My dinner cooking routine used to be a mess. I’d constantly have to call at the supermarket on the way home from work to pick up the groceries or start to prepare a meal to realize that I’m missing one or two ingredients. Nightmare.
Whenever I got around to doing a weekly shop, I’d go with a poorly thought out list. I’d buy whatever I thought I might need which would only result in high shopping bills and wasted food.
That’s when I discovered meal planning. It helps me to stay organized and eat healthier. No more excuses for a mid-week takeaway!
By integrating my meal planning with my planner routine, it helps me to stick to my weekly preparation and generally keeps my productivity at a high. I know how hard it can be to start meal planning when you’re not used to planning in advance. That’s why I want to share exactly how I meal plan each and every week.
Note: I currently only plan my dinners but you can adapt this plan for breakfast and lunches too.
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REVIEW THE UPCOMING WEEK FIRST
Before I think about recipes and groceries, I look at my calendar for the upcoming week to see whether I already have any arrangements. Sometimes I have family meals to attend or arrangements with work so I don’t need to prepare dinner for that night. I also consider what my partner is doing during the week. If I know that he’s going to be home late or eating out too then I’ll plan a quick meal for myself.
BROWSE FOR RECIPES
The great thing about planning meals is that it gives me an opportunity to try new recipes and buy the ingredients in advance. My favourite website to get ideas from is AllRecipes. It’s a community based website where users are able to share their best-tasting recipes. I also use Joe Wick’s Lean 15: 15-Minute Meals Recipe Book for inspiration for quick and easy mid-week meals that are still healthy.
PLAN YOUR MEALS
Once I know which recipes I’d like to have during the week I’ll add them to my printable meal planner. I find that I want to cook meals that involve more effort at the beginning of the week and as the week goes on I get a little lazy and want quick and easy meals. Consider this for yourself when planning your meals. You can always double the recipe and save for leftovers if you’d like something to just pop in the microwave when you’re short on time.
I also add notes to my planner so that I know whether I need to defrost chicken the night before or get up a little earlier before work to prep the slow cooker. There’s so many times that I’ve planned a meal and forgot to defrost the meat. Nightmare! So the little notes are super helpful for me.
CREATE YOUR GROCERY LIST
Go through the recipes that you plan to have for the week and add the ingredients to your grocery list. Take into account what you have in your pantry and freezer first. You might already have ingredients stashed away that you forgot that you already had so you don’t need to buy again.
Get into the habit of using your grocery list throughout the week. If you notice that you’re running low on ingredients then add them to the list so that you don’t forget when it comes to planning your meals.
MEAL PLANNING TIPS
- Always keep your cupboards stocked with the basics – herbs and spices, pasta and rices, oils, etc.
- Invest in a blender and use up any items that are due to expire soon by creating a smoothie.
- Purchase a printable meal planner binder that stores your favourite recipes, recipe cards and pantry/freezer inventory.