Meal Planning

A place to showcase my meal plans each week.

Meal Planning: Holidays

Meal Planning: Holidays

We are heading away this week to spend a couple of nights in a yurt in Kent!  Although we love going away, it is a rare and exciting event for us so we are all buzzing.  Ideally, we wanted to go camping because it is the best but felt that the time of year was probably not right for taking two small kids away in a tent.  This was when my husband found a beautiful yurt in the Kent Downs.  I could not have booked it up quick enough.  Anyway, because I’m in a chilled out mood and ready to go away I’ve decided that I’m going to take a break from meal planning.  BUT I thought that rather than ignore this weekly post entirely, I’d do my top tips for meal planning on holiday.

 

Why should you listen to me?

I know!  You might think that if I’m so good at meal planning on holiday why aren’t I taking my own advice and doing it this time?  Well, firstly, I’ve meal planned through several holidays.  When you have multiple dietary requirements you pretty much HAVE to plan ahead when it comes to food.  Meal planning on holiday is pretty much a necessity whenever I go away.  All inclusive holidays still require a lot of forward thinking and a suitcase full of free from products.

 

Secondly, despite the fact that I haven’t meal planned yet I probably will before I go away.  The likelihood is that after I finish writing this I will get the collywobbles about feeding my family WITHOUT A MEAL PLAN and just do one anyway.  Plus what if they don’t have supermarkets in Kent!  (They do!  My parents live there!  We go there all the time.  There are definitely supermarkets.)  I will meal plan through this, but I’m just enjoy a day or two off and the feeling of recklessness that comes with it.

 

Why should you do meal planning on holiday?

  1. It keeps the cost down.  Holidays are already an extra expense.  Throwing a huge food budget on top can just be that step too far.
  2. It can avoid that desperate search for food.  We’ve had this moment a few times.  Your family arrive at a new place.  You need food.  You hunt around for a restaurant or shop and realise that you are in the middle of nowhere.  The kids are hungry.  You are hungry.  Ugh!  Meal planning and a coolbox can go a long way in these situations.
  3. Everyone gets their favourite foods.  You can take the whole family’s food faves into consideration and make sure that everyone is happy (ish).

 

Top tips for meal planning on holiday

  1. Consider the equipment you will have available.  Do you have a full kitchen?  Or just a kitchenette?  What about a BBQ?  Knowing what cooking facilities you will be able to use will inform your meal planning so that you can avoid disappointment on arrival.
  2. Think about where the food will come from.  If you are taking all the food with you then this is straight forward.  If not, it is worth thinking about shops, supermarkets and restaurants that are near to where you are staying.  AND how are you going to get the food back from the shops.  Planning for this in advance will take the pressure off.
  3. Make a list of everyone’s wants.  My family all have different holiday food requests.  I like to snack in the evenings when we are away so I buy some packets of crisps.  My husband likes a fry up so I get some bacon and eggs in.  The kids love pain au chocolat so I get a big packet and they survive on those all week.
  4. Plan the snacks!  Being on holiday means that you’ll want treats.  Plus there is likely to be temptation everywhere.  Thinking ahead on this will mean that you can save yourself money by avoid those premium prices.
  5. Allow yourself to eat out.  Part of being on holiday is enjoying being in a new place.  It would be very dull for me to go away and just eat my usual pasta bake every day.  Therefore, give yourself some slots to explore the local cuisine and budget for this.  It is far better to plan for this than to buy food and let it go to waste because you chose to eat out instead.

 

There you have it!  Meal planning on holiday can save you money and relieve some of the stress around mealtimes (particularly if you’ve got kids or allergies).  But make sure that it doesn’t sap all the fun out of the experience.  You can find the balance!  I believe in you!

 

Got any more tips?  Share them with me below!

Katykicker

This post is part of the Meal Planning Linky produced by Katykicker.

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

Meal Planning On Holiday. As we are having a couple of nights away this week, I decided to break from tradition and give my top tips for meal planning on holiday. Stay in budget, prevent food waste and still enjoy yourself. #budget #mealplanning #frugalliving #savingmoney

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Meal Planning, 3 comments
Meal Planning: Birthday Treats

Meal Planning: Birthday Treats

This Saturday will be my husband’s 33rd birthday!  (Yep!  He’s well old!)  Unlike me, he has cast iron guts and enjoys eating all food without any consequences.  However, because he’s a good husband, he eats mostly gluten free, dairy free and low FODMAP to make things easier at home.  There are plenty of times when I feel sorry for him and think that he would perhaps enjoy living in a house where he doesn’t have to instantly clean up every stray breadcrumb or where he can have actual garlic in a bolognese rather than garlic oil.  But he never grumbles and actually he is a complete superstar about it.

