Saturday, 2 February 2013

Meal Planning

The job of creating 6weekly meal plans has been on my to do list for AGES!  Although I do always plan our weeks food I end up doing this each week just before I do our food order online.  I always feel totally uninspired and daunted by the prospect of dreaming up a weeks worth of family meals on a Sunday evening.  I often end up turning to my husband who seems to only ever reply is questioning tones "sausages?" I think if it were down to him we'd have sausages 3x a week!  Anyway this January I promised I'd do it and (by a whisker) I completed the task on January 30th.

There is a wealth of pretty free printables out there to help you with this task & if pretty paper and colour coding gets you going on this project then go for it!  I recommend Pinterest as a great place to look for free prinatables.  Much as this idea appealed I knew I would spend half an hour looking at different prinatbles, change my mind each time about how I was going to organise my meal plans and ultimately accomplish nothing!  Instead I drew myself a table in good old Microsoft Word and went to it.  I can always pretty it up later ;)
I had a chart with days of the week and 3 spaces for meals.  Below this I had a chart with 2 columns one column for the things I would need to buy and another for store cupboard essentials I would be using this week so as I could check I already had them & buy them if not.

Feeling daunted by the prospect of planning 6 weeks worth of menus I began by choosing the breakfast cereal we would be having each week.  Week one Wheatabix, adding that to my list and so on, adding dried fruit such as raisins or a fruity porridge at the weekend to mix things up a little.  I should also say I had made a list of every family meal that I have memorised, cook regularly & we all (more of less) like.  I am pleased to say I had around 23 meals on that list - apparently the average number a person can come up with in a task like this is 9!  However I still had an empty meal plan so my next tip for filling these gaps is theme nights.  For example we always have Jacket potatoes on a Wednesday night.  So I filled in Jacket potatoes each Wednesday & then added various toppings.  Lately we have been in a baked potato rut (I hold my hands up) we have had tuna, sweetcorn mayo for countless weeks but now with my plan I have lots of different toppings lined up.  We are adopting meat free Mondays (I do always try to have one day without meat in our week but felt keeping this to a set day would help at the planning stage).  Tuesdays are cheap nights (just like at the cinema) which prompts me to use Sunday's roast dinner leftovers and prevents them from sitting in the fridge until inspiration strikes.
Our Wednesday potato ritual, using up leftovers and a meat free day are all principles I always try to stick to when I plan our weeks food but I've just got a bit more organised about it with this plan.  The aim of planning your meals is to save you time in the long run not to look up a ton of new recipes and ideas to try (that would just be too much work!).

I have numbered my plans and will use them in order because I have designed them to follow on from another.  They run Monday to Sunday (Because I generally do my food shopping on a Monday) and therefore, I use the leftovers from Sunday dinner on the following weeks menus.  In practise this might look like this Meal plan one might end with a roast chicken for Sunday lunch therefore in week 2 we will have chicken soup for lunch on Monday and Tuesday and have chicken and avocado in our jacket potatoes on Wednesday.

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