Meal planning seems to divide people. Some folk think it is for boring people who can’t live spontaneously and some love the weird sense of satisfaction and freedom they get from knowing supper is planned. As you may have guessed I’m in that second group. I feel our household works better when we stick to a meal plan. We save money, we eat better and our evenings are a stressful mess of dashing to the corner shop for ingredients or breaking down and getting a takeaway because we just can’t decide. We know our weaknesses and meal planning helps to keep them at bay.
How do you get started with meal planning?1. Start with the main mealYou can eventually role out meal planning to cover all your meals but starting with the main meal of the day for your family makes a lot of sense. It tends to be the one time of the day where you’re at home to eat a proper, non rushed meal. Get supper cracked and you can easily start to work on lunch and breakfast too.2. Know your weekWork out which days people are out and about doing different activities. If you know you won’t be home until 9pm on a Wednesday don’t plan an elaborate meal – make that evening a stir fry or soup night. 3. Core mealsThere will be some dishes which notice you gravitate toward more often than others and that’s fine. We love a good chicken stir fry or lasagnas here at Thrifty Towers and we’ve worked out we’re happy to eat each of those once a week for supper. Work out how often you’re happy to repeat your core, basic meals within any given month. Some people can tolerate the same dish again and again others can’t and it’s up to you to decide what suits you best.4. Expand your horizonMake sure you’re adding in one new dish, or variation of a dish per week. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or a huge change but if you’re a fan of tacos why not change it up a bit and have burritos? The best time to try a completely new dish is at the weekend because you have the time to play around a bit. Once you know the dish suits your family you can slot it into weekday suppers with ease and without the fear of it all going wrong and everyone going to bed with cheese on toast in their belly. It’s always a good idea to roughly work out how much it costs to make that meal for your family and note it down on your recipe card – it makes budgeting a lot easier.5. Back upSometimes you can’t stick to your meal plan, sometimes you just damn well don’t want to. Make sure you have back ups stored in your freezer so you’re not tempted to go out and over spend. If you can’t face standing at the stove cooking up a storm as per the meal plan it’s easy to have a stash of curries, chilli, lasagnas etc. stowed away in the freezer. We tend to over cook when we make many of these meals and then store 4 extra portions in the freezer – they’re easy to microwave, warm on the hob or pop in the oven if you’ve had the commute from hell (or in my case 16 steps from the study to kitchen).
6. Know your budget The day we go shopping we sit down and work out how many meals we’ll each be eating at home, how many we’ll be eating outside the house and how many guests we’ll be cooking for each week. We then take a good long hard look in our cupboards, fridge and freezer to figure out what we do and don’t have before making deciding what meals to include the following week.
We have a set amount we try to stick to for the two of us (obviously this is different for everyone) and then we add in providing for additional people etc. You need to know your budget to succeed with meal planning. Just deciding to make a meal plan isn’t going to work, you need to work out how much you can reasonably afford to spend on each meal and then go through your recipe books and core recipes and decide what you’ll be eating for the next week.
Tools you might need for meal planning- Pen- Paper- Whiteboard – you can pick them on eBay fairly cheap here.- or blackboard – again pick them up on ebay here, or paint one yourself.- Recipe books – I recommend nipping to your library or seeking them out online- Calculator
Also on this topic
– Why meal planning isn’t just for boring bitches
– Meal planning 101
Read the introductory post – 15 DAYS TO AN ORGANISED NEW YOU.
Catch up with these realistic and honest organising blog posts –
Day 1 – Why do I want to be organised?
Day 2 – Recognise your patterns
Day 3 – Create a Home HQ
Day 4 – Organising for emergencies
Day 5 – Organising your bathroom
Day 6 – Iron out your morning and evening routine
Day 7 – Organising your handbag
Day 8 – Organised gift wrap station
Day 9 – Organise your daily cleaning routine
P.S. I blogged earlier today about Christmas, pop over here and have a look see.