Meal Planning

How many times have you gone to the shop, thought about what you want to cook for dinner, and then bought the ingredients only to find half of them at home already?

Planning of meals is one of the most effective ways you can reduce food waste and save on your food bills. It takes a little bit of time to organise but makes life a whole lot easier both when shopping, because you have your shopping list, but also at home because you know what you will be cooking.

While planning out every single meal before you go shopping may not be for you, wandering the aisles of a supermarket without at least some idea of what you plan to do with your purchases will result in overspending and food being wasted every time.

There are 2 main ways to plan:

Check your cupboard, then make a plan…Before you step outside the door you should know what you already have and plan around this. There are a lot of really handy websites, apps and blogs that you can use to come up with ideas for different recipes based on what you have at home. Below are a few for you to check out:

Try the Store Cupboard Challenge – go through your cupboard and plan a few meals around what you already have.

Use meal plans, then check the cupboard…

If you plan the meals you are going to cook, and have your recipes for these organised, then life is going to be a whole lot easier. For many people this might seem like an organisational step too far, but there are meal plans aplenty available. Many also provide you with a shopping list. These are an excellent way to add variety to your family menu and help with weekly food budgeting. Download the following meal plans for inspiration:

Sheila Kiely’s Meal Planner

Sian’s-Back to School Meal Plan

Here are a few tips worth remembering:

Your Recipe lists: Apparently, most households have around 21 meals that they typically eat during the year. Draw up a list of your main meals and then make a shopping list for each. Build your store cupboard essentials around these and also try to incorporate some new recipes around these main meals.

Leftovers: If you are making a weekly meal plan, don’t plan on cooking every night. Plans change, leftovers are there to be eaten and your well stocked cupboard should tide you over if you happen to get caught out.

Team effort: If you have kids, get them to help making the plan and suggest what meals they’d like to have that week (imagine, sometimes they don’t like what we like!). Then, at the shop, they can help ticking things off the list which will keep them distracted…for a time anyway!