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)
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.
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.