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Do you plan your meals in advance for the following week? Do you sit down and make a shopping list of all the items you need in readiness to prep your food? This sounds too organised for the average person but in reality, a lot of people do claim to do this in order to save them time in the week and to ensure that they have a nutritional meal waiting for them after a long working day.

I go through stages with meal planning, either all or nothing. However, more recently I have made the time to do a meal plan and then ordering the ingredients and condiments online. I think what previously put me off was having made a list I could never find the ingredients in the store which then messed up my recipe or I would use an alternative which never tasted the same. All in all the end result was not satisfactory. I sound like I have just come into the 21st century with the latest technology but I do really want to promote this to encourage healthier eating which will result in longterm health benefits for you and your family.

Meal planning makes a big difference when it comes to sticking to a dietary change. It’s easy to cook a quick convenience food or head to a restaurant when everyone is hungry and nothing is defrosted, but a little planning can prevent this and it can be fun! I have even found that if I sit and plan my meals I am more adventurous and want to try new foods and techniques. I am definitely not going to become the next Masterchef but it really takes away the mundane task of cooking to a different level.

Some of the key benefits of meal planning include:

Saves money – by planning your meals you are less likely to call into the supermarket to pick up a quick meal which results in buying lots of other items too.

Eat a variety of food – you are able to take the time to plan a mixture of meals and foods to satisfy different taste buds.

Less stress – having a meal ready for your return after a working day is a great feeling.

Less food wastage – you can plan meals according to what’s in your cupboards and also saves you money.

Saves time – planning meals in advance saves you time for other things you enjoy doing.

Leftovers can be used lunch – bored of sandwiches – leftover chilli tastes even better the next day!

My partner will sometimes not agree on the advantages of meal planning because he says that he does not like knowing what he is eating for the week as he may change his mind. But I have adapted this to suit that he can choose from a variety of meals, he does not have to have them in a particular order. On the flip side, who’s doing the work in order to get a meal on the table? Me, ha!

If you do not do so already, pick up a pen and paper and start planning! I bet you will be pleasantly surprised by what you will come up with. Spending longer in the kitchen on one day will save you heaps of time the rest of the week and ultimately you have a great tasting meal which would not normally have been an option on a weeknight.

Homemade fish pie with sweet potato fries and coleslaw tonight!
By Kate Ball

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