Friday, 20 May 2016

ORGANISATION: My Meal Planning Top Tips

Returning to work, after maternity leave, meant we had to up our organisation game considerably. I no longer had endless time to cook fresh meals for us all, made even more challenging by the fact that the three of us eat slightly different meals. I'm a vegetarian, my husband eats meat and Isabella has meals with little to no refined sugar/salt in. I was determined that my return to work wouldn't lead to not having home cooked meals every night, we've always done it so why stop now? 

On the three days Isabella's in nursery she doesn't eat anything at home, so we have four days of meals needed for Isabella. As well as three meals a day for both my husband and I, all of which has been completely possible with a bit of forward planning. Below I've shared my top tips for meal planning each week and ways I reduce food wastage...

1) Cook in bulk - On a Sunday night I will often cook two big dishes (meat and vegetarian) ready to be eaten during the start of the week. I go to work on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, therefore we have limited time in the evenings to prepare home cooked meals. Dishes like lasagne, shepard's pie, chilli con carne, pasta bake all work really well...anything that can be cooked in advance and provides at least two/three portions each. So, we'll just reheat those dishes for the first couple of days of the working week and it saves so much time!

2) Have quick cook meals at least once a week - At least once a week we'll have a really quick cook meal, such as fresh pasta and sauce, jacket potato (either microwaved or from frozen), sausage and mash potato, fajitas, stir fry, quinoa and roasted vegetables etc. These are ideal for the days I'm later back from work or even if I'm busy on my days off.
 
3) Keep a running food list - After a busy week we often don't really want to search through the cupboards to see what we've got ready for the next week. I used to love food shopping, but the logistics of it with a baby makes it a much less enjoyable activity. We've found that keeping a notepad in the kitchen has enabled us to keep a running shopping list, so as soon as we run out of something it goes straight on the list. The Oxo Good Grips POP Containers and Oxo Good Grips FlipLock Glass Canister make this even easier because they're transparent sides mean we can quickly and easily see which essentials we're running low on. The POP range have a push-button on the top of the containers creates an airtight seal with just one touch, ideal when carrying a baby in the one arm! The range is also stackable allowing you to make the most of the storage space you have. The FlipLock Glass Canister can again easily be opened from an airtight seal with one hand, such a convenient feature!
 
4) Stock up the freezer - If you find you have a spare hour, perhaps little one naps for longer or they've gone to bed slightly earlier than usual, then cook a meal to pop straight into the freezer. We do this for the whole family, though I prefer to use our limited freezer space for Isabella's meals. We've been using the Oxo Tot Baby Blocks Freezer Storage Containers because the containers are slightly bigger, which is perfect for the size for Isabella's meals. They are also airtight, watertight, leak-proof, dishwasher safe and can be heated, making them the most convenient storage containers at the moment. If we have any leftover food that is suitable for Isabella and could be combined with freshly prepared food at a later date, (such as a white sauce she could have with vegetables) I'll pour it into the Oxo Tot Baby Food Freezer Tray then pop it into the freezer. The cubes are larger than a standard ice cube tray, so it would be ideal if you're starting weaning too.
5) Keep snack supplies topped up - Whenever we go out for the day I'll always take a variety of snacks for Isabella, even if we're not out over a meal time. She chooses the most random times to let me know she's hungry and I'm determined not to be caught out! I love making healthy snacks, but we'll also use shop bought ones like Organix Soft Oaty Bars, Cheese & Herb Puffs, breadsticks, raisins etc. Anything that won't create too much of a mess and that she can feed herself. The Oxo Tot Flippy Snack Cup has been ideal for filling with snacks and allowing Isabella to access them herself. The lid allows her to pick out the snacks without tipping them everywhere, it also has a travel cover for when transporting it around.
What are your top tips for meal planning?

Feel free to leave a comment :)

Helen x

I'm linking this post up with TheList, Binky Linky, PicknMix.

*This post contains PR samples. All opinions are honest and my own.
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16 comments

  1. I love the oxo pop containers. And the little oxo snack pot looks brilliant. Good luck with the planning X #picknmix

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  2. i definitely need to get better planned as it will help in terms of saving me time and probably saving me eating awful calories!!!
    #binkylinky

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  3. You are so organised!! I may have to invest in some tubs as baby number 2 is on the way. Think the weaning process may be a tad different. It's so much easier being on Mat leave with no work!! X #binkylinky

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  4. I meal plan as in plan out breakfast, lunch and dinner for every day and make my shopping list for it. I've been really utilising the slow cooker lately because at the end of the day I don't feel like cooking. I HATE meal planning though, I used to do it all in one go but now I add recipes as I find them during the week and its a lot easier. I don't have to sit down for an hour and think of meals. But I also don't make seperate meals. We all eat the same thing. If my partner wants something different he can make it himself! lol. I'm really bad at planning snacks though because I don't even find time to snack for myself. i usually just buy the packets of baby snacks!

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  5. I enjoy meal planning as it saves loads of food from going to waste and also stops me from reaching for the takeaways if I know what I can cook. Thanks for linking up to the #BinkyLinky

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  6. Great tips and I love the OXO storage containers, they would be really handy for us and they look great too! I meal plan monthly and also shop monthly, picking up fresh things and bread each week. I also cook in bulk as I find it so much easier and then Mia can have the same as us! Its handy because I love cooking and home-make everything pretty much :)

    #PicnMix

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  7. Really great tips! I need to do a bit more cooking in bulk as James' food is getting low again. I love the idea of using plastic containers so you can easily see what you're running out of. x

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  8. I keep meaning to do more bulk or batch cooking but just never get around to it. It would save us so much time in the week as we both work full time.
    I love the containers, very handy. #TriedTested

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  9. the storage containers look great. I've ordered some more tupperware style boxes as I am cooking in bulk more and more #triedtested

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  10. I love the OXO range of containers - we have the cereal ones which mean less spillage and no stale cereal. I'm a big fan.
    Thanks for sharing your review on #TriedTested this week x

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  11. I love the idea of a running shopping list - although I feel like I'd fall down in remembering to take it with me haha!

    Jess xo | The Indigo Hours
    #TriedTested

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  12. I seem to go through phases with meal planning - sometimes I'm super organised and others I kind of wing it! I love to cook so I don't mind the creativity sometimes but I should really try harder to plan all the time rather than sporadically. We do keep a running shopping list though. Those containers look really helpful :) #triedtested

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  13. Great tips and that snack pot is genius! Thanks for linking up to #PicknMix

    Stevie x

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  14. Great tips and that snack pot is genius! Thanks for linking up to #PicknMix

    Stevie x

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  15. Great tips, those pots look good too. I meal plan but we don't always stick to it. Thanks for linking to #picknmix

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  16. Those Oxo containers look really great. My tips would be pretty much the same as yours, except I keep a running shopping list on the notes/list app on my phone so i know I won't forget it when I go shopping :) #triedtested

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