Sunday, 20 July 2014

Getting Organised - What's on the Menu?

One organisation tip I totally rely on these days is menu planning - I've been doing it for a few years now and it makes life so much easier!
My mum laughs at me because she can't understand how I can decide on a Saturday what I want to eat the following Wednesday, but I find the more kids I have and the busier my life is, I'd rather have dinner pre-chosen than have that 4pm "What on EARTH am I going to feed them tonight?" panic.

I'm so used to meal planning now, that on the occasional week when I really can't be arsed, things never run as smoothly. I end up wasting money because I have to make emergency trips to the supermarket (not quite a five minute job with 3 kids in tow!) and get stressed because it's all a bit last minute.

What I tend to do is run my menus from Saturday-Friday, and do my shopping early on a Saturday morning. That way, we have plenty in the house to get us through the weekend. I used to do my shopping on a Monday, but found that the weekends were always spent being moaned at by the kids because there wasn't much left in the way of cereal or snacks, so now I make sure we're well stocked up for the weekend.

I usually look through my cupboards, fridge and freezer on a Friday and try to plan my meals based around using up what's there. I hate waste! 
I do also try to have a good stash of general foods, like pasta, tinned tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, cheese etc. That way, if I forget to take something out of the freezer or plans suddenly change, I can whip up a quick pasta dish or batch of soup without having to leave the house.

Hopefully, once I start my freezer-crockpot meals, I'll only need to do very minimal weekly shops, for fresh fruit and veg, and prep time will be dramatically reduced!

Anyway, this week, I've got lots of beef mince, lamb mince and sausages in my freezer, plus garlic, butternut squash, and potatoes in the fridge, and lots of pasta and rice in the cupboard, so here's this week's menu plan based on that...

SATURDAY - Spiced chicken with Butternut Coconut Rice and roasted Cauliflower

SUNDAY - Mousakka

MONDAY - All Day Breakfast

TUESDAY - Spaghetti Bolognese

WEDNESDAY - Cassoulet and root mash

THURSDAY - Mushroom orzoto

FRIDAY - Baked salmon and egg fried rice

I do try to plan my meals around similar ingredients, so as you can see, Cassoulet and All Day Breakfast both include bacon, so I need one pack of bacon. Egg fried rice and All Day Breakfast both include eggs, so one pack of eggs, Mushroom orzoto and All Day Breakfast both need mushrooms, etc.
Just makes shopping a bit cheaper and more efficient if I'm not having to buy different ingredients for every day!

As it's summer holidays, I'll also have to plan for lunches and snacks for the kids. Lunches tend to be fairly simple, either home made soup or sandwiches. The kids also love crackerbread with things like ham or soft cheese, so I like to have those in stock, too. As long as we always have bread, crackers, cheese, ham, yoghurts, crisps and fresh fruit, there's always plenty for lunch. It also means if it's a nice day, I can chuck these things into a bag and have an impromptu picnic!

So, those are my meal planning and shopping tips...please share yours!

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