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Trying to start over

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Old Style MoneySaving
49 replies 7K views
BubblesandPopBubblesandPop Forumite
19 posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Old Style MoneySaving
I hope I'm in the right section. I've had a look through the board, and it seems really useful for my situation, however I am hoping to get some more personal advice, or somewhere to have a look when it's all in one place.

The short version is that I use a lot of convenience food, although try to make it as balanced as possible. So not all ready meals, more something like microwave steam bags of veg or rice, with a roast in the bag chicken. Or a stir fry pack with egg noodles.

It worked well for us, however the last few months have been tight, and I find myself stuck with how to cook healthy things from scratch. We're actually pretty broke right now, and seems its going to be this way for a while yet.

I don't know what to do about it all, and where to even start. I cannot cook, not really, and I'm finding the whole thing very stressful.

I really would appreciate any advice, or even just being pointed somewhere useful. I'm so overwhelmed - our budget is non existant, we have a lot of different dietry requirements and I'm just stumped.

Thanks for taking the time to read - I know I said the quick version....


  • edited 15 June 2019 at 9:31PM
    BubblesandPopBubblesandPop Forumite
    19 posts
    edited 15 June 2019 at 9:31PM
    I just wanted to add, that if I should post this somewhere else, instead of here, could I just move the post?
    Also, I do realise that my post makes me come across as clueless, however that's because I really feel like I am in this situation.
    Things are pretty rough, and I do need to do a complete overhaul in how I shop and manage things in the kitchen department. It's all a mess, and needs to be sorted. I just haven't the first clue in how to start.
  • edited 15 June 2019 at 9:40PM
    janb5janb5 Forumite
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    edited 15 June 2019 at 9:40PM
    Hi BubblesandPop,

    It`s always difficult to post when you`ve got a lot on your mind and I know you felt really overwhelmed right now.

    Take a deep breath- I know lots of people on here have been in your shoes and it`s a very helpful forum.

    Could you give some examples of meals that you and your partner cant eat. Also maybe make a list of what you have got at home so you can work your way through that first.

    There are lots of meals that you can do that don`t take much cooking so maybe you can start with one meal first and then build up your confidence and then try something else next time?
  • Hello janb5
    Thank you for the reply.
    Both me and my husband eat the majority of food - it's the kids that don't! One is a pescatarian, one won't touch any veg, mainly due to ASD food issues, and the other hates fish. They all eat what the others wont :eek:
  • janb5janb5 Forumite
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    Ok then maybe you have to get the kids on board.

    First of all you and their Dad cant be making food to suit 5 different people. It`s so expensive and also takes a lot of time.

    Hopefully your OH ( other half) can support you over this.

    How old are the kids? How about asking them to write down their favourite foods and saying that everyone has to take turns in choosing the meal. Perhaps do a meal planner for the meals for the week. Get the kids involved, setting the table, cutting veg etc. Also say to them that if you can cut down your food bills, then there will be more money for treats, days out etc.

    What about baked potatoes with a filling they like, tuna, cheese, baked beans etc so they can help themselves.

    Also try to avoid ready meals- they cost a lot. Have you got a roasting tin and you could roast a chicken ( cooking time and temperature on the bag ( for example.

    If you and your OH work together on this then maybe that would help.

    How did you get on with the list of foods you`ve already got and also an idea of how much £ you have left until the end of the month.

    I`m sure lots of other people will be along soon to offer their ideas too.
  • janb5janb5 Forumite
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    How old are your kids?
  • edited 15 June 2019 at 11:18PM
    BubblesandPopBubblesandPop Forumite
    19 posts
    edited 15 June 2019 at 11:18PM
    The kids are in college / Junior school / infant school.
    We do have roasting tins etc, in fact, we have quite a few kitchen cookware, even though we don't use it as we should.

    We have around £50 until payday, and I will ask DH to help with doing a proper food inventory in the morning, to sort out what we have.
  • janb5janb5 Forumite
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    Great that`s a start. I`ll check into the forum tomoz. What ideas does your OH have?

