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
- 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
- A sweet treat
- Energy bites for the lunch box
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.
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