When I say meal planning, I’m not suggesting elaborate three-course meals with fancy ingredients. I simply mean take stock of your fridge and pantry and map out a plan for the next week or fortnight.
For a workable meal plan think about your time, budget and what you are willing to make. If you work late chances are you won’t be home in time to pop the roast on and eat dinner at a suitable hour not to mention being exhausted after working all day. I like to have a balance of quick no fuss meals for the days I work, or we have after school commitments. For the days I have time I plan meals that might require a little more preparation and cooking time. I generally plan between 5-7 meals for our fortnight, I find this works for us as it accommodates for leftovers, a night out and a few back up meals. I keep the meal plan flexible and don’t assign specific meals to a date, our meal list is on the door of our pantry so I can refer to it as needed.
I like to cook once and eat twice, meaning I’ll do a double batch and freeze for another night. Over the years I’ve made a good list of our favourite freezer meals, soups, casseroles or risottos all freeze well. Having a good stash of meals in the freezer saves us going through the drive-through on the way home. It not only saves us time and money, but it is so much kinder on our waist lines too! Those weeks where things are super busy and feel out of control, yes I have those weeks too! Knowing we are at least eating a good home cooked meal (even if it was a few weeks before) helps me feel a little more in control. You can read my tips for staying organised in busy weeks in this post. We are creatures of habit when it comes to our lunches and breakfasts, and we alternate between the same three to four meals. I have a good supply of our staples for these meals on hand as well as a good stock of basic ingredients for baking. If you’ve never frozen cookies or cupcakes, I recommend giving it a go. I like to freeze them on the day they are baked in large zip lock bags.
I like to shop once a fortnight as I’m not the biggest lover of grocery shopping so the less I have to do it the better. Our meal plan consists of a fresh week and a pantry/freezer week. This just means that week one might include cooking a double batch of something that we freeze for another week. In the second week we eat meals that have been made ahead of time and are frozen or use pantry items like rice or pasta, it doesn’t mean we don’t eat any fruit or vegetables that week. I always take the time to store our food correctly straight after purchasing to ensure it lasts as long as possible. I’ve mentioned on my Instagram and Facebook pages that in the past, I’ve been a Tupperware demonstrator (twice actually). As a result, my Tupperware collection is rather large. My favourite Tupperware ranges are the Vent Smart and Clear mates. These two ranges are designed to get longevity out of your food. I purchased my collection a few pieces at a time over a few years and can say they are worth the investment.
To summarise these are my top tips for meal planning…
- Plan ahead
- Be flexible
- Cook once eat twice
- Freeze, freeze, freeze
- Take the time to store fresh food better so it lasts longer
I hope you have picked up a tip or two to help you with your own meal planning. I’d love to hear about your own process or anything you’ve read today that you try!