 

Therefore, for his birthday this year, we have arranged to spend the evening at our local Oktoberfest event.  There will be beer and bratwurst galore with live music just for good measure.  I’m really looking forward to it even though I’ll probably be taking a picnic and drinking water!  On top of this, I’m going to throw in some of the hubbie’s favourite meals this week, which is essentially steak and ale pie.  That man loves a pie!

 

A review of last week

In general a good week, although there was lots of binge eating on my part.  I think I ate all the food.  Goodness knows what that was about but I was hungry.  We were invited for dinner to a friend’s house midweek and that sort of threw the plan out a bit.  But it did mean that we had a leftover meal to carry forward into next week.  Woohoo!

 

Related posts:

Meal Planning: Changing the Routine

Meal Planning: It’s Soup Season

 

The week ahead

There are a few things going on this week.  For example, I have Open Evening at school meaning that I will be out of the house until late.  Then with the husband’s birthday we have my parents staying over to babysit meaning they will need food too.  Then there’s the usual activities that we have each week from work to nursery to swimming to forest school.  Everything requires some consideration on the meal plan.

 

This week’s meals

 

Breakfast

Last week I got a bit overexcited when I made eggy bread.  It tasted so good and the kids loved it too.  This triggered run of eggy bread for breakfast but also made me remember how good a hot breakfast is when the weather is a bit cooler.

 

Lunch

Bagels

Ham sandwiches

Leftover pasta bake

Chicken sandwiches

Jacket potatoes

Tuna sandwiches

Cheese on toast

 

Dinner

Spaghetti and meatballs

Mediterranean vegetable pasta bake

Roast chicken and new potatoes

Pork chops and chips

TAKEAWAY

Steak and ale pie and mash

Chilli and nachos

 

This week’s spend

I had to do a midweek pop to Tesco this week.  I say had to, but really I wanted crisps.  Ha!  Anyway I took it as an opportunity to look for yellow labels and I totally lucked out.  Hence most of the meat this week is reduced meat that I have chucked in the freezer.  Therefore, despite this week being the big shopping week I’ve managed to keep the cost low.  Very happy with that.

 

Plans for next week

Next week is exciting but I’ll tell you about that when we get there.  It is going to make for some fun meal planning though.

 

How does a family birthday change your meal planning?  Does it cost you more or less or do you keep it the same?

Katykicker

This post is part of the Meal Planning Linky produced by Katykicker.

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

Meal planning - Birthday Treats. With my husband's birthday coming up this week I've tried to plan meals that he enjoys. But as always, saving money and staying on budget is key. #mealplanning #frugalliving #savingmoney

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Meal Planning, Saving Money, 2 comments
Meal Planning: Changing the Routine

Meal Planning: Changing the Routine

Today has been a wet and miserable sort of day!  I went for a long run this morning and got absolutely soaked.  (I still loved it!)  When the weather is like this we tend to turn to food to cheer us up.  Plus because we are stuck indoors more there tend to be more opportunities to raid the fridge.  This has led to a bit of a review of our snacking practices.  On top of this we have been changing the routine with regards to our food shop.

 

A review of last week

Last week was all about soup!  It was so good!  I made spiced parsnip soup and ate a huge bowl of it with gluten free crusty bread and about a kilo of (dairy free) butter.  It warmed my bones, I tell ya!  On top of this we have had some other gorgeous meals, such as satay chicken and bacon risotto.  Both of these are really easy to make and are big hits with the family.

 

Related posts:

Meal Planning:  The Normal Week

Meal Planning: Back to Work

 

The week ahead

Busy weeks continue with the usual array of activities in this house.  Plus added to it this week is that my husband is out of the house at dinner time three times.  This typically means that I try and quick simple dinners that I know the kids will like and don’t require a huge time commitment from me.

 

This week’s meals

 

Breakfast

My husband has been busy making his own granola this week.  He is trying to reduce his sugar intake and wants to eat more “fun stuff” which basically translates to nuts and dried fruit.  I might steal a bit of this in the week when he is not around.

 

Lunch

Bagels

Ham sandwiches

Cheese on toast

Carrot & coriander soup

Pizza potatoes

Tuna sandwiches

Leftover lasagne

 

Dinner

Cheese & tomato pasta salad

Spaghetti bolognese

Bacon, egg and chips

Jacket potatoes and pulled pork

Chicken curry with rice

Lasagne

Chilli and nachos

 

This week’s spend

This is one way changing the routine has had an impact.  We switched last week to a fortnightly Tesco shop with a weekly Aldi shop.  I’d been feeling like we had been stuck when it came to reducing the cost of our weekly shop and that we needed to make a change like this to really see a difference.  If it wasn’t for needing to get gluten and dairy free products from Tesco then I would probably do all my shopping at Aldi.  However this has led to a huge saving this week.  As always I am going to try and get more creative and find new ways to bring the costs down.  Any ideas are very much welcomed!

