Meal planning

Meal PBusy busy busy lanning might seem like a retro throwback and sound more Brady Bunch than Modern Family but spending a little time getting meals organised for the week frees up valuable time later, particularly at dinner time when you’ve just come home from work, or picked up the kids and really don’t have the headspace to come up with a meal idea, ingredients AND cook. Planning also reduces shopping trips (saving time and money) and ensures you have enough healthy food on hand which improves your nutritional intake.

Tips for meal planning
1. Tap into various sources of ‘mealspiration’ – cookbooks, magazines, websites like blogs (RSS for updates or sign up to sites that you like), Facebook, Pinterest (see my Healthy Meals boards) and cooking shows. Ask friends and family what they’re cooking.
2. It may be helpful to think it terms of ‘types of meals’ eg casserole, stir-fry, pasta, roast etc to ensure a variety of meals.
3. Organise your recipes – bookmark online resources and use post it notes to highlight recipes in books
4. Consider the upcoming weather forecast. Colder days suit slow cooking and casseroles while in warm weather light meals and salads are more appropriate. That’s not to say you can’t mix it up but there is nothing worse than having a bunch of meals organised that you don’t feel like eating.
5. With that in mind….ladies, consider where you are at in your menstrual cycle – will you really feel like making that Heston Blumenthal masterpiece or would it be easier to make your tried and tested pasta meal?
6. Make sure you have the ingredients on hand for a quick and easy store cupboard stunner.
7. Eat seasonally – food that is in season tastes better, is generally cheaper and energetically sits better with us.
8. Some people like having a theme night like ‘Sunday Roast’ or ‘Meatless Mondays’ – it seems to work really well for families with kids and means you don’t have to magic up 7 days’ worth of ‘new’ meals every week.
9. If more than one person is going to be cooking make sure you have selected meals that they are happy to cook.
10. Set a day/time to go shopping and as you plan your weekly meals, write a shopping list. The process of planning meals & writing a list should take no more than half an hour. With families, approach shopping like a team sport and delegate items to grab off the aisles or to find. Where possible ‘shop to the list’ but keep your eye on specials.
11. Keep a list on the fridge so you can note items to buy during the week.
12. Look at shopping online. There are several great online organic grocers who will deliver to your door or a local collection point.
13. Consider your workload and how much time you will have to prepare dinner after work. Is there any food prep you can get ready the day before, or as you put the food away? Rinsing salad greens and chopping a few days’ worth of salad ingredients saves time.
14. Invest in good food storage items (BPA free, food grade plastic or good ole glass jars).
15. Plan to have leftovers of certain meals that freeze or transport well so you have meals on hand for lunches.
16. Be strategic about the cooking process – e.g. plan to have the rice cooked by the time the casserole is ready (always my downfall!). While brown rice is healthier it takes a longer to cook – rinse and soak throughout the day do decrease cooking time. Having a Thermomix has made me more aware of timing & ‘cooking by numbers’.
17. Maintain a good amount of pantry staples (sauces, herbs & spices, flours, rice & grains).
18. Save your meal plans so you have a source of inspiration to go back to.
So, what are you eating this week? Download my meal planner from the resources tab and get started! Let me know if you have any other meal planning tips to share.

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