The importance of meal planning is touted on almost every money-saving blog and is a priority for many stay-at-home parents. But I generally meal plan because I like to know what to expect. You see I am horrible with surprises and not that good when it comes to a change of plans. But I think I’ve come up with the easiest meal plan.
I only meal plan our dinners and I try my best to be flexible about it. Events pop up out of nowhere and there are nights when nobody wants to cook. Most of the items are stored in the freezer, so are put in the fridge the night before or the day of. If it doesn’t get eaten on the day its planned for, it moves to the next night.
Many will suggest you make your meal plan before going shopping. You can use the catalogues and the current specials to get great deals and work out what you are going to eat for the week.
I don’t do this. I shop pretty solely at Aldi and they don’t often discount their regular stock. So I just go shopping and buy what I think we might like to eat. I always have sausages, beef mince and chicken breast on hand.
Once I am home with the shopping, I divide it up into meal servings. The sausages I buy come in a pack of 24. Out of the 24 sausages, I get 5 meals: four meals of five sausages (two each for the adults and one for little miss), and one meal of four sausages. I prefer to store everything in freezer bags. I also don’t bother labelling it, nothing is usually in my freezer for longer than three months.
Write that list
Your fridge and freezer are now packed to the brim just waiting to be emptied again. Make a list of all the items you have that you can make main meals out of. Then, next to the item, I list the quantity I have. So with the example of sausages from earlier, I have five serves. U ually when I do this, I end up with about 3 weeks of dinners!
The easiest meal plan
Now that you know what you have and how much of it you have, start allocating meals to days of the week. I try to mix it up so that we don’t have the same type of meat every night in a row. I also take into account what sort of activities we are doing during the day. Monday is usually something simple, as we are both at work. Wednesday tends to be the most extravagant because it’s grocery shopping day. So that means I can pick up anything that we need to keep fresh like salads or cold meats.
Let them eat cake! (if it’s in the meal plan)
The last step, which isn’t really a step, is to eat your way through the easiest meal plan! Hopefully, you won’t need to buy any meat for the duration.
I also like to have tins of baked beans or spaghetti on hand, as well as a tin or two of soup. They are great to have on hand for quick easy meals, plus they remind me of my childhood.
I have been toying with the idea of a certain type of meal on a specific night of the week. Like Monday is chicken night, Tuesday is sausage night etc. But I’m not sure I’m ready to live my life like that, although it would make it the easiest meal plan.
Here are a few staples that I like to keep on hand in the freezer and what I like to make with them.
Mince – spaghetti bolognese, lasagne, meatloaf, meatballs, chilli con carn.
Chicken breast- satay chicken, Thai curry chicken, orange chicken, crumbed chicken, BBQ chicken, shredded chicken.
sausages – sausage rolls, devilled sausages, BBQ sausages.