Now you’ve got the ingredients how do you start using them?
Whenever I have lots to think about and plan (which let’s face it planning meals for a week can be a little overwhelming) I make a list and write things down. If your new to cooking your own food from scratch a meal planner cuts out the indecision, the worry and the stress of cooking. You are in control of what you want to do and when and you can plan for it so that cooking becomes something to look forward to rather than a chore. You can download my meal planner for free here
Why plan your meals?
Your going to save yourself money. Because your planning what your going to eat and when your will know exactly what to buy. This cuts down on impulse buys, junk food and takeaways.
Your going to save yourself time by being prepared. Ingredients can be prepared in bulk ready for cooking and instead of going out for dinner or buying in junk you’ll have a home cooked meal in half the time.
Healthier food. Your in control of what your eat so you can include lots of fresh food in your diet instead of processed fast food.
So how does this meal planner work?
Start with Monday and see what you fancy. You might want to try out a recipe or you might have a tried and tested favourite. Separate it out into what you want for breakfast, lunch and dinner alongside any desserts of sweet treats and any snacks you want to have on hand.
Taking meals from Monday you can now take similar ingredients (or leftovers) onto Tuesday. For example –
Breakfast – Porridge with berries.
Lunch – Egg-less salad sandwich.
Dinner – Fajita wraps.
Sweet Treats – Brownies
So I would buy a bag of frozen berries so that I have extra to use in a smoothie or with some yoghurt for snack another day.
Egg-less salad can be made and kept in the fridge, it can then be heated up and eaten on toast for breakfast.
For fajita’s I would roast extra vegetables while the oven is on and I’d cook extra rice. Add in a curry sauce and you’ve got a whole new dinner option.
By working through the week like this you can avoid waste as well as cutting down on prep and cooking time.
Now you have all of your meals planned out you’ll know exactly what you need to cook them. Check what you’ve already got so that you don’t double up and making a shopping list for the remaining ingredients. This makes it easier to only buy what you need so that food doesn’t get wasted.
If you want to go one step further you can then prep those ingredients ready to be used for the rest of the week. It means your ingredients are ready to use so that a fresh and delicious meal is minutes away.
For example –
Wash vegetables and chop them up ready for sandwiches, roasting or snacks.
Make sauces (like creamy cashew sauce or tomato marinara sauce) ready to heat up and eat.
Make sandwich fillings like egg-less salad so they can quickly be made into sandwiches.
Make a pan of brownies so you have dessert for the whole week.
Pre-roast jacket potatoes so they just need to be heated and filled
Portion cereal for packet lunches. Leo starts work too early to eat before he leaves so he always takes porridge to eat on his breakfast break. I’ll make up enough for the whole week at once so they are ready to grab and go.
Get snacks ready. I bag them up so there is always a bag of snacks ready to grab and go.
After a little prep time you’ll have everything you need to hand for quick and easy cooking.