How I meal plan

Want to know the secret to a successful week? It's meal planning.

I work full-time and the last thing I feel like doing when I get home is figuring out what I'm going to have for dinner. So I started meal planning to ensure I'm never left wondering what to cook.

My goal for weekday dinners is to make meals that are easy, inexpensive and provide us with lunch the next day, but are still healthy and use fresh ingredients - a lot to ask, I know!

I touched on meal planning in my 'Saturday ritual' post, but wanted to expand on my process so you can start meal planning too...

Decide what to eat

This is definitely the most time consuming step but well worth it!

I plan out meals for Monday to Friday. Occasionally I throw in a weekend meal but usually like to keep the weekend evenings open-ended for catching up with friends or going out. 

As I said above, I'm always on the lookout for quick, inexpensive and healthy meals for the working week. My go-to sources for inspiration are Pinterest, cookbooks and magazines, such as Fête, Donna Hay, Donna Hay Fresh & Light and Delicious. 

Pinterest is great for slow cooker meals, and most food magazines have a 'week nights' meal section, which are usually less time consuming to make. I do enjoy flicking through my cookbooks for new recipes and inspiration too.

A great tip I learned for getting the latest magazines is through the library. Zinio for Libraries lets you download magazines through its app for free, via your library membership.

After I gather my inspiration, the next step is to write it all down so I have a clear plan for the week.

Write it down

Kikki.K has a great range of stationery and their meal planning range is no exception.

I use the A5 Dinner Planner Pad and the A5 Categorised Shopping List.

The dinner planner is perfect for me as it provides a weekly overview, so I always know when I need to take meat out of the freezer to defrost, or where I can make something ahead of time.

The categorised shopping list is a life saver! It has completely streamlined my food shopping experience.

I used to waste so much time wandering up and down the aisles repeatedly because my shopping list wasn't in order.

Now I'm much more efficient as it's categorised into different sections i.e. dairy, vegetables, meat, etc. 

Both of these tools are essential to my meal planning process and ensure I'm organised for the week ahead. 

Shop

The final step is to shop! As I've mentioned previously, we love going to the markets on a Saturday morning, which is where we pick up all our fruit, vegetables, bread and sometimes meat for the week ahead.

Then I will usually place an online grocery order for the remaining supplies - like dairy, pantry and cleaning products.

Meal planning has saved me so much time and effort, and has really cut down on my weekly grocery bill. It also ensures I'm organised for the week and takes the stress out of weekday cooking.

Do you meal plan, or is it something you're thinking about starting? I'm thinking about uploading my meal plan weekly, with links to the recipes so you can cook them too. Is this something you'd be interested in?