I flipping love recipes books (can you tell from that image above? You can see less than half of my cookbooks in that). I spend a lot of my free time flicking through these books and food magazines for inspiration, and I try to cook at least one new meal per week. Whilst I still live with my parents, I am responsible for the food shopping and cooking in this house and therefore I meal plan. And I’ve got pretty good at it!
When I moved in with Jack last year, I used Anna’s tips for meal planning which is a fab starting point (she’s also got a video all around meal planning and an updated post – she’s queen of meal planning to me). Now, I’ve devised my own way of meal planning and I use the same method!
Put Together A Recipe Collection
So I did say that I have a lot of cookbooks and you don’t need anywhere near the number that I have. However, I think it’s important to have a collection of recipes, both tried and tested, and ones you want to try. If you don’t have inspiration, you may end up either getting bored or being lazy with your cooking.
This can be by collecting supermarket magazines (Tesco put out a free magazine each month which I always pick up, and it’s full of recipes) or the cards they give out, picking up a few second hand recipe books from charity shops, or by pinning recipes on Pinterest. I’m also a big fan of the BBC Food site as you can search by ingredient.
Plan Your Meals
Each week, I work out what is still in the fridge/freezer/cupboard and write this on the back on my shopping list. I use the That Lame Company Meal Planner Notepad which is ace for this as it is blank on the back (I got mine in the Spring Box of Lame but it is sold separately). I then pick out recipes that use the ingredients that I aready have in the house. If I have a lot of pasta, I go for pasta based meals. If I have a ton of veg to use, ratatouille is always an easy side or main. You’ve got to get creative if you want to save money!
Write down who is in and out on each day of the week, how long you’ll have each evening to cook (don’t be over ambitious) and then get to planning. I tend to plan for Monday-Friday as we quite often pop to M&S at the weekend to pick up enough bits to get us by.
I tend not to plan lunches as my mum does her own thing, my dad has the same thing every day so I don’t have to think about it, and I just have leftovers from the night before. This is another great tip for saving money – make an extra portion or two and save it for the next day!
Write Your Shopping List & Get Your Food
The front of the TLC Shopping List has space for meals at the top, then large sections underneath for the produce you need to buy. I love this list! Don’t forget breakfast, lunch and snacks either. Something that did take me a long time to get used to was not buying too much fruit a veg. It’s only going to be suitable for eating for so long, so don’t over do it!
When you go to the supermarket (or do your online shop), try to stick to the plan as best you can. There’s no point in planning to save money then ruining your goals by getting too swept up in the offers!
Know About Storage Conditions
There’s nothing more frustrating that spending a ton on groceries and then them going off before you get chance to use them. I try to use all my fresh veggies just after my food shop, and my frozen ones or more hardy ones like carrots nearer the end of the week. I buy a lot of meat fresh, and then freeze it as I find pre-frozen meat has a lot of added water. There are lots of tips when it comes to storing food; you just have to google it! This will also hugely reduce your shopping bill, and you won’t be binning anywhere near as much food.
My Biggest Tip
So my number one tip around creating a successful meal plan each week is to take time to do it!
If you want some more tips then my favourite other posts about how people meal plan are listed below:
- 15 Tips For Better Meal Planning from The Kitchn
- How To Build a Recipe Bank from Little Coffee Fox
- How To Meal Plan from Frugal Family
- Meal Planning Basics from Wellness Mama
Meal planning saves you money, time, and often calories in the long run. Whilst I’m an advocate for eating what you want, I know that a lot of people are trying to get bikini body ready for the summer (I know I am now that Easter is over) and meal planning can definitely help you be a little more strict with your food choices. It’s worth taking a 30 minutes a week to do it! Embrace the meal plan revolution.