Lifestyle

Family Meal Planner

Time To read: 6 mins
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Coming up with tasty, healthy and nutritious meals night after night can be tricky when you’re on a tight schedule.

If you’re anything like us, then cooking dinner will often involve the same go-to recipes and meals made from whatever’s left in the cupboard. However, although takeaways can be tempting, if you’re looking to manage your time better, stick to a budget, and ensure you’re maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, a 7-day family meal plan can transform your family’s midweek dinners.

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Why you should be using a family meal planner

If you are looking to improve your organisational skills, a 7-day family meal plan is the perfect tool. By planning your meals in advance, you can purchase all of your shopping for the week and get all of your ingredients at once. Because all of your shopping has been bought in advance, you will know exactly what you are supposed to be cooking during the week, saving you time and effort.

Using a family meal planner can also improve your diet. More often than not, when you’re rushing around and creating meals for your family on the fly, you opt for quick, convenient meals. Yet, although these meals are fast to create, they are often unhealthy and lacking in nutrients. By planning out your meals and making a shopping list for everything you need, you’ll find it much easier to create healthy and balanced meals that contain plenty of nutrients!

On top of this, using a family meal planner will also save you money. By planning all of your meals and buying the ingredients in advance, you will be less tempted to grab takeaways after work. Over time, you’ll also start bulk buying the ingredients you really need and stop impulse buying.

As a bonus, writing all of your meals down also allows you to see how much you and your family are eating, which can teach you all about portion control. Once you’ve mastered this, you’ll also limit your food waste because you’ll only purchase food you actually need in the quantities you need.

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Top 8 meal planning tips for busy families

1. Don’t start from scratch

For most busy families, it’s difficult to know where to start when staring at an empty 7-day family meal plan. So, to make it easier, keep a list of your family’s favourite meals and make sure you include a couple of these each week. If you’d like to be even more organised, try having themed nights each week that will narrow down your choices. Tuesday night could always be pasta night. Or, if the kids have football practice on a Thursday, you could always have a slow-cooked meal.

2. Get the whole family involved

By including your family in the process of meal planning, you can make sure there’s something on the menu for everyone. By planning in advance in this way, you can make sure everyone’s happy with dinner. Plus, you may find you get extra helping hands when you need to prep food.

3. Display your plan

By displaying your meal plan on a wall or board in the home, you can prevent the cries of ‘what’s for dinner?’ Plus, by writing your plan down and displaying it proudly, you’re less likely to cheat or deviate from it.

4. Prep, prep, prep

When you get home from the supermarket, it can be tempting to throw everything in the fridge and cupboards. But, if you do this, you’ll find that you feel overwhelmed. By spending an hour or so doing some chopping and dicing when you’re home, you’ll save precious time during the week and feel a lot more organised. By taking simple steps like roasting vegetables and cooking rice, you’ll find it much easier to make your midweek meals after work.

5. Use different methods of cooking

Because using a family meal planner involves planning all of your meals, you can explore new ways of cooking and new recipes. So, why not break out the slow cooker? Just put all your ingredients in there in the morning, and you’ll have a lovely and delicious stew or casserole by the time you’ve finished work. It’s easy to organise and cook like this when you plan.

6. Make extras

Got a meal that you and your family love having on rotation? Batch cook it. By making one large portion and placing everything you don’t need in the freezer, you can save yourself loads of time and money. With the help of a range cooker, you’d find it easy to cook in bulk.

7. Pick recipes with common ingredients

Before you start making your plan for the coming week, check your fridge, freezer and cupboards for leftover ingredients. This can help with your planning and bring the cost of your weekly shop down. It will also greatly reduce your food waste.

8. Cook food you really want to eat

This may sound simple, but it’s really important you cook food that you want to eat. Finding new recipes can be exciting, but if you and the family don’t want to eat them, you’ll still be tempted by takeaways and cheat meals.

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