The Illawarra Mercury column
- Taking Charge 5

Do you know what you are going to eat tomorrow? Two days from now, next week? This week we are talking about meal planning. Meal planning is a great way to reduce stress, time and money. You know what you will eat and can prepare dinner earlier, buy groceries on time and stretch your budget just that bit further.

Meal Planning

Let’s look at meal planning from a practical perspective. If the past is anything to go by you will be hungry Thursday night, hoping you won’t be won’t solve it. Waiting till it is 4:30 in the afternoon to start thinking about dinner doesn’t help as well. Just think about the lines in the supermarket, the impulse buying or the rushed take away dinners you end up buying. Ten minutes of meal planning a week can save you several hours of time a week and over the long term lots of money.

How does Meal planning work?

How does meal planning work? Well in about 100 different ways depending on your preference. Some people like to plan a week in advance, some allocate a special dish to certain days (for example Thursday is snitzel night) others freeze meals. The way you work your meal plan is very individual. I can a see how you can freeze extra pasta sauce but to cook for weeks in one massive effort has never worked for me, partly, because I don’t like cooking all that much. You can make meal planning as simple or as elaborate as you would like, as long as you have today and tomorrow covered you are fine (that is if you live close to a supermarket).

Some suggestions

When you start experimenting with planning your meals in advance, these tips might work:

  • Consult with other family members. What would they like to eat this week?
  • Make sure to have a list with your favourite meals
  • See if you can make dinners with seasonal produce
  • Have a variety between pasta, rice and potato.
  • One night’s dinner might be transformed into another nights dish (todays meat and vegetables can be tomorrow’s pastry filling)
  • If you have a slow cooker or a pressure cooker utilize these tools (no, don’t go out and buy them, utilize the kitchen tools you have)
  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – you do not have to make gourmet meals every night, simple wholesome food is best.
  • I would say take away is allowed but keep it within your budget – make rice at home and buy some curries or go on cheap Tuesdays for some take away. 

Easy or not?

In my workshops, I find that people don’t meal plan and don’t like to really sit down to think about their meal planning as well. However, once used to doing quick easy meal plans the benefits far outweigh the little effort involved. If all else fails here’s my favourite answer to the question; what would you like to make for dinner tonight; Reservations!

Column 5, The Illawarra Mercury, 21st of May 2013

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