It’s been a long old time since I last blogged and a lot has changed. I’ve had a baby, moved house, joined Instagram and lived through a global pandemic. My one constant through all this time though has been my commitment to food-waste and my love of a weekly meal plan. Therefore it seems apt that my first post back is about how I meal plan, the recipes will follow throughout the week.
When to meal plan?
This is completely dependent on when you have the time to do so and when you’re planning on doing your weekly shop. For me I tend to meal plan twice a week for 3/4 days at a time, the reason for this is that I receive my weekly vegetable box from Oddbox on a Wednesday morning and I hate going to the supermarket at the weekend, therefore on a Wednesday, I tend to meal plan from Wednesday through to Sunday and do one large weekly shop for everything I need to see me through to the end of the week. When I get to Sunday, I then review the contents left-over in my fridge and plan the meals for the Mon/Tues. Leaving a few days blank in the meal plan also leaves a bit of leeway if something hasn’t gone to plan such as an impromptu night out (extremely rare in these days of Coronavirus) or a lazy emergency pizza night after a long day at work.
For a lot of people meal planning at the weekend might be best and it might make more sense to leave the weekends unplanned if they’re the times you are most likely to eat elsewhere/off-plan. This is something you need to make fit in with your own personal life-style.
Where to start?
I always start by cleaning my fridge on a Tuesday night and assessing any left-over ingredients that might have been forgotten about, my fridge is normally pretty empty by the end of the week so this isn’t a big job. The leftover ingredients from the previous week will be the ones I aim to use up first.
When my Oddbox arrives, I then look at all the ingredients together and try to come up with a number of recipes for the week ahead, incorporating as many of the ingredients as I possibly can.
Where to get inspiration?
For this part I use a combination of sources; my own personal experience & ideas, the internet and recipe books. As an idea, below are the ingredients I have this week.
The first picture is of the leftovers from the previous week, and the second picture is of the Oddbox ingredients received this week.
Of the old ingredients which I want to use first, I couldn’t think of any combination containing courgette & red cabbage but the internet tells me that a Chana Dal is a good option so I’ll be adapting this recipe from One Green Planet. This recipe is great as I can also throw in the coriander and spinach, I also know that I have the chana dal / split lentils in my cupboard.
Moving on to the other ingredients, my boyfriend saw the celeriac and asked for a gratin which will make use of the potato, onion & half of the celeriac, we’ll get at least 4 servings out of this and the only additional ingredient I’ll need to purchase is some form of cream. I’ll probably throw in some of the Rosemary and serve it with pork chops as pork and celeriac go really well together.
Each week Oddbox suggest a recipe in their news-letter, this week they suggested a pesto pasta using up the peppers. This is a super quick & simple mid week dinner that I’ll make 4 portions of and have the leftovers for lunch.
I fancy keeping the broccoli simple, so I’ll serve this as a side with some fish and also use the tomato, onions & coriander to make an accompanying salsa.
For the additional courgettes I had no inspiration this week so I picked up one of my recipe books and searched for courgette recipes. The first one that came up was a Chorizo & Courgette Salad from the Hairy Bikers One Pot Wonder book. I’d never have dreamed of combining these ingredients so I’m excited to try it.
With my recipe books, I tend to pick a different book each week for inspiration and I find it’s a great way of trying out recipes and actually using the books as opposed to just looking at the pretty pictures.
The above meals incorporate all of the ingredients above except the dill which I’ll probably serve with the fish and I might also consider a salmon, cream cheese & dill bagel for lunch. I confess that I will struggle to get through the whole packet before it’s past it’s best so I’ll probably have to get creative in finding a use for it.
Next I need to determine what days I’ll be eating each meal on and do the shopping list. For the latter I’ll work through the recipes and figure out do I already have the ingredients I need in, if not can they be substituted for something else, and if not then I’ll add them to my Alexa shopping list. We keep Alexa in the kitchen solely for this purpose and it’s great to be able to add items to the shopping list as you run out of them. Using Alexa in this way means we rarely end up at the supermarket wondering if we do or don’t have something in.
To determine what days to have the meals on, I tend to consider what’s going on that week and what ingredients need using first. I’ll try to use the older or more perishable ingredients to start with and I also consider what days I’m likely to be the most busy on as these are the days that call for easy recipes or leftovers. My partner and I both work from home at the moment which means we can prep throughout the day sometimes, I’ll often prep my veg at lunch which takes some pressure off in the evening however as we potentially return to the office we may lose this luxury. My other consideration here is what do I want to eat at the weekend, I’d rather have the more unhealthy or naughtier meals at the weekend which is just a mental reward thing for me to differentiate the weekends from mid-week.
Once I’ve done all this, I write the plan up on my kitchen blackboard and that’s it.
Below is the plan for the week ahead (we’re busy on Thurs/Fri which is why the plan doesn’t start until Saturday. I’ve also cancelled next weeks Oddbox as we’ve got plenty of food in to see us through the week), I’ll share more of my plans in the weeks ahead and of course post any recipes that I create.
What are your tips to meal planning, I’d love to hear.
Dinner: Fish w. Broccoli & Salsa
Dinner: Celeriac Gratin & Pork Tenderloin
Lunch: Leftover Pork Sandwich
Dinner: Courgette & Red Cabbage Chana Dal
Lunch: Leftover Courgette & Red Cabbage Chana Dal
Dinner: Leftover Celeriac Gratin w. Eggs & Pancetta
Lunch: Salmon, Cream Cheese & Dill Bagel
Dinner: Red Pepper Pesto Pasta
Lunch: Leftover Red Pepper Pesto Pasta
Dinner: Chorizo & Courgette Salad
Lunch: Leftover Chorizo & Courgette Salad