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I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions but now I am running this blog and have set myself some blogging goals for 2018, I decided I want a personal challenge too. I like to think of it as changing my habits for the better. I’ve chosen a relatively simple habit to change so I hope it shouldn’t be too hard to stick to – I’ve decided I am going to start meal planning.
I’m hoping that meal planning will help me hugely and if you’re up for it, you can join me too! I have a new Facebook page linked to this blog called ‘Moneywise Mum’ which is aimed primarily at my readers who are parents (although anyone is free to join) – it’s a community to ask questions and share ideas about anything to do with family finances. I’m running a meal planning shake up bootcamp in there at the moment – come and join us. I’ve been doing a task a day – things like doing an inventory of my fridge, freezer and pantry, coming up with a list of family favourites which I can draw on for my weekly plans – and the bite sized chunks have made it easy so far.
It was the mountain of cheese that decided this was the right challenge for me. We’ve finally managed to get through the leftovers from the Christmas period but we still have a plate full of cheese! Determined not to waste it, the last of the stilton is going in to a broccoli and stilton soup tomorrow.
I admit that even when it isn’t Christmas, I am prone to piling things in to my trolley or online basket that I like the look of without thinking properly if they will even make a complete meal. Not particularly helpful when I have a family to feed. Plus, there is about a 5 minute window between the first ‘I’m hungry’ cry and a full on wail so I need to be able to produce a nutritious meal without an emergency trip to the local convenience store for extra ingredients.
I grew up loving food and one of our jokey family sayings is ‘it’s good to be eating again’. Food and cooking is something that brings me pleasure, and although having one fussy child has tested my patience, nothing makes me more happy than getting my apron on for an afternoon in the kitchen. But I do often find myself after a busy day drawn to cooking the same old recipes which I know will get eaten with minimal fuss (all for an easy life after a busy day!)
It’s all very well and good talking about meal planning and how it can be done, but why meal planning is worthwhile all comes down to the benefits. Preparing a simple meal plan and food shopping list can be beneficial in several ways:
- It helps you avoid wasting food. We all know how easy it is to get sucked in to the end of aisle deals and throw a couple of extra packets in the trolley just because they’re on the ‘buy one, get one half price’ offer. These deals are designed to get you to spend, but if you don’t need the food and can’t use it before it’s ‘Use by’ date, it’s a false economy. Food wastage is literally throwing money down the drain and something I am very guilty of. I will change this behaviour for the better in 2018!
- Meal planning involves assessing what you already have in the kitchen – leftovers, freezer items etc. If you batch cook and portion out food for freezing, you will see less wastage as you allocate specific portions for meals rather than leaving leftovers in the back of the fridge, only to be found too late to be edible any longer.
STICK TO YOUR BUDGET
- Going to the shops with a shopping list of all the ingredients you need to prepare the meals you know you will be making means you only buy what it is on the list!
- Planning ahead of doing your shopping rather than buying as you go around the aisles means you can stick to a budget.
LESS BAD CHOICES
- Meal planning removes the need to make a decision when the kids are screaming or you are dog tired and hungry. If you are meal planning, you won’t find yourself with nothing in the fridge and having to take a trip out to the more expensive local convenience stores.
- Similarly, if you have enough food in to make a meal, you won’t have to resort to takeaways to eat! We will still be enjoying take aways but I’ll be making sure they are on days when I don’t have a fridge full of food that needs to be eaten over the next couple of days (I admit that we have been guilty of that in the past – ouch).
- Seasonal produce tends to be cheaper so planning around the seasons means not only updates and variety in your diet, but a healthy saving in your wallet too!
- Who doesn’t need less stress in their life! My whole family have helped compile our family favourites list so there won’t be any ‘I don’t like this’ ruining of family dinner times.
- Meal plan taking in to account your schedule. I have planned easy meals for the days we have swimming lessons and the kids are ravenous as soon as they step through the door.
This week I’ve linked up with Katy Kicker and The Organised Life Project for the Meal Planning linky. Do go and take a look at some great ideas for weekly meals from some of the other bloggers who have joined in.