Since the age of 19, you may find this hard to believe, I have never, ever done a weekly food shop without creating a meal plan first. I have always been a slight organisation freak to say the least and my food shopping is no exception. I just can’t imagine ever going into a supermarket with no idea what to buy. I would rather wait until the following day if I had to, so I could be more prepared. Without some sort of plan and list, I would literally find myself wandering around for ages, resulting in aimlessly throwing all sorts of random bits into the trolley. I would arrive at the till and most probably have a mild panic attack over the price of said random bits, then get home to find I can’t put more than two meals together with what I have purchased. The thought of this is bound to send anybody’s head into a spin surely, so I do often wonder how many others haven’t adopted some sort of meal planning technique as of yet. It only takes around 10 minutes of planning, but saves so much more time in the long run, not to mention pounds. It eliminates that long ponder with your head in the fridge, totally uninspired, having no clue what you could attempt to whip up. By weekly meal planning, you are reducing food waste as you will only be buying what you need for those meals, for that week. You always know you have enough meals for the entire week, even if you do decided to switch up which days you consume them on.
I find meal planning also encourages you to really think about the food choices you make. You are more likely to opt for much healthier dinners, than if you just walked into the shops and were hit with all the unhealthy marketing. I do find creating your meal plan on any day, other than a Friday or Saturday helps you to steer away from the unhealthiest options, as these days are usually associated with treat days/nights.
If I am struggling with meal inspiration I will google ‘healthy meal ideas’, have a look on Pinterest or flick through supermarket magazines and recipe cards. I also have a really old, master list of family favourites, almost like a ‘fall back on’ collection of meals, I have served up time and time again and know go down well.
My children will pretty much always eat the same dinner as my husband and I. Sometimes I will have to adjust their serving to suit them, or the odd time they will just have something completely different. I do tend to have everyone eating the same meal almost every time though, as this saves precious minutes in the kitchen, saves money at the checkout and saves grabbing the first thing from the freezer- chicken nuggets again anyone?! If for instance, we were having something like chilli con carne or a piece of gammon, that I know they will struggle with, I will just serve them something I know they will love instead. I do pride myself in trying my very best to provide my children with a healthy balanced diet full of fruits, veggies and whole grains. I am also very fortunate in that they will almost always eat anything I put in front of them. I just find that meal planning for the week ahead really helps keep my week running smoothly and I enjoy the certainty of always having everything I need stocked up in my cupboards and fridge.
If this had inspired you to give this a go, read on and you will see how I simply create a meal plan.
1). Firstly I will have a think of where we will be on the days following the week ahead. Is there a parents meeting or an evening club/class on a certain day, that will require a quicker and easier meal prep? Consider this when choosing and slotting each meal into your days of the week.
2). I will then take my trusty weekly planner (right now it’s Peter Rabbit themed) and my master list of family favourite meals. I will consider the season, the weather, the time of year when carefully selecting either hearty, winter warming or or light and summer salad type dinners. Right now it is dark, damp, grey and autumnal so hearty and filling it is.
3). I will have a quick scan through the fridge, freezer and cupboards to see what’s already remaining from the previous week, to see if I can create a meal using those first. I then start to fill in each day with a complete meal carefully assuring I cover as many food groups as possible. For example I will try and get in some poultry, fish and red meat as the main sources, then mix up the rest, either potatoes, rice, pasta or cous cous always served with vegetables or salad. I also try not to repeat meals too often as we do enjoy having a good variety of different foods each week.
4). I then take a piece of paper and begin writing out my actual shopping list, starting with everything I need for my weekly meals then for the usual staples such as, milk and sandwich fillers and any extras like a bag of sugar or some tin foil for instance. For the most of it I will only really ever buy what we need rather than what we just fancy.
That really is all I do.
I find for my family of 5, by meal planning I roughly spend around £85 on average per week. This includes washing products, cleaning products and my once weekly bottle of merlot. Toiletries such as deodorants, razors, moisturisers etc I always do separately so this is the only catergory not included. I will buy an extra loaf of bread or two to freeze and find the only thing I really need to top up on in the week is fresh milk, I’m seriously considering investing in a cow!
Thanks for reading ✨