Making a plan and sticking to it (Or why meal planning is only the first step!)

I've been asked lots of times about meal planning and following through to actually doing the plan, so I thought I'd do a post about that.

There are LOADS of videos on You Tube telling you how to meal plan, but here are the basics.

1) Don't spend loads of money buying boards/planners/ stickers/stuff... The back of an envelope will do.

2) Make a plan

3) Shop the plan

4) Stick to the plan (broadly speaking, it's fine to allow some wiggle room)

So, here's what works for me, what works for you will probably be different, but play around with some different ways until you find the best one.

  • Choose a time to do your meal planning - This is usually Sunday evening for me, especially as I tend not to be in work on Monday, so I do my shopping then. Not leaving too much time between making the plan and executing it works really well for me.
  • Work out what you're doing in the week - Get your calendar/diary/phone/wherever you keep all your appointments and schedules for your family and work out what you're doing in the week. It's no good planning to cook something from scratch on a day when you're rushing out of the door to do clubs or events. If you have school-aged children, this may be the time to go through their bookbags to find those "forgotten" letters about events.
  • Check your fridge/freezer/pantry - to see what you already have and to check whether there's anything that you need to use up
  • Get some paper and divide it into 7 sections - Then divide each section into 3 (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner). If you plan for each meal, you'll think about what you're eating and what you need to have in the house, which should save you having to keep going to the shops too.
  • Write down what you're going to have for each meal - Remember to refer to your plans for the week and also the stuff you already have in the house that might need eating up or that you might want to eat.
  • Make a shopping list - Based on your plan, make a list of the things you need to buy. Aim to only have to go shopping once (this will save you time and money!)
  • Shop the list - When you go shopping, shop your list, don't buy anything that isn't on there (that way lies waste!)
  • Eat to the plan - As closely as you can. Obviously sometimes that might not work, but try and stick as closely as you can to the plan, again this saves on waste (both food and money).
I try to cook extra portions of things to freeze, so that there are always some easy defrost/re-heat options available if we're busy.

I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't eat out or get take away sometimes (we do), just plan accordingly.

And that's how I meal plan and shop. It works for me. How do you do it?


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