Monthly meal plans
Hi, I keep seeing posts about monthly meal plans and I Think it would work for my family. We are a family of 5 and I need to drastically reduce our food bill and the meal plan will keep us in a budget. Can anyone share their wisdom on how to get started with one? How much do you normally spend on your food and Meal ideas etc? Many thanks in advance x
I personally don’t like to eat the same food/meal in the same week which makes more work for planning. But I started by listing the regular things the family liked to eat and spread it over the 4 weeks depending on ease to make and who I expected to be around. I try to have batch cooked meals or slow cooker meals for the days I work long hours and quicker pasta ones when it’s just hubby and me and kids already fed. Then once I had that structure I filled in the gaps mainly looking for cheap ideas on good food website as loads of quick cheap stuff there. I also try to make everything from scratch and bulk things out with lentils or beans- which evolved over time. (For example red lentils in cottage pie can double the amount leaving some to freeze for another day and they soak up the yummy juice). Hope this helps!
We have a 4 week meal plan. I wrote down all the food I cooked and it worked out we have one mince dish every week, one pasta dish every week etc so I wasn’t cooking lasagna and cottage pie in the same week which takes time as I work full time. There is also usually a meal that I just shove in the oven when I can’t be bothered to cook like fish and chips. We always have a dinner on a Sunday but sometimes I go full board with it some Sundays I pair it down. Also Friday is usually a fakeaway or takeaway as we get in later than the rest of the week. Sometimes I also prep what I can the day before.
If you're feeling a bit daunted start with a weekly plan until you get in the swing of things.
Start by making a list of what you already have. Tins, jars, stuff in the freezer, anything you can make a meal out of. See what meals you can put together with what you have before you go out and start buying more things.
Put a list together of family favourites and favourite recipes so you can look at that for inspiration when doing your plan. Also think about what evenings need to be a 'quick meal' night and those you can take a little more time with. If you don't have one, get a slow cooker - it'll becone your best friend 😉 Batch cooking will too. Have a look on the team tomm menu page and a Google for some good slow cooker/batch Cook recipes. We usually batch cook things like Lasagne, paella, shepherd's pie, casseroles, bolognaise etc.
I always make extra - I like to have some frozen homecooked meals to grab when we need them and I also use extras to build up a stash for our baby (he's 1 and BLW). I also might cook two different things using the same staple - I did a bolognaise at the weekend. It was a large pack of mince so I made the bol with one half and made enchiladas mince for the freezer with the other. Half the time, half the mess and double the meal 👍
Another good way of cutting your budget is online food shopping! Make a list and get what you need. You're less likely to grab the extras if you're doing it online 😊
I've been meal planning most of this year, usually try to do 1 month at a time and I then bulk buy the meat for the month and freeze it, I buy 5KG of chicken breasts, a few packs of diced pork/pork loin steaks, a pork shoulder, a chicken, some lamb, some diced beef and some mince, along with a gammon joint or some steaks and maybe some Steak for a treat. Can spend around £60 but it will last probably 2 months with some fish and veggie meals thrown in. I'm just trying to get back to this sort of organisation as I just don't have time to be constantly shopping and writing meal plans.
I'm also trying to incorporate new ideas into the meal plan, I had some lovely sweetcorn and Halloumi fritters at a restaurant and want to find a recipe and recreate at home, just need to find some accompaniments as mine we're served with breakfast and I want to serve as an evening meal.