 

Plans for next week

I think I may spread this idea of change into other areas of my life and see what else I can achieve.  It would be good to save a few quid here and there and even make some more money.

 

What could you change when it comes to your food shop or meal planning?  What impact would you like to see?

Katykicker

This post is part of the Meal Planning Linky produced by Katykicker.

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

Meal Planning: Changing the Routine. Sometimes you need to make a big change to see a big difference. That's what we have done this week. Check it out. #mealplanning #frugalliving

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Meal Planning, Saving Money, 13 comments
Meal Planning:  It’s Soup Season

Meal Planning: It’s Soup Season

I’m writing this late on Sunday evening.  It has been a great day!  I took the kids out running with me whilst my husband went on a mega bike ride this morning.  After that I went to Aldi for the food shop.  The best bit, however, was spending the afternoon at our friends’ house.  They have children similar ages to ours and are kind and generous hosts.  We love hanging with them.  We spent this afternoon eating, drinking and chilling in their hot tub.  So after the surprisingly beautiful afternoon, I’m sat here thinking “Yay” It’s soup season!”  I love soup!  I know I’m odd.

 

A review of last week

As I said in last week’s post: “The Normal Week” this was to be our first week with all jobs and activities back up and running.  I was quite excited and rightly so!  This week has been great!  Everything ran like clockwork.  Despite feeling a bit busy at times the structure and routine actually gave us more time together.  Being organised was a key part of the week and meal planning was a huge contributor.  Not needing to think about food meant that it was one less thing to worry about.

 

Related posts:

Meal Planning: Top Tips

Meal Planning: Hello September

 

The week ahead

This coming week is particularly dull on paper.  It is essentially the same as last week but without forest school on Wednesday morning.  We are expecting Nanny and Grandad to visit on Saturday though, which will be nice.  And I’ve planned extra food for them.  Aside from that though, it’s business as usual.

 

I am very excited to start including soup back on my menus!  We had soup multiple times a week throughout last winter and it was amazing!  I am kicking soup season off this week with Spiced Parsnip Soup which is an absolute favourite of mine.  The recipe is one that I stole from a friend who first made this for us.  It is a simple parsnip soup with a little bit of shop bought curry paste stirred in.  And oh goodness!  It is proper yummy!

 

This week’s meals

 

Breakfast

It has been ages since I have done American pancakes.  With no forest school happening this Wednesday I’ve decided that we are going to have a lazy morning that includes pancakes, blueberries and a decent amount of maple syrup.  I’m actually quite excited about it!  Rest of the week will be “the usuals”.

 

Lunch

Bagels

Tuna sandwiches

Cheesy pasta

Cheese sandwiches

Jacket potatoes with beans and cheese

Spiced parsnip soup

Pesto pasta

 

Dinner

Satay chicken with brown rice

Sausage and chips

Bacon risotto

Pasta bake

Lemon & thyme chicken with baby potatoes

Steak & ale pie and mash

Chilli & jacket potatoes

 

This week’s spend

Another big one this week (although exactly £1 less than last week)!  This time it comes with a plan though!  I have officially made the decision to only do a Tesco delivery shop once a fortnight.  After shopping at Aldi for the last couple of weeks I have realised that the things I buy at Tesco are not costing me enough to avoid the pick and pack charge.  Therefore, this week I’ve bought double of all the stuff that I HAVE to buy at Tesco.

 

There are some things that I do not need to buy at Tesco but they are cheaper from there.  A whole chicken for example.  I figured that those foods I will just have fortnightly rather than weekly so that they stay fresh long enough.  If it is a product that will last or can be frozen then I will just buy it two weeks in advance.  Time to get more organised!

 

Plans for next week

I think next week is going to be even more boring than this one.  I guess it is time to fully embrace autumn though and get the pumpkins out.  And soup!  More soup!

 

How do your meal plans change depending on the season?  Do you incorporate all foods all year?  Or are some reserved for hotter/colder weather?

Katykicker

This post is part of the Meal Planning Linky produced by Katykicker.

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

It's soup season!  Take a look at the meal planning for this week.  Get inspired, save money and keep family life organised.  #mealplanning #frugalliving

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Meal Planning, Saving Money, 12 comments
Meal Planning: The Normal Week

Meal Planning: The Normal Week

For the first time since I made meal planning a regular feature, we have a “normal” week.  With the semi-chaos that has been the summer holidays it is almost quite nice to have the structure and routine back.  We are going to be busy though.  My husband and I both work part time, my eldest has nursery, both kids have swimming lessons and then we do forest school together.  There’s lots to coordinate and plan for when it comes to meal and shopping.  But it has been good to do a normal meal plan.

