Sometimes life can get in the way of cooking fresh and healthy meals every night. I often found that once I got home from a day at work my brain could barely think of what I want for tea and would often end up cooking something in the microwave. A few years ago when I stated Slimming World, I found the key to success was in the preparation and planning, and this is where my meal planning passion came in.I have shared lots of meal plans and meal prepping ideas on my blog and have even made a post about prepping your whole month of meals up in advance. It can save so much time and money to just simply plan your meals ahead, and here I share my top tips to make meal planning easier!
Spend time each week looking for recipes and saving them.
I spend a lot of time looking at images of recipes for inspiration. Places like Pinterest are packed with beautiful images and recipes, and you can create your own boards of saved recipes. You could also just search for something like ‘chicken recipes’ in google. Look through the images and if you see something that sounds nice, write it down or add it to a Pinterest board. Meal planning is much easier when you have lots of already selected recipes to choose from.
Ask your partner, family, and friends what they like to eat.
If you have run out of ideas for yourself, ask around to get some further inspiration. When I worked in an office I used to really enjoy asking everyone what they had for tea the night before, just to get some inspiration. Even if it was something simple like ‘meatballs’, it can spark lots ideas in your head on possible meals- you’d be surprised how much it can help!
Write down your meal plan and keep them even after you’ve finished using them.
Use a meal planner journal, a piece of paper and a pen, your phone, a spreadsheet- anything you can to write down your meal plan. I like to rotate my meal plans, so once I find one for the week that I love, I will recycle it later and use again. Once you have some recipes in your repertoire that you like, you can combine 2 or 3 different meal plans to make a brand new one.
Check your cupboards for existing ingredients to save on cost.
Once you’ve decided on your meals for the week, next job is to draft up a shopping list with all the ingredients you need. Always check your cupboards and fridge and take an inventory first. You may have things in there that you forgot you even had! This makes the process of shopping more efficient, and cheaper! There’s nothing worse than coming home and finding you already had something that you just bought.
Make the first meal of the week the easiest.
The first day of the week can often be hard to get through, and even harder to keep on track. That’s why I find making the easiest meal at the start of the week no only makes life easier but can give you the confidence to keep on plan and on track throughout the rest of the week. Once you get the first day down, it’s much easier from there.
If there’s anything you can prep ahead of time, do it!
I love using my slow cooker as you can put your meal in it in the morning, and come home to a cooked dinner in the evening. A lot of meals can be created by throwing everything into the pot, which leaves room for prepping ahead. Use freezer bag meals to add all the ingredients for each meal into, then put it in the slow cooker in the morning and leave to cook. Even if you have a spare few minutes, you can chop up some veggies in preparation for the next meal.