9 Tips to Effective Meal Planning
- Check the inventory for what food you have in the fridge, the pantry and freezer (think about which perishable foods need to be eaten soonest?) .
- Next, think about the meals you'll feel like eating this week (consider the weather, the meals you've been craving lately, even draw upon inspiration from cookbooks or recipes you've seen online, just make sure you keep it realistic).
- Decide on the proteins first: each week I like to have a spread of one legume dish, one meat dish, two fish/seafood dishes, and one dish I'm really craving
- Add some vegetables in different cooking formats (salads, soups, stir frys, baked vegies).
- Add in a grains/starchy vegie to bring satisfaction to the meal (ensure this matches with the cooking method for example, a stir-fry calls for stir-fried corn, noodles or rice, rather than mashed potato).
- Map it out in your weekly planner – when will you prepare each dish? (Literally print out a weekly meal planner sheet or buy a pre-printed pad from somewhere like Kmart).
- Write out a list of grocery items you need to buy from the market (any pad of paper can be used, or better still, buy a magnetic pad to stick up on the fridge).
- Freeze the perishables that might spoil before you get to them.
- Don't forget to defrost the proteins as you need them. This needs action the night before (I have a daily reminder on my mobile phone that alerts me at dinner time to defrost tomorrow's 'meat/fish', which keeps me right on track with my meal plan for the next day).