I find one of the biggest pitfalls of busy modern living is going to the supermarket every day and buying food, forgetting what you’ve got at home, and ultimately throwing away ingredients that languish at the bottom of the fridge. By setting out a feasible meal plan you can incorporate one ingredient into multiple dishes, saving both on waste and money.
PLANNING AHEAD is key!
How to plan ahead?
- Bear in mind daily commitments like work, gym, dates etc when you’re writing a meal plan, so that you know what you’ll have time to prepare and cook on each day. Often, after a big day the last thing I want to do is think about what I’m going to have to cook and I have been lured too many times into just getting a takeaway, which I always regret! It’s never as tasty as home cooking and it’s such a horrible waste of money.
- Think ahead about where you’ll be doing your shopping. I try really hard to do most of my fresh produce shopping at local markets. I’m lucky enough to have Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market and Preston Market close by. I always try to get there as late as possible, and on days when the markets are closed the following day. They are the best times to snaffle big bags and boxes of produce at bargain basement prices.
- What’s in season? A quick walk around a local market will provide the answer, but bear seasonality in mind when you’re writing a meal plan, so that when you’re out shopping you aren’t overspending on products which incur extra costs from being shipping in from abroad.
- Buy in bulk. For some reason a bag of carrots can cost less than just two or three, and half a cauliflower is only a dollar less than a whole one. I try to think about the ways in which the same ingredients can be incorporated into different dishes.
- Have a theme. I tend to centre my meal plans around a cuisine or protein (because it is most expensive and needs to go the furthest). Maybe have an Mediterranean theme one week and use up that box of tomatoes you got cheaply from the market, in passatas and salads.
- Think about food storage. Allocate the most perishable foods to the beginning of the week. For example, vegetables like green beans, lettuce, herbs and capsicums will all go off quicker than hardier vegies like potatoes and pumpkins.
Here is an example of one of my meal plans from February: