Planning your meals not only saves you time, it may save you cash, too. Putting aside 30 minutes on a lazy weekend afternoon to plan next week’s menu will benefit your belly and your budget, here are our top tips for thrifty – and delicious – meal planning.
By Roxy Greeff
1. MAKE A MASTER LIST
Ask your friends and family members to hand over their favourite quick and nutritious recipes. Ideally, you should be able to prepare the dish in half an hour or less. Make a list of the options by prioritising the recipes with fewer or seasonal ingredients to keep things on the cheap. If your foodie friends fail you, page through the latest MyKitchen for some fast food inspiration.
2. WHAT’S IN THE PANTRY?
Before you make each week’s meal plan, take stock of what you have leftover in the pantry and the fridge. Unfinished sauces, tinned foods and salad stuffs can all be reworked into something tasty for the upcoming week. Make sure you are planning for dishes that use what you have at hand, before you head out and spend more money on ingredients you might not need.
3. CHECK THE PAPER
Don’t throw away the grocery store inserts that come in your weekly community newspaper. These coupons are hidden gems that will provide you with a compact list of your local grocery shop’s weekly bargains and specials. Make a list of all your favourite discounted ingredients, do a little recipe research and plan the week’s meals around them.
4. ALWAYS SHOP SEASONAL
Draw up a seasonal fruit and veggie calendar. Cooking with what’s in season is economical and eco-friendly! Food prices are drastically lower when produce hasn’t been imported, shopping local also means you’ll be supporting local businesses.
5. PLAN B
Amidst the demands of work, family and friends, you may occasionally find yourself without the time to come up with a full meal plan. Choose one meal per week and double your ingredients, freeze your second serving to be reheated and enjoyed later. You will eventually build up a store of meals for days where you don’t feel like cooking. Having a stash of readily available, homemade dishes will save you from heading to the drive-through or choosing expensive (and unhealthy) quick fixes.