Easter, for most of us, is the first break any of will have had after Christmas. The message is loud and clear; you need to go on a mini-break and bust out thousands for a trip to some over-priced woodland resort in the Midlands and you will be a very bad parent if you don’t take your children. You will of course, need to follow that mini-break with school holiday meals out, trips to the cinema and bigger and more expensive Easter eggs than you’ve ever seen before.
What the actual heck is wrong with everybody? Really! There are plenty of ways of having a really good time on an extended bank holiday weekend that really doesn’t cost that much money at all! Our local hotel has adverts on the local radio, on hoarding and in the press, not to mention flashing up on my Facebook page trying to convince me to ‘relax in style’ and ‘treat the family’ to a three course Easter lunch with complimentary Prosecco and coffee for ‘only’ twenty five pounds per person. The radio advert works very hard to persuade everyone to take a day off, forget about the washing up and let them do all the work! It sounds great doesn’t it? As the Americans would say…..’You do the maths!’ That’s £100 for the average family. That’s more than the average family spends on a week’s food bill!
I took time this weekend to make and cost out our Sunday lunch as that’s all they are actually offering – a three course Sunday lunch. I made mine for the family for £22 in total, with enough to feed six people. To start with, I’m sensible about where I shop and remember that just because it’s a family holiday meal that no one can eat any more than they can on an ordinary weekday evening! I also remember that the Bank Holiday Monday is also a day off and I need to plan for that meal too.
I also have a secret with a spring leg of lamb to make sure it doesn’t shrink and feeds everyone….slow braise it! I add stock, some carrots, onions and rosemary from my garden and leave it to cook on low, around 140 for four hours. The result is a fall apart leg of lamb you can carve with a spoon. My other secret for keeping to a budget is to add plenty of the cheaper items such as crispy roast potatoes and a big bowl of Yorkshire puddings. Again, you can cheat and buy these.