Start Menu Planning to get Healthier and Save Money
“Those who think they have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” ~ Edward Stanley
Menu planning is one simple habit you can start that will make a big impact on your health!
So, why would you menu plan?
– you save money (you only buy what you need and avoid those last-minute trips to the corner store)
– you save time and energy
– eating heathier is easier
– meal times are less stressful – no last-minute panicking about what to cook
– if you are lucky, family members might do the cooking for you because they know what is on the plan
– kids get interested in cooking and eating healthy food if they have a say in the menu plans
– finally you will be able to dust off and use those recipe books you keep collecting
– if you know what is for dinner tomorrow night, you can defrost in the fridge rather than the microwave
– you can do ‘cheat cooking’ by making extras and using part of a meal for the next night
– less food waste (you use what you buy – no more random tubs of sour cream languishing in the fridge)
– you can make extra food and freeze in portions for lazy nights
Okay, so how do you menu plan?
There is no right or wrong way to do it – play around and see what suits you and what you prefer ! These are some of my tips.
– Decide what you want to menu plan on – recycled envelopes, a journal,a blackboard or a weekly planner or even create a spreadsheet if you are so inclined.
– Decide if you are just going to plan dinners or every meal. I just do dinners.
– Write down anything coming up that week that may affect meal time (eating out, friends over, kids activities, late afternoon etc).
– Check in the pantry and fridge/freezer for anything that needs using up that week and make a note.
– Check out the grocery store specials online to save even more money.
– Ask the family for input. Get the kids involved in the planning stages and make it fun.
– Write in what meals you are having, making a note of where the recipe is and what page.
– At the same time, write out a shopping list, making sure you get everything needed for each recipe. If the meal is late in the week, I might get those fresh veges later.
– Cheat cooking. Plan to cook extra parts of some meals for use the second or third night after (spag bol sauce can be turned into taco meat, leftover tandoori chicken can go on a pizza, extra rice can become fried rice, extra risotto can become risotto cakes, leftover veges can become fritters or soup).
– If you are able to make up a stash of leftovers and freeze them in portions, then you will be able to have a night off every now and again. If I know I have a busy week or we will be out late, dinner can become a ‘freezer free for all’.
– Be flexible. If you have heaps of leftovers, you can bump the other meals along to another night. If you really can’t be bothered or have some unforeseen circumstances, bump a meal and have a freezer free for all or beans on toast. Sometimes I have a recipe that hangs around for a week or so before it gets made!
Here is an example of one of my menu plans.
Monday: Tofu and Vegetable Green Curry with Basmati Rice (make extra rice)
Tuesday: Macadamia Crusted Fish with Spinach, Pumpkin and Red Onion Salad
(roast extra pumpkin, onion and also some zucchini and capsicum to use later in week)
Wednesday: Pesto and Vege Pasta Bake ($120 food challenge website)
Thursday: Cashew and Chicken with Rice (from Monday) (Quirky Cooking online blog)
Friday: Roasted Vegetable and Fetta Pizzas (using roast veges from Tuesday)
Saturday: Beef Stroganoff with Cauliflower Rice and green beans (Jane Kennedy cookbook p 97)
Sunday: Vegetable Fritters (with whatever veges are left in the fridge) with corn and tomato salsa
Some more ideas and resources from my favourite blogs:
– Wendy at Vegie Smugglers has an easy way to do it – use her pre-done menu plans and recipes! Click here to find out more.
– Head over and see Collette at Cut out the Crap and you can download a free weekly meal planner to write your own meal plans on.
– Check out Kristin from Mamacino has to say about menu planning and her tips here.
– For those with a thermomix, Jo at Quirky Cooking blogs regular menu plans and also shares her tips.