Food Trends: Meal Planning

Published on 23 Nov
7 min read

A Food Revolution

Meal planning has a big following. Most of us are working long hours or intermittent shift patterns which makes it more difficult to devote time every day in the kitchen. Meal planning allows us to take back control of what we are putting into our bodies. It simply means preparing meals some or all of your meals ahead of time so there is something ready for you when you come home after a busy day.

Food is a big aspect of culture. Learning to cook allows you to express this
Food is a big aspect of culture. Learning to cook allows you to express this

Back-to-basics cooking follows an age of convenience. The 80s and 90s saw huge leaps in restaurant dining, fast food and microwave meals, but now people are going back to the traditional food consumption; home cooking, organic produce and buying local produce are fashionable. Meal prepping allows you to make better choices with your food, picking natural, unprocessed ingredients and inspires creativity. Kitchen accessories such as a slow cooker and freezer-proof portion-sized tubs will help reduce time and stress in the kitchen.

Reasons to Meal Plan

To start a meal plan you need a goal. Why do you want to meal plan? Health benefits? Short on cooking time? Going over your food budget? These are questions to ask yourself so you can stay 

Meal planning may seem like a big commitment. People can get the fear of thinking it is too much effort, they are not keen cooks or just don’t have the time. These excuses can easily be fixed by following simple meal plan rules and finding what works for you.

  • Reduce Mindless Eating

Eating delicious foods is one of the simplest pleasures of life. Whether you enjoy a slap-up roast dinner or a simple slice of buttered toast, eating is innate to human wellbeing. Mindless eating can lead to weight gain or less energy, making it harder to perform your daily tasks. Meal planning can help you decide on the ingredients and the portion size.

  • Cheaper Shopping List

You are less likely to be lured by ‘offers’ on products which you don’t need if you have a meal plan and a shopping list. This will save money and allow to you purchase better quality ingredients.

  • Less Food Waste

If you know what you are buying for each meal, know the portion sizes and aren’t purchasing unnecessary items, it is likely you will be cutting down on your food waste. Furthermore, if you are shopping locally, you’re plastic waste will also be cut significantly.

An overfilled rubbish bin
Cutting down and food waste and packaging is not only great for our wallets but the environment too!
  • Make Healthier Choices

A meal plan can help you create nutritionally balanced meals, obviously depending on what you make. You have the control to add what you want to the dish without the need of any unnecessary additives found in convenience foods.

  • Save Time

It may take a bit of time to get started but taking time to set out a meal plan, do the food shop and the cooking, in the long run, will save time and you will be rewarded with delicious homemade meals and perhaps new skills too!

  • Reduce stress

Sufficient evidence suggests when meal planning you find it easier to resist temptation. Food prepared at home is consistently healthier than fast food, convenience food and ready meals which is a great mood boost in itself. Our food choices are influenced by our environment, peers, hunger, events and packaging. These environments can impact our choices whether they are healthy or unhealthy, the price and convenience. You can reduce stress by eliminating the endless choices by meal planning.

How to Meal Plan

There is no one way to meal plan. It is up to you to figure out which tips work for you depending on your lifestyle as well as who you are cooking for. Here are some ways to get you started on your meal planning journey.

  • Creating the Menu

Menu blackboard
What’s on the menu, Chef?

You need to devote time to create your meal plan. Put the kettle on and relax for 15 minutes. For your first plan, it may be best to make meals you are confident at making and that you or the family enjoy.

After the first few weeks of devoting time to a meal plan, you’ll find it becomes easier to be more creative and a quicker and an enjoyable part of the week.

You may need to plan around certain points in your week/month. For instance, when you get paid, when you get a veg box delivery or when you simply have time to do your food shopping.

  • Create a Calendar

Whether you’re planning for a week, a fortnight, a month or a season, having a meal plan written down makes all the difference! Having a written plan allows to keep on track, use whatever ingredients there are in the fridge, or stick to the shopping list.

Keeping track of hobbies and working late can help you decide what meal is best when
Keeping track of hobbies and working late can help you decide what meal is best when
  • Recipes

Everyone has a few recipes up their sleeves whether it’s a quick cheese omelette, a slow-cooker stew or a stove top bolognese, these are quick fixes to keep a hold of. Scan through recipe books, magazines and your favourite food blogs for recipes you are keen to create. Keep the recipes in one place either marked in your recipes books. Printouts and magazine cuttings could be kept in a file amongst your cookery books.

You could even put all the recipes into categories if you’re really organised!

  • Shopping List

A shopping list, smart phone and pens
A shopping list is a meal planner’s best friend!

A shopping list is your greatest ally when you are food shopping. A shopping list keeps you focused and reminds you what you actually need to buy, therefore saving you money and time in the shops. Even if you’re shopping locally, a shopping list and a meal plan can help you decide what shops you need to go to and when.

  • Check Your Fridge & Freezer

Stocking the fridge and freezer with batch-cooked meals makes the next meal an effortless task. Make sure you are using up what is in your fridge especially perishables like fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s important that if you’re bulk cooking to use the things that you’ve made otherwise it’s a waste of effort and time.

A well-stocked fridge
Got things to use up in your fridge before you buy more?
  • Time Management

Check what other activities are going on for the week when you do your meal plan. Are you working late one evening? Make sure you’ve got a quick cook meal ready to be prepared such as stir-fry or have taken a meal out of the freezer.

Are you off on a certain day and have the time to create a lavish meal or try a new recipe you’ve seen? Thinking logically like this can save time and stress.

Helpful Tips

  • Keep a note of anything you’ve run out of to save buying it twice or forgetting a key ingredient to your dishes.
  • Start with 1 main meal you wish to plan for the week before starting the whole’s day meal plans.
  • Choosing time-saving ingredients such as frozen vegetables, tinned goods or fresh pasta can half the cooking and preparation time of your dishes.
  • Write down a recipe bank of favourite meals in your house. Aim for at least 20 meals so that’s 3/4 of the month sorted already!
  • Plan a certain number of meals a week such as 4, keep 1 day as use-up leftovers and keep 2 days free in case of dining out, entertaining or seeing a special offer.
  • Keep a pantry cupboard or shelf well stocked.
Pantry staples such as dried herbs and spices
Non-perishable items in your pantry cupboard like dried herbs and spices keep the creativity flowing

Waste Not Want Not

Shopping locally, and more regularly than the weekly supermarket shop, can, in the long run, cut down on food waste. Seeing delicious, locally made products means you are less likely to waste it.

A large grocery box
A beautiful, organic grocery box by local producers Hexhamshire Organics! Do you need a reason to shop locally?

Do you meal plan or are you considering it? Share your top tips with us! Join the conversation on social media. Follow Foodful on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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