Meal planning is a great way of being organised, saving money and avoiding waste – all at the same time. It can also help you stick to a healthy, nutritious diet or a weight loss plan because you will have the next meal organised and will therefore be less likely to raid the fridge, reach for the biscuit tin or be tempted by a take away.
So start saving money, reducing your food waste and cutting down on those unnecessary extra calories with meal planning. Here are a few tips to help you start.
1. List all your family’s favourites recipes
First of all, make a list of your family’s favourite recipes. Aim to have around 20 meals on your list. You can do it in groups of 4 or 5 food types, so say you start with pasta, find 4 pasta dishes for your list. Then maybe chicken recipes, fish, vegetarian, etc. Add in any favourite accompaniments, veg dishes or salad combinations.
2. Batch cooking & freezing
Plan ahead and think about cooking in batches and freezing. If you plan to make something that freezes well like spaghetti sauce, a curry or casserole, make double and freeze the second portion for later in the week when you are more pressed for time.
3. Write down the meals for the week
Write out the meals for the next 7 – 14 days on a piece of paper. Roughly balance the week’s meals by including a pasta dish, a chicken recipe, a fish recipe and two vegetarian dishes each week. Add matching accompaniments to each dish such as potatoes, brown rice, backed beans etc. Then balance the meal with a vegetable.
Remember roughly 1/2 the plate should be vegetables, 1/4 protein and 1/4 carbohydrate.
4. Shop with a shopping list
Write next week’s shopping list from the meals you have planned. Finally, stick your meal plan on your fridge or another prominent place where you can have a quick glance at it in the morning. Make a note on your plan if you need to take something out of the freezer, or if you can prepare part of the meal in advance.
By Lynda Hamilton, an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist BSc, BHSc (N&D) at Hamilton Dietetics.
As dietitian in North Sydney Lynda covers Mona Vale, Kogarah, Collaroy Plateau, Dee Why, the Northern Beaches, Palm Beach, Newport, Narrabeen and Avalon.
Be diet free for life and never count calories again. Join Lynda’s new program – the 10 Weeks to Freedom Anti-Diet Weight Loss Program.