If you are the person in charge of meals in your home, meal planning is a big way to save yourself time.
Traditional meal planning and modern day meal planning
Traditionally people would know what produce was in season and then plan their weeks meals around those foods. These days it tends to be more about what’s on offer and what we fancy.
Plan all your meals for each day of the week.
This is one way to plan your meals, below I’ll share the way I prefer. Many people plan every meal for the entire week and this works wonderfully for a lot of people.
Breakfast ~ Poached eggs on toast
Lunch ~ Chicken salad
Evening meal ~ Spaghetti bolognese
If you like this idea, give it a try.
Flexible meal planning
I’ve tried planning my meals out day by day, but I never end up wanting what I’ve got planned for that day. What works better for me is flexible meal planning.
This is how flexible meal planning works
Each week write down 8-10 meal options and make sure you have everything available to actually make those meals.
I add 8 -10 so that I always have options.
In the example shown I have written down 8 different evening meals.
I have also added what desserts will be available for that week. My son thinks it’s the law to have a dessert with every meal.
And I’ve added a few options for lunches. It’s normally just me for lunch and my son takes pack up, so I need to think about these too when shopping. I do a weekly online shop which makes life even easier time wise.
Choose your planning style and then check your cupboards, fridge and freezer.
Okay before you actually add any meals to your weekly planner, I recommend you check your cupboards, fridge and freezer.
My first stop is always the freezer. By the time I put my online grocery order in on a Sunday night, I don’t normally have fresh meat left in the fridge.
So I check what meats I have left and (making a note of what I’ll be eating on Monday night as my delivery arrived on Tuesday morning).
So If I know I’ll still have chicken breasts, and stewing beef left, I’ll make sure I add meals to my list to use these up.
Then I check my fridge and cupboards to see if I will have anything I need to use up fairly quickly.
Plan your meals and make your shopping list
Next plan your meals and at the same time check to see what ingredients you need to buy. I do all of this on a Sunday night, then sit down and put my order in. It works perfectly for me.
Remember your breakfast, lunch meals, desserts, pack-ups, drinks and snacks too.
Also any condiments you like to have with your meals. For example if you’re having lamb one night during the week, you might want to get some mint sauce.
Here’s a nice planner I found on Amazon.co.uk if you’d like to have a special place to keep your meal plans. This one’s ideal if you like the traditional style of meal planning.
In case of emergencies
Okay my life and probably your life doesn’t always go to plan and that’s why I have some emergency meals that I can dig straight out of the freezer. For me this is fish fingers, burgers and Chicken fillets in batter, chips, frozen peas and frozen sweetcorn, then baked beans in the cupboard. Yep I know I wouldn’t win any healthy family awards with these items but when you’re hungry and you’ve got a hungry kids, sometimes you need food fast. Just try not to make these meals a too regular occurrence.
I don’t tend to add my emergency meals to my weekly list. They just happen as and when.
Quick meal planning review
- Choose your meal planning style (Traditional or flexible)
- Check your freezer, fridge and cupboards for food that need using
- Plan your meal
- Check you have all ingredients, making your shopping list as you go through your meal plan for the week
That’s it, job done. Well apart from actually buying your food and cooking it.
Let me know which meal planning style you prefer and I’d love to hear how you get on using this tip.
This blog post is part of a series. To read the rest of my time-management tips, go to Time-Management
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