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How to plan meals for three months in just 15 minutes

An influencer has revealed a simple way to plan meals for three months in just 15 minutes and dramatically cut your grocery bill cost at the same time. 

Food writer Amy Sheppard, 41, from Cornwall, has explained how to slash the cost of your groceries by up to 40 per cent and saving time in the process.

Amy, who has 46,000 added that only 60 per cent of her followers don't meal plan because they 'don't know where to start' and wanted flexibility. 

Speaking exclusive to FEMAIL, Amy explained: 'Meal planning and writing shopping lists may seem like an unnecessary chore – but it actually saves you time and money. 

'It is the number one way you can reduce your shopping bill and if you don’t currently plan, you could save up to 40 per cent a week in the supermarket – vital now that we’re all experiencing a rise in food prices.

'Meal planning will help you prepare for busy nights and means you waste less food. Every ingredient you buy will be allocated to a meal. This means you will spend less money (you’ll only buy what you need)

'It will mean you spend less time cobbling together dinners from a random selection of food and more time cooking the food that you love!

Amy writes simple money saving recipes. Her new cookbook HOB was released in June of this year. It’s packed full of easy, family recipes that don’t use loads of ingredients, won’t take lots of time to cook and they can all be cooked on the hob  - most of them in one pan.

Here, she tells FEMAIL her simple technique to plan for three months at a time with a few simple steps...

Food writer Amy Sheppard (pictured),  41, from Cornwall, has explained how to slash the cost of your groceries by up to 40 per cent and saving time in the process.

How to plan three months worth of meals in minutes: Food writer Amy Sheppard reveals the simple technique to make delicious dinners - with no food waste (and it will cut the cost of your groceries by 40%)

Hob: A Simpler Way to Cook: 80 Deliciously Simple Recipes for Everyone by Amy Sheppard (Bloomsbury Absolute, £18.99)

Speaking to FEMAIL, Amy revealed: 'First you need to list 20-25 dinners for your two- month ‘Master Meal Plan’ (template below).

'This should only take you 15 minutes every 2-3 months. 

'It seems like a lot of dinners to think of, but you'll be surprised when you get started. 

'Don't forget simple dinners like soup and jacket potatoes. 

'Think back to dinners you enjoyed in the past that have fallen off the regular rotation - get ideas from the rest of the family and add some recipes you've been meaning to try.

'Once you have your list, divide the meals into these five categories -

'Once you have your Master Meal Plan you can easily rattle off varied and flexible ‘Weekly meal plans’ (template below) to suit your family. 

'This will only take you five minutes. Working late or kids got swimming? Use a quick dinner recipe. 

'The week before pay day? Pop in some budget meals. 

'Have a bit of time and feel adventurous? Cook something new. It makes it really easy to flexibly plan dinner around busy lives.

'Once you have your meal plan, you can easily build your shopping list. 

'Start by adding all the ingredients from the meal plan dinner. 

'Then add lunches, breakfast, snacks.

'Think about using recipes that share ingredients to reduce waste. 

'Consider one or two vegetarian recipes each week. 

'This will significantly reduce the cost of your shop.

Amy reveals the best way to plan months ahead is to list of 25 meals and split them into five categories

Once your plan is sorted, each week you can rattle off depending on your mood for the day

Now try her delicious recipes: Easy butter chicken 

The traditional version of this requires you to marinate the chicken overnight and it has considerably more ingredients. This isn’t the quickest recipe in the chapter, but the hands-on time is under 10 minutes. It’s a fast-cook version of a classic curry, which you can put together with no fuss, even on the busiest of days. This is a two-pan meal if served with rice.

feeds 4–6 | 30min

Ingredients

50g butter

1 onion, finely chopped

750g chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons tomato purée

boiled white rice and naan breads, to serve 

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon mild or hot chilli powder (depending on how spicy you like it)

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons garam masala

200g passata

1 x 400g tin of full-fat coconut milk 

small handful of coriander, finely chopped, to serve (optional)

1 teaspoon ground ginger 

salt and freshly ground black pepper

 METHOD

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan with a lid, on a medium heat. Add the onion and fry (without the lid) for 5 minutes, until the onion has softened. Add the chicken and fry for a further 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside.
  2. Stir in the tomato purée, garlic, ginger, chilli powder, paprika, cumin and garam masala. Fry for 1–2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the passata and coconut milk, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a vigorous boil, then turn down the heat to its lowest setting and place the lid on the saucepan.
  3. Simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through, and then remove the lid and increase the heat to high to thicken the sauce. Serve with rice and naan bread, and sprinkled with coriander, if you wish.

Great for vegetarians: Halloumi hash 

In my opinion, everything tastes better with halloumi! This recipe uses mainly tinned ingredients, so not only is it quick, it’s a good standby.

feeds 4 | 25min

Ingredients  

olive oil, for frying

 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained

1 onion, finely sliced

2 red peppers, deseeded and finely sliced

200g tenderstem broccoli, rough ends trimmed

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 

2 x 567g tins of peeled new potatoes, drained and rinsed 

2 x 225g blocks of halloumi, sliced into ½–1cm-thick slices 

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon tomato purée

2 tablespoons boiling water

salt and freshly ground black pepper

 Method

  1. Add a small amount of oil to a large, non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. When hot, add the halloumi slices and fry for 7–10 minutes, turning regularly, until golden brown on both sides. Set the halloumi aside.
  2. In the same pan add the onion, peppers and broccoli. Add a little more oil, if you need it, and fry on a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened.
  3. Pat the potatoes dry with kitchen roll. Cut each potato in half, then add the halves to the pan along with the garlic, chickpeas and paprika. Fry for 10 minutes on a low heat, stirring regularly and adding more oil if the pan gets too dry, until the vegetables are tender and the potatoes are heated through.
  4. Stir in the tomato purée and the boiling water, and season with salt and pepper. Fry for a final 2 minutes, until the potatoes and vegetables are coated. Top with the halloumi and serve straight from the pan.

TIP: You can swap the halloumi for goat’s cheese, just slice it and place it on the top at the end, rather than frying.

One for Monday night: Leftover roast chicken & stuffing soup 

This is a lovely, thick comforting soup that uses leftover roast ingredients. If you don’t mind a soup with a thinner base, add more stock to make it go further.

feeds 2–3 | 20min

 Ingredients 

40g butter

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into ribbons

100g savoy cabbage, shredded

1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

 200g leftover roast chicken, shredded

 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

600ml chicken stock

300ml whole milk

4 balls of cooked sage-and-onion stuffing, each one torn into 4 or 5 pieces

salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD 

  • Place a saucepan with a lid on a medium heat. Add the butter and (without the lid) allow to melt. Add the carrot and cabbage and fry, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are just starting to soften. Add the mixed herbs and soy sauce and fry for 1 minute, then stir in the stock, milk, chicken and stuffing, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring to the boil, place the lid on the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, until the chicken is heated through. Sprinkle with extra grindings of black pepper to serve, if you wish.

TIP: If you have some leftover roast potatoes, cut them up and throw them in for a truly magnificent dinner.

Hob: A Simpler Way to Cook: 80 Deliciously Simple Recipes for Everyone by Amy Sheppard (Bloomsbury Absolute, £18.99)