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A thrifty Bristol mum has planned a 14-day, £70 meal plan in a bid to stop families from panic buying.

Mum-of-one Lorna Rich says the key to keep on top of daily dishes during lockdown is the freezer, root veg and the occasional stew.

For more than a month, supermarket shelves have been left barren as customers have stockpiled on all the essentials.

This has made it extremely hard for families to offer the same nutritious meals that they can normal put on tables.

But Lorna has now come up with a  super cheap meal plan, which feeds her, husband Jon, 32, and 5-month-old Casper, and should help other households survive the current lockdown.

As a new mum living on statutory maternity leave, she founded her @athriftymum Instagram account in January to help others lead a penny-wise lifestyle.

Lorna said: “I’ve always enjoyed wandering around charity shops and car boot sales – I used to go to those with my mum.

“When I first set up the account, I did charity shopping quite a lot – it became a bit of a hobby if you like.

“I’d rather buy something that’s really nice quality and second hand than something that is rubbish quality.”

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Applying the same ideas when feeding her family, she’s taken the pressure off planning meals for those parents juggling it all over the next few weeks in lockdown.

Her meal plan feeds a family of three for 14 days on just £70.

The 31-year-old, said: “It’s all about clever batch cooking to enable health, fresh where possible, nutritious food.

“This isn’t a super scrimpy meal plan – it’s buying sensibly and making higher priced ingredients, such as chicken, go a long way by padding out with veg and healthy grains.”

“It’s not 500 ways with a tin of spam – but it’s thrifty and it’s cheap.

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“It’s a fresh, healthy, wholesome set of meals that are going to keep your immune system up.

“I am certainly not a nutritionist, in no way, shape or form – but I tried to keep the meals healthy, chucking in loads of fruit and veg.

“This is how I’ve approached isolation for me and my family.

“It does assume some basic cooking skills, like being able to carve a cooked chicken.

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“But you can make it even easier – use chicken thighs or legs.

And she’s tried to keep you out of the kitchen as much as possible: “For the more labour intensive recipes, such as a lamb casserole or a chicken stew, it’s probably an hour of hands on time and then three hours of hands-off cooking time.

“The casseroles and the stews are probably the most helpful – if you’ve got basic cooking skills, they’re very easy to make.

“Plus they’re really versatile. If you have a chicken stew you can pop a lid on it and make it into a chicken pie.”

Lorna’s shopping list for a family of three :

Fruit & veg

Bananas – buy green so they can ripen at home!
Apples – last for ages in the fridge
Butternut squash
Suede
Parsnips
Carrots
Celery
Garlic
Onions
Potatoes – baking potatoes are helpful!
Sweet potatoes
Celeriac
Peppers
Fruit juice

Herbs & spices:
Mint
Coriander
Dill
Basil
Thyme – fresh or dried, both work!
Cumin
Chilli Powder
Paprika

Dairy:
Cheese – Lorna’s a big fan of Cheddar
Butter or spread
Milk

Meat:
Chicken – whole or Quorn pieces
Beef – braising steak works well for these recipes, or veggie sausages instead
Mince – or Quorn mince

Frozen:
Peas
Broccoli
Spinach
Fruit – great for smoothies

Store cupboards :
Eggs – 12!

Crumpets
Bread – two so that one can go in the freezer
Burger buns – freeze me!
Long-life rye bread
Wraps
Naan bread
Crackers
Pasta – one pack will do!
Rice
Papadums
Risotto rice
Cereal – two boxes
Porridge oats – super versatile

Stock cubes – chicken, beef or veggie!
Chicken gravy granules
Chickpeas
Black beans
Kidney beans
Baked beans
Tinned tomatoes
Tinned sweetcorn
Tinned salmon or tuna
Red lentils
Pesto
Coconut milk
UHT milk – or any alternative you like
Tinned fruit – for desserts
Honey
Vegetable Oil

Week One:

