How to Create the Perfect Meal Plan

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I post our meal plan every week.  It might not be the most interesting of blog post but it’s consistent.  I have comments left on these posts asking for recipes, tips or just saying how yummy a particular meal or our menu sounds for the week and that I’ve inspired them to try something new.  I thought I’d share why I plan our food and the tips I’ve found useful in how to create the perfect meal plan.

Why Create a Meal Plan?

Meal planning is useful for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, it can save you a lot of money.  Did you know 7 million tonnes of food is thrown away every year from home, costing the country £12.5 billion to deal with*.  Each household could save approximately £700 just by throwing away less food.  It’s possible to save even more money by opting for meals that include food items that are reduced in price at the supermarket or buying items in bulk.  By creating a meal plan, it allows you to write a shopping list of things you need to fulfil the menu.  Stick to the list as you shop – or if you can’t trust yourself, do your shop online – and you’ll be amazed at how much you can save.

Another reason to meal plan is that it can help you to follow a particular lifestyle that you choose.  If you are looking to eat a healthy and balanced diet, for example, creating a meal plan can help you to stay on track and follow through with your goal.  There are always days where you lack motivation and inspiration, so having a plan for the week ahead is a great start – even if you swap days around, you ultimately achieve your goal.

tackling childhood obesity

So, how do you get there…  How do you create the perfect meal plan?

Carry Out a Stock Take

What it says on the tin.  Get into your kitchen and empty your cupboards.  Re-arrange your tinned and store-cupboard products so that the items with the shortest Best Before End dates are at the front.  Check your freezer for portions of frozen raw meat still to be used and leftovers.  If you think you need to go shopping, I can almost guarantee that you will be able to make a handful of meals with what you have lurking in the depths of your kitchen without knowing it’s there.

Batch Cook

Generally, it works out cheaper to buy in bulk.  For example, a 250g pack of minced beef may sit at £5.00/kg, and a 750g pack of minced beef may sit at £4.20/kg.  It will cost more to buy the 750g pack, but it will go further and be cheaper in the long run.  Making double, or more, the number of required portions is an easy way to save money and time.  All you have to do is remember to take the leftovers out of the freezer either the evening before or at breakfast time.

Roasted Red Pepper, Chickpea and Feta Pilaf - Recipe

Check your Diary

Always plan your week alongside your existing commitments.  It’s not good planning a week worth of homemade delights that will take hours to prepare and cook if you’re working late all week and have evening plans too.  Choose your meals to fit around your life – you don’t want to be tied to the kitchen on a busy day or have to turn to a takeaway or fast food restaurant!  On long days at work, utilise a slow cooker for a stew or a wok for a super-quick stir fry.  In your free time, look for a new recipe to try to keep your meal plan from becoming stale and uninspiring.  You must want to cook the meals you’ve chosen.

And there you have it.  My top tips on how to create the perfect meal plan.  Would you add anything to this list?  Are you a regular meal planner?  What have been the benefits you have seen?

*Source – http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/

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