THE WEEKLY MEAL PLAN SUNDAY Cost: R74,07 BREAKFAST: Carrot cake oats LUNCH: Oven-roasted butternut stuffed with spicy rice and beans DINNER: 15 -min Mexican fried rice TREAT: Oat creme brulee ‘Day one and it’s oats for breakfast, something that Jody and I often have, but Adam and Mila will only eat it if we’ve run out of their favourite cereal. I thought they’d put up a fuss because they don’t like carrots, but they hardly noticed them! I worried that the stuffed butternut might be bland, so I threw in some chopped spicy sausage to boost the flavour but the meal would have been just as good without it. It’s not often that I cook lunch on a Sunday and Jody commented that it was nice to have something that I hadn’t heated up in the oven, like a shop-bought pie. Dinner went down well with everyone and tonight’s dessert was just my sort of thing; simple and not too sweet – I’d have it again.’ MONDAY Cost: R65,98 BREAKFAST: Cinnamon porridge LUNCH: Peanut butter and banana sushi rolls with carrot sticks (kids); cowboy spuds (grown-ups) DINNER: Beef sausages with butternut and beans TREAT: Oat biscuits ‘The sushi rolls were a real hit but the carrot sticks went untouched.


I prepped a batch of the oat biscuits for the week ahead so the kids had something to munch on while I cooked. Jody and I happily wolfed our supper down while the kids ended up picking out the beans but ate the rest without too many complaints.’ TUESDAY Cost: R84,72 BREAKFAST: Apple pie oats LUNCH: Chicken burrito bowl DINNER: Vegetarian bredie with rice TREAT: Creamy rice pudding ‘Making the oats the night before made such a difference to my usually chaotic morning routine – the bowls were sitting in the fridge, all I had to do was warm them up. With three cooked meals and a treat to make each day, I expected to feel more frantic this week, but it has somehow made things easier to manage. The whole family agreed that the chicken burrito bowl was delicious but Adam and Mila still picked out all the beans. Tonight’s egg and lentil bredie was one of my favourite meals and I will definitely make it again. Looking at how simple the ingredients were, I was blown away by how full of flavour it was and, even though there was no meat in this dish, Jody and I didn’t feel like we were missing out.’ WEDNESDAY Cost: R57,85 BREAKFAST: Peanut butter porridge LUNCH: Potato frittata muffins DINNER: Home-made pizza TREAT: Oat biscuits ‘The kids are used to eating maize meal porridge at school so they loved the addition of peanut butter to this morning’s breakfast – it tasted more like a treat than a boring bowl of porridge. The muffins were the perfect lunchbox food and the day was going well… until supper time.

Tonight’s pizza base was made out of maize meal, which Irarely cook, and something went a little wrong in the preparation. I just couldn’t get the right consistency so the meal was a bit of a let-down. I love the idea of healthier pizzas for supper, though, but next time I’ll stick to pre-made bases (or wraps) and add our favourite toppings – easy!’ THURSDAY Cost: R90,95 BREAKFAST: Peanut butter oats LUNCH: French toast sticks with apple (kids); chicken salad in a jar (grown-ups) DINNER: Fishcakes with spicy rice TREAT: Apple and rice bake ‘The kids finished every last morsel in their bowls at breakfast, and were sold on the French toast sticks. I’ve taken a packed lunch to work every day this week, rather than popping out to the shops every day to buy a sandwich or a pie – and I can’t believe how much money I’m saving! Tonight’s supper was fishcakes, a big change from the usual fish fingers – and they were delicious. It was nice to cook one meal for both the grown-ups and the kids – what a time (and energy!) saver.’ FRIDAY Cost: R76,45 BREAKFAST: Cinnamon French toast LUNCH: Tuna muffins and fruit DINNER: Shepherd’s pie TREAT: Oat biscuits ‘The cinnamon French toast is going to become a regular in our house.

I always think of it as a savoury kind of dish, but adding the cinnamon and vanilla was a welcome change. I’m not really the biggest fan of tuna from a tin but even I enjoyed these muffins. I’ll admit that I cheated a little though; I’ve yet to get Adam and Mila to eat anything with onions in it so I left them out of the muffins, and yesterday’s frittata.’ SATURDAY Cost: R74,35 BREAKFAST: Oat and banana pancakes LUNCH: Chicken subs DINNER: Skinny chicken pies TREAT: Apple straws ‘Over the last week, I’ve been surprised at how versatile oats can be with just a few simple tweaks. Much like last Sunday’s lunch, it was nice being able to tuck into a freshly-made chicken sub. The individual pies were a real success and the bowls were licked clean. I’ll happily make this meal again.’ 30 ESSENTIALS LIFE TODAY | money TRY IT YOURSELF The Van der Merwe family loved the skinny chicken pies, and the oat and banana pancakes left them all wanting more. You can try out these two recipes, or download the entire meal plan -and the other recipes – at essen tials. Skinny chicken pies (serves 4) INGREDIENTS 3 carrots, 2 potatoes, 1 large onion, large chicken breast, salt and pepper, 1 chicken stock cube dissolved in 500ml hot water, tbsp oil, 1% tbsp flour, % cup milk, % pack of puff pastry METHOD 1.Heat the oven to 180°C Chop all the vegetables and put them aside.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cut into cubes. 4. Saute the chicken in a non-stick pan on a low heat for about 10 min. 5. Throw the vegetables into a pot with the stock and leave to simmer until cooked through. 6.Place a new pan over a medium heat and add the oil. 7. Add the flour to the pan and, when the flour is absorbed into the oil, add the milk to make a roux. 8. Add the chicken and veg to the roux, season with salt and pepper, and leave to cook for a further 5 min. 9. Scoop the chicken pie filling into single ramekins; set aside. 10. Cut four puff pastry discs and cover the top of each ramekin. 11. Pop the mini-pies in the oven for 40 min, or until the crust is golden. Serve immediately. Gluten-free banana & oat flapjacks (serves 6) INGREDIENTS 1% cups oats, 2 tsp baking powder, % tsp cinnamon, 2 ripe bananas (around 360g), 2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 egg, 1 cup water (with a little extra to thin the mixture out), 1 tsp vanilla essence, pinch of salt, 2 tbsp vegetable oil (plus a little extra for cooking) METHOD 1. Pulse all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. 2. Heat a non-stick pan over a medium heat with a dash of cooking oil. 3. Pour % cup of the mixture into the pan, cook on one side for about 1 min 30 sec, then turn and cook on the other side for about 1 min, or until golden brown on both sides.

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