This is a guest post from the amazing slow cooker Queen, Jo of SimplyBeingMum. Jo and I have been blog friends from the first few posts of this blog. She is an inspiration in so many ways: self employed, meal planning and slow cooker guru, a fan of minimalism while still having a weak spot for sentimental stuff (we all have our Kryptonite – mine is kitchen gadgets and serving platters) and mother of two young children. I pleaded with her for some meal planning help and she answered. Here it is:
The Simple Guide to Meal Planning by simplybeingmum
Photo credit: WhitneyinChicago
Meal Planning can seem a daunting task, and yet by following this simple guide, I guarantee you will save time, money and effort, and ultimately reduce waste.
By Meal Planning you will:
- Save Time – No more wandering round the store with no direction, or wondering what to cook for dinner that night. No emergency trips to the store for ingredients you don’t have, or ad hoc dinners out due to lack of supplies.
- Save Money – By only buying what you plan to eat and resisting impulse purchases, you will save money. There is no doubt. You also reduce costs by not throwing away unused foodstuffs.
- Save Effort – Being disorganised requires more effort than being organised (in the long-run), you know what you are eating and when, you can prep in advance and it requires less decision-making on a daily basis.
- Reduce Waste – It is estimated that in the UK 8.3m tonnes of food each year gets thrown away by households. This equates to almost £700 a year of food waste for an average family. By reducing this waste in real terms the CO2 impact would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars the road. (* source www.lovefoodhatewaste.com)
Six Simple Steps to Meal Planning
- The first step has nothing to do with food. Set aside 30 minutes with the family to establish everyone’s diary for the forthcoming week. I do this on a Thursday evening. I know who needs lunches and dinners and whether we are eating out at all.
- Write out a daily meal plan based on everyone’s diary, I plan Saturday-Saturday as I receive my groceries Saturday morning. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks are planned for. The first couple of times you do this it may be time-consuming, but as you start to replicate meals it gets easier. To reduce time and effort further you could draw up a monthly menu, and rotate 4 weeks worth of meals.
- Throughout the week note down anything that needs replenishing as you use it up. This will be add-on items, such as herbs, oils and household items.
- Only plan for 6 days worth of meals! Seriously this works. Regardless of how good a planner you are, things happen, and you may need to use food up the day before your new batch of groceries. This also gives you an opportunity to get you culinary creative thinking cap on. If you do clear all food ‘treat’ yourself to a take away or a dinner out – you deserve it!
- Before you do your meal plan/grocery shop for the next week (online or otherwise) empty your food/perishables cupboard and do an inventory. Get into a routine. Strip it down and clean it, look to use things up or freeze, note down what you already have and base a meal around those items if they will still be edible. As you only keep a week’s worth of food in at any one time, waste should reduce, you will need less storage and cleaning will be simpler.
- Never shop without a list (based on your planned meals) or when you are hungry. I do my grocery shop online, as this eradicates any impulse purchases and also means I do not have to step foot physically in a supermarket (I’d rather be doing something else). If you don’t shop online, the principle is the same, do not deviate from the list regardless of what is on offer, or what new delights they have in store. Do not go into the clothing, toy, magazine section unless you want to add approx.20% to your food bill.
Jo at simplybeingmum blogs about ‘family life simply done’ including her No Waste Tastes Great Challenge on a Friday and her Simple Meal Plan each Saturday.
Thank you, Jo! I’m inspired and this will be a good kick in the pants for my debt busting March.
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