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Saturday, 21 March 2015

Making Life Simpler-Meal planning

I have said it before, and I will say it again, as it is astounding the number of people who do not plan their meals.
Having a large family makes everything that little bit more challenging, and meals are no exception. Soooo, if you really want to make life easier, plan.
I didn't always plan, and that meant that it was a struggle sometimes when having to prepare dinner, and procrastinating about what to cook. This takes away valuable time, especially if you are anything like me. I will outline what has helped me over the years:
1) Plan meals a week, or a month ahead-
Now I like variety, so I make sure we don't have the same meals every week. I like to ensure we have 4 red meat meals, at least one non meat meal, fish, then chicken once a fortnight. Here is my plan for march:
sunday 1st-Beef casserole
Monday 2nd-Pasta bake (with salmon)
Tues 3rd-Chicken
Weds 4th- Chicken stew
Thurs 5th- Takeaway
Fri 6th- Bolognaise
Sat 7th- Fish battered with oven chips
Sun 8th- Roast lamb
Mon 9th- lentil soup and garlic bread (home made)
Tues 10th- meat loaf
Weds 11th- Egg, chips, and beans
Thurs 12th- Beef curry and rice
Fri 13th- Mexican tortillas
Sat 14th- Fish in butter sauce with potatoes
Sun 15th- Beef casserole
Mon 16th- Beef sausages and mash
Tues 17th- Roast chicken
Weds 18th-Chicken stew
Thurs 19th-Beef pie, and mash
Fri 20th- Home made pizza
Sat 21st-Shepherd's pie
Sun 22nd-Roast lamb
Mon 23rd- Quiche with savoury rice.
Tues 24th-Lasagne
Weds 25th- Lentil soup, and garlic bread. (Home made)
Thurs 26th Beef stir fry with noodles
Fri 27th- Fish pie (home made)
Sat 28th- Beef ghoulash
Sun 29th- Beef casserole
Mon 30th- Wild salmon and rice
Tues 31st- Beef curry

Once I have my basic plan, I then know what I have to buy. However, I leave flexibility to plan for offers, and I check the offers online. January was good for stocking up on good quality mince, February had a lot of fish offers. This month it is flours. Once you have your menu plan, you can form a shopping list. I rarely waste any food, as I make sure I plan well, and what we know we can't use we freeze. Also buy frozen veg/fruit for cooking, and it won't be wasted.
Milk can be a tricky one, however, I calculate we use 8 pints a day, so I times that by the number of days till my next shop. I then add an extra 4-6 pints in just in case!
When I didn't plan, I remember having spaghetti bolognaise twice in one week, without even realising! Needless to say we have it once every 3 weeks, now.
A very helpful tip, I have found, is to make sure you have a few emergency quick meals, so you can prepare very quickly. As life doesn't always go to plan! I find bolognaise is a very easy meal to whip up quick, no peeling, just make sure you have the cook from frozen mince. I always buy the leanest, as it is lower in fat, tastier, and contains more protein. Please feel free to leave any comments, tips, ideas you have found helpful.


  1. My easy meal is pasta with shop pesto and bacon. I try to keep a jar on pesto on hand. I agree about planning meals. I plan weekly although having a longer term plan would be better! I struggle a bit with people not liking different foods. One of my children would happily miss a meal rather than eating fish and having someone from an older generation in the house does impact on food choices. Yes, a monthly meal plan would help!

  2. Yes, and I make it flexible, so if we go out, or I buy something reduced, we can just slip it in! Also, it saves on procrastinating, which I found wasted soo much time, and allows balance in the meals, too.