Up until about a year ago I had no system for buying food and planning meals and I often lamented how difficult it was to stick to a budget and to decide what to buy in the supermarket. I would often come out of the store with several bags full of shopping and a much lighter purse and I would look through my bags and think "what on earth can we have for dinner".
That was until I had a conversation with one of my friends. She complained about how annoying it can be to get stuck behind someone in the supermarket who is just browsing, not knowing what to buy and going from one end of the supermarket to the other. And I thought "oh, that's me". She explained to me how she planned her meals for a week and made a shopping list of what she needed. The shop took a lot less time and it helped her stick to a budget. Can you believe this idea have never occurred to me before?!
So I started writing a meal plan for the week and a shopping list of things to buy and it has made things so much easier. It also means we eat a wider variety of meals and are much less likely to run out of things mid week and need to do top-up shops. I don't always stick to our budget but I am pretty sure we spend less than we did before making a list.
I thought I would share our weekly meal plan for this week, it includes lunches and dinners. For breakfast I switch between porridge which I make with rice milk and have with golden syrup and a glass of orange juice (most days), cereal, normally some variety of granola with soya milk (when I am out of porridge or rice milk) and drop scone pancakes once a week, usually on a Saturday).
So why am I sharing this with you? Well writing a meal plan and shopping list every week is one of the few things I do as a matter of routine which I really think help to make our lives simpler, help us stick to a budget and reduce our stress, so surely it can't be a bad thing it someone reads this and takes it up and makes their life simpler and less stressful? I am certainly not saying "look how great I am, everyone should be like me" I am openly "imperfect" after all, I really just want to share the things in my life that seem to work. This one ritual really keeps me grounded and, like cleaning the bathroom is a ritual that keeps me centered throuhgout the peaks and flows of certainty and uncertainty that come and go throughout the week. It is nice to know that this one thing will almost always be there to ground me, ready for whatever the week may bring.
I do my weekly shop on a Wednesday so the week runs Wednesday to Tuesday, here is this weeks meal plan:
Lunch - Cheese and tomato sandwiches on wholemeal bread,
Dinner - Jacket potatoes with bakes beans and grated cheese with homemade coleslaw.
Lunch - Home made leek and potato soup with wholemeal toast,
Dinner - Quorn mince with homemade veg and tomato sauce in wraps with salad and grated cheese.
Lunch - Omega 3 Pollock fish finger sandwiches on wholemeal bread,
Dinner - Takeaway.
Lunch - Egg mayonnaise and tomato sandwiches,
Dinner - Sausage with mashed potato, broccoli, carrots, peas and gravy.
Lunch - Home made pea and ham soup,
Dinner - Pasta with homemade tomato sauce and bacon with grated cheese.
Lunch - Ham salad sandwiches on wholemeal bread,
Dinner - Home made pizza with ham and mushroom.
Lunch - Eggy bread with grated cheese, chutney and home made coleslaw,
Dinner - Home made salmon fish cakes with potato wedges, homemade coleslaw and salad.
When I make my shopping list I divide the items I need into categories to make going round the supermarket easier, I don't have to dash from one end of the shop to the other. My categories are typically: Fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, bread and other. I won't bore you with the shopping list, if you want to use this meal plan you can probably work out what you need, and besides, I already had some of the things I needed in the house so it wouldn't be a complete list anyway.
So there we have it, I hope it is useful. I plan on sharing more of my weekly meal plans because I hope that making it public will help me to take responsibility for what we are eating a bit more, it might make me make more healthy, seasonal choices if I know others are potentially judging what I am buying, eek!!
So do you write a shopping list each week? How do you make sure you stick to a budget? What are some of your favourite meals? I would love to know.