Meal planning is something the majority of us have done in the past. I have dabbled in it time and time again over the years but for some reason, I let my organisational skills lapse if I’m busy or tired and if one week doesn’t go to plan then I find it’s easy to go back to my old ways of shopping without a list or a plan.
I know meal planning helps us, especially as I’m out doing plenty of walking training
Take tonight for example, I went out on a seven mile walk after work, Hubby was planning on cooking something when he got home with Miss A after swimming. Getting stuck in traffic and being delayed meant we were scrabbling around in the freezer at 6pm looking for something for dinner when we both arrived back home at almost the same time. This is so easily avoided and had I thought to get the slow cooker out this morning then dinner would have been ready for us to eat at 6pm instead of having to wait another 45 minutes whilst something cooked.
Do A Cupboard / Freezer Inventory
I know that my cupboards, fridge and freezer contain plenty of random meats, meals and tins, but I’m not entirely sure if I have shopped smart enough in the last few weeks to create a meal plan from what I already have, so the first thing is to take an inventory of everything in the cupboards, fridge and freezer. This way you can make meals from what you have but you also know what you have left to utilise when thinking of making your next weeks meal plan.
Choose The Correct Day
Find the best day that works for you to plan. I am always busier at the beginning of the week so I know this won’t be a good time to think about meal planning for the next week. Sunday nights are a popular choice but this is my prep time for other things so I’m not sure fitting in meal planning would work for me at this time.
Find inspiration for meals so you don’t end up cooking the same meals every single week. This becomes boring. I like using Pinterest as the ideas are very visual and inspiration often strikes in surprising ways. I also take a look through my supply of recipe books.
Decide How To Plan
Whether you plan in notebooks, on a wipe clean board or using the computer, keep a record of your meal plans and what worked well for your family and what didn’t. This helps to recycle ideas after a few weeks and remind you of what did and didn’t work. I can see the potential of using my bullet journal for meal planning.
Think about leftovers and see if you can make one joint of meat last for more than one meal. This can make the subsequent meals very quick and easy to prepare such as bbq pulled pork from a joint of port, or a chicken curry from a large chicken.
If you have time, batch cooking a large bolognaise mince base can make meals in the week quick and easy to prepare by using the base to make spaghetti bolognaise or a lasagne for example.
Keep a list of ingredients you run out of close to hand near your meal planning book or board. This often inspires me to make something if I look and realise I need to add curry powder for example to the shopping list.
I always find if I shop online, I not only spend less but buy exactly what I need. There is less temptation to buy the offers and add the impulse buys to your trolley or basket.
Think about family events or days when you are not around for dinner at home will help you plan what to cook. For example there is no point in cooking a joint of meat knowing you will have leftovers when you know you’re going out for diner the following night. If there is an after school activity happening until almost dinner time then leftovers or the slow cooker will be a good idea.
Take a good look at the meals you are planning to make sure you are eating a good variety of foods in your diet. I know that when I grab something from the freezer, I can’t remember what I had the day before sometimes. By planning you can make sure the whole family are getting a healthy varied diet.
What are your tips for returning to meal planning?