 

A review of last week

Last week went well!  It feels as though I’ve not cooked in days because we spent the weekend at my parents’ house being well looked after.  In reality, I cooked yesterday but I enjoyed the couple of days break beforehand so I really didn’t mind cooking when I had to do it again.  The rest of the week was fairly straightforward too and we stuck to the schedule.  Sign of some excellent planning!

 

Related posts:

Meal Planning: Top Tips

Meal Planning: Hello September

 

The week ahead

This is the week of the normal meal plan!  Our week goes like this:  Monday and Tuesday I go to work, Wednesday to Saturday my husband works and Sunday we are all off together.  Wednesday is also forest school in the morning for me and both kids, followed by my eldest’s swimming lesson in the afternoon.  Thursday she goes off to nursery for the day and we have my youngest’s swimming lesson that morning.  Friday my eldest is off to nursery for just the morning and we spend the afternoon doing something fun.  Saturday I take the kids to Parkrun and push them in double buggy for 5km.  Then in the afternoon, my mother in law might come and play with the kids whilst I do the housework.  Like I said, it is busy!

 

On top of all this, it is my birthday tomorrow (Tuesday) so we are having a treat meal: steak and chips!  I love steak and chips so I’m quite excited for this.  There’s also the inclusion of roast pork on Saturday which despite being expensive is my favourite so I’ve permitted this as a birthday treat too.  Whoops!

 

This week’s meals

 

Breakfast

We are so boring when it comes to breakfast really.  We all have our favourites and we default to those most days.  My 1 year old enjoys the most variety because she usually gets to try a bit of everyone’s.  On my work days, I tend to take my breakfast to work with me and enjoy it a bit later or after exercise.  My breakfast of choice is yoghurt and oats with cinnamon.  I usually chuck some blueberries on top too.

 

Lunch

Bagels

Ham and Cheese Pinwheels

Leftover Pasta Bake

Tuna sandwiches

Jacket Potatoes with beans and cheese

Cheese sandwiches

Leftover roast pork sandwiches

 

Dinner

Steak and chips

Pasta bake

Chilli and nachos

Hunter’s chicken and chips

Satay chicken and brown rice

Roast pork and new potatoes

Spaghetti bolognese

 

This week’s spend

Oh it’s a big one!  I blame my birthday.  Although compared to a couple of months ago this is about £20+ less than a “big shop” would’ve been and is still less than my £80 a week budgeted amount.  Again I did half at Tesco and half at Aldi.  I’m realising that the amount I am now shopping at Tesco is falling below the minimum spend amount so I am considering switching to a fortnightly Tesco shop.  I only shop there still because they have a good range of gluten and lactose free products which Aldi is shockingly lacking.

 

Plans for next week

Very few plans next week.  However my parents will be up that weekend so I’ll have to think of a big meal to cook for everyone.  Is it too much to cross my fingers and toes and hope for one last BBQ this year?

 

Do you change your meals depending on whether you have work that day?  Do you go for easy or fancy foods if you’ve had a hard day?

Katykicker

This post is part of the Meal Planning Linky produced by Katykicker.

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

 

Want to see the normal meal plan? Well here it is! Take a look at how I plan for a busy week so that we stay on budget and continue to save money on our groceries. #mealplanning #frugalliving

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Meal Planning, Saving Money, 8 comments
Meal Planning: Back to work

Meal Planning: Back to work

September has started spectacularly!  The weather has been gorgeous and my morning runs have allowed me to witness the first signs of autumn with beautiful misty sunrises.  Unfortunately, September isn’t all amazing as I have to go back to work tomorrow.  But I am returning, for the first time, part time.  I’ve been calling it my semi-retirement much to my husband’s annoyance!  Take a look at my back to work meal planning.

 

A review of last week

This last week has been the perfect week for meal planning.  Everything worked out perfectly!  We ate what we planned when we’d planned to eat it.  There was no popping to shops for top ups.  Nor did we need to do any switching around due to short expiry dates.  Everything just fell into place!  If only every week was this easy.

 

Related post:

Meal Planning: Top Tips

Meal Planning: Hello September

 

The week ahead

So this week it is back to work for me and back to nursery for my daughter.  It isn’t quite normal though as I’m not working my normal days and most of the kids’ activities don’t start until next week.  We will be visiting my parents for the weekend which is something that we normally do once a month.  Usually, this means that we get a cheaper shopping week but my husband will be staying at home this time so I still have to make sure he gets fed.  Plus it seems to be the week where we have run out of everything.  Toilet roll, oils, baked beans etc.  Hence it is time to stock up again.

