Meal planning...it's a game changer

I love cooking. But what I hate, is when I am not organised and I spend my life running in to the supermarket before school pick up, grabbing some items for dinner, racing around to after school activities and then throwing a meal together. Next morning, damn, forgot to get fruit, 7am supermarket run to get fruit…and so on and so forth! Sound familiar? We have all been there.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, meal planning has changed my world! I’ve talked to friends about this and some say, while it sounds great, it is all too hard. Not true, I say! Planning every meal of every day, yes that sounds tedious, but for me, just getting the nightly meals organised and a bit of a plan for school lunches works wonders.

So here’s my top tips on meal planning.

Take time to look at the week ahead and plan your nightly meals.

I try to sit down Sunday morning with my Pop Planner and a cuppa, look at the week ahead, check what we have after school, sport, work shifts, meetings etc and plan the nightly meals around how much time we have. I also ask everyone in the house if they have any ideas or requests, speak now or forever hold your peace.

Double ups.

I always try to come up with one meal that can be changed up and used again later in the week on a busy night. For example, good old Bolognese is easy to cook in bulk, add to your favourite pasta one night and use later in the week for tacos…bingo! Or left over risotto, made into arancini balls, roast up some extra vegies and make home made pizzas.

Write lists and do the shopping in 1 hit.

I hate grocery shopping! However, a list is your biggest weapon and doing one big shop up is way better than going every day. So, we check the pantry/fridge, write a list of the fruit/veg, wholefoods, meat and groceries we need for the meals we have planned and head out to get it done. When time permits, we prefer to support local and get what we can away from the big supermarkets. This is not always achievable, you’ve got to do what works best with the time you have. For example, if we have been away, I will do the entire weekly shop online and have it delivered.

Cook ups.

Busy lives often mean busy weekends. However, I am a big fan of trying not to cram too much into our weekends and keeping time free to get organised for the week ahead. Once the planning is done and the shopping is complete, apart from a glass of wine, the next best thing is to get cooking. So those lovely Sundays when time permits, are a great chance to whack a batch of muffins in the oven, whip up a quiche and cut up some salads. That way when chaos hits Monday morning, you have a few tricks up your sleeve.

I must say, this meal planning thing works for everyone in the house. I write up the plan, stick it inside the pantry and instead of asking “whats for dinner tonight?”, everyone knows in advance.

Another great hack, keep the plans you have created, and on for those weeks when you are running low on inspiration, just grab one off the pile and away you go. See our printable meal planning sheet below and go get started!

If you'd like to try meal planning this week, here's a cute printable you can create your meal plan on.

Happy Sunday and here’s to an organised week ahead.

Lara x