Meal planning: tips and tricks

As an update on our pantry challenge here is my meal plan for last week while we were on holidays:

Monday: BBQ meat and veggies including eggplant pizzas (yum!!).

Tuesday: Fish roasted on capers with cous cous salad (used up some of the excess cous cous).

Wednesday: Vodka steamed mussels (used up some of the vodka left over from Easter meals…yes, we’re no longer vodka drinkers in this household).

Thursday: Spinach and ricotta cannelloni (used up most of the multitude of cannelloni tubes I have lying around) with garlic bread and salad. I might have made up the bit about having salad to make it look like we didn’t just eat carbs and meat all week. But we kind of did, which is really unlike us.

Friday: Fish ‘n’ chips (we were on holidays, after all).

As we were on holidays it was a joy to spend a bit of extra time in the kitchen, though I had some troubles with the oven. I did quite a bit of failed baking: the soda bread was under cooked, the banana cake was over cooked, the muffins were leathery. It was very frustrating and reminded me about the time needed to get used to a different oven.

I have learnt a few things since I started meal planning ( I started a few weeks before the pantry stocktake).

  1. If I meal plan every week and shop according to my list then I don’t need to have huge stores of things in the house. I can use them up with meals and then get more when I need it, rather than having lots of “just in case” food.
  2. Choosing at least one meal a week that I can make double of and freeze means that on busy nights I can be quite justified in taking something out of the freezer for dinner as a part of my plan.
  3. It really does make trying new recipes a lot easier, because I’m planning well ahead. I make those recipes on days I’m not working when I have a bit of extra time.
  4. Keeping a list of the staple meals that all of us enjoy makes it much easier to choose what goes onto the plan. This is a word document that I update regularly.
  5. I also keep a word document listing the meals I have planned from week to week and which we enjoyed. I highlight which meals plans we stuck to and which we didn’t. This helps me to be more realistic in my future planning.
  6. There’s no need to be too pedantic about the plan. If I don’t feel like cooking what’s on the menu that night I’ll do it another night and go for something easy (like brinner).
  7. Left over bits and pieces form part of the next weeks plan. This week I had left over ricotta, so that became a key ingredient to use up in the plan. It’s a much more economic and less wasteful way to run a kitchen!

Meanwhile, I highly recommend joining the Mamabake community. Even if you’re not keen on big batch baking with a bunch of Mamas the page is full of great tips, awesome recipes and is a genuine community in a world in which community is largely absent. One of the Mamabakers came up with a wonderful idea that I wish she had mentioned about a month ago in time for me to implement it for Little Fearse’s birthday.

“On the weekend we had a potluck birthday for my boy who turned one – the invite was ‘bring a plate, not a pressie’ and it was brilliant – I made scones, we got a fab sponge cake from the markets and that was it as far as food prep went! Birthday mamabake style!”

How perfect would this have been as a BNN and a 2-4-1 solution?! Waah.

In frantic first birthday preparation (I thought I said this would never happen to me?),

Mama xo


3 thoughts on “Meal planning: tips and tricks

  1. My youngest is about to turn a year old, too. 🙂 Your meal plan sounds good! I often make double the food we are going to eat at one meal, so I can pack it up for my husband to take to work on his 24 hour shifts (he’s a firefighter) and not have to cook while he’s gone.

    • It’s all an illusion. I have failed to meal plan for the last TWO weeks. Though I am still working my way through the pantry supplies making things such as chilli beans and cauliflower cannelloni.

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