Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Meal Planning

What's for dinner? Do you find yourself running into that question everyday? Wondering what you can come up with on the spot or quickly going to the supermarket at 5pm? Believe me, I've been there. Not only that, but I have tried many menu planning techniques over the years. But I've finally found a routine that works for our family. But first it's important to realise why we would go to the effort of sitting and planning our meals.

Why Plan Your Menu?

Saves Money
When you go to your favourite supermarket with a list already planned out, it kerbs expensive spontaneous buys.

Saves Time
Instead of visiting the store many times a week, you go only once or twice during the week. Just think of all that time that you would save and could spend doing something much more enjoyable.

Because you will have already taken into account your plans for the week, you will minimise the amount of leftovers you will have.

So, as I mentioned earlier, I have finally come to a method that works well for our family.

So What's The Process?

1. Check Current Food Stock

Before you go ahead and plan the meals you are going to have for the week, stop and check your fridge and cupboards for food that you could incorporate. This is especially true of fresh food or things coming to the end of it's expiry date. 

Tip: If you run out of time, take a photo of what's in your fridge and nosy at it while your shopping.

2. Collect Recipes

I have a list of the meals printed out that our family enjoy the most and select most meals from there. 

Then on the days I have more time, I take a look in my favourite cookbooks, my current favourite being the Family Kitchen Cookbook because the recipes are simple and the food to die for. I also have a list of websites that I look to for more inspiration including Good Housekeeping and BBC Goodfood. If your the technical sort I love the Allrecipes and LoveFoodHateWaste apps which are available both on iPhones and Android phones. You can search for recipes based on the food leftover in your house. Great for preventing waste!

3. Plan

I use an hour on a Sunday to plan the meals for the week. Grab your schedule for the week and plan based on what is happening each evening. If we know we have a busy night, we generally choose pasta based meals that are quick and easy. But if we are having a night in, I might plan a casserole or cook a new recipe. Just make sure that your meal plan fits in with your lifestyle and plans for the week.

Tip: Only plan 5 meals I have not yet cooked seven full meals in a week.  Use one night of the week as 'freezer night' - use up any meals that you may have frozen or perhaps double up the ingredients of one the weeks recipes and have a night free from cooking. Who can ask for more!

4. Make a Shopping List

There are so many apps out there for creating menus and shopping lists. But I have to say, I am most definitely more a pen and paper girl. So here is the meal planning tool that I use.
So there it is, the Humphreys family meal planning process. What works for you? Do you have any tips for improving the process? 

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