You are not alone! We all need to eat, and most of us want to prepare healthy meals which are tasty and satisfying but it isn’t always that simple. Everyone has to like it and you need to have all the ingredients on hand and so on. There is a lot to think about to pull this off successfully every day.
The answer? Start menu planning.
When our family plans out our meals for the week, we always eat much better than when we don’t. It is also enjoyable not having to think about and plan what we are going to eat each day. All that work has been done!
Why menu plan?
- Saves time. You can shop all your groceries in one go if you plan ahead.
- Frees up your mind. You can think about other things!
- Prevents food waste. You know how much food you will actually need.
- You will be healthier if you plan to eat healthy and nutritious meals.
Where to start
Preparation is key. Create a menu planning template to stick on your fridge. You may download a simple meal plan template here or choose to create your own!
- Make a list of favourite dishes and the recipes if need be. Keep them together, somewhere you can access them easily.
- Flick through recipe books and try something new at least once a week if you can.
- Once a week make your menu plan for the week. Think about what other things you have on that week, which nights you’ll want to whip up something quickly or just defrost something from the freezer, and plan accordingly.
- Check out your fridge, freezer, cupboards and garden and try to include the ingredients you already have on hand for some meals. Stir fries and soups are great for this!
- Put a meal down for each dinner and mix it up as much as you can, e.g. chicken & rice, beef stew & potato, vegetarian lasagne, fish & salad and so on.
- Think about lunches too, especially if you have school-age children. Leftovers can be great for lunch in a small thermos or you could put left-over meat on a sandwich or wrap with a simple relish or mayonnaise. Check out these simple lunch ideas.
- Breakfast. You may not need to meal plan for this if you have a staple you like. But you may like to add something special, like eggs or pancakes, once a week if you have time. Find some healthy breakfast ideas here.
- Think about snacks too. We all love snacks and food for on the go! Nuts and dried fruits are great for this, as are the occasional treat like homemade muffins or bliss balls.
- Look at what ingredients you need and write out a shopping list. Try to get food as fresh as possible. The farmer's markets are great for this. Try to menu plan around your shopping day, e.g. buy the fish fresh the day you shop and save the chicken until later in the week as it can be frozen if need be.
- Double the batch of something one night, for a friend or for the freezer.
Also, remember to look at what you have on the menu for the next day in case you need to prepare something in advance, for example, soaking beans or defrosting meat. Keep an emergency stash of tinned beans in your cupboard just in case you forget.
Top Menu Planning Tips
- Prepare and write up the meal plan properly
- Keep it simple. Don’t try too many new things in any one week unless you have loads of free time
- Make it tasty and nutritious
- Just use real food as your ingredients
- Always have a meal in the freezer to fall back on