December meal plan 1 – festive and frugal

festive meal plan

With the run up to Christmas, the cost of Christmas is being mentioned in every form of media. But the stories that caught my eye this week are the stories of food poverty, children going to school without being fed, children going to bed hungry and stories where consumers can buy four ready made meals for £5.

These are horrific stories and it’s all the more concerning when it is possible to cook a perfectly healthy meal for four for in and around a fiver. The meals would be simple, I know, but they would all be delicious and healthier than any ready made processed meal on the market in that price range.

About our family meal planner
This week’s family meal planner
Shopping list

About our family meal planner

All the meals included in our weekly meal planners are child friendly, form part of a daily balanced diet, and will provide nutrients from each of the food groups (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals), says Sian.

They include plant and animal protein such as red meat, white meat, fish, and eggs along with cheese, chickpeas, nuts and seeds for meatless days. Sian says the secret to stress-free, low-cost healthy meals is to plan what you’re cooking to make sure you have the right ingredients in the right amount in your kitchen ready cook.

Every week, Sian puts together five easy recipes for the week’s family meal planner. You can choose to make them on whichever day of the week suits you best. She also puts together a shopping list (below) that you can print out and take with you to the supermarket.

This week’s meal planner

This week’s recipes for my meal plan have been chosen because they are all nourishing and shouldn’t cost you a fortune. The more we can save on the lead up to Christmas, the more we have available towards the biggest celebration of the year. Oh, and by the way, in the run up to Christmas I will be including one Christmas recipe each week so you can make and taste them in advance – and if you have any leftovers you can freeze or store them for the 25th.

Shopping list

Baked products

  • Flour – 7 tblsp
  • Baking soda –  1 tsp
  • Breadcrumbs – 100 g
  • Self-raising flour – 175 g

Cereal, grains and pasta

  • Macaroni – dry    120 g

Dairy and egg products

  • Eggs – 13
  • Butter or Flora (green tub) – 100 g
  • Cheese – 180g
  • Milk – 840 mls
  • Butter – 170 g

Fats and oils

  • Olive oil  – 5 tsp

Legumes and legume products

  • Baked beans – 1 can
  • White beans – 1 can
  • Butter beans – 400 g
  • Red lentils – 6 tblsp

Fish products

  • White fish – 4

Pork products

  • Ham shank – 1.5 kg

Poultry products

  • Chicken legs or pieces – 8

Sausages and luncheon meats

  • Chorizo (optional) – 6 slices

Soups, sauces, and gravies

  • Vegetable stock cube – 1
  • Ham cooking liquid – 500 mls (approx.)

Spices and herbs

  • English mustard – 2 tsp
  • Herbs – 1 bunch
  • Nutmeg – 1 pinch
  • Bay leaf – 4
  • Mixed spice – 1 tsp
  • Black peppercorns – 16
  • Parsley – 2 tblsp


  • Demarara sugar – 100 g

Vegetables and vegetable products

  • Potatoes – 750 g
  • Cauliflower – 1
  • Onions – 5
  • Cherry tomatoes – 12
  • Carrots – 17
  • Parsnips – 2
  • Cabbage – 350 g
  • Mixed fruit – 250 g
  • Mixed vegetables (cooked) – 250 g

Sian is a home economist with over 25 years experience as a secondary school teacher and now running her own private cookery school with a focus on meal planning. After years of seeing people struggling to provide healthy meals everyday for their families, she created her own meal planning system at