A few weeks ago, I asked my little community on Facebook what they would like to see more of. To my surprise, my readers wanted more posts on organisation – household, family, meals. This amazed me, because these are exactly the kind of posts I enjoy writing, but also, that I spend hours trawling Pinterest for! I just feel a bit self-conscious about putting myself forward as an expert – I am fairly organised, but things do go spectacularly pear-shaped occasionally!
One of the things that makes me feel really organised is when I’m on top of my meal planning. I’ve blogged before about how I meal plan, but I don’t think that was a particularly useful post, at least, not in the way these posts could be. Instead, I’m giving you four weeks’ worth of meal plans. Yes, you read that right; four weeks, 28 days, where you don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner. You see, not only am I giving you the meal plans, but I’m also giving you the recipes and the shopping lists. I’m taking away all that stress of meal planning and getting it spot on.
Why did I pick four weeks? Because, quite honestly, I think you won’t get bored if you work your way through this plan 2 or 3 times. So, in fact, I’m giving you 12 weeks of meal plans! Of course, you may want to make tweaks and substitutions, and of course you can, but that should be fairly easy.
I’ve based these meal plans on how we eat. So I’ve not put together any complicated “Let’s make muffins at 6am” kind of breakfasts – we’d never get out of the door. Breakfast in our house is cereal and toast. We might make a bit more of a special effort at the weekend, but that’s it.
Weekday meals are designed to be easy and quick to prepare. I’ve used a selection of fast recipes (think Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals) and slow cooker meals. I need one slow cooker meal each week when Ben has swimming and we get back late.
Weekend meals are a bit more elaborate (although still family friendly), and mostly help with the weekday meals. So roast beef on a Sunday will have leftovers which are used on the Monday in a different meal. Some weekend meals are ‘Eat One, Freeze One,’ and just need to be heated up when they are used later in the month. I’ve tried to put a bit of a ‘fakeaway’ style meal on a Friday. That’s just how we like to eat – if it doesn’t work for your family, switch it around.
The real bonus, in my opinion, are the shopping lists. I love online shopping for food – in fact, the Asda delivery man recognised me in the village the other day. You can shop once for the food, and then save your shopping as a regular shopping list, so that if you repeat that week’s meal plans, it’s much quicker. I’ve put the shopping lists and meal plans into downloadable and printable pdf files as well.
The meal plans are designed to avoid waste. A few weeks ago, my fridge was half-full of very wilted vegetables and herbs. I’ve deliberately written these plans so you don’t have half a bunch of coriander and half a brown iceberg lettuce leftover at the end of the week. They should, mostly use put all fresh produce. Things that keep for longer, like onions and potatoes, don’t have to be purchased every week – just when you’ll need them.
They are also designed for variety. You’ll notice that each week there is one vegetarian meal and two fish-based meals. They incorporate a variety of styles and cuisines. There are also some very easy recipes – chuck it in the pan and stir kind of recipes. We all need those!
Finally, all the meals are designed to feed four people – probably two adults and two children. I make smaller portions, or we have the leftovers for lunch. The links are to useful, simple recipes, which I’ve tried and tested. Where I can, over the next few months, I’ll post my own recipes and update the links accordingly.
I really hope you find this meal planning system helpful. Please let me know in the comments or through Facebook what works or what doesn’t work for you.
Spring Meal Plans: Week 1 – Find the recipes, meal plans and shopping lists for the first week here.