A Meal Planning Story
I never used to cook homemade meals; I didn’t think I could! “Can’t cook, won’t cook” that was me!…. Skip back to 4 years ago and you’d find me in the kitchen putting a frozen pizza in the oven or maybe some chicken nuggets and chips for the kids (terrible mother I know)! Then, after the birth of my second child which was followed around 6 months later with a belated honeymoon to New York, where overindulgence is the only option. I came back home feeling full of New York cheesecake, pancakes, bacon and maple syrup along with some of the biggest burgers I have ever seen and I knew I had to make a change, for myself (I’d gotten to the point where I was the largest I’d ever been) but also for my children. At this point I had a child under one, another aged 7 as well as my two beautiful stepdaughters who spend half of their time with my husband and I and were aged 10 and 11 at the time.
Time to make a change
I wanted to make a complete lifestyle change but having never done anything like this before, I knew I would need some help. I decided to join my local Slimming World group for support and in doing so, not only did I go on to lose three stone, but I completely changed the way I thought about food! I found myself wanting to try different recipes (searching online for the Slimming World friendly ones initially) and taking inspiration from the ladies and gents at my group, I wanted to make changes for my entire family so I chose recipes that I knew would appeal to the kids.
I started to understand that the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle was to plan ahead. I planned my breakfasts and lunches for work then planned an evening meal for myself, my husband and our children for each night of the week. You may think this sounds a little laborious and I won’t lie, it was at first but once I got used to this level of ‘food organisation’ it became second nature to me and even though I no longer attend the Slimming World group I am still meal planning 4 years on!
My Top Tips for Planning
I do everything via my phone, I take screen shots of the recipes I find online, I write my plan for the week and complete my weekly shopping using a supermarket app (I really would be lost without my phone)!
Once I’ve found a recipe I like the look of (and one I also think the husband and the kids will like) I take a screen shot of the ingredients along with the method and save this in my photos app in an album I have conveniently and predictably named ‘Recipes’. I use my ‘Notes’ app to make a list of evening meals for the coming week (sometimes two weeks if I’m being super organised).
It’s as simple as this:
You’ll notice from my list that I use my Slow Cooker a LOT! This is because my husband and I both work Monday to Friday so using the Slow Cooker two or three days a week makes things tonnes easier for our family and you simply cannot beat coming home from work to the smell of a ready-made meal! Anyway, I digress….. so, I now have my plan for the week/s in my notes app of which I have the recipe for each meal in my photos app.
I do my weekly shopping via my supermarket app looking at the meal for each day in my notes app and the ingredients needed in my ‘Recipes’ album then I just go ahead and add everything I need into my trolley…. simple! To make things even easier for my family and where I am not using the slow cooker to make our evening meal, I will often make meals for the week on a Sunday and freeze them, I do this mainly with lasagne, pasta bakes or home made burgers, simply taking them out of the freezer on the morning of the day we are due to eat them!
Like I say, this seems so simple to me now and I couldn’t imagine any other way of food shopping or cooking but initially, the very thought of food planning or actually cooking a meal from scratch not only bored but terrified me! It took me a while to work out my own system and while this works for me, it may not necessarily work for you so it’s important for you to find your own way of doing this.
I’ve also found that, by planning our meals and shopping in this way, we actually save money too! There’s no impulse buying, no adding extra things into the trolley ‘just because’. When it’s all planned out, we simply buy what we need. I also think it helps doing our weekly shopping via an app as opposed to in-store as I would often buy something if it was ‘on offer’ (usually biscuits) so this way of planning not only helps the waistline but the weekly budget too!
Now why wouldn’t you want to try it yourself?!
P.S. If you looked at my weekly plan and liked the sound of some of the things on my list, I get a lot of my recipes from Pinch of Nom. You can check them out here