I’ve been meal planning for our family for some time now, and while it can take a little time to get used to in the beginning, the benefits are soooo worth it. Not only does it take some stress out of thinking (and arguing with the kids) about what we are going to eat each day, it has also saves me doing multiple trips to the supermarket each week, saves my sanity during the dreaded witching HOURS each afternoon and perhaps most importantly it also saves us money.
I plan our weekly meals from Tuesday – Monday and sit down on a Sunday morning to nut out what we will be eating for the following week. The reason I plan this way is that I can then make all of our snacks for the week on a Sunday afternoon while my husband is home to distract the boys, and I can swing by the fruit and veggie market after swimming lessons on a Tuesday morning (where we buy all of our fruit and vegetables from) and schedule our groceries to be delivered on a Tuesday afternoon. This is what works for us, however you can choose to meal plan weekly, fortnightly or even monthly – simply choose whichever option is best for your family. If you are thinking about giving meal planning a try, I’ve put together four of my top meal planning tips to help you.
Make the time to plan.
Yep, easier said than done (especially with kids!) I know! Meal Planning doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time if you do it right. I usually try and set aside 20 minutes each Sunday morning to spend some time putting together a plan of what our meals (including snacks) will be for the week ahead. I will then go through what we already have in the pantry/fridge and freezer and put together an online shopping order (because there is NO WAY I’m doing the grocery shopping with all three of the boys) for what we need. If I’m feeling brave I will also sometimes get the boys involved and ask them what meals and snacks they would like for the week.
Check your Fridge, Freezer and Pantry first!
Doing a ‘shop’ within our fridge, freezer and pantry first is the best way to cut down on food waste and best of all it saves us money. I always try to plan a few meals around ingredients we already have, especially those which may be close to their best before date. I also try and incorporate a few meals from our freezer into our meal plan and then I just need to buy veggies etc to go with it.
Cook in bulk
I LOVE having a well stocked freezer, and it’s honestly been a HUGE weight off my shoulders having a good supply of meals ready to go during these first few months with baby number 3. I regularly make double batches of our favourite recipes and pop them into labelled containers with the date I made them and store them in the freezer for another time, then all I need to do is defrost it and add some fresh veggies or rice/pasta to it – too easy!
Be flexible and keep it simple!
Ok so this is kind of two tips in one. We all know things can spring up during the week and the best laid plans can go straight out of the window, which is why I like to leave a couple of meals ‘blank’ where we will just eat leftovers etc to help prevent any food waste. I also think it’s important to keep your meals simple, just because you are getting organised and planning your meals in advance doesn’t mean they need to be fancy and extravagant. It’s ok to have a couple of simple and easy meals in your planner throughout the week – think toasted sandwiches, meals from your freezer etc.
Do you meal plan? What are your top meal planning tips?