Since switching to a vegetarian diet, I’ve been getting more into meal planning. Whilst it might sound boring or even a little bit obsessive, I find that it really helps me to get the most of my days/weeks and also spend smarter with regards to the weekly food shop as, aside from my little sister, my family still all eat meat.
I’m currently attempting to save for my travels to Bali, Malaysia and Hong Kong in November so every penny makes a difference. The main take-away from this is that it helps to try and group up recipes and ingredients and all of that joyously mundane stuff, as well as, you know, meaning I can talk and think about food for a bonus hour.
Work with what you’ve got
First up, I open up my cupboards and the fridge and see what I’ve already got in my stocks or what I could potentially mooch off my parents for. I find the most expensive part of my food shop is simply restocking essentials like pastas, seasonings, etc. so it’s great when things are plentiful. Also, check for those loose ends: have you got a spare potato? A stray pepper? Make a mental note – or a physical Post-it note – of all of these.
Check in with your diary
Next, open up your ‘diary’. Grab a sheet of paper or block out a part of your weekly scheduler/bullet journal and plot out the days you’ll be home and the meals you plan on cooking at home. Be real with yourself and if you think you’re probably not going to cook, write that down. Meal planning is a great way to prevent or reduce food wastage. This is also often when I begin to feel incredibly guilty about all the times I plan on eating out with friends! Once you’ve got three chunks blocked out for each day of your week, you’re halfway there.
Crack out the cookbooks
Diary in hand, it’s time to crack out the cookbooks, recipe cards and all of your foodie ideas! Pop little paper stickers and page holders on the meals you plan to make for breakfast, lunch and dinners and jot those down in your diary. Try and match up these recipes and meal ideas with what’s left from your stocks, too. Don’t forget, you can always plan to batch cook a dinner and use the leftovers as lunch for the next day! I find that planning my meals helps me to cut down on snacks too – opt for things that you think you’ll love as well as are rich in grains, proteins, etc. to eat a little smarter!
My favourite cookbooks:
The food shop
Finally, it’s time for the food shop. You should now be in a position to make a list of any outstanding ingredients by cross-referencing your marked-out recipe books and list of things you have. I like to make batches of fresh pesto, cool salsa and guacamole nearly every week so the ingredients for those pretty much always sit in my grocery list. Don’t be afraid to buy bigger volumes of things if they’re more affordable and simply freezing them if possible.
Last but not least, use your Sunday to food prep. Having planned your meals, see if there’s anything you can batch prepare on Sunday to make the week’s cooking easier. A lot of the things I eat, I prefer to prepare fresh on the evening but it could be of use to fill Tupperware with pre-cooked and prepared food to cobble together and heat through. You could even freeze things for the Friday/Saturday/Sunday!
How do you prep your foodie week?