Do you meal plan? Meal planning is not only about getting organised, it can also help you to life a more waste-free life. When you plan your meals you use the items you have in your cupboard and don’t rush around the shops throwing stuff in your trolley. Not only do you end up buying stuff you don’t really want but you end up spending a lot of money.
Benefits of Meal Planning
- Saves you time! If you spend the time planning your meals once regularly, you won’t be spending time every day trying to figure out what to cook.
- The amount of food waste is reduced. When you plan your meals you can make sure that you use items you already have in your kitchen, reducing the amount of food that gets wasted.
- Say goodbye to the stress of trying to figure out what to cook. Scrambling around the kitchen with tired, hungry kids while you try to find something to cook is super stressful. When you know exactly what is on the menu, it reduces all of that stress.
- Save money. Last minute trips to the supermarket to get ingredients ends up costing you a small fortune. If you have a meal planned, you are less likely to buy takeout or a convenience meal that is not only expensive but also unhealthy.
Meal planning made easy
- Don’t rush it. When you plan your meals, give yourself enough time, you don’t want to rush this process. Book out an hour in your diary once a weekly or monthly so that you can focus on working out your plan.
- Focus on food your family will eat. We are trying this year to make a few different meals each month but to start with I am using the meats/foods that my kids will actually eat. The girls don’t like fish so there is little point in planning fish for dinner knowing that half they family won’t even try it. Make a list of meals that you know your family will eat and then find a few new recipes that are easy and are likely to be eaten by your family.
- Check your diary. This is an important step for me. Mondays and Wednesdays the kids have extra-muruals until after 17h00 so on those days I need quick, easy meals that can be cooked earlier in the day or cooked in a few minutes. If I know I am going to have a busy day with meetings the last thing I want to do is schedule a new recipe that is going to take time and effort. On those busy days your slow cooker is your best friend. A good idea is to make a bulk meal in the slow cooker, then you have dinner for a few nights with minimal effort. I have a bunch of really easy recipes you can try out in your slow cooker! Image Image Credit
- Start with a clear weekly/monthly calendar. I work on a monthly calendar but if you shop weekly then work weekly. Start adding in the easy meals. We do burgers or pizza every Friday so I start with that. Sundays I make one meal – either a roast or a stew/curry that gets added next. Then I look start adding in the meat type – chicken/pork etc so that we don’t eat chicken for 4 nights in a row. Once I have that done I add actual meals/recipes. Because we are home all day I do add in lunches as well.
- Shop from the meal plan not the other way around. Once I have the meals planned then I check what we already have enough of and what we will need and then I put my shopping lists together. I buy 90% of our food online. This makes it so much easier to stick to the list and buy only what we need because I am not tempted by sales and specials. That said, when it comes to the meat, I will often adjust my meal plan if something is on special that I know we will eat.
- Be flexible. Sometimes there isn’t as much leftover or there is more leftover than you planned for. Adjust and use the leftovers before cooking another meal. Try to avoid rushing to the shops to get one item you need for a meal. Rather swap out meals or make something a little different. Even with the best planning in the world the tomato sauce will run out quicker than you planned or the potatoes will suddenly be done or you will have too many carrots left. Rather use what you have in your fridge before buying more.
What is your favourite meal planning tip?
To get you started you can download the meal planner that I use to plan our meals out. Print it out, laminate it and reuse it!!