As a busy parent, I have found over the last few years meal planning is essential. However, saving money with meal planning is also a great incentive to continue in doing it too.
We’ve all been there, got in from a busy day and looked in the fridge and freezer for a little inspiration. Nothing jumps out so we head towards the takeaway menu and have a lazy dinner. Now there is nothing wrong with this at all if you can afford to do this. With our journey though, this is not really an option for us, although I did share a post recently on changing our food mindset in which I discuss us having a take away once a week.
Other than this takeaway, we are trying to stick to our meals every week. There are some days where I just can’t be bothered to cook or what is on the menu might not be of interest, however, I still try and stick to that week’s meal plan and just move some dishes around.
If you are new to meal planning or don’t know where to start, don’t panic. I’m going to walk you through some simple steps to help you save some money on your weekly shopping with a simple approach to meal planning.
- Make a list of what you have – This may sound a bit simple, but the best place to start is with the basics. You need to know exactly what you have in your house before you start planning on what you are planning to make this week.
- Use what you have – If money is tight or you are looking to have a cheaper shop, start by using what you have in your house. Lots of us tend to have pasta, pulses and maybe even some meat in the freezer. I always look at what I have in our house and use up that first before getting more food in our house.
- Bulk up your meals – When I am making meals on our meal plans such as chilli con Carne or spaghetti bolognaise, I make sure I bulk them out with vegetables and pulses. This helps keeps the costs per portion down but also means I have a night off cooking later on in the months.
- Be flexible – Being flexible is really important, there may be days where you need to move meals around or you might just not fancy something to eat. If this happens, don’t reach for the takeaway, just move a meal around on your meal plan to suit your day.
- Keep some quick meals in the freezer – Although I try and cook fresh most days, I do keep things such as chips and pizza in the freezer. There are just some days where it doesn’t go to plan and a simple quick meal is required.
The key to meal planning is thinking ahead, you don’t need to be looking months ahead but at least the week ahead. Heading to the supermarket without a list can become a costly mistake, you need to know what you are looking for before you buy what you assume you need.
Meal planning isn’t difficult, it becomes second nature over time. You just need to take that first step on the journey to it and then you will be counting the pounds in your pocket rather than food waste.
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