Meal Planning (Part 2) Where to start?
Good Morning friends, I hope this finds you well. I apologise for my delay in posting ‘Part 2’ of my Meal Planning blog, between kids going back to school, kids sports, work, deadlines and illness (Hubby and Miss 9 have awful coughs and colds), it’s slipped right past me.
I am here today to share with you some ideas and tips on the most commonly asked question when I discuss meal planning … ‘Where do I start?’. I hope you find this helpful.
For me, meal planning is quite structured. Because of my current workload and family schedule I stretch this over a few days, I used to do it all in one day. I recommend you try both and see which suits you best.
Day 1: Plan 7 nights worth of meals. Write this on a piece of paper and pop it on the fridge so you don’t forget what you planned for. As there are 6 people in our family, most weeks I ask everyone to choose one thing that they would like for dinner the upcoming week. For the younger kids sometimes guidance is needed eg could you please choose a soup, or a salad or please choose something from this ‘Slow Cooking’ book. If they choose one meal each, that equals 5 dinners which means I only have to decide on 2!
You can do the same thing for lunches and or breakfasts if you choose. As we do Yumbox or leftovers for lunches most days, I generally write on this list ‘double batch’ if wanting enough for leftovers (or for the freezer) or write a short list of food ideas I want to buy to pop in the lunchboxes over the week. Eg hommus, boiled eggs, frittata, pasta salad
Day 2: Write a list of what you need to buy. This can be time consuming but for me it is truly worth it because when shopping I then stick to my list and know that I have only bought what I need, which not only saves money but saves food waste.
At this same time I will write a list (put in on the fridge/ chalkboard/ dairy/ phone – whatever works for you) of anything I need to purchase during the week. Eg If I shop on a Friday I can’t buy enough bananas for the week or they will go old OR if I needed fresh coriander for dinner on Thursday, I wouldn’t buy this on the previous Friday as it would ruin. Doing this second ‘mini’ list generally means I pop to the grocer 1-2 times a week max to pick up fresh produce but once again having that list helps me go in, get what I have to get and leave again.
Day 3: Shop – stick to the list UNLESS there are any MAJOR bargains which you can use for meals the following week. Try not to get sucked in to all the ‘2 for $7’ where you save only $1!
- Don’t know what to cook? Grab a few cookbooks out for inspiration
- Consider balancing out your protein eg in 7 days try 2 meat, 2 chicken, 2 vegetarian, 1 leftovers (or what combination works for you)
- Try a meat free meal 1-2 times a week
- Try double batching (to freeze for a meal for another week)
- Take into account what you have on that day / afternoon eg super busy afternoons and evenings I lean towards making Slow Cooking meals
- Check out your local grocers catalogues for good discounts this can help sometimes with choosing meals
- Look at the weather, this may sound silly but for example if a 40°c day is coming up – a soup or roast probably isn’t ideal!
- If you like meal planning, saving the time and money but don’t love the process – keep 4-6 weeks worth of meal plans you’ve done and keep them going on a rotating roster
- Don’t feel the need to do gourmet meals just because you are meal planning – a meal of protein and basic veg or eggs and salad for example is going to be so much better for you (for your insides and for your bank account!) than fast food
- In saying that (the last point ^) why not use this more organised schedule to try one new recipe a week
If you have any other great meal planning ideas and tips I would love to hear from you. Next time … Meal planning … tips from ‘Cut out the Crap’ friends!
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