 

This week’s meals

Note:  There are less meals this week because we will be enjoying my mum and dad’s hospitality and I am not meal planning for my husband over the weekend.  I’ve left him with a pack of sausages and a box of cereal!  He will survive!

 

Breakfast

The husband has been shaking it up this last week and having overnight oats.  It looks great and is really cheap to make so I am happy with that.  The kids are happy with their usuals of Rice Krispies and Shreddies with my littlest sharing my yoghurt most mornings.

 

Lunch

LO Pesto Pasta

Bagels

Cheese sandwiches

LO Pasta Bake

Tuna pasta

 

Dinner

Chilli & Jacket Potatoes

Bacon, egg & chips

Cheese & tomato pasta bake

Sausage & mash

Lasagne

 

This week’s spend

Again I did a half and half shop this week.  I put all the items on my Tesco order first then went to Aldi today and bought those things that were cheaper.  I have been finding that the price per unit/quantity is actually fairly comparable between the two shops.  It does however seem to be that Aldi package things in smaller quantities.  This appears to make your food shop cheaper but in reality you are getting less food.  Of course, there are some cases where one is cheaper than the other and by doing things this way I’m getting the best price.

 

Plans for next week

Next week, it’s my birthday!  Definitely going to sneak some steak and chips on the shopping list I think!  And probably the ingredients for a unicorn birthday cake.  It might be an expensive one folks.

 

Do you change your meals depending on whether you have work that day?  Do you go for easy or fancy foods if you’ve had a hard day?

Katykicker

This post is part of the Meal Planning Linky produced by Katykicker.

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

 

Back to work meal planning means thinking ahead to packed lunches and ensuring that everyone gets fed wherever we are. Check out my plans for the first week back. #mealplanning #frugal #nofoodwaste

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Meal Planning, Saving Money, 20 comments
Meal Planning: Hello September

Meal Planning: Hello September

August Bank Holiday weekend has been and gone, and true to itself, it rained!  A lot!  My husband got fairly soaked on more than one occasion this week cycling home from work so has had a complete overhaul of his cycling gear.  I have found myself craving hot chocolate rather than ice cream and it definitely feels like autumn has arrived.  Cooking delicious autumn foods is one of the best bits about this time of year, so I’m actually quite excited.  Hello September!

 

A review of last week

This week has felt a bit unsettled food wise.  Both my husband and I have exercised a lot this week and I think we have just been hungry.  I feel like all I have done this week is eat and eat and eat.  Also when I checked the weather forecast this time last week, it said it was going to be nicer than it turned out to be.  Luckily we decided to have another BBQ on Tuesday.  It really has been a great summer for BBQs.  I only hope we can fit in another one or two before we put our BBQ away for winter.

 

Related post:

Meal Planning: Top Tips

 

The week ahead

This week is the last full week of my summer holidays.  It means that after this week we will return to our busy lives of working, nursery and all the kiddies’ activities.  Although I’m looking forward to this next phase of our lives (it will be my first time working part time since I left school), I want to enjoy every last moment of this summer.  It has been beautiful!  We have had excellent weather and some amazing times together as a family.  With this remaining week, I’m going to try and spend as much time with my children and husband as possible.  Doing all the things we love.  And of course, eating yummy foods!

 

This week’s meals

 

Breakfast

With the temperature dropping, I’m feeling the need to start including more cooked breakfast options on the menu.  Therefore, I will be stocking up on porridge oats and eggs this week.  That way if it stays dry we will still be able to eat our breakfast outside as we will having lovely warm food to keep us snug.

 

Lunch

Ham and Cheese Pinwheels

Leftover Pasta

Leftover Lasagne

Bagels

Homemade Sausage Rolls

Leftover Chicken Wraps

Tuna Sandwiches

 

Dinner

Sweet tomato pasta

Lasagne

Porc Carbonnade and mash

Sausage and chips

Roast chicken and new potatoes

Spaghetti and meatballs

Pesto pasta

 

This week’s spend

This week I took a different tactic with my shopping.  I did my usual food shop on Tesco on Sunday evening for a Tuesday delivery.  Then wrote down everything including its unit price.  Monday morning I went to Aldi and did the whole shop except I only bought it if it was cheaper.  Doing this knocked £6 off my shopping bill and I even bought some extra bits in Aldi that I had forgotten I needed.  Doing it this way means I will slowly build up a list of what to buy and it will get easier each week.  This week though I am just happy with that saving.

