5 benefits of meal planning…

  • Saves time – taking away daily decisions and shortening your time in the shops
  • Saves stress – reducing evening family arguments
  • Less food wasted – only buying what you need
  • Saves money – only buying what you need
  • Healthier eating – less last minute quick fixes or takeaways

It sounds like hard work but it really isn’t. Just ten minutes meal planning a week can make a huge difference to the amount of food waste the average family produces, and it can also have a significant impact on reducing your grocery bills each week.

Taking time to look ahead and plan your meals for the week actually saves you time too! Who hasn’t had a heated debate within your household about what to have for dinner. By the time someone decides based on what is left in the fridge, you either end up with a random meal no-one really likes, or take the easy option and choose to ‘treat’ yourselves with a takeaway.

Meal planning doesn’t have to be hard work. Take a look at the tips below to find a way that suits your lifestyle.

Top Tips

Pick a day of the week to make plans – whether you are chief cook in the household or everyone gets a say. Decide who and when you get together to plan the week. We suggest the day before you do your usual food shopping is ideal. If there is a local market selling fresh seasonal produce, then even better.

Have a selection of easy meals at hand – collect together 10-20 easy dinner favourites and keep them on paper or on your phone. Use the internet, family favourites or recipe books, but don’t over complicate things. If your life is busy before meal planning it will still be busy afterwards. In our household we personally love Jamie Olivers 30 minute meals for fresh ideas that won’t take long to make.

Check your fridge contents first – when planning ahead, take a look at whats in the fridge already and use these as ideas for the week.

Write your plan down! – Whether you prefer a list on your smartphone, using a wall calendar, or a simple blackboard in the kitchen for the whole family to see, make sure you write your choices down somewhere easy to get to.

Do a shopping list – now you know what you are going to eat for the week, put together your shopping list. Don’t forget about things you already have in the cupboards.

Buy only what you need – you will be amazed to find that as you are buying just what you need, your shop may be a lot smaller than usual. Fantastic!

Don’t forget your reusable bags – your food shopping choices can make a huge environmental impact so remember your reusable bags and containers and opt for the loose items without plastic packaging wherever possible.

Be flexible – its great to have a plan, but have a couple of back up recipes ready. When you get to the shops/market you may find there is an amazing offer on seasonal produce, or some of your items are not available without lots of plastic packaging. That’s OK! Use a back up recipe and tweak your shopping list as you go.

Enjoy your food – find out what your household enjoys and keep on adding to your recipe ideas. If you have kids in the household, get them involved in next weeks plan and see what ideas they come up with. This is a great way to get picky eaters looking forward to meals. You may be surprised by who wants to get involved in the cooking too!

Caroline Talbot
Author: Caroline Talbot