This one habit has;
- saved me time,
- reduced food waste
- helped me nourish my body
- made my day and week run smoothly.
Wanna know what it is? Without further ado – drum roll please…..Ta dah – it is Menu Planning! Okay before you cringe and do a runner! Let me share how this one habit was one of the tools that transformed my health and well being and helped me lose 70 kilos in the process.
While I used to menu plan prior to changing my lifestyle, I wasn’t consistent with it. Over the last two years menu planning has become like brushing my teeth – it’s just what I do without thinking too much about it.
In our household we shop on a Sunday so over the weekend I check out the pantry, see what we have in our fridge and freezer and what left overs we have or what needs to be used up. This helps me create a menu plan and create a shopping list for the week ahead.
- Helps me to create a shopping list.
- Makes my week run smoother.
- Ensures we eat a variety of foods.
- Has saved us $$$.
- Allows me to focus on my life rather than what my next meal is going be.
- Means less time in the kitchen and a few nights off cooking.
- Has reduced the food waste in our home.
- I cook more from scratch and enjoy it.
- Ensures we cycle through food in the fridge, freezer and pantry on a regular basis.
Prior to making changes to how I nourish my body, I found I used to make the same things time and time again and used a lot of pre-made bases and products. Or often I couldn’t be bothered cooking and we would up buying takeaways. I am embarrassed to admit that we used to have a lot of food waste prior to this.
To keep things interesting, I will make at least one new recipe a week. This keeps me motivated and prevents me from getting into a food rut and ensures variety. I menu plan based on what leftover ingredients we have in our fridge and freezer. As I have the time, I make a lot of meals from scratch and every few weeks I will spend a Sunday afternoon batch cooking and creating meals for the freezer such as bliss balls and slices.
As a lot of recipes are designed for 4 to 6 serves. I will either make:
- the full recipe – eat one serve and freeze the additional portions
- a new meal by adding some new ingredients to create a new dish altogether.
- one meal with half of the protein and then create a different meal with the other half the next day.
Any meal we freeze we label with what it is the date and eat them within a month. This means I often get one to two nights a week where I don’t have to cook and can heat and eat what I pull from the freezer. It also has an additional benefit that it is a great back up for those busy weeks which saves us defaulting to eating out or buying takeaways because we can’t be bothered cooking. Yet is flexible enough where if something happens, during the week I can swap meals around. I love having this kind of flexibility. It helps me keep my portion sizes front of mind. (Prior to this, we were both eating bigger portion sizes and you all know how that ended up for me).
There are probably apps to put your menu plan on. However, I love pen and paper and keeping our weekly plan on display on the fridge so we remember what we need to take out of the freezer or make. I currently use a printed menu plan. Prior to that I would use an A4 sheet of paper and divide it into seven rows and four columns (one for snacks) and fill it in.
If you would you like to try menu planning download my planner here.
If you have any questions about menu planning or where to begin let me know in the comments below.