 

Plans for next week

It is back to work and nursery for us all next week so it is going to feel a bit strange.  I’ll be up and out of the house early and preparing packed lunches, so it is going to take a bit of extra planning.  I’m hoping that I will get back into my stride quickly enough and the return of routine will help me lose some more weight too.

 

How does your meal planning change depending on what is going on?  If you are just cooking for you do you go for easy meals or go gourmet?

Katykicker

This post is part of the Meal Planning Linky produced by Katykicker and The Organised Life Project.

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

 

Once again here is my weekly meal planning post. Giving you ideas on how to meal plan on a budget. With gluten free, lactose free and low FODMAP meals. #mealplanning #frugal #lookingafteryourpennies

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Meal Planning, Saving Money, 18 comments
Meal Planning: Top Tips

Meal Planning: Top Tips

As I have been doing this for a couple of weeks now, I thought I would do something a little different this week and talk about my meal planning top tips.  I’ve been meal planning for a few months now and weathered some strange weeks where no day is normal, guests arrive out of the blue and major changes to our diet.  Therefore I feel well placed to share some of these experiences.

 

I feel like I should say before I start this that there is no right or wrong way to meal plan.  What I am going to share with you are things that I have found to be helpful for me.  You might find that you have a way that suits you better.  All that you need to know is that on the journey to saving money or on the road to eliminating food waste, any meal plan is better than no meal plan.  Here are my meal planning top tips:

 

1. Complete a food inventory first

When I first started meal planning I began by writing down all the food I had in my house.  Then I planned meals that used up the food that was already in my cupboards.  This meant that the first couple of weeks were really cheap.  As we ate through all this surplus food we were finding that our expenditure was levelling out and we weren’t hoarding food anymore.  Each week I was able to order exactly what we needed which had the added benefit of less crowded cupboards.

 

2. List your schedule

You can’t make a useful plan if you don’t know what is happening in the week.  Hence the first thing I do when I start my meal plan is to write down all the events that I know are happening that week.  I write down mine and the husband’s work schedules, nursery timings, swimming lessons, toddler groups, play dates, visitors and planned trips away.  That way I know exactly what I am working with and who I have to cater for.

 

Once a fortnight my husband goes round a friend’s house and they all have pizza, so that night I make a meal that I know that he doesn’t particularly like but that the kids and I love.  That way we all get what we want.  It also means that I can plan appropriate food for occasions, such as when we go to forest school I take finger foods for lunch like sausage rolls or cheese straws.  It makes for an easier experience for all.

 

3.  Plan for lazy days

Don’t over-commit yourself.  If you know that you like getting a takeaway on a Friday because you can’t be bothered to cook, put something in the meal plan that you love and takes zero effort.  We always try and have a “something-and-chips” night and I try and do this on a day when I know I am going to be exhausted.  That way it is a case of shove it in the oven and wait.  If you regularly set yourself up to have to cook fancy meals when you are feeling tired these will be the days when stray off the plan and treat yourself.  And by treat yourself, I mean spend all your money and leave all that food going to waste in the fridge.

 

4.  Be flexible

Life happens.  Especially if you have a partner and kids to cater for too.  Allow yourself to switch things around mid-week.  Sometimes I will plan to cook a chicken and then we will have a day out and there’s no time left to cook it.  Normally it is an easy fix and we just swap a couple of meals around.  Having a back up plan is a good idea and will stop you feeling the need to buy extra food.

 

5. Plan the snacks

I’m terrible for this.  Every Monday, when I am putting in my Tesco order, I go “I do not need snacks!  I’m going to be good this week!”  But by 3pm Tuesday I am opening the fridge at 30 seconds intervals to see if some food has magically shown up that I fancy.  Therefore I urge you to plan the snacks.  If you plan them you will be able to find a way to reduce the cost.  For example, my kids love cheese sticks.  But that is an expensive way to buy cheese.  Now I just buy extra cheese and cut it into sticks.  They don’t care and I save money.  Woo!

 

6.  Think about expiry dates

It took me ages to figure this out but there are some foods that will just not last a week.  You need to plan this in advance and eat those foods earlier in the week.  Like with our whole chicken, that will not freeze and normally has 5 days of life in it from day of purchase.  I now plan to eat that in the first couple of days after it is delivered.  Sure you can always swap a few meals around if you get a short date, but it is much easier to plan for this at the start.

 

7.  Keep a record

I do all my initial meal planning using pen and paper.  AND I do it all in the same notebook.  This means that I can flick back through for inspiration or to prevent over use of one meal.  It can also be a great way to remind yourself of any leftover food you might have to use up and stop yourself from ordering too much.

