• Sian O'Dell

16 Tips & tricks when meal planning

What is meal planning? Why should I do it? How is this going to help me?

Clue is in the name, planning meals, meal planning can be so so beneficial for everyone whether you’re busy, dieting or even need a bit of food inspiration.  I know… It sounds like a farse, taking up unnecessary time and effort but the beauty about it is, is that it can work!

Reasons why you might consider meal planning…

- Budgeting food

- Eating healthier

- Breaking out of bad food habits

- Planning for those busy days when you’re on the go

- Making the most out of food you have in

- Trying new foods/meals

- Experimenting with cooking styles

- Planning family meals – that will work for everyone

Okay… What do I need to start doing?

Some of the things the list you may already be doing which is great, so keep up the good work! Is there anything else you think might help you?

1.Writing a weekly list of meals throughout the week

In your diary or scrap piece of paper jot down your lunches/dinners for the week so Mon-Sun what are you going to be eating each day. Take into consideration who you’ll be eating with too, to make sure they will enjoy the same food as you.

2. Shopping lists catered to the list

Once you’ve done your weekly meal plan list you need to write a shopping list, take into account what you have in already and other meals like breakfasts and snacks etc. Leftovers

Cooked leftovers are great. Perfect for next day meals just pop them in the fridge once cooled and reheat the next day for a quick and easy meal.

3. Recipe searching

The was my favourite part, doing your research on foods and flavours you enjoy can be an eye-opening experience of recipes you’ve never heard of and combinations you never thought of trying.

4. Saving recipes for next time

If you tried a new recipe or adapted an old one slightly which made it better make a note of it somewhere!

5. A variety of foods and nutrients

Making meals with variety of nutrients is beneficial especially when you used lots of veggies! The colours combined look awesome and add a tonne of flavour and can have many health benefits.

6. Freezing

Cooking in bulk and freezing is easy-peasy and handy too! If you make a mince and tomato sauce not only can you defrost and add to pasta for spaghetti bolognese you can add spices and extra ingredients to make chilli con carne or for lasagna the options are endless.

7. Slow cooker meals

Probably the best inventions ever made, slow cookers are ridiculously handy if you know you’re going to be busy the next day you can prep your meal the night before or morning before, leave it to cook throughout the day and when your home tea is ready to go all you need it is a plate and fork.

8. Busy day and lazy days

They happen, learn to accept it.  The good from it, is that you can control it, prepping in advance is key for busy days.  Although we don’t exactly plan our lazy days it good to have a plan of action just in case you’re not feeling it. Personally I’ve found having a plan prevents me from getting off the band wagon, because it’s there, you’ve made it and you’re organised. Organisation is the key!

9. Don’t clutter the fridge

Not only is it an absolute NIGHTMARE to find anything, this is how food waste happens. You should be able to see everything in the fridge without moving things, all your fresh products are more likely to be used if you can see them and you won’t forget that it’s there! There’s nothing worse than going through the fridge and finding gone off food. Keep your fridge clean and tidy.

10. Buy fresh little and often

Similar to the last one, nothing worse than buying in lots of fresh fruit and veggies and not using them all up before they start going off. Buying in fresh produce 1-2 times a week will stop all the goodness going, (bare in mind some nutrients like vitamin C decrease as time goes).

11. Pantry and dry foods keep well stocked up

Pasta, rice, flour, tins, herbs and spices. The list goes on, I am a culprit of this one I have 1 cupboard in the kitchen, it’s the biggest cupboard and I still don’t have enough room… Pantry foods are easily kept, keeping a well kept pantry is a saviour.

12.Think about the reasons you want to meal plan – cost, health, get out of bad habits, organisation

Keep this as your motivation to stay on track, without planning you’re more likely to cheat or go to the comfort foods or eat the easy convenient foods (likely to be high in fat, salt, sugar). Stay motivated, why are you doing this?

13. Work around your routine

Work – kids – football training – swimming lessons – gym. You’ve got a busy schedule and this is where things get tricky, if you know on Thursday you have to go from work to school to dance class then yoga consider that you’re going to be knackered when you get home… This doesn’t mean indulge! Prepare in advance, leftovers from Wednesday, could you prepare something the night before/morning?

14. Themed food nights

Get fancy, inspired and flavoursome. Nando’s night, Chinese, Indian, Italian nights, all cooked from scratch at home, your stomach and your bank will thank you later.

15. Experimenting with cooking and food

Whether you’re experienced with cooking and prepping food, the more you do it the better it becomes, learn from your mistakes because practice makes perfect.

16. Stock up on Tupperware

Plastic storage are a saviour! Cooking in bulk, leftovers, packed lunches, on the go snacks, you name it they come in handy for many many things!

Take home message

- Be inspired by the food around you

- Ask others for inspiration

- Stay motivated – what’s your goal…

- Be organised and you will succeed

- Stock up on pantry items and buy fresh little and often

- Failure to prepare is preparing to fail

What do you do to meal plan?

Did you find any of these tips useful?

Comment share to somebody who needs to read this!

Sian x

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