4 May 2016

Meal Planning 101


And so I had to suffer the worst blogging fate known to the blogging world.... My computer broke! I've finally recovered from it, but it was a tough time! I scheduled all of my photos and planned writing days so I could cover content up until my graduation... but now that has all been pushed back a little now! So expect a lot of content to be coming up now to help from the last few weeks.

My dissertation is due next week, and the last thing I need to be worrying about when I'm getting stressed is what I'm going to be eating. I'm not usually a fan of eating out, and so when I'm spending a day in the library I tend to take food with me - being a super sensitive vegetarian, I'm usually somewhat limited in the choice department! hello again cheese sandwich! 


And so I started meal planning! I've actually been at this now since January, I've been refining my technique and learning what works well and what doesn't and I'm here to report back now!

How To Start

Grab your phone. Grab your recipe books. Grab a notepad. 

Ok, now you're ready to go! Now I want you to go through your recipe books and find recipes you'd like to try, bookmark them in some way so you can come back to them later. Do the same with your phone, either create a Pinterest board or a gallery or folder, find any recipes online that you'd like to try (this one is constantly growing! So don't worry about doing it all at once!) And start taking notes where you need to. 

If you eat meat, how many times would you like to eat it per week? Are there certain foods you'd like to eat on a weekly basis? 

For example, I have at least one pasta dish per week and we usually have a pizza night where we make them with the leftovers we have gathered up throughout the week - hello extra spinach!

Digital vs. Traditional

This is the difficult part and it took the most amount of trial and error out of all the things I attempted. Decide where you want to place your meal plan! If you're the one cooking, shopping and planning then it just needs to be somewhere where you can see it. But in my case, I plan and do the shopping but my boyfriend does most of the cooking in the evening. And so, we both needed to access the schedule throughout the week so we knew what was going on. Depending on the day, each of us might prep and get things sorted so it's important for everyone to know what's going on!

I started off with just a joint calendar, I inputted the dinners for each day as an event - so that at 9am each morning we'd each get a notification for the dinner for that night. This worked well for when we were out and about (and I no longer received the "what's for dinner?" texts I was before!) But it wasn't great for looking at the week as a whole or checking whilst I was in the kitchen.

So now I do a combination, I do the online calendar - I use Sunrise which syncs with Google Calendar - along with a chalkboard. We have the board in the kitchen by the oven so we can check it whilst we're in the kitchen.
Plus it looks beautiful! I can see how organised everything is and know exactly where I stand. So far this system seems to work great for me at the moment.

How Long For?

How long do you need to plan for? Depending on how often you shop, you might need a different amount of food in.... and so need to plan for a certain amount of days. 

I shop once a week, I generally plan on a Sunday evening. We do our shopping online - through Ocado if anyone is curious - and I shop at the same time. So our shopping usually comes for the Monday or Tuesday morning. I always have the backup of pasta based dishes incase anything when crazily wrong, so we're not trapped without food! 

Definitely make sure you have enough food in for the whole week if possible so you're not going back and forth from the shops!

Why I Plan?

I plan for a number of reasons, but the main ones being:
  1. We save money when we plan! We're not going to the shops hungry, tired and randomly wandering the aisles to find things. And so we're not picking up the food we don't really need.
  2. We're eating healthier. When you look back at what you ate for the week and 4 meals were pasta because you had a 'lazy day', you know something is going wrong! Now we have lots of different options, and you get a clear view of the week as a whole
  3. I feel better! I get anxious when I don't know what I'm doing or if I don't feel organised, so if I have control over my meals and I know where I stand... that's one less thing to worry about!
Have a go for a few weeks, just write down what you eat after you've eaten. Then try planning a week ahead. See how differently you eat!

Next time, I'll be showing you what our typical week looks like, how we shop and work meal planning into our lives!

Do you meal plan? If so, how does your family work it? 

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© Katie L Clark
Maira Gall