I am a meticulous planner of everything but I never really mastered meal planning until this year and it has truly changed my life – making the subject of ‘food’ and ‘eating’ so much easier in our house, especially now that I also have to think of all Francie’s meals.
Here are a few tips on how to make meal planning much easier and truly make your life less stressful:
Online shopping! Online shopping for groceries has made my life so much easier. Firstly, I don’t spend an entire morning doing groceries with a babe, lugging a pram, a trolley etc. and can rather spend a free morning doing something fun. Secondly, I buy exactly what I need instead of random aisle shopping and hence save a lot of money. The delivery happens at a time that is convenient for me.
*Tip: If you use Woolworths online shopping always reserve a time slot at the beginning of your shop to ensure your delivery arrives exactly when it suits you.
*Tip: Create your “master list” of your grocery basics like bread, yogurt and milk – your weekly items that, without fail, you buy each week.
Commit to a time for meal planning. Unless you prioritize meal planning at a specific time, it won’t happen. Every Sunday night, after dinner while my husband watches Cart Blanche I meal plan for the week.
Take your time. A follow on from the above tip but take your time when planning. Check your kitchen cupboards for ingredients you already have and cross reference what you need, for example if you are using celery in a stir-fry then allocate the extra to your babe’s snack. Do not try and hurry your planning and do it in 5 minutes, after bath and before MasterChef starts, it won’t work – trust me.
Look at your overall routine and plans. Don’t think just because you are now meal planning your entire routine will change, plan around your current routine. For example Saturday nights are take-aways in my house – my husband is responsible for them and that’s that. Instead of now planning a meal for Saturday night, I skip Saturday night as we already have plans. Also look at how you like to eat as a family over weekends – for example if your husband braais on the weekend factor that in. We always go for a coffee and breakfast before swimming so I don’t plan a meal for that morning.
Basically for any meal planning ask yourself these questions:
- How many meals are you planning for?
- What do you have time for? (No point planning a slow roast when realistically you want dinner made in 20min)
- What is your food mood?
- What is your budget?
Separate your planning and shopping list. I like to plan my week and then create my shopping list, it keeps one focused on each day’s meals before checking how much pasta you have in the cupboard.
A sneaky saviour dish. This is for when the wheels come off and although you planned perfectly, life is unpredictable. I always have a delicious frozen lasagne in the freezer for disastrous days and it really is a rescue dish. I also always have a frozen ‘stove top’ dish for example a pasta sauce or something like that for when there is load shedding, so then we can use our gas and still have a delicious dinner.
Try something new. I have found that planning my meals out properly has given me a better opportunity to try out new dishes. But my golden rule is to any try a new dish once a week otherwise it can be overwhelming (and exhausting night after night).
Do you have any other tips? Please share them with us, we’d love to hear.