Thank you for all the notes thanking me for my cheats guide to stocking your pantry – I’m so glad you all liked it and found it useful.
Following on from that I wanted to share with you why I love a good meal plan.
I can hear you saying but I don’t have time, I like spontaneity, I don’t want to be locked into some rigid plan – stay with me on this cause I can answer all these doubts.
A Meal plan will
- automatically make your choices healthier, lets face it if you are going to the effort to plan you are unlikely to plan takeaways every day.
- save you time by reducing trips to the supermarket, and reducing time in the kitchen
- reduce your spending, sticking to a list reduces impulse spending.
- reduce the amount to food you waste by using left overs and planning to use herbs etc in more than one meal.
- children love to be involved in this process, let them choose one main meal a week and you are guaranteed they will eat it
Are you convinced yet? Now what?
Don’t try to plan for the whole week to begin with, choose 3 evening meals and perhaps all breakfasts, we tend to be creatures of habit at breakfast time anyway so you are half way there.
Step one – buy yourself a pretty blank book or some plastic sleeves and a lovely folder. This will become your planning bible. Now you’re invested emotionally and financially in the process, plus now you have an excuse for a trip to office works or Kiki k.
Step two – Grab a cup of tea or coffee or glass of wine and spend a little time looking for new recipes in magazines, cookbooks or on line.
Gather these together in one place so they are easy to find, I like to scan recipes from magazines, or cook books that appeal and keep them in a clear plastic file.
Step three – Make a list of tried and tested family favourites and add these to the file as well aim for about 20 meals.. These will be on high rotation. Get everyone involved – ask them what they would like to eat.
Time to create your planning masterpiece
Use a template – as plain or as fancy as you like. This is mine here
Step one – write in all the activities. Noting all the activities lets you know who will be home and which day’s dinner needs to be quick, like when soccer practice finished at 6:30.
Step two – Have a quick look in the fridge, pantry and freezer and see what you already have, make a list of what needs to be used.
Step Three – Include one new dish a week – who knows you might find a new favourite. Make a note on the plan of where to find the recipe this will save you time later.
Step Four – Fill in the other dinners. What can be carried over to lunch or re purposed for another night. If you are making mash potatos on Monday why not make double and have salmon cakes or a potato topped pie the next night.
Step Five– make your shopping list
Step Six – put the plan in plain sight, like on the fridge so it’s easy to refer to. When I’m asked for the 15th time whats for dinner I can send the asker to the plan.
Things to consider
Plan to use left overs – I have at least one dinner which is whatever is in the fridge and we just put everything on the table and help ourselves. I love this night as it really takes the pressure off and reduces waste.
Plan to make and freeze extra so that on busy days you can use a meal from the freezer. This works well with bolognaise, curries, pies, soups, fritters etc.
Plan cook once eat again dinners into the menu – for example on Sunday night maybe you make a roast chook with all the trimmings, Monday you have cold chicken and salad.
Plan to use parts of dinner to make lunch – maybe cook a few extra lamb cutlets or extra rice to make a salad.
Have a theme if that works for you – say Monday chicken, Tuesday Pasta etc and just rotate the actual meal.
Keep your plans in whatever format suits you – this way you can reuse or rejig them for a cheat week whenever you need to,