I have recently started meal planning all my dinners. Although I resisted the urge to meal plan for a long time, preferring to cook what I had in the fridge and shopping the specials, I have found meal planning to be a helpful exercise. Some of the reasons meal planning is useful for our family:
- I can buy all my meat from the butcher in bulk in one shop. I buy from my local butcher who sells free-range and grass fed. He packs it all for me so I bring it home in portions for the freezer. It saves me the trips back and forth and means I have meat for a month in the freezer!
- Generally, the meal plan keeps cost similar per month and allows me to keep costs low. It helps avoids impulse purchases and assists us to plan only for what we need.
- I know what is for dinner the next day so I can more easily prepare for this in small steps. For example it makes it easy to get the meat out the freezer the night before, soak the grains I need and split dinner prep up into little jobs along the day.
- I can easily plan for buying any special ingredients I need for a meal at the start of the week because I see what’s coming, avoiding last minute trips to the shops.
- It makes me purposeful about having a wide range of proteins (and meals) in our diet, including fish, liver(it’s great for you!) and eggs.
- I can cook a double meal of many of the dishes on the meal plan. This means I always have multiple meals in the freezer. My plan allows for planned days of rest from cooking or for a last minute meals when I cannot be bothered or life gets in the way.
- The meal plan can be flexible allowing for swaps and changes depending on if we are going out or entertaining.
I really used to loath the process of meal planning, as I hated thinking in advance each week about what to eat, plucking ideas from the air. However I recently took my sister’s meal plan format (thanks), which has all our meals slotted into it already. I simply print it out and highlight (and can tweak it as I find new recipes) and its done. It is no longer a big job.
You can check out a sample meal plan here:
You can even us this a blank template if you want to give it a go: