There is nothing worse than coming home from a busy day and to suddenly wonder the eternal question- what do I cook for dinner? These are the evenings when with no clear plan in place: it is easy to rush out for a quick take away meal or drive to the local grocery store with the intention of buying some ingredients for dinner but instead, walk out with a packet of chocolate biscuits and end up eating them for tea. Yes, unfortunately I speak from experience!
This cycle goes on and on, wasting precious free time and money. A simple way to avoid this dilemma is to meal plan. Planning can be done for a week, fortnight or even a month. For beginners, I suggest starting off with a weekly plan until you get in to the habit.
Organizing a meal plan does take some time, but I believe it is well worth it, as you will be saving money on buying only the things you need. It also frees up time that would ordinarily be spent making multiple trips to the supermarket and saves on the cost of petrol. Also planning ahead saves the dilemma of an empty fridge.
First you need to take a look at what is already in your cupboard, fridge and freezer. You may already have several items that could be made into a meal. If you have pasta, then include a pasta meal to the plan. Using the items you already have on hand stops you from buying unnecessary items that may not get used.
Decide what meals you and your family like to eat. I tend to include a roast, pasta dish, rice dish, soup and a vegetarian meal at least once a week to my plan. Minced beef is a cheap option and many meals can be made out of this one ingredient, like spaghetti bolognaise, rissoles or tacos. You could even make up a large batch of the sauce and freeze some for another evening meal. If you need some inspiration for your plan, have a look at some cookbooks or here for some great recipe ideas.
Once you have finished your meal plan, it’s time to write the shopping list. Remember to include all the ingredients needed to cook your meals and any additional ones needed for homemade snacks and lunches during the week.