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Planning your meals will help your family save time and money.

We are all busy these days and a weekly meal plan can help you plan what you will have for dinner and buy only what you need. It also helps use up the stuff you already have in the fridge and pantry.

If you go out a lot, just paln a few meals for the week on the nights you know you are going to be home.

Why should we plan?

It reduces food waste - Meal planning helps you decide what you actually need and the quantities that you need and so you only buy the required amount.

It saves you money - if you use a shopping list that you cave created from your meal plan you are less likely to impulse buy.

It uses up leftovers and food you already have - you can work out what you have in the fridge, freezer and pantry and use it up instead of buying more of what you already have.

It reduces stress - If you are busy but you know what you have planned for dinner you don't need to stress about it.

It saves time - because you only thought about it once for the week, you know you have everything for it and you can just go home and cook up a storm.

It improves variety - you can clearly see which food groups you are serving and when which means you can ensure you and your family enjoy a varied and balanced diet

If helps fussy eaters and people with dietry restrictions - if you have a plan you can make sure that the meal is going to suit everyone and not be over cooking or cooking multiple meals.

How do you plan?

There are lots of websites around that help with free recipies and even a few that you can just put in the foods that you have in your fridge, freezer and pantry and it will spit out a whole variety of recipies that you could use with the ingredients you already have.

Here is a list of hints and tips when meal planning:

Check what you already have

  • Take stock of what you already have in your fridge, freezer and pantry
  • Check what you already have and the dates on existing food and aim to use these up first in your meal planning
  • Create a 'Whats in the freezer' list because sometimes food gets lost at the bottom
  • Write 'Eat me first' on products that need to be eaten first
  • When you run out of items note them down on your shopping list, use a phone app or on a whiteboard so you don't forget then when you are at the supermarket.

Use a meal planner and stick it to the fridge

  • Make a time to plan your meals.
  • Plan around your household schedule. Think about the activities you and your family have on throughout the week and incorporate these into your cooking schedule.
  • Plan quick meals on the days you are short of time.
  • Make note of the days you may be eating out - make it a little flexible
  • To save time you may cook double and freeze or plan to use it if you have a busy the next day
  • Make sure you stick your plan on the fridge then everyone knows what is for dinner so if someone else is cooking they know what to cook
  • Plan leftovers for lunches
  • Create a shopping list that you stick to

Long term planning

  • re-use your menu plans and recipie ideas.
  • Develop four standard weekly meal plans / menus and rotate them throughout the month
  • When buying products on sale, freeze the extra items or double the recipie and freeze for later

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