I have always sworn by meal plans, I take a little time every week to make one, I actually have to, if I head into a supermarket without a list I literally come out with nothing that will make a meal. If I sent Mr Five Minute Mummy without a shopping list he would come out with a TV and no food.
There are so many advantages to planning your week, ok it takes a bit of time to sit and write out the meals and the shopping list, but trust me, not only does it save you time in the shop, it saves you money and can dramatically reduce the amount of food waste at the end of the week.
So here are my top tips for meal planning:
Always make a list…and stick to it!
Always make a shopping list, write down your meals then plan exactly what you need to buy and stick to it. This will save you money and stop you falling into the ‘special offers’ trap where you end up buy ten of everything you didn’t need. Also check your cupboards before you head out, don’t buy another four pack of baked beans when you already have them at home and forgot.
Keep it simple
If you’re planning lots meals that require too many ingredients and too long to prepare, you’re not helping your budget or yourself. Find simple recipes and meal ideas that require a small number of ingredients and take little time and effort to prepare.
Think about your week
Think about what you have coming up that week, are you working late or going out for the day, maybe cook something in the slow cooker or make something you can heat back up. Are you planning to make a big family roast, perhaps plan it for a day when you know you’ll have more time.
Buying larger packs means you’ll get serval meals from one purchase. For example, buy a larger pack of chicken and make two chicken based dished that week or split the pack in half, then freeze it to use the next week. Buy a larger bag of potatoes and use them for lots of things like Jacket Potatoes, Roasties, Wedges, Mash.
Plan when you get back from the supermarket
One of my biggest tips is to write down seven meals you would like to make that week, but actually plan what days you’ll have them once your back from the supermarket. Why you might ask? Well it’s simple sell by/use by dates. I always forget to check the use by dates when I’m shopping, you’d think I’d have gotten the hang of it by now, but I alway forget, so instead when I get home I organise my meals by the dates my ingredient go off…simple.
Use left overs
If you have extra spaghetti bolognese , uneaten casserole, or left over risotto use them for lunches, freeze it or make it part of another meal. Never throw perfectly good food away, you might as well throw money into the bin.
If you haven’t tried meal planning before it really is one of the simplest ways to save money on your food shop and reduce your food wastage as well as saving you time in the supermarket and in the kitchen.