So, with it being a new year and a lot of people feeling fresh and motivated to take on a new goal or just organise themselves a bit better (myself included), I thought I would share a beginner’s guide to meal planning. This is something that I started doing in 2018 and it made such a difference to our bank balance, that I will definitely be making it a more regular thing in 2019. If you want to see what else I would like to do in 2019, you can catch up with that post here.
What is meal planning?
Basically, it’s a really simple way to organise yourself a little bit better when it comes to eating each week. It takes a lot of the stress out of cooking and lets you actually enjoy your meals. Sometimes when you hear the phrase meal planning, I think some people feel a bit overwhelmed or don’t like the idea of planning out every single meal of the day for each day of the week. However, it definitely doesn’t have to be like that. It doesn’t need to be restrictive and it’s all about finding a plan that’s effective and works for you; whether that’s 3 meals a week or shopping for a month in one go. For example, I find that planning out our evening/main meals for the week and then buying a few different bits and pieces for breakfast and lunch each week is what works best for us.
What are the benefits of meal planning?
There are so many benefits to meal planning! I thought I would share my top 3 that always motivate me to stick with it, even if I am feeling a bit un-motivated one week.
Saves money – I can tell you from personal experience that it saves a lot of money each week/month. I have seen a massive decrease in our food bill each week as we are not buying unnecessary things. By listing out exactly what we need for each meal, it means we only buy what we need, and we make the most of things we already have in the cupboard. We have also seen a massive decrease in food wastage, which is one of my biggest pet peeves. I hate wasting food so much, especially as it is so expensive. It also stops us eating out unnecessarily, because there is something sat in the fridge waiting to be eaten.
Saves time – Although it might take me half an hour each week to plan out our meals and write a shopping list, over the week it saves so much time. There is no faffing about trying to decide what to eat. This is definitely something we will need when Baby Owen-Gibson arrives.
Eat more varied and healthier meals – It is so easy to get stuck eating the same old meals every week and quite frankly it gets boring very quickly. When we plan out our meals each week, we definitely eat more varied meals. I also find we eat healthier too. It lets me be a bit more creative in the kitchen and try out new recipes too.
Where to start with meal planning
If you haven’t planned out your meals before it can be a bit overwhelming knowing where to start for it to be effective. My advice would be to keep it simple! I would recommend starting with just planning out your evening or main meals, whether that’s 3, 5 or 7 meals. As I said above, I like to plan out 7 meals we would like to eat that week. I would also recommend starting with recipes/meals that you know you like and can already make. Then eventually as the weeks go on you can start adding in new recipes to try, extra meals or lunches/breakfast plans if you wanted to or you can leave it exactly as it is if the plan is already working well for you.
Once you have your meals planned out, I would then make a list of all the ingredients you need. I usually use a tally system, so for example if 2 meals that week require onions, I can just tally up how many I need to buy to cover those meals. I then also mark off the ingredients we already have in our cupboards/fridge. This is normally things like herbs, pasta or flour and just general items that a lot of us have hanging around in the cupboards. You then have a set list of what you would like to eat that week and all the ingredients you need. You can then take your list with you the supermarket (in which case make sure you stick to it) or you can sit in the comfort of your own home and order it online – whatever suits you best. It’s as simple as that!
I am thinking of sharing our weekly meal plans on Instagram each week to help keep me motivated to stick with it, be creative and hopefully inspire others to join in. Would you be interested in seeing these?
Have you tried meal planning before or is it something you would like to implement? I would love to hear from you, so please leave me a comment below!