How meal planning will save you money

If you’re busy, on a budget or struggle to think of ideas for what to cook every night for your family then meal planning is for you. Addressing all of these common cooking concerns, meal planning is an easy tool that can quickly save you time, money and effort, simply by forcing you to be organised. Here’s how it works and why you should give it a try:

What is meal planning?

Meal planning is when you plan your meals for the following week ahead of time. By jotting down what dishes you will be cooking in one go, you can not only ensure you’re feeding your family a balanced diet, you help control impulsive takeout ordering when you’re too tired to think about what to cook for dinner, and you cut down on food wastage and numerous trips to the supermarket. Meal planning involves writing down every meal for an entire week as well as your grocery list (doing so at the same time has the added benefit of highlighting where you can double up on ingredients or batch cook meals).

The benefits of meal planning:

It may take a little practice but once you get into the swing of it, meal planning will only take you a small amount of time to plan, and you’ll quickly learn what meals are a hit with the family so you can call upon those recipes again and again. The more you make them, the easier and quicker they are to prepare.

Meal planning saves you time by forcing you to think about an entire week’s worth of meals in one hit so you can get everything you need from the supermarket in one visit. It also encourages you to cook in bulk, so you can prepare two nights’ worth of meals at the same time.

Meal planning can also help your family to eat healthier. Your menus will be well-planned to always include plenty of vegetables, and you won’t be tempted to order takeaway because everything you need to whip up dinner will already be in your fridge and pantry. This practice can helps eliminate wastage because it makes you think about meals that have crossover – like using lettuce in tacos one night, then using up the rest of your lettuce to make san choy bau the next evening.

Top tips:

  • Display your meal plan for the week on the fridge so the whole family knows what’s on the menu. Invite them to contribute to the planning process and request a favourite meal each month.
  • File away each of your weekly meal plans, and reuse them every month or so to save time on planning. Make notes of which dishes were big hits, and don’t forget to include your grocery list.
  • Set aside a day a week to batch cook. Doing it in one sitting will save you stress during the week when you have less time to dedicate to cooking. Freeze sauces and cut vegetables so they’re ready to go when you need them.
  • Keep a file of quick and easy recipes so you’ll always have plenty of inspiration on hand. Tear them out from magazines, photocopy them from cookbooks or print them off from the internet. Deciding on what to feed your family is half the battle sometimes!
  • Browse through your supermarket catalogues to see what’s on special for the coming week and plan your meal accordingly. You’ll shave dollars off your grocery bill and it will help inspire your meal choices, too.