Most of us are incredibly busy and just don’t have the time or energy to figure out what to prepare for 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, which is why so many people just don’t do it.
However, menu planning is one of the most efficient ways to cut down on your budget and keep yourself organised. Real food is not cheap! Food, in general, isn’t cheap, whether it’s processed food or not. I try my hardest to squeeze every little bit I can out of our budget.
Plan for the month, shop for the week. Since I have my recipes and cookbooks out, I find it easier to plan for the whole month. Don’t just select a set of random recipes. Select one, look at the ingredient list and let that help you select recipe #2, and so on. For example, if recipe #1 uses half a cauliflower, you might find another recipe that needed cauliflower to prevent food waste.
Animal proteins are more expensive than vegetarian proteins. To save money find a small handful of vegetarian recipes that utilize beans, lentils, tofu, and whole grains together that the whole family will enjoy.
When shopping think about food waste and storage if you buy a “buy one get one free” offer, will you be able to use and store the extra or will it go to waste?
Only buy offers when you know you will be able to use the extra products.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but unfortunately, a lot of people skip it. Plan to make healthy breakfasts that will keep you full. You can save leftover vegetables and cut them into small cubes to mix into an omelette to make a healthy breakfast. You can do the same with cheese and cold meats. Another way to ensure you have quick and easy healthy breakfasts is to make granola bars or breakfast muffins in advance.
Going out to lunch every day can be a bad habit for your health and bank account. If you are cooking dinner you can easily make extra and save this for lunches. Eating a filling healthy breakfast will also mean that you don’t need such a large portion of food at lunchtime.
Top Tip: Spend a little bit of money on a good lunch container.
When deciding on order, use up your more perishable items earlier in the week. It also helps to store them so that they’re more visible too. Also, group recipes so that you use the ones with similar ingredients first so that they stay fresh. Keep a bank of recipes that use up leftovers, for example, if I make a roast chicken dinner on a Sunday I will use the leftover chicken and peas to make a chicken and pea risotto on the Monday.
Top Tip: Keep your pantry stocked with ingredients you will use often. It will make your meal planning easier, and cut down on your grocery bill.
For more on budgeting and tips, members can do our Healthy Solo Meals eCourse which will help you plan your meals with tables and lists to make the process a little simpler.