The Dinner Planner

Do you like to wing it when it comes to what you are having for dinner every night or are you super organised, everything is a sorted type of person? I’m all for spontaneity, but when it comes down to getting dinner on the table that option generally leads to more stress, poorer food choices, and more money spent on last-minute purchases and takeout. Not to mention loads of trips to the supermarket every week. There are so many benefits to meal planning, so it really is worth your while to set some time aside to plan and I promise the future you will be very grateful you did. Let’s leave those spontaneous nights for the weekends or when you have more time and patience.

When you start meal planning regularly you will notice you:

Are so much more relaxed. You’re not racing around at the last minute trying to sort out dinner or staring blankly into the fridge hoping all those ingredients will somehow jump out at you with an idea of what to do with them.

Only visit the supermarket once a week. There are no more mid-week shopping trips needed.

Will save money on your grocery bill. If you have a plan and stick with it (oh and a shopping list) you only buy what you need for the week. You’ll find yourself not grabbing stuff just because it is on sale and maybe you’ll use it. Some people have told me they have saved over $100 a week! Will save money by not buying so much takeaway food. How much would it cost to feed your family if you are to just grab takeout? $50 or $60, more? 

Reduce your food waste by using what’s in your pantry, fridge and freezer. Making notes of used by dates and including these in your meal plans.

Create healthy and balanced meals for yourself and your family AND eat more variety. 

Have more free time. Yes, you have to set aside the time to plan, but this will give you back so much time during the week.

Confused as to how to get started?

Here are my 5 key steps to meal planning success

Dinner Planner 5 KEY STEPS to meal planning success.

1. Set aside time

Yes, this is key and the first thing you should do when getting ready to meal plan – plan to make your meal plan. It is easiest when you set aside a little time to meal plan before the week starts. Pick a day and time that you can stick to and preferably not on the same day as you shop – you don’t need that kind of stress in your day. For me it is the Thursday before. This gives me time and breaks up the meal planning/ prep for an organised week ahead. Then I shop and prep over the weekend.

2. Get organised

Grab your meal plan and shopping list template that we have provided for you, your favorite recipes list, cookbooks, and laptop (or device to search for new recipes). Don’t forget your cuppa and some good music. Why not make this an enjoyable experience rather than another chore you feel you have to do. Remember you are creating a habit that is going set you up for an easier week.

3. What’s On

Think about what activities or commitments you have on for the week.  For example, all my kids have sport training on Wed nights, we leave home at 4:15pm and don’t get home until 7pm for dinner. There’s no time to cook dinner for everyone when I get home so I always plan either a slow cooker or leftovers for Wednesdays. It makes my evenings run so much smoother. Is there an evening when you are going to be home late from work? A night when you are all out and you don’t need to cook?

4. Take stock of what you already have

Check out your fridge, freezer and pantry for items you need to use up. What have you got lurking around that needs to be used. Check out the used by dates on any bottles and jars you have too. This way we limit waste, save money and you can search for recipes based on these items.

5. Write it all up

So you’ve looked up some new recipes, taken note of what you have on and stock of what you already have. Now it’s time to put it all together. Mix up your week with some recipes from your family favourites list and you new ones and schedule them on the days that suit you best. Make sure you write up your shopping list too.

A few extra notes…

I personally like to do two weeks at a time. BUT I recommend you start with 1 so that you don’t feel to overwhelmed by choice and planning. It does take a little longer to choose recipes but it allows you to take stock of anything that may lead to leftovers, or instead of buying half a cabbage maybe you’ll choose a recipe the week after that uses up the balance or what herbs do you only need a little of and you will have leftover? Again this will save you money and reduce your food waste.

If you’re now thinking OMG how am I going to plan that many meals out, don’t stress. You don’t have to plan out dinner every night. Starting with 3-4 days will make such a huge difference to your week. What recipes can you choose to double up and eat later in the week? And remember eggs on toast with a side salad is a perfect dinner choice for those nights you just can’t do it. Me personally, I now plan for 4 nights M-Th and leave the weekends free for those spontaneous dinners, playing with new recipes that are a little more long winded.

I hope this has helped you to get out of your rut and get inspired again, or just start on your meal planning journey. 

There is no such thing as a perfect meal plan, just go out there and create on that works for you and your family. And if you need help or inspiration check out our socials here or hit reply on this email and I’ll happily help you out some more. 

Want to take the thinking out of what’s for dinner AND spend more time doing what you love to do?

Our done for you weekly meal plans are completely customisable and come with an automated shopping list, meal prep guide and so much more. We’ll help you save time, money and reduce your mental load.

Want some tips and tricks to help you out through the week? Perhaps a recipe or two and some cocktail inspiration?