Wednesday, 8 February 2012

My meal planner...

Lists are great. I love them. And my 3 layered to-do-list is sadly not the only list I have in my life... this year, as I'm not working and we're working to a slightly tighter budget than before, I decided to rethink the way I did my meal-planning. Re-think is perhaps the wrong word... I didn't used to plan. Now I do. And I don't just plan a bit... I plan a month at a time. Yup. That's right. I can tell you now that on Tuesday 21st Feb we're having Vegetable gratin, and on Wednesday 29th Feb we're having chicken kiev with sweet potato wedges and peas. Sad? Yes... but I tell you what, its saved me a ridiculous amount of money and I no longer have that awful guilty feeling as I chuck away wasted food that I never used/used half of...

At the beginning of every month I sit down with my Menu sheet... my original plan, when I compiled it and typed it up beautifully, was to frame it so I could refer to it and display it... that hasn't happened... As you can see, its now a scrappy bit of paper that I scribble new recipes on. But I love it, and its great, cos it saves me trawling through endless recipe books, and it also saves me from making the same boring loop of meals over and over...

My Menu sheet was compiled using some of those classic recipes you have saved in your head, my own cook-book of stuff I've collected over the years and my three friends, who I like to call "Jamie", "Mark" and "Mr Sainsbury". Jamie Oliver's "Ministry of Food" is truly awesome... I love it. I have to admit to not being the biggest fan of some of his other recipe books, but I love this one, I use it all the time and it uses items I actually have in my larder (not "add 1/2 a chinese cabbage"... what on earth is a chinese cabbage?!?)  "Mark" is one of those classic Marks and Spencer's mini-cook books called "Easy Healthy" but it has loads of great recipes in, and "Mr Sainsbury" is one of those mini-folders that I've filled up with those little recipe cards over the years. These three books have made up my menu sheet, which has probably around 30 meals on it, which means I don't end up on an overly repetative cycle, which is always good.


As I said, at the start of the month, with menu sheet in hand, I sit down with my diary (my wonderful, beautiful diary... don't get me started on how MUCH I love www.organised-mum.co.uk... seriously. This diary is AMAZING and yes, I had one WAY before I was a mum!) and fill in the "meal ideas" column for the whole month. I try and mix it up, so that we get a good mix of beef, chicken, pork and veggie stuff every week. I always cook something quick and easy on Tuesday, because we're rushing out to housegroup, and on Friday, because its Friday. Thursday is my experimental day. I've been trying, recently, to try something new every week which is good fun. Sometimes they get the thumbs up, sometimes the thumbs down. If its thumbs up, it gets added to the big menu sheet.

On good weeks, my meal planner will look like this...


On weeks where things don't go to plan, it looks more like this...


With that done, I can then do my shopping list... and yes, I even have a system for that. One big Tesco online order per month for all my dry goods, one monthly shop at Lidl for all my meat (yes, my freezer is currently RAMMED full of meat for the month) and then I put in my weekly order with the Greengrocer  which normally goes something like this; 2 carrots, 1 red onion, three courgettes, one red pepper, two yellow peppers, a butternut squash and a tonne of fruit... I am so precise with it because knowing what I'm cooking means I know exactly what I need which means I don't end up with a load of waste, and I don't end up spending money on things I never use!

Its saved us a fortune!

So there you have it... writing it out makes it seem really complicated, but its actually dead easy, and it works for us, at the moment. So again, thought I'd share!

Happy Wednesday!


1 comment:

  1. I'm so impressed! Well done. Thanks for the inspiration to get organized

    ReplyDelete