How to make a weekly meal plan
Planning can really help you have healthy meals and snacks no matter how busy things get.
Planning can help you have healthy meals and snacks no matter how busy things get. Having a meal plan can save time, money and reduce food waste. Just remember to stick to your shopping list.
Here are six steps to making a meal plan:
1. Give yourself time to plan
Set aside time each week to make a meal plan. Think about:
How many meals you need to prepare for the week
When you need to make quick meals or prepare them in advance
2. Check what you have
Check what ingredients you already have in your cupboard, fridge or freezer. Check the ‘use-by’ dates of foods to see what you need to use up first, start by planning your meals around this.
The way you store food has a big impact on how long it lasts. Follow these tips:
- Check the label for advice on how to store food.
- Put new items to the back, and older items to the front of the fridge/cupboard.
- Label all foods with the name and the date before freezing so they can be easily identified.
3. Include some of your favourite meals
- Make a go-to list of meals that you enjoy
- Introduce new recipes when you have extra time
- Think about having a themed night, like Meatless Monday for example.
4. Use up your leftovers
- Plan meals that can be refrigerated and heated up or eaten cold the next day such as pasta bake, soup, shepherd’s pie, curry, lasagne or beef stew.
- Use leftover vegetables in an omelette, soup or salad, or add leftover meat to a curry or stir-fry.
- Remember leftovers stored in the fridge must be used within three days.
5. Cook in bulk
- Cook extra and refrigerate or freeze the leftovers. Pies, curries, stews and casseroles all freeze well.
- If you are using the oven, think about what else you can cook at the same time. If you are doing a casserole, you could cook some chicken breasts to go in sandwiches.
6. Make your ingredients work
- Choose recipes that use the same key ingredients such as roast chicken, chicken stir fry and chicken sandwiches
- Pick 2-3 main vegetables and add them to a meat, pasta or fish dish. For example, peppers, broccoli and sweetcorn can be added to a beef stir-fry but can also be used to make a vegetable pasta bake or served with meat or fish.
New to meal planning? Here's a three-week plan to get you started.