Lighten your load with meal planning

blog organisation planner tips

I often get asked at work what’s for lunch, as I carry my cute little Sistema lunch bag back from the kitchen to my desk. I bring my lunch everyday to be healthy but mostly to save money. There are not many cheap take away options around our building.

I haven’t always been this organised for work. In fact it was only when our workplace moved to a new building in a different part of town that I was forced to start bringing my lunch with me. For awhile I tended to throw some things in my lunch bag before I rushed out the door. Then this year school started… and I had to make someone else’s lunch as well! Not cool.

Anyways, I’ve meal planned my dinners since I left mum and dad’s and had to manage on my own. This helped stretch my slim budget and I’ve continued doing this for over ten years. Now I just go into autopilot at dinner time. So I thought, I know I’ll just add lunches to the meal plan! Then I know what to make each day.

After a few rushed mornings where I ended up throwing in randoms things in our lunch bags (I may have sent my daughter to school one day with a whole tomato and two kinds of breakfast cereals as ‘snacks’) I realised I needed to start doing some kind of meal prepping.

I’m not a fan of meal prepping. I’ve tried here and there but ended up spending my entire Sunday in the kitchen, and with an extremely sore back come Sunday night. I also prefer freshly cooked meals over microwaved ones. And my fridge is way too small to fit all the containers back in… learn that the hard way!

So, I’ve been working on a way to meal plan each week that will mean I am making quick and easy meals during the week, and keep meal prep to a minimum.

Here’s how I am meal planning each week:

Sundays:

I work out what to make for dinner and lunch for the week and write it up on our wall calendar. I make a shopping list, and do the grocery shop. (or send Hubby to do the grocery shop).

Once a month, I make a double batch of muffins and freeze them. I also make sandwiches using a whole loaf of bread with deli meats, cheese, spreads or chutneys, and wrap them in grease-proof paper and freeze.

Sunday nights are reserved for more complicated or time consuming dishes, like a roast lamb or slow cooked casserole. I make enough so there are leftovers for at least one lunch during the week.

While dinner is cooking, I hard boil 7 or 8 eggs and make up 3 days worth of snack tubs with yogurt and berries, pretzels, popcorn, grapes, veggie sticks etc.  

Monday:

In the morning, I grab Sunday night leftovers, a snack and piece of fruit for me. I throw a sandwich, two snacks and a fruit in the kids lunch bags.

For dinner it’s a quick and easy meal of meat and salad. Any kind of meat will do, whatever was on special, and is baked, grilled or barbecued. While preparing dinner, I make up my salad containers for 2 work lunches.

Tuesday:

I grab a salad, snack and a piece of fruit. The kids get a sandwich, two snacks and a fruit in the kids lunch bags.

On Tuesday nights we have family dinner night with my in-laws. It is an eat and run affair but it means I get a night off cooking! It’s amazing. I highly recommend trying this with family or a close friend’s family, and alternate each week to give each other a night off.  

Wednesday:

I grab a salad, snack and a piece of fruit. The kids get a sandwich, two snacks and a fruit in the kids lunch bags.

Another quick and easy meal tonight. It might be baked salmon and veggies, pasta or risotto, or a quick veggie stir-fry with a heat through sauce. While prepping dinner, I make up some more snack tubs for the next 2 days.

If I know I will have extra meat leftovers from earlier in the week, I’ll usually buy some tortilla wraps and roll one up with some salad for Thursday’s lunch.

Thursday:

I grab a sandwich or wrap, snack and a piece of fruit. The kids get a sandwich, two snacks and a fruit in the kids lunch bags.

Another quick and easy meal tonight. It might be meat and veggies, home made burgers or wraps, or baked sweet potato with toppings.

Friday:

I grab a lean cuisine (I buy a few when on special) from the freezer or any leftovers if there is any, snack and a piece of fruit. The kids get a sandwich, two snacks and a fruit in the kids lunch bags.

We get takeaway for dinner. I like to spend the time getting started on some washing and relaxing with a glass of wine instead.

Saturday:

The kids help themselves to snacks when they are hungry. I might throw some in my bag if we are going out for a few hours.

Depending on what our plans are, we will make lunch and dinner at home but tend to see what we feel like rather than plan ahead. I like to try new recipes, make those special dishes we love, or make our own pizzas. We usually pop down the shops just down the street to get anything we need.

Occasionally we pack a picnic with some rolls and a bbq chicken to spend the day at the park.


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