How To Get Started With Family Meal Planning
As a family, there is no denying that meal planning saves time and money. It encourages you to eat healthier, use up what is there and only buy ingredients that will compliment what you have already.
You’ll notice that the food shopping is done quicker, you have less bags to carry and there is a dramatic reduction in waste (if there is any at all). Meal planning is a great way to help you feel a bit more organised too.
I know that when I feel disorganised and stressed it leaks into every part of my life. The work I produce is not at the standard that I want and my relationships suffer too. Eating is one of the givens in daily life. We have to do it and if we can structure it a little better we might just find other aspects of our life flow better too.
So many people simply do not know where to start when it comes to meal planning. They profess that THIS will be the week they start it but actually making it happen feels a lot more difficult. I want to share with you my five tips for helping you get started with meal planning. Before you know it you will be eating nicer meals, saving money and feeling like you really have your, ahem, list together.
1. Make a list
How simple is this and yet so many of us do not do it? We enter the supermarket blind and continue to throw the same items into the trolley regardless of whether we have a stockpile of them at home or not. There is no direction, too much food purchased and an embarrassing amount of it will end up in the bin. Always go food shopping armed with a list to include snacks, lunches, treats and store-cupboard staples. Check out the promotions online before you visit that particular shop. For example, I always check the Aldi website to see what the week’s super six deal is on fruit, vegetables and meat. I then plan around those.
2. Use your kitchen as a guide
Before you make your meal plan, and indeed list, consult your fridge and presses. Do you have a tonne of pasta? Why not simply buy smoked bacon, peppers and tins of chopped tomatoes and make a big old pasta bake? It will work well for lunch leftovers the next day too. More money saving and less work! You might even find that you already have the chopped tomatoes or jar of passata. Is there a pack of chicken fillets in the freezer? A chicken themed dinner has already been born. You might have to just buy stirfry vegetables and some soy sauce because chances are the rice is there. If it’s not,get it on the LIST immediately.
3. Try one new meal a week
Consult your favourite recipe websites or cookbooks and choose one meal to try out. It will shake things up, encourage you to buy a few things you’ve never bought before (it’s OK because it’s for a recipe and they will be used again and again now that you are a meal planning whizz) and don’t be worried about constantly including the weekly family favourites. The idea is that the whole family will actually eat the meals so you really do know best.
4. Don’t forget drinks, snacks and “picky” foods
o you find yourself popping into the shops a couple of times a week to buy cordial, raisins, brioche and other snacky items? Why not add them on to the shopping list. It’ll save you money because those shopping trips more than likely include an extra €10-€15 you didn’t have to spend.
5. Meal plan for six out of seven days
Leave room for the possibility of eating out, a takeaway or a quick dinner using leftovers. It will lighten the load and save you money.