I am in my forties and had no idea about meal planning until recently. The everyday struggle to come up with what to have for dinner was a challenge. I found myself making three or more trips to the supermarket a week. Now with meal planning i do a full grocery shop once a fortnight and a quick trip for milk, bread and fresh fruit & veg.
Meal planning has saved me time in several ways. The first is i no longer waste time everyday going through the cupboards and fridge to work out what i can cook for dinner. I no longer dawdle around the supermarket looking for ideas for meals or crisscrossing and backtracking my way through the supermarket as i come up with a new meal. And as i know what i am cooking ahead of time i can do some meal preparation in advance which saves me time at tea time.
I don’t go to the supermarket as often so i save money on fuel and all those extra things i would buy that i wouldn’t really need like chocolate bars. I don’t buy fresh foods that go to waste now as i only buy what i need. Knowing what you need for a fortnight can also allow you to buy in bulk which is another money saver. Our grocery bill has gone from about $200 a week to $250 a fortnight.
No more stress of what to cook for dinner or if i have the ingredients, It reduces stress in the supermarket as i just follow my list. Meal Planning also reduces stress at meal times because i have the ability to do some meal preparation in advance.
It really is a win win, i will never turn back now.
Now for how i do it.
I have a magnetic meal planning note pad on my fridge with a magnetic shopping list pad beside it. I plan a fortnight of dinners in advance and this starts with me adding notes during the previous fortnight. If i think of a meal we haven’t had in awhile i note it so when i do the planning i already have a basic list of meals. The beauty of doing meal planning like this is you can also look back over old plans for ideas. Once i write up our fortnight of meals i start adding what i would require to the shopping list.
We are lucky enough to have a Coles, Woolworths and Aldi all in our local shopping center. All are close so i keep their recent catalogues for meal planning day. I use these to first help me do my meal planning. If i am planning a roast i will look to see which meat is on sale and chose that roast. Then i check my shopping list with the catalogues and mark W or A next to items on sale or that i specifically need from Woolworths or Aldi. Once this is done i then rewrite my shopping list starting with all the Aldi items then Woolworths. Finally everything else i get from Coles which is the main bulk so i then put them in order of where they are in the supermarket. This may seem odd to rewrite but i have found it makes shopping quicker, easier and i don’t miss things on the list.
The last part of my meal planning is unpacking the groceries. I divide our meat up into meal proportions. Place in zip lock bags labeling with what it is and the date. Some i label what meal they are for. I buy chicken breast in bulk but you often find they can vary in size. The largest one i will label for a chicken rolled roast. The smallest for schnitzel and the medium ones for stir fry’s, casserole’s, kebabs etc.