Do you meal plan? Do you love the sound of setting a menu for the week but when it comes to it you just can not stick to it. Well, I have been meal planning for the last 8 years and as a family we love it and better still we stick to it.
Meal planning is a great tool. When done well, it enables you to have a meal on the table each night (that everyone will eat), shop and buy less, produce less food waste and hopefully spend less time in the kitchen!
I have some fabulous tips and tricks that will really help you meal plan and develop the habit.
What is Meal Planning?
Meal planning or menu planning is basically setting a food menu for the week in advance. The trick is to make it doable and as easy as possible.
Whether you’re considering meat delivery or exploring local farmers’ markets, the goal of meal planning is to ensure you have a well-balanced and nutritious diet while also saving time and money. It allows you to take control of your meals, make healthier choices, and savour the satisfaction of organized and stress-free cooking.
10 top tips for Meal Planning and sticking with it.
- Start with meals that you know the whole family will eat – collate a list of family favourites and their main ingredients (I like to do this on a spreadsheet, but you could use a different coloured pen based on the main ingredient such as chicken, mince, vegetarian).
- Do an inventory of your pantry basics (such as spices, tins, herbs etc). This will prevent you from repurchasing things you don’t need.
- Check your calendar and see who is in each day and who you will be cooking for.
- Make it collaborative – I have found over the years that when I include the kids in planning and cooking that they are much more likely to eat the meal. We put this weeks menu on the fridge and chalkboard so everyone knows that is for dinner and what is expected of them.
- Look for shortcuts – So I like to batch cook when I can, for example, I make double bolognese and use it later in the week in a lasagne. Even if we are not planning on using it that week, it can freeze for an alternative week.
- My family love a roast chicken, I love it as I can use the carcass to make a stock and it turns into soup or even curry. I call this companion cooking and it is key to making meal planning faster and simpler.
- Write your shopping list – once you know what you are going to make for the week you can keep a tight rein on the food budget.
- Keep a record of what meals go down well and if you are looking for inspiration I have a fab list of family-friendly meals for menu planning.
- Mass meal prep is a great way of reducing the time spent preparing for each recipe. We often chop the whole weeks veggies in a couple of batches rather than each night. By moving the preparation time from the cooking time it often halves the stress of the meal too.
- Utilise your Kitchen appliances – For me this means cooking in a way that doesn’t need me or someone stood over a stove. So we have an instant pot, which I use as a slow cooker or a pressure cooker, an air fryer, which means I can have oven chips on the table in minutes. I also have a good selection of containers for leftovers, freezer food and mass prepared ingredients.