Meal planning is a great way to save time and effort when it comes to dinner times. If you are busy and always on the go, you may find you fall into the trap of takeaway and convience food after a busy day, we do.
To help try and elimate this, we meal plan weekly, which means I don’t really need to think in the evenings after work. It also means that when it comes to our weekly shopping, I only need to purchase the items we need for our weekly shop, saving us some money at the same time.
If you are wondering how to start meal planning, here are 5 simple steps to get you started.
- Make a List of EVERYTHING you have in –
Starting with the simple things will make your life so much easier in the long run.
Before you start any meal plans or head shopping, go through your cupboards, fridge and freezer and list everything you have. It may seem like a long job but once you have done it, you will be able to meal plan for a few weeks at least and depending on how much you have stock piled, maybe even longer!
From here, you will be able to come up with some meals that use up all the ingredients you already have and others may need things adding to it. In the long run it will save not only money but also food waste.
- Make a Meal Plan BEFORE you go shopping.
If you are getting ready to go shopping or do your online order, start by writing your meal plan.
Using your list of food you have in the house, it is worth using these up in your meal plan this week to ensure good stock rotation – so less food ends up going out of date. If you find you have lots of vegetables still for example, maybe making a vegetable curry is first on the meal plan.
Once you have your meal plan in place, you can then use this to do write your shopping list and you are ready to go.
- Plan Meals Around Your Life
If you’re a busy family with lots going on, it can really help to plan your week in terms of how busy each day is. If you have a day where everyone is home at a different time, a slow cooker stew is perfect. If you have a day where you need a meal in a hurry a stir fry might be the answer. Being intentional with meal planning means you’ll have all the ingredients needed ahead of time.
We only plan dinners because that’s what works for us – if you want to plan every single meal that’s okay too – it’s all about finding a way to meal plan that works for you and your family.
- Remember You Don’t Have To Stick To It
It’s ok to wake up and think ‘I really don’t fancy that for dinner tonight‘. Meals can be moved around and changed as needed. Things like chicken and mince can be turned into so many different meals that it can be easy to adapt day to day if you need to. You may find that when you get up you are just after a quick simple dinner such as jacket potatoes, just shift your meal plan along a day.
I always find that we tend to move at least 1 meal around a week, simply because we get up and decide we are not really in the mood for what is planned that day and do you know what? That is fine also!
- Batch Cook When You Can
When I am cooking things such as Chili Con Carne, Bolognaise and Pie fillings, I try and batch cooks for later in the week or maybe month. Sometimes after a busy day, you just know you are not going to want to make a dish from scratch. On these days, it’s great to know I have a homemade meal that just needs reheating. It helps cut food waste too and is perfect for lowering the shopping bill as I tend to bulk out these dishes with beans and tomatoes etc.
Meal planning shouldn’t take up too much of your time but it will save you so much time going forward. The effort you put in to get the meal plan done will save you at least double that time back during the week when it comes to deciding what to cook and what to buy from the supermarket.
If you have any meal planning tips, I would love to hear them below.