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  • Writer's picturePaula

My approach to Meal Planning

Planning your meals for the week can save food, time, money & stress!


It’s hard to believe but globally 30% of all food produced, is wasted. The single biggest thing you can do to reduce your environmental footprint, is to reduce your food waste.


This is good news really, as food is something we have pretty good control over. By simply making sure that we don’t buy too much food, we can do our bit to combat climate change.


So, one of my main strategies for this is to do some basic meal planning. I only plan the main meal of the day. We keep breakfast sand lunches very simple, so they don’t need to be planned.


I try to do my meal planning on Sundays and when I do, my whole week goes more smoothly. I avoid the 3pm panic of “what’s for dinner” and the last minute dash to the local supermarket only to find they don’t have whatever it is I had in mind. Then it’s back to the drawing board on the spot and a bit of panic buying! The weeks that I don’t plan out our meals, I always regret it. I promise you, it’s worth the effort and will save you a lot of time and stress during the week, not to mention money!


Step 1 - Diary

I check the diary and my phone to see what’s on this week. If there’s a busy afternoon/evening then that’s the day to use something from the freezer. I just need to remember to defrost it the night before, so a reminder goes in the diary for that.


Step 2 - Inspiration

I use a number of sources of inspiration for my meal plan:

1) Fridge (I always start with what I already have in the house)

2) Freezer (1 meal per week (at least) is from the freezer – a night off for me!)

3) Previous meal plans (reusing an old one is an instant solution)

4) Cookery Books (my current favourite is Milk Street)

5) Plan to Eat App (where I store recipes I have found online)

6) Recipe Binder (ancient folder where I keep print outs of my all-time favourite recipes/course notes, recipes from magazines, previous meal plans, etc.)

7) Family suggestions (be careful here as they may ask for something you hate making – for me that’s lasagna!)


I try to do a mix of chicken, fish, vegetarian and maybe 1 meat dish. I’m gradually building my selection of vegetarian dishes (that aren’t just pasta based and that the whole family will eat). For me, this is definitely still a work in progress and I’m keen to increase our plant-based diet.


Step 3 – Pick up the ingredients

The meal plan goes up on the fridge and I make a note of any supplies I need for the week. I often order a veg box on a Monday and it gets delivered on a Wednesday. The rest of the supplies I pick up from the local supermarket when I’m out and about.


Step 4 – Implement (ish)

I usually don’t stick to the plan exactly but it’s a great starting point and it means that I always have something ready to cook and most importantly, I don’t over buy.


This is the one area that I really feel I’m on top of in terms of my own environmental footprint. I’m always looking for new ways to use up things and I regularly experiment with new recipes to keep it interesting. It also forces you to be more creative and it’s amazing what you can substitute/omit if you need to, without really impacting on the dish too much. I’m just a regular home cook, so I’m not aiming for perfection in our mid-week meals!


At this stage, it is very rare that we waste any food at all, which makes me very happy indeed. I love having a fridge that isn’t too full – there is less to choose from, which simplifies decisions around food AND everything gets eaten.



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Sample meal plan for 1 week to avoid food waste and reduce stress levels
Sample Meal Plan

 

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