Meal-planning means fewer trips to the shops and less money spent.  Here’s a weekly plan inspired by some of our favourite recipes, reusing certain ingredients throughout the week.  We give basic guides for making these simple, well-loved dishes, but you can consult recipes for more detail if you’d rather not improvise.  With well-stocked cupboards (of rice, lentils, ginger and garlic (pastes), onions, stock, chili, lemons & limes, dried herbs & spices, honey), these are the 12 inexpensive, basic items you’ll need:

Halal minced lamb and beef; tomatoes; pomegranates; sweet potato; colourful peppers; carrots; green salad leaves; avocado or guacamole; nachos or tacos; fresh coriander; yoghurt; halal feta (optional).

Monday: Lamb Keema with Yoghurt

Minced lamb is easy to find, versatile, and goes a long way.  Of all the minced lamb dishes, we love keema best for its simplicity, flavour and versatility.  Let the crushed spices splutter in oil for 30 seconds or so (try star anise, pepper, coriander and cumin seeds and cinnamon); brown an onion, add garlic and ginger pastes, then the meat.  Add powdered spices like fenugreek (methi) and turmeric, along with chopped seasonal tomatoes.  When the keema reaches the right level of dryness, dish it up with a side of yoghurt, fresh coriander, pomegranate seeds and rice.

*Use leftovers for lunch at work on Tuesday.

Tuesday:  Shepherd’s Pie with Lentils & a Sweet Potato Top

his twist on the classic uses up leftover or a second packet of halal minced lamb (we recommend always keeping a good stock of minced meat in the freezer for ease).  Adding lentils is a great way to make the meat go further, and a sweet potato top is a colourful, sweet, vitamin-rich substitute to ordinary mash.  Cook onions until brown, add carrots and thyme.  Add the mince, red lentils (masoor dal), and a little flour.  After a couple of minutes add halal lamb or veg stock, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, checking the pot regularly.  Boil sweet potatoes, drain and mash with yoghurt, pepper and nutmeg, or chili powder for a kick.  Spread the potato on top of the lamb, now in a baking dish, and cook for 45 minutes until browned on top.  Serve with green salad leaves.

*Use leftovers for lunch at work on Wednesday.

Wednesday: Sweet Potato and Pomegranate Salad

This is a vitamin-packed, delicious, hearty vegetarian option for one evening of the week, although of course you can serve alongside chicken breasts for extra protein.  Use a base of green salad leaves (we love peppery rocket) and plentiful roasted sweet potato, with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and crumble of halal feta, a drizzle of honey and a squeeze of lemon juice. (If you have leftover carrots, you can add these, roasted, too).  To make a bigger meal, you can mix rice in with the salad or serve on the side.

*Use leftover salad for lunch at work on Thursday.

Thursday: A Colourful Chili con Carne with Lime and Coriander

Chili is a classic for a reason.  It’s tasty, healthy and easily made in a big pot for a few days’ meals.  Brown the minced halal beef, onions, garlic and spices (chili powder, cumin), add tomatoes, peppers, then stir in beans (black-eyed, red kidney), slowly add stock and cover and cook for thirty minutes or so, checking the pot regularly.  Add fresh coriander, and serve with yoghurt, chili, guacamole and chopped limes and rice.  With the still-left-over pomegranate seeds, you add to the guacamole, which you can make quickly, or buy.  (You can add a little dark chocolate to this recipe too!)

*Use leftovers for lunch at work on Friday.

Friday: Nachos/Tacos with Chili Con Carne

Use up the chili con carne and guacamole for a relaxed Friday dinner, served in tacos or on top of nachos, with limes, fresh coriander.  For something more substantial, you can oven-bake a (sweet) jacket potato and fill it with the meat, for a hearty and delicious dinner.

Let us know if you have any tasty, easy halal week meal plans.  We’d love to hear your ideas!