensive? I think writing down where every penny goes really helps to clarify where the problem areas might lie. I’m sure all the different needs must really bump up the costs. Our breakfasts are porridge or cereal, lunch is soup or salad and sandwiches and dinners are chicken pie, lasagne, toad in the hole, quiches, fajitas, pasta bake, curry etc. Our bill is about £170 a week for 4 adults (Christopher is mostly away) and 6 children and frequent guests, all of us have healthy appetites. We don’t buy organic, but we are growing our own, which should help a lot in the summer. We buy a lot of fruit, at the end of the day, from ALDI, as it is often 75% off. I hope you find a way to reduce your costs a bit.

  5. OOOh! Claire, this is fabulous. I’ll never have to meal plan again. I’ll just check out your menu and there ya go!

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