If you haven’t already heard, meal planning is big news right now. You’ve probably seen or heard meal planning being talked about in various places. Whether you’re trying to save money, shave inches off your waist, or even both, using a weekly meal planner is one of the best ways to make a quick start.
I’ve been meal planning for a few years now, and if I’m entirely honest the idea of stepping foot in a supermarket without a plan feels like total craziness to me, despite spending years doing just that.
No plan usually means totally blowing the budget and filling the trolley with junk. It almost always means going back more than once for forgotten items, and we all know that a midweek supermarket stop off never ends with just one item.
A lot of people I speak to think meal planning isn’t something they can do. They don’t have time, they wouldn’t know where to start, they find it hard to plan ahead, and lots of other reasons. I had all those same thoughts, too.
The reality, though, is that taking the time to jot down 7 meal ideas for the week means that I only spend about 20 minutes at the weekend actually doing the food shop. It leaves me more time during the week because I’m not panicking about what to cook because it’s already planned. Having it planned means that I know when I need to start cooking, or if I can prepare anything ahead of time. It means I know to put the slow cooker on if we’re going to be out all day.
Some people worry that meal planning is too rigid and takes the fun out of meal times. But It doesn’t have to be a rigid, definitive plan; once you’ve planned and done your shop, you will have all the ingredients in for 7-21 meals. If you choose to swap some of those meals around, then why not?!
Others think meal planning is only for people on a budget, or people trying to lose weight. To be honest with you, if losing a few pounds while saving time and money doesn’t appeal to you, then no, this probably isn’t for you. If it sounds like a dream, then stick with me, I’ve got you covered!
How will using a weekly meal planner help me?
If you’ve never tried to plan your meals in advance before, it can feel a bit strange. For your first week, try to stick with meals you know that everyone likes; it should make the planning stage a little easier, and you wont be put off mid week by turned up noses at your dinner offerings.
Once you have your meals, all you need is a list of the ingredients needed to make them all. Those ingredients, along with your weekly staples, is your shopping list. Weekly staples in our house include things like the kids’ breakfast cereal, lots of fruit and veggies (frozen because it’s just as good if not better), bread, a few snacks for the kids, yogurts, ham & bacon (because you never know when a bacon mood might strike!) Our average spend is £50-£60 per week.
Our food shop covers everything, including snacks, breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all 4 of us every day (Mr C usually takes last night’s dinner leftovers to work), packed lunches for Amelia at nursery, and a massive roast dinner every Sunday.
Everyone knows the golden rule; when it’s gone, it’s gone! I rarely stress about food, and I often find I have leftovers that I can throw in the freezer for an even easier (and cheaper) dinner one day. This week we only spent £30 on food, because we were away for 2 days at the weekend and I had 2 night’s worth of dinner leftovers in the freezer.
So, if you’re ready to give it a go, I have a free meal planner for you. You can print off as many copies as you like, and it’s ideal for planning out your week and writing your shopping list too.
If you’ve never meal planned before, I’d love to hear how you get on! Tweet me & let me know, or leave a comment at the bottom of the page.