Whether you’re cooking for one, two or even more, figuring out what to have for your meals from week to week can be a difficult task. This is where meal planning comes in handy. Planning ahead and getting organised when it comes to meal times will save you lots of time, energy, money, potentially help you stay healthier by avoiding those takeaways AND minimise food waste.
The problem with meal planning is that many people don’t even know where to begin. To help you get started and inspire a few ideas we’ve put together a few meal planning tips that will hopefully make your life that little bit easier!
1. Get excited about cooking
Make a list of your favourite meals and start researching new recipes to supplement your old favourites. Pinterest is great for finding new and exciting recipes that you might not have ever tried before. Just looking at the photos of the meals and trying out new methods of cooking is bound to inspire you with meal planning ideas and get you excited about cooking. This will make the prospect of meal planning all the more manageable!
2. Make a Budget
Next up is to make a list of ingredients garnered from your recipe compilation along with prices which you can total off to see if it’s within your budget. Having this list ready to bring with you on your next shop will help to stave off impulse buys, detours to the local takeaway and keep you within your budget from week to week.
3. Put together a meal planning calendar
You have the ingredients now it’s time to start planning when you’re going to make the meals. Ask yourself what leftovers can be eaten for the next couple of day’s lunches and what can be frozen for future use. Sorting out all these details that you might have overlooked before you started meal planning will help you avoid discovering that forgotten bag of off potatoes or the out of date remains of a loaf of bread.
4. Cook components of meals
Preparing and freezing components of meals for future use is a great way of saving time when it comes to cooking meals. This could be preparing tomato sauces for use in pasta and lasagna dishes or having pre-chopped veg and herbs ready to be thrown into a dish.
5. Keep an eye on supermarket sales
Many find that they make savings by planning their meals each week around what’s on sale in the supermarkets. It can be worth keeping an eye on what’s on sale and if it’s a cheaper alternative to what you would usually buy then why not avail of the offer? However, it is dependent on your tastes, you or your family might not necessarily like what’s on offer one week or you might find the savings aren’t worth compromising on brands you rely on and trust.