Meal Planning

This week's choices.

This week’s choices.

Here is my nightmare: finishing a long day at uni or work, coming home and having to discuss what to eat for dinner with my significant other, driving to the supermarket then coming home and actually cooking the food. This also results in eating around 7 to 8 o’clock at night which apparently is bad for you. I don’t know about anyone else but I turn into a pretty unpleasant person when I’m hungry and tired and takeaway can feel like the easiest solution to banish the grump monster and restore domestic bliss.

This is where a bit of organisation comes in. I want to laugh at myself for writing that and any of my family or friends would definitely laugh at me because I am not a plan ahead-er, an organiser or a person who you look at and think, “Wow, she’s got it together!”. Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing meal plans for quite a while now and it all just feels so… easy. I would even go so far as to say it’s downright enjoyable. I actually get excited when I realise the week is coming to a close and I get to plan the meals for the next week. My brain is always thinking about the next meal, the next baking session and if you want to know something slightly crazy, sometimes I can’t sleep because I get so excited about what I’m going to cook the next day and I have to exclaim out loud to my boyfriend “I just love cooking SO MUCH!”. He puts up with my food mania because he loves to eat as much as I love to cook. Now, I’m no believer in soul mates but every Feeder needs a Feed-ee and in that regard we are a perfect match.

If we see something on TV or I come across a really good looking recipe on a food blog it gets shortlisted for the next weeks meals but usually most get picked on a Friday night in preparation for going to the markets Saturday morning. Here is what I do:

– I ask my boyfriend and sister if they have any requests, go through my saved recipes on Pinterest and decide on 5 to 6 meals to have the next week. I usually allow for 1 or 2 nights of takeaway for when we are tired or get a mad craving for something in particular. Plan for however many nights you want to cook dinner yourself.

– Another thing that I take into account is when I’ll get home each day and how much time that leaves me for cooking dinner. I study and work so my schedule can change from week to week. I check to see how many quick dinners I’ll need and how many I can make that need a bit of extra time. It also saves money if you plan some meals with similar ingredients so that extras won’t go to waste. I find this especially helpful for fresh herbs.

– Next step is to go through my meals and make two lists, one for fresh produce to buy from the markets and another of things I’ll need from the supermarket.

– I usually have Saturdays off work and in the morning we go to the Farmers markets. When we get home I clean out the vegetable drawers of last weeks left overs (when I finally get my butt into gear and buy a compost bin, that’s where they’ll go) before putting away the new produce. Tip: a really good way to store fresh herbs is the place them in a cup or jug of water then cover with a plastic bag, I’ve had herbs last for 2 weeks this way.

– Sometime on the weekend we do one big supermarket shop for anything we couldn’t buy at the Farmers markets During the week we see what we feel like eating on the day and then I try make enough for 3 dinners and 3 lunches the next day.

We have saved so much money since we started doing this. The Farmers market costs between $30-$50 a week (that’s two re-usable shopping bags worth of fruit and vegetables) and the supermarket shop is usually between $50-$70 a week. That’s $80-$120 a week to feed 3 people, dinners and lunches. It also includes all of the fruit I use for my breakfast smoothies. Now this doesn’t always include the times when I have to bake something RIGHT AWAY and I walk to the shops to buy ingredients, because that’s me spending my own money to satisfy my whims, whereas we all put money into the meal shopping.

Saturday has become my favourite day. Sleeping in, eating my favourite Malaysian Roti and Chicken Curry from the Kelvin Grove Markets and leisurely getting organised for the week ahead. It’s got to the point that if friends stay over Friday night they need to be prepared to come along to the markets in the morning because I just can’t deal with the idea of missing them. At the start we could never remember what we had planned for the week, so I bought a chalkboard and put it up in the kitchen to act as a menu. Then I found out that I hate writing with chalk. So I bought a cheap picture frame, put black paper in it and use a chalk pen to write on the glass. Much neater and it doesn’t set my teeth on edge.

Meal planning, give it a go!