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Menu planning is a bit like doing housework. You don’t feel like doing it. Only, once it’s done, you feel an immense sense of achievement. Not only that, it can help with organisation, encourage healthier eating habits, and the best part is, you’re saving money.
Money-Saving Menu Planning
Personally, I find it easier to plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner, rather than just dinner. Planning three healthy meals a day (and snacks too, if you want to), means you’re less tempted by the lure of the takeaway, which means more money in your pocket. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a takeaway, if you want to treat yourself and it’s included in your budget.
Successful meal planning means less chance of rushing out to the shops to grab something for dinner, and spending £10 on other ‘stuff’ just because you’re in the shop (especially when you have the kids with you! 😏)
By planning carefully and keeping it handy (such as on your fridge), you’ll have a go-to resource that you can reference anytime you need to.
I keep mine on the fridge, so that I can easily plan ahead. The night before, I’ll check to see what we’re having for dinner the next day. I’ll get out any meat I need to defrost or soak some chickpeas. It also means I can see if I need to cook any chicken for tomorrow’s lunch, or prep any veg for the slow-cooker.
Why You Should Plan Your Meals
For the most part, it makes life a lot easier if you plan things in advance. There’s nothing worse than having nothing in the fridge and not knowing what to do for dinner.
Food shopping is another chore I put off, but writing a meal plan first makes it easier to determine what I need to buy.
By planning your meals, you don’t buy more than you need.
Menu planning isn’t just about saving money. It also means you can be a lot more conscious of what you’re putting into your body. I aim to include protein, carbs and veg/fruit into breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I have two growing girls and a husband with a healthy appetite. I’m also a runner and I find when I don’t fuel my body properly, I get tired and run down. I can’t perform well, and it affects my work and my goals.
The best part about menu planning? You can get excited about food again. You can see what you’ve got to look forward to (assuming you’ve made a plan to make food that you actually enjoy!).
How to Write a Successful Meal Plan
When my husband worked shifts, I struggled with planning a menu. If I didn’t pay attention to the shifts he was on, we often ended up with too much food in the fridge and me having days when I couldn’t be bothered to cook, as it often meant I’d have to cook for the kids and then for us when he came home from work.
Check Your Dinner Guests
It’s important to check your calendar to see who’s in and who isn’t, and whether you need to save their portion of a meal for later.
Also, consider personal preference. There’s nothing worse than cooking a meal only for your children to turn their noses up in disgust, resulting in heartache for you, wasted money, and hungry tummies for them (unless you decide to spend even more time in the kitchen and make them something else to eat).
Get Inspiration (But Keep it Simple)
We get bored of eating the same thing over and over again, and sometimes we need inspiration. But too much inspiration, and you end up spending more time in the kitchen than necessary, and unfamiliar food that goes untouched (those fussy kids again).
So try to create a balance. Try something new when you’ve got time to try it, but keep it simple (and tasty) on the nights you’ve got less time on your hands. Slow cookers can be really helpful for busy days. You can prep your veg the night before and just put your dinner in the slow cooker in the morning. I have this Morphy Richards slow cooker and it’s great for sticking a vegetable stew in throughout the day (which you can blend into a soup if you like!).
Use a Template
I created this pretty template for myself a while ago and it’s been brilliant. The kids and I have eaten things like granola with natural yoghurt, honey and fruit for breakfast, or dippy eggs with orange juice. I’ve been making wholegrain salads with chicken, cheese, fish or pulses for lunch, and tasty, wholesome meals for all of us to eat at dinner time.
You can download a copy of this printable to use when you subscribe.
What do you think? Will you try it for yourself and see how you get on for the week by planning three meals a day? Let me know in the comments!
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