    Don`t put yourself down- we all have to start somewhere. Sending hugs.
  • thriftwizardthriftwizard Forumite
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    BubblesandPop, certainly no judgement from me; long ago I was exactly where you are now! Though our own personal financial crisis hit us quite some time before the ASD/anxiety issues really kicked in, so I was beginning to get the hang of cooking by then. I was a bit of a career girl before having kids, and to be honest thought cooking was a bit of a waste of my time & talents - something my family & education had worked hard to instill in me! Why learn to make a sauce & buy ingredients & spend time preparing them, when you can just buy a jar? How wrong I was...

    Much to my surprise, I found that cooking/meal planning/budgeting turned out to be a worthwhile challenge, and now the cooking thing has become a creative delight although I know I spend a lot less on food than most of my friends! So the first thing is, try to look on this as an interesting & worthwhile challenge rather than a ghastly ordeal. The way it feels to you makes a lot of difference.

    I don't know how old your kids are, but even small children can help with things in the kitchen, like making pastry or peeling veg; three of my five have ASD or anxiety issues and two of those have turned into excellent cooks, who really enjoy cooking & experimenting, as has one of the two without obvious issues; the other two are capable, even if they don't relish cooking in quite the same way. Though they are all grown up now, we have two still at home, one of them vegetarian (earning) and one pescatarian (not yet earning) but we've been catering for a multitude of dietary oddities all along. In a sense, it's a journey we've all undertaken together.

    When they were young, if they didn't want to eat whatever the rest of us were having, there was always the option of "mini-pizza" and salad; that was a (defrosted & warmed) pitta bread spread with tomato puree or pasta, with grated cheese and whatever else they wanted or could find to put on top of it, then grilled. From a fairly early age - around 8, I think - they made it up themselves, under my supervision. No-one chose to eat that all the time; it filled them up & was probably no worse than many of their contemporaries were eating, but wasn't exactly inspiring or top-notch nutrition.

    Youngest (ASD) announced her intention of becoming vegetarian at 14; she is now 23 & pescatarian. Fine, as long as she was prepared to make it herself... my budget didn't run to Qu0rn or L. McCartney stuff! To this day, neither girl has much time for ready-made veggie meals; they'd rather make themselves grilled halloumi with salad, stir-fried veg with noodles & egg, chickpea burgers or a simple ragout with pasta, which are all quick & easy once you've got the hang of things a bit.

    That's enough of an essay for now! But - don't panic, it's all very do-able, and you can all learn together, make mistakes & laugh, & everyone will benefit in the long run.
    Angie ;)

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  • rach_krach_k Forumite
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    How are the kids with things like bolognese and chilli?

    If they will eat them, I'd do a big batch of each using veggie mince (I like the Tesco meat free mince). If veggie mince won't go down well, do some with veggie mince and the rest with meat - I find it's the prep of the veg, faffing around with spices etc that takes the time so having two pans on the go doesn't take much more effort. There are loads of easy recipes online.

    You could cutting up some veg into really tiny pieces or the finest grating you can do. If you add it fairly early on, it should blend in so you can't see it even if you look. I think last time I did it, I added broccoli and carrots. Nobody knew it was there but leave it out if it won't pass muster!

    We use chilli in a few different ways - on jacket potatoes or potato waffles, on nachos (bit of a treat but they're actually the Tesco value ones!), with rice or I bet it would be nice with chips too. Bolognese can be with the same if you swap rice for pasta/spaghetti. If you add a separate portion of veg for those that will eat it, that's some nice meals and it freezes really well. If somebody suddenly decides they won't eat the bolognese/sauce, they can at least have the carbs and bread; they won't starve!

    I'm a big fan of frozen veg - you don't waste any, it's usually chopped already and you can do it in the microwave if you want. Don't get sucked into thinking that only fresh veg counts! Some tinned veg is okay too - my kids love tinned sweetcorn and carrots although I'm not so keen.
  • CamomileCamomile Forumite
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    Have you got a freezer? Cooking some stuff in bulk would help.

    Does either you or your other half could go trailing the shops where reductions are on? Worth looking at budget shops? I’m getting frozen veg also stir fries from Farmfoods. At the top of their 5 packs for£4 you can always print 10%off coupon.

    What shops have you got nearby? Tesco has Asian range 4 tins of chopped toms for £1 sometimes, works cheaper than their own stuff. Local markets are also worth looking at.

    Kids with ASD are sometimes a nightmare to cater for(speaking from experience).

    Don’t worryabout lack of cooking skills, everybody has to start somewhere.
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