Meal planning. Sounds like something that highly organised people do, doesn’t it? But when it ticks the three boxes of saving time, saving money and reducing waste then it’s worth giving it a go isn’t it? So that’s what we did.
- Increase variety in our evening meals
- Reduce the amount of food discarded because it went out of date
- Reduce weekly shopping bills
- Reduce emergency shopping trips
- Remove uncertainty from the “what’s for dinner” question
We started simple: writing down all the meals we liked and what new foods could be introduced. We particularly wanted to eat fish at least once a week.
Making the Plan
As we typically eat out at the weekends we focused on planning for Monday to Friday over a four week period. The aim was to try and have different meats in a week and accompanying foods were also to be spread, so pasta or rice, for example, isn’t eaten everyday.
Here’s a snapshot of our plan:
Making it Work
We’ve been using this plan for six weeks now. Already it feels like we have more variety even though it’s just the same foods we’ve always eaten. We’ve already seen the benefits spending wise too because we’re using this to write our shopping list and checking if we already have something in so we’re not stocking up too much. That doesn’t prevent us choosing offers; if beef is on offer instead of pork for our curry then we get that. The structure just makes it clear what the end goal is rather than what we bought dictating what we eat, which doesn’t always work out.
There’s also flexibility day-to-day. If I have to work late, then we might swap meals around so that the hubby can cook instead, or if we have plans later in the evening we might choose a meal that is quicker to prepare.
So far so good. I’m really liking how this is working out. We might swap some meals around in the warmer months but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Here are some tips if you want to give meal planning a try.
- Keep a shopping list on the go for when stock items run out, such as spices.
- Keep in mind perishables when putting a week together. For example, if you buy a head of lettuce for a salad on Monday, if it won’t all get used at that one meal try to have a plan for using it on another day or at lunchtime.
- Making large portions means you can freeze the extra and use these on weekend days or just for when you forgot to defrost something.
- It’s okay to have other back ups too. We have pizza in the freezer and hot dogs in the cupboard.
Meal planning can be as rigid or flexible as you like but should make it easier to shop and use up food you have in without wastage. You may notice that we also don’t plan our lunch or breakfast because we pretty much have the same thing everyday already and that works for us. You might like to plan lunches, too, even if it is just making use of leftovers.
Tell me, have you thought about meal planning or have you tried it? What did or didn’t work for you?
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Until next time, remember, if the excess baggage is weighing you down, you can always leave it in lost luggage.
Until next time, eat well.