These simple meal planning tips will help you save time and money!
I’ve written before on the blog about why I meal plan for our family, however reading through my original post (which was two years ago – yikes!) how I meal plan has certainly changed from back then when I had a newborn plus a three and four year old to deal with. These days, I sit down and put together our meal plan for the week ahead on either a Wednesday or a Thursday so that I can then place an order for our groceries to be delivered on the Sunday morning – as let’s face it, just the idea of tackling the supermarket with all three of my boys in tow gives me a panic attack!
Back when I first started meal planning it would take me a good hour or so to write down our meals and snacks for the week and then our list of groceries that we needed, however I’ve picked up some shortcuts which now helps to make the whole meal planning process a whole lot easier, so I thought I would share these with you today.
Shop at home first
Before I even start thinking about the meals and snacks I’m going to make for the week ahead, I first check out what we have already in the fridge, freezer and pantry, as well as what leftovers we have. This is a great way to help reduce your spending at the supermarket as I will often find ingredients for meals that I had intended to make, but life just got in the way.
Plan your meals around your life
I used to be tempted to try something new or ‘fancy’ each week, but the reality of running around after the kids, taking them to and from school/kindy/activities plus working from home means that keeping things easy is VERY important. That’s not to say we don’t try different things, rather I instead try to cook meals which I can either make in advance (over the weekend or while the kids are at school) or that don’t require too much effort to put together in the evenings during the week and then save those meals which require a little bit more time and effort for the weekends.
Write it down!
I write down all of my meal plans in my Leanne Baker Daily Planner which has the benefit of allowing me to flick back through previous meal plans to get some ideas and inspiration. I also use my planner to keep track of how much we spend on groceries each week – our budget is $160 a week for our family of five. Also as part of my meal planning, I write out our shopping list at the same time, ensuring that we have everything we need for the week ahead.
Cook once, eat twice
Each week I like to include at least one meal that will feed us for two nights, eg. Slow Cooked Roast Beef which we will enjoy with veggies one night and then use the leftover meat for burgers the following night. Alternatively, I make sure that I incorporate meals which will have leftovers into our lunches over the following days.
Meal Prep when you can
Where possible, I try to prepare as many meals and snacks in advance as possible as this helps me to save time and stay organised throughout the week. You can read more about how I meal prep here.
So there you have it, a few of my essential meal planning tips – I hope they help!
You can find a great list of family dinner ideas here, and make sure you also check out my new ‘Family Dinners Made Easy‘ book which includes 20 yummy family friendly recipes plus meal planning and kitchen organisation tips from Leanne of Organising the Four of Us.