Planning meals is a great step to feeling organised and prepared. Knowing everything is in the pantry or refrigerator ready to go is definitely more calming than staring into the pantry at mealtime wondering what to cook and if you have enough ingredients. Meal planning also saves you money because every time you go into the supermarket you spend money an often it is way more than you intended.
I plan meals for 4 weeks. This gives us variety as we don’t eat the same meal in a month. First step is checking my diary for any events coming up like birthdays, school events, working trips etc and account for those. Take time to investigating what is still in the freezer/fridge and pantry and needs using up. I choose 4 beef dishes, 4 lamb, 4 pork, 4 chicken, 4 fish, 4 vegetarian. One of the children cooks dinner on Sunday night so I pick 4 recipes that are within their capabilities.
Then I decide on lunches for Mon – Thu. We have one day per week where lunch is bought so there are only 16 slots for lunch. Weekend lunches may be leftovers, sandwiches or something very basic. Part of this prep is to also plan snacks over the week so I know what needs to be baked on the weekend. I add notes at the bottom like where I found a particular recipe etc.
These ideas are then divide these out over the 4 weeks.
The plan isn’t set in concrete. Life gets in the way so flexibility is necessary. Sometimes due to work and/or school commitments Tue week 2 suddenly becomes the slow cooker meal from Thu week 4 so each person can eat and run. An additional friend who stays for dinner may mean not enough sausages that night so swap a menu for another night. Occasionally if we have takeaway for dinner that means there is a meal idea towards the next four-week plan.
This then helps me prepare my grocery list as I can clearly see what food is required. Other household members can easily see what is for dinner and if you are lucky may even start preparing if you are running late.