Simplify your….meal planning


My colleague asked me yesterday when I found the time to blog.

Well, in case you were wondering, I’m writing the first part of this post in the reception of my orthodontist’s practice! Yes, it’s good to slow down and spend time just being, but I’ve been here for over two hours and haven’t been seen yet. Appointment chaos! Maybe the practice needs to simplify its appointment system!

Today’s post is about simplifying meal planning. Getting this right has a number of benefits:

Benefits of meal planning

  • Saves time
  • Helps you budget
  • Avoids food waste
  • Means you always have what you need on hand
  • Decisions about what to cook are made in advance

Need a quick fix?

There are a number of ‘quick fix’ options for meal planning such as Hello Fresh, which provides a delivery service with curated ingredients plus recipes together. These tend to be very expensive, however, and with the price of food having rocketed in the last year, that’s not an option I’d advocate (no matter how quick and easy these appear to be).

Ingredients of effective meal planning

3 must-haves for effective meal planning:

  • A small stash of favourite cookbooks (I now have just 5, having decluttered those I no longer used)
  • Post-it notes or sticky tabs to place on the pages of your chosen recipe
  • Your favourite online supermarket or go-to local stores that will stock what you need

2 options:

  • A folder containing much-loved recipes from magazines or hand-written notes
  • A go-to online source of great recipes (Minimalist Baker; BBC Good Food)

Note that I avoid apps such as mealboard, but I’d be curious to know if you have a preferred app that you use for this purpose.


I tend to select recipes from just one or two of my books each time I shop. When planning meals for the next few days (we tend to shop every six days), I flick through and select what I fancy making. This will include:

  • 3 or 4 main courses (a veggie bake, chilli or stew; a more crunchy option with a bit more bite; and a quick and easy recipe for when time is tight)
  • A weekend breakfast recipe such as Apple porridge
apple pie oatmeal
Angela Liddon’s apple pie oatmeal from Oh She Glows!
  • A sweet treat
  • Energy bites for the lunch box

Getting organised

I tag each page of my recipe book with a sticky tab to remind myself of what I’ve selected. I find it’s the quickest way to remember why I’ve got particular ingredients in my fridge two or three days after my online order has arrived!


When doing your online shop, walk around the kitchen as you add items to your virtual basket and check what you already have in stock. Half a celeriac in the fridge? Why not buy some ingredients to go with that and make some soup to use it up? And here’s a recipe for you if you like celeriac and leek soup!

Better still, work as a team if you have someone who can help and have one person inputting what’s required from your list and the other checking what’s already in stock.

Take your list

If you shop in person, make your list and take it with you when you go to the store to stay on task and remember what you need. And don’t shop whilst hungry…

Ready, steady, cook!

Once your food is in place, you’re ready to go.

Use the time when you have the capacity in your schedule to cook up the recipes that might take longer; this way, when you’re busier, there’ll be something ready to bake or warm through when you need it.

Reap the benefits

You’ll reap the benefits by getting ahead with your meal planning; with everything in place, you can relax and enjoy your time in the kitchen (whether you’re a devoted cook or not). Then, you’ll be freed up to spend the rest of the time how you like: that’s the Minimalist approach.

Further reading:

#FrugalFebruary – Frugal Entertaining

#FrugalFebruary – Food and groceries


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6 thoughts on “Simplify your….meal planning

  1. They definitely need to simplify their appointment system! Hope you got seen eventually. I swear by meal planning, I like the “set and forget” aspect to it. I’ve decided what I’m having for dinner for the week and I don’t need to think about it every night.
    On a Monday afternoon I make a plan for the next seven days. I then shop on Monday night. I have a rotation (about 12 meals I make frequently), most meals come from the rotation. These are all simple meals. Once a week, if I feel like it, I pick out a new recipe to try or something fancy. I also pick a soup for the week and something to bake for lunch boxes. I don’t need to make both of those every week though, as I do big batches and freeze.
    To make it super simple, we have two nights a week where we have the same thing. Friday is pizza night, Wednesday is sausages/omelette and chips. These are my husband and son’s two favourite meals and these are like little weekly rituals. It sounds boring, but it actually adds a bit of fun to the week, something they look forward to. Making pizza together on a Friday night is a good pre-weekend chill out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My daughter loves sausage and mash, so that’s her ‘go to’ simple meal! I like the idea of making pizza on a Friday, too! I like your “set and forget” idea, Amy. That’s really useful. Thanks for commenting!


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