Friday, 10 October 2014

Meal Planning: Tips

I love meal planning.  I know it is silly, and totally geeky to be obsessed with planning meals and budgeting, but I actually really enjoy it.

Here are some of my top tips, and the loose "plan" I follow when sitting down to write my shopping list.

Have a Budget and stick to it (duh...sometimes seriously hard to do)
Plan meals that use the same ingredients to limit waste and save money buying in bulk
Coupon, if you can, although hitting every shop just to get bargains does take time and energy and uses petrol if you are taking the car
Limit Meat, we spend about £10 or £15 on meat/fish for 2 weeks and I end up making 6 or 7 meat dishes over that time
Embrace vegetarian cooking
Have a repertoire of "store-cupboard" dishes that cost next to nothing to make (lentil curry, pasta bakes)
Shop with a calculator (add up your purchase as you go, and make decisions based on that)
Shop on-line if you can (this seriously helped me keep track of how much I was spending)
Sign up to Pinterest and get inspired
Try out 1 or 2 new dishes a week/fortnight to keep cooking from becoming a chore and making meal planning more interesting
Use your freezer (if you've got a big enough one) to benefit from multi-buy options or split large packs of meat/fish into meal portions


I only MEAL PLAN dinners and top up my grocery list with lunch/breakfast staples like bread, cereal, eggs, tuna, salads, hummus.

First I look at the calendar and figure out how many DINNERS I need to plan for over a 2 week period.

Then I sit down and decide what MEAT/FISH meals I am going to make...that can be anywhere from 5-7 dishes.  I tend to buy ground beef, salmon and chicken breast every time and then sometimes some sausages.

After that I add in all the veggie meals.

As I go I write down all the ingredients I need for each meal and then after the list is complete check out what I already have in the cupboards and then take those things off the list.

And at the same time checking to see what staples might be running low like  oil, vinegar, mayonnaise etc.

I have a pretty standard list of extras that I add next: milk, bread, fruit, salad stuff, eggs, juice, treats for Dad's lunch, yogurt, cheese, crackers, rice cakes, and any staples we need.

I then can sit down and order my groceries on-line choosing when I'd like to have them delivered.  If we had a car I'd go out and actually do the shopping though.

When the groceries arrive I figure out when we will have which meals based on use-by dates and who is doing what when.  For example David plays football on a Wednesday night so I usually make soup or something that can be heated up easily and we ALWAYS have Pizza and Salad on Friday.

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