Planning and preparing the family meals each and every day can take its toll on your creativity and sometimes even your mental health.
Trying to think of endless combinations or remember exactly what people love can be stressful enough, never mind remembering what you actually should be cooking that night.
A recent article in The Huffington Post asked the very question we all want to ask but might be too afraid:
Do we really save time and money when we plan our meals ahead?
It’s a no-brainer that the answer is YES – you will save time and money, and become healthier if you master this key household skill, whilst looking like a productive Ninga Mum balancing it all.
// You will save on TIME
To plan ahead you will need to give up a small chunk of your week ahead of time, say a Friday night, but this will remove the need to run to the shops and take an extra 30 mins out of your already busy day when you forgot the cheese for the pizza that night.
// You will save MONEY
Impulse purchasing when you are hungry and just want something quick to give to the kids so you can all move from “Hangry” to normal again is a real emotion driver – but planning ahead means you can even start to cook meals ahead of time and freeze them.
Creating your own “Ready Meals” by using your freezer smartly each week, to prep ahead and have items ready simply to reheat in the oven is a great way to get the benefits of a quick cook to a tasty meal for the family.
QUICK WIN – I tend to online shop to avoid any impulse purchases too by getting distracted by the various promotions.
// How do I Meal Plan? Teach me
Here is exactly how I meal plan, and you can find many examples on my Youtube channel too if you need more inspiration:
- Look through all my cupboards and freezer and write down what I have left over to use up (it’s free after all!)
- Note down portions as well of the items left over, we don’t want to misjudge how much food we have there for meals and hungry tummies.
- Label each day with any activities for the family that might require a speedy meal, or little effort prep meal.
- I use my AutoPilot Meal Planner Spreadsheet as a source of our favourite meal suggestions, and then let the spreadsheet randomize our meals for that week ahead.
- With the list of items that I am missing from meals right now, I create my shopping list and write down my Weekly Meal Plan. You can even use my FREE Mamafurfur Weekly Meal Planner printout too which you can find here
- Take that list and go online to do my shopping, and with a weekly budget from my Monthly Budget assigned to Food already, I try to stay within that weekly limit where possible.
// Monthly Meal Plan for an even greater win!
Now that you have mastered weekly meal planning, you could feel brave enough to tackle a monthly meal plan instead.
All the benefits of before but far more money and time to be saved.
You could easily set aside one day only to do all your shopping, outside of small perishable items such as fruit and milk, and blast through it quickly.
I like to then set aside 15 mins each week to run and do that “top up shop” for fresh items, but knowing I’m there for only a few things means I am less likely to be distracted by all the promotions again and buy what I don’t need.
A monthly food shop is particularly great if you are on a tighter budget for your household and really need to stick more rigidly to the monthly food budget you have.
// Ready for the Challenge?
So this next week ahead, why not try to Meal Plan if you don’t already?
Or even better – Do a Monthly Food Plan and test how much money and time you save.