On a budget? Time poor?  … Try meal planning

You know the type – the uber-efficient working parent who has it all together and makes domestic chores including grocery shopping and feeding the family look like a walk in the park.  How do they do it?

They probably have a secret – they meal plan.

While we all like to live spontaneously and cook with the ingredients that speak to us from the fruit and veg aisles or the deli cabinet let’s be honest, creativity and inspiration are at about zero after a busy day of work, after-school sports and with a hungry family waiting to be fed.

Enter meal planning. Pair it with a nifty bit of on-line shopping (from the Hill Street online store of course) and you can set yourself up for weeknight success, save money and reduce food waste as well.

Here are our tips.

1.    Set aside some time on a Sunday afternoon to clean out the fridge and check the pantry for what you have on hand.

2.    Start small – initially, only choose three weeknight meals that you are going to plan and buy for.  The other nights might be left-overs or a pre-made solution like a Hill Street quiche, pie or lasagne, depending on what your day’s been like.  Another night might be takeaway or dinner at grandma’s, and Sunday might be soup, pasta or a quiche made with any left over veggies in your crisper.

3.    Take into account late sports practice, nights where you have to work late and so on – and plan quick or no-cook meals for those nights.

4.    Choose a mix of meal types according to what your family likes and your nutritional goals  - a protein and salad one night, a vegetarian stir fry or curry the next, one fish meal per week, and so on.

5.    Place your online order for next day delivery or click-and-collect, or visit your nearest Hill Street store and shop in person. On-line shopping is great because you can select exactly what you need for each recipe and check what you currently have on hand so you are not doubling up.

6.    As the week progresses, cook your planned meals on the given nights.  Save leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.  If you are late home and don’t end up cooking your planned meal, cook it the next day, or freeze the perishable components so they don’t go to waste.  Use them next week.

And the added benefit – with all the thinking done on Sunday night you will find your ‘mental load’ lightened and your nightly 6pm agonies of what to cook, have disappeared!​​​

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