Hi guys, another week has started and I can’t believe how fast the time is passing by. I felt like it was only yesterday when we were celebrating this new year. Anyway, yesterday I was planning my meals for the week before going to the supermarket and thought it might be useful for some of you to see how I do this.
I never planned my weekly meals when I was living alone, but ever since my partner and I moved in together it became essential for me to do so. He doesn’t cook so I’m in charge of the meals and kitchen around the house, which is good thing because I love cooking. In the beginning, we didn’t really plan much which led us to wasting a lot of food, barely cooking at home, ordering take away and eating unhealthy. Now that I’ve got the hang of planning our meals, it saves me so much time. Not only did it prevent us from continuously eating unhealthy, but it also gives you a much wider option than the restaurant take out menu. Plus, we stopped wasting food and saved a lot of money. I don’t like doing groceries much so this also helped me to only do groceries once (or twice depending on how much we need) during the weekend.
Plan the week
First things first, figure out the days you will be eating home. This prevents you from buying too much or too little. Then I’d open my cook books, Pintrest and any other cooking sites for some inspiration. I always keep in mind if my partner or I are craving for something, so we can schedule that in the week as well.
I tend to look for two or three recipes in the week that need the same ingredients that way we don’t waste any herbs, vegetables, etc. I will only plan the dinner meals from Monday to Friday, so that on the weekends it gives us flexibility to either eat out, be it with friends or as a weekly date night, or order something so we can both be lazy at home. As I’m working from home, my breakfasts and lunches are pretty much always the same as I am trying to lose weight and watch my calories. It will usually consist of meals that include yoghurt, fruits and boiled eggs.
Once I’m happy with the meals that I have laid out for the week, I will bookmark each recipe with the day I plan to make it and write down all the ingredients needed for that week with the quantities. I’ll have a quick look in the cupboards and fridge to see what we already have and that we need to buy. It’s predominantly the spices that I have to check up on, because I know that we would need to buy the meat, vegetables and fresh herbs anyway.
When my list is complete, I will rewrite my list in the order of how my supermarket is laid out with the total amount I need for the week. While this may seem a bit unnecessary, trust me when I say it will save you so much time in the supermarket. When we do groceries, we just go in, divide the list per section and we’re done in no time.
Once all the groceries are back in the house, I’ll prep the meat by putting it in ziplock bags in the freezer, then clean and organise my fridge at the same time. I’ll then have another look at my meal planner and organise the meals per day based on the expiration date of the ingredients or timing of the meals. For example, if I know I’m going to be busy on a Wednesday, I’ll make sure to cook a quick meal then and leave the slow cooking meals on days where I’m not too busy.
Tip 1 Left Overs
I generally don’t have much leftovers, because I know exactly how much we both eat. However, if we do then I’ll eat it for lunch the next day. If you find yourself to have leftovers quite often, then plan a left over night meal in the week. If I have leftover ingredients, such as any vegetables, onions or potatoes, I'll cook something for brunch with those on the weekends.
Tip 2 Be Flexible
Schedules change, so just because you have meal planner doesn’t mean you have to stick 100% to it. Move it around to suit your needs.
Tip 3 Have Back Up Food
This is an important one if you tend to make a lot of new recipes. There are times when your meals just don’t end up tasting good, so for those days have something in your fridge or pantry that you can easily make, if things go wrong. I always like to stock up on tuna cans or pies that I keep in the freezer. And while I’m against it, we also have some back up instant noodles for the Mr, because he likes his carbs and it’s like a cheat meal for him.
Tip 4 Keep a “grocery list” board near your kitchen
Now this one I absolutely love, because I generally forget to write down mid cooking if something runs out that I would need, like olive oil. So I got a black board that’s hanging around the kitchen so whenever I run out of something, I’ll straight away write it down and add those items to the groceries list for the following week.
Tip 5 Keep it simple
While I love cooking, I generally don’t have the time to spend over an hour in the kitchen daily. So, when I meal plan, I usually cook meals that are easy to make and would leave one or two nights per week for fancy (new) recipes that take a bit longer to make. To save time, I also prep all my vegetables once I start cooking one dish. For example, if I'll be cooking carrots today and the day after, I will prep all the carrots so I don't need to do that the following day again.
Hope this helped you guys out when planning your next meals! Cheers, Sam