Organised not OCD – The benefits of Meal Planning

This weeks meal plan!

This weeks meal plan!

When asking people who know me well to describe me, a word that continually comes up is organised (ok some people describe me as having OCD but I’m sure they are just joking). 

I have always been someone that loves order, and to be honest, having a plan in place seriously relaxes me!  I can appreciate this isn’t for everyone, and sometimes I do envy the ‘take each day as it comes’ approach to life…. even though it gives me anxiety!

Whilst it is not everyone’s natural instinct or desire to be organised, when you are a wife, mother and homemaker I believe you don’t have a choice to at least try some form of organised in your day to day life.  Add working mother, business owner, host to an Au Pair and you time into the mix, and your DEFINITELY don’t have a choice but to but to implement some organisation in your life! 

I will be covering off on some simple organisation tools in my blogs under the ‘organised not OCD’ banner, that I use in my day to day life, in order to share some tips that may assist you and your family.  The first topic I will be covering is The benefits of meal planning.

I have been writing a weekly meal plan for at least 5 years now.  Every Sunday morning, I sit down after breakfast with my meal planner pad and my shopping list notebook and get to work!  I flip through my recipe folder that has all of the recipes of I pulled out of magazines over the years, look at some of my favourite recipe books (I am a HUGE Donna Hay fan!) and ask for requests from the family.    (In case you are reading this and wondering what meal planner I use, I love the Kikki-K planner: http://www.kikki-k.com/a4-meal-planner-pad-love-food, however you can also get some awesome planners at K-Mart for only $3.00 http://www.kmart.com.au/product/kitchen-meal-planner/876311)!

I write out a meal option for each night of the week and write up my shopping list to ensure I have all of the ingredients ready to go for each meal.  I have a rule for week night cooking – no meal should take longer than 30 minutes! 

I also include breakfast items for the week i.e.: cereal Monday – Friday and Bacon and Eggs on weekends, as well as lunch and snack ideas such as shaved leg ham for sandwiches, fruit, chips, and yoghurt.

Living such a busy lifestyle, I find the benefits of meal planning to include:

·         Coming home from a busy day and not having to think about what to cook!  I just check the meal plan each morning, take the required meat out of the freezer to defrost in the day, and get cooking when I get home;

·         By ensuring I pick recipes that only take 30 minutes to cook on weeknights, I know I am not going to be spending wasted time and energy in the kitchen when I could be spending time with my family;

·         It helps you stick to a budget – I don’t know about you, but if I went to the shops every day to buy items for dinner that night, I would always come home with extras things I didn’t need.  This all adds up!  By doing a weekly meal plan, I only need to go to the shops outside of my Sunday shopping routine when I need more milk and bread.

·         Ensures your family are eating a balanced diet and stops you from resorting to takeaway more than you need to.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good takeaway dinner – McDonalds and Dampier Chinese would have to be my favs!  However, this isn’t always the healthiest or most affordable option when consumed multiple times a week.  Add a treat night to your meal plan on a fortnightly or monthly basis, but try and stick to cooking things at home that your family will enjoy!

·         You get to try new recipes!  It does help that I enjoy cooking, but I must say I love trying new things and serving them to my family to enjoy.  Ok so they don’t always turn out, but I believe food is love and brings people together and it is a great thing to show and share with your children;

·         You don’t waste food!  You are not buying items you don’t end up using as you are only purchasing the ingredients you need for each dish that week;

·         Don’t feel like Chicken Schnitzel with whole potato, sour cream and a cob of corn tonight (my all-time favourite home cooked meal!), swap your Monday dish with your Thursday dish – all the ingredients are there!

·         Makes your grocery shop so much easier and more organised!  You are not aimlessly roaming up and down each isle and putting things in your trolley that you don’t need.  You have a plan, you have a list – make a game of it – try and see if you can get through your entire shop without adding anything extra in your trolley.  Hard when shopping with toddlers trust me! 

·         When your partner calls and asks you what’s for dinner and can he have a mate over, you can easily check the planner and see what’s on that night and if you can stretch it out to feed a few more people.  I always tend to cook for a family of 8 but am only feeding my husband, our Au Pair, my daughter and myself so this is never an issue in our house J.

Why not give it a go!  Here is a photo of my meal plan for the week.  I’m no chef, it’s not fancy, but it makes me feel organised and on top of things which I believe is the key to obtaining balance in a crazy life!

If you have any questions regarding meal planning, please don’t hesitate to email me: hayley@pilbaraaupairservices.com.au.