Meal planning saves my bacon on the regular and has really helped limit eating out or grabbing a takeaway or ready meal, as well as helping to keep our food budget under control.
Why bother plan? It can feel like a time consuming chore, but I have found now that I’m into it, I have come to enjoy it, I’ve gotten much quicker at it, plus I really struggle when I don’t do it.
What I plan: I usually only map out dinners and do a week at a time.. For breakfasts and lunches we’ll have leftovers and I keep certain staples around to throw together (bread, eggs, yoghurt, cheese, cereal/porridge… you get the idea).
How I plan:
– I start by popping in any events or plans – so I can block off when I don’t have to cook and also see where I need quick meals or to dip into the freezer-stash or pull out the slow cooker and where I have more time to cook.
– I then do a quick take-stock of what’s in the pantry, fridge and freezer. Anything that’s about to go bad can then be slotted in first up.
– After that I fill up the gaps with meals from our family favourites list or grab inspiration from theme days, more about these below.
I like to think of it as a flexible plan – I often plan at least one meal with ingredients that won’t go bad in case plans change and the night of the week I actually cook each meal may well change too.
My Top 3 Free Apps to bring it all together:
- Pinterest: for recipes
I use Pinterest in a couple of different ways to plan:
– general search and recipe inspiration
– pin recipes I like or want to try for easy access them when needed. Secret boards can be very handy if you’d like to keep it just to yourself.
– search for recipes to use up a specific ingredient
- Google Keep: for shopping lists
Is a very nifty note taking app, I have the app on my phone and tablet and it’s a click away in my Gmail dashboard to keep a running list for when I shop. I really love the tick box function and find it useful for keeping track of all kinds of lists, but especially my shopping list.
- Evernote: to house the plan along with theme nights and a bank of family favourites to pull from
Also a note taking/organization app which you can access from all your devices.
– To speed up the planning process, I have a big ole list of our family favourite meals on evernote – I can refer back to this to help quickly fill in gaps and fill out your plan for the week.
– Another way I speed up the planning is with an evernote theme days note for inspiration, some of our favourites are:
Breakfast for dinner (bfd)
Try something new
– I then also keep the actual plan on evernote, I do try write it on our chalkboard but don’t alway get that far.
Hope these app’s are super helpful for you too! Happy menu planning!