We’re a strange lot when it comes to food. We like to save pennies in the supermarket, get deals and save up points for free stuff, but we can never be bothered to do the one thing that would actually save us the most money. Meal planning.
We tell ourselves that we don’t have time to sit down and plan what we’re going to eat for the next week and it’s true, it’ll probably take about ten minutes. So instead we opt for ‘wingin’ it’, which nearly always results in us with our heads in our hands about 4pm thinking “arrghh what are we going to eat tonight?”. Invariably this leads to a mad dash to the shops for some panic buying or a trip to the local takeaway, leaving a hoc-potch of last week’s weekly shop untouched in the cupboard and fridge.
Maybe we’re also desperately hanging on to a notion that we like to live spontaneously, that our lives are carefree and interesting and planning will get in the way. The reality though, is that we do a mad supermarket dash hoping to be inspired as we leg it down the fruit and veg aisle and frankly it’s all a bit stressful.
So is it really worth having a crack at this meal planning?, Well, it’s the biggest way to save money at the supermarket. The average family throws away around £700 a year of food, or the cost of a holiday to look at it another way. We buy stuff that we don’t need, then it ends up in the bin. We get tempted by special offers and shop impulsively. As my Grandma used to say, if you didn’t need it in the first place, it’s not a saving.
Taking about 10 minutes each week to actually think about what we are going to eat for the next week can save us a whole load of time, money and hassle. There’s a meal planning page on my website where you can just drop different recipes onto a meal planner, change the number of servings if you need to, then click create shopping list and it’s done!
There are other incentives for meal planning. Because you are thinking in advance about what you are going to eat, you are a lot more likely to eat a proper balanced diet. You are also more likely to eat together as a family. A friend of mine recently started meal planning. She said she realised that she was feeding her children, but that she and her husband weren’t eating properly. She has always hated the idea of sitting down to plan the week ahead but found that actually, it was easy to do and the feeling of being in control made the small effort really worth while.
Essentially, planning what we eat will make us richer, our lives less stressful, help us eat better as well as reducing our food waste. Can you spare ten minutes once a week for that?