Welcome to the third and final instalment of my meal planning 101 series! If you missed part 1 and 2 you can find them here & here! Today I’m going to share with you some of my favourite meal planning resources to help you either get kick-started on your meal planning journey or to take it to the next level!
Over the last two weeks we’ve covered the why and the how of meal planning so today lets bring it all together and make it happen! So here we go, my favourite resources for meal planning!
Choose Your Meal Planner
The first thing you’re going to need is, funnily enough, a meal planner! You can do this electronically using a calendar or app, or you can go old school and use a pen & paper version. I’m pen & paper all the way. When I’m only planning dinners I use this simple Kikki K planner that sticks neatly to my fridge but for full meal planning (breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks) I made my own A4 version. The good news is I’m going to share two versions of it in my next newsletter so if you want to get your hands on them then you better get yourself on the list quick smart! You can signup by clicking right here, or through the box at the end of this post and you’ll get a copy of my Healthy Drinks Guide ebook as well!
If you’re more a fan of electronic planning then these websites and apps might be a good place to start. Being a paper girl I’ve only had a little play with them myself, but they look pretty easy to use!
- Say Mmm (website)
- Menu Planner (app – $3.79)
- Meal Board (app – $4.99)
- Evernote (website & app) – evernote can be used for making notes of just about anything, but it does work well for collating recipes and meal planning. Back in 2011 they wrote a post on how to use it for this purpose which you can find here
- Plan to Eat (website – 30 days free then $4.95 a month)
If you’ve got an app or website you’ve been using that you’d recommend then please leave it in the comments!
Find Recipe Inspiration
The hardest part of meal planning can be finding recipe inspiration but it doesn’t need to be a chore! The first trick is to write down all your go-to, fail-safe recipes and then the fun can really begin!
I like to choose a cookbook from my collection to use for a few weeks at a time, if not for exact recipes then at least for inspiration for what I might like to cook. Now’s not the time to pull out your fanciest cookbooks full of tricky, time consuming recipes but rather go for those cookbooks full of quick, healthy and delicious meals. Some of my favourites for these kinds of meals are:
- Plenty – Yotam Ottolenghi
- River Cottage Veg Everyday – Hugh Fearnley – Whittingstall
- Tasty Vegetarian – Book Group Australia
- The Accidental Vegetarian – Simon Rimmer
- Eat, Drink & Be Vegan – Dreena Burton
- Easy Vegetarian – Ryland, Peters & Small
- Vegetarian Bible – Margaret Barca
Of course you don’t have to be limited to cookbooks, there’s recipes for everything you could possibly imagine (and some you haven’t!) online! Sites like Taste, Best Recipes & All Recipes are great resources where you can browse by ingredient, occasion, season and cooking style. You can even save the recipes straight into something like evernote if you decide to do your meal planning that way! Pinterest is another great resource, especially if you find it easier to choose by looking at lots of delicious photos!
Use Ready-Made Plans
If you want to ease yourself into meal planning then there’s plenty of ready-made plans you can find online that do the hard work for you! The weekly Meatless Meal Plans on Oh My Veggies are excellent for vegetarians (or those wanting to add more meatless meals to your weekly plan) and the Organised Housewife shares dinner plans as well. The Healthy Food Healthy Planet site has a collection of meal plans for families, couples and singles which can be adjusted to suit dietary requirements, choose quicker recipes, cheaper foods and a whole range of other adjustments.
Take Inventory of your Pantry, Fridge & Freezer
One way to really make sure you’re saving money and reducing waste with your meal planning is to take an inventory of your pantry, fridge & freezer before you get started. The first time around this might take a little time, but you might not need to do all three. An inventory of my pantry is the most important for me as I’m generally across what I’ve got in my fridge and freezer, but if you’ve got a second fridge or a chest freezer you might have lost track what is in them as well! Doing an inventory will firstly help you get rid of anything that has been lurking in the shadows and is no longer edible, but will also highlight what ingredients you’ve got in abundance so you can plan your meals accordingly.
There are lots of great, free printable inventories online (particularly on pinterest!), as well as some excel spreadsheet templates if you’d prefer an electronic version, so here are a few to try:
- Organized Home Pantry Inventory
- Organized Home Freezer Inventory
- Home Storage Solutions 101 Pantry List
- Excel Templates Pantry Inventory
- Pulling Curls Pantry Inventory Spreadsheet