The miracle of meal planning (in 3 easy steps!)

Working out what you're going to have for the week ahead has heaps of benefits! From saving lots of moula to taking away the stress of constantly trying to figure something out at the last minute to feed the hordes, meal planning can be a total life saver! We also noticed we were wasting alot less too once we adopted meal planning!


Before meal planning, I had a bad habit of impulse buying; I'd buy things that looked good or were on special, but no idea when or how I would use them. This led to waste of food, which was embarrassing and a frustrating waste of money too.





I know it feels like a massive job to plan out all the meals for an entire week as well as the accompanying shopping list, but it gets so much easier once you're used to it AND you'll see patterns emerge of your regular go-to meals which in turn make planning and shopping easy-breezy!


So, these are the 3 simple steps I do for all my meal planning:


1) print out the 2 x free printables - one is your weekly meal plan and one is for the shopping list. The meal schedule will need to list at least all your home cooked dinners and probably your home prepared lunches. Breakfast in our house is the usual toast, fruit-n-yoghurt, cereal and bacon & eggs on weekends, so that's just replenishment as needed.


2) start writing down what you'd like to have for each lunch and dinner for all the nights you expect to be at home. Our lunches are mainly sandwiches and salads while each dinner is completely different each day.


3) As you write down a meal, check what ingredients you'll need for each one and if you're missing any, add it to the shopping list.


See? Super simple!


Tips:

* try to mix up your proteins. My family love meat, but I always have at least one vegetarian night and at least one seafood night each week. I also try to have half and half red v's white meat for the other dinners. It's better for our health as well as the hip pocket.

* If a recipe requires a sauce or an ingredient that uses up only half a bottle or so, I will repeat that meal in the next week or two so that I use up that ingredient. I hate when I buy pesto, use only half then end up throwing the rest out down the track. If it's on the meal plan, this doesn't happen any longer.

* you know your family best. You will have items that you'll need to get every week or two. Keep an eye out for specials and bulk buy to save money.

* once you get into the habit of meal planning, you may start planning more than a week in advance just because you know what your family's favourite meals are. For example we usually have fish on Sundays so I have about five different seafood meals that all the family loves. I know a few weeks out what our Sunday dinners will be and can rotate those over a number of weeks.

* with online shopping, you're able to save your favourite products which makes ordering even more easy! * change things up with the seasons to keep everyone interested! We all get sick of the same thing over and over, so changing with the seasons keeps that boredom at bay


What are your top tips for meal planning for your family?