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Can Meal Planning Make Life Easier?

Woman preparing mealBeing organised with shopping for food then preparing and cooking for our family for the week is one of the areas of my life that I am continually growing and learning in.

When I’m organised we eat well, the meals are healthy and delicious and the children have a much more at-ease Mother.

When I’m not as organised, well it’s a lot more stressful for everybody.

Meal planning saves time, money and it helps you eat for nourishment rather than survival! There are LOTS of different ways to plan your meals for the week ahead, organise your grocery list and make shopping for food easier.

One of the first people I came across who knew what they were doing with meal planning is Joanne Whitton of Quirky Cooking.

The resourceful, practical nature of Jo’s post are a real winner here. We’ve taken on board lots of her suggestions over time. Check out her guide to meal planning and cooking on a budget.

Bulk buying saves so much money and time!!

Wholefood Canteen, a Brisbane based company who make all the meals for two Montessori preschools, have a great post waxing lyrical about the benefits of meal planning.

I enjoyed their “10 Meal planning tips for busy families”.

So getting down to the practicalities of it.

How do you plan for a week for meals?

There are Apps that help will meal plan, create grocery lists, store recipes. If you want to keep track of your menu plan and grocery list over a number of devices for convenience and ease there are lots of options out there, some free, some that cost.

My take is the apps are great if you get most of your recipes and ideas for meals online. If all of your recipes are in hardcopy, on cards, scraps of paper and you don’t want to spend hours entering in all your favourite recipes into the digital age, stick with a menu planning template, like these ones from The Nourishing Home

For us, planning out meals for 3-4 days is the most realistic and workable. For you it may be 5-6 days.

My focus for menu planning is to plan out the main protein for the meals. As I buy most of my meat in bulk, I defrost out what I need the night before so it’s ready to go in the morning. The vegetable dishes I’ll go for are based on what’s in season and what’s in my fridge. My youngest child can be really particular about what he eats and the way that it comes so it’s easiest for all of us if there’s not lots of different types foods and flavours mixed together. Simple is great.

I try to ensure that there is always leftovers that will serve as lunch or repeat dinner. Slow cook meals, casseroles, soup and stews are great for this. As the weather cools down this has even greater appeal.

Alternating the protein types: poultry, red meat, fish and vegetable sources of protein makes any easy way of planning your meals, then it’s just a matter of choosing a recipe to your time and taste.

But how do you keep track of what you’re cooking from day to day

Thanks to some very passionate foodies, there are people out there who have made up meal plans and provided all the recipes for you! All of which you can personally tailor to yours and your families needs.

One of the best sanity saving planning tools I’ve found is Real Plans

It has everything that I look for in meal planning AND MORE!

Shopping lists, so many potential automated functions with lots of family friendly recipes and the ability to focus on or eliminate particular foods if there’s allergies or sensitivities to certain foods in your family

Subscription, monthly quarterly or annually will give you access to over 2000 recipes. And the quality of the recipes is awesome.

There are traditional (Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free options), Paleo (Primal and Autoimmune Protocol options) and Vegetarian (Ovo-lacto) options.

With a 30 day money back guarantee, it’s worth a trial!

Plan to Eat is another an online menu planner that uses your recipes, scheduled for the days you want them. It automatically makes your grocery list, organised the way you like to shop, using the recipes you’ve selected. Plan to Eat makes it easier to eat real food, prepared at home, with your family gathered around your own table.

When it comes down to it, the simple act of thinking ahead one day or seven, has the potential to bring more ease to your life. It prevents last minute stress about what to feed yourself and your family, it allows you to budget and purchase what you know you need and it gives you the freedom to choose how you’ll nourish yourself. And we all know, when we eat well, we feel better and have the energy to do more of what we love! Sounds like a recipe for a delicious life

– Dr Rosie