How many times a week do you do takeaways?
Do you run out of ideas about what is for dinner during lunchtime?
Do you get frustrated when your family don’t eat the prepared meal?
Do you have time after work to prepare dinner?
I have been there, done with that and won’t want to go back to a stressful daily meal time.
I am an independent mum and work full-time. My days are busy in the office, so I don’t have time to think about lunch or dinner during the day. Unless, there is no food left in the fridge at home.
Meal planning is a great way to save time, money, and reduce stress to preparing meals for the family. This blog is an expansion of my other blog: tips for family budget.
Whether you are a busy professional, a stay-at-home parent, or somewhere in between, meal planning can help you stay organised, eat healthier, keep your kitchen clean on weekdays because you don’t turn on your stove and make the most of your grocery budget.
Here are some tips for successful meal planning:
1. Set aside time.
Schedule a specific time each week to plan your meals for the upcoming week. This could be a Sunday afternoon or any other day that works for you.
Mine is Sunday evening given that I have shopped all ingredients ahead of the preparation/cooking time.
2. Take inventory.
Before planning your meals, check what you have in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. This will help you avoid buying unnecessary items and save money.
You would be surprised by how many inventories you have at home.
I don’t collect spices jars. I have the usual spices I usually use, so when I finish, I refill it from Bulk Source shop.
3. Plan your meals.
Start by deciding what meals you want to make for the week. Consider your schedule, dietary restrictions, and preferences. Make a list of the meals you want to prepare, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
4. Create a shopping list based on your menu.
Once you have your meal plan, create a shopping list based on the ingredients you need for each meal. Stick to your list to avoid impulse purchases. Where possible, buy the ingredients in bulk and without the plastic tray because the weight of your meat is including the tray.
I have been utilising the monthly 10% discount from Woolworth card and gift voucher to stretch my money further. I do big mothly shopping while fresh veggies and fruits could be weekly as it is cheaper to buy seasonal vegetables and fruits.
My weak spot is snacks! You’d know what I mean by being Asian, there are so many old snacks that when you see them, it brings memory of your childhood so you must get it and there are so many new snacks that you heard about and want to try it. Can you see the circle of death of snacks?
5. Batch cook.
Consider batch-cooking meals that can be used for multiple meals throughout the week or freeze them so they can be used for any week. For example, you can cook a big pot of chilli or soup and use it for lunch and dinner throughout the week.
My favourite batch cook is bolognese sauce, lasagne, wonton and chicken nuggets.
6. Prep in advance.
Prep ingredients in advance, such as chopping vegetable s or cooking rice will save you time during the week when you are busy. Before owning a Thermomix, my go to is the slow cooker/crockpot. You can put all ingredients in before you go to work and the meal will be ready when you come home after work. This is great for any season, especially during winter.
I cook rice in the rice cooker for a couple of days as soon as I get home. It will be ready when I finish my shower. I only reheat meal as required so it doesn’t get contaminated with going through many reheats.
7. Mix it up.
Be adventurous to try new recipes and mix up your meal plan. This will keep things interesting and help you discover new favourite dishes or old memory dishes.
I have Thermomix therefore, cuisine that caught my eye would be an adventure for my eyes to try.
I found many recipes that remind me of my childhood. I keep cooking them because I miss the flavour.
By implementing these tips, meal planning can become an enjoyable and stress-free process. Not only will you save time and money, but you will also be able to eat healthier, more delicious meals, have spare time during the week after work to spend with your loved ones and less work on cleaning the kitchen because you only cook once.
So why not give meal planning a try and see how it can make your life easier and more enjoyable?
I hope you would try to implement it.
Happy meal planning!