Most days I never seem to know what I am having for dinner until about an hour beforehand, when I assess the contents of the cupboard, fridge and freezer and make a decision. Often although I am dreaming of a nice home cooked meal, such as the one opposite, lack of time and poor planning means our meals consist of a hodgepodge of styles and ingredients. Recently we had a korma with noodles. It tasted nice, but somehow just didn’t seem quite right and I wished that I could have made the korma myself instead of using a jar.
I have also been getting fairly bored of making the same quick and easy meals, because I have little time and energy at the end of the day to get creative in the kitchen and have decided that to solve the problem I am going to devise a meal plan! I’m hoping that meal planning will allow me to
make cost savings as I only buy food that I will actually use each week
feel less stressed with the daily dinner decision already having been made and planned for
ensure that we are eating lots of healthy meals
feed my family a wider range of tasty meals, rather than the same old same old.
I had a look on line for meal planning tools and there is a lot of very helpful information out there, with some sites well worth a look at, such as the NHS 5 a day meal planner or the Love Food Hate Waste planner. Sainsburys meal planner even directly adds the relevant shopping list straight into your shopping cart.
The problem with on-line meal planners however is that if they are just blank sheets for you to fill in, then they are fairly pointless as anyone with Word or Excel can knock one up in minutes and if they are highly sophisticated systems with meals to choose from and links to recipes, the recipes might not be ones that you actually want to cook each week.
So I have come to the conclusion that I have to develop my meal planner from scratch, starting from the blank piece of paper approach. I am just going to start with my evening meals, as I find they are often the most complicated (and stressful) meal of the day. I will then see how I go from there.
I started this project a couple of nights ago, but immediately found I struggled when faced with a blank piece of paper. I wasn’t sure where to start, trying to make various lists, until eventually I turned to the recipe books sitting in my cupboard for inspiration. I made a note of any recipes that looked nice and their page numbers. I plan then to slot the recipes into my monthly planner, with set nights for meat, fish and vegetarian meals, making sure that there is an even spread. I am quite excited about this approach as there are so many recipes that look appealing and that I have never tried because I haven’t been organised enough before now.
That is as far as I have got for now, but I will keep you posted with my progress. I would love to hear your experiences of meal planning and any tips you might have on this subject.
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