You may remember back in January I wrote about the changes I was making as part of the IKEA Live LAGOM project. One of those changes was to start meal planning every week. The main aim of this was to reduce food waste and to save money on my grocery shopping. Out of all the small changes we made make in January, this has made the biggest impact. Alongside saving money I feel less stressed when it comes to meal times and way more organised. Today I wanted to share some of the tips I’ve picked up over the last few months of meal planning.
Meal Planning to Reduce Food Waste
I’d always put off meal planning because I thought it was too complicated. Just search meal planning on Pinterest and you’ll find heaps of complex (yet beautiful) systems and templates. But the reality is meal planning is super simple. At the end of the day its just a case of planning what you are going to eat each week. It’s that simple! It takes me about 15 minutes to plan out my meals and write out a shopping list each week. And best of all I’m not throwing away as much food and creating way less waste. In fact, I haven’t put out a full bin since December. There also has been less of those ‘I have nothing to eat’ panic shops which always end in you spending too much and buying things you don’t need.
Over the last few months, I’ve found a few ways to make the process a little easier.
Write it down
I’ve been writing my meal plans on my weekly spreads in my bullet journal. Not only does this help me remember what I have planned I can add any prep to my to-do as everything is in the one place. If you don’t use a bullet journal it really helps to have your meal plan written down somewhere. Ideally, this should be somewhere you check often. There is no point in writing it in a notebook if that notebook then just sits on your desk. I suggest pinning your meal plan to your fridge so you see it everytime you’re in the kitchen. I’d quite like to have a stainless steel board in the kitchen which I can write the weekly meal plan and any notes. This way everyone in the house knows what’s planned and can get started cooking in the evening.
Have a master meal List
Before you start meal planning it’s so helpful to create a master list of your favourite meals. I have a spread in my bullet journal which lists meals we eat regularly and I can cook easily. My list contains about 20 simple meals which I can cook any night of the week. This has been so helpful when I’m stuck for meal ideas or need a little inspiration. Obviously, it’s nice to switch things up and try new recipes but on a Tuesday evening after a long day at work, you need something quick and easy.
Plan around your calendar
Check your calendar before you start meal planning every week. Are there any nights you’ll be working late or out in the evening? Make sure you plan around these events. If you’re going out to eat then you don’t need to plan anything and if you’re working late you’ll want something quick and easy for when you get in. It sounds really obvious but I know I’ve forgotten I’m working late and had a complex meal planned which I’ve skipped in favour of something simple when I got in.
Plan based on when you have
Alongside checking your calendar for the week you should also check your kitchen cupboards before planning. It makes sense to work around things you already own. This makes shopping easier and stops your cupboards overflowing. I bulk buy ingredients at the beginning of the month. This means I only have to buy fresh produce during my weekly shop. Meaning I get my shopping done faster and it costs less. Things like meat can be frozen and pasta/rice stored in jars in the cupboard.
One for dinner, one for the freezer
I’ve gotten into the habit of cooking double portions and putting one in the freezer. This makes everything so much easier as you always have a meal option in the freezer. I normally have one night a week which is a freezer meal. Normally this is a day when I’m busy during the day so just reheating a meal is ideal. Because I know what I’m doing ahead of time I always remember to take meals out of the freezer to defrost. This is especially useful when I’m home alone as I have single portions in the freezer so no need to cook for one person.
*Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Ikea and Hubbub. As part of their campaign, Ikea kindly provided us with a budget to choose a selection of products that will hopefully help us live a more sustainable life. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own.