As you all know, I plan our family menu four weeks in advance. No, I'm not running a military mess hall. But, yes, I do need to be organised. And being organised with your menu planning helps keep the family meals nourishing and healthy. It also negates the trap of relying on take away or frozen, convenience meals.
By planning for four weeks, I can repeat the same menu plan three times. We have one menu for each season. I use seasonal recipes. This helps keep everything fresh, full of flavour and most importantly, budget friendly!
So, how do I do it? How can you do it? What things do you need to consider?
- What nights do you have time to cook? Make these nights your fresh food nights (think stir-fry, good old 'meat and three vege', salad, etc).
- What nights don't you have time to cook? Make these your homemade frozen meal nights. I batch cook on a Monday for the week ahead. I make soup for Wednesday night and bolognese or meatballs for Thursday night.
- What lunches can you pre-prepare? This goes a long way to including more vege and good protein into your diet and helps prevent sandwich boredom!
- How will you vary your protein source? I keep Mondays for chicken, Tuesdays for red meat, Wednesdays are meat free, Thursdays for mince and Fridays for fish. Saturday and Sunday are a mixed bag.
- When will you shop? Ideally, this would only be one or two days before your first fresh food night. And close to your batch cooking day.
As they say, prior planning prevents p!$$ poor performance. It might sound boring to plan ahead. But trust me on this one. You'll save money in the long run and will go a long way to improving your nutrition.