Everyone is different when it comes to meal planning. Below I share how I meal plan plus tips that might help you.
First you need to figure out why you want to meal plan. Do you want to save money? Have less waste? Save your sanity? Be organised so you eat healthy nutritious meals? I should also say I don’t have set meals for each day, I just write down 5 meals and then choose what I feel like that morning or the night before.
Below is how I do it. Comment below how you do it, I would be interested to hear as everyone is different!
WHAT’S ON THIS WEEK?
First think about what you have on during the week. Think about the days where dinner needs to be quick or where you have more time to prepare. Perhaps cooking a few things a head might help you out? A night for takeaways or breakfast for dinner? I also look what the weather is doing, especially in Spring and Autumn.
Is there anything produce leftover that needs using up? Is there anything in the freezer you can pull out? Perhaps you have some random grains you want to use or some open packets of pasta that you would like to use? Take these things into consideration.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL LIKE EATING?
Have you seen a recipe on here that looks right up your alley? I tend to choose three new recipes or meals I feel like and then fill the gaps with recipes I know and ones that use the leftover produce like fried rice or stir fries, curries, soups, roast vegetable salads etc… I only ever plan 5 meals as life happens and things change.
KEEP A WELL STOCKED PANTRY
I have a master list in my head of items that I always buy and have stocked up like rice, pasta, legumes, coconut milk, tinned tomatoes. Make sure you have a ‘plan B’ meal that you can make out of the pantry, freezer or fridge for those nights when you are late, its chaotic or you can’t be bothered. I quite like eggs on toast!
USE THE SEARCH BAR
Use the search bar here on The Modern Mess to search for vegetables or different meats, type pasta or stir fry, soup or fritter to find those things. Use the category filter or browse by month/season. Also, always read the weekly email for other recipes to try at this time of year and seasonal foodie news.
START WITH YOUR PRODUCE
I always start with my produce. As I like my meals heavy on the vegetables, that’s where I start. As I shop seasonally it’s pretty easy to know what will be around and at a good price. When buying bigger vegetable like a whole cabbage, include at least 2 meals using cabbage so you can use it up or perhaps have a stirfry towards the end of the week to use up leftover vegetables.
ADD IN THE PROTEIN
Because we eat meat about 3 times a week I think what I would like to eat that week. I always try to have tinned chickpeas, cannellini beans or black beans in the cupboard, frozen edamame beans, haloumi or feta, dried lentils and eggs. Then I just choose the meat I like.
Roast cauliflower, greens, cannellini beans and romeso
Korean beef mince, brown rice, vegetables
Roast root vegetable salad, baby spinach, haloumi, spiced chickpeas
Fish curry, rice, broccoli
Homemade Foccacia , sauteed greens, leftover romesco, fried egg
Leftover vegetable, red lentil and chorizo soup with toasties or chorizo, broccoli and tomato pasta
Sunday - family dinner ?
A LITTLE PREP GOES A LONG WAY
I usually shop on the weekend and on Sunday like to spend an hour doing a little prep for the week. This just means you’re not starting from scratch each night. I at least do some baking or snacks for lunch boxes or make a dressing for salads. Sometimes I make a big frittata with the left over vegetables or roast them up and cook a grain for lunches. Depending on what I have on that week I might prep these things from above.
Korean beef mince
Salad dressing for the salad
Make the curry base and freeze it
Other things that are handy are hummus or a flavourful dip - something that will really lift a simple meal, soup for lunches (or use leftovers).
Also if you don’t need to do any food prep, take the time to put the vegetables away properly. Put herbs in containers, tear off carrot tops. Place greens in a container or in a bag. Wash lettuce, spin and put in a container or a sealed bag etc…
UTILISE ANY EQUIPMENT YOU HAVE
Slow cookers, mandolins, food processors. All these things help when you’re in a hurry! Personally I prefer using the oven to a slow cooker as I think the flavour is better. I don’t mind using them for soup, once I have cooked out the base for maximum flavour first.
I hope that helps! If I think of anything else then I will add it in.