Eating? Now you’re talking – but, as I am head chef in our household, if I want to eat, I need to cook. And while I don’t relish it, I do my best.
Each day I make two or three different main meals because of Freya’s allergies, my vegetarianism and my husband’s meat loving tendencies so anything that makes it easier has to be a good thing in my book – and that’s the main way meal planning has surprised me since I started a couple of months ago.
When I wrote about wanting to return to a more sustainable lifestyle Louise, Renee and Mands, who also writes about meal planning and posts delicious recipes, suggested food was a good place to start (thank you all) but, as I have discovered, it is not just about cutting waste.
I’ve also found:
- I’ve saved money.
- It’s been less stressful.
- We’re eating better because I am more organised.
- I have more time (because I don’t have to nip to the shops each day for food items).
Before I started planning, I sat down with my husband and had a discussion about what he actually enjoys eating. It turns out I was buying and cooking things that he didn’t really like all that much which is why I was throwing half of it out. (I think the reason he hadn’t said anything before was because he is either very grateful to have any cooked meal or worried about offending me to the point I never cook for him again.)
Initially, I reused some of Freya’s “art” to write a fortnightly list on (we don’t have a big enough freezer to store more) but then I remembered I had an A4 white board which I like because it’s easier to cross things out and less wasteful than paper (and obviously I can keep ALL of my daughter’s wonderful “drawings”.)
So here are the main things I found:
The good – Shopping is much quicker and easier because I already know what I need rather than roaming the aisle thinking: “Ooh, we might have that one day and could have that another”. It gives me more time to play “where did Freya drop her shoe?” instead.
I’m also saving cash by sticking to the list and hopefully we will waste less because it won’t be left sitting in the freezer forever (when I cleaned it out in preparation for this, I found some Quorn sausages with a use by date in 2013!)
The bad – Sometimes I don’t feel like cooking what’s on the list. If it’s been a bad day (or more likely a bad night which leaves me knackered) I want something quick and easy not a roast dinner but it’s on The Meal Planner so it feels like law. This is silly, I know, and I’m getting better at just switching things around.
Finding the time to plan and make the list has also been difficult and there have been a couple of days cross over where it’s back to guess what’s for dinner again. Hopefully this will also get better as I do it more.
Money saving – I’ve been silly and didn’t keep receipts for everything but I think I’ve probably saved £20 in the second month. I’ll update this figure as I get better at it.
Overall I think it’s been a really positive thing to do and I will certainly keep it up. There is plenty of help and advice available online (and even apps if you’re that way inclined). The Love Food Hate Waste campaign website also has a handy two-week meal plan if you’re feeling uninspired (with a meat-free version here).
Do you plan your meals? Have you got any other tips?