(probably the most Virgo post I’ve ever written)
I flit between being the most organised person in the kitchen with a fully-prepped fridge and a daily must-follow meal plan, or I end up with the fridge containing just a measly old garlic clove and some off milk and we end up having takeaways more often than I’d wish to disclose. Recently it’s been a little much of the latter, so I’ve been trying to step up my game in the meal prep department and I thought that writing this post would be just the kick up the butt that I needed.
If like me Domino’s text you more than anyone else on your phone, then I have a Sample Meal Prep List, which is what I used last week to prep our food. I thought I’d give you one that was filled out just incase you fancied some ideas and to see how we lay it out for the two of us for five days worth of planning. Then I’ve also got a Meal Planning Guide that’s empty and ready for you to fill out. Just click on the link, print it out and there you go. Have a read of the below to see how I go about this whole meal prep malarkey…
Get salivating. This is probably the most time-consuming step of the whole thing, but before you even get to the lists and the buying, you need to know what you want to make first. I own a tonne of recipe books because I’m slowing turning into my mother, so I always look through them first. Although obviously the internet is a great source of inspiration and I always think that you can’t go wrong with BBC Good Food. They have a load of seasonal recipes, the comments underneath are really helpful when it comes to refining them and they’re always simple and easy to make. Get creative bookmarking the ones you like, writing lists, popping post-its on pages in recipe books. I have my favourites that I always go back to, but once a week – if I can and I have the time – I try to get creative and try something new.
Take stock. When you’ve got a list together of recipes that tickle your fancy, I suggest taking stock of your kitchen cupboards to see what you already have. This is a step that Mark is particularly weak at and is why we have about three jars of chilli powder tucked away on the shelves. It stops you doubling up, therefore wasting money and it means that you can keep costs down for the week by making recipes where you have a high number of the ingredients already. Defrost those chicken breasts! Dust off that tin of kidney beans! Dig the flour out from the depths of your cupboards! It’s time to shine.
List love. Once you’ve worked out what it is that you’d like to eat over the next couple of days and what you already have in your cupboards, fridge and freezer, it’s time to write a list. Oh I really love a list, I do. In my Meal Planning Guide there’s a empty section with headers for; fruit and veg, meat and fish (if you eat them), dairy (again if you eat it), dry goods and also household goods (basically cleaning supplies and loo roll). I find it best to compose my list this way as it’s easier to see if I’ve left anything out and it tends to follow the flow of supermarkets so you don’t end up running a mini marathon around it as you dash from one side to the other. It takes a little more time to prep, but it saves you time once you’re there and makes it much less likely that you’ll forget something.
Go shop. Now this can either be the best bit or the worst bit. The best bit if you’ve managed to squeeze your weekly shop into a timeframe when no one else is doing it. The worst bit if it’s a Saturday morning and the whole thing turns into trolley wars/a fight for the last pint of milk. Try to stick to the list as best you can and avoid special offers – divert the eyes whenever you pass the end of the aisle. I try to make it into a bit of a game and see how fast I can be in and out. I think my record is 13 minutes. Yep I pretty much did a light jog around the supermarket that day.
Remember to download your print-out Meal Planning Guide and let me know what you think. Right, no takeaways next week. Maybe.
Photos by Lauren Shipley