The Magic of Meal Planning

Does anyone else find that they dread the big weekly food shop? It takes ages, it’s usually busy, you have to queue for the till and you always spend more money than you had planned? Then you get home and think, what did I actually buy? I don’t know what I can make with that?! Sound familiar?

Create a Meal Plan

Enough is enough, it’s time to find a better way. To make it more manageable I began to plan our meals each week. I started by planning a main meal every day for the week. We then moved on to plan lunches too. We found that breakfast was more straightforward as we eat very similar things most mornings.

Each week I try to make some family favourites, some meals cooking from scratch and some easy weekday wins too. Over the week I try to make sure there is a range in foods and flavours.

As each meal is chosen, the ingredients go straight onto the shopping list. I find a notebook is handy to scribble down every day’s meal with the ingredients underneath.

I’ll be honest, I do sometimes find it hard to find inspiration for which meals to make. Having a list of family favourites and child-friendly meals at the back of our notebook has been useful. I’ve organised it into different meal types such as pasta, rice, mince, vegetarian etc. At a glance, we can pick something we haven’t made in a while. On the days when there is more time, I’ll flick through some of our recipe books and bookmark new recipes we want to try.

There’s a wealth of recipes online too. For our own little fussy eaters, I have found it can help to show them the recipes and get them to choose something!

Vary Your Meal Choices

Sometimes we like to mix up our meals and try something different and we’ll do a week of Hello Fresh or Gousto when they have a special offer on. The rapid and family meals are our favourites and again it’s great to let the kids have a look too and see if there’s anything they want to try. I find they’re more likely to try it if they have picked it!

The portion sizes are generous and there’s often leftovers for lunch the next day. On the weeks where we do this, we only then need to plan a few of our own meals and we can pick from our own list of favourite meals.

Food Shopping the Easy Way

Now we know exactly what we’re making for dinner every day, we need to get all the ingredients. If you go to the supermarket, remember to stick to the shopping list.

For a quick and easy shop, order the items according to where they are in the shop starting at the entrance and working your way around to the tills.

The majority of the time we order a food delivery or a click and collect. This suits us and we can time a delivery or pick up around us. With three young children, the thought of dragging them around a supermarket sends shivers down my spine, this avoids that completely thank goodness! If you’re going to get regular deliveries a delivery pass from your favourite supermarket will save you a few pennies too.

One of the beauties of ordering online is that you can also save your shopping lists. After a little bit of prep, you can create a monthly meal plan with a food delivery every week, using four different saved shopping lists. Each saved list then just needs to be tweaked according to what you already have in the cupboards, there’s no more starting from scratch and you’ve got four weeks of meals planned within those four shopping lists.

Last but not least, ordering online and sticking to the shopping list means less browsing time and less buying things we don’t need or things that we can’t use to make a meal. We buy what we need, without the distraction of the deals and appealing shelf displays. We have less food waste because all of the items on our list have a purpose. For busy families saving time and those extra pennies and wasting less is always a good thing! In my opinion meal planning is win win, I hope you find it as beneficial as we have!

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