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Meal planning can seem like a daunting task, but it can be quick, easy, fun and save you money by using what you already have.
Here’s how to meal plan to save money.
WHY DO YOU NEED TO MEAL PLAN?
Do you find yourself wondering what to cook each day, being uninspired and cooking the same thing over and over again or ordering take away because you can’t think of what to cook?
Or maybe you’re trying to save money or are on a budget and the easiest way to save money is through your food shopping.
Have no fear, meal planning is the answer to both those questions and will mean you end up saving money, trying things you never would have and look forward to dinner time!
WHAT YOU NEED?
- Kitchen cupboards, Fridge, Freezer or wherever you store food.
- Patience, imagination and excitement to save money and meal plan.
HOW TO MEAL PLAN TO SAVE MONEY
1 ) GO THROUGH YOUR KITCHEN CUPBOARDS, FRIDGE AND FREEZER
Go through each kitchen cupboard, fridge and freezer and see what you already have.
I find the best way is to keep an inventory of every single item to make sure I know what’s actually in stock rather than what I think is in stock and having to go out to buy one ingridient for a recipie.
More often than not, you’ll go out to buy one thing and end up buying 10 things you didn’t need.
As an example whenever I go grocery shopping, I end up at the fish counter eyeing up the discounted fish for the day.
Upon coming home I realised I had 4 in stock already and could have saved myself money if I had taken a look in the freezer before I went out.
TOP TIP: Use an app such as evernote, a notebook or some other method to keep an inventory of what you have and keep it updated as you use things up.
2 ) START WRITING DOWN MEAL PLAN IDEAS AS YOU GO THROUGH YOUR KITCHEN
This is so obvious but as you’re already taking stock of what you have, also start writing down meal planning ideas.
Often you’ll find that cupboard staples can spark ideas for meal planning ideas such as Pasta, Couscous, Rice etc may seem like boring staples but when paired with other ingredients can make a meal that’s easy, quick and enjoyable by all.
TOP TIP: Write down meal ideas from staple ingredients in a dedicated notebook or app to help you meal plan.
3) CHECK EVERYTHING IS IN DATE
Again another obvious idea but check all your ingredients are in date.
Out of date ingredients are not only a waste of money, but a waste of space.
If an item is going out of date in the next few months and you’re sure you’re not going to use it, then put it on a free food sharing site like Olio is a great way to share it within the community.
TOP TIP: Stop buying things you think you might cook and don’t end up making and make a note of these so you don’t waste money again.
4) WRITE DOWN MISSING INGREDIENTS
As you go through your kitchen it’s a good idea to write down staple ingridients you’re out of that you use quite often.
TOP TIP: Make a shopping list of key ingredients as you go through your kitchen on a shopping list, an app or even on a white board.
5) LOOK THROUGH RECIPE BOOKS AND WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU LIKE TO EAT
Look through your recipe books, Youtube, family recipes etc to find recipes you like to eat or would like to cook.
If you have children or other people you live with ask them what they like to eat and add this to your recipe ideas.
TOP TIP You can search for recipes by ingredient like kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils etc if you’re out of ideas and can add new meals to your meal plans.
6) THEME YOUR MEALS TO MAKE MEAL PLANNING EASIER
We’ve been theming our meal planning for a few months and it’s taken the headache out of meal planning.
We tend to have fish on the same night of the week each week, one night is Pasta night. You could have Meatless Monday, Pasta Tuesday, Fish Wednesday, Leftover Thursday, Fakeaway Friday etc.
Top Tip Get the family involved and make a plan for meals you all regularly enjoy every week so they know what to expect.
7) LOOK AT YOUR SCHEDULE AND START MEAL PLANNING
Meal planning according to your schedule and how much time you will actually have to cook is key to meal planning.
If you know you’re going to have a long, busy day ahead make easy quick meals that don’t require much prep like pasta or rice.
A lot of people have slow cookers or instant pots that help cook hot meals on busy days, but we found we didn’t use a slow cooker enough to justify having one but they are a staple for many busy families and a great investment.
TOP TIP Chop up and defrost ingredients the night before to save time on busy days or part cook some ingredients if needed.
We hope you enjoyed reading how to meal plan to save money and use what you have.