My Guide to Meal Planning

My Guide to Meal Planning

Meal planning is a part of moving to university that I have really enjoyed. I find it a really nice part of the week to sit down and plan ahead for what meals I want to make. It makes me feel organised and is a great way of being able to not only budget but also make the week ahead a little easier. I really enjoy the process, and so I thought I would chat through a simple guide to meal planning for those of you who are thinking about starting.

The essentials

One thing that I think is super helpful in terms of meal planning is to have the essentials in the cupboard. Whether it be herbs, spices, pasta, chopped tomatoes or whatever you love to cook with, having the essentials to hand before you even start meal planning is a great way of having something that you can base your planning on. It is also handy to not have to buy every single ingredient for a recipe each week due to already having your essentials in.

Check what's in

As well as the essentials, I have also found that at the end of the week there can be food left from the previous. It is always really helpful to see what is left and what can be used for the week ahead. This part of the process often sparks some ideas for what to eat the following week, and so it is a great starting point to look towards what to plan in. You also might have food that needs using before its best before date, and this is also good to consider when looking to what you can make in the following week.

Have some ideas to hand 

Whether you are looking in a cookbook or have a list of your favourite homely recipes written down, having ideas to refer to for breakfast, lunch and dinner is great. Often times, it can be difficult to be inspired in terms of what to cook that week, so having some ideas to hand means that you have a source of inspiration readily available. It's also fun to add to - if you see something on TV or read about a recipe online, jot it down.

Top Tip

One thing that is really helpful about meal planning is that little food goes to waste. A top tip that I would give is to utilise your freezer. Look at what meals you like to make have similar ingredients and freeze whatever you don't use for one to use in another. Also, look at meals you can make a couple of portions of and freeze. This means that often you will already have stuff that you can take out of the freezer in the morning and cook at night. It is another helpful thing to remember when thinking ahead.

Write the lists

This is the part of the process where the real planning comes into play. Once I have looked at what is in and referred this to my ideas list, it is here that I will write out what I would like to eat each day; breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. This list allows me to consider what might be happening socially that week to, and on what days I may be eating out. From this list, it also then becomes very easy to make a more specific shopping list. And then all that is left to do is to head to the shops and pick up what I need for the week ahead.

And voila... that is my guide to meal planning. Often meal planning can seem a little over-whelming, but once you get into the routine of it, it can actually be quite fun and give you a sense of organisation throughout the week!

Let me know in the comments; what are your top tips for meal planning?

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