There are so many positives which meal planning can bring to your life. Here are the main four reasons why I’ve come to believe meal planning is so essential.
It can save you money
When you meal plan, you have a specific list of what you need to buy to create your meals for the week ahead, as well as the other necessities we buy on shopping trips. This enables you to buy specifically for the meals you are going to make, and to stick to the ingredients you need, rather than buying random items you think you might use. If you know a certain item comes in an amount which is too much for your household to get through in one sitting, you can plan to use it in an additional meal during that week so you use up the item. This is especially helpful when it comes to fresh produce., which can come in a package too large to use in one sitting, depending on the size of your family.
It saves you time
When you meal plan, you sit down once in the week at a set-aside time to consider all the meals for the following week at once. You can consult your calendar to see if there are any days on which you will be restricted with cooking time and so plan a meal to suit that day, whether it be a meal which is very quick to throw together, or perhaps something you prepare early in the morning and put in the slow cooker. You only need to visit the supermarket once, or if you prefer to shop online you simply enter all the ingredients, knowing you won’t need to think about what meals you’re providing for another week.
It encourages you to be creative
When you set aside a time to meal plan each week, you know that time is for poring over recipes and choosing what you fancy cooking. You can read through the recipes you choose, discover new ingredients in unfamiliar recipes, and determine to try new things because you have organised yourself beforehand to do so. If you come across an unfamiliar ingredient in a recipe, you can look it up so you know what you’re looking for in the supermarket, and also what influence it will bring to the recipe. You will become more familiar with following recipes, and as a result, more confident in making your own adjustments and ingredient substitutes.
It helps reduce food waste
When I meal plan, I always check what ingredients I still have left over from the previous week and ensure I plan meals which will use them up. This is especially helpful with fresh produce, which is probably the easiest foodstuff to waste, simply due to the fact that it spoils more easily than other foods which have a naturally longer shelf-life, or which can be easily preserved.
Top tips for productive meal planning
- Set aside a time each week when you will deliberately plan your meals for the week ahead
- Have a notebook which you use solely for meal planning and your shopping list. You can refer back to it if you want to make something again but can’t quite remember where you sourced the recipe
- Always write the recipe source next to the meal. Cookbook name and page number; name of recipe and website; other online source name and name of recipe, for example: my Pinterest “Family Meals” board, “Instagram Family Meals” saved posts etc.
- Have your calendar to hand so you can refer to it and account for days when you will have less time to cook and need to plan something quick and easy.
- Become familiar with your recipe sources; consider what sort of meals you like to eat, and source cookbooks which contain those recipes. Become familiar with a few cookery writers whose recipes you enjoy, or websites whose recipes you like.
I offer several meal planning packages which can set you on the right track to a more organised and creative meal time.