 

Alongside this, I store most of my recipe ideas on Pinterest.  This means that I can quickly look up a recipe and all of the ingredients.  Listing ingredients ensures that I order all of the items I need for a meal and don’t need to pop out midweek for extras.

 

8.  Think about bulk buying

Don’t over do it but most foods get cheaper if you buy larger quantities of them.  Therefore it may be worthwhile ordering more and having it last beyond the week.  Foods that I regularly do this with include cereals, baked beans, tuna and most other cupboard food.  Just make sure when you come to order the following week you remember they are there and factor this into your planning.

 

9.  Look for inspiration

There is a world of resources, recipes, planning tools and more to help you on your meal planning journey.  If you are the sort of person who loves your planning to look pretty you could get yourself a beautiful meal planning wall chart.  Or perhaps you like to try new foods, well head over to Pinterest and get save some fun recipes.  Meal planning should not be about limiting your options, it is about making them affordable.

 

So there you have it.  My meal planning top tips!  I hope that you find them helpful.  Now here’s my usual round up of the week ahead and my food plans for the next 7 days.

 

A review of last week

I have been exhausted the last few days and for some reason craving the absolute worst foods.  Luckily, the meal plan stopped me from straying too far into the world of eating out and takeaways (we avoided them completely actually) but there might have been the odd trip to Tesco Express for ice creams and crisps.  We also had our BBQ plans changed owing to our friends being ill, plus with the weather being a bit poor we decided we couldn’t be bothered to set the BBQ up for just us so shifted some meals around.

 

The week ahead

I think “fairly average” is a good description of this week.  The family diary is all but empty so I can just plan whatever meals I want and they will probably be OK.  I love easy weeks like this because it makes meal planning so quick and we all get to eat something we like.

 

Following on from last week’s food binge from me, I have tried to plan ahead.  There are a few extras on the list this week that are purely there because I fancied them.  I got them for a good price so I am happy to include them.

 

This week’s meals

 

Breakfast

Yet again we will be sticking to our usuals.  Shreddies and yoghurt are proving particularly popular at the moment, so I’ve made sure to stock up on those. Other than that it will be fruit and toast.

 

Lunch

Bagels & soft cheese

Leftover pesto pasta

Ham & cheese pinwheels

Tuna pasta salad

Leftover chicken sandwiches

Jacket potato pizzas

Peanut butter wraps

 

Dinner

Pesto pasta

Sausages & chips

Pork chops & mash

Roast chicken & new potatoes

Chilli & jacket potatoes

Hunters chicken & chips

Posh burgers

 

This week’s spend

 

A bit higher than it has been the last couple of weeks but I think this is owing to all the snacks.  Strangely, I tried to do some of my shopping at Aldi this week to see if that would bring the cost down more, but it has gone up.  I’ll need to experiment with this two shop arrangement more to see if I can get a balance and bring the cost down again.

 

Plans for next week

Another typical week I think.  It’ll be another week like this one, so we will have to see if anything crops up.

 

How does your meal planning change depending on what is going on?  If you are just cooking for you do you go for easy meals or go gourmet?

Katykicker

This post is part of the Meal Planning Linky produced by Katykicker and The Organised Life Project.

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

 

This week I break from my usual routine to give you my meal planning top tips. Here are 9 ways to make meal planning easier and reduce your money and food waste. #mealplanning #frugal #ecofriendly #lookingafteryourpennies

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Meal Planning, Saving Money, 10 comments
Meal Planning: Long Days and Long Nights

Meal Planning: Long Days and Long Nights

Despite the rain that hit us late last week, we had some lovely days together as a family.  My husband had four out of seven days off so we had so much time together.  We had an impromptu day at the beach on Saturday and this derailed the meal plan a bit.  But I am glad that we embraced our time together.

 

A review of last week

Generally everything went to plan.  We enjoyed lots of delicious meals and we ate most of the food.  However, as my husband was off and the weather was decent, on Saturday we decided to spend the whole day at the beach.  This included chips on the seafront and ice creams and cakes.  Yes, it was off the plan but it was such a lovely day out so was worth every penny.  And, as we had planned to have roast chicken that night but arrived home too late to cook it, we treated ourselves to a Thai food takeaway.  We haven’t had one for months and months.  Partly for money reasons but mostly due to my food requirements.  But we are very lucky to have a Thai restaurant that caters well for dietary requirements and they were very obliging.  The food was delicious!  This meant that roast chicken was delayed until Monday, and the leftover pasta was saved for Sunday.  Sunday’s parsnip soup was made but frozen so that it is ready to go at a later date.

 

The week ahead

My husband is working a lot this week and is on a few late shifts and a night out.  I always find his late shifts hard work as it means feeding, bathing and getting both kids off to bed by myself.  I know lots of people do this every day and hats off to them.  It is hard!  On days when I know he is working late, I try to plan easier meals to take the pressure off a bit, but it can make things a bit dull.

