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Meal planning

(5 Posts)
CabanaBayLife Sun 12-Aug-18 19:46:39

Hi guys,

I’m at a loss as to how I meal plan and save money for a busy family of 3. We work 9-5 and our daughter goes to high school.

OP’s posts: |
BackforGood Sun 12-Aug-18 20:56:26

Well, people do it differently, but I'd ask your dh and your dd what meals they like, add in your own favourites, and then you've got your plan.
You know then, what meals you are having for the next week, so buy the ingredients for those meals.

However

It doesn't work for me for the following reasons :
It's boring - same thing "because it is Tuesday"
It lacks spontaneity
It doesn't seem to take into account the fact that some days you will be late home from work, or need to go out early to a meeting or something
It must limit your palatte I'd have thought (?)

I like to go to the supermarket and see what is on offer (which saves money), and also see what the 'BBE' dates are. No good buying the chicken when you do your shop on a Sunday, because Thursday is your chicken day, if the chicken is BBE Tuesday, for example. I can respond to the weather too - I don't fancy a casserole when it is hot, or a salad when it is wet and rainy. Sometimes, if {again, just an example} the bigger pack of mince is much better value, then, if the dates work, I can think that we'll have cottage pie tomorrow and then spag bol in 4 days time, or whatever, because it makes sense with the ingredients that are there that week. Or I was thinking jacket potatoes, but they don't look that good that week, I can change my mind.
If I know a dc has been invited to friend's house, one night that week then we might choose to have the meal they don't like on that night.
I always buy fewer than 7 'meals' a week. We have one night where it is leftovers, or 'something on toast' or 'something out the freezer' etc., too.

There are lots of ways to save money if that is what you want to do, but, for me, meal planning isn't a help in that.

mrsoutnumbered Mon 13-Aug-18 08:20:33

I have meal planned for years, and it usually works for us. Sometimes it does get boring - I don't always fancy what I've planned for!

I have a Pinterest board of favourite recipes, so usually refer to that when I'm writing the plan.

I don't always stick to certain meals on certain nights - I swap things around depending on what we fancy.

I try to cook things that reheat well so my husband can just zap his dinner in the microwave when he gets home from work

On busy days I keep it simple - and save things like lasagna and roast chicken on a weekend when I have more time to cook and prepare.

I cook larger portions of things like chilli, bolognese and lasagna and freeze some that really following week we have an easy dinner

I roast a whole chicken and keep it in the fridge so that it ca be used for pasta salads, sandwiches or snacking

HTH xx

MissSueFlay Mon 13-Aug-18 12:55:55

I have a rolling monthly meal plan, have been doing it since I went back to work after mat leave 4 years ago. I have a shopping list set up with Tesco. I know that we eat a wider variety of meals than before we had the plan, and waste a lot less.

Of course it's flexible, but it's just wonderful to have already done all the thinking - DH and I both work full time, we get home, look at the plan and crack on knowing everything for the evening meal is in. We also plan in making extra for the freezer and DH's lunches.

I have a structure that kind of follows:
Monday - veggie
Tuesday - fish
Wednesday - red meat
Thursday - veggie
Friday - Fakeaway (we cook Chinese, Indian, Mexican etc.) or takeaway
Saturday - Big nice meal
Sunday - Pizza

We have quite a few options for each day in rotation, so actually I find that no two months are exactly the same. Sometimes I drop in a week where we just eat stuff from the freezer if it's got a bit full!
BBC Good Food website has loads of simple and quick recipes for evening meals.

I recommend doing it if only to save having to think about putting an evening meal together after a busy day.

maxelly Mon 13-Aug-18 16:43:34

If you've never done it before I like this website. Put in the number of people you are catering for and the number of nights, and it will generate a list of recipes and a shopping list for you. There are budget and super-budget options depending on how much you need to save!

resourcefulcook.com/

Once you get the concept you can start to work out your own plans that work for your family. The ways you can save money by meal-planning IMO are (a) reduce waste (b) take advantage of supermarket offers and (c) plan to have low cost meals for one or two nights a week

To reduce waste, only buy ingredients that you need (no impulse purchases of snacky stuff!) and use as much as possible of what you buy, especially of fresh things or things that won't freeze. So for instance if you want to cook spaghetti carbonara on Monday, which needs half a pack of bacon and half a pack of mushrooms, think of another recipe that uses up those ingredients for Tuesday or Wednesday (hunters chicken for instance).

Supermarkets or butchers often do 3 meats for £10 deal which is great but unless you have loads of freezer space, it works best if you either meal plan to make sure all the meal is used within the week. Take into account that you may be able to make the meat stretch over more than one meal with careful planning (a la mythical Mumsnet chicken) and bulking out with veg and carbs.

Low cost meals can be tricky depending on how good a cook you are, but generally think towards reducing or eliminating as much meat as possible, use lentils, beans and pulses instead of meat (e.g. veggie curry, lentil bolognese or good old beans on toast).

If you posted what kinds of meals your family likes kind posters here might be able to help you with a first week's meal plan?

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