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Your Guide to Successful Menu Planning

Menu planning can be an effective way to save time and money when it comes to weekly meals! It does take a bit of time to find what works for you, which is enjoyable, likely to last and effective! Here are my top tips for getting those meals on the table week in and week out...

1. Start by getting inspired! Personally, I like to look up recipes in cookbooks and websites, particularly – Jamie’s Everyday Super Food, Healthy Aperture and Taste. Bookmark and take note of some meals to try.

2. Keep a pen and paper close by. So you’ve got some meal ideas in mind and are perhaps aiming to try 1-2 new meals per week? Write down the days of the week and what you would like to cook for the next week or couple of weeks. 

3. Think of categorising meals or having theme nights e.g. Keep note of 2 pasta dishes in mind, have a soup night, vegan night, salads for lunches..etc. This may not be ideal for everyone but theme nights are a big hit with families and kids as you can definitely get them involved in meal prep. 

4. Write down a shopping list based on the ingredients you’ve extracted from the recipes! Having a list will prevent you roaming up and down the aisles helplessly and help you buy the foods you need and keep unhealthy extras out of your cart. Also, set a day for your weekly shop e.g. Saturdays or Sundays (if you don’t live in Switzerland).If you’re one to do the reverse i.e. shop for groceries first then look for recipes after then here’s what I would suggest:

  • Start with fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables. Avoid starting with the inner aisles and start by loading up on a selection of vegetables such as lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, baby spinach for salad ingredients and perhaps zucchini, eggplant, green beens, cauliflower, broccoli and asparagus for cooked options. With regards to fruits, go for lots of colour and choose blueberries, plums, peaches, passionfruit, strawberries and bananas to name a few. Pick what’s in season! Also, stocking up on some frozen fruit and vegetables can definitely come in handy when your fridge is running low on produce or you just lack the time to head to the shops. 
  • Don’t forget about your protein sources. Ensure you’re well stocked on protein as it is an essential component of your main meal. Options to go for can include eggs, lean mince, salmon, skinless chicken breasts and for non-animal sources include tofu, tempeh and seitan as suitable alternatives. You can always add a variety of legumes to your cart such as lentils, kidney beans and chickpeas. Dairy is also a great choice of protein and getting small tubs of natural or probiotic yoghurt can be a good addition to breakfast or even as a snack. Cheese varieties you can include and are not limited to cottage cheese, feta, goat’s cheese and quark. Soy yoghurts and soy-based alternatives can also be chosen.

5. Get cooking! I’m one that likes the strategy of “cook once, eat twice” and always plan for leftovers. You can use left over chicken to add onto a salad the next day or make extra batches of soup to freeze. Make sure you cook foods that tend to perish quickly early on in the week. 

6. Keep track of favourite meals and start building a collection family-approved dishes. In time, menu planning won’t be a lengthy chore as your database of recipes and gold-star meals increases.

In need of sample meal plans and menu suggestions that work for you and the family? GET IN TOUCH and let 2016 be a time of getting organised with a dietitian by your side and bid farewell to the excuse of “having no time…” 

 

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