 

We have also got an exciting day on Sunday.  I am participating in another race in the morning, then husband is going on a bike ride with a family friend then we are all meeting up for a BBQ in the evening.  I am very much looking forward to socialising but am aware that this means some forward planning on the food front.  It is all included in the budget though.

 

This week’s meals

 

Breakfast

Yet again we will be sticking to our usuals.  We had pancakes and chocolate sauce as a treat at the weekend so I am expecting my eldest to start asking for that more, so we may have pancakes every day for a month now.  Other than that it will be cereal, yoghurt, fruit and toast.

 

Lunch

Houmous & vegetable dippers with toast

Leftover pasta bake

Bagels & soft cheese

Cheese sandwiches

Jacket potatoes with beans & cheese

Leftover chicken sandwiches

Leftover BBQ

 

Dinner

Tuna pasta bake

Pork meatballs

Chilli & nachos

Sticky beef

Roast chicken & new potatoes

Fry up & chips

 

This week’s spend

Another week firmly in budget.  This has got me wondering whether it is time to rethink the weekly budget.  It could be that sub £70 a week is our new normal and that I should work harder to make it even less than that.  I will give it a couple more weeks to see if we get a spike and it goes up again.

 

Plans for next week

Next week is a “normal” week for us.  No plans, husband is working and it will be me and the kids at home.  It sounds boring but at least it will make for some easy meal planning.

 

How does your meal planning change depending on what is going on?  If you are just cooking for you do you go for easy meals or go gourmet?

Katykicker

This post is part of the Meal Planning Linky produced by Katykicker and The Organised Life Project.

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

 

The third in my meal planning post looks at how my planning changes when my husband is out of the house more. Check out my ideas for this week. #mealplanning #budgeting #foodwaste #lookingafteryourpennies

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Meal Planning, Saving Money, 0 comments
Meal Planning: Family Days

Meal Planning: Family Days

The weeks just fly past don’t they?  I feel like I have only just finished the last of these posts and here we are again.  Anyway I really enjoyed writing last week’s post so I am looking forward to writing my meal planning post for this week.

 

A review of last week

Generally everything went to plan.  All the food got eaten so that was good.  We did decide to have a BBQ one day because the weather was just lovely and neither of us wanted to go indoors to cook.  This meant that we did go out and buy extra food for the occasion.  We had to do a couple of meal switches around because I was planning on my parents being here for dinner on Saturday but this changed to Sunday, so I swapped those meals over so I had enough to cater for everyone.  The husband was a little disappointed about this because he was hoping to eat most of a giant lasagne.  Unlucky!

 

The week ahead

Although normality has not resumed (still summer holidays and still no nursery), things have settled down in the way of visitors and events.  In addition to this my husband is off work for four out of the next seven days so we get lots of time together.  This also allows for some slightly more fancy meals as with another pair of eyes on the kids we can spend a bit longer cooking.

This week’s meals

 

Breakfast

We are going to be cycling through our usuals again this week.  My children will mostly eat cereals, toast, fruit and yoghurt with a milk drink.  My husband has granola and yoghurt, and I: oats and yoghurt.  As a treat we may have pancakes or eggy bread when Daddy is off work.

 

Lunch

Bagels

Tuna sandwiches

Chicken salad

Jacket potatoes with cheese

Leftover pasta bake

Parsnip soup

Toasties

 

Dinner

BBQ

Pizza & chips

Pork belly & mash

Mediterranean vegetable pasta

Roast chicken & new potatoes

Steak & ale pie

Pork meatballs & spaghetti

 

This week’s spend

This week’s groceries spend was another cheap one, but this was made cheaper by finding some lovely yellow ticket items (reduced) when I had to pop into Tesco on Saturday for milk (my parents drink A LOT of tea).  Also I am finding that the hot weather is reducing my need for food.  I’d much rather have an ice cold drink than a big meal so that is a saving too!

 

Plans for next week

Again another typical week next week.  I might spend some time this week looking at different meals and branching out.  It all takes that bit longer when you have to adapt recipes to make them gluten and lactose free and low FODMAP.  Worth it though!

 

How does your meal planning change depending on what is going on?  If you are just cooking for you do you go for easy meals or go gourmet?

Katykicker

This post is part of the Meal Planning Linky produced by Katykicker and The Organised Life Project.

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

 

With lots of family days ahead, meal planning needs a different kid of thinking about this week. Take a look at what we are eating this week. #mealplanning #frugalliving #familylife #lookingafteryourpennies

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Meal Planning, Saving Money, 2 comments