Meal planning is a great way to save money, be organised and avoid waste all at the same time. To start with it will require a bit more effort but the more you do it the easier it will become. Save each week’s meal plan, especially the ones that have worked well and you will be able to refer back to them or use them in rota for repeating them.
Tips for getting started
1. List Family Favourite Recipes
First thing to do is make a list of your families favourite meals. Get the kids involved and ask them what meals they like best. Aim for around 20 meals on your list. You can do it in groups of 4 or 5, so you can start with pasta. Get 4 or 5 pasta dishes for your list, then try chicken recipes, fish recipes etc. Simple foods like pizza or sausages can also be listed as well as more substantial meals like a roast.
2. Family Diary & Events
Take a look at the family diary/calendar, think about regular after school clubs, classes or activities or if you or your partner have to work late on certain days. It will make your weekly meal plan easier if you know who is going to be around and how much time you have to make and serve meals.
3. Batch cooking & Freezing
Plan ahead and think about cooking extra and freezing. If you are going to make something that freezes well like spaghetti sauce, a stew or casserole double the recipe and freeze the second portion for days when you don’t have time to cook.
4. Filling Out a Meal Planner
Print out a blank meal planner and start to fill in the boxes. Try and roughly balance the weeks by including a chicken recipe, a pasta dish and a fish recipe each week. Add matching accompaniments such as potatoes, boiled, baked, roasted or chipped. Balance the meal with a vegetable and pudding (if your family eats one).
5. Shopping List
Using your planner, you can now write next week’s shopping list. Finally put your planner on the fridge or other prominent place where you can have a quick glance of it in the morning. Make a note on the planner if you need to take something out the freezer or if you can prepare part of the meal in advance.
Click Meal Planner to view and print an empty meal planner to get you started.
If you are struggling to think of what to make with leftover food in the cupboard we suggest you visit this website http://www.supercook.com/#/recipes where you can enter what food you have and it will give you a list of recipes from your chosen food items.