As carers and parents, we always seem to be busy, always seem to be racing the clock to ensure that we have everything done that needs to be done. Quite often it can get to 5 or 6 pm and we have either forgotten to take something out for dinner or just haven’t had time to start the evening meal.
Often things have a way derailing us don’t they?!
So I thought, why not share some of the time (and money) saving strategies I try to employ in the kitchen. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not perfect and this doesn’t always happen. But, I find with a little forward planning, it can make a huge difference to my week. Especially when I am tired and simply can’t think.
There are so many benefits to planning your weekly meals. Some of the benefits include:
Saves you time and money
Time as we know is not on our side. By taking just 10-15 minutes planning your weekly meals, you are avoiding costly quick trips to the convenient supermarket down the road. This is normally super expensive, costs you time and money to get there and of course you avoid the “quick grab” impulsive purchases like the chocolate bar (or 5) on special! You are also saving time by not having to make decisions about what to have, if you have enough ingredients etc.
More nutritious meals through the week and less not so healthy take-away foods
It goes without saying, the healthier you eat the healthier you are. Avoiding deep fried and heavily processed take-away foods will do the whole family a favour. Because you plan, you can ensure that you can bring in some variety and creativity into your weekly meals too. Focussing on a balance quality protein, carbohydrates and good fats you are really setting yourself up for success. These are essential nutrients your body needs for growth, repair and normal body functions. Don’t forget to add beautiful herbs, spices, onion, garlic and chilli to give your food beautiful flavour and depth.
Less food wastage
Because you are shopping specifically for your needs, you are buying less produce that will be wasted. Win!! More money in your pocket and less you are chucking in the bin.
You can shop for bulk cooking / bigger meals / multiple meals
I love the idea of bulk cooking or making extras at meals at once. Bulk cooking soups, stews and pastas is a great way to go. You can prepare these and then pack them up, portion controlled for later in the week. Make enough and you can have left overs for lunches or breakfast too.
My favourite thing to do at the moment, because it is winter, is to make at least one soup at the beginning of the week (on a Sunday) that can be used for a dinner one night and lunches for at least a few days (or you can freeze into portions)! I love sweet potato and a hearty chicken and vegetable. So much nutrition can be packed into a soup recipe be it smooth, chunky or something in between!
During the warmer months, I like to cook roast meats and use the left over meat and veg for lunches with salads the next day or even to put on sandwiches or wraps. It is so much nicer than heavily produced lunch meats and you know what is in it.
I also like to cook multiple meals at a time if I can that have similar ingredients. Ie I might make a pasta sauce (bolognaise – I put lots of veg in) and a soup at the same time. I always double my pasta sauce so I can make it later in the week or can freeze it for use for another time. It is also fabulous made into a lovely lasagne!
Bacon and Eggs!
Yes, you read that right. If all else fails and you are stuck, eggs are a wonderful source of nutrition. Packed with quality protein and they are a rich source of vitamins B2, D, B6, B12 and minerals zinc, iron and copper. Eggs are versatile and can be made into anything from being boiled, poached, scrambled and made into a frittata or quiche.
Good quality bacon (try to get nitrate free and/or at least source from the butcher) and eggs together are a wonderful “breakfast dinner” and can be coupled with a mixture of left over vegies in your crisper. I also like to have spare bacon at home so I can make homemade pizza’s (on wraps) that can again be used for dinners and lunches. The kids love them.
So you can see there are so many ways you can save time and money in the kitchen. A little planning can go a long way. Sometimes it is all about changing your thoughts and mindset about how things ‘should’ be and giving new things a go.
A few simple tips to meal planning for you:
- Decide and write it down, include all meals, fruits and snacks if you like
- Make sure it is a balanced plan, not the same thing each day and ensure you cover your food groups
- Play with ideas if you like
- Sort out your shopping list
- Set some time where you have the ability to bulk cook for a few hours