Meal planning sounds boring, but it can save you a fortune, reduce food waste and help you be more frugal!
If you’re anything like me, you know that eating out or grabbing a takeaway can add up and leave a dent in your wallet. But what if I told you there was a way to enjoy delicious, home-cooked meals, stick to your budget, and save money?
It’s called meal planning and is a game-changer for budgeting and saving money. By taking some time each week to plan your meals, make a shopping list, and prep your ingredients, you can avoid last-minute trips to the grocery shop or ordering a takeaway.
When you plan, you can shop smarter, use ingredients before they go off, and avoid wasting food. Plus, you’ll be more likely to stick to your budget and have money left over at the end of the week for other things you enjoy.
So if you’re ready to save money and enjoy delicious meals at home, let’s dive into the world of meal planning and see how it can work for you!
What is meal planning?
Meal planning is the process of deciding what meals you will eat at a certain time, such as a week or a month, and then preparing those meals in advance. It involves choosing recipes, making a shopping list, and prepping ingredients ahead of time so that you can easily cook meals during the week.
Meal planning can help you save money by avoiding last-minute takeaways or food waste. By planning ahead, you can use ingredients before they go off and shop more efficiently, saving time. It can also help you make healthier choices by having more control over what you eat and avoiding processed or fast food.
Overall, meal planning is helpful for those who want to save money and time, and eat healthier meals.
How do I create a food plan?
You don t need to plan a week at a time to start, don’t put yourself under pressure. Start small, just plan a few days at a time a build up and build on that success.
Start out by writing down a list of meals your family eat regularly and family favourites.
Identify the complexity of each meal, what ingredients are required and the time required to cook. Cooking time is essential because you can plan meals around available time so you don’t feel under pressure.
Think about using slow cookers, pressure cooker, instapot or airfryer that offer different ways of cooking. For instance, popping everything in a slow cooker before you head off to work can give you the pleasure of walking in the evening to the beautiful aromas of food already cooked.
Pressure cookers allow you to cook food really fast and create amazing meals very quickly.
Also, identify the favourite takeaway you tend to eat and think about how you can replicate it at a fraction of the cost. This will save you money but still give you the pleasure of your favourite foods.
How do I plan a menu for a week?
Planning a menu for a week can seem daunting, but with a little bit of preparation, it’s quite simple. Here are some steps to help you get started with meal planning:
- Plan Meals: Take some time to think about what meals you want to eat for the week. You can use cookbooks, websites, or apps for recipe inspiration. Consider your personal preferences, dietary needs, and ingredients you already have on hand. Don’t forget to consider breakfast, lunch, snacks and evening meals. Think about your schedule for the week, which may give you more or less time to cook.
- Shopping List: Once you’ve decided on your meals, make a shopping list of the ingredients you need. Check your cupboards and fridge to see what you already have and what you need to buy. Ensure to include condiments and pantry items like herbs and spices that might be required.
- Prep Ingredients: Prep ingredients ahead of time. This could include washing and chopping vegetables, pre-cooking grains or proteins, or marinating meats or fish.
- Batch Cooking: Make extra for another day and freeze. This is like creating your own fast food, which you can defrost for a quick meal. Once a month, I batch cook and fill the freezer with simple menus.
- Stick to Plan: Stick to your plan and enjoy your prepared meals. If you have leftovers, save them for the next day’s lunch or dinner.
- Adjust where Needed: Don’t be afraid to adjust your meal plan as needed. If you have unexpected leftovers or need to switch up your meal due to changing plans, it’s okay to make adjustments.
By following these simple steps, you can plan a menu for a week and enjoy delicious, home-cooked meals while saving money and reducing food waste.
What are the benefits of meal planning?
The top benefits have to be saving time, money and reducing waste.
Making a shopping list enables you to be more efficient and helps you avoid buying unnecessary items, thus reducing food waste, saving you money.
When you have a meal plan, mealtime can be less stressful. You won’t have to worry about what to make for dinner or rush to the shops last minute because it’s all ready and waiting.
You’ll also have more control over what you eat, which can lead to healthier choices and a better relationship with food.
Why is meal planning so hard?
Meal planning can be challenging for a few reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that it can be time-consuming, especially when you’re just starting out. It requires some effort to decide what meals you want to eat for the week ahead of time.
Another reason is that it can be difficult to come up with new and interesting meals that you and your family will enjoy. It can also be hard to find the time and energy to cook after a long day at work or taking care of children.
If you’re finding meal planning to be challenging, try starting small. Plan for just a few meals at a time, and focus on easy-to-make recipes that you know you’ll enjoy. Gradually increase the number of meals you plan for, and don’t be afraid to repeat meals that you love, cook extra and use leftovers.
Remember, meal planning doesn’t have to be perfect, and it’s okay to make adjustments as needed. With a little bit of practice, you’ll find a system that works for you and your lifestyle.