How to plan meals … to save you time, money and make life easier
No matter who you are or what you do, if you’ve got a family (or even if you haven’t) life can be crazy busy. There’s working, having a relationship, friendships, being a parent (aka taxi driver, cook, cleaner, nurse, activities coordinator), exercise, shopping, housework and more to juggle. And with all that going on no wonder coming up with dinner ideas can be a cause of stress. We’ve got some tips to help you create a meal plan that the whole family will enjoy plus it will save you time, money and help reduce some of that stress and workload. Here are our top tips:
1. Do some research – whether you’ve got a shelf full of cookbooks or you prefer to hit the internet, there’s tons of recipes out there (side note: we hear that hillstreetgrocer.com has some awesome recipes). Spend a little time doing some research and find recipes that suit your family’s tastes, your budget and your skill level.
2. Keep a list – this tip really helps because by making a list of the meals that you eat, you can refer back to it later and see which meals were a hit and which were more of a miss. Armed with this information you can refine your meal planning over time to create a menu that everyone will enjoy. It doesn’t matter how you record this information, whether it’s a pen and paper, a notebook or electronically, just make sure you do record it.
3. You do you – plan your meals to suit your lifestyle and time availability. If you work Monday to Friday and have more time to cook on the weekends, you might want to try some more complex or time consuming recipes then, and leave the simpler meals for during the week.
4. A big ol’ cookup – batch cooking or doubling recipes is a great way to help with meal planning. If you make a double quantity of your favourite recipes, you can enjoy one immediately and pop the other in the freezer ready for another time. This also eliminates the temptation to get takeaway at the end of a long day because you know you’ve got a tasty and nutritious meal just waiting to be defrosted.
5. Leftovers – just as doubling recipes is a great idea, so is using leftovers to create another meal. If you make a little more than you need you can use the leftovers for lunch the next day or even dinner the next night. Buying a slightly larger cut of meat and cooking a few extra veggies will mean that tonight’s roast chook can be tomorrow night’s chicken curry, made with minimal effort.
6. Get help – our final tip is to share the load. Get your partner and kids involved by sharing cooking duties or helping with meal prep. If it helps, make a roster and allocate roles so that everyone has their turn helping out. You never know, it might even give you some time to put your feet up and do nothing for a change!