When you’re looking at cutting costs and saving money you should definitely try meal planning.
The amount of time and money this has saved me over the years is unreal! It keeps waste to a minimal and you can make sure your family is eating a good mix of healthy foods all whilst on a budget.
Like most things when you start out, it can seem overwhelming at first, but I promise you, once you’re in the swing of things you wont look back!
Here are my top meal planning tips to get your meal planning off to a great start;
1) Get your cupboards organised
I organised my cupboards so the same items are together – soups, tinned veg, rice etc. It just makes it easier to see what you have instead of having everything flung in. I also use plastic trays to make it easier to pull things out (definitely worth doing for packets and spices).
I did the same for my freezer. I have three drawers; bottom is meat/meat free/fish or main meal items, middle is frozen veg and the top is leftovers, bread, lollies and anything miscellaneous.
2) Write a list of everything you have
Go through all cupboards and the freezer and write down everything including the best before date. Anything that needs to be used up first highlight.
3) Make a list of your favourite meals
With your family sit down and make a list of all your favourite meals. Include everyone and it will make everyone feel like they are all getting something they like and it’ll save tears at mealtimes. If the children won’t eat what you want to eat, try and swap out the main component so you all get what you like but keep the same trimmings.
I did this when my daughter ate meat and I didn’t. We both had the same veg and potatoes but she would have chicken and I had quorn.
4) Choose 5 meals from the list that you love to eat
I think this is one of the key things that keep the costs down and minimises waste – we only eat what we love, and we don’t have seven different meals a week. For example, the picture below shows a typical week of meals for my daughter and I;
You can see from our meal planner that we work around the same main meals each week. At the moment it’s sausages, quorn fillets and pizza which we then put with various veg, salad and chips.
And every few weeks/months or whenever we are bored, we change it up but still keep to 3/4 meals each week and just repeat them. I know this won’t work for everyone but for us we are eating our favourite meals every night, there are no tears at dinner time from my daughter refusing to eat her meals and there’s no waste …
That’s win, win win if you ask me!
Even if you wanted a different meal each night, by meal planning you will still save money and reduce your waste.
5) Plan your meals around the food that needs using up
Each week check your food list and plan your meals around the food is going to go out of date to make sure it’s not wasted.
I think that’s why we eat so many salads – I love salad and so does my daughter but if I buy it I want to make sure I don’t end up with any waste. Like salad, other key items that will need to be used up are fresh veg and bread. Remember to still check longer shelf life products too.
6) Meal Planning Time
On the shopping day, grab your meal planner and your favourite list of foods and decide what day you want each meal. Check the fridge freezer and cupboards to make sure you have those items in whilst at the same time checking items that are going out of date. I try and use salad at the start of the week and frozen veg at the end, making sure we are eat the fresh items first.
Use the Meal Planner Shopping List to write items down you need to buy but remember to check that there isn’t a substitute item you already have that you could use up before buying.
7) Use My FREE Meal Planner
It won’t be long before you will see your food bills cutting down each week.
Meal planning for me;
- Saves me money
- Less waste
- Less stress in deciding what I want to eat
- Ensures my family eats healthy meals
How has it helped you? Let me know in the comments below