I live like a queen during the first two weeks of the month. Yes that’s the time when my pocket keeps heavy with the salary. Come the third week and the queen fizzles out. All the budgeting and savings occupy the space vacated by the queen. Not that I am a spend thrift and squander all the money at the start of the month, it’s just that all the unusual expenses to find their way quietly into my fortunes during the first two weeks. A tap in the kitchen would start leaking, or a fan would just suddenly stop working ushering in an emergency to get the repairs done urgently. My kids would come home with a slip from school asking for some kind of payment for a carnival or book fair.
Any ways that leaves me with lesser amounts during the last weeks of the month. And believe me that is the time that my kids enjoy the home cooked meals the most. I come up with cost saving, low budget recipes that not only keep them full but are high on taste too.
Okay, so if we end up with having something around Rs. 5000 only during the last days of the month for our kitchen, how can we make the optimal use of this amount to get the whole house fed well while coming up with a diverse variety of dishes?
We would go for cost effective recipes which call for simple and less expensive ingredients and stock these according to our needs. Recipes which have common ingredients but are way different in taste with each other are most preferred.
Here we discuss the basic grocery needed for a household of four to six persons for coming up with cost effective, delicious and nutritious meals for the last ten days of the month.
|Flour: 5 KG whole wheat||Rs. 300|
|Pasta: macaroni (any shape, elbow is best), spaghetti, lasagne sheets||Rs. 300|
|White flour (maida): 2 KG||Rs. 200|
|Tomato puree: 1 can||Rs. 150|
|Chickpeas : 1 kg||Rs. 200|
|Rice ( @Rs. 100/kg): 4 kg||Rs.400|
|Beef mince: 1 kg||Rs. 600|
|Chicken : I kg boneless cut into small strips:||Rs. 300|
|Chicken : I kg minced||Rs.300|
|Spices: Red chilli powder, Coriander Powder and salt. A packet each, any brand||Rs. 300|
|Sugar : 2 kg||Rs. 150|
|Coco powder 1 pack||RS. 100|
|Oil : 2 kg||Rs.300|
|Vegetables: potato, onions, tomatoes a kg each
capsicum, carrot ½ kg each
|Green chilies, ginger /garlic, 125 gm each||Rs.150|
|Cheese 250 gm||Rs. 300|
|Chicken cubes four packs||Rs. 200|
|Pulses/lumes (chana /moong /masur ) ½ kg each||Rs. 300|
|Mixed spice( clove , cinnamon, cardamom, cumin)||Rs. 200|
Your ration listed above is just a random estimate and your actual consumption may be low depending upon the number of individuals in the household.
Now the first step should be to store all this. The dry ingredients can go in the larder. But the perishables should be stored properly.
How to Store Your Supplies
- Form both type of the mince in small packets of one cup each and freeze. Should make four cups of each type totalling to 8 packets.
- Form chicken strips into four packets of one cup each. Freeze.
- Cut half of carrots and capsicum in match stick strips size and freeze. Cut the rest of them in cubes and freeze.
- Use an extra ice cube tray to freeze your tomato puree into cubes.
- Boil half the onions with four tomatoes till shallow water remains in the base of pan. Cool and puree. Divide in small portions and freeze. It is excellent for making quick curries.
- Grate cheese. Pack in small portions and freeze.
- For pastas, make white sauce by roasting three table spoons of maida with a spoonful of oil and mixing in a cup of milk and a cup of water, cooked on low flame to form into thick paste. Add chicken cube, salt and pepper for seasoning. This is to be made fresh each time.
Main Course Meals that You Can Muster Up with These Ingredients
- Chicken / beef lasagne: using half cup of any mince, white sauce, hot sauce made with tomato puree and half of the lasagne sheets to make one platter.
- Mac and Cheese: boiled macaroni with seasoning and white sauce flavoured with a chicken cube. A cup of fresh milk to be added when putting in for baking. Grated cheese to be sprinkled on top.
- Potato casserole: three boiled and diced potatoes, white sauce, chicken cube and seasoning, grated cheese.
- Spaghetti with vegetable (Julian capsicum/carrot) tomato puree and white sauce.
- Chick pea curry served with chapati
- Beef Kofta curry served with chapati
- Chicken strips one cup, cooked into a platter of chicken chillies or chicken vegetables, served with boiled rice.
- Chicken Jalfarezi: chicken strips one cup cooked with diced carrots, capsicum onion and tomato puree to be served with chapatti or boiled rice
- Daal of your choice with boiled rice/chapati
- Beef mince Biryani
- Vegetable and Masala chicken strips biryani/pulao
- Vegetable fried rice
- Qubuli: chana daal pulao
- Plain boiled rice
- Potato cutlets
- Aloo bhujia
- Mix vegetable bhujia with cubed carrots, capsicum and potatoes
- Shepherd’s pie made with variety of vegetables
- Plain/chocolate/ marble cupcakes
- Pancakes with coco sauce
- Rice Zarda.
These are some of the options for the meals we can make with the ingredients listed in our table. There are many more that you can think of or you can also improvise on your old recipes to come up with very tasty low budgeted meals for your family.
PS: if you want recipe for any of the meals noted above, do drop a line in the comments and we will give you the recipe.