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Mastering the art of meal planning is tricky – there are hundreds of blogs and articles out there that offer either black-and-white instructions for meal planning, or are so vague that you might as well prepare your meals with a blindfold on. We’re here to walk you down the middle of the road.
It’s where you plan your meals ahead of time.
Have we met the word count for this section yet? No? Well here’s a few more…
Meal planning can be broken down into three simple steps:
- Choosing your recipes
- Buying your ingredients
- Making your meals
Without meal planning, we often end up doing all three in a really short space of time, like when you’ve just got back from work (ring any bells?). That’s no fun, especially when your brain feels all mushy after a long day working. Meal planning means that when you get round to cooking, steps one and two are already done and maybe even some of step three too.
We often reach for pre-packaged ready meals or junk foods at the end of a long day because they’re quick, easy, and require little thought. Meal planning can reduce the barriers to home cooking – by deciding what you eat and buying those ingredients a few days in advance, you’ve already done most of the hard work before you’ve even set foot in the kitchen.
Planning your meals for the week can make it easier to take advantage of supermarket deals, particularly bulk or multi-buys. A bit of prior thought also helps to buy what you need rather than what you like in the moment.
60% of food waste occurs after food has been purchased. Meal planning can give you a better grasp on expiry dates and lead to less food being thrown away. Not only is this kinder for the planet, it’s kinder for your wallet too.
There are so many ways to do this – try looking online, in recipe books, or dream them up yourself. You’ll find pretty much anything you need online, from “15-minute meals” and “vegan comfort food”, to “recipes for two people” or “ways to use up leftovers”. Looking for recipes built around a particular cuisine or ingredient is a great way to eat seasonally.
It may sound obvious but you want to plan enough meals till your next food shop. You could plan exactly what you’re eating each day or you could just plan the meals for the days between your shops and then pick the meal on the day. If you want to make those pennies stretch a little further, make enough of a particular meal to last two or even three days. Whatever works best for you. If you have a go-to breakfast or lunch then you don’t need to include it in your plan, just make sure it’s on your shopping list.
By choosing your recipes you know what ingredients you need and how much of each. So, you can now make a shopping list with the ingredients and their quantities for all your week’s meals. You can also add any other essentials and snacks on top to suit you.
The minimum is getting down the ingredients for the meals you’ve planned. If you like to have some freedom in your shop, leave the weekend free or you can go the other way and plan to the tiniest detail. It’s whatever works for you.
Meal ideas: sorted. Ingredients: in the bag. Next stop: turning those ingredients into a tasty meal. Some meals will require more prep than others, but this prep doesn’t have to be done at the time you want to eat – you could do some of it in the morning before your day kicks off, or even the evening before.
Too often people talk about the practicalities of meal planning and nothing else. If you don’t enjoy prepping meals in the morning, don’t do it. Or, if you’d prefer not to be rushing around in the evening when all you want is a hot bath, find a way to do that. One person’s idea of the perfect meal plan is another’s one-way ticket to ordering another takeaway.
Quick tip for people riding solo (we mean living on their own but we’re trying to be cool). A lot of meals can be cooked for 1-2 people, particularly by buying loose fruit and vegetables which also helps to reduce packaging waste. If you do have leftovers, simply freeze them and you’ve got yourself a lovely home-cooked ready meal. Or, if you’re short on freezer space, have the leftovers for lunch the next day.
When you’re caught out and forget a vital ingredient… or the cooker has broken… or you simply don’t feel like spending time in the kitchen; Huel can help. Huel is another tool in your toolbox to help you eat healthier and fill the gaps in your meal planning.
One Huel Powder shake is a nutritionally complete, 400 kcal meal filled with carbs, protein, fibre, fats and 26 vitamins and minerals. So if your meal plans change, we’ve got you covered.
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A FREE bag of Mac & Cheeze