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Created on 11.07.2019

Practical weekly plan for inexpensive family recipes

Cooking inexpensive yet varied meals isn't rocket science. But the budget quickly goes out of the window when you shop in the evening with the kids tugging at your sleeve and reaching for everything that takes their fancy. A simple weekly plan for cost-effective and healthy family meals can be a real help.

Inexpensive cooking starts before going shopping

Right away, planning sounds like effort. But it's worth it. You will no longer stumble aimlessly through the supermarket aisles but will buy only what's on the shopping list. This ultimately saves both time and money. There is no perfect time to tackle a weekly meal plan. The important thing is to take half an hour before doing a big shop, whether on the evening before or on a Saturday morning. Avoid shopping spontaneously several times through the week. It's not a new trick but it's a good one: never shop when you're hungry.

Planning begins with a look in your kitchen cupboards

Before making the weekly plan and subsequent shopping list, take a look in your kitchen cupboards. Very often, open packets of pasta and rice go forgotten. Different types of pasta can even be cooked together. Rice does not spoil quickly. Even leftovers can form the basis of an evening meal. Don't chuck those promotional leaflets straight in the recycling! Each week, the likes of Migros and Coop offer a wide range of foods at reduced prices. Planning and comparing is most worthwhile if you like to cook meat now and again. And meat is good for freezing.

Less is more: simple and vegetarian recipes

Don't place any great demands on the recipes. Inexpensively prepared meals are nothing more than simple and quick recipes with a handful of fresh ingredients.

The foundation can be filling basic foods like potatoes, rice, quinoa or wholewheat pasta, which can be combined in a variety of ways. And you certainly don't have to eat meat every day. Vegetarian recipes are just as tasty. Cheeses like parmesan and mozzarella, or eggs, are good sources of protein and are significantly cheaper than meat. Look out for seasonal vegetables or buy frozen vegetables in larger packs. Frozen foods, especially vegetables, are better than people think and are just as healthy as their fresh counterparts. Check whether the product you want is available from low-cost lines like M-Budget or Prix Garantie. These foods are less expensive but no less healthy.

Here is an example of a planned menu for a family of four

  Lunch Dinner
 
Monday
Lunch
Potatoes with seasoned and spiced quark
Dinner
Pasta with creamy pea sauce and a green salad with carrots
 
Tuesday
Lunch
Omelette with apple sauce
Dinner
Potato gratin with cheese and cream
 
Wednesday
Lunch
Pasta salad with carrots, pepper and mozzarella
Dinner
Rice with broccoli and mushrooms in cream sauce (cook extra for lunch the next day)
 
Thursday
Lunch
Rice salad with leftover broccoli, canned sweetcorn and French salad dressing
Dinner
Potato rösti with fried eggs and salad
 
Friday
Lunch
Pasta with traditional tomato sauce and parmesan
Dinner
Stuffed peppers with rice, mince, traditional tomato sauce and parmesan
 
Saturday
Lunch
Dinner
Mixed roasted vegetables, country fries and ketchup
 
Sunday
Lunch
– 
Dinner
Noodles with mixed vegetables (frozen mix) and a simple cream sauce

For more substantial dishes, concentrate on products that keep longer (potatoes, rice, pasta). With vegetables, look for seasonal and ideally local products like potatoes, carrots and cauliflower. Don't shy away from larger packs of frozen foods. Canned vegetables like tomatoes, sweetcorn, peas and mushrooms are often available in promotional multi-packs. Don't buy ready-prepared salads. Preparing salad yourself may be a little more work but it's cheaper. Pick up dairy products like cheese (parmesan, mozzarella, feta), cream and quark from the low-cost lines.

Reuse leftovers and combine products in different ways

Don't be afraid to cook similar meals several times in a week. At the start of the week, use fresh pepper in pasta salad; at the end of the week cook it into stuffed peppers. The combinations make it special and reduce the workload. Have a hot meal in the evening and make salad with the leftovers.

After planning the menu, it's time to make a shopping list

When you've rummaged through the cupboards and checked the weekly promotions to make your weekly plan, make yourself a shopping list. Are you the old-fashioned type with paper and pencil or do you prefer an app? There is a good range of shopping list apps; we've listed a few in the article “Eat healthily and save anyway: 6 tips for a good larder”. For the weekly plan given above you will need:

  • Potatoes, carrots and lettuce
  • Peppers (these often come in large packs)
  • Rice and pasta (if you don't have them anyway)
  • Eggs and flour (these come in larger quantities)
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Canned vegetables and apple sauce
  • Mince
  • Quark, cream, parmesan and mozzarella

Inexpensive meals are never dull

Healthy eating doesn't have to be expensive. A good base is half the battle. Then you can add playful combinations of ingredients. With a little creativity, you can conjure up inexpensive and varied recipes for your family.

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