Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A-Z Simple Living: M = Meal Planning

Meal Planning is something that I have let slip lately, right when I needed to be doing it the most. Life was very busy at work for me this past month, and I just did not have the mental capacity to do any more planning other than getting through each day in one piece. Now that I have a two-week break from the chaos, I am busy cooking and planning ahead, so that I can start back at work organised and on track...with healthy home made lunches frozen in advance, and dinners planned or prepared.

Early on in my blog I used to do a Monday Menu Planning Post and I have decided that when this series finishes I will go back to doing that. If I am accountable then I tend to follow through, and it was a great way to share a weekly recipe. Part of my recent motivation towards menu planning was a post I read at Flying Drunken Monkey about Cassie's top 5 reasons for meal planning...I thought I would share them with you here because they make perfect sense:

1. It Saves Time
Spending half an hour each week to complete your list, and check out the pantry, does save time because you don't have to waste time thinking each day what to cook, and rummaging around for ingredients you don't have.

2. It Saves Money
This is definitely true and the main reason for meal planning. Check your pantry first to see what ingredients you have, plan a menu, and make a shopping list...and stick to it.

3. It Makes Cooking Interesting
This is a great point. Planning ahead helps you avoid the 'same same' trap where you rely on the fallback meals...ours is spaghetti bolognese but I think the kids are finally a little tired of it. Yay!

4. It Improves Your Cooking Skills
This is a positive point I had not thought of before. By increasing the variety, and if you prep ahead of time (in my case, because I work full-time), you can stretch yourself to be a little more creative in the skills department. eg. pre-preparing a lasagne for the week.

5. It Helps You To Be Healthy
If you know what you are eating for the week you can ensure that it is healthy food...and the temptation to buy takeaway is reduced if you know you already have an easy meal planned for dinner.

I would also add another reason to this list. My kids like to see what they are having in advance. If it's one of their favourite meals they look forward to it...and I know that I am cooking things they all like each week....I had them make a list of everything they wanted me to cook. With fussy teenagers with ever changing eating habits, this is really important to me.

If you are thinking of meal planning, or even if you already do so, Cassie has the best Weekly Planning Schedule I have found - free to download! It is in excel format so you can input everything in your computer and print it out each week to put on the fridge. Makes the task of planning your week (including your meals) just a little bit easier :)

Do you meal plan? Or are you like me and do it for while, then lose track?

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