Aloha. Ok that’s a bit off, it’s not really Aloha weather. I don’t really know if there’s a more autumn-y way of saying hello though. I’ve been quite busy with uni and thinking about actually joining adulthood, i.e. leaving uni next year, so I thought I’d write a little post about Meal Planning. Exiting stuff, right?
Ok I’ll admit it, it’s not THE most exiting thing to talk about, but I just want to make sure you all understand the benefits, ok? It’s great, and here’s why:
- It saves you money. If you plan out your meals you can take into account what you still have in your fridge that needs using up and you can calculate in if you’ll have any leftovers from certain ingredients that you can then use in another meal, so it reduces waste (i.e. money).
- It saves you time. If you plan your meals ahead (we always do 5 day plans), you firstly only have to go shopping once (in most cases and depending on how you plan. If you plan 5 meals that need VERY fresh ingredients, you’ll go more often, but if you’re an advanced planner, you’ll include some meals that use fresh ingredients, but none that need to be bought on the day, more on that later).
It also saves you time, because once you’re done planning, you’re done. You don’t need to spend your day thinking about what you will have for dinner, probably whilst you’re out, where you have no idea, what you have at home that you should use up.
- It saves you calories. We’ve all been there, where everyone says you shouldn’t go. We’ve all gone shopping hungry and we buy so much more than we need! Uhhhh 2 packs of flapjacks for 3 Pounds? Would be rude not too. Ben & Jerry’s on offer? Well I have to buy it now, because it’s way too expensive, when it’s not. Ok that’s it I’ll head towards checkou… oh my god, these white chocolate and raspberry cookies literally look too gooey to not buy?
You probably get it (this obviously also contributes to it being cheaper, but being a lady and that, I’m concerned about all these stupid calories. (NOTE: I love eating the above things, but I prefer to only eat them, when I actually feel like it, not when I need to quickly satisfy my sugar cravings!)
So it saves you a lot. Well maybe you’re super efficient without meal planning, I just know that I’m not. I know some people spend less money and go shopping less often, but I find their diet often very boring and not very nice in general. With 5 day meal plans you combine having delicious meals with a minimum of shopping.
Here’s how it works:
- Check what you’ve got in the fridge that needs using up (I also check what was in my veg box this week) and make a list of it. It might help to also note at this stage, by when you think each item will have to be used!
- Think of 5 meals that use those ingredients. Favour meals that you can also have for lunch the next day. We like to try to have 3 meals that need very fresh ingredients and 2 that require less. Under very fresh I would place things with mushrooms, fish, meat etc. Also try to take into account which meals need ingredients that won’t be fully used up, so you can use them in another meal.
- Put them in order, i.e. decide when to have everything, taking into account when the ingredients will go off, but also when you have enough time to make what. For example on Wednesdays I don’t have any uni, so I could theoretically spend all afternoon cooking, whilst on Tuesday I have uni until late and Daniel doesn’t get back from Kung Fu until about 9pm, so we’ll ideally have something that requires little effort.
- Write a shopping list. At this stage also think about what you would like for breakfast, lunch and snacks. We usually have: cereal, milk, hummus, olives, pitta breads, fruit (like apples, bananas and clementines) etc. For lunch, also consider making a big bowl of couscous/quinoa salad that will last you a couple of days and keeps you from buying yet another sandwich + crisps lunch.
- Go shopping and try to stick to your shopping list as well as you can. If you know you’re snacky and like something sweet after dinner, try to take this into account when writing the list, not when in the supermarket, so you can think of little desserts and the like.
- Enjoy your hopefully slightly less stressful week.