Do you ever stand in your kitchen staring at the fridge and then look in the cupboard and then back to the fridge again, trying to work out what to make for dinner?! Guilty, over here!!! Actually, this is a daily occurrence for some of us...haha
Have you ever thought about trying meal planning? It’s actually a great way to save time, stick to a budget, try new recipes, stop food waste and enjoy what you’re cooking! Having a plan can help reduce the stress of making a meal, so that you have more time to enjoy it!
We've done some research on meal planning and have collected all of the tips to help you on your way to easy breezy meal planning! Meal planning essentials:
1. The Happy Planner 2022 Happiness is Homemade Classic Meal Planning Happy Planner - 12 months
2. The Happy Planner Value Pack Stickers - Southern Farmhouse
3. The Happy Planner Foodie Petite Sticker Book
4. The Happy Planner Ingredients Skinny Classic Filler Paper
5. BGM Japan Washi Paper Flake Stickers - Cafe Kitchen
6. Avocado Washi Tape
7. Good Life by Yusuke Yonezu - Coffee Stickers
8. How to Draw Cute Food by Angela Nguyen
9. The Happy Planner Southern Farmhouse Classic Recipe OrganiserMeal Planning Tips & Tricks:
- Set your intentions for your meal planner.
Setting your intentions will make for a more successful meal planner that is realistic and suits your needs. For example: do you need to make things easier for busy weeks, add more nutritious food to your meals, focus on self-care and body positivity, stop food waste, or feed a family on a budget?
- Keep your favourite recipes organised. A great way to do this is with a recipe organiser! Add your favourite recipes and categorise them for easy access. It's also a great way to keep treasured family recipes, fave finds from the internet and recommendations from friends.
- Get inspired. Spend time each week reading and looking for new recipes. Take time to search for new recipes to add to your meal planner. Challenge yourself to try one new recipe per week/or per month, to keep things exciting. If you find a recipe you like, add it to your recipe planner!
- Ask your friends and family for their favourite meals and foods and try to include them in your meal planning. Meal planning can include the whole household, it's a great way to try new things that you may not have thought of and is a nice way to consider other household members likes! You can also check if there are nights that your family members, housemates, or partner would like to cook and plan accordingly.
- Check the weather and plan your meals accordingly. For example, if the weather is looking hot, why not plan a salad or bbq? If there’s lots of rain or cold weather coming, some comfort food, soup, or cozy meals might be just what you’ll feel like.
- Check your schedule - Does your meal plan align with your schedule, or are you setting yourself up for failure? Try new recipes, or time-heavy recipes on the weekends or days where you know you’ll have more time to relax in the kitchen and enjoy the process. For nights where you’re working late, or have lots on, a quick and easy meal, defrosted meal, left-overs, or takeaway is always a less stressful option.
- Have you considered keeping a food diary? Keeping a meal journal is a great way to record how different foods make you feel. This is especially helpful if you’re struggling with an upset tummy or food allergies.
- If you’re running out of ideas for meals, why not try themed nights? Think taco Tuesday, pasta night, Sunday roast, meat-free-Monday. This can encourage you to have some consistency each week, or fuel your inspiration to try different versions of your regular meals!
- Plan ahead on days off. If you’ve got a busy week coming up, meal prep is one way to take the stress off! Bulk meals, pre-made snacks, breakfast essentials and meal planning is one way to make your week a lot easier. It’s also a great time to delegate to other cooks in the house!
- Plan your menu for the week and make a shopping list for your recipes! Purposefully shopping for your recipe ingredients is a great way to plan ahead so that you’re not stuck without ingredients and avoid food waste. Remember to do a check and re-stock of the pantry essentials when you do your shop!
- Another way to plan your menu is to do your shopping first and find recipes to fit your ingredients! When shopping at the farmers markets, it’s not always easy to work out what you’ll buy beforehand, depending on seasonal availability and also what’s looking good this week, or what’s on sale. Planning your recipes after shopping, according to your ingredients, is a great way to avoid food waste. If you’re planning around sales, it’s also a great way to save money. For example if beef mince is on sale, maybe it’s a good opportunity to plan a big spaghetti bolognese cook up!
- Prep your food when you get back from your grocery shop. THere’s nothing worse than getting ready to make a recipe and realising all of your veggies are wilted or hasn't kept well! Store food that wilts in containers in the fridge. Pre-chop, peel and store food, if that helps you to prepare for the week ahead. Chop & divide fruit into containers in the freezer for breakfast smoothies. When pre-prepping food, think about ways that you can mix and match. For example, cook chicken in the slow cooker and shred it, so it can be used later for salads, tacos and more. Or perhaps pre-cooking a tomato sauce, that can be later used for stews, pasta or other dishes. Get creative and think outside the box.
- Remember, meal planning doesn’t need to be about guilt or shame or food restricting. Focus your attention on self-care and not the scale. Ditch the restrictive diet mindset and think about what healthy habits, self-care and nutritious foods you can add to your life. If you'd like to keep the focus of your meal planner on self care, try adding some empowering and encouraging quotes and stickers to your meal planner. Trust your intuition and focus on meal planning food that you enjoy, that you're looking forward to and makes your life easier.
- It's ok to not follow the plan. The meal plan is there to help you, but at the end of the day, if it doesn't serve you, it's ok to change it up! Maybe you just feel like going out for dinner, are really craving something else, or just don't feel like cooking! You can always try another plan next week!
- You can also add a meal planner extension pack to your Classic Planners.