Tips for successful meal planning please!!(8 Posts)
I've tried countless times to meal plan but I never manage to do it for more than a few weeks - I just find it so hard to think on Monday what I want to eat on Friday! And it also seems to take me HOURS to plan everything, choose recipes, do the shopping, and I don't have hours. I just find it so flipping boring - but I know it'd make our lives easier if I could manage it, and that we'd save money. I'm equally tired of looking in the fridge and having to rustle up totally random meals because I haven't thought enough about what we are going to eat.
We are a family of 5 (kids 9, 7 and 1) and pretty good eaters though kids bit fussy about veggies. I work part time so need a few meals a week that I can bung on the table from freezer - things that we can ALL eat - and then am happy to do some more cooking for the other four or so days a week. Any suggestions on how to get this meal planning lark nailed??
Make a list of what passes for everyone for say 1 week, don't allocate a day, some days you've no time as your out and need to throw it together not plate a master piece.
Buy for these things then you can plan the day before.
Plan things that on your off days you can double up for something later in the week. I think things like
bolognaise, make extra to freeze for pasta bake.
Roast chicken, a large one could do dinner with veg then mix the striped meat with savoury rice & sauce.
A quick meal of roast veg with chicken thighs on top.
Fish & chips from the freezer.
Does this make sense?
Google economy gastronomy, it was a BBC programme that helped with planning & savings.
I take into account what evenings I'm working a bit later, what evenings dd has a late finishing club, if dh will be home or working away, if dd has any friends round etc. Then I look into the freezer, fridge and cupboards and try to think of a few meals based around what I already have in.
I ask dh and dd if there's anything they particularly fancy then think about what I want and what we've recently eaten. That all sounds like it takes ages but doesn't really, about 10 mins.
This week we've had:
M - vegetable omelette with mixed salad
T - lemon sole goujons with fried gnocchi and a salad
W - quorn chicken curry with rice
T - vegetable chilli with rice
F - chicken salad kebab and wedges
S - steak and salad
S - lamb with some vegetables and fennel roasted potatoes
Thanks both, that's very helpful. Think you're right annielostit about not getting too caught up in allocating days! That's one of the things that seems impossible to work out, what we'll eat when. Perhaps if I just concentrate on having a rough idea of 7 meals and then take it from there ... without spending HOURS doing it - fieldfare am impressed you manage it in 10 minutes!
We have a list of all our favourites to jog our memory when writing the plan for the week.
You start off by working out if there is anything you need to use up from the week before.
And yes, we mostly don't allocate days, with a few exceptions such as trying to eat fish on the day you buy it.
This is what I do (anal menu planner!)
Look in the diary- what events mean a quick meal is required, what days coukd I spend a bit more time cooking
Review contents of freezer/cupboards- can any meals be made from them? Leftovers or product of batch cooking are allocated to the busy days (see above)
Look at what's coming in my veg box this week (I apreciate this may not apply to all!). Check kids school menus to ensure no clashes (eg sausages for lunch and tea!)
Look in recipe books, magazines etc for recipe inspiration
Jot down on family diary (aka mission control) what's on the menu each day
Make list of required ingredients (ie anything not already in cupboards)
THIS IS THE VITAL BIT
DO NOT GO TO THE SUPERMARKET
shop online, book the delivery for convenient time, choose from favourites for things that get consumed every week, eg juice, bread yogs etc etc then add things from list above
Honestly this takes one hour a week. I couldn't retain my sanity if I had to think every day about what's for dinner . And it stops the kids shining about what's for dinner- they can see on the diary!
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