Lifestyle

A guide to meal planning

I’ve been meal planning for a while now, and whilst it’s something I have to schedule time for, it’s something I’ve really started to enjoy. Not only do I get to spend time flicking through my many (MANY) recipe books, it also means I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to cook for dinner when I get in from work late.

I like to spend time on a Sunday, leisurely browsing through the pages of my favourite recipe books, looking for inspiration for meals for the week ahead. When I buy a new book, I usually earmark any recipes I want to try with a little post it note, so finding recipes for my meal plan on a Sunday is a piece of cake.

I usually start off by checking the calendar for our movements for the week which helps me to plan how long I have to cook on each night, and therefore whether I need a quick recipe or whether I have a little longer to spend in the kitchen. On the nights where I won’t have time at all, I try to select a recipe which is more suitable for Daniel to cook… that usually means something that doesn’t require too much effort!

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Once I know how much time I have, I choose the recipes I want to cook and add them into my Meal Planner (£7.50 from kikki.k). I make sure to note down the name & page of the book too!

I also try to plan lunches for the days when I work from home as it helps me to stay on track with my healthy eating plan. More often than not, I’ll just cook an extra portion the night before to have as leftovers for lunch the next day.

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Once my plan is complete, I write all of the ingredients I need in a list and then place an online order to have my shopping delivered the next day. By shopping online, I also find that I’m less inclined to add things to my basket just because they’re on offer, or because I see something on the shelf that I can’t resist.

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If you’d like to try meal planning, here are my top 5 tips:

  1. THINK AHEAD – Spend some time selecting recipes from books or online ready for your next meal planning session and check what’s already in the freezer.
  2. TAKE SOME TIME – Take half an hour to sit down and work out your meal plan for the week. Sit outside in the garden if the weather is nice, or curl up in front of the fire with a hot chocolate in winter time. Use the opportunity to relax a little!
  3. PLAN YOUR WEEK – Plan how much time you’ll have to cook each night and choose recipes suitable for the time you have available.
  4. PLAN ECONOMICALLY – Try to plan recipes that share ingredients to reduce food waste or plan to cook a bigger batch and either freeze the leftovers or have them for lunch the next day.
  5. SHOP ONLINE – Once you’ve chosen your recipes, create a separate list of ingredients (I like to organise my list in categories) ready for your online shop.

Hopefully my meal planning tips come in handy. Don’t be intimidated by meal planning, it’s easy and it really does save you so much time during the week! It also helps you to avoid arguing with your husband about who has to think of something to eat at 8pm at night…

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