Have you ever tried meal planning – are you a fan?  I love it so I’m going to share some of the reasons why I love meal planning and help you with a few tips to make it quick and easy.

Why I love meal planning:

It saves money

It saves me money!  I’m always on the lookout for ways to save money -aren’t we all!  Meal planning saves money as:

  • There is less waste, so I don’t throw away food that is past it’s best
  • Fewer impulse buys – if it’s not on the list I don’t buy it as I won’t be needing it. Often impulse buys -end up resulting in waste as it or something else doesn’t get used and ends up being thrown away or is found at the back of the pantry many months later.
  • I can choose to make lower cost meals – when meal planning I can chose meals that use cheaper ingredients and so save costs.
  • When meal planning I often include batch cooking so I buy in bulk (and save) and then have meals in the freezer for later!

Meal planning saves me time

I sit down once a week and work out the meals for the week that means there is no daily anguish about what are we going to eat that evening.  It’s easy for someone else to cook if they want to or if I don’t have time.

Meal planning means I have shopped for exactly what I need so no wasting time in alast minute rush to the shops.

Meal planning means we eat healthier

By planning the meals in advance, I make sure we are eating a balanced healthy diet.  There is less temptation to have a quick takeaway and I tend to plan mostly quick simple meals.  I include variety in the meal plan which helps to include the nutrients we need.  Most weeks I include a new recipe or two as I am always coming across recipes I want to taste.  This means that family becomes familiar with and open to trying new things, sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes it’s not and often it’s the ones you least expect to be popular that are!

Meal planning tips

For those new to meal planning here are my suggestions for getting started :

  • Look at the week ahead – identify any nights that you’ll need something quick and easy, any night someone else can cook, any sport on that you need to consider, any night you are out?  Determine what meal would suit those nights.
  • Start by choosing the protein for the meal. Plan a mix of proteins I try 1-2 veg, 1-2 fish/seafood, 1-2 chicken, 1-2 meat per week and I usually leave one night for eating out, take away or get it yourself/leftovers etc
  • Keep it simple – a meal can be as simple as fish and vegetables, then just decide if you bake/barbecue/stir fry etc – keeping it simple also makes it easy to use the veg you are buying for another meal.
  • Get input from the family – are there any requests
  • Have standard meals at you use regularly e.g. curry, Mexican, stir fry, pasta. For variety use a different protein or vegetables
  • Include theme nights for consistency and fun – common ones are meat free Monday, taco Tuesday.
  • Have a list of favourite vegetarian meals and rotate between these. This can work for all meals not just vegetarian.
  • Check that you are using any leftover produce or using produce you are buying. If you need to buy a pumpkin – plan to use it in multiple meals or can you make a large batch and freeze a meal for another week.
  • Include the option of a freezer meal if you have a meal in the freezer.
  • If you are keen have a list of seasonal vegetables and use what is in season – we can get many vegetables year round but they will be tastiest when they are in season!
  • If you want once you have done a few – you can just rotate between them. Leaving one night a week (or fortnight) for trialling a new recipe – if that appeals.

How does that sound?  I’d love to hear any hints or tips you have for meal planning.

If it all sounds a little daunting or if you have requirements that make meal planning difficult, I offer a meal planning service providing done for you meal plans.