Is it cheaper to meal plan, or to buy whatever is on offer, in-season fruit/veg etc and cook with that?

(15 Posts)
bronya Mon 10-Mar-14 10:49:59

I have always wondered... We have started to meal plan and have saved so much money. Before, we tried to buy the fruit/veg that was less expensive, yoghurts that were on offer etc. But there was always some thrown away because it wasn't used, and it just seemed to turn out much more expensive. Yet obviously, meal planning means you buy whatever the ingredients are, in-season or not?! Is there a way of combining the two? A book of in-season recipes, or...?

TunipTheUnconquerable Mon 10-Mar-14 10:53:35

You combine the two.

My weekly mealplanning starts off by going through the fridge working out what needs using up. Then when you decide what order to eat things in, you start off with the things that will go off first.

We don't use a book of seasonal recipes but we will say 'Right, what's in season?' and likewise, avoid other things because they're not.

You'd also have some degree of flexibility in the shopping list, so rather than say, 'salmon with broccoli and carrots' it might be 'fish eg salmon with veg' and then you see what you can get on the day.

AnythingNotEverything Mon 10-Mar-14 10:58:39

You can absolutely do both. We often base our meals around what meat/fish is on offer (freezing what we don't need that week) and buy whatever veg and fruit is on offer. Hence both planning and taking advantage of seasonal deals.

It helps if the person cooking does the shopping so they can buy appropriate veg.

Mrswellyboot Mon 10-Mar-14 11:06:30

I always check the aldi six etc and nip in for them. However, you are right that if you buy aubergine, yet be never use them, you can be lured in by the price.

The only way is making a strict list. If I have lots of fresh tomatoes left over or veg, I throw them into a pot of chilli etc.

When courgettes and carrots are on offer, I always make big pots of meat sauce. When peppers are on offer we will have stir fry and fajitas that week.

NotCitrus Mon 10-Mar-14 11:41:19

Depends how good you are at revising your plans while in the shop. If you go in knowing you need Some Meat to go with your potatoes and Some Veg for that meal and the next day, then knowing you need Something for Friday night and could use the pizzas in the freezer plus those courgettes is helpful.

Gets harder if you do that and plan and then are too poorly to cook - my freezer gets full of stuff shoved in there to stop it going off. At which point MrNC defrosts and fries up a pile. Usually tastes fine with soy sauce...

We usually have a rough idea of what to make each day. Might be along the lines of "X-day we could have a roast with some veg and leftover meat with salad the next day" and then we'd buy the necessary stuff but leave ourselves open to choosing bits based on the price when we shop.

I also try to plan for how busy we are, so something quick for the 2 days a week that dd1 is out in the evening at activities. Similarly something quick if we have a busy day at the weekend planned.

I found having a fairly rigid meal plan didn't work for us. Tried it again last week and ended up with 2 takeaways due to things not going to plan.

bronya Mon 10-Mar-14 12:00:41

My weekly mealplanning starts off by going through the fridge working out what needs using up. Then when you decide what order to eat things in, you start off with the things that will go off first.

Now we can't do this - we plan our meals before the weekly shop, and at that point, there's nothing at all in the fridge! Cupboards also only have staples (flour, rice, pasta, herbs).

Clutterbugsmum Mon 10-Mar-14 12:41:59

How about building up your store cupboard and freezer with basics and then when you shop see what's on offer and plan around that.

TunipTheUnconquerable Mon 10-Mar-14 12:46:04

But if you're starting off with an empty fridge it sounds like you don't have any problem using up food and aren't wasting anything anyway?

BrownSauceSandwich Mon 10-Mar-14 17:41:32

Bronya, if you're getting to the end of the week with an empty fridge, you are bang on target with your meal planning: well done!

Jinty64 Mon 10-Mar-14 20:24:49

Write a meal plan but be prepared to be flexible. Make adjustments once you see what's on offer. Where do you shop. Can you check online to see what the offers are first?

MumofDockgreen Thu 13-Mar-14 18:26:31

I plan for the weekend and cook a large chunky soup on Sunday. I also batch cook and freeze. This way we eat leftovers either Monday, Tuesday Soup Tuesday Wednesday. Cub + clubs Thursday so a sandwich or fish fingers. Defrost on Friday and shop on Saturday + Start all over again. With meal plans I personally over plan + cooked a lot went to waste.

Allofaflumble Tue 18-Mar-14 23:03:56

Anyone else do Breakfast for dinner? Bacon, eggs, mushrooms, beans, sausages in whatever combo suits you. That's one night if not two sorted. Courtesy of Flylady.

MadMonkeys Thu 20-Mar-14 08:49:34

Both. Use your freezer - grab any bargain meats etc and if they don't fit in your meal plan freeze them and then include them in the following weeks plan. If you buy and cook,in bulk you can save a fortune and have lots of lovely days with no cooking - just grab something yummy from the freezer.

annielostit Thu 20-Mar-14 10:37:57

I've meal planned the first time fully this week and its saved loads of ££s and waste. Started with £60 but have enough planned & stored to get till Wednesday.that's 3 breakfasts/lunch and dinner. I have worked out I don't need to buy a fridge full for 3 people. Teenager hasn't starved when he's fridge raiding at night and if he don't like the biscuits I've picked, unlucky.
Planned next week & already to go!!

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