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Monthly meal planning - where do I start!?(11 Posts)
Family finances are tight at the moment so from May we're changing up how we shop and eat. Aiming to eat a lot healthier and save money as we waste loads on ad hoc shops most days. We're two adults (I'm veggie) and a toddler. But I batch cook our daughter's food seperately (she's incredibly fussy but we're trying to work on it) so don't really need to worry about that for now.
Anyway - where do I start with meal planning? Does anybody do this and have any top tips? Do I aim for a meal a day? It's only a few days until May, when I'll be doing an online food order (we're putting aside a weekly budget for fresh food) so I need to get it sorted!
Why not plan weekly? Monthly sounds a bit complex. We've got out of the habit a bit now kids have school dinners, (we're abroad where it's school dinners or come home for dinner) but we used to religiously meal plan every week.
We'd plan lunch and tea for each day, usually a couple of dishes that could be eaten twice and make sure we had breakfast things and snacks accounted for, then use that to do the weekly shop.
So maybe we'd make a double batch of spag bol to eat on Mon and Wed and on Tuesday make a double batch of veggie curry to eat Tuesday and Thursday and then for instance lentil stew on friday to eat Friday and Sunday and Saturday make a one off, like chicken and chips.
The other meal (for us it was tea) would be something light like soup or fruit for the adults and then I'd have various quick things in for the kids: fish fingers and veg, construct your own pizza, giant sandwiches with hummus and dips.
Write a big list of all the things you eat. I tended to split mine into
And then just slot meals into the categories and rotate. We usually went out or had a take away one weekend night and the other would be something a bit different to the norm. If I made curry, is make several batches, bung it in the freezer and then you have dinners on your rice nights sorted etc.
We do a monthly big online shop with Ocado and bulk buy heavy things like big bottles of oil, rice, meat and freezable stuff. I like the convenience of Ocado - can have heavier stuff delivered, we have a free smart pass so free delivery and often have offers for our shop - last shop was £15 off a £60 shop for example.
I then do a small weekly shop at Lidl each Monday to buy fresh fruit, veg , juice etc. We use what we have in the freezer to plan our food for the week each Sunday night.
I have a meal planner on our fridge with meals for the week and a list of what's left in the freezer.
Even though we are using Ocado which I'd thought of as expensive our food expenses are now cheaper (although our main aim was to be more organised!) and we are eating healthier options and more varied foods.
I plan weekly; monthly would be a bit much for me to get my head around. I write down on a meal planner what we’ll eat each day; that’s flexible in case we don’t fancy something we can have something for the other day but I try to take into account that on a Friday we’re often too tired to cook and on some days we go to the gym so need something simpler.
By doing that I can plan what to buy each week and we rarely waste food and cuts down on random shop visits
think of the meals you like.and then get the bits you need for each aswell as a few tinned extras fro the days you just want and chuck it in a dish.usually things like 4 tinneed packs of toms are cheap so make sure you look what tings are costing and whether its better to get multpiack.
when ordering online make sure you turn the price to low to high so you can look for the cheaper versions.
we usually have a freezzer tea/easy/tea. so like fish fingers,poached eggs or a jacket.
pizza or fish cakes.
mince will be cooked and eat twice.so once spag boll then added to chilli or enchillads or nachos.
make larger lasange,pasta bakes fish pie so it can be eaten twice.
bag of cooking pototas.
onions are always cheaper in larger bags.
there is always snack foods on offer so get them over the things you might go in for.
My plan for this is to sit down and write out all meals that I like and then keep that list handy and each week I will just choose seven from the list and that's my weekly meal plan. I also found looking on YouTube was helpful as you can see what others make and they have recipe ideas.
If you want to do it monthly or 4 weekly I would suggest 2 pasta based meals a week, 2 potato based meals, 2 rice based meals and 1 grain based (eg. Bread, quinoa). Then create a chart 7 across, 4 down, thinking of several of each type of meals. E.g., on Monday we have pasta - first Monday = spaghetti bol, second tagliatelle, third pasta and pesto, fourth lasagna. Even if you don't keep to it at least you can swap them. I always buy 5 veg, 5 fruit and 5 salad a week then add what feels right to each meal.
These are all excellent ideas! Monthly for bulk base shop and then weekly for individual meal plan sounds like a much better idea. Am going to sit down and go though these tips and write down a proper plan! Here's to saving some money and eating more veg!
I used to do this when the children were younger.
I'd write a vague plan like (i know you're veggie but just an example):
Monday - pasta
Tuesday - sausages
Wednesday - mince
Then plan each week in detail so for the mince day it could be chili, spag bol, Turkey mince and mushroom pie etc. Sausage day could be toad in the hole, sausage and mash, sausage rolls, hot dogs etc. These meals i would often cook in bulk so that the meal for next month was already in the freezer.
I would then write a shopping list for the month and buy as much as possible in one go.
I then would shop for the perishables each week.
I would then review the plan every 3 or four months to keep in with the season so we weren't eating things like stew in July
I agree planning by main ingredient works well for us e.g. egg, pasta, potato etc.
Alternatively I find planning by cuisine can also be helpful e.g. curry, Italian, Mexican, Thai, British. Whatever helps you get a mixed balance of meals.
I find having a master list of absolutely all the meals our family like (plus any I've seen and fancy trying) is really helpful to have as a reference if I'm lacking inspiration whilst planning.
I try to cook one "new" meal a week to mix things up, but I like cooking and am out of the trenches of v young kids.
Using the freezer is really helpful and I think it fits in well with meal planning. Rather than having something lingering uselessly in the freezer for months it's helpful to know exactly when and how I plan on using up that portion of curry etc.
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