Organising your week and your food together is one of the most important steps in meal planning. It will save you so much time, stress and can even help you to eat “better”!
We've already discussed how one of the main advantages of meal planning is to avoid frantic last minute shop runs and panic take-away purchases...
Well this starts by looking at the calendar and working out what time you all have to do what!
Step 1: What’s on this week?
Fill in the calendar! Our Planner sits on the kitchen counter and as everyone walks past or shouts out “hey Mum - next Thursday …..” etc etc – it goes in there.
Step 2: Use the time you have
OK ok – I know the answer feels like it’s always “There is NO time” – but there must be a little!
If you’re going to be home because there aren’t 8,675 extra-curricular things and meetings happening, it’s a great night to make double and freeze.
If you’re going to all be home super late, dip into that freezer stash. Or schedule in that Uber- Eats!
If everyone is in and out at all odd hours – a cold dinner in Summer or a dinner that can be left in a slow cooker in the cooler months for everyone to help themselves is a must. Or a dinner popped into a container that can easily be reheated, or taken for lunch the next day if someone’s plans change.
Making Use of the Extra Time
Make double and freeze! Future you loves “I-made-double-and-froze-it” you oh so much (and you know it).
Slow cooker dinners are SO good for this, and also don’t require that much extra time.
Prep tomorrow night’s dinner – it doesn’t matter if you have the same salad or the same green veg 2 nights in a row. Midweek the priority is everyone got fed, and to a standard that you're ok with!. Throw some meat into marinade to throw in a roasting pan or on the bbq, make a salad dressing, wash and prep extra veg.
Any little job no matter how small will help. I have found that this approach works much better than giving up entire blocks of my weekend to meal prepping. It’s rarely much extra effort to make a little more while I’m in the kitchen anyway.
You might even find you have a little bit of time in the morning just to throw everything into the slow cooker for that night.
What to do when there's No Time!
I know I’m sounding like a broken record, but everyone will have their own tolerance level for pre-made food. Do a little research and find yours. The classic of course is the “Bachelor’s Handbag” (cooked chook), with rolls and a bag of salad. There’s nothing wrong with that at all from time to time! Look to your butcher and local deli for good quality pre-made meals with fresh ingredients (like pies and quiches, ready made skewers and ready made salads).
One of our fave meals is potato gnocchi, fresh pesto and a salad made of rocket & pear with balsamic glaze.
As I said above, slow-cooker dinners are fantastic as you throw it all in ; as are one-tray bakes.
For me a flat-roast chicken with some seasonal veg takes around 15 mins to prep, and then the oven does all the work.
Do you look at your calendar when you meal plan? What other dinners do you make when you have more time or less time?