Meal planning: is it a good fit for you?

I have always struggled with meal planning.  I just hate the idea of being tied down what I am going to be cooking or eating on any day let alone in 7-14 days time. What if I don't feel like eating that day's designated menu that night, let alone whether I am up to it now that I have frequent attacks of fatigue after my cancer diagnosis?



On the other hand, I have a wonderful friend who home-schools her 5 wonderful kids and who makes up a yearly meal plan covering 6 different meal categories. If your want to or need to be super organized then I recommend Simone's plan here. Whilst I admire her talent and may even desire to emulate it a bit, but it just doesn't suit my personality, even more so now that I have only my husband at home to cook for aside from myself. If you need to learn the whys and how to then I recommend Meal Planning Magic blog which also gives you weekly meal plans to follow until you get into your own groove.


Over the years my 'meal planning' attempts have changed along with my circumstances. In an effort to save dollars, I bought half a side of beef once only to discover that I truly didn't save that much money as I didn't like a lot of the cuts of meat. Next I tried a hind quarter of beef since that gave me more beef for my dollars (taking into consideration the waste of bone, fat and offal - which I absolutely detest the idea of cooking.) The hind quarter was much better value for us and I went down this road for a few years. My hubby loves steak and I love mince and casseroles and I certainly made good use of my slow cooker back then as I do now except I tend to use my Dream Pot both in my RV and at home now days. However I can only eat so much beef in any given month! I crave variety!


For most of my 30 odd years of marriage I have been a stay at home mum but one with a family business. As the kids grew up, I became more and more involved in our business. The 'office' was just 3km away and I go past a big name grocery store with a decent butcher and greengrocer next door to them, to get to work and back each day. I ended up making use of this and picked up food every few days in small amounts especially fresh milk, bread and cut deli meats. I found that by sticking to my 'shopping list' and not buying much more than what was on my list I rarely went over my weekly budget.  The only exception would be when I bought bulk orders of some items that were on special that wouldn't spoil before I got around to using them. This way does take up a little extra time each day, but really not much more than the 90 minutes or so that a 'big shop' when I did it every 2 weeks. I also found that I didn't end up spending more than if I did my fortnightly 'big' shop.
Another way to save money is to buy seasonal fruit and vegetables only.  In these days of a global economy, you can usually find whatever produce you want any time of year, however if the items aren’t in season locally, you’ll end up paying a lot more for it.

A selection of food magazines


I have always cooked more or less from scratch without out using 'packet stuff'. In the early years, I felt more confident using a recipe but as time and confidence increased, I tended to use a recipe as a kicking off point and for inspiration rather than adhering to them religiously.


So just how do I do my meal planing? We do prefer fresh steak, fish and chicken and so occasionally I will pick up something when I am out & about, knowing that I will cook something with that item within the next few days! I also have a well stocked pantry and I have all the meats that we tend to have on a regular basis in the freezer. I would hate to have to run down to the store just for a single item at the last minute.One thing I have introduced in the last few years, is that I aim to try one new recipe per week. Now the reality especially with me being sick these last 7 months is that this generally happens only once every two weeks, but still we try something new every now and then.


Now that my kids have left home and that most of the time there is only my husband and myself, I find that I am cooking too much and so I need to freeze left overs (or we'll consume too much in one sitting - that's a huge part of why we are struggling with a weight issue!) On the days when I am too tired to cook and Robert has to take over, he knows that in addition to the 4 or 5 meals he is comfortable with cooking, he can choose to pull out a pre-made meal to defrost in the microwave oven and dinner is done!

Image from Raw Food for Life
It's much healthier and often tastier than saying you'll pop down & get takeaway tonight and a whole lot cheaper too. So do think about how you plan meals. There is no right or wrong way, as long as you are giving your loved ones healthy, balanced meals from as many raw and 'real' food basics as possible rather than relying on takeaways (takeouts) or package foods including convenience foods.