Sunday
Breakfast: Crumpets, topping of your choice, fruit juice
Lunch: Root veg soup – make a big batch for the freezer too!
Dinner: Pot roast chicken stew, roast potatoes, green beans

Monday
Breakfast: Eggs on toast, tinned tomatoes (or fresh) for an extra portion of veg
Lunch: Cheesy beans on toast
Dinner: Chicken (or Quorn) fajitas, black beans

Tuesday
Breakfast: Bananas on toast, fruit juice
Lunch: Quesadillas – butternut squash, chickpeas, cheese, wraps
Dinner: Chicken noodle soup, quick homemade soda bread

Wednesday
Breakfast: Porridge with frozen fruit, fruit juice
Lunch: Jacket potatoes, tuna & sweetcorn
Dinner: Dahl, rice, poppadoms

Thursday
Breakfast: Beans on toast, fruit juice
Lunch: Dahl soup (blend up last night’s leftovers), naan bread
Dinner: Tuna pasta bake

Friday
Breakfast: Cereal, frozen banana smoothie
Lunch: Pasta, broccoli, pesto
Dinner: Veggie chilli, sweet potato wedges

Saturday
Breakfast: Banana pancakes, frozen fruit, fruit juice
Lunch: Black bean quesadillas, cheese, sweet potatoes wedges
Dinner: Tinned salmon, frozen pea and mint risotto

Week Two:

Sunday
Breakfast: Eggs on toasted rye bread, frozen spinach
Lunch: Beef / veggie sausage stew, root veg mash
Dinner: Dahl soup

Monday
Breakfast: Porridge, frozen fruit, honey
Lunch: Omelette, frozen spinach, cheese
Dinner: Beef stew, root veg mash, frozen broccoli

Tuesday
Breakfast: Cereal, frozen banana smoothie
Lunch: Jacket potato, baked beans
Dinner: Veggie curry (frozen from week before), rice

Wednesday
Breakfast: Porridge, tinned fruit
Lunch: Soup, crackers, cheese
Dinner: Pasta, tinned tomatoes, tinned sweetcorn, frozen peas, cheese

Thursday
Breakfast: Beans on toast – use your frozen loaf!
Lunch: Jacket potato, tuna & sweetcorn
Dinner: Homemade salmon fishcakes, frozen broccoli, frozen spinach

Friday
Breakfast: Cereal, frozen fruit smoothie
Lunch: Soup, crackers, cheese
Dinner: Shepherd’s pie, root veg

Saturday
Breakfast: Banana pancakes, frozen fruit
Lunch: Leftover shepherd’s pie, baked beans
Dinner: Homemade spice bean burgers, sweet potato wedges

Lorna’s top tips

Her number one tip for following the plan: “Have enough space in your freezer so you can pre-prepare and batch cook foods.

And while desperate for the public not to stockpile, there’s five items the Bristol-based mum does recommend the chef-of-the-house checks are in the cupboards:

“Some frozen veg – great for casseroles and stews and the base of pies. Some kind of dried carbs or pulses – pasta, lentils, beans, some bulk essentially.

“Tinned tomatoes! Stock cubes – with frozen veg, you can make soup. And porridge oats are really versatile.”

“But when food shopping, apply the same principles that you would when buying something new.

Mum-of-one Lorna Rich

“Ask yourself – do I really need this and do I really want it, or is it just an impulse purchase?”

Her advice for the parents tasked with cooking while in lockdown: “If you’re not already a confident cook, don’t put lots of pressure on yourself to be the next Delia Smith overnight.

“Parents have got enough on their plate at the moment, whether they’re trying to homeschool the kids or keep them entertained.

“This isn’t the time to be making your kids eat lots of new food that they’re not comfortable with.”

“People need to give themselves a bit of a break – just relax and do what you can.”

“Try and get the kids involved in cooking if you’re happy to do that, – but if they end up eating pasta with tomato sauce on for five nights a week, it’s not going to kill them!”

Mum shares ‘thrifty’ £70 meal plan that will last you two weeks amid coronavirus lockdown
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