Why I think meal planning can save your sanity during the week and ultimately save time and money at the same time.
We have all hear about meal planning…..that we “should” do it……BUT
We’ve all been in the grocery store of an afternoon after a full day a work with no clear idea of what we are going to eat for dinner, crowed by tons of other people in the same situation, all starving, looking for what ever is the easiest thing we can go home, quickly cook and eat.
Life doesn’t have to be like this. There is an easier way! Read on for our top tips to meal planning, saving money and helping your diet!
What I want to teach you is how to organise all your weekly meals that are ready to go when you get home from work and take all the guess work out of it. This is the first thing I teach my clients who are looking to lose weight. We all know that if we leave it to the last minute to a point where hunger has taken over we are more likely to grab an unhealthy meal because its quick and we are starving. So why do we keep doing it? My guess is because you don’t know the benefits of meal planning and that’s what I want to teach you now.
Here is my step by step guide to meal planning:
1) Write out a weekly meal plan
Sit down on the weekend and start your meal planning by writing down a plan for the week ahead, include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. There are weekly meal planners that you can purchase from Kmart for $3.
It makes it a lot easier and cheaper if you choose 2 breakfasts that you can alternate during the week, the same with lunch and 3 different dinners.
It also makes it more time effective if you pick some of the same ingredients in different meals. An example could be, curry with rice and chicken, vegetables and rice. Cook all the rice at the same time to save time.
You will need to make sure you have plenty of good quality freezer containers.
The idea is to get as much prep work done during the weekend and freeze as much as possible so that when you come home during the week its easy to get out and defrost and eat within 20 minutes of being home. Or get as much prep work done so that you just need to cook it when you get home.
When you meal plan you save so much money because you are only buying the ingredients you need for that week. Your weekly wastage of food also goes down because everything you buy is going to be used during the week so no more soggy lettuce in the vegetable crisper that you didn’t get around to eating, and who doesn’t want to save money and food wastage.
2) Write out the shopping list and go shopping
This is where you go through everything in you weekly meal plan and write down all the ingredients needed and their amounts onto a shopping list, so you don’t need to go back to the shop for anything during the week except fresh produce if you run out. I find it makes life so much easier when I’m in the shop if I categorise my shopping list into 5 different sections of the super market (sounds OCD but you need to try it and see how much more efficient shopping is)
Here are my 5 shopping list categories:
Produce- fruits and vegetables
Meat- All meat like chicken, steak etc
Fridge and freezer- butter, cheese, cold meats and frozen foods like peas etc
Packaged foods- Spaghetti, oil, stock, tined foods etc
Cleaning and personal hygiene- Washing powder, shampoo and conditioner etc
This means that when I’m in the super market I only need to look at certain section of my list when I’m in the corresponding area of the super market instead of scanning my whole list down every aisle. It saves a ton of time and makes life so much easier.
3) Prep your food for the week ahead
My prepping starts when I get home from food shopping once I’ve finished unpacking everything.
When I buy meat, I will buy in bulk and then divide it up into the amounts I need for certain meals during the week and prep it as needed.
Prepping the Meat Example
I have 4 chicken breasts-
2 are needed for chicken curry so I will trim the fat and dice it up as I need it for my recipe then put it into a zip lock bag and put it into the fridge until I’m ready to cook the curry.
1 chicken breast is needed for chicken wraps, so I will trim the fat and slice it then place into a freezer bag and put it into the freezer so its ready to go on the chicken wrap night. All I will have to do is get it out in the morning and place it into the fridge onto a plate, it will be defrosted by the time I need it for dinner, ill cook it up, chop up some salad and within 20 minutes I will have dinner ready to eat.
1 chicken breast is needed for chicken schnitzel. I will trim the fat and slice the breast up. I will flour, egg and breadcrumb it and the add it to a zip lock bag and place it into the freezer so that on chicken schnitzel night all I have to do is cook it up with some vegetables.
Now to go back to the chicken I just cut up for the chicken and vegetable curry. I will cook it up along with all the vegetables I need, add the curry paste, coconut milk and chicken stock, allow to cook through until ready, cook some brown rice at the same time and within 30-40 minutes I will have chicken curry cooked and ready to go for 2-3 nights worth of dinners. Divide them into portion sizes and place in the freezer ready to get out when needed and heat them up.
In 1 hour I have prepared 4-5 nights worth of dinners ready for the week and all I have to do during the week is cook some vegetables or cut some salad.
4) Leave a few hours on a weekend to meal prep for the week ahead
I will always try to do as much Meal planning and prep as I can on the weekend to get myself and my family prepared for the week ahead. That might mean making a big batch of sausage rolls and cooking some up for lunches and freezing the rest for later in the week, cutting up carrot sticks and cheese ready for my kids lunches in the morning and snacks for me, making a stew over the weekend and freezing it for dinner on weeknights after sports when I’m time poor, making sandwiches and freezing them for the kids lunches so the mornings aren’t so rushed, make zip lock bags of smoothie ingredients placed into the fridge so in the morning all I have to do is place it in the blender, making overnight oats so my breakfast is already ready in the morning.
I try to do anything I can do during the weekends to make life easier during the week when it comes to meal time so I always know I have a healthy, portion controlled meal ready to go when I need it instead of getting takeaway of spending unnecessary time in the supermarket after work.
There you have it, my top 4 tips on how to meal plan so that life can be less hectic and more organised during the week.
It seems like a lot of work on the weekends, but I assure you after only 1 week of reaping the benefits during the week you will be converted. The more you do it the easier it becomes and before you now it, it will be second nature and you will wonder how you every survived without meal planning. I hope you enjoyed my Meal planning info x Tammy
Our guest blogger this week is Tammy Smith and here is some more info about her:
I am a wife and a mum of 2 beautiful children aged 5 and 7, I am also a Personal Trainer and Certified Fitness
Nutritional Coach. My business is called Tammy’s Fitness Training and my passion is helping women gain their confidence back by helping them achieve their fitness and weight loss goals. I run group fitness classes and a 12-week weight loss program that includes a meal plan and all the support needed throughout the process, this program has helped countless woman achieve their weight loss goals.
I gained 30 kg’s during my pregnancy’s and felt very uncomfortable within myself, I lost all my self-confidence and I wanted to do something about it, so I went on my own weight loss journey and managed to lose 18 kg’s in 16 weeks. It was from doing this that my passion for a healthy lifestyle and helping other women in my situation grew into the business it is today. I pride myself in running group fitness classes where any woman of any size and fitness level can come down and feel comfortable and supported through their own journey.
Find Tammy’s Fitness Training on our Website directory with her links to her website, Facebook page and Instagram