The Real Girl's Guide to Meal Planning
Whether you've spread your wings and moved out of your folk's house or your trying to get healthy or you just want to cook more, meal planning is literally the best thing ever. It saves you time, money and hassle so why not take a half hour out of one day a week to plan your meals.
When I moved out to go to uni I spent hours scouring the internet and cook books trying to figure out how I'd get my next meal, or even the next one after that! I'll be honest here; I am your Average Joe. I have no dietry requirements, not special diet (like vegatarian), I don't eat clean and I like cake. I also never started my meal planning expecting I'd get healthier and loose a little weight too but there you go.
The tips I am going share are my tried and tested methods of meal prep and planning coming from a real human girl who isn't made of money. Um hello? who has the time or money (or energy) to shop every second day to keep your kale fresh?! #buhbye! So sit back and enjoy some realistic tips that I use every week:
1. Take stock
Have a root through your cupboards and fridge and even your bedside locker to see what sort of food you've got in your house. Jot down a wee list of absolutely everything. Sometimes I split it into 2 lists: one for your stock and one for stock thats low but you don't buy weekly (like oils, vinegars, mustards etc) but you'll need to re-stock soon. You'll use this list in your meal planning later.
2. Check your calendar
Before we get all excited check what's going on in your week. What days are you working/in classes? Have you made plans for dinner/night out? Have you invited any guests around? These are all things that will change what and when you cook.
3. Check out some recipes
So I like to cook like one really nice meal that takes a lot of effort like handmade burgers and thick potato chips. It's normally based of a "wee fancy" like a takeaway. I also have a few favourite meals so make a list of yours (even if you don't know how to cook it). Search up some recipes of what you'd like to make. This goes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts, I even bake my own bread...not to brag...much. Make a list of enough meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week. Don't forget the morning you go shopping too because empty-stomach shopping is sooooo horrible.
4. Make a list
You can designate your meals to set days of you want. Just make a list of the meals your wanting to make and stick ot somewhere like your fridge or inside your cuboard door. Go through each recipe/meal and write out your ingredients. I split mine into Fruit and Veg, Meat, Dairy, Staples (pasta, rice) Misc. (cornflakes, tea, coffee, cleaning stuff).
5. Hit the shops
Once you've had something to eat, take your list and head to the shops! I stick to one main shop but there's some things that can't be found in in that shop to I have to look around one or two more. You'll get the hang of it!
6. Meal prep
I swear I just heard you groan when you read that...how do I know? I groaned writing it. Sigh. This is the borring bit but it can save you so much time! If you bought meat split it into usable portions and freeze what you aren't going to use in the next day or two. I also boil a whole bunch of eggs up so if I want a snack or I was a sandwich or I just want to bulk up a meal then I can use them with out having to cook and cool them. Same goes for rice. I love making fried rice dishes so if I'm doing a curry or something I'll cook extra rice for a fried rice dish the next day. If you're more strapped for time then peel, chop, par-boil any veggies, make up your sauces in advance etc and you'll be ready for anything. My overnight oats (recipe here) are a huge hit in my house so I always keep stocked up on it.
I really hope this post has been of some use to you! If you've got a question ask it in the comments below and I'll get back to you ASAP! If you'd like to a week's worth of super easy, simple beginner recipes and a handy meal plan cheat sheet then let me know in the comments below!